Friday, September 23, 2022

The Choice Is Yours

I had to come up with an intriguing opening for this one...therefore, we start with a musical throwback.

In the 90s this was the title of a very popular party jam from the group Black Sheep and whenever it played, the dance floor got hype! Upon hearing that bass riff and the background chant (this or that, this or that) it was like the build-up to some kind of ultimate dance off. Folks would take imaginary sides, and we were 'beefing' over our freshman dorms, our sorority/fraternity affiliations, potential love connections, or hometowns. If we were off-campus or at a post-game after-party, we were repping our schools. To this day, depending on where I am or what is happening when that song comes on, I'm signifying that you can get with this (because I'm the prize) or that (some random mess across the room).

Interesting how I see that song as a metaphor for the ongoing Sussex vs. Cambridge/Wales #RoyalNewsYouCantUse saga, now headed into its fourth season. And yes, that is absolutely because someone is the black sheep...

As I stated in the previous piece on the Queen, I didn't really pay close attention to this summer's Jubilee. I saw the pomp and pageantry online and thought, how nice, everyone is all together. And almost as soon as that thought bubble popped, I saw the tweets on social media and the polarization was un-freaking-believable! I mean, the woman walked into a church on her husband's arm and folks were critiquing everything from whether her outfit was intended to upstage the others to whether the boos that were heard from the crowd were for her or the disgraced soon-to-be ex-Prime Minister

Then when I got curious as to why I kept seeing dueling #SussexSquad and #TeamCambridge hashtags, that was a regrettable rabbit hole. Between the tweets that accused Prince William of infidelity to the tweets that branded Duchess Meghan as an insatiable attention whore, the question that I kept asking myself was why this had to be so polarizing. Why was there a need to choose sides if there are clear roles that were essentially defined at birth for these two brothers (the heir and the spare)? And why is the alleged rift between them being framed as a royal catfight between their wives? You can get with this (Princess Catherine), the future Queen consort; or you can get with that (Duchess Meghan) the American bitch. 

Let's declare at the outset that there is NO NEED to choose. You can like both women or not. You can decide that their lives are so far removed from your reality as not to care. You can prefer one woman over the other because you think she'd be more fun to drink with at a tea party. You can also recognize that there is a lot of money to be made by selling the public on the notion that these women are bitter rivals. And just like we care if Beyoncé is about to drop another album, apparently the Brits care which one of these women was truly favored by the late Queen.

Then of course, there is no reason for me to even write about this if I'm making the argument that taking sides is unnecessary, right? In the alternative, the choice that I would like for everyone to reconsider is not between the Princess and the Duchess. From what I can tell, most of the opinions on Meghan Markle have been influenced by what has been said about her instead of what she actually said or did. And a lot of negative opinions have been shaped from this alleged accusation that she called the Queen of England a racist, which is the exact opposite of what she said. I know this because I watched the Oprah interview and I have paid close attention to the various efforts Markle has made to demonstrate her affection for the late Queen. She named her daughter Lilibet for goodness sakes! Nevertheless, all of this ire towards her points to what all Black women eventually come to understand about navigating this thing called life--if folks can't control you, then they will try to control how others see you.

This or that.

This: Markle got all kinds of shit in the British press from the instant she and Harry recessed down the aisle of St. George's Chapel as husband and wife. I saw that happen in real time as some bitter lemon curdled commentator remarked that her dress was not as refined and classic as Princess Kate's. I did a double-take and thought hmm, an expensive ass couture wedding gown isn't refined and classy in this shriveled prune's snooty opinion? That: Or was it a swipe at the bride? As the subtle jabs kept coming over the course of the next few months, it became clear to me what was happening.

The tone shifted to nasty when Meghan and Harry attended his cousin's wedding. Stateside, folks weren't all that excited and the press was preoccupied with speculation that there was a baby Sussex on the way (which there was). I even joked at the time that Princess Eugenie must have felt like Monica from Friends, being upstaged on her big day by a baby bump. Little did we know until the Oprah interview just how spot on that observation was--there was something about Meghan, and while we were trying to be polite in not calling it out, we knew.

This or that, this or that...

I won't rehash the bombshells of the Oprah interview because as far as I am concerned EVERYTHING has been proven with receipts. Furthermore, there is no need to debate whether the Royal Family has allowed the tabloids to tar and feather this woman because no one has taken any steps to intervene on her behalf. I mean, maybe it was beneath the Queen to place a simple phone call to Piers Morgan and order him to leave the Duchess alone, but then someone else would have to take the heat. Therefore, would it be better for the discussion to center on this:

  1. Prince William and his alleged mistress
  2. Prince Andrew and his underage girlfriends
  3. Boris Johnson and his COVID day-drinking
  4. Idris Elba being cast as the next James Bond

Or that: the B-list American actress who had the nerve not to understand that her place in the royal pecking order was not to outshine the others. Who's the Black sheep, here's the Black sheep...

The ever-crumpled Boris Johnson getting tossed out of office was merely a matter of time given the man was as popular as colonoscopy prep. These snowflakes can't handle a Black mermaid, so we're not going to stand for any Idris Elba hatred (besides, he's not interested). However, we will take it to the mattresses for Regé-Jean Page. The gossip of Prince William's mistress was intriguing, until I saw the term 'pegging' and made the mistake of delving in to learn more, and ewww. So that leaves just one other possibility.

Is it just a coincidence that a certain other black sheep of the Royal Family has been guarded on the subject of the American Duchess? For it was her daughter's wedding that got upstaged. It is her ex-husband who stands accused of being a pedophile. And though she was invited to their wedding in 2018, watching the press take cheap shots at Harry and Meghan somehow allows Sarah Fergusen to slip back into the spotlight so that it could be known that she would inherit the late Queen's corgis.

This or that, this or that, this or that, this or that...

See how ridiculous and reckless it is to make up shit about people out of thin air and then write it down in a publication as truth? Full stop, I have no idea nor do I care about Fergie, but that is the same type of foolishness I've seen printed about Meghan Markle in the tabloids. In the past several days I have seen all kinds of unhinged musings from demands to know why the Sussex children weren't in London for the funeral to insinuations that Meghan was a bad mother for leaving them unattended for a week. And then the venom was aimed at Markle's mother, because should she be trusted based on the terrible job she did in raising her own daughter?

Mind you, Mama Doria ain't the parent who went on television to give interviews about her daughter. She's not the one who was paid to pose for pictures prior to the wedding, nor has she done anything to take advantage of or profit from her connection to the Royal Family. Just enter her Dad's name in a search engine. Then, if you are still on Al Gore's internet questioning what kind of person prioritizes the privacy and care of her grandbabies over attending the funeral for the Queen of England...

This or that.

