Monday, April 13, 2015

The Real Racket

As of three years ago the government was paying nearly $2 billion on standardized testing annually. Yet, you have some people claiming that's not enough. That's the real racket, folks. The money being generated from making and distributing these tests throughout the country is the real racket and it's part of the reason you see this witch hunt that is taking place in a courtroom in downtown Atlanta.

We live in a country where prisons are private corporations that profit from keeping their beds stocked at, or near, capacity and the governing officials scramble to meet contractual “lockup quotas.” Some of these quotas are as low as 80%. While some are between 95% and 100%. In many states taxpayers have to pay for any empty beds should crime rates fall below that quota. The billions of dollars that the private prison corporations make off of mass incarceration is the real racket. Keep in mind these corporations use the reading test scores from these standardized tests of 3rd graders to determine when and where they will need to build new prisons. Are you starting to see the jig rise?

Once a person is incarcerated, other than get free, what is the one thing they want to do? You guessed it, talk to their loved ones on the outside. Did you know it costs about $18 for a 15 minute phone call? That's .89 cents per minute, plus a $3.95 per call fee. Considering that there are over 2.2 million people in federal and state prisons throughout the country, you do the math on how much money the phone companies who have the contracts with the prisons are making. Trust me, they aren't just smuggling in cell phones to check their social media timelines. That's the real racket, folks.

College coaches start tracking players as early as sixth grade in an attempt to get an upper hand on the competition when it comes to recruiting. Feeder programs like AAU help coaches weed out the bad groom the good and the good from the great and the great from the elite. Unfortunately, standardized testing and zero tolerance policies help to do the same for private prison corporations and Corporate America as a whole. Thus, you have the School to Prison Pipeline. In addition, these new Common Core standards are definitely meant to to separate the cream from the crop. Well, what's so wrong with that? Ever see an old classmate who didn't seem very smart and you just knew they weren't going to amount to anything but happens to be doing very well for themselves? That's what's so wrong with it. It doesn't allow for potential growth or evolution. Anyone who knows anything about business knows that you have to be able to forecast in order to maximize opportunities to increase your bottom line. That's precisely what these tests are doing for private prison corporations and Corporate America. That's the real racket, folks. 

A jury has found 11 educators guilty of racketeering or violation of the RICO Act and they face several years in prison. Federal and state racketeeringprofiteering and RICO laws make it against the law for any criminal organization to profit from any legitimate business operation. Which sounds more like racketeering, price gouging people to make phone calls because you hold a monopoly on the phones in prisons, making backroom deals which essentially sell the freedom of citizens in order to meet lockup quotas, setting kids up to fail in order to get them caught up in the system so that you can ensure future occupancy rates, and paying people billions of dollars to make tests that make all of those things go...or erasing a wrong answer and making it right on a test in order to save schools from state take over? Some of the schools involved still didn't make AYP or Adequate Yearly Progress so there was no extra funding to be had.

What those educators did was wrong, but who's the real racketeer?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Let Him Shut Up and Play

Dear members of the media,

When it comes to Marshawn Lynch not wanting to answer your questions, quit passing it off as the fans wanting to know. It's YOU lazy bastards who need a soundbite from an athlete to get your pen moving in the right direction.

I, for one, am tired of the same cookie cutter, clich├ęd answers that athletes give in interviews. Most Sundays I'm sitting in front of my TV impatiently waiting for the pre-game show to end so that the game can begin already because they pretty much all talk about the same things every week.

It should tell you something when a video game can mimic pre/post-game interviews as accurately as they do. Enter into Career Mode on any sports video game that allows you to create a player and follow their career and watch how the post-game interviews go. You would think you were watching an actual pre/post-game interview on TV with real reporters and players. You know why? Because they are all the same. The reporters ask the same questions and the players give the same pre-fabricated answers. Who wants to keep hearing that? I know I don't.

