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Stevie Wonder Said A Stupid Thing About Black Lives Matter

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Stevie Wonder was discussing gun violence at the North Minneapolis Conference on Peace on Saturday, June 17. At one point in his speech, Stevie attempted to call out the hypocrisy of the rallying cry, “Black lives matter.” While well intentioned, Stevie was on some bullshit.

“It is in your hands to stop all the killing and all the shooting wherever it might be,” Wonder said. He continued, “Because you cannot say, ‘Black Lives Matter‘ and then kill yourselves. Because you know that we’ve mattered long before it was said, but the way we show that we matter — the way that we show that all the various people of color matter — is by loving each other and doing something about it, not just talking about it.”

Stevie added, “The first thing you must do is stop believing the fallacy of you not being important. Because it is completely unacceptable for one to hate themselves so much that anyone that looks like you, you want to kill.”

Watch the video below:

Okay, so Stevie Wonder said that we can’t say, or attempt to acknowledge that black lives matter in the face of state-sanctioned police violence if we ignore black-on-black crime. Well, you know what else matters? Black hairlines matter. Yes, let’s talk about that, Stevie!

You Might Want To Rethink This Stevie

Alright alright alright.

I know, that was mean. And yes, I shouldn’t have said anything about Stevie’s frontal hairline touching the back of his neck while hanging on for dear life. Yes, just like black-on-black crime, Stevie’s hairline has absolutely nothing to do with the issue that is police officers having any regard for the lives of black men. I mean, it’s not like police officers are shooting and killing unarmed black men because of their hairline, or even black on black crime.

“Yes, your honor, I shot and killed that unarmed black man because of black-on-black crime,” said no police officer in a court of law, ever. So yes, while I’m sorry to have insulted Stevie, the truth is that I have no patience for anyone who conflates these issues.

Yes, Stevie, Gun Violence Is A Serious Issue

To be sure, black-on-black crime and homicides, in particular, is indeed a serious issue.

Gun violence in America is a serious issue.

Violence in America itself is indeed a serious concern. However, I take issue with the notion that the reason police officers are killing black people – when they’re not shoving broomsticks up our asses on occasion – has something to do with intra-racial violence. In fact, I find that position to be insulting. Not just that, it’s also intellectually lazy.

It is particularly so when anyone makes black people in America the face of crime. It’s as though, by default, whiteness and white folks are the measuring stick of morality.

This is disingenuous, folks.

We all know that crime, in general, is a function of the country’s economic and geographic segregation along racial lines. Bottom line: people kill, rob, shoot the people who look like them. That is to say, white folks are shooting and killing white folks just like black folks are killing black folks. I hate to speak in binary terms here, but the same is true of all racial and ethnic demographics. But, of course, we’re not supposed to inform our mostly white conservative friends who see Stevie as a hero and truth-teller.

You know, because, “All lives matter.”

Black-On-Black Isn’t Responsible Stevie

Look, I respect Stevie Wonder and his recent work that has been centered on the reduction of gun violence. However, to conflate these issues provides a very convenient distraction from the cause that is racial justice. Some of the people who applaud what Stevie said truly don’t give a fuck about black lives. If they did, they damn sure wouldn’t be attempting to shut down the movement that demands police accountability for the killing of black people.

And let’s be honest, if our conservative friends really cared about gun violence or even black folks shooting black folks, they wouldn’t be opposed to common sense gun control laws.

They wouldn’t continue to overwhelmingly support the NRA and the NRA-backed Republican politicians who blocked the passage of common sense gun control legislation under President Obama. They sure as hell didn’t care enough to do so after children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. Why then am I supposed to be of the belief that they do now?

I’m sorry, but I sincerely doubt that black-on-black crime had anything to do with the verdict in the case of the officer who killed Philando Castile. Similarly, it damn sure has nothing to do with the second mistrial in a row, in the trial of the Cincinnati officer who killed Sam Dubose.

According to noted Black Lives Matter activist, DeRay McKesson, Stevie Wonder was taken out of context. Apparently, this is what Stevie said to DeRay when he met him recently. While I’m not exactly sure of the context of Stevie’s words. But just know, I still think that while what he said was well intentioned and well meaning, it was still a bad look.

Professor Lisa Durden Fired After Appearance On Fox News

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Lisa Durden was recently a guest on Fox News, and because of her commentary, she is now out of her job as a professor at Essex County College. Durden was invited by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson to discuss a Memorial Day event hosted by a Black Lives Matter group in New York City. The group’s event was a source of controversy because it placed a ban on attendance by anyone non-black. Naturally, Durden attempted to defend the decision to ban non-blacks. Unfortunately, however, she did a horrible job and is now out of a job.

When Carlson asked Durden why would an organization founded on equality for black people institute such a ban, Durden’s response was racially charged and quite shocking.

“Boo hoo hoo!”

“You white people are angry because you couldn’t use your white privilege card,” she responded. She continued with a rant that was eventually stopped by her mic being cut off.

After which, Carlson asked, “If you don’t like people excluding others on the basis of their race… then why are you doing it and why are you defending it now?”

Durden replied and talked about how “you’ve been having White Days forever!” and invoked the “all-white Oscars” and movies and TV shows with all-white casts. She added, “It took eleven seasons to get a black Bachelorette!”

At that point, Carlson accused Durden of being “hostile,” and “crazy.”

“You’re demented, actually.” Carlson blurted out during Durden’s extremely incoherent lecture. “You’re sick and what you’re saying is disgusting and if you were a Nazi, I’d say the same thing to you because what you are saying is indistinguishable to what they are saying.”