So that we're clear, it isn't racist for you to dislike Meghan Markle. We all know that there are people in the world who can be aggravating for unexplained reasons, like Ray J and Amy Schumer. As has been the theme of this piece, the choice is yours, like her or loathe her. However, if your dislike of her is based on this misperception that she disrespected the Queen and lured Prince Harry to America away from his loving family, ask yourself why that is such a compelling narrative. 

Why is it easier to believe that in the Disney villain version of their story, Prince Harry was tricked and charmed by an evil temptress instead of making decisions for himself? This man has been telling us for YEARS that he doesn't trust the press ever since his mother died. This man felt that when his wife's mental health was at risk, his concerns for her sanity were not taken seriously, so he packed up his family and bounced. This man insisted that his grandparents did not pose the insulting question about his unborn child's skin color. And for all of the talk about him not wanting to fulfill his royal obligations, this man who happened to be in Europe when his grandmother died, jumped right back into the royal fray and followed along with all of the protocols. Even after the petty booshay over his military uniform that his Daddy, the King, allowed?

This or that. The narrative of a hen-pecked husband or the picture of strength and duty, even in the face of grief. 

And because I feel the need to say this, it is not okay to accuse the newly designated Prince and Princess of Wales of being racist just because they may be on the outs with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Look, they won't be the Awesome Foursome, but that was a given once the tabloids pitted the two women against each other like rival heads of sorority houses. We don't know why the couples aren't close and speculating about what went down is what brought us to this place. 

Like I said in the intro, that song comes on and we go hard on the dance floor, repping this or that, this or that. Sussex or Wales, Meghan or Kate. Instead of making this a choice between these two brothers, the Red Queen or the White Queen, sunny California or rainy London, let's go hard for the truth. Family dynamics are complicated enough without the flashbulbs and clickbait headlines. What these people really need is a bit of compassion. The choice is yours.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

A Time to Mourn; A Time to Dance

We have now come to the END of the longest televised funeral in human history. I waited a respectable amount of time to start in on what I have observed, but now that the body is in the ground (or the crypt or whatever), is time for me to put on my Busy Black spectacles and get to writing. Because I got a LOT to say!

This summer, I was probably too distracted to take any real notice of the Queen's Jubilee other than what was reported on Twitter and on the news. I read a lot of interesting takes on the events, a lot of tabloid speculation about relations among the family, and I saw a frail elderly lady in her 90s do her best not to tell folks to go home because she was bloody tired. As always, the British put on a good show and did a lot of whispering out loud, so my initial intent was to write about my thoughts on the Jubilee as an American observer. However, now that the Queen has passed on, I think that it will make more sense to share those as part of an overall observation of the monarchy and its meaning.

For all intents and purposes, the stoic era of British monarchy as we knew it, died with Queen Elizabeth II earlier this month. A lot of us Americans, who really aren't interested in any of the remaining European monarchs, are more curious than eager about the new King. Speaking for myself, I can't imagine a less compelling person than King Charles, except for maybe his son William. The most interesting thing either of them has done was to get married. Well until last week when King Charles had a tantrum over getting ink on his hand. I'm thinking that somebody got demoted to walking the Royal Corgis or worse.

I kid, but his outburst reminded me of a scene in The Madness of King George (1994) where it was implied that the servants to the monarch are a rather disposable lot. As in here today, gone tomorrow because no one really cares who gets the privilege of refilling the royal ink wells (and we've advanced to the point where a nice Mont Blanc is more practical). The King has been more mindful of the cameras, but too much, in my opinion. However, I am not British, so my predictions and opinions are just noise. That doesn't mean that I wish any ill will to him. I just think that after 70 years with a Queen, having a King feels super retro and so very 20th Century.

There is a lot more I could say about Charles in particular as the new monarch, and perhaps a lot of that will depend on whether I am proved wrong in the coming weeks and months. But in my humble opinion, nobody is really feeling him but for the fact that they have to accept him, at least in the short term, as a placeholder for what may come in the future. I could be wrong, since he did survive two bouts of COVID. He's no spring chicken, and his father did live 99 years. Charles probably has at least 10 to 15 years in him, despite the shortcomings of the National Health Service...

But look, long life to him and all that other stuff he'll vow to do at his coronation.

Of course, I have a lot of thoughts on the Queen, and at the risk of annoying some of the folks who expect for me to show some respect, Imma have to show you the door. Because this entire notion that she was above criticism or that she didn't represent some pretty reprehensible aspects of imperialism and colonialism is, as y'all say, bollocks. Now is the absolute appropriate time to assess the legacy of your Queen. Not that I expect for any of you to listen, empathize, or change. But the truth needs to be spoken.

I personally admired the idea of a Queen. As a woman in a world where female leadership is often regarded as unstable and untrustworthy, it has been rather remarkable to live during an era when a woman sat atop one of the most powerful empires on the planet. I found that impressive to the extent that everything done in the name of that empire was done on her behalf. This is a point I need to emphasize later because folks want to front like she was just the face on their currency. Nah, she WAS the living embodiment of everything your country represented. I should also note that when I became aware of that fact, Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher was the UK's first woman to serve as Prime Minister. Meanwhile, in this country, we were talking about Nancy Reagan's clothes and her psychic friends. Thus, as I was beginning to view the world from a rather early feminist vantage point, it was kinda badass to look across the pond at two women defying the notion that we were just arm trophies in stately gowns.

Side note: I also must point out that Queen Elizabeth's last official act was to greet and give her consent to the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss. Tradition of course, but way more than just regal symbolism since we now know she was actually dying. But what an important moment, for the dying Queen to welcome her third woman as PM. Ever aware of her lighting and always hitting her mark.

In time, I learned that Margaret Thatcher was a rather horrible person and that the Queen was a really over-bearing meddlesome mother. Those assessments are intentionally exaggerated, but the point is that sometimes strong women work in service to the patriarchy. Thatcher was a Tory, and that will always mean that she stood up for a government and traditions that I find objectionable. For her part, the Queen literally sat down with a catalog and ordered an unsuspecting well-bred virgin bride to sacrifice to her awkward eldest son.

Critiquing the Queen is not the same as dancing on her freshly dug grave. It is fair to marvel at the changes that occurred during her reign and give her credit for keeping the same job for 70 years. As we all learned from watching The Queen (2006), she kept true to the vow to dedicate her entire life in service to her people, and that meant she simply needed to smile and wave, no matter what was going on around her. As three of her children got married to the wrong people, she kept smiling. When her son was caught on tape wishing he was a tampon, and another son got accused of being a pedophile, she kept smiling. When her ex-daughter-in-law died in a fiery crash, and she was forced to show some emotion, after a rough couple of days of bad press QE2 was forgiven for being too distant and she went back to just smiling. When she traveled to visit her realms, and took meetings with the heads of state, she kept smiling as the natives entertained and amused her. Not sure what she ever did other than gaze on them approvingly, but she kept up the visits because that ensured that their resources continued to enrich her Empire. 

