Watching the first half of the Spike Lee documentary at a friend’s house, I cried. With both pride and shame. Pride at an indomitable people — whose culture is imitated the world over — who after days of living in a hellhole without medical attention, food and water (I refer here to the Astrodome) with family members dying all around them, rose up singing. Singing “This Little Light of Mine” which is an “old Negro spiritual” as some folks like to call them that is frequently sung at funerals.

I admit I had to break down and cry to witness such bravery under stress.

One of my friends who was watching with me also cried. She has worked in international disaster relief for many years. She said that even during crises in Africa, she had never seen people treated this way by their own government. Worse than animals.

George W. Bush said in his press conference yesterday when asked:

“Is there anything that’s disappointed you about the recovery, the federal response?”

Bush: You know, I was concerned at first about how much Congress and the taxpayers would be willing to appropriate and spend. I think $110 billion is a strong commitment, and I’m pleased with that.

Just so we are clear: $110 billion has been pledged so far for U.S. citizens. Over $300 billion and counting has been spent on Iraq to date. I’m on the same page as Prometheus 6: If I had to choose which Bush-exacerbated disaster I have to pay for, I would probably choose Katrina.

How can our commitment to our own citizens not meet or exceed that to another nation? Are African-Americans worth so much less than other people? That is the question you will soon be seeing in the faces of your Black friends and co-workers. In fact, here’s a fun game you can play. Count how many different emotions you can see on any given Black person’s face as the Katrina anniversary plays out. Grief, rage, bewilderment, fatigue, resolve. The potential list goes on.

While the betrayal of the local, state and federal governments of the Gulf Coast residents is appalling, the failure of minority representative organizations like CORE and the NAACP to advocate effectively for rebuilding and resources is shocking to me. My disappointment in leaders like Jesse Jackson to take strong stands on Katrina and demand greater accountability is high. African-Americans were and continue to be abandoned by those whose charge it is to protect and serve them. It’s a shame.

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The Democratic party has taken a lesson from the Republicans on re-structuring their 2008 primary schedule, according to CNN. I disagree with this type of thinking that tries to justify the status quo of having the Democratic Presidential Primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire. I understand that New Hampshire is upset about becoming less important to America’s political process. But you know what, I’m actually ok with that. NH is a tiny state that remains homogenous even as the rest of America is changing dramatically.

Look, Blacks and Hispanics held their nose and voted for Kerry/Edwards not because they were inspired but out of a desire to get rid of Bush/Cheney. The Dem party machine operatives seem to struggle to get this — and the fact that the base of minority support actually eroded in favor of Bush in 2004. Choosing a couple of red states with some measure of diversity is a great way to test messages and candidates and see how people really respond. John Kerry’s dry, wooden, equivocating style probably wouldn’t have passed muster or caught any sort of fire in places like Nevada or South Carolina. Finally someone (like Howard Dean?) has decided that the Dems had better get serious and stop taking minority voters for granted…

The old system doesn’t work anymore. Surely we can all see that now. It’s time to get competitive and try some new ideas if we really want change in this country.

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Prometheus 6 points to Alternet’s analysis of the sanitized Bush-friendly version of Spike’s pitch to watch his Katrina documentary beginning tonight on HBO. Interesting, no? Nice catch.

Here’s my beef though. Spike, why HBO? Only a minority of Americans (maybe about 10-13%) can even access it at best and um, a lot of them ain’t black. Who is the target audience? Spike wants to wake people up, but which people? Maybe rich white people?

I plan to watch tonight over at a rich white friend’s house. I am not happy about that being my only option, though I feel fortunate to have one nearby…

Spike Lee was on George Stephanopoulos’ show earlier today. You can see more the extended video here. I admit, I share Spike’s confusion as to why the U.S. Government took 5 days to respond to a forecast disaster. It wasn’t like 9/11 when a beautiful Tuesday morning went terribly, shockingly wrong. No, the administration saw this coming, saw the inadequate emergency response and did…nothing.

Black folks are America’s canaries in a coal mine. We show the symptoms of institutional decline first whether it’s healthcare, stagnant wages, failing schools, struggling schoolboys, armed forces recruiting and so on. Much of what happened during Katrina happened because of racism, poverty and poor coordination, no doubt. But no American of any race or ethnicity should feel safe when looking at the pictures and videos from one year ago. It could and will happen to you if you continue to support this Congress and the Bush adminstration.

