Luke Harris & 200 Black men Lead, follow or get out of the way!

When Obama announced the, My Brother’s Keeper Initiative I was so excited that finally someone is paying attention to the issues of Black boys, beyond shaking their heads at them for how their pants fit. (As if pulling their pants up will magically solve all their issues).  But now it’s depressing and I had to return to blogging.

ObamaMybrosIt appears that Luke Harris and 200 Black men are, in essence, confirming the stereotype and doing what Black men have always done, leave Black boys behind. These cats can’t stop trying to impress the ladies long enough to address the needs of Black boys.

This is from The Nation:
http://bit.ly/1hzNXWj

A few things from the article:

“What this amounts to, according to (Luke) Harris, is “the subsequent marginalization of the role of African-American women as actors in the racial justice movement…”

This is so untrue that I have to believe that Harris is being willfully dishonest. If you look at the Social Justice/activist community (NGO’s, CBO’s, nonprofits, etc.) you’ll see many more AF-Am women than Black men. So who exactly is keeping AF-Am women from their role as actors in the racial justice movement, someone standing in the door at the Innocence Project? What happen to “strong and independent”? Maybe they should check with Michelle Alexander and find out how she did it. Oh, just go do real work!
We’re told on CNN, Nightline, etc. how successful AF-Am women are and how they can’t find a man, etc. So if they feel marginalized  can’t these “successful” women stop popping their collars long enough to start organizations?

“As Black men we believe if the nation chooses to “save” only Black males from a house on fire”
new-jim-crow_pbAgain, willfully dishonest! There must be some parallel universe where America is “saving Black males only”! This statement is so asinine that anyone who spouts it is certifiable!

“The similarities between the My Brother’s Keeper initiative and the Million Man March in 1995”

Strategic hyperbole meant to push buttons. The Million Man March was not a federal program, my goodness! So you dismiss the existence of The White House counsel on girls but invoke the Million Man March from damn near 20yrs ago! The intellectual dishonesty is stunning!

“With better husbands and sons everything will just ‘click”

Well? Go into a Black church on Father’s Day or any meeting where Af-Am people gather and say “Black men need to take care of their kids” and the ovation would lead one to believe that it is the only solution.

A few tangential items:

On one of the Black List segments, maybe it was the one with Toni Morrison, not sure. But in it they showed how Af-Am women were directed to college and Af-Am men were directed towards manual labor. Af-Am men went along. Meanwhile, other boys were mentored by men/fathers on issue related to education, finance, business, etc., Af-Am boys were falling further behind because their fathers didn’t have the tools.

We had “take your daughters to work” and Af-Am men (no men) said anything and in fact were supportive.

We had a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen and even though it was a story about the men who put their lives on the line, the “controversy” was about the lack of any focus on Af-Am women.

We see “Black girls rock”, or “Black girls code” and all kind of programs and funding for young Black girls, it’s a wonderful thing.  So I don’t understand this zero sum game that Harris and some Black women are playing?

Final take:

So after witnessing for some time this, “even when it’s about you it’s about me” sentiment, the articles written, etc., the bottom line as far as I can see is this: Many Af-American women do not believe in the sovereignty of Af-American men. The essence is captured in the arrogant narcissistic delusional sentiment of “our men”. They believe that everything about Af-Am men should go through them, call it “Big Mama complex”. They seem to believe that the only reason Af-Am men exist on this planet is to affirm Af-Am women and if not the attitude is, you can go straight to hell.msmagazine
Meanwhile they leverage, going back and forth between race and gender when it suits them. At a women’s event I see air kisses when they greet White women but soon as that woman is seen with a Black man suddenly she’s the “White bitch”. They lack integrity and or simply opportunistic. Case in point: during the 2008 primaries they played the gender card and were for Hillary at around 68% but when they saw Obama surged they shifted to race. The hypocrisy and lack of character is stunning!
Af-Am men you are a workhorse mule to be co-opted for their purposes or until they have no use for you. But that’s expected when someone believes they own you. Af-Am men may not voice this or realize it consciously, I think they feel it on a visceral level and it’s why the marriage rates are so low.

And as for the men of Luke Harris’ ilk, well you can always find men desperately seeking the approval of women who will think nothing of throwing other men/boys under the bus. Luke Harris My Brother's Keeper InitiativeMany of them didn’t have fathers, maybe weren’t very athletic and felt marginalized? And given the  importance athletic ability (over smarts) in the Black Community it’s understandable. But arm-chair psyche aside, for whatever reason, they jump at the opportunity to channel their inner Kanye West to chase you off the stage to prove to the women how unlike other men they are. It’s the nice guy misogyny syndrome.  I’d have thought that by junior year of college men would have caught on to this but apparently they never will. But the irony is, given his political persuasion, my guess is that he’s a progressive, there is a sort of “trickle-down” theory in what he’s advocating. Can’t go directly to the boys, go through mom, amusing!

Message to Harris, the AfAm Policy forum, and 200 men:

Lead, follow or get the hell out-of-the-way!

PS: If they derail this then I’m picking up Albert O. Hirschman‘s, “Exit voice and loyalty” as my guide and I’m done!

The American identity #4: “How did politics in the U.S. come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance?”

That was the question posed by George Monbiot of London’s The Guardian in late October 2008, just days before the U.S. presidential election.

Follow this link for a great read:
Between Race and Reason: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

Friday, 16 September 2011 07:17 By Susan Searls Giroux, Stanford University Press

And over at Salon, Michael Fumento, “I worked for Reagan and wrote for National Review. But the new hysterical right cares nothing for truth or dignity.”
My break with the extreme right

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?

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:

BLACK HISTORY MONTH SHOULD BE ABOUT BLACK HISTORY

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?

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 elections..it 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?