Wednesday, October 21, 2020

True Colors

Maya Angelou once said that when people show you who they are, believe them. Believe them because if they got comfortable enough to show you their naked personal truth (Jeffrey Toobin), then you know all you need to know and can now respond accordingly.

In this case, two weeks before the Apocolypse, we have been given some valuable insight into the characters of several well-known men. We have been told by Robert Johnson, the founder of BET, that he prefers the devil he knows to the devil he doesn't. We have been advised by Rev. Fred Price, Jr. that Christians should abstain from voting between the lesser of two evils. Now that his children are mostly grown and he's too old to be dancing in the background of music videos, Diddy needs something constructive to do. We learned that O'Shea 'Ice Cube' Jackson has proposed a Contract with Black America, which is being touted as part of a Platinum Plan, not to be confused with any other platinum delicacies he once sold. Formerly respected economist Dr. Boyce Watkins applauds Cube's efforts, along with that other public intellectual heavyweight and author of The Art of Mackin, Tariq Nasheed. Now that Curtis 'Half Dollar' Jackson has indicated his support for the current Regime, we're just waiting on Dr. Umar Johnson to tell us when his school is opening.

I don't want to hear another person tell me that they can separate the con from the artist. I don't want to hear that being rich and successful equals intelligence. I don't care that occasionally some of these brothers have said something insightful because we all know that even broken clocks are right twice a day. Now YOU know who they are.

Four years ago a well-known public intellectual suggested that Black people could forgo voting for President in favor of down-ballot races. He assumed that Hillary Clinton would prevail, so he argued that the real struggle for racial justice should be fought on the local level. Even though he was half right, that brother is still apologizing for his lapse in judgment. Meanwhile, these dudes...

 

I'm not sure if I should waste the effort in even addressing it, but it needs to be said for those who have yet to believe me when I tell you that some Black people who claim to love us do so until they don't. Actually, I have usually said that in the context of sexism, which I believe is also at play here (with respect to the timing, and I will get back to that), but for the sake of keeping it real, it applies in the broader context as well. As some wise elder in your family has said all of your life, all of our skinfolks ain't kinfolks.

I am not questioning their Blackness. I am not doubting that these dudes thought long and hard before taking what they believe are lucrative political stands for the culture. We all have that friend who is always starting a new business and talking big about the good it will do for the community. Then after getting your money, they ghost you until the next time they need something. Out of politeness, you never ask for an accounting of their last venture, but because you know better, your decision to pass on investing in their latest scheme then becomes the basis for them gaslighting you about not being down. 

For example, Dr. Umar has been talking about building a school since the early days of Twitter. He's been filming video fundraising appeals and trying to shame folks into investing in his dream. But has anybody ever wondered why it is still a grassroots effort? Why is this dude building a school when he could have bought two with the money he's already swindled collected?

There there is Curtis 'Five Dimes' Jackson. Remember he came on the scene bragging about how he survived being shot nine times and nobody ever asked to see the bullet holes. But it fit the persona, and he's been nothing but a relentless nasty troll for the past 20 years (makes sense, right). So of course, he aligns with the Troll King, beefing with folks just for the hell of it, not giving a damn about the harm inflicted on others. All because his Ten Nickels azz doesn't want to pay more in taxes.

Earlier this year, I was complimentary to BET, but let's clarify that the niceties do not extend to Robert Johnson, its founder. I peeped his game years ago when he determined that being woke wasn't as profitable as being ratchet. Because he is a businessman first, so his primary goal is to make money, not be some kind of upstanding citizen. And as one of the first Black billionaires, what do we expect from him, integrity? 

O'Shea 'Ice Cube' Jackson had the bright idea to promote a Contract with Black America, something that you might have remembered from its previous incarnation when former NPR/PBS host Tavis Smiley authored a similar pact in the early 2000s. Smiley's Contract got cancelled...so perhaps it was time for a new one. And who better than a reformed gangsta rapper who now makes kid movies? Like any other informed American citizen, Cube has every right to plagiarize the work of others, put his government name on it, and then go on a PR media blitz to tout his access to those in power. At least he set the record straight with Chris Cuomo that he didn't go when summoned to the White House for a fake photo.

