That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

Got a Brand New Funky PRESIDENT!*

Here we are. The world has not cracked in two. The stars have not refused to shine. Life is as it was. But…

NOW, as I shake off a headache from so much unexpected, hard crying, I feel that after two hundred and thirty two years the final missing piece has been found and placed into this American puzzle.

The long cracked foundation has been sealed. A black face is the face of America!

I had never felt fully part of the American family until now. I had always looked at history from the perspective of a mistreated child. I had always wondered how the words of that founding father, Patrick Henry:

         [ “It is in vain, sir, to extentuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace–but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” ]

could be so hypocritically immortalized in light of the fact that these very men themselves owned human beings! I could never fully reconcile the brutal irony.

Tonight, though, it has been made manifest that no more American doors are locked to me and mine. As I held my son as he held me and asked what was wrong, I told him that I was happy. Happy that now for him greatness not only included intellectual achievement or financial success, but also the highest office in the most powerful nation on the earth.

I was happy that now his maternal great-grandmother, who fought the Klan for the right to vote, and who hid freedom riders in her home on “Number 8” in Jim Crow Mississippi, had not fought in vain. I was happy that his paternal great-grandfather, who genuflected and called eight year-old white boys, “sir,” and lived a life of menial servitude while raising seventeen kids to honorable adulthood, had finally won.

I was happy to know that the last time black people collectively cried this hard was when, forty years ago, a bullet burst open the face of the face of the search for equality, and that now his sowing bore African fruit.

African! An African name! After so many African names went unremembered and changed. An African man who came to America not in bondage to anything but hope. The way it should have been. The way it is. An African man willingly cleaved in a Godly manner to the hand of a white American woman and produced a descendant not steeped in the brew of oppression, and destined to caulk that fundamental crack. 

I did not know this would mean so much to me.

I care about the plight of the unborn, and about the tenuous religious freedoms we have. So, how can I be happy knowing that innocent babies will continue to die?

I can do so the same way I did it the last eight years when “immorality” and infanticide increased in the last eight years. I can do so by praying to God that He work through His body, the Church, to effect change in this culture a heart at a time.

Obama’s election does not for me signal the end of all hardship. His election does not mean that all problems will be Divinely washed away.

What it DOES is symbolize the fact that there is hope that in this country, with its keloid scars and twisted sinews, people of ALL races — primarily black and white — can grow past ingrained adversity and see each other as the same. But different!

We have loved and desired to be loved in return. We love those who love us. And those who don’t. We embrace the white guy who plays basketball like we do, or who dances like we do, or sings like we do, or swaggers like we do. All we wanted was to make it known that we are worthy of humanity, and the fact that so many NON-black people had to come together and lift this symbolic individual to the highest human height, means that we are getting it!

I remember when, in 1988, Doug Williams lead the Washington Redskins to the Superbowl championship.  was so proud to be black that day. His win meant that we could do it, whatever IT was. There have been a number of those moments, where door after door is knocked down, and this is the last one.

Some racists have said things like, “I’m scared if Obama wins, the BLACK gone take over!” I submit that this sentiment comes from those who know that they have not done right with the power they have had and are projecting their own unGodliness onto us.

Obama’s election does not mean that white folks have to stay out of the fast lanes on the highway, and give up their floor seats and fifty-yard-line spots in sporting events. We will not raid your country clubs with booming music, spinning rims, gold teeth, and chitlin’s. We have just been allowed an invitation to the American house party, and are glad to not have to any longer stare through the window.

So, rather than be defined by the thug image, the gang lifestyle, we have President Obama — cool, dignified, brilliant, clean-cut, erudite, straight, true to who he is, and in love with one dark-skinned, kinky-headed woman, and living in the same house with his kids.

50 Cent, you don’t define me! You never did, but I shake you off! P.Diddy, Pacman, T.O., O.J., Li’l Wayne and the whole Cash Money crew, Flava –Lord hammercy!- Flav! Snoop Dogg, American Gangster, drug dealer, dropout, deadbeat baby-daddy, you are not who I am. You never were, but you never will be.

Get off the stage! Put the mike down! Pick up a book!

My son will not emulate YOU. My daughter will not desire you!

‘Cause we got a brand new, funky, President!!* Gimme Five, America! On the Black hand side!