What Marshawn Lynch is doing when he responds to questions with the same answer, or some variation of it 29 times is no different from every running back in the league using the same response or some variation of it when asked how they feel about the opposing defense. Here's an example of what I mean:

Reporter: How do you feel about your chances against Any Team's defense?

Any Running Back: Well, I think they're a tough group of guys. They swarm to the ball and they are very aggressive. It will be a challenge going up against them, but I'm ready.

Now tell me that's not how it goes... You can take that same cookie cutter type answer and apply it to any other position on the field. In a situation where the player or coach is asked about winning a game, the first thing they are going to do is talk about how good the other team is and say how they were just able to make a play or two to put them over the top. It happens game in and game out, week in and week out, every preseason, every regular season, every postseason, and every Super Bowl. Then, every once in a while a player goes off script and gives the media a soundbite to run with and it's like a bunch of savage piranhas having a frenzy on fresh chum. Marshawn Lynch simply chooses not to drop any chum into the water for you. Why is it so hard for you to hunt in another part of the ocean? 

Many of you bring up his salary as if that justifies your temper tantrums. Make no mistake about it, although it is widely known that players are contractually obligated to make themselves available to the media, Marshawn Lynch and the other 1,695 players in the National Football League are being paid to PLAY FOOTBALL. They aren't being paid to give you a juicy soundbite that might get you a better desk in the newsroom. In fact, most of us fans simply do not care if your articles don't have a direct quote from the player(s) you're writing about. I hate to burst your bubble, but we don't find you to be that damn important anymore. With many athletes, entertainers, and other celebrities taking to social media to tell their own stories, your pieces are becoming more and more obsolete. 

While I can't speak for all fans, I'll say this, just make sure I can find the scores to games I might have missed. That would be enough for me. If a player does something off the field that might be interesting, I'd like to read about that too. Also, if a player decides to grant you an exclusive about something that's going on in his/her life, then I'd be more than happy to support your craft by reading what you write about it. However, I'm not interested in the dog and pony show that you all call pre/post-game interviews. So stop harassing players in the name of the fans wanting to know and use your own creativity to write something about the player that's worth reading instead of letting your sense of entitlement get the best of you and writing bash pieces because someone turned you down for an interview.Likewise, you can stop letting your uber-fandome make you write fluff pieces about players that seem more like a groupie fawning over a crush than professional journalism. Although we'd like to get to know more about them off the field, theses athletes don't owe us any answers. You know who does? Politicians, police, teachers and anyone else whose salaries we pay with our tax dollars are the ones who owe us answers, not athletes. Perhaps if your colleagues went as hard at some of them for answers, our country would be in better shape.

One more thing before I go... Will someone please tell Stephen A. Smith to shut the fuck up!?


A fan who'd rather watch the game than hear the players talk about it.

That's the Green Chimp's take on it. What's yours?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Donald Sterling Saga: A Misogynist's View

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a flawed person. I have character flaws, personality flaws, beau--, no scratch that, I’m pretty good looking. But seriously, I’m not perfect, none of us are. One of my many flaws is that I tend to find the things that today’s feminists bring forth as issues to be frivolous or petty. I’m not proud of that, but I’m a product of my conditioning as a man. And I struggle everyday to reverse the effects of that conditioning. With that being said, the things I see some men (specifically Black men) saying in regards to this Donald Sterling situation as it pertains to his girlfriend recording him is absolutely abhorrent. They are trying to rationalize or in some cases justify his actions by pointing to the fact that she recorded a private conversation and “set him up”. They talk about her being a gold digger and how she was just with him for the money. They are so upset that that WOMAN didn't adhere to that MAN’s restrictions that they completely overlook what a racist asshole he is. Their own need to cling to misogyny and paternalism has allowed them to see racism as a secondary issue in this matter. “Oh, don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a jerk and shouldn't be an owner, buuuuuuuuut...”  The fact that Black men are willing to overlook racism just to keep a seat at the table of misogyny and paternalism is utterly appalling!

