“Get On Up” is Super Bad. That’s Not A Compliment.

Papa don’t take no mess and Papa shouldn’t watch this mess. either.

Here’s a fun fact: James Brown was known as Soul Brother #1 and he never had a Number One pop hit.

Brown put 99 songs on the chart over a 30 year career which puts him on the Top 10 of the most successful pop artists.  The closest the undisputed Hardest Working Man in Show Biz  got to the top spot was  “I Got You (I Feel Good)” at #3 and “Living In America” which got it to #4 with 21 years passing between the two hits.

This is not something you are going to learn in the new James Brown biopic, Get On Up?  This  simplistic, spineless biopic runs a Hoover over any dirt in Brown’s life with only the briefest glances at his dark corners. When the producers fired Spike Lee off the project and replaced him with Tate The Help Taylor it was natural to expect the rough edges of Brown would be filed down,  but who knew they would suck the soul right out of The Godfather of Soul?

The wife and I had a free pass to see Get On Up. The price was right, but the movie is all wrong. It stole 2 hours and 18 minutes I will never get back.

There is a difference between a film that rolls back the carpet and shows all the dirt its subject did in their lives and one which blows sloppy, slobbering kisses. This is the latter and Brown’s bad habits of overindulgence in drugs and drink, spousal abuse, womanizing, and bizarre behavior is briefly referring to and then cuts away to another musical number.

Don’t worry. THIS James Brown never shows up in the whitewashed “Get On Up.”

The sheer energy of the classic James Brown music almost saves this sanitized Hollywood hackery and there’s a lot of music here (though the absence of “The Payback” is one of many glaring omissions). Chadwick Boseman‘s version of Soul Brother#1 is energetic. He learned a lot of Brown’s moves, but as far as capturing his character, Eddie Murphy did it about as well on Saturday Night Live decades ago. Boseman tries hard and some approving critics rave he gives an Oscar-caliber performance.   It’s okay, but only if you didn’t grown up with  Brown the way I did.

When the music stops so does the movie dead in its track with Taylor spasmodically jerking the viewer through time and place with the attention span of a housefly. At one point I leaned forward in my seat with my chin in my hand in wonder of Taylor’s muddled, cluttered direction.

Get On Up never gets on the good foot.  Mostly it just kind of lays there and rolls over. How the hell do you take James Brown and make him so damn BORING? It’s not a certainty Lee would have made a better movie but he wouldn’t have made a duller one.

What motivated Brown to write an anthem of Black pride and power like “Say It Loud I’m Black and I’m Proud? Why did he sing that same song at Richard Nixon’s inaugural ball in 1968 and endorse him in 1972? You’ll never know from the script by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth which reduces the singer’s political activism to mostly a footnote. The same guy who counted Al Sharpton as a buddy also voted as a conservative Republican. Nobody will buy a ticket expecting details on this apparent contradiction, but it’s a tantalizing and largely facet of Brown’s character. Taylor and the Butterworths don’t even find it worth a mention.

When this movie isn’t being sloppy it is simply superficial. Brown’s music made him an icon. Get On Up makes him nothing but a jukebox.

We’re long past the point where we should be falling to our knees like Brown singing “Please, Please, Please” in slobbering gratitude whenever White Hollywood deems to tell a Black icon’s story. Not every film with Black people at the center of the film has to be exclusively produced, directed, written, scored or filmed by Black filmmakers, but it would be nice if more of them were.

For every Malcolm X or Raging Bull that works, there are dozens of other bio pics that fail dismally and for me, nobody else, Get On Up is a missed opportunity and a boring failure.

Tricky Dick meets The Godfather. Just not in this movie.

Cornel West’s Slow Slide Into Darkness

“I love you now but I’ll hate you later.”

There used to a half-serious joke that once Michael Jackson’s skin turned White and his nose started falling off, it wasn’t the real Michael Jackson.   The real Michael was sick or locked away somewhere and this freakish clone of him was the one being wheeled out to the public.

Is that what happened to Cornel West?   There’s a guy running around who looks like him.   He sort of sounds like him if Cornel West only talked about how much he despises President Obama.    He even wears the only suit in West’s closet.   It’s too bad it isn’t a clone of Cornel West trashing his own rep while he trashes the president.   It would be even easier to dismiss him as a bitter hater than it already is.

West’s latest in a series of tiresome tirades short of any intellectual insights, but long on street-level smack talk came in an interview with Tavis “Sub-Prime” Smiley, the Iago to West’s Othello:

Smiley:  “What’s your sense of how the media, and not just Fox News but beyond that, your read as you’ve been watching this, how the media handled this case?”

West:  “I think that it’s been decrepit though, brother. I mean, you get a focus on some of the upper middle class folk. I mean, what I call the ‘rent-a-negro’ phenomenon on MSNBC.”

This is almost funny.   West snipes at his former allies, Rev. Al Sharpton and Michael Eric Dyson (and longtime adversary, Melissa Harris-Perry) for appearing on MSNBC  (a network that has given West plenty of face time) while his best buddy Smiley has whored himself out to such corporations as Wal-Mart, Exxon, Wells-Fargo and McDonald’s.  This does not trouble West as he is represented by Smiley for book publishing and speaking engagements (West earns up to $25,000  to speak).