 

*James Brown

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November 5, 2008 Posted by | Abortion, Barack Obama, Black Life, Conservatives, Culture, Current Events, Democrats, Elections, John McCain, Obama, Politicians, Politics, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Religion, Republicans, Sarah Palin | 10 Comments

A Few Words About the WORD…

Last week, on that feminist staple, “The View,” a big dust-up broke out about the use of THE “N” WORD. The thick-tongued titan of civil rights, Jesse Jackson was caught saying it in an off-air moment. The black cast members of the show were trying to explain to the white ones why there is an acceptable double standard in the usage of that fully loaded word.

Off the subject, are we still looking to Jesse for guidance? For what to do or NOT to do? That’s like me trying to get my butter from the milkman. I was through with him when he went on Bill Maher’s show and talked about “the mythology” of the Genesis account of creation!

I have a few hairs I have to wax off my chest…

Who is really surprised that some — many — most — black folk use it in their speech? Is it really that , “OMG! I can’t believe the Right Reverend would stoop to say such a vile thing!”? Or is it that, “If HE says it, why does the world stop when someone white says it?”

I posit that it is the latter. By a landslide.

The truth — that only God (and I) know — is that many white folk use the word, too. At the very  least all those white kids who buy up all the hip-hop can’t help but use it! More on that later. White folk, represented here by Elizabeth Hasselbeck and Barbara Walters, imply, “If YOU use it, why can’t I?”

I will tell you why, and in the foregone words of my parents, “Don’ asss me no moe!” I’m tired of this!:

The reason you can’t say that word is the same reason you can’t come into MY house and call My kid ugly. (My kids ain’t ugly!) The reason is that there are certain things that can be said in certain environments by certain people at certain times that are unacceptable for others to say. That’s the way it is, and you know it! There are certain things I would say to my own that YOU had better not say. They are the benefits of having a shared experience. People who have been through the same stuff have a fraternal bond that anyone outside that group cannot share. Football players, holocaust survivors, Italians… That is life.

Listen, people are crude. All of us. That’s why we need a Jesus. We do and say rough things. Two old friends greeting each other after a long separation; “Hey! Howya doin, ya tub a’ lard?!? Who’s ya’ barber? God?” Guys talk to each other like that when they are close and are sure of the affection of the other guy. That is key!

Women regularly use the infamous “B” word, a word almost as loaded as that other one. I used to work for the blues singer, Denise LaSalle. She used the word in reference to her self on her album cover. But had I called her that (I love her, but she used to make me really angry when we would stop for her to eat an hour away from home on a twelve hour trip!), I’d have been fired like a Saturday Night Special! Like a cop’s gun in the ghetto. Too rough? I haven’t been what she is, and I haven’t suffered what she has. And I don’t sit and freekin’ long for the right to call her a female dog!

Women can call each other, “girl,” “honey,” and “sweetie” without issue. A man can’t. I’m cool with that.

There are disparaging terms for every racial group. Who sat and thought up these words? The popular ones? Ask yourself that one… And every racial group has within it people who regularly employ those terms in reference to each other. To NO offense! I have heard it, and so have you. I don’t cry about why I can’t use them.

It is funny that the most innocuous racial terms are the ones used in reference to white folk. Shoot, you can still hear them clear as day on Nick at Nite, for goodness sake! “The Jeffersons,” “All in the Family”… Incidentally, the word, “cracker” is NOT a reference to white folks’ skin color. It refers to the fact that in slavery, the white man was the “whip cracker.” Dig that! That makes it a whole ‘nother kind of slur.

When I hear Barbara Walters ask why she can’t say the word, I ask myself why she would want to.

This is what black people have to do; When we meet white people, we have to figure out whether they are genuine or not. When we get overlooked in a store, the added element of, “I wonder if it is ’cause I’m black, or are they just absent-minded” always factors in. We have to add an extra step to most of our inter-racial interminglings. That’s the way it is. And when white folk whine about why “the blacks get to say it and we can’t,” it makes our Spidey Sense tingle. It makes us wonder “You mean, ‘the blacks get to say it, and we can’t in public’, right?”