You know what? Tucker Carlson was right. As I watched the exchange, I found myself asking, “Who is this woman, and what the hell is wrong with her?” Seriously, she was totally unhinged. So you can imagine the look on my face when I later read that she was a college professor. No shade, but her entire argument had no measure of intellectualism.

She really did Black Lives Matter or herself any favors. And to be perfectly honest, I thought Carlson had a legitimate line of questioning. It was a line of questioning that even I had on the issue. But I understand that Durden wasn’t representing Black Lives Matter, and her views were her own. However, she came off like a nutjob in trying to defend the indefensible.

On June 8th, two days after her appearance on Fox, Durden arrived on the New Jersey campus and was told to cancel her classes. According to Mediaite, Durden was instructed to report to Human Resources. She was handed a signed letter by the Vice President of academic affairs. In the letter, she was informed that she was suspended “until further notice.” Apparently, the college didn’t take too kindly to her divisive anti-white rhetoric.

“They did this to humiliate me,” Durden reacted. “Essex County College publicly lynched me in front of my students.” Seriously? They “lynched” her? No, ma’am, I’ve seen lynching photos, and that wasn’t a lynching. While I understand that she was speaking figuratively, her hyperbolic and exaggerated reaction is emblematic of what got her fired in the first place.

I don’t care who you are. And it also doesn’t matter what color or ethnicity you are. Bottom line: you can’t get on national television and express those views. Yes, you’re entitled to an opinion like everyone else. However, what you do is get a blog like I did and write that shit anonymously. Hell, and even when you do like I and so many others do, you have to be careful. There are consequences for what you say or do in spaces of public consumption.

When asked to comment on her termination, Jefferey Lee, the Vice President of Academic Affairs told the press: “The college promotes a community of unity that is inclusive of all. The general counsel has handled this matter in a way that complies with New Jersey state law. I am not at liberty to provide further details.”

This isn’t rocket science, folks. Professor Lisa Durden essentially did the equivalent of posting naked pics of herself online and got fired for it. Sorry, but unless you work at a strip club, anyone working in a high-profile job will get fired for doing just that. I mean, it’s not like we haven’t seen other college professors get fired for saying racist stuff on Facebook.

Yep, as much as I disagree with the views of Tucker Carlson, this sister should’ve known better. But like the old folks would say, apparently Lisa Durden forgot her color. Which is funny, because if she was white and she said some foul shit as many folks on Fox News normally do, we’d all be calling for that person’s job.

The lesson here is that you can’t be on your “Kill Whitey” steez in public.

You have to save that for the Black Lives Matter gatherings where non-blacks are banned.

Prodigy of Mobb Deep Passes Away at 42

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The rap game is losing so many of its great artists. As I am sure you have all heard by now, Prodigy of Mobb Deep passed away today at 42.  As was widely known, he suffered from sickle cell anemia his entire life. Prodigy was one-half of the Queens rap duo, Mobb Deep, a group that was a staple of 1990’s New York hip-hop. Along with Havoc, Prodigy laid down some of the toughest verses in rap. Besides Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep was one of those groups that defined the sound of East Coast rap. Their most popular song “Shook Ones. Pt. 2” was the cautionary tale directed at pseudo gangsters of those times.

The entire hip hop community is in mourning and remembering his musical contributions as well. Mobb Deep had a good run as far as the popularity of their gritty, NYC sound, and being involved with major beefs in the rap industry. In the 2000’s, Prodigy would also embark on a successful solo career, producing memorable joints like “Keep it Thoro”

One aspect of Prodigy’s life that so far I see is not being emphasized was his growing awareness. Fans saw it in minor ways like the verse Prodigy dropped in the “I Shot Ya” remix. Prodigy was aware, before “woke” became a commodity- being mostly about how it is performed in public. He referenced secret societies and appeared on shows like Infowars. Sometimes, his rhymes would be peppered with a conspiracist outlook on history and current events. Since we live in a country where ideology is discouraged, and everything is said to be relative, people often struggle with putting together a coherent worldview. Everybody will hurry up and tell you that they don’t believe in any  “isms” for example. Despite this reality, Prodigy dealt with a lot of heavy topics in ways that many artists were unwilling.

The title of his last solo album is “Hegelian Dialectic” – named after the theory of change by 19th-century German philosopher George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Without getting into too much theory, it is the idea that things change by going through three phases: thesis (problem), anti-thesis(reaction), and synthesis(solution), the final result of the matter. It is also the notion that our perceptions shape our reality. As many historians and philosophers know, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, who were Young Hegelians counterposed this theory with what came to be known as dialectical materialism, which posits that material conditions determine and shape our reality.  This was the “turning of Hegel on its head.” This is all pretty weighty stuff for a hip hop record. But, Prodigy put this out, earlier this year, and unfortunately, it was overlooked. The rap game, unfortunately, has embraced this notion that only relevant read: popular rappers deserved to be discussed. After an artist is no longer “hot”, people stop checking for their work, even though their content changes and gets better as they learn more about life.

Prodigy would write an autobiography, as well as speak on issues like GMO’s and the necessity to think about things differently. He gave us a great body of music, and he left his mark on hip hop. Prodigy will forever S-H-I-N-E.

It’s Depressing To Watch Police Kill Black People

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Being black in America is depressing as fuck. Watching videos of black people being killed by police officers is depressing. Even more depressing, is when they’re not held accountable.

I’ve been feeling a bit depressed for the past two days. So much so, that even my family has noticed it. So what’s bothering me? Philando Castile. I keep thinking about the verdict in the trial of the officer that killed him last year, and I get sad. I’m not outraged as some are. Instead, I’m just sad. Actually, I don’t know if it’s sadness that I feel. Honestly, I’m numb.