In other words, if you got the cash, you can rent West and Smiley’s ashy asses.    If MSNBC came calling and offered West and Smiley a show, how fast would they run not walk to sign on the dotted line?

The dizzying descent of West as an intellectual has been rapid and sad to behold.  West has permitted the unscrupulous  Smiley to co-opt him into a sustained and relentless campaign of negativity and baseless criticism of President Obama and any Black person who doesn’t share West and Smiley’s opinion.

“Eff me? Eff YOU! My dear brother.”

The roots of West’s rage trace back to when Obama’s first inauguration.  West was angry Obama hadn’t personally thanked him for his support and  ensuring West was invited to the inauguration.

“There is the personal level,” he says. “I used to call my dear brother [Obama] every two weeks. I said a prayer on the phone for him, especially before a debate. And I never got a call back. And when I ran into him in the state Capitol in South Carolina when I was down there campaigning for him he was very kind. The first thing he told me was, ‘Brother West, I feel so bad. I haven’t called you back. You been calling me so much. You been giving me so much love, so much support and what have you.’ And I said, ‘I know you’re busy.’ But then a month and half later I would run into other people on the campaign and he’s calling them all the time. I said, wow, this is kind of strange. He doesn’t have time, even two seconds, to say thank you or I’m glad you’re pulling for me and praying for me, but he’s calling these other people. I said, this is very interesting. And then as it turns out with the inauguration I couldn’t get a ticket with my mother and my brother. I said this is very strange. We drive into the hotel and the guy who picks up my bags from the hotel has a ticket to the inauguration. My mom says, ‘That’s something that this dear brother can get a ticket and you can’t get one, honey, all the work you did for him from Iowa.’ Beginning in Iowa to Ohio. We had to watch the thing in the hotel.”

“What it said to me on a personal level,” he goes on, “was that brother Barack Obama had no sense of gratitude, no sense of loyalty, no sense of even courtesy, [no] sense of decency, just to say thank you. Is this the kind of manipulative, Machiavellian orientation we ought to get used to? That was on a personal level.”

What that says to me is the only thing bigger on Cornel West than the gap between his teeth and his busted-ass Afro is his ego. It’s as big as outdoors and Dear Brother Cornel likes to have his ego stroked frequently and often.

I respect Dear Brother West. I bought Race Matters by the Dear Brother because race does matter and so did his observations.. I watched the Dear Brother on television and heard the Dear Brother speak when he came to town. I believe the Dear Brother is one of our greatest thinkers.

When the Dear Brother bothers to think. He stopped doing that when he let his ego, the only thing larger than his ‘fro, slip off the leash and he turned himself into a vicious, hypocritical, small-minded hater and it seems to be no coincidence the descent from renowned intellectual to annoying crank came when another blood enemy of Obama began whispering sweet nothing in the acclaimed academic’s ears.

The Enabled and the Enabler.

West hasn’t written a meaningful book, penned a useful article or expressed an original thought since 2008 when he got butthurt over Obama not kissing his ass or give him a position of prominence in his administration as he did with West’s nemesis from Harvard, Larry Summers.

Seriously, isn’t Cornel West starting to look like a hip-hop Hobbit?

It seems the longer West hangs around Smiley the crazier he sounds.   Smiley’s enemies (Obama, Al Sharpton, Tom Joyner, Melissa Harris-Perry, Michael Eric Dyson) have become West’s enemies.  By lending his diminishing clout to Smiley, West only diminishes his own reputation and enhances Smiley.

West needs to put several time zones of distance between himself and Sub-Prime Smiley and get back to thinking like an intellectual instead of babbling like a damn fool.   If West were as smart as he believes himself to be, he’d realize Smiley is playing him the way a pimp plays a ho.

Sharpton, West, Dyson: Once friends, now foes.

Shufflin’ Along With Shelby Steele

not shelby steele

Shelby chills on his day off.

Shelby Steele believes today’s Black leadership treads in victimhood, ducking responsibility and playing an old, played-out “Blame Whitey” game.

The verdict that declared George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin was a traumatic event for America’s civil-rights establishment, and for many black elites across the media, government and academia. When you have grown used to American institutions being so intimidated by the prospect of black wrath that they invent mushy ideas like “diversity” and “inclusiveness” simply to escape that wrath, then the crisp reading of the law that the Zimmerman jury displayed comes as a shock.

On television in recent weeks you could see black leaders from every background congealing into a chorus of umbrage and complaint. But they weren’t so much outraged at a horrible injustice as they were affronted by the disregard of their own authority. The jury effectively said to them, “You won’t call the tune here. We will work within the law.”

There’s another sort of establishment and that’s the one where Black conservatives talk about the Black experience, but not to other Black people who know it already.

That is why Steele’s sphere of influence is primarily limited to (gasp!) White male conservatives who say they are the true victims of racism, avoid any acknowledgement of the considerable advantages White Privilege affords them and are play an even older, but just as played-out game calleed “Why Can’t You Lazy Blacks Stop Complaining and Blaming Us Because You Aren’t White Like Me?”

“Can I be your Black Friend Forever, George?”

If Black liberals get paid to soothe White Guilt,  Black conservatives work their own hustle by appealing to White Denial.   Steele is fluent in the familiar language of the apologist and appeaser as he scorns the attention the “civil rights establishment” has paid to the unworthy Trayvon.