I believe the Civil Rights Movement could have been a lot more successful and effective had the male leaders of the time not been so misogynistic and allowed some of the great female leaders to do more and be a more vocal part of the movement. I’m willing to bet that had it been a coach, player or other male member of the Clippers organization that recorded him, you wouldn't hear a peep about it being a recorded private conversation. Do you hear people crying foul when the FBI secretly tapes mob bosses or drug dealers? No! Because they are considered the scum of the earth. Well, Donald Sterling fits into that category in my book. The fact that these men can’t get over the fact that it was a woman that exposed this piece of trash to the world kind of makes you wonder if the greater divide in humanity is gender and not race. After all, we have a Black president in part because the white male establishment would much rather see a Black man than ANY woman as president.

Well, that's my take on it. What's yours?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Decisions, Decisions...

Recently a New Jersey judge ruled that an expectant father can be banned from the delivery room if the mother doesn't want him there. Here's what baffles me about this: They both decided to have sex. They both decided to have that sex without protection knowing full well what could happen. But once she becomes pregnant, the man is no longer included in the decision making process. First, she gets to choose whether or not she's going to go through with the pregnancy or terminate it. Then, if she decides to have the baby, she gets to decide whether or not he can be in the delivery room to see the child that they BOTH made. After that she gets to decide whether or not she's going to raise it herself or give it up for adoption. Next, she gets to decide the name of the child. Then, after she's made that decision, she gets to decide how involved in the child's life the father can be. Sure, he can go to court and have a judge decide how often he can see his child, but when have you ever seen a judge grant 24/7 visitation? He's not just going to grant custody, "just because". You have to damn near prove that the woman is the spawn of Satan for that to happen. She gets to decide what school the child goes to and whether or not the father can visit that school. She gets to decide which city and state the child lives in, thus effectively trumping any visitation rights the father was granted depending on the distance they live from him. She even gets to decide the father's financial future by filing for child support. Given the extreme amounts that judges are ordering men to pay these days, that could definitely become a financial obligation that he may not be able to shoulder. Add the pressure of going to jail or having licences suspended for failing to pay, now she's also making decisions regarding his emotional well being.

On top of all that, she gets to decide what the narrative will be. She gets to whine and complain when he misses milestones like the first day of school, birthdays, and graduations. But she never has to own up to her part for him not being involved in the child's life even though she's been shutting him out since the child's first day in the world. She gets to wear the "single mother" badge of strength and courage albeit a self-inflicted status.

Notice how his decision making powers stopped way back on Day 1 of the process, right after he decided not to pull out.

Inevitably people will say that there's no excuse for a man not to be involved in his child's life and that he should fight tooth and nail to be involved. To that I ask, why? Why should he HAVE to fight? Back on Day 1 they both made the decision to have unprotected sex and he didn't have to fight tooth and nail for it. Why should she be allowed to make him have to fight instead of being obligated to allow him to be a part of the life of the child that they produced together? If not for the father's benefit, but for the good of the child who deserves to have two loving parents involved in his/her life because they didn't ask nor decide to be here. Numerous studies show an enormous achievement gap between children of single parent homes and those from two parent homes. It is completely unfair how fathers are treated and often demonized because of the decisions that the mother has made.

Moral of the story: Wrap it up, B. If you don't and she gets pregnant, you can be punished if you DECIDE not to stay in a relationship her.

Well, that's The Green Chimp's take. What's yours?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What's In A Word? (Revised and Reloaded)

How is it that a word that has seemingly no official origin can for centuries, divide, degrade, and demean an entire race of people? One little six letter word that can be used maliciously and as a term of endearment has managed to cause debates, discussions and even arguments for years. Some say it originated when Europeans referred to people of color that came from the region near the River Niger. They were said to have referred to them as “nigers”. That’s right, if you haven’t guessed it, I’m talking about the word “nigger”.

