I heard about this story in passing on the radio and decided that I wanted to know more about it, so I Googled it. Lo and behold, I got not one, but TWO stories of this vein.

Candidate One for Mother of the Year 2007:

May I introduce to you Michelle Wright.

Ms. Wright, age 37, has just been charged with firearms charges after she allegedly DROVE HER SON’S FRIENDS TO A RIVAL GANG MEMBER’S HOUSE FOR A SHOOTING.

Your eyes did NOT deceive you…she drove her son TO A SHOOTING.

Luckily for her and her thug son and his associates, NOBODY was killed in the process.

While there are plenty of interesting things in the story, here’s the money quote for me:

Several hours after the shooting, detectives acting on a tip went to an abandoned house where they arrested her son and the gunman, Gillis said. Authorities also recovered a shotgun they suspect was used in the shooting, he said.

During the arrest, Wright showed up and accused the officers of harassing her children, officials said.

Yes, the PO-Lice were ‘ picking on’ her son and his friends.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m way too naive, but the idea of someone, around my age, actually driving their child TO A SHOOTING is just absolutely horrific to me. But, maybe I’m ‘ out of the mainstream’ of thinking, and someone can explain to me why I shouldn’t be horrified.

Now rikyrah, you said that you had TWO candidates for mother of the year…you mean that there’s someone worse than Ms. Wright?

Damn skippy. THIS is the person that I was looking for when I originally did the Google search.

Candidate Number 2 for Mother of the Year 2007:

May I introduce to you Eva Daley.

It is alleged that Ms. Daley, 30, drove her 14-year-old son and six other members of the Latin Marijuana Smokers gang TO A SKATE PARK TO KILL A 13-YEAR-OLD BOY THEY HAD A GRUDGE AGAINST,police say. The boy, Jose “Bobby” Cano, WAS STABBED TO DEATH.

Just exactly how does this conversation go?

You’re sitting in your living room watching tv when your FOURTEEN YEAR OLD SON comes in, and says,

‘ Mama, I gotta go kill someone, but me and my boys need a ride. Will you give us one?’

‘ Sure, Baby, just give me a minute to get my shoes on and face fixed.’

There just are no words that can describe my sense of confusion, disgust and horror at reading these stories. How does one even begin to explain this?

Just as there are men that are nothing but Sperm Donors, these women are what I call Egg Donors. Nothing more.

Sports Illustrated has a good article about Hank Aaron and his response to Bonds breaking his record. I thought it was going to be a Bonds bash, but it wasn’t. It was more about Hank Aaron and his inner character, and why he’s not going to be anywhere near Barry Bonds when he breaks his record.

For the record, I always respected Barry Bonds. Never liked him, but I always respected him. I loved his ‘ Kiss My Black Ass’ attitude, BECAUSE…..

He had the game to back up the attitude.

But, that kind of attitude comes with a downside. For the record, I believe the overwhelming majority of sports writers are frustrated White guys who never got to live out their own sports dreams, so they’ve decided to leech onto sports anyway they can. Now, I will say this, they are resentful of’ White athletes too that they feel don’t deserve it – Ted Williams and Roger Maris come to mind, but I believe they resent the hell out of these young Black men making more money in a month than they’ll see in 2 years, and they search out ways to make these young Black athletes look bad.

So, when a Barry Bonds comes along and tells them repeatedly to Kiss His Black Ass, they DOUBLY resent it. They sit there, seething, just waiting for the opportunity to strike back at Bonds, and when given said opportunity, they pounce on it like vultures.

Let’s get these facts out of the way.

1. The period in which Bonds is ‘ suspected’ of steroid use, it was LEGAL. Completely LEGAL with regards to the rules of Major League Baseball.
2. Like the rumor swirling Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds has passed EVERY SINGLE TEST given to him. Period.

Do I believe that Bonds used steroids? Let’s just say that I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt right up until he fails his first drug test. But, I’ll always be mad at him, because HE HAD THE PHYSICAL CHOPS ALREADY.

He was already going to be DA MAN, and could have had all these records – WITH his attitude, but WITHOUT the taint.

