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.

Shut Up, Fool! The Post-Zimmerman Bipartisan Edition.

Show you my championship rings? Man, I don’t have to show you any championship rings! I don’t have any to show!

1. Charles Barkley, the Still Round Mound of Rebound:  “Well, I agree with the verdict. I feel sorry that young kid got killed, but they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him. Something clearly went wrong that night — clearly something went wrong — and I feel bad for anybody who loses a kid, but if you looked at the case and you don’t make it — there was some racial profiling, no question about it — but something happened that changed the dynamic of that night.”

“Mr. Zimmerman was wrong to pursue, he was racial profiling, but I think Trayvon Martin — God rest his soul — I think he did flip the switch and started beating the hell out of Mr. Zimmerman. But it was just a bad situation.”

“I just feel bad because I don’t like when race gets out in the media because I don’t think the media has a ‘pure heart,’ as I call it. There are very few people who have a pure heart when it comes to race. Racism is wrong in any shape [or] form — there are a lot of black people who are racist, too. I think sometimes when people talk about race, they act like only white people are racist. There are a lot of black people who are racist. And I don’t like when it gets out there in the media because I don’t think the media has clean hands.”

Neither do you, Chuck. 

2.  Bill Cosby, Cranky Comedian:  “See this racial stuff goes into a whole bunch of discussion which has stuff that you can’t prove. You can’t prove if somebody is a racist unless they really come out and do the act and is found to be that.”

3.  Ted Nugent, Aging Rocker, NRA Member, Draft Dodging Dickhead:   The race-baiting industry saw an opportunity to further the racist careers of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the Black Panthers, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, et al, who then swept down on the Florida community refusing to admit that the 17-year-old dope smoking, racist gangsta wannabe Trayvon Martin was at all responsible for his bad decisions and standard modus operendi of always taking the violent route.”

“Trayvon had no reason not to attack, because it was the standard thug thing to do. See Chicago any day of the week.”

Ted is well-known for not using drugs or alcohol.   The Nuge’s vice was groupies,, Lots of then and if they were pre-pubescent girls at the time, that didn’t slow Teddy’s roll.   Maybe he has syphilis from too much sex with no latex.   One can only hope. 

The Rock n’ Roll Racist Redneck

4.  Lupe Fiasco:   “Rub your face in it! Swallow down that hard pill! Black blood spills in the streets of America nightly at the hands other blacks,” reads one tweet. “Half y’all been partying to Black Death for the past 2 decades…the other half watched the party…don’t be angry now!”

“Nobody knows what really happened except Trayvon and Zimmerman. The justice system relies on reasonable doubt not our emotions.”

“The case should have never been televised as the potential to antagonize US race relations was, in my dumb opinion too risky & unnecessary.”

When a man calls his own opinions “dumb” I have no choice but to concur.  Lupe is a Fiasco. 

5.  Jimmy Carter, Failed Ex-President:  “I think the jury made the right decision based on the evidence presented, because the prosecution inadvertently set the standard so high that the jury had to be convinced that it was a deliberate act by Zimmerman that he was not at all defending himself, and so forth. It’s not a moral question, it’s a legal question and the American law requires that the jury listens to the evidence presented.”

Thank you Mr President for reminding me why I voted for John Anderson.   It took Clinton and Obama both winning second terms to finally rid the Democratic Party of the stink of your loser ass. 

Yep. I sucked as president.

6.  Alveda King, Martin Luther King’s right-wing niece, but mostly a nobody:   “It is not helpful to race-bait.  “[The] NAACP and all of the organizations … We need to wonder why they’re doing that, what kind of checks and money they’re getting behind the scenes to stir us up into racial anarchy.

“We should be speaking nonviolence, justice, peace and love as Trayvon’s parents are doing, by the way. So we need to ask why they’re race baiting, because they are.  There’s no black race, white race, yellow race and red race. The other thing is, Mr. Zimmerman is not a Caucasian. He’s a Hispanic. The media is somehow forgetting that, so [there are] all of these nuances, all of the race-baiting, all of the pain.”

“Stop thinking that this is a race thing between separate races. This is all human beings here. If we’re still feeling that one part of our community is better than the other because of skin color, that’s got to change right now.”