The English language has over 200,000 words and is ever changing and evolving, which leads some to believe that there are over 1 million words in the English language already. Why is it that this ONE word causes so much controversy?

What’s in a word….really?

There was a time when school children, in an attempt to deflect what someone was saying about them or their family, would say, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.

Why does the word “nigger” hurt so much?

Some people contend that it’s the history of the word, the malice with which it was used, and the actions of the people that used it towards Blacks. This is a valid point; knowing and understanding your history is important. However, it’s one thing to know your history, but it's another when you can't let go of the past.

During slavery and the Jim Crow era, a white person calling you a "nigger" was the absolute least of things they could or would do to you. I don’t recall seeing any photographs or watching any movies where the word nigger was used to hang a Black person, but I have seen when a noose was used. Why isn’t “noose” a more controversial word?

In fact out of the over 200,000 words in the English language, I can think of several other words that are used to describe Black people that are far more hurtful and detrimental to the race than "nigger". To name a few: uneducated, unemployed, under-employed, uninsured, uninformed, unintelligent, underprivileged, everything but UNified. Seems to me being called an "un" is far worse than being called a nigger.

Repeat the next string of words aloud and see what happens: NIGGER, NIGGER, NIGGER, NIGGER, NIGGER.

How many young Black men got shot dead in the streets when you did that? How many young Black girls got pregnant? How many Black women contracted HIV? How many Black men lost their jobs? How many young Black men decided to drop out of high school? How many Black children went hungry? How many died because they can’t afford decent healthcare?

Yes, given its history the word “nigger” is nasty and hateful, but we have given it too much power for far too long. We have allowed it to be a distraction from our real issues for far too long. Why? Because a White man told us that it was a derogatory term that was intended to degrade and demoralize us? Is it simply because a White man said that was the case that we let six letters define who we are as a people?

Now here we are again allowing White people to frame the discussion about the word nigger. The NFL is considering making it a penalty if a player on the field uses the word. Are you kidding? Why does this word get so mush reverence? Again, I get the history of the word, but even still it's just a word. It's just plain silly!

Whether you use the word and feel like you're stripping it of its power by changing the spelling and context when you use it, or if you have made a conscious decision not to use it anymore, either way you're still giving it too much attention. We have several issues that have a negative impact on our communities and our race as a whole. If we were to list them, the word “nigger” should be at the bottom. Better yet, it shouldn't even make the list.

If it's true that actions speak louder than words then we are definitely focusing on the wrong thing, because a White man in this country never has to utter the word nigger to still think you're one and to treat you as such. They can shoot you down in the streets in cold blood, they can violate your fourth amendment rights by illegally searching you as you walk home from school and never once utter the word "nigger" when doing so. Does it make it right or better? Absolutely not! So to hell with the words, we need to focus on the actions. Both our actions to better ourselves and the actions of those who would create obstacles to stop our progress.

Well that’s The Green Chimp’s take on it. What’s yours?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Yep, Walmart is the devil...

Y'all mind if I talk about Walmart for a second? Well, I'm gonna talk about them anyway. So I'm sure many of you have heard someone use the phrase, "Walmart is the devil." Some people might use it because of how Walmart treats its employees and refuses to pay them a living wage. Others say it because of how they come into communities and drive longstanding "Mom & Pop" stores out of business. Then, there are those that have had the kind of experience that I had today where we went to get me and the kids new undergarments (T-shirts, socks, and underwear) and left with a receipt showing $290 after all of the PJs and shirts that found their way into the basket from the clearance rack. I mean you can't beat $13 PJs that are marked down to $5 (the devil is a trickster...). Nearly every rack in the Girls' section had a 'Clearance' sign on it.

Anyway, there was one particular set of PJs with the feet in them that my 6-year old daughter wanted that were on the clearance rack but weren't in her size. Since she wasn't interested in any other kind of PJs except "footie pajamas" (her words), we decided to go to another Walmart in search of them. Because when a 6 year old understands how cool "footie pajamas" are, you gotta roll with them.

