Black homophobia?

I find phrases like Black crime and Black homophobia troubling. John McWhorter wrote an article for The New Republic with the title:  President Obama’s New Role in the Fight Against Black Homophobia.  I’m a fan of McWhorter’s work and I feel he gets a bad rap. In many cases someone else comes up with these headlines so I’m not sure this is on him.   But when you start coloring these issues, it’s an overstatement for one,  but it gives these issues a Black face. It’s a clever slight of hand, more of the norm deviation shit and lets a lot of people off the hook. I’ve never heard Southern White Christian, Latino, Mormon or Catholic homophobia.

There was a huge brouhaha here in California after Prop 8 passed. It was intense, lots of N-words and venom spewed.

*So here are the numbers:
% of voters-race-yes on 8 %

(68%) White  49
(7%) African-American 58
(14%) Latino/Hispanic 59
(7%) Asian 48

*Commissioned by the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund in San Francisco. Released under the auspices of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute.

None of this means that homophobia within the Black community (there goes that phrase that I hate) isn’t alive and well.  I’m simply talking about the term “Black homophobia” as though there’s something uniquely different about it.

I don’t get it and no one has ever explained to me what Gay or Lesbian relationship have to do with their day-to-day lives.  As someone who’s lived in San Francisco there’s nothing anyone from say Dixie can tell me that trumps my experience.
For the Black community its extremely disingenuous. In the days of segregation, the community accepted Gays. Now they were picked on to be sure,  but so was everyone else for some reason or another; the dozens were as common as hide-n-go-seek.  But through all of it, there they were running or on their bikes, tagging along with the other kids.  If they were adults, at the community events, family BBQs, etc. being who they were. And if they got in trouble or some outsider stepped to them, they were defended because they were part of the community. (For the record, I know that’s a gross oversimplification for the pain many had to go through-and there are other stories).
Fast forward to today and you can’t tell me that everyone in the church doesn’t know that the choir director or organ player is Gay. But everyone pretends. And then there’s this weird, maybe denial, that seems to equate Gay with White. 

So even though the effect on Prop 8 by Black voters wasn’t consistent with the post-election fall it STILL; symbolically we came down on the wrong side of history.  That 58% should have been maybe around 20%.

There was a great quote after Prop 8 and I don’t remember who said it but it went like this:
“We needed to be the people we needed (in the civil rights days)”

Homophobia…uniquely Black-uh huh right


It’s what I’m puttin’ down for now, what say you?

When we take our daughters to work, where are the boys?

I watched this video promo and it was extremely disturbing.

One can just about market anything to boys. Which led me to this thought, there is no advocacy for boys.  I know I’m treading on shaky ground here. To even innocently point this out is inviting the knee-jerk response from those who scurry out anytime the conversation gets too far away from them.
For example, when the movie Red Tails came out, complaints started to surface about there not being a focus on women. “Surely these men had strong women in their lives who….”.   It’s a movie about African-American fighter pilots in WW II, and the discussion took a very weird turn, hijacked as it were and we’re off on this tangent about Black male/female relationship-marriage stats, baby-daddy drama, interracial marriage, gay men, the down-low, etc. etc. SIGH! 

I see many organizations addressing issues important to the development and protection of girls. A school here for girls, an international association there for girls. Even in the White House there is a council advocating for girls.  Now I have a daughter so I’m concerned, excited, etc. about her future and issues related to the rights of women.  But I don’t think making half of an argument is progress.
One doesn’t have to look at the stats to know that boys are in trouble- look around and tell me what your visceral reaction is to what you see?   Now clearly the socioeconomic numbers are enough to sound the alarm among experts but the approach is usually from the vantage point that: boys aren’t in trouble, they’re a problem.

We have to get beyond the emotional satisfaction we get from shaking our fingers at fathers and more concerned with policy and cultural issues related to pathways that foster the involvement we claim we want.  Luckily there are those concerned: Check out Rahim Kanani interviewed Warren Farrel


It’s what I’m puttin’ down for now, what say you?