As for Hank Aaron, it’s a generational clash between him and Barry Bonds. Hank Aaron went through literal hell for THREE YEARS leading up to his breaking Babe Ruth’s Home Run Record. I mean death threats kind of hell. The press might be vicious against Barry Bonds, but as far as I know, no FBI agents have been assigned to him under threats of death. Hank Aaron is Old School. Like Jackie Robinson and other athletes from those days, their political lives, and commitment to the community went hand in hand with their talents on the athletic field. They were another era in which they knew when they stepped upon the field that their actions would reflect not only upon themselves, but the community. Aaron knows that isn’t the case with athletes these days, but he shouldn’t be chastised or condemned for his CHOICE as to not be there when Bonds breaks his record. Why SHOULD he put even tacit approval towards Bonds, when he has this cloud around him? Why should this Old School Aaron support Hip Hop Bonds? Aaron knows that it’s a ‘new day’, but he has earned the right to live out the rest of his life by HIS own principles.

I will be glad when Bonds breaks his record, but I’ll always be disgusted that Bonds let himself be caught up in mess like this, tainting what could have been HIS moment, free and clear.

Last night’s “user generated” Democratic debate was incredible. It proved to me that we don’t need a mainstream media to “mediate” all of our political discussions. Many times I was shocked into applause or laughter or just deeper levels of shock by the directness and depth of the questions asked. Only two struck me as approaching the silly or trite: one, which used a snowman character to ask about global warming and another, in which a man-on-the-street asked Democrats if they would raise taxes like they always do.

Otherwise there were heartfelt questions about healthcare which dramatized the point with personal tails,

There were several dealing with issues of race, both directly and indirectly including how the response to Katrina might have been different if it happened in an “affluent white city” and more. I don’t have time to link to all of them now, but I wanted to focus on the biggest shocker for me. A brotha out of Boston asked about reparations for slavery. Seeing the post-debate analysis, it turns out that this moment in the debate marked the absolute lowest in viewer satisfaction (surprise surprise). You can se the mood drop on CNN charts as soon as the man starts to speak, but here it is for those who’ve missed it.

The question. Oh, and Dennis Kucinich is for reparations, btw.

(cross-posted to goodCRIMETHINK)

I am so sick of hearing about Michael Vick and his indictment (not conviction, mind you) on dogfighting. It’s not just that anyone who could possibly think that torturing and killing animals for “sport” makes me sick.

No, it’s the sensationalism around it. It has been seldom mentioned that Vick has been in trouble with the law many times. This isn’t his first brush with the law.

It’s also how it’s being portrayed. I understand that people get emotional about man’s best friend. I love animals too. But for Sen. Robert Byrd to actually get choked up and cry over this on the floor of Congress? When is the last time he cried over someone’s loved one who died in Iraq? Iraqis and Americans die everyday in Iraq. Who cries for them? How “barbaric” is our current conflict — based on half-truths and half-baked cowboy ideology — and the terrible consequences on innocent lives? How “barbaric” is our current healthcare system that leaves children left without access to medical care in one of the world’s wealthiest, most powerful nations? Don’t even get me started…

As for the media treatment of the Vick story, I find it fascinating that a story on the opposite side of the spectrum, a story about a young man who did not succumb to the darkness of his origins but used it as fuel to help others has received far less press attention. And that is even as he singlehandedly is helping to change corporate practices.

And that’s Stephon Marbury. He came from a big family himself where expensive new shoes were a luxury difficult for his parents to afford given other priorities. His Wikipedia entry make him sound ignorant but having seen him on TV, I know he is anything but. In creating “Starbury”– a line of fashion-forward shoes that sell for $14.98 instead of $150-200, Marbury has been a true leader. He did not accept an endorsement but is compensated on sales. And sell they have.

I watched this on Good Morning America and found it inspirational. Check it out:

Things Marbury has said: “It’s not even about basketball.”
And: “If you are not doing something different, you can’t make a difference.”

Marbury is happily married with 3 children (one from a prior relationship). Guess there must not be much news there.

Yes, I admit I am one of the dorks and kids of all ages and races who bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on Sat afternoon and spent a good chunk of the following 24 hours reading all 700+ pages.

What can I say? It’s good.