Well, when we get to the other Walmart, they have the PJs that she wanted and they even had them in her size, but they weren't marked down. In fact, there wasn't a single 'Clearance' sign on any rack in the entire department. Here I was looking at the exact same merchandise that I had just bought for over 50% off at one store being sold for full price in another. I bought the Pjs anyway, because the kid has style and you can't knock that.

Here's where the horns poke out of Walmart's head. The store with all of the discounts and 'Clearance' signs was in Fayetteville, GA (83% White, 14% Black and only 12% of households making below $30k annually). The store with no discounts and no 'Clearance signs was in Forest Park, GA (44% White, 39% Black, 18% other, and 44% of households making less than $30k annually). These evil bastards are selling the same merchandise for pennies on the dollar to people who can afford to pay full price and selling them for full price to people who can barely afford the stuff even when it's discounted.

I had heard that stores charged higher prices in areas that were accessible by public transportation, but had never experienced it firsthand. There used to be a bus that went right into the Forest Park Walmart's parking lot, but that service was suspended years ago. I guess they just decided not to change the business model since they've been still getting away with what they're doing. Fayetteville has never had a bus line...

No matter how you slice it, whether it's for one of the reasons listed here or for your own personal reasons, I think it's safe to say Walmart truly is the devil.

Well, that's my take on it...What's yours?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Abraham Lincoln Was No Nelson Mandela

"He no longer belongs to us. He now belongs to the ages.",  Secretary of War during the Lincoln Administration, Edwin Stanton said while speaking about the death of President Lincoln. Yesterday, President Obama said the same words when speaking about the death of Nelson Mandela. I'm sorry but I'm repulsed by the idea that he would even attempt to draw a parallel between the two men by using the same quote.

He is utterly obsessed with Lincoln. This obsession must be driven by the fact that Lincoln had a fervor for the Constitution just as he does. However, I think the President forgets that the Constitution during Lincoln's era included a fugitive slave clause and the three-fifths clause. He only "freed" the slaves to undermine the Confederacy and increase manpower through ex-slaves who fought for the Union (some 200,000 men). Furthermore, the Emancipation Proclamation didn't even "free" all slaves.  It didn't apply to border slave states like like Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri because they were all loyal to the Union. He also exempted certain parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Union control, hoping that the Whites in those areas would see that as a favor and become loyal to the Union as well. He was not an abolitionist, although he thought slavery was morally wrong.

Unlike Mandela, Lincoln did not believe that Blacks and Whites should have the same rights. In fact, he said, “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races.” Then went on to say that he opposed blacks having the right to vote, to serve on juries, to hold office and to intermarry with whites. What he did believe was that, like all men, blacks had the right to improve their condition in society and to enjoy the fruits of their labor. In this way they were equal to white men, and for this reason slavery was inherently unjust.

So it irritates me to no end that this President can be so out of touch and disconnected that he would have the audacity to use the same quote that was used in reference to Lincoln's passing, while speaking about the passing of a great man like Nelson Mandela. I've tried to remain loyal and supportive of President Obama, but this guy really needs to get his head out of his ass.

Well, that's my take on it. What's yours?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Homework Club

Last week my two daughters came home with 4 more kids in tow. When I asked why all of these children had followed us home from the bus stop they told me, "Well, we've started a Homework Club daddy!" So, I went along with it. I figured I could help the other kids do their homework along with mine seeing that I never really have any trouble when it comes to my daughters doing their homework.

So, it's Day 6 of the Homework Club and I'm at a loss for words. Either the system and/or the parents are failing our children, the boys in particular. When they come in, my girls get to work and need very little, if any help at all. I'm not saying that to brag, just for comparison. My neighbor's daughter comes in and does her work pretty independently as well. Except she's a bit of a "know it all" and tries to finish before everyone else only to have me go back over it and point out several mistakes that she's made. But once I get her to slow down, she's good. But the boys...Oh! My! GOD!!!! Please know that this isn't to put these kids down, but I just feel like I need to share this because I'm at a crossroads.