The American Identity #3-no more Black History Month Part 2

Another absurdity was this account from Matt Taibbi, about an experience attending a Tea Party event.

Taken from “Gritopia”  Taibbi:  “Once seated, I pick up a copy of the newspaper that’s been handed out to each of us, a thing called the Patriot. The headline of the lead story reads:


The author of this piece, a remarkable personage named Lloyd Marcus, identifies himself at the bottom of the page as follows:
Lloyd Marcus (black) Unhyphenated American,Singer/Songwriter, Entertainer, Author, Artist and Tea Party Patriot.
Marcus is the cultural mutant who wrote the song that’s now considered the anthem of the Tea Party. If you haven’t heard it, look it up—the lyrics rock. The opening salvo goes like this:

Mr. President, your stimulus is sure a bust. It’s a socialistic scheme The only thing it will do is kill the American dream. You wanna take from achievers, somehow you think that’s fair And redistribute to those folks who won’t get out of their easy chair!
Bob Dylan, move on over!

In any case, the Marcus piece in the Patriot rips off the page with a thrilling lead. “I’ve often said jokingly,” he writes, “that Black History Month should more accurately be called white people and America suck’ month.”

The argument is that Black History Month dwells too much on the downside of white America’s relationship to its brothers of African heritage, slavery and torture and the like, and ignores the work of all the good white folk through the years who were nice to black people (did you know it was a white teacher who first suggested George Washington Carver study horticulture?). According to Marcus, all this anti-white black history propaganda is undertaken with the darkly pragmatic agenda of guilting the power structure into offering up more of our hard-earned tax dollars for entitlement programs. I look around. You’d have to be out of your fucking mind to write, as Marcus did, that Black History Month is a ploy to lever more entitlement money out of Congress, but the ho-hum nonresponse of the white crowd reading this bit of transparent insanity is, to me, even weirder.
There have been a great many critiques of the Tea Party movement, which is often described as a thinly disguised white power uprising, but to me these critiques miss the mark. To me the most notable characteristic of the Tea Party movement is its bizarre psychological profile. It’s like a mass exercise in narcissistic personality disorder, so intensely focused on itself and its own hurt feelings that it can’t even recognize the lunacy of a bunch of middle-class white people nodding in agreement at the idea that Black History Month doesn’t do enough to celebrate nice white people.”

Lloyd Marcus, well what can you say?   A guy like this doesn’t have enough sense to make anyone mad but he does distort a legacy by calling himself a *Black conservatives. He belongs nowhere near a list that includes, Robert Woodson or Tony Brown.

However, its good to know that Black demagogue opportunist like Mr. Marcus can manipulate White people with the same degree of skill they manipulate Black people. See deep down we’re all alike.

*Black conservative for lack of a better description.  I think the terms is inaccurate but more on that later.


It’s what I’m puttin’ down for now, what say you?

NBA’s version of Ground Hog Day

The NBA has tried to duplicate Michael Jordan.  But the  clear out iso and 25 shots a game is not a formula for everyone. Hell even MJ, needed the triangle.  With all the talk about Batman and Robin, who’s going to take the last shot, whose team it is; the Spurs just run their offense.

3 foreign-born players have had a hard time endearing themselves to basketball fans but they are nothing less than bad. The model of consistency.

Can’t wait for the upcoming series with OKC. Should be interesting.

The American Identity #2-No more Black History Month?

As I stated in the earlier post, Glenn Loury and John McWhorter at bloggingheads tv have this ongoing conversation (since Fall 2007) that I think is the most interesting and thoughtful conversations on race taking place.  Seems like a good way to jump-start a dialogue about overcoming the barrier (see The American Identity post).