Being called a “Mudblood” in the series is akin to a racial slur. There are also bonded servants in the form of house-elves. People are tortured or enslaved for not having enough or any of the right genetic makeup. Sound familiar?

After the moral themes of the book on meritocracy, freedom and equality, I was a bit disappointed by the ending. I won’t give anything away. All I am saying is that this last book offered an opportunity to be as clear as possible about the evils of hypocrisy, self-hatred and of racism — for both individuals and society at large. After a title like Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (the previous book), I was expecting a bit more. Perhaps J.K. Rowling thought it might be overkill to state things clearly. I for one am not so sure.

For example, the Wikipedia entry on “Blood Purity (Harry Potter)” fails to discuss any of the morality or philosophy detailed in the series at all. Instead it contains a lengthy genealogical listing that pants over the pure-bloods with half-bloods next and of course Muggles (or Mudbloods) last. Yet as in real life, there is no word fraught with such weight as “Mudblood” that is ever tossed at the pure-blood wizards.

Hmph. You seldom hear in the hype about Harry Potter any discussion of these themes either. It’s only the sensational stuff about fundamentalist Christians banning the book or some Jewish parents protesting the book’s release on the Sabbath.

J.K. — a lot of the kids probably get it, many of their parents, your editors, you and I — we all get it. But are you so sure that everyone will hear the message you are sending? Will they all hear the racism in the voices of the evil characters? Will see the references to the Holocaust, genocide and even the roots of societal wrongs like homelessness (the wandless)?

I wonder. Speaking as a “half-breed” kid who got called as bad or worse than “Mudblood” at times in school, I would have preferred you bring the message home as clear as possible…

Congratulations to What About Our Daughters? and other black bloggers from the Afrosphere who stood up to ahem, no longer black-owned) BET to say no to Hot Ghetto Mess. They’ve changed the name, but hmm…what about the content?

When will the minstrel shows end?

The name change and so far, incomplete site edits, remain offensive: “We Got To Do Better”? Not so grammatical, methinks.

Plus all those quotes from famous, venerable black people who must be spinning in their graves to have words like:

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

on the same page as a poodle with cornrows and beads? Please. To try and hold up a show formerly called “Hot Ghetto Mess” as some kind of responsible civil rights torch when the point is clearly to get ratings from showing the lowest, most buffoonish cariacatures of black culture to public ridicule.

Oh no, BET. I don’t think so. It’s not just about this show but the trash you have been spewing on the airwaves (with the exception of Tavis Smiley) since before the sale to Viacom.

“We Got To Do Better”? More like “BET Got To Do Better”.

I have a few pent-up posts that have been sitting on the back burner. Haven’t been able to post as regularly because well, life sometimes gets in the way.

A few things have come up so I’ve got a few quick hits for you. Coming up!

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Read a Book!

23 Jul 2007

This video should be broadcast loud and frequently across the country, in every barbershop, club, salon, office park, town hall, and anywhere else people gather. It’s the greatest hip hop video of all time, as far as I’m concerned, which may be why it’s blowing up on BET’s video charts.

Please don’t just play the video. Check out the artist, Bomani “D’Mite” Armah. He’s probably got the most appropriate domain name ever in notarapper.com. He’s a youth counselor, poet and more. We’ve had some interesting comments over the past week about hip hop, criticism of black folks, etc. Bomani brings a whole nother element to the discussion.

Warning, language is not safe for work, so put on some headphones or wait till you get home.

(Cross-posted to goodCRIMETHINK)

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Because the mind is a tricky thing, beholden to more special interests than a Republican Senator. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution elaborates why the case of Troy Davis is particularly tragic. The advent of DNA forensics have saved the lives of hundreds who would have otherwise been condemned to death or imprisonment:

In a furious effort to save their client from execution, lawyers for convicted cop killer Troy Anthony Davis are hinging much of their case on the fallibility of eyewitness testimony.

Racial bias, poor lighting, stress, alcohol, the passage of time, poorly conducted police lineups and other factors often play a role in misidentifications of criminal suspects.

More than 75 percent of the 205 people exonerated by post-conviction DNA evidence in the United States — including all six in Georgia — were imprisoned because of mistaken eyewitness identification.