Why did the civil-rights leadership use its greatly depleted moral authority to support Trayvon Martin? This young man was, after all, no Rosa Parks—a figure of indisputable human dignity set upon by the rank evil of white supremacy. Trayvon threw the first punch and then continued pummeling the much smaller Zimmerman. Yes, Trayvon was a kid, but he was also something of a menace. The larger tragedy is that his death will come to very little. There was no important principle or coherent protest implied in that first nose-breaking punch. It was just dumb bravado, a tough-guy punch.

There was nothing in the Zimmerman trial that established Martin “threw the first punch.”   Nor is any truth to Steele’s slander that Martin was “something of a menace.”   After all, it is  the “cherubic” Zimmerman (as Steele lovingly describes him) who has the criminal record.

There is no need for similar acts of character assassination about Zimmerman’s character. The menace posed by his history is a matter of legal record.

The neighborhood watch volunteer who wanted to be a cop was arrested in July 2005 for “resisting officer with violence” and “battery of law enforcement officer.” Zimmerman got into a scuffle with cops questioning a friend for alleged underage drinking. Upon entering an alcohol education program, the charges were reportedly reduced and then waived. The next month in 2005, Zimmerman’s former fiance sought a restraining order against him because of domestic violence. Zimmerman sought a restraining order against her in return. Both were granted.

Despite Steele’s scurrilous slurs against a murdered and unarmed teenager,  it is  Zimmerman’s brushes with the law  establish he was the real “fucking punk.”   The White conservatives who make up Steele’s readership are not concerned with Zimmerman’s established record of criminality as much as they are the threat a unleashed Trayvon Martin might have.     It isn’t truth Rupert Murdoch is paying Steele to provide.   It is relief for poor, put-upon White conservatives who have nothing but fear and loathing in their hearts for every other Trayvon that hasn’t been murdered yet.

Steele is in the same class of race hustlers like Clarence Thomas, Herman Cain, Allan West, Mira Love, Niger Innis, Star Parker, Walter Williams, Larry Elder, Jesse Lee “thank God for slavery” Peterson, Uncle Tom Sowell, and of course Gentle Ben Carson.  With the exception of Carson, not one of them has any clout or following within the Black community.

“Sure. Just put on a hoodie and start running.”

Why would they? Their job is to represent themselves, not the interests of Black people as they show up at right-wing conferences, Tea Party rallies and Republican conventions telling the attendees what the are paid to say and smile pretty when the camera pans the audience so conservatives can point to those one or two grains of black pepper among all that white salt and flaunt their commitment to “diversity.”

Which is about an inch deep as it is wide, but somebody’s got to play The Spook That Sat By the Door., so why not Shelby Steele? He’s uniquely qualified to suck up to the White conservatives that keep him gainfully employed and will remain useful so long as he keeps making them feel good and exhibits he’s sufficiently grateful. When they’re done with him they’ll just throw him out and get another off the shelf just like him.

The next Shelby Steele will also specialize in dispensing useless advice to his core audience.  But that core audience does not include anyone who looks like Shelby Steele.

“Yes, I’m an ass-kisser, but I’m an EXCELLENT ass kisser.”

Cornel West’s Counter-Insurgency Against Obama

A man thoroughly convinced of his own importance.

The other day  Tavis Smiley and Cornel West were bitching about President Obama.  What they were bitching about doesn’t rally matter because that’s what they do.  That’s all they do and they tear down Obama so much it makes me wonder are they angling for their own show on Fox News?   How did West and Smiley go from men of respect within Black culture to self-parody?

I’d sum it up in two words: Barack Obama. From Tavis’ perspective it’s straight up envy. He used to host a yearly gathering called “The State of the Black Union” where he would invite prominent people to discuss issues of importance to African-Americans. It was interesting to see people who were often overlooked by the White mainstream media gather to discuss and debate, but a funny thing happened with “The State of the Black Union.” Talking was all it was about. There was no action plan. There was no “Black agenda” that sprung from  these lengthy talk-a-thons.   It was equally clear if you weren’t part of the  Tavis Smiley clique of Favorite Black Folks ,   you probably weren’t going to be invited to speak. Then there’s  the issue of the gathering of Black thinkers  being underwritten by Smiley’s corporate pals,  Wal-Mart and Wells Fargo.

The defining moment came in 2008 when Smiley invited Sen. Obama to appear at the yearly gathering.   The eventual nominee was still in the middle of  primary battle with Hillary Clinton  and instead of coming off the campaign trail, he wrote Smiley a letter offering to send Michelle Obama in his stead.  Smiley flatly rejected Obama’s wife as his representative and got really ugly about it. Smiley, a Clinton supporter, invited her to appear instead and she accepted.

Smiley continued to attack Obama for not appearing.   Suddenly, even Smiley’s supporters started looking sideways at this raging egotist and wondering who was he to demand Obama appear personally to kiss his ring?

This led to Smiley eventually quitting the Tom Joyner radio show, the program that initially raised his national profile and a bitter falling out with Joyner himself. Smiley wrote a book after Obama won the presidency called “Accountable” where he pompously asserted how it was up to Black people like him to hold Obama accountable if he didn’t deliver the goods to the Black community once he took office.

The book tanked hard and Smiley griped Obama supporters had turned on him and caused the book to flop. He’s been a little pebble in a big can rattling around ever since about how Obama ain’t shit.