I’m personally ambivalent about Black History Month, could take it or leave it. So this isn’t an advocacy for doing away with it.  But consider these:  A young Black American kid was asked, “Who was MLK?” and his response was “he freed the slaves”.  Another thought Motown’s heyday was in the 80’s.  I asked a class of 20 Black American high school students, if anyone knew who Duke Ellington was and no one knew.  I’d say based on those anecdotal incidents, one could make a strong argument in favor of keeping it.
Anyway, I found Glenn Loury’s riff pretty interesting and speaks to something beyond BHM.

watch….Part 1

Even though it was CLEARLY stated and for the sake of knee-jerk responses: This is in no way meant to disrespect anyone from the civil rights era for what they had to face and the sacrifices they made.

Part 2-Click and listen to more….

For full video visit Feb 2011 and Jan 2008



It’s what I’m puttin’ down for now, what say you?

The American Identity #1: A modern world

I read the bio for Ryan Alexiev, the app designerwho worked on Question Bridge.
The following captured the essence of what I find interesting and missing from most conversations today.
Ryan:  “…
he is particularly interested in examining the emerging complexities of identity formation in an increasingly optional and globalized world.”

First a comment about the project:
When I first heard about this my visceral reaction was I’m sure I’ve heard it all before. And true enough, as I suspected, much of the territory’s been covered.  BUT the project was really entertaining and very well done. I don’t regret going to see it and highly recommend.  And if you work with young men, at-risk, re-entry program and the like, the educational value is off the chart. Again, entertaining but not enough, because it seems we’ll get the answers to those questions just in time to realize they’re no longer relevant and are in fact inadequate to the complexities we face.

I’m fascinated by the times we’re living in.   I feel and have felt for some time now that the world is changing. Socially something seems to be missing relative to the complexity and change going on. For one, the nation and globe is in a transitional phase.
According to Alvin Toffler it started in 1956.    It’s why these constructs, narratives, etc. that shapes our understanding and dialogue is from another era and I’m just not feeling them.
The difference between my parent’s world and my world, even after a social revolution, doesn’t seem to be as great as the difference between my daughter’s and mine.

This is a scary thought when you think about it because we haven’t even begun to have the sort of conversations that address life in the 21st century.   Maybe we’re stuck in old paradigms because those old familiar differences are more comforting than facing the uncertainty ahead of us.  Someone wants to build the Hoover dam of the 21st century or modern high-speed rail and it gets mired in cultural war rhetoric.

I read today where some super PAC consultant created a proposal:  The blueprint, titled “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama”, a $10 million TV ad campaign highlighting Wright’s sermons.    This proposal was submitted to Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade and Chicago Cubs owner who thought the ad went too far.  Before I heard that it was rejected my thoughts were: and here we go, grab your popcorn for the freak show that is the All American skin game.

My Facebook account is like my ipod on shuffle where I get Bizmarkie, followed by Tony Bennet, Mingus then 3 Dog Night. From the small town Deep South to Chardonnay sipping parties in the North Berkeley hills-from no college, to State-schoolers to Ivy leaguers, Dixiecrats, Tea-partiers to civil rights style Democrats, Black conservatives to Black Nationalists.   Before opening a Facebook account, the Tea baggers were those faceless people who watch Fox News. Then I started getting request from people I hadn’t thought about in 30yrs and suddenly the Tea Party, Fox News type were given life, a face.   I’ll have to say it’s been quite perplexing, the things I see and read; if your page is unicorns and rainbows, lucky you.  Because of this I know that before we have a dialogue about an American identity for the 21st century we have to get beyond the culture war narrative.  I’m not convinced its possible (yet still worthy of a try) so there are a few barriers that need to be crossed.

Looking to the future through a mirror

This transition or change seems to be happening without much reflection other than “back in the day” or “when I was growing up” sort of rhetoric.   I recently had a conversation where someone invoked H Rap Brown and I’m thinking, what can Brown tell us about a modern 21st century world? So for now I’m going to start by focusing on African-American identity (I prefer Black American but maybe more on that later).