Imagine how many black men have been convicted of crimes they didn’t commit because of the testimony of an eyewitness whose sub-conscious racial bias influenced their memory. In the Troy Davis case, there is no murder weapon, and no physical evidence, and thus no way to exonerate him. It is ironic that the flimsiness of the state’s case, is both the reason he is in jail and an impediment to his freedom.

Seven of nine witnesses who helped implicate Davis for the murder have since recanted their testimony, so such analysis might prove valuable. Davis’ lawyers seek to raise questions of how authorities may have steered some to point the finger at their client.

“The eyewitness testimony formed the central theme of the government’s entire case,” Danielle Garten, one of Davis’ lawyers, said last week. “There was no weapon found, there was no physical evidence. The case relied on eyewitness testimony.”

Which can be terribly unreliable, regardless of the personal certainty of the eyewitness. And in this case, 7 of the 9 have recanted, and one of the two remaining may be McPhail’s killer.

The state assembly of Georgia is scheduled to have hearings on eyewitness testimony, given that six men have been exonerated by DNA evidence after having previously been convicted based on eyewitnesses.

Concerns over faulty eyewitness identification have reached the state Capitol. Earlier this year, state Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (D-Atlanta) — on the heels of the exoneration of a man imprisoned 21 years for a wrongful rape conviction — tried to pass legislation that would bring uniformity and higher standards to the way law enforcement officials conduct live and photo lineups.

House Speaker Glenn Richardson said he liked the idea, but it was opposed by prosecutors and did not pass.

But Benfield managed to push for a House study committee on eyewitness identification procedures, and Richardson recently appointed her to chair it.


This fall, the committee is scheduled to hold a series of hearings on eyewitness identification. Barry Scheck, a DNA expert who gained fame as part of O.J. Simpson’s legal defense team, has been invited to testify.

Prosecutors, defense lawyers, law enforcement, eyewitness ID experts and exonerees are also expected to participate.

The Georgia Innocence Project, which has played a role in three of the state’s exonerations, is promoting lineup standards.

“In all six of those [Georgia] cases, the victims, and sometimes witnesses as well, incorrectly identified the attackers,” said Lisa George, spokeswoman for the project. “It’s not that these victims or witnesses were lying; it’s just that they got it wrong. Human memory is extremely fallible.”

Human memory is the only thing the state used to convict Troy Davis, and since, most of the witnesses have said they remember things differently. Troy Davis should not die, or even spend the rest of his life in prison because of mistaken identity or police coercion.

I’m convinced, after her segments on Troy Davis and The Jena Six, that Amy Goodman is a superhero and is singlehandedly saving the country, one day at a time.

Her interview with Dyson, which has him responding to statements by everyone from M-1 of Dead Prez to Mumia Abu Jamal, actually manages to inadvertently point out why people hate Jay-Z and explain why Bill Cosby is as sexist as Young Jeezy, and all in one interview.

On Jigga:

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Yes, ma’am. It was very kind of him to say. Another great genius, one of the great geniuses in this art form, and Nas, of course, is acknowledged for his rhetorical power and depth and the way in which he’s able to reach back to these traditions of black revolution and protest. Jay-Z is seen as a commercially viable rapper selling, you know, some of the best tracks and records in the history of hip-hop. But sometimes people sleep on. They think, well, he’s clever, but his cleverness sometimes obscures the kind of genius that he possesses that speaks to some of these political situations, you know. “All my teachers couldn’t reach me, / and my mama couldn’t beat me / hard enough to match the pain of my pops not seeing me. / So with that disdain in my membrane, / I got on my pimp game, / f— the world, my defense came.” That’s an explanation for what happens when fatherless-ness besieges a young black man and leaves him psychically vulnerable. So, Jay-Z is an incredible artist, who, yes, is commercially viable, but if you listen to the b-sides, “ I’m from the place where the churches are the flakiest, / the people been praying to God so long they’re atheist.” He really has an intelligence that you have to listen to.

That’s why people hate Jay-Z. Because he takes a line like “I’m from the place where the churches are the flakiest/the people have been praying to God so long they’re atheist” and sticks it on a B-Side.