Watching the police dashcam video of his shooting will do that to you.

My wife even said that I  don’t seem like my normal self. To her, it’s as though I have a lot weighing on my mind. Which is really weird considering the fact that we just took a three-day trip out of town with the kids, and had a great time. So what did it?

Social Media Makes Police Shootings More Depressing

When I got home a few days ago, I logged online and the reaction to the verdict was all in my face. At the time the verdict was announced last Friday, my family and I were traveling. My initial thought was that it was more of the same bullshit. After all, we’ve seen this before. It’s not new. But given that I was traveling with my family, I blocked it out in hopes of not having it fuck up my weekend. However, when I got home and I logged on, there were emails from readers, inbox messages all across social media. Knowing that I wrote about the shooting and followed the trial, everyone wanted to know my thoughts about the verdict.

In short, the verdict was fucked up – the jury got it wrong.

This isn’t surprising considering the role implicit racial bias plays out in courtrooms around the country. We know all too well that whether a defendant or a plaintiff, people of color aren’t afforded the benefit of the doubt. We also know that cops are rarely convicted – if even charged – for officer-involved shootings, and cases of police brutality.

Our Justice System Is Depressing

Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile summed it up perfectly, “Where in this planet, do you tell the truth and you be honest and you still be murdered by the police?” Apparently, given this country’s racial history, the answer isn’t here in America. It may happen anywhere else on this planet. But, it damn sure isn’t happening here in the United States.

Not even if there’s video evidence that shows a police officer shooting someone in the back as they’re running away and posing no threat of bodily harm to said officer. Hell, you can even have your hands in the air as a sign of surrender and still get shot and killed. Not to mention screaming, “I can’t breathe,” while being on the receiving end of an illegal chokehold. It doesn’t matter the scenario, a police officer involved will be given the benefit of the doubt, and it’s on to the next one. And then the next one… and the next one… and the next one. It’s like the same cycle every so many days or months. Die, react, then die again.

Never mind the fact that Philando Castile had a permit to legally carry a gun. Or, never mind the fact that he was never reaching for a gun at the time he was killed. Most importantly, never mind the fact that Officer Yanez gave a conflicting story on whether he saw Castile’s hand on a gun. In his initial report, Yanez said Castile did, and later said that he didn’t see his hand on a gun. None of that matters, though. It doesn’t because Castile had the audacity to involuntarily breathe oxygen in the state of Minnesota. In the city where he was pulled over by the police a total of 14 times in the last 14-years of his life. Given that fact, it’s a wonder he wasn’t shot and killed sooner. Especially since black men are 3 times more likely to die from police use of force, here in the United States. Bet never mind that, the big takeaway from the verdict, is that Castile should have never packed a gun while he was high on weed.

Yes, a longtime friend who happens to be a white conservative said this to me.

It was at this point where my depression set in.

Well, it was that and the response to Valerie Castile’s video on Facebook that went viral. One of my friends said that she came off like the “stereotypical angry black woman,” and a “hood rat.” Rather than being measured in her response, her anger was a turnoff to anyone who is able to empathize with her. Yes, because to be grief-stricken and angry is “ghetto.”

Unfortunately, this response to her video came from a black man. And sadly, responses like that of his and my aforementioned white friend were not limited to just them. Many people shared similar opinions. Responses like these solidified my feelings of depression.

It’s like nobody gets it, and we’re on to the next one.

Watching Black People Die Is Depressing

Look, I know cops shoot and kill white folks. In fact, they probably kill more unarmed white people than they do black folks. I say they probably do because there’s no official database anywhere within the federal government that says I’m wrong. While that’s a problem within itself – a huge problem – it’s not the central issue. So how do we fix it?

The problem as I see it is that not enough white folks care that anyone is killed by cops. They damn sure don’t care if the cops unjustifiably kill someone white. In their eyes, any white person killed by the cops had it coming. If they did care, they’d be protesting in the streets and raising all hell about it. But, they’re not, and they never will.

More bluntly, they’re of the opinion that being killed by the police if you’re white, simply means, that the person killed was nigger-ish and therefore deserving said treatment.

Yes, because being shot by the police is a black thing.

Even The Protests Are Depressing

Maybe if we started screaming, “WHITE LIVES MATTER!” instead of, “BLACK LIVES MATTER!” Perhaps if we did, things will change. I mean, blackness will still be seen as less than and whiteness by default will be the standard. But maybe, if we started putting more value in white bodies. Maybe, then and only then, the value of black bodies will jump up a few points like we’re on NASDAQ. Yes, and they’ll start liking us and they’ll send us birthday gifts and Christmas presents. And maybe, they’ll be far less black people being killed by officers.

I’m only half kidding here, but really I’m not.

But seriously, look at the difference in approach to the crack cocaine epidemic back in the day and today’s opioid epidemic. They damn sure ain’t tryna throw certain folk in jail like they did certain folk of another color in jail back in the days of the crack epidemic.

I’m. Just. Sayin.

This has to change.

I’m tired of writing about this type of thing.

Philando Castile: He Was Killed Within 74 Seconds

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Protesters outside of the courthouse after the acquittal of Officer Geronimo Yanez for the shooting death of Philando Castile.

74 seconds. 2 seconds, 1.78 seconds Time Keeps on Slippin’

Numbers ringing in my head, 74 seconds, the time it took a cop to leave his car and shoot and kill Philando Castile. 74 seconds. Castile did everything they tell Black people to do when confronted by police because after all he had been stopped 49 times in the past 14 years. He knew the drill and he was a security guard licensed to carry a gun. A brother officer, if you will.