Aw, go pimp your dead uncle’s last name some more.  That’s what you do best.

7.  Ann Coulter:  Black liberals keep bemoaning the danger to their own teenage sons after the “not guilty” verdict in George Zimmerman‘s murder trial. To avoid what happened to Trayvon Martin, their boys need only follow this advice: Don’t walk up to a stranger and punch him, ground-and-pound him, MMA-style, and repeatedly smash his head against the pavement.

Perhaps, someday, blacks will win the right to be treated like volitional human beings. But not yet.

Perhaps, someday,  Ann Coulter won’t say something that is vile,  repugnant, racist and stupid, but she’ll probably be lying in her casket when that day comes. 

Annie and a friend

8.  Bill O’ Reilly,  Well-Paid, Big Mouth Angry White Guy:  The sad truth is that from the President on down, our leadership has no clue, no clue at all about how to solve problems within the black community. And many are frightened to even broach the issue. That’s because race hustlers and the grievance industry have intimidated the so- called “conversation,” turning any valid criticism of African-American culture into charges of racial bias.

Trayvon Martin was killed because circumstances got out of control. He was scrutinized by a neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, because of the way he looked. Not necessarily his skin color, there is no evidence of that but because he was a stranger to Zimmerman and was dressed in clothing sometimes used by street criminals.

It was wrong for Zimmerman to confront Martin based on his appearance. But the culture that we have in this country does lead to criminal profiling because young black American men are so often involved in crime, the statistics overwhelming.

But here is the headline: young black men commit homicides at a rate 10 times greater than whites and Hispanics combined. When presented with damning evidence like that, and like the mini-holocaust in Chicago where hundreds of African-Americans are murdered each year the civil rights industry looks the other way or makes excuses. They blame guns, poor education, lack of jobs, rarely do they define the problem accurately. So here it is. The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African-American family.
You want a conversation, you got it. You want a better situation for blacks, give them a chance to revive their neighborhoods and culture. Work with the good people to stop the bad people. Pumping money into the chaos does little. You can’t legislate good parenting or responsible entertainment. But you can fight against the madness, with discipline, a firm message and little tolerance for excuse-making.

It is now time for the African-American leadership, including President Obama to stop the nonsense. Walk away from the world of victimization and grievance and lead the way out of this mess.

Big Bill has vast experience dealing with Blacks as he shared in 2007 when as Al Sharpton’s dinner guest at Sylvia’s in Harlem,  O’Reilly was flabbergasted to report, “[There] wasn’t any kind of craziness at all.   There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, ‘M.F.-er, I want more iced tea.’ It was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense that people were sitting there and they were ordering and just having fun.”

Bill O’Reilly:  BFF with the Black Community. 

“Damn. I’m gorgeous!”

9. Richard Cohen Washington Post columnist and reactionary:  I don’t like what George Zimmerman did, and I hate that Trayvon Martin is dead. But I also can understand why Zimmerman was suspicious and why he thought Martin was wearing a uniform we all recognize. I don’t know whether Zimmerman is a racist. But I’m tired of politicians and others who have donned hoodies in solidarity with Martin and who essentially suggest that, for recognizing the reality of urban crime in the United States, I am a racist. The hoodie blinds them as much as it did Zimmerman.

I hate to tell you Richard, but when you make a sweeping generalization about every Black kid who wears a hoodie with “the reality of urban crime” that is not just unrealistic, it’s a little bit racist. 

10.  Allen West: One-Term Congressman and Full-Time Dipshit:  “I am a black male who grew up in the inner city of Atlanta and no one ever followed me in a mall. I don’t recall any doors clicking when I crossed the street. And I never had anyone clutching their handbag when I got on an elevator. I guess having two awesome parents who taught me to be a respectful young man paid dividends.”

Ooh.  Nice burn of Trayvon Martin’s parents, Al  It’s too bad your “awesome parents” didn’t teach you to be respectful of a family grieving for their murdered son.  They should have taught you not to be such a flaming asshole. 

“How many people don’t think I’m an asshole? THIS many!”

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.”

Tavis Hates Barack: Take 25

"I am important so you should listen to me."

“I am important so you should listen to me.”