Cornel West…now that’s an entirely different and much sadder story. It’s also downright pathetic at points.  A frustrated supporter in 2008,  West despises Obama so much he can’t abide anyone that doesn’t share his negative opinion of the president.

“I love Brother Mike Dyson, but we’re living in a society where everybody is up for sale,” West said in a Huffington Post story. “Everything is up for sale. And he and Brother (Al) Sharpton and Sister Melissa (Harris-Perry) and others, they have sold their souls for a mess of Obama pottage. And we invite them back to the black prophetic tradition after Obama leaves. But at the moment, they want insider access, and they want to tell those kind of lies. They want to turn their back to poor and working people. And it’s a sad thing to see them as apologists for the Obama administration in that way, given the kind of critical background that all of them have had at some point.”

Who needs Cornel West’s kind of “love.”  If everybody is up for sale, where’s West hiding his price tag?

“Sister Melissa” hasn’t been reluctant to call out West for his single-minded mission to demean and defame Obama at every turn as her 2011 column in The Nation stripped West’s hypocrisy down to the bone with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel.

Harris-Perry has gone from West’s colleague to his nemesis

“As tenured professors Cornel West and I are not meaningfully accountable, no matter what our love, commitment, or self-delusions tell us. President Obama, as an elected official, can, in fact, be voted out of his job. We can’t. That is a difference that matters. As West derides the President’s economic policies he remains silent on his friend Tavis Smiley’s relationship with Wal-Mart, Wells Fargo, and McDonald’s–all corporations whose invasive and predatory actions in poor and black communities have been the target of progressive organizing for decades. I have never heard him take Tavis Smiley to task for helping convince black Americans to enter into predatory mortgages. I’ve never heard him ask whether Tavis’ decision to publish R. Kelley’s memoirs might be a less than progressive decision. He doesn’t hold Tavis accountable because Tavis is his friend and he is loyal. I respect that, but I also know that if he were in elected office the could not get off so easily. Opposition research would point out the hypocrisy in his public positions in a way that would make him vulnerable come election time. As a media personality and professor he is safely ensconced in a system that can never vote him off the island. I think an honest critique of Obama has to begin by acknowledging his own privileges.”

The days when Black Americans had  “leaders” is over and done.  We have organization heads, self-appointed experts and spokespersons on race and some celebrities who have a podium to express their beliefs. But as far as “leaders” goes, that went bye-bye when Martin and Malcolm and others left the scene, often violently and always prematurely. What we have now is a group of Second Wave Wannabees who would like to considered as picking up where King, Malcolm, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, and so many others left off.

Martin didn’t have corporate sponsorship. Malcolm didn’t demand huge speaking fees. Rosa  didn’t have a talk show.  Nobody went looking for Smiley or  West to “lead” Black people.  We had REAL leaders.  Why settle for phony ones?

Pointing out West’s hypocrisy  is almost its own news desk.  Journalist and blogger Eric Wattree has long documented West and Smiley’s shameless self-promotion, “West is never short on words when it comes to denigrating high-profile Black people. He’s publicly criticized Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Jay Z, and of course, his favorite target, President Barack Obama. But when it comes to his good friend and associate, Tavis Smiley’s, involvement in Wells Fargo’s victimization of the Black community, he’s been curiously silent.”

The silence is being interrupted by the loudness of the Black community waking up to Smiley’s coziness with Corporate America and how he’s played the role of Judas goat leading African-Americans into financial ruin while profiting from their misery.  Following their second so-called “poverty tour” that West and Smiley claimed was supposed to spotlight the poor, but was confined to key states in the last presidential election, the due were called out by Najee Ali, a Los Angeles based activist, for Smiley’s cozy relationship with rabidly anti-union Wal-Mart.

“Wal-Mart is a billion dollar corporation. They should be able to offer a better medical package for their associates and a living wage. The involvement of corporations like Wal-Mart in Tavis Smiley’s own PBS show is troublesome,” says Ali. “Wal-Mart is one of the major sponsors of his show. Therefore, Wal-Mart plays a major role in sustaining Smiley’s popularity. If Smiley and West want to address poverty shouldn’t they involve Wal-Mart in the conversation and hold them  accountable as well?”

Pete and Repeat are back in black.

Pete and Repeat are back in black.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Dear Brother Cornel to answer that.

West is a joke. There’s a rock song entitled, “I Am What I Hated When I Was Young” and that sorry state where West is at now.  A vain, prideful man with a slight Messiah Complex,  whenever West opens his mouth he sounds more irrational, more deranged, more self-righteous and more butt hurt than ever.   There is nothing remotely intellectual in the vicious and highly personal ways West scorns the president.

What do you get when you match a vain, egotistical academic with delusions of divinity with a vain, egotistical hustler searching for a way to stay relevant?  Nothing good.  Just two clowns without a circus fighting to stay in the spotlight.   If it wasn’t so damn annoying it would be sad.

“Dad, I’m Back In Jail.” Love, George.

Go to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $135,000.

I admit it:  when I read the judge revoked George Zimmerman’s bail and ordered him to turn himself in within 48 hours, I was hoping he wouldn’t.

If Zimmerman had “gone rogue” and on the run, it would have been fun to watch his defenders squirm and stammer trying to explain it.  It would also have fun to see Zimmerman hunted the way he hunted Trayvon Martin.

