Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The USDA, K'NAAN and M.I.A.

Reverse racism is back, sort of.  If you don't spend a lot of time watching the news, you might have missed the major messup made by the White House, the NAACP, the USDA, and FOX News.  What do all of these groups have in common, besides the fact that they are all run by men in suits?  (You thought I was gonna say white men didn't you?)  They all decided to take the word of a conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.  Breitbart was pissed that the NAACP was condemning the Tea Party for racist elements within their movement.  So he posted this video of Shirley Sherrod (An employee of the USDA) on his site.  He was trying to make the case that the NAACP is racist.  Well FOX News got a hold of it and ran.  And the USDA saw it and asked Sherrod to resign.  The White House heard about it all and supported the decision of Tom Vilsack, the Agriculture Secretary.  And oh yeah, the NAACP immediately condemned Sherrod.  What was on the video that was so racist?  Sherrod was discussing her reluctance to help a white farmer at an NAACP meeting.  It was assumed she was suggesting that she used her position in the USDA to deny access to this farmer.  The problem is that the clip was only a small part of the video.  Breitbart had never seen the rest of the video.  When watching the entire video, it becomes clear that Sherrod is explaining a story about how everyone can learn to understand each other.  The circumstance she was speaking of, happened many years before she ever worked for the USDA.  And if that wasn't enough, the white farmer (Roger Spooner) and his wife (Eloise) came forward to say that Sherrod helped them save their farm.  Oops!  Well now a lot of people look stupid.  Ironically, Breitbart and FOX don't look nearly as bad as the NAACP, the USDA and the White House.  After all what do you expect from a conservative blogger and FOX news?  We certainly expect the White House and the NAACP, to know not to take FOX for their word.  And oh yeah what prompted the NAACP to call members of the Tea Party Express racist in the first place?  Nothing really, just this letter written by Mark Williams, chairman of the Tea Party Express.  Williams satirizes Black America in a mock letter to Abraham Lincoln where Black People essentially ask to become slaves again because we don't really want to work.  You can't make this stuff up.

BP is still trying to plug up that oil spill.  Watch that clip and listen to Anderson Cooper say "we have a right to know" 353 times, in his scathing condemnations of BP.  You go Anderson!

I finally watched the M.I.A. video, Born Free.  Wow.  I recommend watching the Alicia Keys video Un-Thinkable immediately afterward.     It's like watching a gory horror movie and than watching an after-school special, it's trippy.

And if you never saw M.I.A.'s performance at the grammy's in 2009, than you've missed a whole lot in your life.  She is about 9 1/2 months pregant in the performance of Swagga Like Us with T.I., Lil' Wayne, Kanye, and Jay-Z.  I mean Super Wow.
     ...Going to the club to listen to Jay-Z sing "get that dirt of off your shoulder"... $10.  Watching pregnant M.I.A. brush "that dirt off" Jay-Z's shoulder... priceless!

Also big ups to Z for putting me on to this K'NAAN Video.  Can we please start listening to more Hip Hop like this!

Finally in case I haven't mentioned this before... I love Periwinkle Manifesto!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

West Virginia

Today Carte Goodwin was sworn in as the 59th Democratic US Senator.  Within fifteen minutes of holding the position, he ended a filibuster, extending jobless benefits to the unemployed.  Why am I mentioning this? Because Mr. Goodwin succeeded the late Robert Byrd.  I didn't get a chance to write about his recent death, so I figured today was as a good a day as any. Byrd was eulogized by none other than President Obama.  Former President Bill Clinton as well as Vicki Kennedy (wife of the late Ted Kennnedy) spoke at his memorial.  By many accounts, Byrd became a changed man.  Regretting his earlier days as a racist, turning into possibly the most revered senator in United States History.

And in case you didn't know, Robert Byrd was a former member of the Ku Klux Klan.  A while back I posted this quote of his that is published on Wikipedia:

I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side... Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.

All of this brings up an interesting question.  Should a former KKK member be treated with such reverence?  I think that question was missing from the dialogue around his death.  Sure people mentioned his former membership in the KKK but only as an afterthought.  The vast majority of ink written about Byrd after his death has been about his astute knowledge of the constitution, his countless adoring supporters, and his incredible electoral endurance. 