The rest are a bunch of old school hoteps who hate Black women. Of course that isn't how they see it, but how else to describe the barbershop of bitter old men who built up their social media notoriety by defending sexual predators and bashing outspoken and successful Black women? Why should Bill Cosby rot in jail while Harvey Weinstein awaits trial? Mad that there was a documentary about R. Kelly, but not as mad that he urinated on a child and married Aaliyah when she was 15. Offended that a Black woman is in line to become the Vice President because her husband is...white? 

Tell me something Judge Joe Brown, are you that salty that Judge Judy is still on TV while you are peddling conspiracy theories on YouTube? Still in your feelings, Dr. Boyce Watkins, that when you tried to holler at Kamala Harris at Howard's Homecoming, she snubbed you? Pimpin' ain't easy, so is that why you hate smart Black women who can see through your latest hustle Tariq Nasheed? I am pretty sure Rev. Fred Price, Jr. that Jesus will not be as understanding in judging those who wouldn't choose between the guy who tear-gassed protestors so that he could wave an upside-down Bible in front a church, or the boring guy who doesn't hate the gays.

What have any of these dudes done for the culture other than monetize it for their own ends? We came of age in a moment of consciousness in the early 90s, and as one of my astute friends connected some of the dots back to when hip hop did a 180-degree turn towards vulgarity, it was then that we got hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok. Here we are on the verge of disaster and some of these same jokers--purveyors of misogyny and cannibal capitalism who aligned themselves with power instead of progress are doing what they have always done. In the words of Two Quarters, they will get rich or die trying.

Meanwhile, other Black billionaires are using their wealth to bless future generations. Lebron James' school is up and running. There are Black artists who are still conscious and woke and using their talents for good. Some of these old farts who are riffing on Black women that marry outside of the race weren't even checking for these sisters because they were too smart and don't fix plates for man-babies. What causes do these dudes advocate, who are they mentoring, and are they patronizing Black businesses or supporting HBCUs? Two weeks before the end of days, nearly 220k thousand deaths from COVID-19, and Ice Cube is proud that he got us Juneteenth off next year.

See how their true colors are shining through?

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Thank You Lindsey Graham

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Black South Carolinians that they can go wherever they want in the state if they are conservative, and it has generated all kinds of interesting responses. Mine won't be much different than this popular meme:

 

Thank you, Lindsey Graham, for telling Black (and by extension Latinx, Asian American, and Indigenous) people that in South Carolina, we still cannot traverse political territory that has not been previously approved without the appropriate credentials. I know that isn't what you said, but it is what you implied (here is what you said) and you need to own what you meant by what you said. You need to own it because the best examples of your words are Exhibits A (ex-Governor Nikki Haley) and B (Senator Tim Scott):

And it isn't lost on anyone that your revelation of South Carolina being a sundown state came at the end of a debate with Jaime Harrison, the Black guy who is challenging you for your seat. In essence, you were igniting a little cross as a signal to your supporters that here is one of these uppity Negroes who doesn't know his place. How Strom Thurmondly of you.

I know, this is going to get under your skin because you definitely did not mean it the way I am interpreting it (even though it is what you said) and I am taking you at your word...so what did you mean Senator? Because if you wanted to dispel the idea of structural and systematic racism still at work in South Carolina, there were plenty of other things you could have said.

For example, you could have mentioned the fact that South Carolina finally got rid of the Confederate flag in 2015 after activist Bree Newsome scaled a flagpole to take it down. I know that the official decree was to remove the flag as a symbolic act of compassion after the massacre at Emanuel AME in Charleston, and you could have invoked that too. And it would have been a great side-note to add how the terrorist who committed that heinous crime is now on death row instead of interning at your office.

You could have mentioned all of the great Black South Carolinians who have made the state proud, such as astronaut Ronald E. McNair, actors Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis, boxer Joe Frazier, jazz trumpeter Dizzie Gillespie, educator Mary McLeod Bethune, politician Robert Smalls, and my favorite TODAY Show anchorman Craig Melvin. In a gesture of bipartisanship, you could have mentioned Rep. Jim Clyburn and the Rev. Jesse Jackson as prominent sons of the Palmetto State. You could have talked about your two HBCUs, Claflin University and South Carolina State University

Instead, you decided that your one last shot at keeping your job was to reveal the truth that you didn't think Black people already knew about politics and life in general--we can only ascend as high as white folks allow. (Trust, it happens on the other side of the political spectrum too, but they do a better job of not saying it out loud...although the Clintons came close and got rebuked by your fellow South Carolinian Jim Clyburn back in 2008.) 