The pro-Zimmerman side has blamed Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, blamed the news media, blamed the prosecutors, blamed Trayvon Martin, blamed anyone except George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman lied to the court about the funds at his disposal. Lied about his second passport. Along with his wife, attempted to hide how much money he had squirreled away. Try and put that on the Pseudo New Black Panthers or demonstrations in the streets of Sanford.

Zimmerman’s own deceit and duplicity has put his honesty and credibility in question, so who will his defenders blame now?

In revoking the bond, Judge Lester said Zimmerman, who is currently in hiding, shouldn’t be able to benefit from “material falsehoods.” The judge also immediately placed Zimmerman under a “no bond” status, meaning he’ll likely spend the rest of his time awaiting trial in a Seminole County jail cell. The judge gave Zimmerman 48 hours to report to jail.

As prosecutors released nearly all their evidence in the case to the public last month, it increasingly appeared like Zimmerman’s original statement – that he shot Trayvon after fearing for his life as the boy pummeled him – had credence. Medical statements showed he had a broken nose and cuts on the back of his head, and several witnesses corroborated that Zimmerman was on the receiving end of a beating after getting out of his car to follow Trayvon.

Prosecutors say Zimmerman is culpable because he ‘profiled” the boy as a criminal, ignored a dispatcher’s warning about following Trayvon, and then “confronted” him. While the state’s Stand Your Ground law allows people to defend themselves with lethal force in public areas, it does not protect those who instigate a fight.

Some legal experts, including Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz, have accused chief prosecutor Angela Corey of folding under public pressure to charge Zimmerman with second degree murder, arguing there’s not enough evidence to support the charges. It’s a notion Ms. Corey has denied.

But having the judge in essence calling Zimmerman a liar before he even has a chance to take the stand in his defense may dramatically change the tenor and perception of the case by boosting the prosecution’s contention that Zimmerman is not a trustworthy person. Because Zimmerman is the only living witness to the exact events of that night, a jury will have to weigh his credibility as he defends himself against a crime that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

There’s only one victim here and don’t ever forget it.

During the hearing, prosecutors introduced several recordings of telephone conversations between Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, made while he was in jail. In one such recording, they can be heard speaking cryptically about a second passport in his possession. Zimmerman was ordered by the judge to hand over his passport so he couldn’t flee the country, but Zimmerman applied for a second passport after the shooting, saying his first one had been stolen.

I’m sure he had a really good reason to lie to the judge about his assets. Like he didn’t want to go to jail.  If Zimmerman is willing to lie to a judge about how much money he had and his second passport, what else  might he be lying about?

Does these seem like the actions of a trustworthy man?  Not to me it doesn’t but maybe that’s just my anti-Zimmerman/pro-Trayvon bias coming out.   Some have cast doubts on how smart Zimmerman is with his reckless disregard of the 911 dispatcher and every rule a neighborhood watch should follow.

But I’m not so sure Zimmerman is as big a dope as he actions lead others to conclude he is. He fooled a judge into releasing him on a low bond. Zimmerman fooled a lot of people thinking he’s an innocent man caught up in a politically and racially fueled nightmare of Kafkaesque proportions.

Zimmerman might not be particularly intelligent or bright, but he’s displayed a degree of cunning and capacity to manipulate others in his behalf that says to me he isn’t stupid either.

Now he can be the smartest second-degree murderer in a Florida jail.  If the judge lets Zimmerman out on bail a second time, he’s a bigger idiot than Zimmerman.

George, I have three words for you:  watch your back.

The Wrong Guys For the Right Reason?

The return of J&A's excellent adventure?

Even tragedies can present opportunities and the killing of Trayvon Martin is no exception.  The mainstream media took their sweet time in discovering what Black bloggers and media was already reporting, but now they have made this the biggest story in America.

It’s been great for ratings.  And it’s been great for Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as well.  Instead of trying to bite off Occupy Wall Street or some other topic in the news, the two former unofficial presidents of Black America are back on their favorite beat, marching, demonstrating and protesting and all in the name of Trayvon Martin.

I have a colleague whom I used to work with at a newspaper and we get together to shoot the breeze. His problem with Jackson and Sharpton are their claims that they are “Black leaders.”

That sets my friend all the way off.  Who made THEM “Black leaders?” Did you vote for them? I know I didn’t! Where’s MY ballot?

There is something to that. Why are Jackson and Sharpton considered Black leaders? Why do Black folks even need leaders?  Who are the leaders of Latinos? Who speaks for lesbians? Who’s the great leader of Asians? Who’s the greatest White leader? Or does even posing the question seem ludicrous to even ask?

The last great Black leaders were Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.  They became leaders the hard way.  They earned it and they were killed for being leaders.  You could not find two more different men with different approaches than Martin and Malcolm.  Jackson and Sharpton on their best day couldn’t touch them on their worst. Neither one of them are worthy heirs of King’s mantle of civil rights advocacy.  Neither one of them are as bold and willing to face White supremacy the way Malcolm X did.

What keeps J&A on the front pages is the passionate hatred they provoke from right-wing critics.  Jesse and Al are considered by the Right as race hustlers who stir up trouble, shakedown businesses, show up wherever there’s a controversy and a camera and are generally unscrupulous, unprincipled, con men.  Some of this criticism is both verifiable and irrefutable.

Any honest critique of Jackson and Sharpton must take in account their pros and cons.