And when I hear Mrs. Hasselbeck suggest that no one be allowed to use it, I say that if you are saying that on the basis that all crude speech is wrong on a Christian level, I agree. But if you are saying that I cannot, by your edict, refer to myself or a member of my “family” in a certain way, you are out of your yard and need to hit the brakes. Black folk didn’t invent the word anyway. I submit that it is not wise to go around trying to tell those at the bottom of the pile what they can and cannot say.

To be honest, that word is a rope that pulls every bit of centuries of shed blood, broken families, hacked-off limbs, raped women, forced labor, disconnected heritage, “Christian” hypocrisy, castrated bucks, burned and lynched bodies, subjugation, segregation, disenfranchisement, misrepresentation, beating, terrorism, third class education, and intimidation with it, and rather than deal with it, many would simply wish it away than hear it.

White people, in spite of the rantings of The Angry White Man, have all power — Obama notwithstanding. And just as television makes the daddy the buffoon and comedians make endless jokes about politcians, the person on top has — or should have — thicker skin due to having all the control and all the privilege. Black folk have pig knuckles and chitlins ’cause that was all that was left. All the little people have is a joke or two. Do you have to say the word, too?

It is the same reason that it is more acceptable to mock a white person’s vocal inflection than a black, asian, or Mexican’s way of speaking. They have more likely had the benefit of a high-caliber education. It is hard to slur someone who has all the stuff!

And all that stuff about “we took the pain out of the word” is a bunch of Bug Snot! (Can we still say bug snot? ) That word still has pain. Black folk never had a meeting and said, “How can we take the pain out of that word? I know! Let’s take it from white folks and use it among ourselves all the time and on records and in various media, and soon it won’t hurt no more and white folks will have no power!” The fact is that people often say rough things. That is why folks aways want to learn the curse words when visiting a foreign-language-speaking country. The “N” word is no different. There was no conscious effort to take the sting from the word.

The entertainers and rappers I her parroting this nonsense make me as angry as the folk who want to say it do! It is a cop- out. A one-legged rationalization! (No offense to all the one-legged folk out there…) You say it because it is fun to cuss, and that is all. There is no artistic, scientific reason behind it. Quit trying to be DEEP! (Richard Pryor was a genius, I think. He took authentic black life, language and all, and made it political satire)

I am ashamed when I hear the word used around white folk. And with the devolution of hip-hop, we have critically injured ourselves artistically and are probably being laughed at by many of those who hear it. I am a musician, and I think that hip-hop is very close to being the black face, Jim Crow minstrelry of the new millennium! Being a musician, I can say this without repercussion. I’m in the group…

A lot of times when black folk see other black folk engaging in embarrassing behavior (house shoes and rollers in the grocery store) that word is uttered in shame. “They makin’ it hard on the rest of us!”

A lot of the white folk who use it in secret will say that they only use it in reference to those who make trouble, King, Malcolm, Sharpton, Jackson, Ali, etc. In other words, those who holler when they get hit! In still other words, black folk they see!

Interesting dichotomy.

My kids will be taught not to use that word. But on the basis that God doesn’t accept crude speech. Not because it offends white people.

I wish the word didn’t exist. I wish rappers would stop using it. I wish that I didn’t KNOW that some of my neighbors mutter it when they see me outside. But I also wish that leaves wouldn’t die and that milk didn’t turn sour.

July 22, 2008 Posted by | Barbara Walters, Black Life, Celebrity, Civil Rights, Culture, Current Events, Entertainment, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Rant, The N Word, The View, Whoopi Goldberg | 18 Comments

“Outnumbered” Chapter one

Jeff, being a newly-graduated police officer liked the fact that he could drive around in his squad car while off duty. “It saves gas, and wear and tear on my own vehicle,” he always told his friends when they asked. It wasn’t as cool, they thought, for a brother to be seen in a po-leece car as it would be to be seen in his own new Mustang. Jeff Stout had always been kind of practical, though.

As he turned in to the main entrance to Hunter Park, he wondered if his boys had gotten started without him. It was after 4:00 in the afternoon, and he was supposed to meet up with them at 2 o’clock for some hooping. Basketball was the one thing that connected him with some of the guys from his childhood. Being grown took everyone in different directions, and paying bills took precedence over hanging out.