Last weekend was spent in Canton, Ohio visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame and getting primed for the start of another NFL season, but don’t worry.   This isn’t a football post.  I can’t get away from politics even when I’m trying to.

Tavis Smiley is talking again which means again he’s talking trash about President Obama.   These two guys don’t like each other and for his part, Tavis is never going to let the world forget how much he doesn’t like Obama.   The president doesn’t respond to Tavis’ slams because he’s the president and he doesn’t have to respond to non-entities.

So I will.  Because I don’t like Tavis.  If possible, I like him less than he likes Obama and for the same reason he hates on Obama.  Smiley is a con man.  A self-promoter.  He talks a good game but what if anything has Tavis ever done except write a lot of shitty books, find others more talented and intelligent than him to latch onto and leech off and whore himself out to whatever corporation needs a fast-talking Negro to get in good with the Black folks?

Tavis went on Meet the Press because host David Gregory is almost as terrible at interviewing as Tavis is and that’s saying something.    In what was billed a panel to discuss race, Tavis tried to start a rap battle with the president over his remarks about Trayvon Martin saying his flow was weak and his words weren’t kicking either.

The lowlights:

“weak as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid”

We are never ever getting back together again.

“This is not Libya, this is America. On this issue, you cannot lead from behind.  He’s the right person in the right place at the right time. But he has to step into his moment.”

“I appreciate and applaud the fact that the president did finally show up. But … he did not walk to the podium for an impromptu address to the nation. He was pushed to that podium. A week of protests outside the White House, pressure building on him inside the White House, pushed him to that podium.”

At this point there’s no reason to believe Tavis is capable of saying anything remotely fair about Obama, but is “intelligent” off the table as well?

The president isn’t deaf to the cries of the Black community.  He can’t always acknowledge them without his relentless critics saying, “There he goes again.  Being Black” or have jealous little toads like the worthless Mr. Smiley sneering he only spoke about Trayvon due to the protests.   But did Tavis notice how Travyon’s parents thanked the president for his kind words about their murdered son?   The praise of Trayvon’s parents trumps Tavis’ hateration and it isn’t a close call.

It’s a lose-lose situation for Obama.  Say something and he gets slammed by his enemies.   Say nothing and he gets slammed by his supporters.    James Baldwin said, “To act is to be committed and to be committed is to be in danger.”   The president is always in danger of being Too Black or Not Black Enough.  He chose to act and commit his support of Trayvon and his family.  I’m glad he decided to lead from ahead instead of hide behind the myriad issues and events in the Oval Office Inbox.

Here is the funny thing about clout.   For somebody to have it, somebody else has to lose it.  The rising of Obama’s star came with a settling of Smiley’s.  Prior to Obama, Tavis had a prominent place as commentator on Tom Joyner’s radio program.   He had his State of the Black Union conferences broadcast on C-SPAN.   He had his books telling Blacks how to get themselves together.  Mostly, by buying more of his books.   He had a radio program on NPR.   He had a show on PBS.

With the exception of his 30 minute talk show broadcast just before midnight on my local PBS station, Smiley doesn’t have any of that going for him anymore.   Smiley’s downward spiral really kicked after his book that was supposed to put Obama on notice, “Accountable” tanked hard.  Characteristically, Smiley didn’t blame the book stiffing on writing a bad book.  He blamed Black folks for being so in love with Obama they didn’t buy it so y’all better feel terrible about that!

What really chaps Tavis’ ass is he knows he didn’t make Obama and he sure can’t break him. Tavis is irrelevant and Obama made him that way.

The argument Tavis makes is he has been called to hold Obama’s feet to the fire.   It’s the only way to ensure the president doesn’t completely ignore our issues.   That’s how Tavis sees it and he’s sticking to his story.

This is mine.

Tavis isn’t keeping “MY” issues out there. I don’t need a spokesman and nobody elected this fool to be MY leader. I voted for Obama twice and didn’t see Smiley’s name on the ballot even once.  He’s a self-promoter, a swindler, a con man and out for Tavis Smiley more than he is about anybody else. Remember that “poverty tour” he and his boy Cornel took? What came out of it? Any calls for legislation? Did he ask Congress to convene hearings? Did he even present an action plan for the president to work on?