So don't tell us that she was just another Lady Eloise, some powerless figurehead on the fancy packaging. If that's all she was, then make amends by granting all remaining British colonies their independence. Apologize for the very British way of "resolving" international conflicts that were instigated by their colonialism. Return all of the Crown jewels. King Charles doesn't look like the kind of dude who needs a diamond pinky ring...

Furthermore, let's not act as if the media pre-empted a week's worth of global news because the Queen was just some rich old lady with a lot of nice hats. The President of the United States flew to London for her funeral while one of our own colonies got pummeled by a hurricane. He certainly wouldn't be the first American President to forget that we fought two wars against the British and haven't been subjects of the Crown for more than two centuries.  

So why we needed all of this nonstop media attention is beyond me. Why did American news anchors need to wear black as if they were in mourning? Admittedly, I am always fascinated by pomp and pageantry, and I love a good funeral, but even I felt after the third or fourth historic procession and ceremonial tributes that this all went above and beyond the bounds of decency. I mean, why did we need to speculate about what might have been said to Prince Harry before he got to Balmoral because his grandmother was already dead? Why did we need to know that there were intense negotiations behind the scenes over protocol? Why were there body language experts on television analyzing whether the wives were still not speaking to each other? Maybe we should have just given them the space to grieve, because damn!

Perhaps, and this is just my thought, if there had not been all of this wall-to-wall death chamber to burial coverage of the Queen, we wouldn't need to think of any of that other stuff at all. We could have focused on the more mundane issues that often go through people's mind when attending a funeral such as what are they serving at the repast? And will there be liquor?

As someone who knows a thing or two about family dynamics around death, shit gets messy even when folks get along. So if brothers still aren't speaking over a callous question about a baby's skin color and their Daddy ain't of a mind for mediating conflicts because he's too busy worrying if his consort will get the same title as his Mummy--yeah. A royal pile of horse manure.

Which brings me to the point where I alert you to the fact that I have yet to offer any commentary about Meghan Markle because this ain't about her. Some of y'all practically accused the woman of being the one who smothered Her Majesty in her sleep! But I said what I said, that this ain't about Meghan, so you'll have to check back for that piece later.

However, let's circle back to some of the other issues raised by the Queen's death. As soon as the news broke, I posted an announcement on my page and several of my friends posted notes of condolence. Some others took issue with those expressions, as if there had been a meeting where it was decided that no self-respecting Black person should feel anything other than contempt. That definitely made me feel some kind of way because people should be allowed to have different reactions. Even negative ones, such as the comments of Carnegie Mellon professor Uju Anya, as well as the alleged gleeful reactions on Irish Twitter. Death is complicated and there are no universal emotions. 

Which brings us to the title of this piece, because there is a lot of truth to the passage from Ecclesiastes 3 (or if you are more familiar with the song by The Byrds). Not everything is appropriate at any given time. I get that not everyone had love for the Queen, and those are valid sentiments. No one has ever dedicated a week of televised mourning to the millions who died in conflicts instigated under her reign, so to call out that hypocrisy is fair. My quibble is with the timing, because if Anya loses her job, then she would simply become another casualty of this empire. 

Yet, I am mindful that Anya's comments sparked a necessary assessment of the Queen's legacy, one that might not have otherwise taken place. I don't know if she had ever spoken out against the empire in the past (I'm guessing that she had), but her one tweet seemed to unleash a thousand bitten tongues. A lot of British subjects throughout the Commonwealth where the sun still shines tolerated the Queen as a person, but they are rightfully questioning whether that relationship should continue. Several Caribbean nations signaled their intent to become republics, and I don't know what that means to the notion of Commonwealth, but it must be significant if Canada and Australia are considering that as well. 

My own personal feelings are also complex, and I offer no apologies for having a personal admiration for the late Queen while also believing that her empire has run its course. As an American with a lot of conflicting opinions about my own country, I am vocal in advocating against its hypocrisy and see a lot of the same incongruities across the pond. The Queen lived a long and prosperous life because the system she represented was based on the idea that hereditarian monarchy was some kind of divine assignment. People born into privilege often believe that by virtue of their wealth, they deserve more than just the best things. They deserve adoration, to be feared, and to set the standard by which all others are judged. This is literally why the British still "own" colonies. I don't know if the Queen personally felt this way, but a lot of the commentary about her life suggests that had been the point of all this--that we, mere commoners, could never measure up to whatever it was she represented.

Perhaps that is the best argument for letting the monarchy go, because near perfection it is an impossible standard to meet and uphold. King Charles has spent the last 70+ years proving that he's human and fallible just like the rest of us. And what is the point of elevating someone to such an exalted place if they are just as fucked up as we are? Hopefully, the question of what happens next will be answered by the British people--all of them, from the maids-a-milking to the lords-a-leaping and the ladies dancing.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Fear of a Black Princess

I'm still writing the piece from my adventures at Walt Disney World and another piece about Meghan Markle (that I started before the Queen died, so revisions are underway) and yet more unfinished pieces about several other topics that I hope to publish before the end of the year.

But I felt compelled to weigh in with a little extra emphasis on a topic that has been upsetting a bunch of folks on social media regarding the recasting of The Little Mermaid with actress Halle Bailey. Because y'all really need to chill.

I get it. You grew up with the original movie and loved Ariel because of her red hair. You saw yourself in a girl that was half fish whose best friend was another fish named Flounder. You understood exactly how frustrating it was to be followed around by a meddling Jamaican nanny crab named Sebastien. In your youthful naiveté, you too struck a Faustian deal with your Dad's nemesis in order to run away with some dude whom you hadn't actually met, because adolescent love at first sight always works out. 

Having just visited the Magic Kingdom this summer, here are a few things you ought to know about your beloved princess. It pains me to inform you that Ariel went back to being a mermaid, so I'm not sure that things worked out with Prince Eric. I didn't see her featured in the midday parade, but I did see where she and Flounder have settled into a nice grotto in the Fantasyland section of the park, which must be the retirement community for forgotten characters. I offered to stand on line, but the girls were uninterested in stopping in for a visit, so I can't say if Ariel is actually a red-headed mermaid or if she was just some girl wearing a Wonderbra, a fish tail, and a wig.

So let's dispense with all of the wailing and moaning about how much you loved the original character. Of course you did, as did I more than 30 years ago when the film debuted. I was in high school, but I had a baby cousin, so when the movie was released on VHS, we bought it to watch with her. Something I learned then from babysitting (but forgot when my own daughter was born) was that little kids can watch the same movies and TV shows over and over and over. Therefore, for a time, Ariel was on a constant loop until other movies came out. Eventually she was replaced by Belle from Beauty and the Beast (1991), Jasmine from Aladdin (1992), and so on. Clearly, Ariel set the mold for the thoroughly modern 90s heroines, as the drama centered on her pursuit of happiness instead of being thrust into some calamity and having to wait to be rescued by some random hero. 