Once giants walked among us.

Positives: protecting civil rights, keeping a spirit of activism alive, bringing attention to issues and stories that would go unnoticed and unaddressed otherwise, ticking off the right-wing something fierce.

Negatives: attention whores, lack of identified achievable goals, unwilling to get off the stage so younger leaders can emerge, egotistical, poor tacticians, dubious personal conduct,

The biggest negative is neither Jackson or Sharpton will confront and criticize Democrats and liberals when they come up short or sell out the interests of African-Americans.  A true Black leader has to be willing to be bipartisan in their criticism.  Jackson has mildly criticized Obama and Sharpton flaunts his connections to the White House. Can you imagine J&A publicly and vocally breaking with a Democratic president the way Martin Luther King, Jr., broke with Lyndon Johnson over the Viet Nam war and poverty in America?  With Jackson and Sharpton beholden to the Democrats, they can’t be truly independent.

Martin and Malcolm may have created the template for Al and Jesse, but what sets them heads and shoulders above Sharpton and Jackson is they never craved the spotlight.  King was a reluctant convert to political activism and X transformed himself from a small-time hustler, pimp, and convict to the most powerful and charismatic spokesman for Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam until he broke with him.

Neither Martin or Malcolm were wealthy or sought the spotlight the way their would-be successors have.  You can’t fault them for finding a way to turn a buck off of being a political gadfly, but it leaves them open to charges that they are chasing publicity and dollars, not justice.

I was too young to march with Martin Luther King or listen to Malcolm X, but their authenticity was above reproach. . They were the real deal and they both got taken out for it. Al and Jesse? I think they believe what they say, but I don’t need “leaders” any more and I don’t want to be “led.”

Obama has proven you can be a leader through obtaining political legitimacy.  Jackson and Sharpton both mounted presidential bids, but they never seemed fully committed.  If conservatives really want to make J&A relics of a previous time, they need to stop trying to demonize the pair  That gets them nowhere and only makes Jackson and Sharpton even more beloved, and why not?  Pissing off the Right has a considerable upside.

Conservatives could neutralize J&A, but what it would take is something they have shown little interest in.   Make Dr. King’s dream a reality and they’re both out of business.

That would require the Right to give up their fear and loathing of uppity Black men.  But since conservatives like the Koch brothers like their Negroes docile and childlike (Where’s my mint julep, Herman Cain?) and hate to be reminded racism still exists that seems unlikely.

We are going to have to learn to live with Sharpton and Jackson, warts and all.  Reservations aside, Trayvon Martin needs champions to find justice for him and while they are no Martin or Malcolm, this is the right cause even if they are the wrong men.

The right men for the right cause?

Strange Bedfellows: The Gay Defender of a Gay Basher

"...and the Lawn Jockey for the Most Hateful Bigot goes to ME!"

MSNBC finally had enough of their in-house Little Hitler and fired Pat Buchanan.  The aging old bigot greased the pole himself with his Suicide of A Superpower book where he whined about the end of White America by 2025.

Following his exile from the supposedly “liberal” cable channel, Buchanan fumed that his left-wing enemies had finally claimed his scalp.

My days as a political analyst at MSNBC have come to an end.

After 10 enjoyable years, I am departing, after an incessant clamor from the left that to permit me continued access to the microphones of MSNBC would be an outrage against decency, and dangerous.

The calls for my firing began almost immediately with the Oct. 18 publication of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?”

A group called Color of Change, whose mission statement says that it “exists to strengthen Black America’s political voice,” claimed that my book espouses a “white supremacist ideology.” Color of Change took particular umbrage at the title of Chapter 4, “The End of White America.”

I know these blacklisters. They operate behind closed doors, with phone calls, mailed threats and off-the-record meetings. They work in the dark because, as Al Smith said, nothing un-American can live in the sunlight.

No one is being “blacklisted” here. Certainly not Buchanan. He’s still free to write his shitty books and columns and appear on whatever TV show that wants to air his rancid views. CNN and MSNBC have said, “no mas” so he’s free to continue polluting PBS and The McLaughlin Group or Fox News if they need another Glenn Beck type.

No surprise that Buchanan accepted no responsibility for his downfall.  He’s not the self-reflective type.  What was a slight surprise was how Buchanan’s bouncing triggered an onslaught of hand-wringing weeping and wailing from useful idiots like The Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan, the gay neo-conservative whose soft spot for bigots includes Ron Paul.

"Stop being mean to Pat just because he's mean to you."

Sullivan wrote,  “Sixteen years ago, when I came out as HIV-positive and quit TNR’s editorship, Buchanan, who had sparred relentlessly in public with me over gay equality, wrote me a personal hand-written note. He wrote he was saddened by what he heard – which was then regarded as an imminent death sentence – and wanted to say how he would pray that I would survive, if only so we could continue to argue and fight and debate for many more years. He was one of only two Washingtonians who did such a thing. I was moved beyond words. But he knew I loved a good argument as well. Over a gulf of ideological and philosophical difference, we could debate reasonably…He’s a complicated man and I will not defend for a second his views on many things. But he is also a compassionate and decent man in private and an honest intellectual in public.”