All he and bunk buddy West did was pulled off a media stunt, get a little undeserved attention at the same time yet another book was coming out.  When conservatives talk about “race hustlers” they point at Sharpton and Jackson. They should be pointing at Tavis “Sub-Prime Loans” Smiley.

While it’s good for visitor hits on my blog, talking about Tavis’ trash talk is a never-ending story.  Like any race hustler who craves attention like a moth to a porch light, I’m giving this unimportant has-been exactly what he craves.  The election of Obama was a mortal blow to the unelected “leaders” of Black America.  Smiley and West were never elected so they can never be tossed out of office.   They offer no legislation, sign no laws, and offer nothing but talk and then more talk. Tavis and his ilk is only as important as Black people let him be.  Ignore him and he’s as played out as Rae Dawn Chong ripping into Oprah.

Rae Dawn and Tavis would actually make a good couple (if she could squeeze between Tavis and Cornel West).  They’re two nobodies whose only way to find relevance is taking smack about more successful somebodies.

“What did I get on my finger? It stinks.”

The President Talks Trayvon Martin

Hey, you know that Black guy in the White House who supposedly never ever talks about issues of great concern to Black folks?

He just did.  About the biggest issue of great concern to Black folks.  So you can stop whining about it.  At least for the rest of today.

REPORTERS: Whoa!

Q: Hello.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That’s so — that’s so disappointing, man. Jay, is this kind of — the kind of respect that you get? (Laughter.)

Q: Wake up!

Q: What brings you out here, Mr. —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, on — on — on television it usually looks like you’re addressing a full room.

Q: (Laughs.) It’s just a mirage.

Q: There’s generally not —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right.

(Cross talk.)

Q: (Inaudible) — got the Detroit story.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I got you. All right. Sorry about that. Do you think anybody else is showing up? Good.

Well, I — I wanted to come out here first of all to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions and is — is very much looking forward to the session.

Second thing is I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks there are going to obviously be a whole range of issues — immigration, economics, et cetera — we’ll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.

The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week, the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling. I gave an — a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday, but watching the debate over the course of the last week I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.

First of all, you know, I — I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s — it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.

And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And you know, I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there are going to be a lot of arguments about the legal — legal issues in the case. I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.

The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a — in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.

But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.

The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact, although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.

We understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African-American community is also not naive in understanding that statistically somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.

So — so folks understand the challenges that exist for African- American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it or — and that context is being denied. And — and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question for me at least, and I think, for a lot of folks is, where do we take this? How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction? You know, I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through as long as it remains nonviolent. If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family.

But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do? I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government — the criminal code. And law enforcement has traditionally done it at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.

That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation, we can’t do some things that I think would be productive. So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it’d be productive for the Justice Department — governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.

You know, when I was in Illinois I passed racial profiling legislation. And it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.

And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way, that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and in turn be more helpful in applying the law. And obviously law enforcement’s got a very tough job.

So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought bear if state and local governments are receptive. And I think a lot of them would be. And — and let’s figure out other ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than defuse potential altercations.

I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the stand your ground laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.

On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?

And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Number three — and this is a long-term project: We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

You know, I’m not naive about the prospects of some brand-new federal program.

I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I do recognize that as president, I’ve got some convening power.

And there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front. And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African-American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that — and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed — you know, I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation. And we’re going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that.

And then finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. You know, there have been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.

On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s a possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can; am I judging people, as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with — with a final thought, that as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. I doesn’t mean that we’re in a postracial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are. They’re better than we were on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

And so, you know, we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues, and those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions. But we should also have confidence that kids these days I think have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did, and that along this long, difficult journey, you know, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

All right? Thank you, guys.

Q: Could you —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Now you can — now you can talk to Jay.

(Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service)

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Objective Journalism? Never Touch the Stuff

The National Association of Black Journalists meets for their annual convention.   This year it is being held in Orlando, Florida and in the wake of the George Zimmerman acquittal, Florida is not the happiest place on earth for many activists.   In fact, many are calling for a boycott of the Sunshine and Negro Hunting State.  Outgoing NABJ President Greg Lee told The Huffington Post the convention will go on as scheduled because canceling it would bankrupt the group.