You would think that black folks would be up in arms with a huge march planned on Washington D.C. to protest the failure of this administration to take responsibility for the loss of one of America’s great cities and the largest humanitarian disaster our nation has ever seen. There is not one mention of Katrina on the NAACP site nor on the CORE site. There is a reference below the fold on both the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and on the National Urban League homepage. While certainly raising the minimum wage is an important goal, the nation looks back to Katrina and asks “what happened?” and “are we safer”? Only these moribund institutions — toothless tigers in the post-civil rights era — blink back and pursue another corporate-approved agenda. Don’t be angry. Don’t ask any questions, especially ones like, where did all that Homeland Security money go? And: how much have we spent on rebuilding Iraq vs rebuilding New Orleans? Or: why are Katrina victims sleeping in their cars?

Fortunately new leaders are on the horizon and I am glad to see that Tavis Smiley and Color of Change have their priorities in order. Because Kanye wasn’t wrong.

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For some reason, progressive bloggers are so focused on Sen. George “Don’t Call Me Macaca” Allen that they may have overlooked another Member of Congress sticking his foot in his mouth. Over at RedState, though there’s a lively discussion in the comments about whether or not Tramm Hudson running for the odious Katherine Harris’ old seat was actually racist when he discussed his thoughts on the inferior aquatic abilities of African-Americans or whether he just sounded racist and was stating a known fact.

Interesting.

From a black person’s perspective, let me clarify since the RedState folks seem sincerely confused. Oh — it’s racist. While it is true that access to swimming pools is often lacking in poorer black neighborhoods, we can be taught to swim just like everyone else. Our swimming abilities and related muscle mass and bone density vary on a case-by-case basis. Just like they do for white people. Because we are human beings. Just like white people. Funny that this seems like an old war story he’s told many times and it’s only through the magic of the internet that the mask is ripped off for all to see.

On the political question, does this hurt Hudson as this gets around? Did he “destroy himself?” Maybe. Unless you prefer to vote for clueless racism. Bonus points to Hudson though for a sincere sounding apology that will likely dull the outrage. Allen, you might want to take notes, son!

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Only an incumbent who wanted to lose would fail to take responsibility for his supporters ripping up his opponent’s signs and beating up on one of his opponent’s supporters. That type of thuggish behavior is inspired from the top down.

Donna Edwards is waging a strong campaign against Rep. Albert Wynn in a critical Congressional district that happens to be home to a large base of affluent, well-educated black people. She’s a great progressive candidate who is pushing Wynn on votes that have hurt blacks in the long run such as his support for the Iraq War — a vote he now concedes was a mistake.

Yet this altercation makes both candidates look bad and re-inforces the appearance of blacks — no matter how affluent, powerful and well-educated — as at best, thugs and at worst, animals. Wynn’s campaign in particular walks away with a black eye (so to speak). Bullying behavior is not a way to win. Which may be just as well for those who would like to see a candidate like Edwards enter Congress representing Maryland’s 4th District.

Meet New York Times Bestseller Tavis Smiley — the most popular African-American leader today that you, non-Black person, have probably never heard of. Smiley just re-launched his website based on his book/phenomenon The Covenant with Black America. It’s pretty cutting-edge — there are toolkits, signups, even a blog. Tavis Smiley is a man to watch.

What Is the Covenant with Black America?

It is a national plan of action to address the primary concerns of African Americans today. As we move toward the national elections of 2006 and 2008, Black Americans are entitled to have questions answered and visions shared of where our leaders want to take this country and a blueprint for how we get there.

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To call a woman a “chickenhead” in the Black community is to call her a woman of loose virtue and looser affiliations. Joe Lieberman is a fair weather friend and perhaps worse, a serious chickenhead when it comes to kissing up to and then repudiating Black leaders. He’s an opportunist. He’ll take what he can get in terms of rounding up African-American voters and use whomever necessary to survive and stay in the Senate.

In contrast, Ned Lamont is a man who has voluntarily taught some probably bad-ass, sassy kids in Bridgeport. He didn’t have to do that. But he wanted to give something to some kids in what is today one of the least glamourous jobs besides garbage collecting: teaching.

Which person do you think is worth your vote? Read this Salon article to learn more about Lieberman’s ever-changing relationships with Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton.

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Maybe you, non-Black person, are really wondering — “Gosh, what do Black people think about this whole George Allen macaca business?” There seems to be a lot of discussion and investigation into what he really meant and did he really apologize? Should he apologize? Was he sincere? Was it enough and does it even matter? But Black people don’t seem to be very vocal about this. Why you may ask?

Black people are pretty much done discussing the whole Affaire Allen. Why? Because to us, it’s obvious that he is racist. He is a racist man. He was racist before and he is racist now. He clearly signaled his feelings about Black people before by wearing Confederate flags and nooses on ficus trees, etc.