In a still image from a video posted to Facebook, a shooting victim, identified by relatives as Philando Castile, 32, lies bleeding in a car after being shot by police during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn. on Wednesday evening, July 6, 2016. The video was posted live to the Facebook page of Lavish Reynolds.

Comply, comply, hang your head, don’t look em in the eye and comply. Didn’t work. Still got him killed on camera. We watched him die on Facebook with the officer still holding the gun through the window on a baby in the back seat and Castile’s girlfriend who calmly live streamed the whole thing. It’s a wonder she didn’t die that day as well. Usually, any Black holding something in their hands be it a gun or a phone, well you know.  Got the cop even saying live, that he didn’t know why he shot him. Comply, comply, comply, be a good little darkie. Sit still so you won’t freak out the white/black/Latino boy in blue with the gun, who is shitting in his pants as he talks to you. Fuck your family in the car with you, your baby strapped correctly in her booster seat.

The cop got arrested, charged and put through a trial. The jury found him not guilty. No surprise here white juries don’t convict cops regardless of the circumstances. We learned that when Rodney King got his ass beat on video back in the day. Video and now live stream, won’t save your ass. Just gives you a bigger audience.

2 seconds, the time it took two Cleveland cops to roll up on 12-year-old Tamir Rice in a park and kill him. 2 seconds. They thought he was a grown ass man with a gun in a park menacing people, except there were no people around and the one that was, dropped the dime to  911, to call the cops and said that it was a kid playing with a gun. 12 years old and we lost him in 2 seconds.

1. 78 seconds, the amount of time that lapsed between the time Ray Tensing shot Sam Dubose in the neck, severing his spinal cord, killing him instantly. He was already dead when his foot hit the accelerator and Officer Tensing claimed he tried to drive away, dragging him. 1.78 seconds.

Measured by a forensics expert for the prosecution in Ray Tensing’s retrial for murder.  Two other police experts testified that Tensing violated procedure when he reached into the car and tried to take Dubose’s keys out of the ignition.  The first trial ended in a hung jury and this one might as well. It’s not over yet. Closing arguments set for this week.

Protesters outside of the courthouse after the acquittal of Officer Geronimo Yanez for the shooting death of Philando Castile.

Think we might get a conviction this time? I doubt it. The prosecution is already hedging its bets and asked the judge to charge the jury on a lesser charge of negligent homicide on the outside chance the jury can’t bring itself to buy murder.

Tells me someone is not confident in their case. They know just like us, white juries, which is the only kind of jury that you get in the US justice system, do not convict cops for any reason, period. We never get a jury of our peers as long as there is redlining, gerrymandering, voter suppression and on and on. No matter how we play this game it is rigged against us.

And now we know, thanks to the FB live stream of Castile, compliance, being a good little negro,  won’t protect you either.

Castile got stopped and killed because his nose was too broad. Number 49 unlucky.

Tamir Rice was playing outside with a toy gun. His first and only time, unlucky.

Sam Dubose got stopped and was killed for not having a front license plate on his car. Sam’s had many run-ins too. Mostly for incidental bullshit involving cars and license plates. This time he was unlucky too.

74 seconds. 2 seconds, 1.78 seconds…

Time keeps on slippin’.

A Hotep Movie Moment: The Rocky Theory

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Rocky & Apollo

I have found the very reason that we are not allowed to see many movies about strong Black upliftment from Hollywood. I call this my Rocky Theory, brothas and sistas.

Rocky & Apollo

Look back at the Rocky movies…

Rocky

Rocky matches up against a superior but supposedly cocky Apollo Creed and uses the Black man’s hubris against him and stays upright for the whole fight.  No winner was declared, but we all assumed Rocky to be because of how it all played out.

Rocky II

Having had his name sullied by being matched by an inferior fighter, Apollo asks for a rematch and is rebuffed.  The still-cocky black man spends a whole movie making him take the fight, then LOSES the fight due to a brash obsession with knocking the white man out.

Rocky III

Now having disposed of the original cocky negro, Rocky is the best thing ever invented and can move on to new targets.  This time, a NEW cocky original African Black man named Clubber Lang assaults Rocky’s precious manager causing him a heart attack for which Rocky must avenge him.  One problem though.  Clubber was prepared for and won the fight.  The moral of this story now is that with preparation, the white man will ALWAYS beat the best black man down eventually.  This also includes the since-slavery approach to doing so by using our own community against us.  Apollo Creed decided to become Rocky’s Pet Negro™ and train him to beat Clubber!  Showing us that we have always been our own worst enemies.

Rocky IV

With his Pet Negro™ in tow, we have our hero confronted with an existential crisis.  See, Apollo is still a good boxer, but is still cocky.  Since Rocky has to keep his “I have black friends” narrative moving, he now has to avenge Apollo getting himself killed with the same shit that lost him his title back in the original Rocky movie.
But wait, a new nemesis!Not only do we have the Russians throwing the first punch in cheating their way to victory, they also KILLED Rocky’s Black Friend©!  Now Rocky has to pretend he gave a damn about that n**ga AND end the cold war.  Y’all know how this ends.

Rocky V

Look, to avoid telling the obvious joke about Tommy Morrison eventually dying of AIDS, I amt gonna skirt having to act like I DIDN’T see this piece of shit 3-5 times and just pretend Rocky V didn’t exist.Fuck me…  I told the joke anyway, didn’t I?

What this series of movies taught us is unimportant.  What it told young Italians (and to the larger overarching populace, ALL white people) is that they were physically, morally and mentally superior to us.