I don’t believe we have given much thought to what identity means in a modern global world. Several things have and are happening, including the election of Barak Obama. Read this interesting exchange in May 2008, about the prospects of an Obama victory:

 “There’s so much chaff that will be cleared out in terms of how we talk about Black people, racism and will make for a much more fruitful and progressive dialogue about where we’ve come.” John McWhorter

“I wonder if the throngs of Black people who are voting for Barack Obama have any idea that they’re voting for this transformation of the significance and understanding about race that you just got through enumerating?” Glenn Loury

The “Black community” has been accused of not liking new information, preferring to be told what it already knows.  The call and response rhetorical style would seem to support this, so maybe, maybe not.  And lets state for the record, I don’t believe there’s a monolith. But there is a social price to pay for being an iconoclast and questioning long-held beliefs or memes. If you’re lucky you’ll just  get blank stares and polite silence.  Maybe that’s why all these years later we’re still seeing the same faces. Someone sent me the Youtube video of Tavis Smiley’s “Black agenda” and the panelists included Michael Eric Dyson, Cornel West, Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, Julianne Malveaux and Bobby Rush. After about 5 minutes I couldn’t take it anymore-I’m tired of seeing these cats. Outside of Tavis Smiley and Eric Dyson (both of whom are just a continuation, neither bringing anything new to the table other than style) who are the young fresh voices that aren’t following a script handed down 40yrs ago?

Toure writer, cultural critic and author of  “Who’s afraid of post Blackness”, which I haven’t gotten around to reading is one.

One of his goals, Touré writes in “Who’s Afraid of Post-­Blackness? What It Means to Be Black Now,” is “to attack and destroy the idea that there is a correct or legitimate way of doing blackness.” Post-blackness has no patience with “self-appointed identity cops” and their “cultural bullying.”

Glenn Loury and John McWhorter at bloggingheads tv have this ongoing conversation (since Fall 2007) that I think is the most interesting and thoughtful conversations on race taking place.  Seems like a good starting place.  So I’ll begin talking about this barrier by posting a few snippets of their dialogue that should set the tone for what we can explore.

It’s what I’m puttin’ down for now, what say you?

Hello world!

This blog will hopefully be a place for a full range of emotionally engaging commentary.   If you’ll join me we’ll talk about current events: politics, race, culture, sports, entertainment, nature, relationships and more.  There are plenty of places to hear polite conversations that gravitate towards a safe middle. My hope is that its provocative, humorous and insightful with the intent of being iconoclastic as we explore how the modern world is forcing us to re-think everything. But what is life without sentimentality, unicorns and rainbows?

I’m opinionated but I’m not always right. At times I take positions no one else will  because I believe it contributes to the dialogue and feeds the contrarian strain in me.   Other times I’m purposely outrageous if I feel it opens the door for someone smarter and more skilled at tact, to fill the space (or I’m bored).  I’m also a recovering sexist and you know how those 12 step programs go, relapses can occur at anytime so its day by day.

It’s easy to name call or dismiss, so let’s be civil as we engage. That’s not to say that at times we won’t be passionate.  I’d prefer shots above the neck instead of below the belt, but I’m not above a little trash talk and I have a few shots of my own.  You’ll never have to wonder whether its personal, most of the times it isn’t and if it is you’ll know. What’s the fun in being personal if the target doesn’t know its personal?
And please, with all due respect, unless the conversation is about religion, do not sic your God on me. If, as a way to support a point, you feel the urge to inject “God wants, says or tells me” don’t do it.  Whenever I read that line I’ll respond with the literary equivalent of a blank stare.  A blank stare is my response when people say it to me in conversation. I do this out of respect, because most of the people I love (and who love me) are religious but that’s not all they are, nor is it the basis of our relationship(s).  Which is something more universal and earthly.

And lastly, I haven’t drank anyone’s koolaide.

Gotta bounce, peace!

“The whole  point of life is to make it swing”. RE