Religion is one of the subjects in which Jay has been particularly prescient. Any economist can tell you why there are so many churches in black neighborhoods, and it’s not because they help people. It’s because they make money. That particular line reminds me of what Jay said about Nas during their battle:

Can’t y’all, see that he’s fake, the rap version of TD Jakes
Prophesizing on your CDs and tapes
Won’t break you a crumb of the little bit that he makes
And this is with whom you want to place your faith?

The verse is as much of a critique of Nas as it is of the megachurch phenomenon, and the use of religion as a hustle.

Dyson also has kind words for Nas:

Nas is one of the great rhetorical geniuses that this art form has produced. “It’s only right that I was born to use mics / and the stuff that I write is even tougher than dice. / I’m taking rap into a new plateau / through rap slow. / my rhyming is a vitamin, hell, without a capsule.” An incredibly fertile artist, a man who has been obsessed with trying to join political sensibility with street-thug truth and not celebrating it, but try to interrogate it, trying to ask questions.

At their best, these rappers are like ethnographers, you know, searching anthropologists trying to figure out the folk ways and the mores of the culture that they emerge from. And they’re spitting truth for those, witnessing for those who are left behind. And I think Nas is one of the greatest ever to do so and has written such a powerful music that has been balanced between high cerebral art and the kind of street vitality that it takes to make that music viable.

I like the identification of Nas as a rhetorical genius, since his skill with rhetoric rather than writing is what allowed him to Ether Jay-Z.

I actually believe Dyson is mistaken, that the line Nas spits is “the stuff that I write is even tougher than dykes.” Take that for what it is; a homophobic but witty line complicated by the fact that the toughest people Nas can think of are women.

Despite the fact that the entire interview is worth listening to, Dyson’s comments on Cosby are the most striking. Here, he makes it clear that you don’t have to call a woman a ho to treat her like one.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Yeah, just turned seventy years old. Yeah, we’re still hearing a lot more from Bill Cosby, and look, God bless Mr. Crosby’s heart. He obviously has the right to say what he says. The reason I wrote that book is to argue against the demonization of poor people. My Bible tells me that to whom much is given much is required, and if you’re going to start beating up on black people who have failed, you can’t start with the poor. They have been failed. Now, of course, they have flaws like anybody else. But it’s the black bourgeoisie, it’s the upper middle class, it’s the rich black people who have sold their consciences at the price of silence in the face of denial of opportunity for their lesser-well-off brothers and sisters, and yet they would take the media spotlight that is hugely focused upon them to beat up on vulnerable black people.

There is nothing brave about demonizing poor black women. And if you talk about hip-hop’s demonization of black women, listen to Bill Cosby’s speech and tell me you can tell the difference. “These people and women having sex with the people coming through.” That’s gangsta rap against and vicious vitriol against poor black women. “The people have one daddy and two daddies, and so pretty soon you’re going to have to have a DNA card in the ghetto to determine if you’re making love to your grandmother?” That’s pretty vicious.

Dyson is observing that the reasons behind disgust over sexism in Hip-hop have more to do with Hip-hop’s overt evocation of our own sexism, rather than discomfort with sexism itself. Nothing Jay-Z or T.I. could say about black women is as devastating as what Cosby says, especially given his role as America’s surrogate black father figure. Cosby is no less patriarchal than Nelly, but he has infinitely more credibility. His understanding of a woman’s worth is the same as any music video.

I asked a few days ago whether so called “values” focused conservatives were going to speak out against Georgia DA David McDade’s actions in the Genarlow Wilson case, and I suppose I’ve gotten my answer.Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr has penned an editorial lamenting the outspoken support for Genarlow Wilson, and defending Georgia DA David McDade’s decision to release a videotape of underage teens having sex, without even bothering to obscure the identities of individuals not involved in the case. Barr’s argument of course, rests on “State’s Rights,” which hints at his likely underlying motivation:

The department’s statement noted — correctly — that federal laws dealing with child pornography make the distribution thereof a crime. The federal government’s statement also correctly recognized, albeit implicitly, that Georgia law requires that “public records” (a term very broadly defined under state law) generally must be made available to the public.