Hell, Eddie Murphy tried to warn us!

Back to my original point, though…  Hollywood will NOT be caught giving us this kind of empowerment in a film because things like Black Lives Matter and like-minded organizations would have us ruling the world like the Black kings and queens we were all born to be.  And in Trump’s America, you know these motherfuckers ain’t HAVING that.  “They” won’t tell you this shit in a school curriculum, but I am HERE to give you the jewels.

Stay woke my brothers and sisters.

Environmental Racism: The New New Jim Crow

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Stephanie King with her daughter Ivianna Prater, 8, at their home in the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, Ind. Soil at the complex has been found to contain high levels of lead, and Ms. King’s 3-year-old son, Josiah, has a worrisome amount of lead in his blood, test results show. Credit Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

I don’t see too many of us black folks discussing environmental issues. For the record, I just want to say that environmental issues impact millions of lives in this country. While hardly ever acknowledged, environmental racism is a thing; and it has, and continues to have, a very negative impact on countless lives. And no, it’s not just about lead-poisoned-water in Flint, Michigan, either. While what has happened in Flint is relatively new. People of color have always been forced to occupy spaces that leave the lives of many more vulnerable.

It’s bad enough to live in a community disadvantaged by centuries old institutional racism. Even worse, however, is living in a community where your quality of life and overall lifespan, can be impacted by environmental racism. Again, environmental racism is very real, folks.

Stephanie King with her daughter Ivianna Prater, 8, at their home in the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, Ind. Soil at the complex has been found to contain high levels of lead, and Ms. King’s 3-year-old son, Josiah, has a worrisome amount of lead in his blood, test results show. Credit Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

In a video for The Atlantic, staff writer Vann Newkirk argues that environmental racism is the new Jim Crow. “Yeah, yeah, I get it. The environment isn’t a person. How can it be racist?” says Newkirk in the video. “But the most basic pieces of the environment, the air we breathe and the water we drink, are controlled and designed by people. And people can be racist.”

Watch the Video below:


Many people of color reside in communities where the rates of cancer are linked to being exposed to something as ubiquitous as a landfill. You know, the place where garbage is dumped? Well, in a country where black and brown lives have been relegated to second-class citizenship, this is no surprise. In some instances, we live in spaces where toxic chemicals from plants impact the soil and water supply. For example, in East Chicago, Indiana, there are kids who live in housing projects who play on soil contaminated by lead.

The extent of the contamination came as a shock to residents of the complex, even though it is just north of a huge former U.S.S. Lead smelting plant and on top of a smaller former smelting operation, in an area that was designated a Superfund site in 2009. Now, in a situation that many fearful residents are comparing to the water crisis in Flint, Mich., they are asking why neither the state nor the Environmental Protection Agency told them just how toxic their soil was much sooner, and a timeline is emerging that suggests a painfully slow government process of confronting the problem.

These are children who will endure a lifetime of physiological defects much like the children in Flint. Like the children and residents of low-rent apartments with lead paint before them, they too will suffer. Why? Because by no fault of their own, they were born the wrong color.

 We can’t afford to ignore environmental racism, folks. Racism as a tool of capitalism is very real. And sadly, its fangs cut very deep systemically; and often with dire consequences.

Ice Cube Politely Chin Checks Bill Maher And I Am Here for It

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Before I start, let me remind you: Ice Cube used logic and not idealism per se. Yes, this is the same man that has used misogynistic themes in his music. Yes, this is the creator of the club smash “We Be Clubbin’”. But, this will not disqualify him from speaking on a subject that he should be talking about. If you know what Ice Cube knows, then you understand that he is just as equipped as anyone to speak on the matter.

Now, back at the business at hand.

We should all be familiar with Bill Maher’s quip about the “house nigger” commentary on a previous show during an exchange with Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska). Sasse made a comment about Maher “helping out in the fields” or what not. Maher, being the habitual line stepper, made the comment that has put him under fire. And this is where we are at with it now.

Many people had their own opinions about the situation. Some people wanted him to be punished. Others feel that “since black people say it, then it makes it okay for others to say it”. Some don’t care for the apology issued by Bill Maher because we know he is racist anyway. And then, there are those that are more concerned with things that have nothing to do with the word either way. All of this discussion over a word that is being used by a subset of people within a cultural spectrum sure is making for an interesting discourse.

With Ice Cube being Ice Cube, he decided to not rescind his invitation to go on the Bill Maher show and promote the 25th Anniversary of his Death Certificate album. In fact, after noting that he knew Bill would eventually “fuck up”, he had this tidbit to say:

I accept your apology. But I still think we need to get to the root of the psyche. Because I think there’s a lot of guys out there who cross the line because they a little too familiar—or they think they too familiar—or its guys that, you know, might have a black girlfriend or two who made them some Kool-Aid every now and then, and they think they can cross the line. And they can’t. It’s a word that has been used against us; it’s like a knife, man. And you can use it as a weapon, or you can use it as a tool. It’s been used as a weapon against us by white people, and we’re not gonna let that happen again by nobody, because it’s not cool. Now, I know you heard [it], it’s in the lexicon and everybody’s talkin’, but that’s our word now. That’s our word now. And you can’t have it back. I know they’re tryin’ to get it back.

Whether Ice Cube accepted the apology is immaterial to the matter. What does matter is the idea behind what he said: Bill Maher overstepped the line. And this only makes sense if you look at it from a cultural standpoint.

Ice Cube and The Idea of Emic Language

Here is where many white people get things confused: certain jargon, colloquialisms, and even prior insults fall into emic language. If we understand cultural anthropology, then we should know that people are shaped by their cultures and subcultures. With that, there are going to be things a group take on that may be considered strange and problematic. Still, those cultural derivatives are all their own. Thus, any outside opinion about it becomes null and void.