I particularly found this passage by Sullivan  interesting, “He truly believes what he says and has read and researched a huge amount and has thought carefully about his extreme out-of-the-mainstream views. He is a serious figure in that respect. Compared with Al Sharpton or Ed Schultz, he is a paragon of intellectual integrity. He is not a propagandist. He is a passionate writer who loves nothing more than a good argument with a worthy opponent – and he has a serious sense of humor to boot.”

As far as Sullivan concerned it’s all good to be a racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, Nazi slurping, sexist bigot just so long as you have thought carefully out your extreme out-of-the-mainstream views and you have a sense of humor.

Sullivan extols Buchanan’s compassion and decency while ignoring how it does not extend to other gay men. This is the same “honest intellectual” who said AIDS was “nature’s revenge” and history of denouncing homosexuality includes remarks such as:

The gays may counter that the American Psychiatric Association has, of late, dropped homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. That, however, tells us less about the nature of homosexuals than about the moral courage of the APA. If a covey of quacks voted tomorrow that masochism, bestiality, and incest were not signs of personality disorder, that don’t necessarily make it so. One need not be a doctor of philosophy to know that when some 40-year-old male paints his face with rouge and lipstick and prances around in women’s clothes, he ain’t playing with a full deck.

Homosexuality is not a civil right. Its rise almost always is accompanied, as in the Weimar Republic, with a decay of society and a collapse of its basic cinder block, the family. Homosexuality involves sexual acts most men consider not only immoral, but filthy. The reason public men rarely say aloud what most say privately is they are fearful of being branded ‘bigots’ by an intolerant liberal orthodoxy that holds, against all evidence and experience, that homosexuality is a normal, healthy lifestyle.

There is no brief for police harassment or persecution of homosexuals. They have the same right to protection from exploitation as alcoholics, who are, likewise, sick people. As for putting practicing homosexuals in prison, as some state laws mandate, that is like throwing B’rer Rabbit into the briar patch.

As an openly gay man, Sullivan’s passionate defend of his buddy Buchanan is as indefensible as Jews that collaborated with the Nazis.  What’s the gay equivalent of an Uncle Tom?

Buchanan can take his tired act over to Fox News after burning out at CNN and MSNBC. Fox is the logical last step for this Angry Old White Man before Stormfront,  Nobody ever got fired from Fox for being too prejudiced.

The tolerance for Buchanan’s hatred for everything non-White, non-heterosexual and non-Christian is legendary, documented and unlimited. Idiots like Andrew Sullivan can kiss his Irish ass all they like, but for anyone who doesn’t fit into the Wonderful White World of Pat Buchanan, you’re on his enemies list.

I’m extremely pleased to consider myself as an enemy to all things Pat Buchanan. Sullivan should smarten up and realize Buchanan’s America has no room for gays, even conservative British ones.

No, Read OUR Lips, Pat. You're FIRED!

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Bros Before Hos: Black Academics Style

History will be made Saturday morning when Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University, hosts a morning political talk show on MSNBC.   Asked what her show will be about Harris-Perry told The Amsterdam News,  “Although it’s not a show about race-look, I’m a professor of African-American politics, so we’re going to be talking about race. I’m a feminist, so we’re going to be talking about gender. I’m a parent, so we’re going to be talking about kids and young people. I live in the South, so we’re going to talk about politics beyond the D.C.-to-New-York corridor. It’s a political show but it definitely has a point of view.”

Those are points of view absent from the Sunday morning talking heads shows where Black women are non-existent.  I welcome Harris-Perry and wish her well.  But there’s no news that someone can’t find a way to receive it as bad.   Enter Cornel “the ‘Fro” West and his Mini-Me, Boyce Watkins.

In an interview, West unloaded on Harris-Perry, his former colleague at Princeton. “I have a love for the sister, but she is a liar, and I hate lying,’ says West. . . . She’s become the momentary darling of the liberals, but I pray for her because she’s in over her head. She’s a fake and a fraud. I was so surprised how treacherous the sister was.’

Yet before West heated up a clothes hanger to whip on Harris-Perry with, Watkins had scribbled his own bit of character assassination with a piece, “5 Reasons Melissa Harris-Perry is Perfect for MSNBC.”

If I end up sounding like a hater, it’s because I probably am.  White people, as a collective, have never like (sic) me very much and advocating for black folks has never been an easy way to pay the bills.  Also, my gripe with Melissa is the same I’d have with any black person who allows herself to be propped up by the Democrats to do their dirty work against Cornel West as he spoke on behalf of black, brown and poor people.   Harris never proved that Dr. West was wrong – she only sought to discredit him and dismantle his voice.  In that regard, she was no different from a slave using the master’s gun to kill the leader of the negro rebellion.

She is clearly a liberal who happens to be a black woman, not a black woman who happens to be a liberal…The whole light-skinned black liberal thing works in her favor:  I should start by noting that I’m a bit light-skinned myself and nearly all of my relatives are of the “high-yella” variety (I was adopted).  So, this is not meant to offend anyone with light skin.

Watkins breaks out the pimp stick.

In one breath, Watkins says he doesn’t mean to offend light-skinned Blacks.  Can you guess what he follows that caution with?  If you guessed offending light-skinned Blacks, you win!