I have a 3rd grader who can't spell four letter words like, from, what, this, make, etc... When I say he can't do it I mean what he writes down when asked to spell these words is not even close to the actual word. He wrote "wasi" and "farati" for "what" and "from". There is a list of 10 words and those were the closest he got to being correct because he actually used the right letter to start the words. Now, I know many highly educated men and women who are terrible spellers, but they usually spell things phonetically even if they are incorrect.  Boys are usually good at math, at least early on they are. But, out of 20 addition and subtraction problems using only single digit numbers, he answered 2 correctly and they were 2+1 and 1+2. It has been known for a while now that prison corporations use data from third grade reading and math assessments to determine where they will need to build their prisons in the future. I can only wonder why he has been allowed to make it to the 3rd grade with such limited learning.

Then, there's his little brother who is in 1st grade and cannot formulate a sentence using the words, "at", "in", "ran", "dad", etc... Notice, I didn't say write a sentence, I'm talking about just coming up with one like, "I am AT the store." My 1st grade daughter on the other hand, comes up with and writes her own sentences, so I spend my time trying to help him because she knows what to do. Since he doesn't know how to spell the words he wants to use in his sentences after he finally comes up with them, I write the sentences down for him and have him copy them onto his paper. I would have made him write the sentences himself but after he wrote 5 straight sentences that didn't contain a vowel, I knew that wasn't an option. He really struggles just to copy the sentences down because he still has trouble just writing the letters freehand. He seems to have a better grasp on math though.

Finally, there's a little boy who is in kindergarten. His homework consists of writing his name, the alphabet, and numbers 1 through 10. He just sits there and scribbles on the paper until I make him some traceable worksheets to follow because he can't write his letters freehand. However, he knows everything there is to know about a Nintendo DS. The two 3-year-old boys that I homeschool everyday can write letters and numbers after they practice by tracing them first.

One thing that all these boys have in common, with the exception of the 3-year-olds, is that their behavior charts from school are terrible. The charts use the colors from a traffic light to indicate the child's behavior that day; green means good, yellow means they had a few issues that needed to be addressed that day, and red means they were off the chain. They each usually have yellow or red on their behavior charts. I'm not sure if their lack of understanding the grade level concepts comes from the behavioral issues or if the behavioral issues stem from their lack of understanding the concepts.

At the end of each Homework Club session, I give their parents a report on what they had for homework and how they did on it. I let them know if they understood the work or if they need more practice. But shortly after they go inside, they are back outside playing, even on the days that I tell their parents that they need more practice. I'm starting to ask myself, "If they don't care, why should I?" I really don't want to give up on these boys, but when I allowed my daughters to start their Homework Club, I had no idea how poorly these boys were performing in school. In retrospect, I guess that's why their parents were in such a hurry to send them over. These boys are all well below grade level and I don't know if that's the system's fault, their parents' fault, or a combination of the two. I want to continue helping them, but I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Their parents are my neighbors and I don't want to offend them, but a hard conversation needs to be had and it needs to be had pronto!

What should I do? Should I just discontinue the Homework Club and tell the parents again that their children need more help than I can provide? Should I just continue to do the Homework Club and just keep giving the parents the reports and let them decide to handle things the way they see fit?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Why I Wasn't Offended By The 'Harriet Tubman Sextape'

OK, alright I get it.  The Trayvon Martin case has brought about a new sense of awareness for Black people across the country and race matters aren’t being taken as lightly as they had been in the past. Some people would say that we finally woke up. But, does that mean we can’t laugh anymore? Does that mean that comedians must now censor their material so as not to offend the newly awakened Black person? I mean, this isn't the first time a comedian or a comedy sketch has spoofed slavery. Why now is this such a big deal?