In short, Ice Cube was correct.

No, white people should not use the word the same way Black people should and they need to get over it. Everything is not about the inclusion of others. Some things need to stay relegated to a cultural subset. What needs to happen is a respect for that culture and the effort to not step out of bounds. Anything else is just white privilege with confused appropriation.

So no, white people, you shouldn’t use the word nigger or nigga unless you are flat out trying to be racist and want someone to beat your ass. It is just that simple.

Ice Cube was Right So Get Over It

At the end of the day, a culture does what a culture does. Black people can have all the discussions about the word if they want to. White people will be left out because they don’t matter. And that is perfectly fine. Black people are not here to be defined by the white gaze anymore. That ship sailed with the end of slavery and beginning of true understanding of history. White people don’t own our souls and damn sure don’t own how we use our culture. I would hope that Bill Maher remembers this while he gazes at black women and tries hard to Rick James his way through the media.

Hey, Asshole, Russia Hacked The Elections

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Before I go into this, allow me to say that Russia hacked the elections. The U.S. government said it, and I believe it. Seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed what has been alleged to be true. In January, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released an unclassified summarized report that according to the New York Times, detailed what was called a Russian campaign to influence the election. In other words, after many months of a coordinated counter-intelligence investigation that involved foreign intelligence agencies, it was concluded that Russia did hack the U.S. elections in 2016.

I listened to former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on Capitol Hill this week. At the hearing, during the opening line of questioning into the investigation Comey was asked the following by the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Richard M. Burr:

BURR: Do you have any doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections?

COMEY: None.

BURR: Do you have any doubt that the Russian government was behind the intrusions in the D triple C systems and the subsequent leaks of that information?

COMEY: No, no doubt.

BURR: Do you have any doubt the Russian government was behind the cyber intrusion in the state voter files?

COMEY: No.

BURR: Are you confident that no votes cast in the 2016 presidential election were altered?

COMEY: I’m confident. When I left as director I had seen no indication of that whatsoever.

For some, the talk about Russia and their hacking of the U.S. elections are nothing but rubbish. To many, these allegations amount to nothing but government propaganda. Mind you, it’s propaganda that’s being bandied about for the sole purpose of giving Hillary Clinton an excuse for losing the general election. This sounds crazy, I’m sure. Nonetheless, this is what I’ve been hearing in debates with some of my fellow friends on the political left.

I can’t tell you what the far-right crazies are saying about the talk about Russia. Actually, I can, but I would rather focus on my far-left friends. And to be honest, much of what my “progressive” friends are saying sounds a lot like what I’m hearing in the right-wing bubble of stupidity. Yes, it’s almost like they mirror each other. Who knew that the disdain for Hillary Clinton could bring together ideological opposites like it has in the last six months?

Russia? Hacking? What Russian Hacking?

Some of my far-left progressive friends are on social media pretending to be the Lone Ranger. However, the puritanical high horse that they ride should be renamed. No, it isn’t the great white horse we all know as Trigger. No no no… the horse they’re riding is called Bullshit.

Many of them are of the opinion that Hillary Clinton was a horrible candidate. Clinging to their puritanical ideals as hard as some of our right-wing friends cling to their guns and religion, they chose to sit out the general election. Yes, they didn’t vote. They were part of the “Bernie or Bust” crowd. When not on social media, I suspect that they’re all huddled in Susan Sarandon’s basement as they await the bat signal that announces the beginning of the revolution. Until then, they spend time trashing Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party for robbing Bernie Sanders of the presidency, and anyone with sense who dares to mention Russian hacking. What’s interesting is that while they deny Russia’s hacking of the elections, they use the hacked DNC emails dumped by WikiLeaks as evidence of DNC wrongdoing.

Yes, because the elections were rigged. And yes, Russia had nothing to do with those emails being hacked or disseminated. When asked for evidence to support their claims, they become as loud as the fart from an ant’s ass. They have nothing. Well, nothing but their idealism and that Bernie would’ve beaten Donald Trump arguments.

Because you don’t believe that U.S. intelligence agencies are truthful when they say Russia hacked the elections, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. You’re no more intelligent – or informed – than anyone who believes what the government has said if you can’t prove them wrong.

To condemn anyone who believes it to be true while unable to prove it otherwise makes you an idiot. It’s like ignoring science and saying that climate change isn’t real. Forget the evidence as examined and found to be inconclusive by scientists. Yes, let’s ignore that. Let’s be like Trump and deny that climate change isn’t real. Hell, while we’re at it, let’s join the Flat Earth Society. You know, because being on the wrong side of history is no big deal.

Even Bernie Sanders Believes That Russia Hacked Us

The irony of this is that even Bernie Sanders admits that Russia did hack the elections.

“Well, I think, when you have the intelligence agencies saying that that happened, when you have John McCain, when you have Democrats, when you have a bipartisan effort saying that we need an investigation, because this is very serious stuff, I think we go forward.

But I don’t want to go backwards. I think we have got to go forward. We have got to take a hard look at the role that the Russians played in this election process. We will see where the investigation goes.

But for Donald Trump to summarily dismiss all of this makes no sense to me at all.”

This was what Sanders said on Meet The Pres in December. He said this a few weeks before the final report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was released.

But yet, people who think like Bernie on this issue are the stupids.

Just think: there are people who voted for Sanders who didn’t vote for Clinton – who would rather die at a firing squad than vote for Clinton – who today, are promoting Trump’s talking points vis-a-vis Russian hacking of the elections. Yes, imagine that. It’s unreal.