But, the emergence of Barack Obama has opened the door for quite a few light-skinned, non-threatening, black superstars of both politics and media:  Cory Booker, Harold Ford, Don Lemon on CNN and a few others have been able to benefit from this wave.  Harris-Perry is a perfect fit as the (in the words of cousin Pookie) “light-skinded-ded,” red-bone, highly educated liberal that white folks tend to love.  Nothing militant will come out of her mouth, unless she’s angry about a new immigration law or some civil liberties violation in the National Defense Authorization Act.  Not to say that there’s anything wrong with the “light-skinned liberal analyst” phenomenon, but I wonder how successful these folks might be if they looked like they were siblings of Wesley Snipes – darker skinned commentators and pundits deserve opportunities as well, and I argue that they are being put to the side (can you think of one dark-skinned person in prime time media?  Me neither).

The cherry on top of Watkins talking out of both sides of his mouth comes with a slap at Harris-Perry for doing the exact same thing he does.

Black journalists have long complained about what Al Sharpton referred to as “All white, all night,” in which most of the major cable news outlets didn’t have any hosts of color on their nightly branded shows.   The best way to shut down that criticism is to hire Al Sharpton himself, which is exactly what MSNBC did.  But one challenge is that neither Sharpton, nor Harris-Perry, is a professionally-trained journalist, so there are still quite a few talented black journalists who are seething over the fact that MSNBC went after black scholars and activists, rather than seasoned media professionals.

For the record, I am not a real journalist either.  I am one of those scholar/activists who’s been able to benefit from the bias of which I am speaking (I have more media appearances than nearly all of my journalist friends).

Nobody made more of an issue about Sharpton landing the MSNBC gig than I did, but Watkins has twisted the legitimate concerns of “real journalists” who would like to see Blacks who do this thing for a living a shot at these television gigs as well as Black scholars and activists.

Watkins doesn’t like Harris-Perry, he’s not happy for her and he even goes so far as to question her Blackness and commitment to Black people because she prefers Obama to West. It just comes off as that small-minded, crabs in a barrel mentality that keeps us busy squabbling over small stuff that isn’t worth squat.

Call me a cynic, but this “I won’t do cable TV ’cause I want to keep it real” rap is more than a little self-serving. There are too many Black folks who are doing cable TV and they aren’t running away from their Blackness by doing so.   Watkins spew out a hit piece that is mean, petty, and it smacks of simple envy. If MSNBC offered Watkins a show he’d run over  West to get it.

On his Facebook page, Watkins denied everything in response to my challenging him about Harris-Perry.

Never blame on malice what can be adequately explained by sexism.

Brother, I can give you the real deal on the “smell test” – my goal is not to be objective about Melissa or to politely say “congratulations” to someone I think is bad for black America.


I make it ABUNDANTLY CLEAR that I am not appreciative of Melissa’s views. Her attacks on Cornel were uncalled for and unvalidated – I was very angry at the way she allowed white folks to prop her up on a platform so she could do the dirty work for the Democrats who were upset that Cornel was out speaking on behalf of poor, black and brown folks.

To answer any questions that might be asked about my remarks…no, I don’t want a f*cking job at MSNBC. I’ve been on all the networks numerous times and could have gotten quite a few gigs had I been a “good boy.” I’ve lost millions for speaking what I believe to be the truth and my only goal is to seek independence of thought and commerce for black America. In far too many cases, major black voices are controlled by white-owned media outlets and corporations – That’s why I put all my money and time into yourblackworld.com, which allows me to get my message to the public without having to ask for a white man’s permission. I don’t hate white folks, but the truth is that their agenda is almost always different from your own and they always view us as second-class citizens.

Someone who is “bad for Black America?” What is about Melissa Harris-Perry that is “bad for Black America?”  What’s really bad for Black America are Black academics talking smack like winos on the corner.

Harris-Perry took issue with West when he whined to a WHITE guy (Chris Hedges) how hurt he was that he didn’t get a personal invitation to Obama’s inauguration.

West came off like a jilted girlfriend, not a preeminent Black intellectual. It was pompous, it was small and it was arrogant as hell. Cornel West wasn’t speaking out for poor, Black and brown folks. He was ticked off that “the dear brother” who brought his bags to his hotel room had a ticket to the Inauguration and he didn’t.

There is a cost for working in the mainstream (just ask Roland Martin), but I’m not buying the line only those out of it care about, protect the interests of, and love Black people. No one is required to watch MHP on MSNBC.    Just don’t say you’re “happy” for her when you have made it crystal clear you are anything but.

Going after Harris-Perry for being “light-skinned” is as petty at it gets.  By the Boyce Watkins  standard, only folks as dark as Wesley Snipes (or Clarence Thomas!) can legitimately criticize other Blacks because they are “dark enough to decide who is really part of the club.

The weakest attack to make against someone is to cast doubts upon the content of the character based upon the color of their skin.     Black academics love a good disagreement, but when the intellectual quality of the argument doesn’t rise to the level of a beef between second-rate rappers, that’s pathetic.

West and Watkins are too smart brothers.  They should be smart enough to expend their brain power on a real problem facing Black folks.  Harris-Perry getting a TV show isn’t one of them.   Then again, maybe there’s another reason for Watkins and West’s “bros before hos”  smackdown of MHP.  Maybe it’s nothing more than sexism.  Plain and simple, they are simply asserting their male prerogative to put an uppity sista in her place.

Sometimes its most obvious reasons that are the least considered.

The next time West and Smiley plan a road trip for self-serving publicity, they should pack a booster seat in the back and bring Boyce Watkins along for the ride.