Did I find it funny? Meh, not really. But that’s because the jokes were telegraphed, meaning I could see the punchline coming, I knew exactly where they were going with it. So to me, it wasn’t really funny. But I didn’t necessarily find it offensive either. Over the years several well known comedians have spoofed slavery and made light of black stereotypes without any backlash. Some comedians have literally made a living off of talking about how stereotypical black folks do things.

Steve Harvey and Nephew Tommy have a regularly running bit, or at least the last time I was a listener of his show they did, where they both play slave characters and make a mockery of slavery and not a single ounce of backlash has made it to the mainstream and become a large public outcry. Hell, we've done it on The Green Chimp Show where we have spoken in a slave-like manner with what we perceived to be slave vernacular. Maybe it shouldn't have been done, but the reason that they did it and thought it was going to be funny was because of all the other times it’s been done and people laughed at it.

People are saying that it endorses “rape culture” but in the same breath will tell their daughters that a wet coochie and a dry purse don’t match. You didn’t see a rape take place in the video although the actress portraying Harriet did allude to it. What you saw was something that Black women and women of other races alike have championed for years and that’s use what you got to get what you want. She was using her feminine wiles, if you will, to manipulate “massah” into allowing her to start the Underground Railroad. Now was it historically accurate? Of course not! But is that a requirement for comedy? Does a comedy sketch have to be historically accurate? Does a movie that is set during the time of slavery have to be historically accurate? If so, then why didn’t D’Jango get this much backlash for portraying a goddamn slave cowboy who single handedly took down an entire plantation to rescue the love of his life? Hell, Roots wasn’t even as historically accurate as it could have or perhaps should have been. Many of its scenes were watered down and romanticized so that the viewing public could actually stomach it. So is slavery a taboo subject to spoof? Because it hasn’t been until now. I understand that we want to preserve the integrity of what happened during slavery and we don’t want anyone discounting it and the horrendous acts that occurred during that time, but do we really need to be focusing our energy and efforts on that as much as we need to be focusing on what is happening to us right now today? As far as we all know, Harriet Tubman never willingly had sex with a white slave owner, and given the fact that she and all white slave owners are dead, she never will. But what is happening and will continue to happen unless we take action is the slaughter and criminalization of our young Black men. Be honest, when is the last time you’ve sat down with a young person or any person for that matter and had a real discussion about slavery and the impact that it still has on us today? I’m not talking about telling a kid that white people treated Black people badly and made them do all their work for free. I’m talking about something meaningful that could make them see just how deeply slavery has affected Black people. And where the hell was all this outrage when Texas was changing the definition of slavery in its textbooks?

Let’s not be fooled, this video did not sway anyone one way or the other who had already felt a certain way about Black folks or slavery. We have bigger fish to fry.

Let’s break this down, because there is some comedic and intellectual value to the video. First of all, it is set in 1851 and the guy has a video camera. So that disarmed it for me right there and allowed me to see it as an attempt at comedy. Not only were there no video cameras at the time, but him making a sextape pokes fun at this era where sextapes of famous people or infamous people are always leaking. Then in his very first exchange with Harriet, the man with the camera says something very profound that I think was lost on a lot of people because they went into watching the video already anticipating something offensive. But what he said was, “I’s tired of all this unpaid, highly skilled labor that I’s put forth, just so our future children can have no benefits and still have to deal with racial inequalities 162 years later.” In that one sentence he dispels the myth that all slaves did was plow the field and pick cotton and touches on the reality of Black folks today. Not all slave labor was just unskilled labor that just anyone could do. Slaves were used for more than just toting that barge or bailing that hay. They were carpenters, blacksmiths, silversmiths, and quite ironically locksmiths. They were also engineers and inventors but most would never be given credit for their inventions because a white man would steal them and claim them as their own. In the last part of the sentence he says, “just so our future children can have no benefits and still have to deal with racial inequalities 162 years later.” Now if you can’t see the profundity in that then I don’t know what else to tell you. Because 162 years after the time this video was set which was 1851, is 2013 and aren’t we still dealing with racial inequalities? So let’s not totally discredit the video, that one exchange in my opinion says that the intent wasn’t to be disrespectful. It was an attempt at humor which ended up amounting to coonery and buffoonery not unlike any of the other stuff that we see on TV that has a Black cast (i.e. Reality Shows). Where is the outrage for reality shows that cast aspersions on Black people? If it’s OK for you to be enthralled with Love and Hip Hop, R&B Divas, Married To Medicine, and all the other crap that is shown on a weekly basis that makes Black folks look like idiots, why can't I laugh at this video?