There’s Nothing To Gain By Being A Skeptic

It’s one thing to question the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Yes, we need evidence that supports that claim.

However, it’s asinine to question whether there was ever any hacking by Russia. Hell, even Putin admitted that it happened.  Putin said that the cyber attack was not one of his directives. Even so, he acknowledged that it happened. He even called the Rissian hackers “patriotically minded,” for fuck’s sake. Hell, Putin even said this publicly.

What more do you need to be convinced that the elections were hacked by Russians?

To believe that Russia hacked the elections isn’t anything like cosigning a war with a foreign country over WMDs. Nobody is even suggesting that America should pursue that course of action in retaliation for what Russia did. But, of course, trusting the government to whom you pay your taxes because you hate Hillary Clinton is the thing to do. Because COINTELPRO?

Russia Wins If We Ignore The Cyber Attack

Personally, I’m confident that U.S. intelligence has sufficient evidence of what Russia did. And while I can understand healthy skepticism, I think many of my friends are being ridiculous. This isn’t an issue where we’re talking about weapons of mass destruction in a particular country. This is a foreign adversary with nukes being a threat to American democracy. To paraphrase Comey at the Senate hearing this week, this isn’t a partisan thing – this isn’t about party politics. Instead, it’s an American thing. But hey, in America it’s all about freedom and democracy. That said, forgive me for challenging your right to be a dumbass.

For all we know, Russia has the capability to access voting machines and voter registration records. As a black man, I have to be completely honest here. It’s bad enough that I have to concern myself with legislation that makes it harder for black people to vote. The last thing I need to add to that concern is a foreign entity being able to dump registered voters from voter registration rolls. As an American, this threat to democracy should concern you.

Russia Will Not Stop Being A Threat

To paraphrase Comey at the Senate hearing this week, this isn’t a partisan thing – this isn’t about party politics. Instead, it’s an American thing. But hey, in America it’s all about freedom and democracy. That said, forgive me for challenging your right to be a dumbass.

BURR: Okay. When did you become aware of the cyber intrusion?

COMEY: The first cyber — there was all kinds of cyber intrusions going on all the time. The first Russian-connected cyber intrusion I became aware of in the late summer of 2015.

BURR: And in that time frame, there were more than the DNC and the D triple C that were targets?

COMEY: Correct, a massive effort to target government and nongovernmental, near governmental agencies like nonprofits.

BURR: What would be the estimate of how many entities out there the Russians specifically targeted in that time frame?

COMEY: It’s hundreds. I suppose it could be more than 1,000, but it’s at least hundreds.

BURR: When did you become aware that data had been exfiltrated?

COMEY: I’m not sure exactly. I think either late ’15 or early ’16

I’m sorry, but the preservation of American democracy is too valuable to ignore.

Tuxedos, Prom Gowns, & Guns

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Remember preparing for prom? Taking an entire afternoon to sit in a nail or hair salon or fuss over last minute alterations and pick up coordinating corsages and boutonnieres, before putting your look together and posing for customary photos in the front yard, seemed to be the wave back in some of our heyday.

These days, with the help of supportive family and willing friends, teenagers are pulling out all the stops for the prom. From staging elaborate entrances to creating customized gowns that make fashion-forward or political statements, prom has become a wonderfully garish display of creativity, stunts, and shows fit for social media virality.

There’s one trend, however, that has been cropping up of late that adds an air of gloom to the fun grandstanding we’ve come to enjoy seeing on social media during prom season: teenage girls posing in prom pictures with their shotgun-wielding fathers pointing their weapons at apprehensive-looking dates. Because apparently, when the patriarchy isn’t fastening purity rings to their daughters’ fingers via eerie formal ceremonies, they call themselves sending an intimidating message to potential male suitors in a mendacious attempt to protect their teenage daughters’ chastity; a stance that comes across as little more than chauvinist posturing considering many of them upheld (and still partake in, when not within eye-shot of their precocious daughters) the very lecherous, predatory, and toxic masculinity they’re trying to shield their daughters from before being slapped with the pangs of fathering girls.

Men try to absolve themselves of misogynist transgressions through the daughters they help conceive and then place on pedestals; a burden no young woman or girl should have to bear because men should naturally want to view all women and girls as human beings without there needing to be familial ties. But alas, this isn’t the way men are socialized. To a clear majority of them, all women and girls, excluding their own daughters and immediate female family members, are expendable and open to ridicule, violence, and cruelty. And fathers drill this message into their daughters’ heads to internalize and become apologists for the very misogyny they think they’re being protected from, because their fathers have taught them they’re somehow different than other women, and worthier of protection under daddy’s watchful eye while he reconciles having demeaned someone else’s beloved daughter and threatens their young son with violence.

In an atmosphere where so many Black teenage and little boys are already at risk, erroneously indicted because of harmful stereotypes, and are susceptible to state-sanctioned violence, it’s especially disheartening to see guns being pointed at them (particularly by men who look like them) during what should be a celebratory moment. While men are special snow-flaking their daughters, robbing them of agency, and encouraging them to develop cognitive dissonance toward other women in distress, what are they teaching other young men, including their own sons? To come-of-age under a shroud of toxic masculinity and to prey on and disregard the autonomy of other people’s daughters and women not related to them? To shirk accountability for how they treat and engage with their female peers?