Yet, when Disney re-branded their modern animated heroines as Princesses in the mid 2000s, Ariel was not chosen as the Queen Bee. Disney went back to its vaults to tap their classics: Cinderella, Snow White, and Aurora (blonde in pink from Sleeping Beauty). They promoted Belle (yellow) to a princess even though that's not how her story ended, and it was the four of them who were the original faces of the campaign. The nonwhite princesses like Jasmine and Tiana appeared in the supplemental marketing. Mulan, who had also not been a princess in her story, was featured on the side, along with Ariel who appeared in her human form. In some marketing, they included Pocahantas, and eventually other heroines were invited to join the lineup, including Merida (Brave), Rapunzel (Tangled), and Moana. Of course, when Frozen came out in 2013, it was all about Elsa and Anna.

You can call it a slap in the face to all of the ginger girls who were annoyed that blondes had more fun (even though Anna and Merida both have red hair). Or you can call it a shrewd marketing gimmick to entice middle-class Black mothers into buying more princess crap. But to deride this reboot as "woke" is how, colloquially, I know you effing lying! Are you seriously out here on Blue Ivy's internet whining about the original intent of a centuries old fairy tale that didn't even end with the "princess" finding her happily ever after because she dissolved into seafoam?

Okay Jan.

I won't go into all of the ways you look and sound ridiculous, but if some of y'all really started a white Christian nationalist Facebook group to protest the film, I honestly can't waste the bandwidth to explore how pathetic that is. I also will not gush too much about how precious it was to see the TikTok compilation videos of all the little girls who were in awe after seeing the trailer, because it might trigger my Fall allergies. But I will point out how one little girl asked if that was Whitney Houston, and yes, that really did touch my Maleficent heart!

My 7 year-old daughter will probably be just as enthralled by Halle Bailey in this movie as she was a few weeks ago when she saw Brandy in the 1997 production of Cinderella (and actually saw the late Whitney Houston in action as the fairy godmother). My daughter was also quite taken by Camila Cabello in her 2021 adaptation of Cinderella. She loves watching The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Wiz (1978) as well as Oz the Great and Powerful (2013). When she watched the upcoming Mermaid trailer, her reaction was the same as the others that have been shared. And you wanna know why?

BECAUSE SHE IS A KID! What did I say about them watching their favorite stuff on repeat a few paragraphs ago? I'm guessing that the unicorn phase we're in now will give way to a mermaid phase next year. And once she finds out that her favorite uncle Lin-Manuel Miranda contributed to the soundtrack...

As a former little Black girl who grew up with NO representations of Black princesses, fairies, superheroines, or space aliens, I have to question the sincerity of all you so-called purists. Anybody old enough to complain about having grown up on the original movie hasn't been a child for quite some time. Which is the reason for the reboot--y'all are in your 30s! I am almost 50. Thus, in my best impression of Leon inhabiting the spirit of David Ruffin--ain't NOBODY making pilgrimages to Walt Disney World to see a middle-aged mermaid sitting in a cave singing to her pet fish!

Disney tapped Halle Bailey because she's an It-girl. She's also very talented and beautiful. In the past when they've cast actresses for live-action versions of their movies and televised specials, they sprinkled their fairy dust on the likes of Julie Andrews, Mary Martin, Leslie Ann Warren, Sandy Duncan, Cathy Rigby, Hillary Duff, Lindsey Lohan, Kiera Knightley, and Anne Hathaway. I bet you didn't even question the logic of casting grown women to portray the boy who never grew up (Peter Pan), but let's not conflate issues here. The point is that you never raised an eyebrow when all of those white women got opportunities to become major stars. In fact, never in my lifetime have I heard where some white actor declined a role in an all-white production on the grounds that there was not enough diversity. Y'all barely took notice when a trending hashtag called out the disparities. 

A better argument is the call for Disney to produce more original stories with nonwhite leads, and you'll get no pushback from me on that. The success of animated films like Coco (2017) and Encanto (2021) support that very point. It would have been great if that had become the norm when The Princess Diaries was introduced 20 years ago. Whitney Houston was one of the executive producers, Shonda Rhimes wrote the sequel, and perhaps if they could have convinced the powers that be to cast a young up-and-coming Black actress instead of Anne Hathaway, this debate might not be happening. I would have loved for Patti LaBelle to have been Kyla Pratt's royal grandmother. Looking back on that era, it was a big deal for Pratt to star in her own cartoon as Penny Proud.

But this isn't an either/or demand for opportunity since calls for more diversity and representation pre-date the election of a Black President, a social media hashtag, and the protests after the death of George Floyd. This is a struggle that has been ongoing since before the original Little Mermaid film debuted in 1989. If it can be called progress that it took more than a decade to go from Brandy as Cinderella in 1997 to get to Princess Tiana in 2009 and then almost another 15 years to get to a Black mermaid in 2023, then this visceral backlash is exactly what we say it is. Because what else describes booshay like this and this 'fixed' trailer and this horrible picture?

Yeah, your racist slips are showing. 

The world is changing, and I guess it has been quite the culture shock to realize that whiteness is no longer the standard by which everything else is measured. How awful must it be for your daughters to go to the Disney store and have their costume choices include Tiana, Moana, Mulan, and Rapunzel instead of being limited to the classic four princesses. However will your darlings cope with the realization that anyone can be a Princess (and again, I will simply mention that I will have a lot more to say about Meghan Markle in the coming weeks), but yeah, especially if you marry the right Prince?

As for your false equivalencies and double standards, those arguments are trash and you know it. Do you honestly think it would be "fair" to cast Carrie Underwood as Princess Tiana in some implausible live action version of The Princess and the Frog because in the entire pantheon of the Disney characters, one was reimagined as Black? Is that how you win the fight against wokeness--by demanding that a story that was itself an adaptation written to give little Black girls a princess should be recast? And are you intent to stake your flag and die on the hill that mermaids are of European origin because those are the stories that were published? Really now, because it isn't like colonizers have never profited from the stuff they stole from other cultures...

Too soon? Well, that's okay because that is another conversation altogether and Mami Wata is definitely not some lovelorn teenager. 

Here is the bottom line: see the movie and judge it on the merits. Or don't see the movie, and blast it on social media because you're a racist or one of the former Disney cast members who spent half the day sitting alone in a cave hoping for a few visitors. Either way, inclusivity is not a fad, so I can't wait to see your reaction to the Latina Snow White.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The Skin We're In

It is a radical act to show up as your authentic self. 
It is a radical act to show up as your authentic self. 
It is a radical act to show up as your authentic self. 