As my Daddy says, white folks in the South don't like it when Black folks get too big (in the North, they don't like it when we get too close). Either way, y'all prefer knowing where we are at all times, and Black people with too much power threaten your worldview. That's why all of these instances of us occupying non-traditional spaces, i.e., jogging in suburban neighborhoods, bird-watching in Central Park, using guns in self-defense of our homes, running for Senate in a toss-up contest in South Carolina, etc., has y'all risking COVID to set things straight. 

Speaking of which, let's discuss this little gathering at the White House -->

So what in the Herman Cain were these people doing at Ground Zero, the nucleus of the highest coronavirus spike in DC since early August? At least most of them wore masks, but really, is there anything this DESPOTUS has to say that is worth this kind of risk? I know it was a job and times are tight, but seriously.

And no, Candace Owens doesn't deserve credit for leading lambs to the slaughter. She bribed those people with a free trip to DC, and even if some of them came on their own dime, she still should have thought better of hosting a rally for Black conservatives at the White House less than a week after the COVID King was released from the hospital. For someone who is allegedly pro-life and pregnant...yeah, stop trying to make Blexit happen.

But this is exactly what Graham meant. We can only enter certain restricted spaces if we can recite chapter and verse every talking point that has been written about the benevolence of the good white people in power. Apparently, South Carolina politics are no different than gaining access to the White House these days, which has reverted to being a country club since the current Occupant moved in. Invitations to Black people have become rare since he no longer hosts championship sports teams or popular artists not named Kanye.

Back to Lindsey Graham, who might either win by the skin of his teeth or lose in an historic upset. It has been past time that some bold soul channeled the courage of our ancestors and issued a direct challenge to the conventional order of the Old South. We have just as much right to political power in South Carolina as we do anywhere else in this country. We've already stormed The Citadel, Bree Newsome retired the flag, and Jaime Harrison is not throwing away his shot. It's 2020, and everything is possible.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Address Me By My Name

The disrespect that some people seem to have for powerful women is astonishing. And I mean, WOW...these same dudes show more respect to the ceremonial head of State of our former colonial masters than they do to women born here who have rightfully earned their honorifics. That ain't right, so the Busy Black Woman is here to remind you to put some R-E-S-P-E-C-T on our names!

1. Senator Kamala Harris - Of all the things we are not forgiving Susan Page for after the other night when she could not manage that debate, we are not letting her forget her slip up in not addressing Senator Harris correctly. Now it might have been forgiven as a minor faux pas if this had been in an interview, but this was in the only Vice Presidential debate. To make matters worse, Page repeatedly gave broad leeway to the Vice President when he flauted the rules, then barely gave Sen. Harris any such forbearance. 

And while we're on the subject of grace, Sen. Harris has given EVERYBODY the correct pronunciation of her name, which is Comma-la. You may also jokingly refer to her as Mamala, which means you should have no issues, K?

Finally, Mr. President? Yeah, Imma deal with you later...

2. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - Look, AOC is her Twitter name, not how anyone other than her BBFs from the Squad ought to be referring to her. I know, having to show respect for a young Latina who isn't cleaning your toilets or nannying your kids is different for a lot of you, but get used to it. And yes, you need to refer to every woman elected to Congress by her respective title.

3. Madame Speaker Nancy Pelosi - Especially among all of you who were raised in Catholic school, you KNOW better than to get too familiar. And you ought to be ashamed of yourselves for even deigning to consider that you have the right to speak to a woman from Baltimore who has raised five children in that manner...do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

4. Governor Gretchen Whitmer - Y'all have really lost your ever-loving minds here. Mad because she did her job in the interest of public safety? First you storm the State Capitol, then you hatch a plot to kidnap her? Because of face masks? This woman has a closet full of leather jackets...does she look like she's scared? Y'all better fall back!