In fact, “public records” under our state laws explicitly includes exhibits generated or used in criminal and civil trials such as Genarlow Wilson’s.

Insofar as both the U.S. and Georgia constitutions provide for trials in criminal cases to be open to the public, clearly it makes sense for the evidence in such cases to be similarly open to inspection by the public. Only if there is evidence that a court explicitly orders be kept under seal, such as might otherwise endanger life or an ongoing investigation, is it proper for a public official, such as a district attorney, to refuse to make records of a trial available publicly, following conclusion of the case.

The Georgia Open Records Act is even more explicit. If the judge with jurisdiction over a case does not approve public inspection of the evidence, the person responsible for the maintenance of the evidence, including a district attorney, is then required by the law to make available a reproduction or copy.

It will be up to a judge to decide whether DA McDade was acting in accordance with State law, and if he was, whether or not he is liable for the federal crime of distributing child pornography. The U.S. Attorney’s office has already said he has violated federal law with his actions, and Rainbow/PUSH has filed a formal complaint, so we’ll see how that goes.

And is it just me, but does Barr’s argument allow for the possibility of child porn being distributed in any case in which it is introduced as evidence? So I suppose Barr would not object to a DA distributing child porn found on the computer of someone who is accused of possessing child porn? Wouldn’t that make the government a regular supplier of something that is supposed to be illegal?

But perhaps Barr’s opinion on the Genarlow Wilson case is best understood by looking at his extensive record of “public service.”

Barr is a veteran of the Republican hypocritical “values” movement. He was one of the more zealous advocates of the Clinton impeachment, and tried to pass laws “defending marriage” despite his own long, turbulent history with the institution.

Barr’s case is yet another bizarre coda to the impeachment saga. Among the documents submitted in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, was a section of The Flynt Report, the 1999 document by the Hustler publisher that shone a spotlight on the private lives of the House impeachment managers and other moralizing Republicans. The report calls Barr “a twice-divorced family values cheerleader … who condoned an abortion, committed adultery and failed to tell the truth under oath” in a 1986 deposition.

That’s right, the man who wanted Clinton impeached for receiving a blowjob, and Genarlow Wilson to spend ten years in prison for getting one, is a thrice married man who has also perjured himself on the issue of abortion.

This is Barr’s oddly personal statement on Wilson himself:

As distressing as are the continuing efforts by many community leaders to clothe Wilson with the halo of victim-hero, the vilification first of state Attorney General Thurbert Baker and now Douglas County District Attorney David McDade is truly reprehensible.

To Barr, it is distressing that people would be trying to free a man who has already spent three years in prison for a crime he did not commit. If that seems irrational, that’s because Barr has a history of irrationality when it comes to black people in particular. Like Giulani Campaign official Arthur Ravenel, Barr is fond of one of the nation’s oldest white supremacist groups, the Council of Conservative Citizens. From a 2002 article from Salon:

He is suing the trio for allegedly violating a statute known as the Ku Klux Klan Act. That law allows for compensation to “any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.” There is a hint of irony in Barr’s bringing a civil rights suit under a statute named for a racist organization, since leftist groups like Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting have long raised questions about his connections to the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist group he addressed in 1998.

Few of us should be shocked someone who is defending the distribution of child pornography to prevent a black man who is wrongly imprisoned from being released has connections to white supremacists. I doubt there is anything that DA McDade could have done to keep Wilson in prison that Barr would not have found justifiable, given his beliefs.

Allow me to briefly reiterate the white supremacist bonafides of the CofCC. From the Anti-Defamation League website:

Advances its ideology by inflaming fears and resentments, among Southern whites particularly, with regard to black-on-white crime, non-white immigration, attacks on the public display of the Confederate flag, and other issues related to “traditional” Southern culture.

“Traditional issues”. Like, for example, “state’s rights”. In this context, code for letting Georgia treat its black residents without any regard for law or justice.

It’s a shame that Bob Barr hates blowjobs so much that he wants to have people impeached or imprisoned for getting them. But that sounds like a personal problem, and not one anyone else should have to suffer for.