In a span of days, I got three powerful reminders of this affirmation. This will be quite the trip down the yellow brick road, but I promise each character/metaphor will impart some lessons about the value of authenticity. Ready Dorothy? Here goes:

The Scarecrow - Race (Straw)Men

This young man appeared on FOX News to tout his family history on a segment about white visitors to Montpelier who were upset about having to confront its legacy as a working plantation. This occurred a few days after this same network offered this guy a platform to whine about the updated tour at Monticello. As you can see, this young Black scholar made a salient point that not all of our people have enslavement in their family trees, while an inspiring montage of photos of his family was shared. But when my Morehouse Brother, who happens to be a rather famous public historian, called this out for the fuckery that it was, young blood got in his feelings. He took the time to respond to everyone on social media who criticized how he was being used to argue against "wokeism", including little old me. I almost feel honored.

Just in case he ever reads this, I want to make a few points clear about why we always need to be careful when our skin is used as a handkerchief to wipe away the tears of white guilt. Young Brother, you weren't invited on a FOX News segment to share the story of your Black ancestors. It is July, not February. You were invited to help support their culture war strategy of false equivalencies--that Americans shouldn't be made to feel ashamed that slavery existed if there were free Black people. So when these tourists show up at plantations to get married or to tour vineyards, they want their rose-colored glasses to illuminate the pretty, not the gritty. They want to believe that First Lady Dolley Madison was a celebrated hostess on the strength of her cherry pie à la mode

Nobody is discounting your research. We are frustrated that these same people who decry wokeness are only interested in Black stories that assuage their guilt. True, there were free Black people living in cities like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. We know this because the African Methodist Episcopalian (AME) Church was founded in 1787 when two Black parishioners were thrown out of a white Methodist church while praying. That same year, the African Free School was founded in New York with support from two Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. And in Boston, slavery was abolished by 1783 in gratitude for the contributions of Black soldiers during the Revolution. Since you've done the supplemental reading assignments, you are also aware that most people aren't visiting New York, Boston, or Philadelphia to see historic plantations. We won't discuss how many of the landmarks that would document Black freedman history in those cities either no longer exist or probably aren't included on major tours.

Therefore, since you know that the history of your free ancestors isn't common knowledge and that they weren't regarded as equal to their fellow countrymen, why act like the rest of us ought to feel some kind of way about our enslaved ancestry? Learn this now, young blood, because I sense there might be hope for you--these same people used your free forefathers as straw men to sow division and sell propaganda in the 18th, 19th, and the 20th centuries. Ain't nothing changed, even now in this first quarter of the 21st Century. 

You have a brain, so think about it. You're getting high fives from the very folks that organized efforts to outlaw the history you seek to reveal, yet you took time to come for me?

The Tinman - To Thine Own Self Be True

Last Friday I saw a play about Ira Aldridge (1807-1867) at the Shakespeare Theatre called Red Velvet. I wrote about the experience and shared some thoughts about it here. To quickly recap the gist of that Facebook post, I saw all of these connections with the story of Aldridge as depicted in the play to the politics of casting, and how my Mom introduced local audiences to the idea that inner city kids could perform Shakespeare.

Othello is one of the most complex and iconic of Shakespearean tragedies. Everybody knows that the central theme of the play is jealousy, but as director Michael Kahn argues (having overseen/directed at least three unique productions), how that jealousy is presented to and acknowledged by the audience is dependent on the casting. I don't know a full history or evolution of the role, but it is clear that when Aldridge took it on at London's Covent Gardens in 1833, it caused a controversy such that the production was closed after two shows and he never performed at that theatre again. The play I saw imagines how that drama might have unfolded behind the curtains.

Much of the dialogue in the play about the politics of casting Aldridge could easily be Twitter chatter about current events. The drama addresses the role of art in pushing society and the sentiments of audiences being forced to confront their prejudices. I could not help but to see the connection to how people in this country have overreacted to the slightest deviations from convention in their scrutiny of Barack Obama and Kamala Harris. He wore a tan suit in the Oval Office, how unbecoming! She has high staff turnover, must be incompetent! Meanwhile the last guy never wore a suit that was properly tailored and he literally fired half of his Cabinet on Twitter.

The heart of the matter is that people see our skin, but not our humanity, no matter what they claim to the contrary. Our skin justifies biases, stereotypes, false assumptions, second guessing, border walls, denied access, and glass ceilings. The lack of compassion shown to us is evident in how they keep insisting that no matter how qualified our credentials and impeccable our presentation, we are still never good enough. Truly heartbreaking.

The Lion - An Offer She Could Refuse

It was last week right before I saw the play that I read about the decision by opera singer Angel Blue to pull out of an upcoming series of performances because another production at the venue made use of blackface. I find it ironic that the play touched on that same subject, so it was an Amen moment during an especially tense scene. Think about it, in 2022 in an era where there are countless Black opera singers, a European venue decides to mount a production that uses blackface and DEFENDS it!

I saw where a bunch of twits weighed in with comments about female singers portraying men and other costuming techniques that might be used in order to enable a specific actor to take on a particular role. All of that intentionally missed the point, because as usual some folks would rather twist themselves into intricate pretzels to deny the existence of racism or justify being offensive. For its part, the opera company claimed that this was consistent with a staging mounted in 2002 that used blackface. In other words, when we did this 20 years ago, no one complained, so what's the problem?

Where to begin?

First, European audiences have a tolerance for certain things that they shouldn't given their sordid history and legacy of colonization. Although we tend to think of England, Spain, France, Portugal, and the Netherlands as the most prolific global colonizers, Italy also had imperial holdings in Africa and parts of Europe. The Italian Empire was still in existence when the celebrated Italian director Franco Zeffirelli (1923-2019), was a child. However, he lived long enough to witness a world of change, so there is no excuse for him to have staged a racially insensitive production in 2002. The fact that he should have known better and did it anyway is one thing; the choice to repeat that error in tribute to him is quite another.

Second, in an era when Founding Fathers and dead Presidents are cast as Black men and the wives of King Henry VIII are Spice Girls, surely someone could have come up with a brilliant creative casting scheme for Aida. Ms. Blue walked away from the starring role of Violetta in La Traviata, a role that could have otherwise gone to any other soprano, so this didn't need to be all that hard. The fact that we no longer remain true to traditional staging is precisely because this is a big world full of talent. I get that opera is not Broadway, but let's not get silly and conflate gender-bending casting with racism. They are NOT the same!

Finally, the courage it takes to walk away from something that mocks your humanity is underappreciated. All someone has to do is jangle a little change and some of y'all discard your integrity like a used tissue. I don't follow opera, so I was unfamiliar with Ms. Blue and whether this would have been a transformative career opportunity for her. The fallout might be disproportionate, as in she might not be invited back to work in certain venues for having taken such a stand. That would be unfortunate because blackface isn't something she should have to grin and bear. 

The Emerald City - Are We There Yet?