5. First Lady Michelle Obama - Do not get it twisted. We call her our Forever First Lady because that is what she is. PeriodT. We also extend the same courtesy to former First Ladies Rosalynn Carter and Laura Bush because that is appropriate. And despite the jokes we have for the current title holder, First Lady Melania Antoinette deserves to be addressed properly as well.

6. Madam Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton - This is where things get a little confusing, since she has an assortment of current and former titles from which to choose (First Lady, Senator). We have settled on this one because it acknowledges her highest attained position and affords her the respect of being an independent woman of tremendous accomplishment, and who still lives rent-free in the head of the man she beat by 3 million popular votes.

7. Dr. Jill Biden - Until such time as she receives an upgrade...

8. Duchess Meghan of Sussex - Y'all are going to get used to having a Black woman in the Royal line up. Despite your calls for her to renounce or be stripped of her title, she doesn't answer to the curdled cream of British society. And just so that we're all clear, the relocation of the Sussex Royals to the US was a decision made to keep Prince Harry from whooping ass, because he is a real one and we all know that neither Prince Charles or William would ever.

9. Chancellor Angela Merkel, Leader of the Free World - Because let's face it, the U.S. can't even conduct an election anymore, let alone lead the rest of the world in any capacity.

10. Every Woman - You should have learned this as children, but somehow you forgot that when you are speaking to any grown woman, the appropriate way of addressing her is Ms. until such time that she grants you permission to use her first name, instructs you to use her married name, or offers another means of appropriate address such as Reverend, Doctor, Mother, Sister/Soror, or whatever military rank or nickname is appropriate. Some of you have gotten way too familiar and I don't like it. Now that people are taking great pains to identify by their chosen pronouns, that should clear up ambiguity, particularly in written communication.

It has become apparent that a lot of people think nothing of diminishing accomplished women by addressing them informally or outside of their names. Chief among them has been the current Commander in Chief, who has used his bully pulpit and Twitter fingers to disrespect any woman who stands up to him. This is a pattern that was established when he called Secretary Clinton a nasty woman back in 2016, and he went on to hurl that same insult at Speaker Pelosi, Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz of San Juan, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, and even Duchess Meghan. For certain women, his disdain has gone much further, as was the case for former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman (that dog), Rep. Frederica Wilson (wacky), Rep. Maxine Waters (low I.Q.), journalist April Ryan (loser), journalist Abby Phillip (stupid), and now Sen. Kamala Harris (that monster). 

Apparently, the sight of an accomplished Black woman who can hold her own on the national stage was too much. It is the exact opposite of how Vice President Pence treated her, which to his credit was as an equal (given that they are constitutional colleagues in the Senate). I won't even waste my time in deconstructing Presidential man-baby tantrums and taunts because we already know what his problem is, which is the same problem this dude had until FOX News solved it by firing him.

The fact that nearly every other first-world nation has elected a woman to serve as Head of State except for the United States is why this primer was necessary--to ensure that everyone was briefed on protocol. Women will break that glass ceiling, and those who are too slow to move with the times will get hit by the falling chards. It will become the norm to see more women in positions of authority and influence, and men will have to deal with it, just like they got used to women coaching in the NFL or hosting the evening news in primetime. I know that we haven't reached the summit yet, but it is in sight and the fact that the mere prospect of progress is intimidating to the guardians of patriarchy...checkmate.

Make Up Your Mind!

If you are reading this and are STILL undecided about who will get your vote for President, I'm guessing you are the same kind of person who stands in front of the menu at McDonald's and thinks about what to order. Seriously, as if there are real options being presented. 

So I am not clear why this is such a hard decision. Either you vote for the current DESPOTUS and all of his bullshit, or you vote for Biden and all of his malarkey. Even if you have never tried malarkey, you have tried the orange one's special blend of Grade A premium BS, so you already know what you are getting. You can have it sauteed, fried, baked, blanched, grilled, poached, sous vide...and it will still be shit. As for malarkey, the same cooking methods might yield similar results, but at least it won't be shit.

This is 2020, and life has been coming at us fast. Decisions need to be made before the next disaster, which could be at any moment. Wildfires burning, hurricanes blowing, white folks rioting in the streets, and this DESPOTUS is out here spreading COVID like Halloween candy. Do you really need more time to decide?

You need to be convinced that there is a lesser of two evils because as far as you can tell, both parties are the same? That there is no daylight between the two candidates? One is the devil you know, and the other you don't? Okay, then there really isn't anything I can say that will offer any clarity. You're going to have to figure this out for yourself, like those word problems we encountered on the SAT. However, there is a right answer, and I am going to do something that is uncharacteristic, but necessary to make this point: let's watch this political ad from the current DESPOTUS and chat afterwards. 

Ok, so you have a few common talking points that you've heard ad nauseum and apparently, quite a few regular folks willing to appear on camera with their support. The key issues that always get mentioned are: (1) his support for HBCUs; (2) his bill that ended mass incarceration; and (3) his economic policies that brought Black unemployment to historic lows. And in the spirit of goodwill and telling the truth to shame the devil, I will concede that there are minuscule kernels of truth to be found in each of those talking points. That is until that fourth talking point gets tossed into the mix--that he has done more for African Americans than any other President, save for Abraham Lincoln...the record scratch moment when it should become clear that those small kernels are just candy corn placebos.

When the Occupant touts his support for HBCUs, he typically flashes that Oval Office photo of him surrounded by the various Presidents, almost all of whom accepted his invitation to the White House in the early days of his Regime. And that was truly historic and a memorable photo opportunity, which resulted in an executive order that moved somebody's office cubicle from the Department of Education to the Old Executive Office Building. The First Step Act was a bipartisan effort that has led to the release of 3,000 federal inmates, including Alice Johnson, who spoke at the RNC and has become the face of the legislation. Meanwhile, of the more than 10,000 who should have been eligible for compassionate release due to COVID-19, 156 were granted and only 11 were released. Black and Latinx unemployment before the pandemic was historically low; now it is high again and the President refuses to negotiate for more relief (unemployment, small business loans, etc.) until after the election.

Yeah, we can invoke all of Joe Biden's myriad sins from his alliance with segregationist Senator James Eastland (D-MS), to his mistreatment of Anita Hill, to the infamous1994 Crime Bill, to his clumsy statements about Blackness in an interview with Charlamagne tha God. He's imperfect. Kamala Harris has her own issues with her record as a prosecutor and that ridiculous interview, also with Charlamagne tha God (have we accepted that he is problematic), which makes her slightly less than perfect as well. But since we're talking about devils we know, the current DESPOTUS is the same man who: (1) along with his Dad refused to rent to Black people; (2) called for the death penalty against five teenagers who gave coerced confessions; (3) called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, separated them from their children, whom he had put in cages; (4) instituted a travel ban from countries with predominantly Muslim populations; (5) restricted immigration from African, Caribbean, and South American shithole countries; (6) sides with suburban racists and calls them good people; and (7) has repeatedly disrespected and dehumanized women who challenge him, most recently Gretchen Whitmer and Kamala Harris, whom he called a monster.

On my personal Facebook page, I compared the President to the scorpion in the fable about it and the trusting frog. The natural conclusion is that this man will not only sting us because it is his nature, but he will do so because he doesn't care. He has brought this country to the nadir of its modern existence because he doesn't care. He has become Patient 0 and believes it is one of his enumerated constitutional powers as President to infect as many people as he sees fit because he doesn't care. Alternatively, there is his Vice President, whom I liken to the biblical snake from the Garden of Eden. Mike Pence is so unassuming that he slithers in under the radar through cracks and crevices. He seems harmless, but because he is charming and cunning, he lulls you into a sense of false complacency. Then he strikes--his bite just as painful, his venom just as poisonous and lethal.

Those are your choices. If you are still unconvinced, maybe there is some kind of forum where the two candidates can talk through their differences with a moderator to keep time and to enforce previously agreed upon guidelines. Yeah...we'd be better off if they thumb wrestled.

Actually, we'll be better off once Doug Emhoff rolls up to Mar-a-Lago with his Secret Service detail, while Barack Obama and Daddy Harris watch the door and wait their turn. Better yet, I'll put my money on Jill Biden because Melania Antoinette and Lady Ivanka would never, and nobody is scared of Lil Donnie, Jared, or Eric. We don't need Uncle Joe to do anything but smile, but we do need you to make up your mind and VOTE.