Originally posted on Huffington Post

I’ve had the same barber for about the same amount of time that Bush has been president, and like many Republicans, I am loyal despite numerous embarrassing moments and outright failures. I can’t pinpoint why I’ve been so loyal. There’s something about the person who’s in charge of your hair that engenders a sense of trust, loyalty and guilt at the notion of going to someone else.

I followed him when he left one shop to start his own. I’ve waited hours for his chair while other barbers were available. Once when my barber was out of town I did let another barber cut my hair, but I knew it couldn’t last. I felt dirty. My guy has done a decent job, but not incredible. Mostly, he’s just there. Like most cab drivers, he’s always on his cell phone while operating his delicate machinery, leading me to question whether or not he even hears what I want done. I could say, “I want pink bunny rabbits carved into my temples” and he’d be like, “Uh huh” and leave me with a fade. Years ago, I asked him to trim my afro and even it up, and he took the damn thing off. I was so furious when I left, he later told me he was afraid I would come back and shoot him. Had I done so, I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in right now.

I’ve been growing my hair out for the past year at least with just moderate trimming every few months. Yesterday, I realized i desperately needed to get my hair cut. It had grown beyond the cool-fro stage and was insisting on joining the Rastafarian Movement. I destroyed several picks in an attempt to tame it, but it chewed threw them like a bunker buster through an Iraqi pre-school. I told the barber, “I WANT TO KEEP THE AFRO, just take it down a bit, and make it even.” I had worried that half off might even be too much.

Thirty minutes later, I barely had any hair. He took off five-sixths of my fro! I left dissatisfied but committed to maintaining my cool. “This could be good,” I told myself. “The scalp needs fresh air every few years.” Just when I had convinced myself that it was going to be ok, it happened. I went to my office job, and the corporate people started complimenting me.

“Hey Baratunde, that’s a nice clean haircut.”

“Wow, it’s like we got the old Baratunde back.”

“What’s up, Tobey?”

What a horrible setback! Getting stylistic approval from cubicle dwellers is unquestionably a sign of fashion failure. If Dick Cheney says you have a good heart, you are among the living dead.

Then there are the people who realize that something tragic has happened and remind me of the incident, “Woah, man, what happened?” I don’t want to talk about it. It gets me angry all over again, and I wonder why I went back to the barber in the first place.

This must be what it’s like to be a Republican. To remain unquestionably loyal in the face of miserable failure. Like the president, my barber pretended to listen, but went ahead and did whatever he had planned to do in the first place. It didn’t matter that I told him to “KEEP THE AFRO.” It didn’t matter that we had been through this before. The difference between me and Republicans, however, is that I’m not going back for more. I’m looking for a new barber and, in the meantime, I’ll be wearing a hat.

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Oliver Willis is one of the few black bloggers who has commented even obliquely on the current debate on spending in Iraq on Capitol Hill. The filibuster might seem dramatic in DC but how is this really playing outside of DC? It’s nice that the Dems have finally decided to take some action and that a handful of GOP senators are actually putting their votes behind their mouths on changing course in Iraq.

However, I guess I remained stunned that this is even a debate. The President’s strategy is not working. Most Americans understand this and want a change. This filibuster should have come a couple of years ago, so I guess it’s super that the Dems have finally decided to do something that indicates a shadow of something close to the same sense of urgency that anyone who knows someone impacted by military service in Iraq has.

As I’ve written here before, African-Americans saw the truth about this war before it started. We didn’t support going in and the majority of us strongly support getting out. As soon as possible. For a lot of different reasons but mostly because our loved ones’ lives and our hard-earned tax dollars must be a whole lot more precious to us than the sleep of a few Members of Congress. No one ever points that out though on TV. It’s as if the interests of a major and decisive demographic that also happen to comprise about 25% of the military (and their families) are just totally irrelevant in this debate. Hmmm.

Yawn. Sigh. I refer you to Jack Turner’s recent post to get a flavor of how black people talk amongst themselves about the Iraq war at this point. We talk about the future cost to our society. We talk about the damage done and the damage yet to come. The cost of this unnecessary, poorly managed and immoral war will be paid by generations of Americans in ways we are only glimpsing now.

‘Nuff said.