You would think that in 2022, we would have finally reached the place where we aren't debating the politics of blackface or slavery. Seriously.

This enduring controversy over blackface has never been examined with any sensitivity to how it offends Black performers, because as long as white audiences accept it, there are no issues to be resolved. Which is why the irony that Aida is an enslaved woman never quite registers either. Apparently, they prefer an illusion of the exotic in the portrayals of Othello and Aida. It isn't that the actors are more believable when they are wearing grease paint. It is so that the audience can ignore the truth--like when they could visit Montpelier, Monticello, or Mt. Vernon before they got woke.

Stay with me young blood, because you need to understand this: it didn't matter that Ira Aldridge had been chosen by the man he replaced on stage, the London critics and audiences rejected him anyway. Born free, probably in the same New York community where you traced your ancestors, he attended the African Free School and began acting at an early age. He wasn't some inexperienced amateur when he made his way across the pond. The fact that he went on to become a star on other stages throughout Europe notwithstanding, his success didn't open the door to other Black Shakespearean actors until Paul Robeson, a century later!

Aida was written three years after Aldridge's death, but a Black singer wasn't engaged to sing it until Caterina Jarboro in 1933. Black women have been rising through the ranks of the opera world slowly, but steadily, so imagine how tone deaf that other opera singer must be to claim that her detractors are jealous of her success. Ironically, the first and last time I sat through a blackface performance was in a staging of Othello in high school. If memory serves, none of us recalled if the play was any good because we were distracted by the makeup that kept getting darker with each stage entrance. So yeah lady, Angel Blue is just jealous by how natural you look smeared in layers of self-tanner.

Young brother, you can't teach those plantation tourists anything they don't already know. The "woke agenda" that we're accused of pushing is no different than what Black people have been pushing for since Ira Aldridge tread the boards. Black excellence and resilience aren't modern concepts with which you were bestowed the honor of introducing. Italian audiences have been known to pelt Black soccer players with bananas, so there is no cultural understanding that can be bridged by performing for people who find blackface entertaining. What makes you think that you can accomplish more in a 5 minute segment than what hasn't been resolved for more than 200 years?

There is a man behind the curtain as plain to see. He can't give us anything to alter perceptions that we don't already have within our radical and authentic selves, blessed with sharp minds and caring hearts, imbued with courage. 

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Apology Not Accepted

The other day after the seventh installment of the January 6th Insurrection hearings, there was this viral Kodak moment: Stephen Ayers, who testified about why he was inspired to come to DC that day, made this great magnanimous gesture of stopping to personally apologize to the Office Harry Dunn of the Capitol Police. For those who haven't been watching these hearings, Officer Dunn has been a ubiquitous presence since the first episode of these proceedings. And while the photog who took that million dollar shot was thinking "Pulitzer baby," in my mind, Officer Dunn was thinking: "So is this apology for threatening my Black life or for disrespecting my blue uniform? I wonder what wifey wants for dinner tonight...I think it is Tuesday, so tacos it is." (And yeah, I know folks are a little unsure if we can even joke about tacos this week but stay with me here.)

That evening, Dunn appeared on MSNBC and responded to a question about the apology. And for the first time that I have ever witnessed such a bold sentiment in public, this Black man said no thanks. Now since I don't read alt-right social media, I can only imagine how upset that has made some of the folks who feel entitled to Black forgiveness. But dammit, he's within his rights to deny absolution for the way he was mistreated by that mob, on behalf of every Capitol Police officer, and on behalf of every voter whose integrity was challenged. Bravo!

I wasn't planning on writing a think piece on Officer Dunn or the January 6th hearings, so let me explain why I am really here. It is in response to a segment I heard on NPR about the arrest warrant that was found for one Carolyn Bryant Donham, the woman at the center of the Emmett Till lynching. By some belated miracle, a piece of paper that was never served has brought us to a real moment of racial reckoning.

I'm sure that a lot of think pieces have already been written on the matter of her culpability, including this question of whether we ought to be demanding justice from an 88 year-old woman about a story she told 67 years ago. It might be un-Christian of me to say this, but Hell yeah we should!

The very foundation of my faith is the concept of forgiveness. God sent Jesus to the world as a living sacrifice for our sins, so we are forgiven, no matter how badly we have sinned. There is even a verse in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus offers a hypothetical number for how often a person should be forgiven (490 in the KJV, but 77 times in the NIV, so there seems to be some new math in the mix). Whichever number you choose, I am left to question whether at any point in the last 67 years, did Mrs. Donham ask for forgiveness even once. Because isn't that baseline requirement? In all of the years in which I have been alive, I have never heard her utter a single word of remorse. 

That includes the interview which was contained in the book by Timothy Tyson, The Blood of Emmett Till, released in 2017 where she is reported to have recanted the accusation that Till physically assaulted her. But she also denied having recanted, and there are doubts of what she actually said versus what was "reported" in his book... (a whole sloppy taco).

To be clear, my position is not that Carolyn Bryant Donham doesn't deserve forgiveness. My position is that she needs to earn it. After living all these years with the weight of a lie story she told that led to the lynching of a child, that might have been a heavy load to bear, but she managed to live with it. She stayed married to the killer and had several more children with him until they divorced some 20 years later. She remarried twice, raised her family, and has managed to stay out of the glare of infamy. In fact, she's lived such a quiet life that she doesn't even have a Wikipedia page (so I had to research multiple sources for details and found this article most informative). At some point she decided to write a memoir, which (surprise) reveals that she didn't want Till killed and she tried to save him, but we weren't supposed to know about her heroism until 2036 (when it was supposed to be released).

In the interview she gave to Tyson, Donham expressed a hint of contrition, moved by the death of her own son, which she referred to as "tender sorrow" for Mamie Till Mobley. As we all know, Mrs. Mobley's determination to show the world what had been done to her child is the reason why we even know about any of this. It is rather ironic that Donham would come to acknowledge any empathy linking the two women; however, tender sorrow doesn't sound like an apology. It sounds like the name of a Lifetime TV movie.

So miss me with any appeals for sympathy or mercy for Mrs. Donham.

Am I so cold as to want to see an elderly lady in prison for a crime that was committed by her late husband? One for which he was acquitted, then bragged about having committed just a year later? Don't I understand that she was also trapped by the social mores of the time that made interactions between Black men and white women deadly? Even if that 'man' was actually a child and the woman later claimed that she didn't want him to die over it? So what you're saying is that she had no choice but to stand by her man, so we should not judge her by that smile frozen in time immediately after his acquittal? And I should feel some kind of way because her life was ruined by the notoriety brought on by the case?

Her life? The life that endured its fair share of hardships and tragedy; nevertheless, it continued. Even if she drops dead before I finish writing this piece, you do realize that she has had the benefit of YEARS to do something more than just maintain her silence. 