It was the first week of good weather after a hard winter, and the brothers were out in full force! It was barely March, but the hoochies had their butt-cutters on, and the dudes were at them hard like bears on a riverbank checking for salmon! Negroes everywhere! And fifteen different kinds of music blasting.

Hunter Park was huge. One of the biggest parks in Scofield. And pretty much all black since all the whites left the surrounding area. You could drive your car through it for twenty minutes and not cross over the same road. It was easy to get lost. There were shaded barbecue and picnic areas, camping grounds, and a few basketball courts. There was a golf course, too, but it hadn’t been kept up in the last ten or fifteen years.

As Jeff drove through the park, he noticed the hard stares he got as he passed people. He was beginning to get used to being seen as the bad guy, but it bothered him. He had always tried to be cool while obeying most of the hard rules.  That was a tough line to walk having been one of the few kids in his working-class neighborhood to have a mother and a father. He got into a lot of fights after being called “preacher boy” or “mammy’s boy” or some other slight designed to make him seem soft. A soft kid in that neighborhood didn’t have a chance.

His parents, though, stressed education and obedience, and made him pay for any transgression with the “rod of correction,”as it was often called in his home. Jeff had to figure out how to stay out of real trouble — theft of any kind, shooting hooky, sex — and still be an allright enough guy to not have to scrap every day. It was tough, but it developed in him good negotiating skills and diplomacy. He had friends from many different walks of life.

So, yeah, the stares and the muffled taunts stung him a little, but not so one would notice.

Up ahead, a group of about eight or nine guys were walking, all in the street blocking the way. They were dressed in the usual baggy, sagging jeans, basketball jerseys, and baseball caps.

As Jeff approached them, he bumped the horn lightly. They kept walking, not even looking back.

“My people,” he muttered, sadly. “Whass up wit us?” He blew again, longer this time. Still no response.

It was said, and is known, that in North Scofield, if a brother is leaning into a car window in the middle of the street, even the cops wait politely until he gets finished! Hunter Park was in North Scofield.

Jeff gave two short blasts from his siren, and said on his intercom in his best cop voice, “Get out the street!”

They stopped. Turned.

“Man!” he thought. “It’s about to be on!”

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Action, Black Life, Drama, Life, Race, Short Story, Writing | 1 Comment

Lest We Forget…

 I deal a lot with the topic of racism on my blog. I hate it. As a Christian, I find it impossible to juxtapose racism and true saving faith. As a result of a posting of Pastor Ben Parkinson’s sermon a couple of weeks ago, I received some comments from a couple of fellows which pull the curtain back from what is hidden in the hearts of many. I don’t know if they claim Christianity, but I think that their views are echoed by many who populate white evangelical churches.

I have met some truly wonderful people in this blogging endeavor — white black and otherwise —  and I want to be clear that I know that they and multitudes do not share these racist perspectives!

It is just that, in the Utopia that is my diverse church, I can easily forget that not all people have the desire to love honestly and openly.

Mr. Roach, whose comments follow, is one of the people who has poured cold water on my way of thinking and reminded me of racism’s thriving heart. He is a conservative in the vein of Hannity, Limbaugh, Buchanan, Rove, and yes, even Reagan. He has been kind enough to openly share the true nature of a lot of the rhetoric we hear nowadays. His comments (part of the thread entitled, “Go, Tell it in the Suburbs”) follow a lengthy discussion on Affirmative Action, reconciliation, and reparations, etc. You may check it out further to get the context… Please excuse his language. I did not edit any of it.

We paid at the office, home boy. Have you seen a rich white person’s tax return lately! Wow, it’s a lot of dough going to welfare queens, midnight basketball, and paying for all those section 8 housing vouchers.

 To this, I replied:

  1. Who are you, Mr. Roach? Do I know you? Did we grow up in the same neighborhood? Or the same city?
    How is it that I am your “home boy”? Or ANY kind of “boy”?
    No, I’s ain’t privy to you white folks’s bidness, NawSUH!
    But I know THIS: There are a whole lot more white folk on welfare than black folk!
    I know that a whole lot of white folk know how to manipulate the tax laws so that they don’t pay nearly as much as they (you) should! That’s a lot of your hard earned tax money going to military defense, too, buster! Law enforcement, fire departments, etc! Thank you, Mr. Roach, for not scurrying back into the cracks while the light has been shed on your (and so many other of your compatriots’) true feelings, as is the norm for those like you, Mr. Roach.