“If we were to do something such as boycott, it would basically bankrupt our organization and it really defeats the purpose and takes away a powerful voice,” said Lee. “We had to look at the long-term view. Our organization is very vital to our nation, to our community in making sure that our stories are being told. … If there was no National Association of Black Journalists, you wouldn’t have had the Trayvon Martin story out there.”

That’s a stretch.   NABJ doesn’t publish any newspapers or magazines or produce any television or radio programs.   The Black press and the blogs like this one were way out in front of the Trayvon Martin story before the mainstream media woke up to it.   I’ve been a member of NABJ off and on (current status: off) since 1992 and not once have I ever thought of  NABJ as “very vital to our nation.”   If you’re not a journalist the odds are pretty good you’ve never even heard of the NABJ, let alone consider them “vital” to America.

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That piece of b.s. by Lee aside, I agree with the decision not to cancel the convention.

Florida is not the most popular place in America based upon the Zimmerman jury essentially saying young Black males can be hunted down and killed with impunity and no fear of legal sanction. That’s a sobering message many in the Black community are not feeling and they won’t be feeling much love for NABJ for going to Florida.

But cancelling out would send the organization into a financial tailspin it might never pull out of. The contracts that sent NABJ to Orlando were signed years, not weeks or months ago.  NABJ will take heat for going to Orlando, but that criticism will fade while a decision to scrub the convention would have immediately devastating effects.

That doesn’t mean NABJ is exempt from the burning issues of the day even though some members think it should be as this guy did on the organization’s Facebook page:  I think it’s weird that as a journalism organization, some are wanting us to show a bias of this nature in the first place. It’s like we forgot what we do because the outcome of a trial wasn’t what we personally wanted…

What I think is weird is anybody working in this business who thinks the public doesn’t already thinks journalists are biased.  They should because we are biased.   I’m just honest enough to admit I am and I’m fine with being so.

I try to be fair, balanced, accurate and tell the story as straight-forward as I can when I am wearing my journalism hat.

But I’m not objective. I’ve never tried to pretend I was. It’s fine with me if you think you are, but whomever it is that’s writing your checks probably isn’t.

One of my greatest influences in journalism was Hunter S. Thompson. Reading Thompson was like going from bubble-gum pop music to Miles Davis. You learned there was more to journalism than AP style and the inverted pyramid of telling a story. You could also words as scalpels or bludgeons as the need arose.

I think some Black journalists are scared of being seen as Black and only want to considered journalists.   That is neutering yourself in search of validation from someone else.  Swear you don’t put your Blackness  before Journalism!  Swear it!!  Journalism is thy God and thou shalt have no other gods before Journalism.

This was Thompson take on being an objective journalist from his book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.

“Objective journalism is a pompous contradiction in terms.”

“So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here–not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.”

Agreed and seconded.  Objective Journalism belongs in the same place as Oz, Narnia and Atlantis. It’s a mythical place where many seek and few find. Think of yourself as “objective” if you want. It doesn’t mean your editor or publisher shares your philosophy.

It is drilled in the heads of journalists that we must be balanced about all things as if the news were a pie that can be cut in perfectly equal sections.  Every story isn’t balanced and the other side of the argument is often stupid, crazy or flat-out wrong, but you must present it so you can say at least you were “objective.”

I’m calling bullshit on that.  Thompson placed a greater value on honesty than objectivity and it’s worked for me as it worked for him.

You should be fair.  You should strive to be accurate.  You must always be honest.  If you can be objective, that’s nice, but it runs counter to everything I know about human beings and I doubt you really are.

There’s (NOT) A Riot Goin’ On

Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Where’s all the smoke and flame and cops and dead bodies everywhere?

Hey! What happened to all the rioting and burning and looting and shooting and raping and killing in the U.S.A we were guaranteed would occur if Zimmerman was acquitted? What’s all this peaceful demonstrating for Trayvon Martin after his killer walked?

Can’t Blacks even riot like they used to?   Is NOTHING sacred?

I think we should all acknowledge if Sanford, Florida isn’t being burnt to a cinder by now it’s never going to happen. All this bullshit, inflammatory, race-baiting talk about Black folks rioting in the streets and taking revenge on White people following a Zimmerman acquittal was just that: BULLSHIT.