I've seen some people say, "If a White person had made this video we would be marching up and down the streets". That may be true, but I also say if Dave Chappelle had made this video we would all be on the floor crying laughing and reposting and retweeting the link until it went viral.

I truthfully don’t think Black people are as offended by it as they say they are. I think it’s just indicative of how many Black people still worry about how White folks see us. They’re worried that a White person might see the video and think something negative about Black people. NEWSFLASH: White people who think negatively about Black people were already doing so, this video didn’t create any new negative thinkers. Just like a video depicting Black folks in a positive light wouldn’t convert anyone who thinks negatively about Black people. It’s also a response to Russell Simmons going so hard at Don Lemon for his idiotic ass comments and then allowing this to be posted to his site. I’m sorry but I can't help but to think that the outrage is disingenuous.

Black people have a tendency to deify our prominent historical figures, which is peculiar seeing how much Black folks love them some church. I'm pretty sure the bible says something about there only being one God, and you would think Black people would know that as much as people quote scripture on Facebook and Twitter. Yet, Dr. King, President Obama, Harriet Tubman and a few others have still managed to make it to "God" status. Harriet Tubman was a person, a supremely extraordinary person, but a person nonetheless.

Just like Harriet said, she freed thousands of slaves and she could have freed more had they known they were slaves. Don’t be a slave to group think. Don't allow your outrage to come from the fact that everybody else is outraged. I personally wasn’t offended by the video because I saw it as an attempt at comedy and I refuse to allow the masses to make me change my sensibilities because somebody doesn't know how to take a joke.

That's my take on it. I could be wrong...but I doubt it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Good Old Bill Cosby

Hmph... I see Good Old Bill Cosby is pandering to get himself into massah's good graces again. I don't disagree with everything he said in the latest "Black folks have to do better" rant that has been attributed to him. But he left out quite a few other contributing factors to the plight of Black people in America, especially as it pertains to education. He doesn't talk about the lack of funding for resources that aren't being channeled to inner city schools (that they blame on lack of census data), or racially biased standardized testing, or the school to prison pipeline. He dare not speak on "white privilege" or the fact that teachers who teach in suburban districts make far more than those who teach in the inner city.

 I agree that it is past time for us to stop "Blaming the White Man"; but only for the things that "The White Man" doesn't deserve blame for. We can't pretend that America, in its current state, and with its ugly history aren't partially to blame for the socioeconomic disparities between Black and Brown people and White people here.

Look around you. Look at yourself and your friends and family who get up at the crack of dawn everyday and bust their ass to make a living for their families. Look at how they do everything they can to make upstanding citizens out of their children. Then look at where they still are; toiling at the bottom of someone's corporate ladder despite going back to school to get more and more degrees to appease society's need for documentation of commitment.

Don't you find it peculiar that everyone keeps saying that the playing field has been leveled but you and your team can't seem to get out of your own end-zone? If it were simply a matter of wanting better and doing better, I have no doubt that the vast majority of us would have already reached the promised land. Don't be fooled into thinking that it's just that easy. There are any number of systematic obstacles both old and new in place to keep you backed up against your own goal-line. Sure, there are some who have managed to traverse the obstacle course. But the problem lies in them making it across mid-field then never looking back to make a block for those left behind.  So it's not just the poor and uneducated that need to do better. Those that have experienced some level of success need to do better as well.