So, you think that you have summed up what the black experience is, huh? Section 8 and basketball. You got us all in a bag, huh? I think YOUR comments sum you up, buddy.

There is a whole lot more behind why blacks in this country are in the state we are in, and your either admitting it or throwing up racist smoke screens do nothing to change the facts.

  1. And one more thing: Basketball was just fine when it was George Mikan and Bob Cousy, wasn’t it? It was just fine when black folk were not allowed to play against whites.But now, since it is not being dominated by those who look like you, Mr. Roach, it is turned into a racist cliche! Just like dancing, singing, and ANY other activity that ALL people love to partake of! If you don’t get to be the best at it, the SUPERIOR one, why not just act like Aesop’s fox and act as though you never wanted the sour grapes anyway! Turn something great into a negative.Michael Jordan is “naturally gifted” but Larry Bird “works hard.”Why don’t you tell us what YOU want, Mr. Roach. Tell us where YOU want black folk to go and where YOU want us to go. As if we don’t already know. Since we can all jump so high, I guess it would be peachy with YOU if we leapt to the moon, hunh?Comment by maxdaddy | February 27, 2008 <!– @ 3:24 pm –>|
  2. Roach continued;

Actually, I don’t want you to go anywhere, unless you hate this country like Michelle Obama. Then you can move to the country of your choice.

I just don’t want to see any more affirmative action. Do well in sports, you’ll get people’s respect. Do well because affirmative action, and white people think what you worry they think: These black people around us sure are kinda dumb, incapable, privileged, and all the rest. It’s little different than nepotism or legacies; if you don’t get somewhere on your own merits, you’ll never have the respect of others, nor will you have self-respect.

Midnight basketball, incidentally, is a feel good social program designed to reduce urban crime. It gives kids a place to go. It also has never been shown to have any effect whatsoever. I don’t care if blacks do well in sports, but to make a big deal about sports over other more attainable middle class jobs is silly, and it leads to a lot of young people haveing unrealistic “hoop dreams” that would better be directed into hard work in algebra class. 

Affirmative action doesn’t threaten me. I’m a lawyer and I make a lot of money. Affirmative action, however, is unjust. It also makes people like Michelle Obama feel bad about herself. Affirmative action is the mirror image of Jim Crow. I support merit, IQ tests, and treating people as individuals when individual information can be found out through things like standardized tests, GPAs, etc. For this reason, high IQ Asians have done very well, in spite of the supposed epidemic of white racism. Why is that do you think?

As for whites resisting blacks for centuries, that’s certainly not true of all those whites–including my relatives–who came over around 1900-1924 is it? I mean, we were broke and I’m the first one to go to college, so I don’t feel too bad about rich Southern plantation owners because they have nothing to do with me and my bloodline or family. I do know, however, that I like blacks that act like white people, and I don’t like whites that act like (most) black people. I like civilized behavior, and most majority-black areas don’t have it. But I’ll give anyone a chance, particularly if he does well in school and is as smart as his white competitors. But I see no reason to cut blacks any breaks with affirmative action. Slavery was 150 years ago. Jim Crow ended at the very latest in 1965. It’s time to take some personal responsibility for your individual and collective circumstances. Racism didn’t make a cult of the pimps in the 70s. Racism doesn’t make blacks call “doing well in school ‘acting white.’” So get the fuck over it already, grow up, act white (i.e., civilized), and you’ll do just fine.

emphasis added

Comment by Mr. Roach | February 28, 2008

I am sorry if this disturbed you. Imagine how I feel. I know that every day I leave my front door, or turn on the TV I face the possibility that my neighbors, or the guy walking in the store ahead of me, or the mechanic, the real estate agent, the waiter, the potential boss, the cop, or the LAWYER all feel the same way. Yet I am not bitter, not hateful, not perpetually angry, not the victim, and not the failure. It is life. It is my America, OUR America. This Roach, Mr. Roach, has done me a favor!

February 29, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, Arrogance, Black Life, Christianity, Civil Rights, Conservatives, Diversity, Larry Elder, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Religious Right, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity | 41 Comments