If it had happened, it would have been completely understandable. It could have happened. Maybe it even should have happened. But it didn’t happen. Any violence was limited, localized and small in both scale and significance.  Enough blood had been spilled.  Who really wanted more?

God knows the racists wanted it. Rush wanted it. CNN wanted it.  Can’t you see Wolf Blitzer and John King in front of a three-dimensional layout of the country going up in flames?   Geraldo Rivera and Fox News really wanted it. They wanted Negroes to act like fools.  It would be great for the rating, but you can’t always get what you want.

Drunken White people riot when their fucking hockey team loses the Stanley Cup but we’re not about to ban hockey. Let an unarmed Black kid get gunned down by one twisted fat fuck with a gun and it’s the L.A. riots all over again.  It didn’t quite turn out that way but nobody’s about go on television or the radio or online to say, “Well, damn. Guess I was wrong. Black people have more respect for the law than I thought.”

But I don’t want to make this about RACE. Oh, heavens, no! Race had nothing to do with this. If you believe that you probably think that’s golden raindrops falling on your head too.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t any race cards being played.   I got this e-mail in my inbox the night the verdict was announced.  The subject line read:  “Zimm Aquit, let the black animals loose!” and the one sentence read:  So, here we go, Free HD wide screen Tv’s! Come and get your FREE shit! ANY excuse will do! It’s not color,  it’s FREE STUFF!

I didn’t reply that night.  Or the next.  Or the night after that. I waited until I was ready for a rebuttal.

No rioting.  No raping.  No burning.  No looting.  No White people killed for being White.

I know you must be so butthurt about that.  Sorry.  Guess those “Black animals” were more civilized than you thought.  To the extent you think at all.

No wonder you’re sucking Zimmerman’s dick so hard.  You wish it was you that shot down Trayvon Martin.

You can take your “Black animals” shit and shove it up your ass.

I never knew what a hopeless racist you really are.  I’d say I feel sorry for your paranoia, but honestly?  I don’t give a damn.

If you're going to riot, you might as well do it for a stupid reason.

If you’re going to riot, you might as well do it for a stupid reason.

Hate isn’t  kept alive by bigots like the Klan or race hustlers or trouble making outsiders.   It’s us.  It’s always just us.   It’s what happens when all we  see in each other is a color or a religion or a sexual orientation or a gender first and humanity a distant second, if at all.  That makes us no different from George Zimmerman.  All he saw was Trayvon as the Black kid in the wrong neighborhood.

That’s why it was so easy for Zimmerman to kill Trayvon.  He wasn’t human to him.  He still isn’t.

He’s not the only one either.

 

Rabbit Season, Duck Season, Trayvon Season

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“So George, what’s the first thing you’re going to do now that you’re free?”
“Going hunting. Again.”

“Fucking punks. These assholes always get away.”  ~ George “The Hunter” Zimmerman

The fix was in.   We knew it would end this way.  It always ends this way.  Black people crying and the killers of Black people smiling triumphantly.    One is vindicated and the other is vilified.  Same as it ever was.

The last time I felt like this was in April 1992 when another jury with no Blacks on it found the four cops who beat up Rodney King not guilty.  America betrayed me then too.

Whenever we are in danger of forgetting  America reminds its Black sons and daughters exactly how cheap their lives are.   Just the same way it did for Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell and Oscar Grant and Rodney King.    With a slap on the wrist, a victorious acquittal and a big gob of spit right in the face of every one that hoped maybe this time would be the time when justice prevailed and someone would pay for killing a young Black man the way they didn’t pay for Diallo, Bell, Grant, and King.

It wouldn’t be George Zimmerman.  He walked out of the courtroom “not guilty” on all charges as a free man.   He even got the gun back he used to shoot Trayvon Martin.

Tomorrow George Zimmerman can go hunting for another Trayvon Martin. And now he has the blessings of the American justice system to do so.

No surprise. As my older brother said, “It’s a commentary on the value of a Black kid’s life.”

Six women, five White and one Hispanic, sat in the courtroom looking at Sybrina Fulton, Travyon’s mother and they concluded,  “Your son didn’t matter.  His life didn’t matter.”   They gave Gladys Zimmerman back her son George.   Sybrina Fulton can go to the cemetery if she wants to see her son.