I think if you say "Byrd was in the KKK, BUT he changed and became a beacon of light for the common man", you've glossed over a very important part of this sentence.  You should be saying "Robert Byrd was the longest standing US Senator and was a member of the KKK, WOW the motherfuckin' KK goddamn K!"  You should talk about the hate that he spewed for years as he recruited dozens of people to join the Klan and mention that he was elected to the US House of Representatives in a district that had no problem voting for a (recently) former KKK member.  You might also want to mention that Mr. Byrd became a US Senator by defeating a Senator (William Chapman Revercomb) that was famous for supporting Civil Rights in a racially charged election. You should definitely mention that he voted against The Civil Rights Act, the most important piece of legislation for Black Americans since Reconstruction, some twenty years after he quit the motherfuckin' KK goddamn K. Finally make sure you mention that he told the New York Times in 1997 that this would be the advice he would give aspiring politicians: "Be sure you avoid the Ku Klux Klan. Don't get that albatross around your neck. Once you've made that mistake, you inhibit your operations in the political arena."  To me those sound like the words of someone who was more concerned with the what his membership in the KKK cost him, than what it may have meant to others. 

After all of that you should probably ask one more question.  How many lynchings was Robert Byrd involved in directly or indirectly?

I think it is important to ask the appropriate questions.  And in response to my original question, Should a former KKK member be treated with such reverence? I think no.  But if you think otherwise, that's fine as long as you tell the whole story.  If you gloss over his membership in the motherfuckin' KK goddamn K, than I think you are a coward and a failure. 

But that's just me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mistake and some other thoughts

First off I made a mistake in my post yesterday regarding the exchange between Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.  In short, someone posed as Gilbert and proclaimed that he would win the NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award before Jackson.  I've made a correction in the original posting.

There is a chance that the oil leak could be stopped.  They are doing integrity tests as we speak. I think they should conduct integrity tests for the CEO's of BP and the other major oil companies, but that's just me.

Finally if you don't know about Oscar Grant, today is a good day to find out.  Google his name and you will found out that he was killed by police officer Johannes Mehserle.  Even though Grant was handcuffed, face down on the ground, Mehserle shot him at close range.  Mehserle went on trial for 2nd degree murder and was convicted of involuntary manslaugher.  People are outraged as well they should be.  It is possible that Mehserle could receive probation without jail time. If you have seen the video (I haven't posted a link because I try to refrain from linking to extremely violent videos.) than you've seen that there is no shred of a legitmate reason for shooting Grant.  The claim that the officer did it by accident is the basis for the light sentence.  Now if I shot someone, at close range, on videotape, and claimed it was on accident does anyone think I would be given the benefit of the doubt?  That's why people are pissed off. As with the case of of the officers who killed Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo, the light conviction of Johannes Mehserle stands as another example of the unique set of standards for violent police officers.

Coincidentally, the decision in the case came down the same day as Lebron James "Decision". Columnist LZ Granderson from ESPN wrote an interesting article connecting the two events. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Getting back in the groove.

One last parting note from Germany (I've been back for a month now).  I'm not typically one for potty humor but I can't help but share this with the rest of the world.  On our last night in Germany, my partner LJ and I were walking around Berlin.  Happy and sad at the same time.  As we walked to our hostel we looked up at the name of the street we were passing.  (In case you don't know, the German the word for street is strasse.)
And what was the name you ask?  It was:


True story.  I'll leave it at that.

I never thought I would say this but I  think I might be an Eminem fan.

Lebron, Lebron, Lebron...

What can I say besides that I'm nervous about what the new Miami Heat Triumvirate might do to my Lakers next year. (For the record I still think we can take them.)  If you haven't read the response by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to Lebron's exodus than you have missed one of the biggest billionaire temper tantrums in recent memory.   He personally guarantees a Cleveland championship before Benedict Arnold (AKA Lebron James) wins one in Miami. Jesse Jackson issued a response to Gilbert's response acusing him of having a slave master mentality.  Gilbert responded back to Jackson's response via twitter by personally guaranteeing that he will win an NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award before Jesse Jackson.  (This turned out to be untrue and was a posting by someone posing as Dan Gilbert) Which begs an intriguing question for Las Vegas Oddsmakers.  Which is more likely to happen White Billionaire Dan Gilbert beating out Jesse Jackson for an NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award or the Lebron-less Cavs winning an NBA championship before Lebron/DWade and Chris Bosh win one in Miami?  I think that is a tough bet.  But realistically speaking, I think Gilbert is much more likely to win the NAACP Award.

Don't get mad at me, I just speak the truth.

Finally and most importantly I have a new favorite blog. That's right its the Periwinkle Manifesto! So far there has only been one post but I know a lot about blogging. I know a rising star when I see one.