To put this into perspective, Till's mother lived for almost 50 years with the horror of what had been done to her only child. She spent the remainder of her natural life fighting for justice, and when she died nearly 20 years ago, she had also written a memoir. Her book had been scheduled for release before her passing, so though it was published posthumously, there were no bombshell revelations because Mobley had been outspoken and indefatigable. It isn't clear whether Donham had ever expressed any tender sorrows or condolences over Mobley's death, or if she just kept on anonymously making jewelry and liking cat videos on social media.

Serve the warrant! It doesn't matter if it can't be executed for lack of evidence or if Mississippi will never prosecute her. The reckoning that we seek is not in wheeling an elderly and feeble Donham off to jail, but in denying her the peace to die in obscurity. Publish her memoir in its entirety right now on the editorial pages of every major newspaper of record so that she doesn't earn a dime of royalties. Just stop protesting in front of her senior living facility, lest you make her into a martyr (FAAFO that the arrest warrants for harassing her will be executed). Don't give the world any reason to feel sorry for yet another complicit white woman.

And DO NOT allow her to get off light with some belated 99 paged confessional tome. For once, let's not coddle the person in the wrong and allow them to dictate the terms of when/how they are forgiven. That is exactly why Officer Dunn's refusal to accept that dude's PDA (performative display of apologia) is so liberating. You say you're sorry for what you did? Then show me that you regret your actions. There are countless examples of some deranged white person (or people) committing wholescale genocide, but as long as they mumble a half-ass apology if you were offended or harmed, then all is right in their entitled view of the world. For example, white folks finally admit the truth about the Tulsa Massacre 100 years later, now that all of the terrorists and most of the survivors are long dead. 

With everyone else who was a direct witness to the Till murder dead, Carolyn Bryant Donham sure did pick the right time to develop a conscience. Why should she have the final word on what happened? She's had 67 years and has remained utterly unwilling to express even the slightest ounce of public remorse. Think about that--she intended for her memoirs to be published in 2036, hoping to be dead and gone, without ever asking for absolution (just like her former sister-in-law did in 2014). If that warrant had never been found, she would have gotten away with it too!

Pull out your Bibles and turn with me to the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel of Luke. The Hub and I have often discussed our frustration with this parable, based on our belief that the older brother has a legitimate point about the way that the younger son is simply welcomed back into the family fold. From a certain perspective, he went back home when his money ran out. However, over the years, I have come to accept the notion that all of us are Prodigal children at some point in time, and forgiveness is the ultimate demonstration of God's unconditional love. We can always find His grace and mercy, but we've got to seek Him in order to receive it.

We need to understand that when we're living in pig shit, that existence is unworthy of a child of God. (Y'all know I cuss but stay with me here.) You can't believe the Big Lie that 81 million people stole an election from a con man or that said con man did not intend for a violent melee to take place on January 6th. You cannot tell a big lie that results in the death of a child, remain silent about it for 67 years, then expect sympathy. That man booked and boarded a flight to Washington in the middle of a pandemic! That woman is pictured celebrating with her husband after he was acquitted of lynching a child! Both of them, living and loving life up to their eyeballs in pig shit!

In the parable, neither the father nor the elder brother set out to look for that Prodigal son. So who knows how long he stayed in that pig stye before he realized how desperate and disgusting his condition had become. But once he came to his senses, he went home dressed in filthy rags and smelling foul. He presented himself to his father, literally reeking of remorse.

Stephen Ayers, we're glad that you disengaged from the alt-right media cult and that you now accept that everyone who disagrees with you ideologically is not evil. But as Officer Dunn said, you need to do the work to receive forgiveness, starting with apologizing to the American people. You need to take personal responsibility for the consequences of your actions. It means getting involved in some real work to preserve and protect this fragile democracy. At least you realized that you were wallowing in pig shit and have left the stye.

As for Mrs. Carolyn Bryant Donham, we're moved by the tender sorrow you had for the late Mamie Till Mobley after you lost your son. Yes, the magnitude of losing a child is immeasurable; however, that you found common ground with her 40 years later isn't enough to wash away the stench of the pig shit you've been living in. At the very least, you owe a genuine, personal apology to the Till family and to the community of Black people in Mississippi that lived in fear of what your late husband and brother-in-law did in your honor. If you haven't figured it out by now, no one is coming to rescue you. The fact that you are still alive means that there is still time to extricate yourself from the muck and mire.

Or you can stay there and pray that God is more understanding that we are.

Monday, July 4, 2022

American Idols

It has been a few months since my last piece in this space. I have been micro-blogging on the Facebook page because I've been lacking focus of late...too much going on all of the time (and for once, it has all been a little too much for even this Busy Black Woman). However, this was something I felt needed to post here.

Ever since I first heard the testimony of Fulton County election workers Wandrea Arshaye Moss and her mother Lady Ruby Freeman, I have been on a slow boil. Add to that my frustration at low voter turnout here in my city for a primary election where they literally gave out ballots and removed all barriers to voting and the bubbles in my pot boil faster and a little bigger. And though we're skipping past the fuckery of the Supreme Court's recent slate of opinions to address at another time, my pot runs over when I see all of the praise for Cassidy Hutchinson after she testified to what she witnessed in the hours before the Insurrection.

Y'all keep believing that this country will be saved by the very people who have at various times been hellbent on destroying it. 

Let's start with the movement to recast Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as some savior of democracy. I guess y'all forgot that her Daddy was one of the most vocal proponents of the Imperial Presidency when he was Vice President. This is the same theory that vested in then-President George W. Bush the power to declare an unjustified war in Iraq and authorize enhanced interrogation (torture) against enemy combatants. Recall how she never discouraged birtherism and hammered President Obama for being a globalist who didn't put "America First" in his foreign policy? And isn't that the same rhetoric that gave Donald Trump a rallying cry to go with his red trucker hats? Didn't she vote for Donald Trump twice, even in 2020, after having had a front row seat to all of his BS for four tumultuous years?

But she finally had enough when the rioters smeared shit on her chair in the House chamber...

No, I am not making light of the fact that Cheney the Younger has effectively ended her career in Congress through her participation in these hearings. That isn't a small thing...unless she has some kind of Golden Parachute awaiting her. My guess is that she has several, beginning with whatever cushy Ambassadorship she wants anywhere in the world. Of course, her Daddy still has connections at the various war-mongering corporations he helped make rich in the early 00s, so she can have her pick of board seats. But the real prize would be a run for President in 2024 and given the way some of y'all have fan-girled over that prospect, she could possibly go the distance.

She just needs to get rid of her most formidable opponent. And you want to know the craziest thing--it ain't even Donald Trump! However, before we travel down that yellow brick road, allow me to pivot to the newest staff assistant in Cheney's congressional office, Ms. Cassidy Hutchinson. Because here is where folks showed their hands (and their asses) in fawning over her alleged courage last week.