“Today, justice failed Trayvon Martin and his family,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP. “We call immediately for the Justice Department to conduct an investigation into the civil rights violations committed against Trayvon Martin. This case has re-energized the movement to end racial profiling in the United States.”

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He’s got a hoodie and he’s Black! Shoot first and ask no questions later.

“It seems that Trayvon Martin was tried and found guilty of his own death”   MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry said and indeed he was.

Blackness is a crime.  Punishable by death.   Travyon was guilty of being Black.  And he’s dead.  I’d like to cry about it.  I’d like to drink myself into numbness.

But I’m not crying and I’m not drinking. I couldn’t be more sober. “American Justice?” That’s an oxymoron.

I don’t believe there will be widespread rioting or acts of violence.  There will be some, but not that much and not that bad.   While idiots were predicting mass insurrections and the blood of innocent Whites flowing in the gutters, I never believed it.   That was just wishful thinking by racists.    We are angry and we are hurt, but we are not savages.   We will not fall into the traps laid by hateful bastards like Geraldo Rivera and the Fox News cabal who can’t to chortle and say, “We told you so.  We told you those niggers would go crazy if Zimmerman walked.”

There was no Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram, no social media in which to curse, rage and vent.    Most people are slow to anger and while there is plenty of anger, the emotion I detect most is hurt.   Hurt that yet again America reminds its Black children it is an inattentive, cold and cruel parent that does not love us as we love it and places no value or worth on our lives.    This is not a White thing.   There are plenty of pissed-off people about this abortion of “justice” and it crosses over all race lines.   No, this is an American thing and that separateness, that feeling of unequal protection and that we remain a problem to be solved and not a loyal and trusted citizen to be embraced.

I am ashamed of my country.   I don’t feel like an American.   I feel like an alien in a hostile world that doesn’t understand me and hates me and all that I love.   I wonder if there’s somewhere better than this?   Or does my skin color trump my very humanity everywhere on this wretched planet as it does everywhere in this wretched country? It’s been a while, some 21 years since the Los Angeles riots that I felt this way.   It has been over two decades since last I felt this sort of acidic and withering contempt for America and a legal system that rubber stamps the hunting and killing of unarmed teenagers.

This jury did not see Travyon as a human being with the right to live like a human being.  To them Trayvon was a disease and Zimmerman was the lethal cure.   Now he’s free to “cure” more dangerous Black teenagers.

There will be more Trayvon Martins. And now there will be more George Zimmermans to kill more Trayvon Martins.   Rabbit season.  Duck season.  Nigger season.

I have a son.  My brother has two sons.  My sister has a son.  My sister-in-law has two sons.  That’s six young Black men and any of them could be lined up in the crosshairs of the next vigilante, wannabee cop.   Black parents always have to give their sons (as well as our daughters “the Talk.”   Not the one about the birds and the bees, but about the cops or the gangs and how to avoid ending up a tragic statistic.

Now we have to add to it.   Now we have to tell our kids how to avoid the wannabee cops, the vigilantes, the bigots like Zimmerman and his whole lousy hateful family who target Black youth.

It’s not enough to keep our sons away from the raging racists like the entire Zimmerman Clan.   We must also find a way to bring back as many of those young Black men involved in gangs and crime.   We must become proactive in keeping them out of the prison-industrial complex and trying to mentor and aid those locked in it and those coming out of it.

We ignore them at our own peril.    There isn’t much comfort to find on this darkest of days, but I take a small bit from this post by Roderick Belin I came across on Twitter.

Black boys matter to their families: their parents and loved ones. Black boys matter to those of us who do not seek to profit off them but who love them for their sheer powerful presence. Black boys matter because they are created in the image of God – because they are fearfully and wonderfully made. Black boys matter because they are brilliant, strong, beautiful, powerful and have universe-altering contributions to make to the world. Those who hate Black boys know this and fear Black boys today just as Pharaoh feared and sought to deal wisely with the Hebrew boys millennia ago. But, we are wise too. We are strong. We are strategic. We love. And, because we love, God is on our side.

Love your Black sons. Love and protect them. You must.   America will not.

“Find out just what the people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

Frederick Douglass (1817? – 1895)

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PLEASE consider signing the NAACP’s petition to have the Justice Department file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman.