Archive for November, 2012

Denzel, Flight, Hollywood and Black

Posted in Entertainment, Race and race related entries on November 27, 2012 by admin

While Denzel Washington’s new movie Flight, may receive critical acclaim, it was a colossal disappointment to me. It began with my expectations that while he would have drinking problems, he would save the day and come out a winner. These expectations went awry once he was rolled up and packaged in a bundle of unwritten rules for using a Black Man in the movies.

First of all, he was the drug fueled Black Man, doing cocaine and sleeping with a Nadine Velazquez, a Latina that looked like a white woman. This is the first problem, the stereotype that a Black man on cocaine becomes unstoppable and a sexual predator. Fortified with alcohol and cocaine, Denzel was able to embark on a three day binge of sex and drugs. I wonder how many people know that the Black man on cocaine was a reason given for increasing the caliber of police weapons

Pertaining to the young Latina, I knew she was doomed right away, because a long standing unwritten rule of Hollywood is that the Black Man who is the love interest of a non-Black woman dies. Since it was Denzel’s movie, she drew the short straw. Sure enough, she died, and while saving a little blonde boy, to boot. Can someone, perhaps the screenwriter, tell me why all these people are hanging upside down and all of a sudden, the little boy drops out of a seat? I know, I know, ‘his belt was fastened properly’; ‘he panicked and got out’; ‘boys will be boys’, ‘he (fill in the blank)’. In reality, it was nothing more than a contrived reason to kill off the woman. First unwritten rule of Black men in Hollywood, check.

The next thing that brought disappointment was his interest in the skank, heroin addict-looking anal porn queen, played by Kelly Reilly. The next unwritten rule is that any non-Black woman that has the potential but never actually becomes the love interest of the Black man is flawed or imperfect. The white guys in movies get women like Kerry Washington and Thandie Newton while Denzel gets her. I still see no relevant value for her character in the movie. She neither added nor subtracted from the plot.  Her entire role could have been left on the cutting room floor. The only point that could be made is that she served to show how bad he was by comparison. The point being, even a skank, heroin addict-looking anal porn queen can realize enough is enough and try to get her life together, while he can’t. Denzel chides her for going to two AA meetings a day while proudly proclaiming that he has lost his wife and kid because he chose to drink. In the end, a Black Man isn’t good enough for a credible relationship, even with a reforming skank, heroin addict-looking anal porn queen. Second unwritten rule of Black men in Hollywood, check.

Another unwritten rule is that the Black man must come to the aid of the non-Blacks in a movie. Although Denzel meets the skank, heroin addict-looking anal porn queen in a hospital stairwell, and knows nothing about her, when he sees her in trouble he swoops in like Capitan Save A Hoe. He saves her from a sleazy landlord by force and a payoff, and whisks away to live at his farmhouse.  Furthermore, at the end of the movie, instead of lying about the two found bottles of vodka as being used by the Latina, he said he drank them. He threw away his freedom, his career and his license to preserve the memory of the Latina who appeared to be little more than his binge friend with benefits. He was so overwhelmed by conscience that he could not sacrifice her reputation for the sake of his life.  Third unwritten rule of Black men in Hollywood, check.

Another disappointment is how it is virtually impossible to find a Hollywood movie that shows a Black couple in a positive, stable relationship. A Black Man is always in some sort of conflict with the Black woman. The roles of Black women in this movie are extremely limited. The first is with the Black flight attendant that he ultimately asks to lie to the plane crash investigators at the NTSB. The second is when he visits his ex-wife where he immediately gets into a loud confrontation that prompts her to call the police. It’s somewhat difficult to say a lot about this aspect because the sum amount of time Denzel spent relating to Black women was less than five minutes, as opposed to the hours and days he spent with the non-black women. Yet those five minutes were chock full of conflict and improper requests. Fourth unwritten rule of Black men in Hollywood, check.

Denzel Washington is a pre-eminent actor. The special effect of showing the plane flying upside down was engaging. The issue of drug abuse is a very serious issue that needs further treatment. Most certainly, if Denzel’s character was allowed to continue on his current path, some innocent person or persons would surely have been killed or at least maimed. He certainly represented the millions of people who are self-destructive spirals that they helpless to escape. In that respect, this becomes a cautionary tale. Hopefully, this would encourage individuals with problems and their loved ones to push to get people the help and interventions they need. However, while many people end up in jail before they get help, many don’t. Even the most promising part of the movie, the son trying to reconnect with his estranged father, had to take place in prison. Why couldn’t it have occurred in a rehab center? For all his flaws, Denzel was still a hero, a life saver. Many companies and unions routinely send their employees and members to rehab. Like all the other unwritten rules, the screenwriter and director typically are the ones who choose these outcomes. Just like Denzel’s conscience forced him to break down and confessed all before the Federal Inquiry, it could have forced him to go to rehab.

Hollywood is not a friend of Black people, never has been, never will be. As long as there are Blacks who are willing to create stereotypical images because they feel that will make money, there will be racism. As long as there people who will fund movies that seek to tell stories involving Blacks from non-Black perspectives there will be racism. The last point is relevant because even while a non-Black may seek to portray Blacks in a positive light, the racism they have assimilated will usually become evident. The manifestation will be in them intimating what is good enough for Blacks. It is never from the perspective of what is good for me would be good for Blacks; it usually is from the perspective of what they think a Black should expect or be happy with. Take for example Denzel ending up in prison where he becomes sober and begins to develop a relationship with his son. While some would say this was a positive ending, being in prison is never positive. A positive ending would have had Denzel in Malibu overlooking the ocean from a country club style rehab center. Oh wait, they have unwritten rules in Malibu, too.

Racism and the 2012 Presidential Election

Posted in Political Issues, Race and race related entries on November 27, 2012 by admin

There should be no confusion after the 2012 Presidential Election about the use of the word nigger, nigga, nigguh, my nigga, or any other iterations of this racist term. Ignorant, low class Blacks who use these terms and allow their children to use these terms help to perpetuate racism as much as Malcolm X’s racist northern dog or racist southern wolf. Nigger, from its origin, is a race and color defining term. It is not a positive word. It’s not used as a positive word. All across the Deep South, the re-election of Barack Obama was greeted with an assortment of racial slurs, most notably, nigger and monkey.

Moreover, before you attempt to apologize for these racists by claiming these are the reactions from a bygone era, note that many of these epithets are found on Twitter. These are young people, who can expect to live for another fifty to seventy years. Jezebel  was able to capture via Twitter many of these young people’s identity and location. Many of them were athletes . These are people who play and compete side by side with Black athletes. No doubt some of them have Black girlfriends and boyfriends. Yet these people harbor virulent anti-Black racism. This is how people can be surprised that a Black can be raped or killed by whites whom seemed to be friends with that particular Black person. They are cursed with racism so close to the surface of their psyche that alcohol wasn’t even needed to lower their inhibitions. All it took was the re-election of a Black man to a position whose impact would have no real practical relevance to their lives on a daily basis.

Furthermore, I don’t agree with those who say to leave these kids alone. These attitudes need to be exposed; otherwise people will deny that racism is as bad as it really is. Anti-Black racism such as collected from social media is uncomfortable for people who want to act like the problem is minor. However it is the reason why they are so surprised by the huge difference between the way Blacks and whites view racism.

It’s hard to believe these young people are incensed about the potential of his election to affect their lives three or four years from now. As usual, young racists such as Zack Miller (@_zackkmillerr) are nothing more than the corrupted progeny of old racists “First thing my mom says this morning: did you hear the bad news? The monkey is staying for another 4 years…” These are children who are twisted and deformed from their innocent origins into hate filled malefactors who echo past infamies. We can only hope that they experience some life changing event that turns them from racist evils before they infect another generation.

The hypocrisy of the republicans would be ludicrous if it weren’t so appalling. An interesting observation is that many of the young racists on Twitter attend Christian schools. A great many of the aforementioned racists that tweeted that people voted for Obama because he is Black are the same people who support Romney because he is white. A simple look at the assessments of the republican drubbing reveals that their plan was to appeal to the so-called ‘white majority’ . Yet guys like Sununu can offer backhanded swipes and complements to Colin Powell for supporting a man of his own race .

Another interesting observation is that the only time the routed republican forces mentioned Black people is when they were discussing why they lost. Either they accused the Blacks of fraud  or bribery  It wasn’t in the context in which they discuss the Latino vote or the women’s vote. The context for Black people is an accusation of us being one of the shiftless, lazy hand-out seeking groups whose vote was bought with promises of gifts. As the republicans survey the devastation and carnage of their election battlefield, all conversations related to reflecting on the changes they must make in their world view, they never discuss a removal of the anti-black racism that permeates the very core of their existence. These observations point to another feature of this system that indicts it as unworthy of assimilation. The paradigm of racism only works to maintain power in those at the top if the various groups are pitted one against another in effort to gain favor in the system. What makes the system unable to be reformed is the fact that the system offer greater rewards the higher you are on the totem pole. Therefore, any improvements on the bottom lift everyone while improvements in the middle do nothing for those below the middle. There is little incentive for groups higher on the pole (i.e., Latinos and Asians) to support groups lower on the pole (i.e., Native Americans and African Americans). This is why coalitions are of limited value to Blacks. As long as we whole-heartedly embrace this system of socio-economic and political organization, we will actually be supporting this system of racial oppression and exploitation. We will actually be contributing to our own downfall as individuals, and as a people.

Happy White Peoples’ Independence Day?? What would Frederick Douglass Think?

Posted in Race and race related entries on November 27, 2012 by admin

If you can pull a bandage off an old wound and it hurts, that means it’s still not healed. Apparently, Chris Rock picked at a festering wound on the American body, based on the ‘ouch’ heard cross the nation.

The outrage over the Chris Rock 4th of July tweet, “Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren’t free but I’m sure they enjoyed fireworks” reminds me of a quote I once heard, “People will forgive you for everything under the sun except for telling the truth”. The range of responses have gone from Don Cheadle’s simple ‘haha’  to Jeff Schreiber’s  ‘go f*ck yourself” . Where has all the civil discourse gone? Why is there such venomous backlash to a simple, factually true tweet?

Apparently, it is a little known fact that Bill Moyers elaborated in text  on what Chris Rock alluded to. If someone was offended by reference to the conditions of slaves on the 4th of July (or any day for that matter), then Moyers’ quoting and commenting on an abolitionist indicting Thomas Jefferson, should have been incendiary. After all, Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence.

Moreover, Chris Rock’s tweet echoed arguably one of the greatest abolitionists in American history, Frederick Douglass. One must never forget the written words of Douglass, a living witness to the celebrations of 4th of July festivities in the faces of slaves. We need only to read the “13th” paragraph which states, “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.” I interpret Frederick Douglass’ response as a very loud f*ck you and your 4th of July, mo&erf*ckrs.

There is a combination of layers at work  First is the atmosphere of racial tension the generated by the election of an African American to be president. The reactive right in America sent forth an undercurrent of vilification  and the attitude of him not being a real American. Often ignorant and in possession of low-class mindsets, these whites are driven to extreme action.

Fear of inheriting a crippled world view of white supremacy. Moyers wrote regarding Jefferson; “Whatever he was thinking when he wrote ‘all men are created equal,’ he also believed blacks were inferior to whites. Inferior, he wrote, ‘to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.’” This idea is at the heart of the ideology of white supremacy. However, with the election of a Black President Of The United States (POTUS), this ideology is presented with a contradiction. The high profile of select successful Blacks like athletes and entertainers combined with the so-called “urban” (code for Black) lifestyle being adopted by youth of all ages, increasingly makes promulgating white supremacy untenable.

Second is the positive attitude of the generations of whites that apply a healthy serving of perspective regarding African American history. Kim LaCapria comments “Many took to Twitter to complain about Rock’s “racism” in pointing out that something that happened actually happened. As a white person myself, I would much rather that than getting shot in the chest at point-blank range when I am just trying to buy a damn iced tea, but I realize that opinion is just me, and far be it from me to speak for all white people, or suggest that the reaction to Rock’s tweet still illustrates we have a long way to go.” Zach Braff took to the Twitter waves to respond to Jeff Schreiber’s profane comments against Rock, noting that Schreiber, who is the managing editor of the America’s Right blog, actually had his facts wrong.

Third is attitude of whites who seek to ‘lay the slavery issue to rest’. In Jennifer Rubin’s column Right Turn for the Washington Post author Michael Moynihan writes;  “So a question for Rock: Should the shortcomings of America, the blemishes on our past — which are numerous, but acknowledged, investigated and debated — always outweigh its great achievements?” I would propose the answer is a conditional yes. As long as even bringing up racism is met with attack, it has not been ‘investigated and debated’. As long as reparations for the generations of servitude go unpaid, the answer is yes. America is guilty of the criminal acts of slavery, atrocities and human rights violations, yet the condescendingly called ‘blemishes’. That attitude alone is reason to answer yes. Convicts are forced to work in the prison industrial complex to pay their debt to society, yet white America calls even minor efforts (such as affirmative action) to right these wrongs as reverse racism.

The point these people fail to acknowledge is that the majority of African Americans are still treated like second class citizens. We are still the last hired and the first fired. We are still the targets of racial hatred and bias in virtually every aspect of American society. While fewer and fewer of the younger generations of whites whole-heartedly adopt the world view of white supremacy, there are still whites who do hold these attitudes in position government and private industry. Just like any ex-con, as soon as they do something bad; their past is always brought up. Therefore, the fact that you can identify existing examples of racial bias means that the “blemishes on our past” should be revisited.

One thing I suspect this has done is to push issues of race towards the forefront of American Society’s agenda. We may one day look back through the long lens of history and say this was the spark, the immediate cause, which led to a revolution in the thinking, the governance and the structure of American society.