Like everybody else who watched/listened to her surprise testimony, I was riveted. I clutched my imaginary pearls as she recounted certain details, but in the end, there were no earth-shattering surprises that we couldn't have guessed. I mean, who didn't suspect that Trump threw man-baby tantrums when he didn't get his way and sometimes that involved breaking the White House china and/or crystal? 

Instead, it was the revelation that the Trump Organization fancies itself as the political equivalent of the Corleone crime family. Except to anyone who has watched The Godfather enough times, the Trump Regime is what would have happened in the alternative universe where Fredo becomes the Don instead of Michael. An utter calamity. Thus, when Select Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) lectured would-be witnesses about their reluctance to come forward for fear of retaliation, I think he should have reminded them that these are the same very smart people who held their post-election campaign event in the parking lot of the Four Seasons Landscaping Store.

Folks are hailing Ms. Hutchinson as a hero because that is how low the bar of expectation has been set for displays of character these days. It should be the bare minimum to testify against the cadre of lackeys and enablers who unleashed that angry armed mob, drunk on Trump wine instead of Kool-Aid, on the U.S. Capitol to 'stop the steal' of an election their cult leader had lost. And since she was an aide to his Chief of Staff, I'm sure she overheard every conversation in which Trump had been told multiple times by various people in any number of ways that he LOST. 

I'm not implying that agreeing to testify is not the act of bravery and patriotism you all want it to be. I am outright saying that it isn't.

It is NOT all that courageous when in comparison, those two election workers from Georgia, two Black women, really were intimidated and threatened by foot soldiers from the Trump Organization (dispatched by another one y'all forget is deplorable, Kanye West). When the threats of violence extended to Moss's Grandmother in the form of a home invasion to carry out a "citizen's arrest" (the same defense offered by the three men responsible for killing Ahmaud Arbery)...that y'all would even deign to use the word "hero" to describe the testimony of Hutchinson is offensive. Sure, I believe those bungling trumpets made threats. But she had protection in the form of legal representation provided to her by that same organization! 

Methinks Ms. Hutchinson did receive that suggestive phone call from her former boss, but then she got another offer she couldn't refuse. Because I bet Liz Cheney has seen The Godfather as many times as I have. Tessio was always the smart one.

Generally, I wouldn't bother to contemplate any statements issued by the former DESPOTUS wherein he disavows ever having known the person accusing him of whatever petty crime and misdemeanor because they all follow the same pattern: I don't know this insignificant person, they wanted something from me and I took pity on them, but because I don't know them whatever was done for them was the equivalent of me throwing change to a beggar from the window of my limo. True to form, he claimed that Hutchinson was a low-level staffer, but then he personally denied her request for a new job with his Organization in Florida. And that is some straight Fredo isht if you ask me. Specifically that scene in Cuba (in The Godfather II) the night of the Revolution when Fredo lets it slip that he knew Jonny Ola after having denied it hours earlier. 

Whereas for two Black women whom Trump never did meet or have the occasion to know anything about other than the fact that they were election workers from Fulton County GA, he certainly had a lot to say when he accused them of tampering with the vote counts. He called them thugs and scammers. He used language and invoked imagery intended to incite his true believers--the very mob that Gabe Sterling, the Republican Chief Operating Officer of the Georgia elections, explicitly warned would form. But since they were just practicing on a local Black family, there are no televised congressional hearings or criminal trials to seek justice. After all, terrorizing Black people over voting is as American as being moved by the crocodile tears of the white woman who watches from the safety of the window in the Big House behind her lace curtains. 

Y'all throw around the word hero too easily. Rudy Giuliani was once heralded as a hero, but only to the New Yorkers whom his broken windows/zero-tolerance policies exempted. Ask Abner Louima how heroic the NYPD acted when they sodomized him in 1997, or the countless Black and Latino men subjected to stop-and-frisk. I know, seasoned New Yorkers appreciate that Giuliani cleaned up the subway, Times Square, and stood up for the police and firefighters after 9/11. So surely, he had nothing but praise for Officer Eugene Goodman, a real-life good guy with a gun who put his life on the line on January 6th? Or offered sincere condolences to the family of retired Officer Aaron Salter, another hero cut from that same 'protect and serve' cloth who died defending patrons at the Buffalo, NY grocery store shooting rampage? 

You want to know what Mr. "Back the Blue" Giuliani said about those two brave men? Nothing. Because he was too busy hyping the Big Lie that Black and Latino and Indigenous voters stole the 2020 election instead of accepting that white suburban voters under-voted. Convinced that he is some kind of consigliere like Tom Hagan, instead of leaving behind the severed horse's head, Giuliani keeps making a horse's ass of himself.

America's mayor. America's sweetheart. American patriots. Yet none of those labels are applied to DC's Mayor Muriel Bowser who sent Metropolitan Police to the Capitol during the Insurrection even though Congress is under federal jurisdiction, and she doesn't have the authority to dispatch the DC National Guard. How many tears were shed with Wandrea Moss, who went above and beyond the call of duty in doing her job to assist voters, only to have her life turned upside down? "Back the blue" when they are upholding oppressive systems, but not when they are saving the lives of the Vice President or every Senator and Member of Congress on January 6th because you disagree with the outcome of an election. 

Here we go again America...only this time, I'm not going to let you celebrate your birthday without acknowledging some of the people who made this day possible. You will not erase them from the narrative!

You will not build monuments to the Cassidy Hutchinsons of the world because she looks like your impressionable and naive daughters. Sorry Douglas Brinkley, but I don't care that Liz Cheney is channeling Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) in finally standing up to the McCarthyism/authoritarianism in her party because until recently, it served her ambitions. We are not going to honor the white women who drove carpools during the Montgomery Bus Boycotts because it ensured that their Black maids made it to work on time.

So no, you will NOT skip over Madame Vice President Kamala Harris for some great white hope. It is courageous for Harris to show up to work every day in a country where the citizenship status of her immigrant parents is debatable; where the excellence of her college alma mater is improbable; where the significance of her career success is unprecedented; where the legality of her marriage is now uncertain; and where her step-daughters and nieces have fewer reproductive rights than she did at their age. You cannot compare the life stories of these two women and come away with the conclusion that Cheney is the profile in courage because she bucked the system ONE time.

Wandrea Moss got one of those awards too. 

You can be riveted by Liz Cheney's persecution of Donald Trump for inciting the Insurrection, just as long as you remember how well he was prosecuted by Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) in the first impeachment and Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) during the second impeachment. NY AG Letitia James already exposed the grift that was the Trump Foundation, and she's waiting in the wings to expose his other frauds. So are we really doing this America--making the Black women do all of the work? Because if you claim that the evidence is more convincing this time...

You're being set up America. While her Daddy is convalescing and playing with his grandchildren in the garden, Liz is settling all of her family's business. It's the smart move.