RaceWire has the story of a white North Carolina mayor, his statement about black youth and the NAACP effort to get him to apologize (hopefully not to Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson). Here’s what the man said:

Mayor Pat McCrory, who is white, said he was accurate when he wrote that “too many of our youth, primarily African American, are imitating and/or participating in a gangster type of dress, attitude, behavior and action.”

And the questions posed by the RaceWire folks:

First, do you agree with these comments? Second, are they racist? And if you think so, is it because whites who say things like this are reluctant to critize the “gangster behavior” of some white communities and institutions?

I’ll take a crack at this, having no additional background on the situation.

Do I agree with the comments?

Yes, but there’s more. The mayor has a point, but it falls well short of the complete truth. He would have done a better service had he said, “too many of the multi-billion dollar entertainment and marketing efforts of large corporations force a gangster type of dress, attitude, behavior and action upon our youth.” I agree that too many of our young folks of color are caught up in these false images. I also agree that too many of our youth of any color are caught up in this.

Our art form, hip hop, has become a highly profitable product in the hands of corporations who have skillfully, slyly and selectively sold back to us the most destructive images imaginable. They accentuate the negative and eliminate the positive. They set dysfunctional expectations in the minds of the wider community and ourselves of not just what it means to be black, but what it means to be.

The answer is more complicated. Companies are responsible. Parents are responsible. A police force which assumes that a black kid is a criminal is responsible.

Second, are they racist? And if you think so, is it because whites who say things like this are reluctant to critize the “gangster behavior” of some white communities and institutions?

I’m loving the second part of this question. “Institutional white gangsterism” has a nice ring to it. The mayor could have made his same statement about “too many of our CEOs, primarily white” are engaging in gangster type behavior. After all, when a company gets reporters fired for publishing studies critical of its products, that’s mad gangsta.

Yet we don’t roll into the headquarters of Monsanto on a regular basis

Please throw down your responses in the comment section here or at the original RaceWire post, and see what folks are saying over there.

Update @ 19:10:
The first commenter on the post at RaceWire asks a good question in his response and followup on his own blog:

Black people, is it important whether or not this cat is racist? Or, is it more important to impact the racial-mindset behind his statements (i.e. his perception about Black youths and gangs)?

See the rest here, and again, toss up your responses.
(cross-posted to goodCRIMETHINK)

Another day, another tragic story from this war on Iraq and this war on our own American child soldiers. From CNN, “All Iraqi men viewed as insurgents

A corporal testifying in a court-martial said Marines in his unit began routinely beating Iraqis after officers ordered them to “crank up the violence level.”
Cpl. Saul H. Lopezromo testified Saturday at the murder trial of Cpl. Trent D. Thomas.
“We were told to crank up the violence level,” said Lopezromo, testifying for the defense.
When a juror asked for further explanation, Lopezromo said: “We beat people, sir.”

Trent Thomas is black, BTW. It gets worse. When this unit was hunting for an insurgent, here’s what went down:

Unable to find him, the Marines and corpsman dragged another man from his house, fatally shot him, and then planted an AK-47 assault rifle near the body to make it appear he had been killed in a shootout, according to court testimony.


Lopezromo, who was not part of the squad on its late-night mission, said he saw nothing wrong with what Thomas did.
“I don’t see it as an execution, sir,” he told the judge. “I see it as killing the enemy.”
He said Marines consider all Iraqi men part of the insurgency.

This is a frighteningly familiar and popular refrain issued by every oppressive power that ever was. All Palestinian boys are terrorists, right? All African-American boys are gang members, right? Let’s continue with the carnage:

Lopezromo said a procedure called “dead-checking” was routine. If Marines entered a house where a man was wounded, instead of checking to see whether he needed medical aid, they shot him to make sure he was dead, he testified.
“If somebody is worth shooting once, they’re worth shooting twice,” he said.

Our soldiers, many of whom are barely of legal drinking age, are not monsters by nature, but war does this to people, and we always either forget or don’t care. The trauma inflected by and on these young people doesn’t end when they leave Iraq, and it doesn’t stop with their own families. Our neighborhoods and streets will soon be flooded with highly trained killers who say things like “if somebody is worth shooting once, they’re worth shooting twice.” We’re building the foundation of domestic terrorism every day.

It’s time to end this thing.

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