And now to keep up with modern times, he’s moved on to the “new niggers” which would be anyone who looks like they might be one of them A-rab terrorists. Which for some apparently is anyone brown who might possibly have South Asian or Middle Eastern ancestry though Latinos and Blacks with the right features might get swept up in the confusion/hysteria.

Welcome to America indeed. Enjoy the racial profiling. It’s free!

The bottom line, folks? Black people (and probably a lot of other shades too) have stopped talking about it and have started to decide to vote for someone other than Allen.

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One of Sen. Allen’s new excuses of use of the word “macaca” is some sort of combined mohawk meets caca (a synonym for shit) explanation. Is anyone really buying this? Why isn’t this man on his knees begging for forgiveness. Virginia is increasingly diverse. Even if this floats there, he has now built up what will be a tough-to-shake rep as a hard-bitten, only semi-apolegetic racist outside of VA.

John McCain continues to lose my respect. How could a man with an adopted daughter from Bangladesh, knowing that Allen would readily refer to her as a monkey behind his back, want to be seen near this man, let alone campaign for him. Does he believe what Allen believes? Or is he so desperate for party approval and support to run for president that he will align himself with this man despite knowing that he is a smug, smirking racist who calls people different from him “shithead” or “monkey” depending on which story you believe? McCain — find a spine. Haven’t we evolved past this as a nation YET?

CNN reports on the “explosion” of diversity in America. My, my, that sounds so violent! The phenomenon of white non-Hispanic Americans becoming the new minority in state after state is picking up steam. Anyone who’s a minority now knows that white people usually become highly self-conscious (as is natural for anyone — minorities just get used to it) when they are in the minority. Think this trend might cause some shifts in the balance of electoral politics in the U.S.? And possibly a wee bit of increasing tension?

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Hate to invoke Diff’rent Strokes but I don’t understand what Cobb, normally coherent, is trying to say. Cobb calls Allen’s macaca misfire both “uncouth” and “straight talk”. What kind of Uncle Tom apology is that? I guess he hankers for the days when racists could feel more open, straightforward and relaxed with their bigotry. Maybe he’s been reading too much of the near-daily self-hating racism over at Michelle Malkin’s blog.

IMHO, racist is as racist does. Sen. George Allen’s history of Confederate flag appreciation speaks for itself. As does the noose that hung in his office. Strange fruit, anyone?

Even the White House is backing away from George Allen — and wisely. Is he still a contender for Senate? Probably. Few remember how vigorously white Virginians fought to preserve segregation in the last century. A lot of those people are still alive and think the same way as Allen even if they no longer feel as free to express themselves. Has he lost a lot of votes in diverse Northern Virginia? Probably. Can he run for President? With the slim election margins we’ve been seeing in recent presidential elections and increasing importance of Latino and Black voters who will see right through Allen’s smirk…I don’t think so.

I’m glad this is crossing over from the blogs into the MSM so Virginians and others can see and decide for themselves. Walk towards the light, Cobb.

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In Washington D.C.’s conservative-leaning newspaper, there’s an article on the front page about Dikembe Mutombo who is opening a huge new hospital in his native Congo. This shows a lot of leadership, more than frankly we tend to see from U.S.-born ball players. Mutombo was a pre-med major at Georgetown when he was recruited to play basketball, presumbly because he was tall at 7’2″. I wonder if we’ll be seeing more newspaper articles like this in conservative organs in the wake of the increasing profile of “40 Million Dollar Slaves.” I’m not surprised it made the news — just surprised it’s on the home page. See look, white owners and agents are not oppressing black players! See?

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Jeffrey Feldman has done some great research on the George Allen/S.R. Siddarth scandal and the use of the word “macaque” to explain “macaca”. I appreciate this because as a monkey, I tend to be too lazy and stupid to do this type of research myself.

Wonkette also tries so hard to help the Allen campaign find a better explanation than Siddarth’s non-mohawk haircut for Allen’s use of the word — Hakuna Matata, anyone? I love that Allen hasn’t seen fit to apologize yet to Siddarth, one of his constituents…

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Check out this video. Is popular hip hop (as opposed to some of the smarter, more political artists right now like Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, the Roots, Angie Stone, etc) the new minstrel show with both whites and blacks simultaneously ridiculing and exploiting what some people think is “black culture”?

Hmmm?

The maker of this short video uses old school hip hop quotes and a few old stalwarts from back in the day. My personal favorite photo is the guy with the chicken costume. Finger-lickin’ good, y’all!

Hat tip: Playahata.com


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Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell

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