Listen, no parent is all that enthusiastic about the prospect of their teenage daughter dating, and I have heard time and again that becoming a parent awakens a fierce inner-papa (or mama) bear, especially when fathers regard their own past misdeeds towards women. But let’s assume that not every other parent is teaching their son to be perpetual trash pandas and that they’ve raised their teenage boys to be respectful, sensitive, and conscientious young men. If I were the mother of a son, and as an aunt of two young nephews (one inching ever so closely to teen-hood), that’s exactly how I’d want my metaphorical son and very real-life nephews to navigate the world. And I’d blow a gasket if I saw a picture of someone’s father pointing a gun at him in a prom picture because dad is trying to exorcise his demons and projectile vomit them onto my figurative-son or either of my nephews.

And let’s be honest, the chest-thumping display shown in these prom pictures is less about fathers protecting their daughters and more about them assuaging their own misogynist behavior, denying their daughters bodily autonomy by trying to police their virginity, and absolving themselves from having to talk rationally to boys and other young men about consent, respecting a woman’s boundaries, and dating responsibly at a young age. Men would have to be equipped with a keen sense of self-awareness and sensitivity to women’s issues to do that.

Even while we currently have a contemptible President at the helm of this country who personifies the tenets of toxic masculinity and who, disturbingly, places his own complicit daughter on a pillar as he demeans and strips away the rights of other women, pointing guns at other people’s sons in prom pictures to show how much of a looming henge you are in your daughter’s life, does not an influential father make. Not to mention, it’s shitty. Helping your daughter thrive in her womanhood by teaching her that she has sovereignty over her own body and sexuality, that she has a voice and a choice and is more than a vitreous object or prop for patriarchy, seems like a more effective way to parent. Mentoring and teaching boys and young men of dating age to respect a woman’s bodily autonomy and to recognize what consent looks like is a far more courageous and honorable way to communicate than pointing a gun in his face.

Materialism, Kendrick Lamar, and How Twitter Should Mind Its Damn Business

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Materialism is always around to ruin a good thing, I tell you.|

Picture the scenario: you are a recent high school graduate. You are extremely thrilled with the prospects of doing something with your life after four years of toil, trepidation, and a weak cafeteria version of Taco Tuesday. Yet, you still made it through the ups and downs. You cross that stage and shake hands with the principal and the superintendent. You toss your hat in the air and find your family waiting to congratulate you.

Once you get home, you are surprised by a graduation gift: a brand-new Toyota Camry! Think about this in perspective: most starter cars for teens are not going to be brand new. Also, many parents/providers may not have the bank to afford a brand-new Camry. And remembering that many newer cars come fully equipped with technological amenities, you are a stoked teenager! You got to love the unexpected graciousness of your parents/family.

This didn’t happen for Kendrick Lamar, though

Materialism and Kendrick Lamar’s Camry

Instead of Kendrick being totally complimented for being frugal and smart, there were some that chided him for being cheap. That’s right, people: there were people that had something negative to say about him buying a brand-new car for his sister. Why? Because it was not some expensive car (Benz, Beemer, Aston-Martin, Lexus, whatever). Also, they thought that he should have given her that type of car since he is probably driving something more expensive. In the end, people that aren’t driving the car have more negative thoughts about it then the young lady that it was bought for.

If you think that is stupid, then stick around. I’m going to lay out the main reasons why all of this is absolute lunacy.

Materialism Has Some Twitter Users Being Thoughtless

The first problem about all of this is that people are not minding their own damn business. I would understand if these people were married to Kendrick or managed his finances. Yet, none of these Twitter Finger Philosophers have no cause, rhyme, or reason to make mention of what a grown man should do with his money. To be fair, Kendrick’s sister did make this situation public by posting about it. Still, who deliberates on the type of brand new vehicle a man buys his younger sister? Oh, I know: Twitter. Because Twitter tends to know all.

The second problem that I am noticing is that people are ridiculously shallow. So, just because Kendrick Lamar is virtually a millionaire means he should be trying to buy expensive ass cars for his family? People honestly want him to make the same monetary mistakes that he is desperately trying to avoid? He already mentioned that he didn’t want to be a victim of being robbed for his money on his last album. With that in mind, would it really make sense to flaunt his kid sister (she ain’t 20 yet) around in an overly expensive vehicle she doesn’t really need?

And the second problem leads me to the final issue: people don’t know shit about cars. I have had my fair share of Toyotas (maybe three of them) and sold some for a year back in 2003. They are some of the most reliable cars on the market. Also, Camrys come standard with a lot of amenities. If the person moves up to an SE or LXE model, you practically have a luxury vehicle. Plus, Toyota makes Lexus. In hindsight, Kendrick bought a vehicle that was well worth the money AND provided her with enough additives to “ride clean” in the streets.

Materialism Won’t Hold Kendrick Back

All in all, people need to focus more on their affairs and less on the happenings of others. Having a negative opinion about a situation is one thing. Having a negative opinion about something without full-fledged thought is another. This is what happens when you have social media philosophers commenting without taking in every angle of the situation. In short, we have people making dumb comments about a man making smart decisions.

Lessons I Learned from Black Lives Matter

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A Sunday morning Facebook post asked “Is Black Lives Matter still a thing?” and I immediately did an eye-roll. The technical answer is in the affirmative. They still are a thing. I still get emails from them. I also know that in many activist circles that Black Lives Matters functions as a real, almost tangible entity. But, I know that that’s not what the social media post really meant. The post was getting at the sentiment that most people are wondering or have finally stopped caring about: why haven’t we heard from Black Lives Matter the way we did before the election of Donald Trump?

I read this post and proceeded to climb up the intellectual mountain from which that question was generated–for whatever reason, when I wake up sometimes my mind brings a piercing alacrity to a thought–and I realized that there was a marked shift in how I personally discussed things and in how I engaged in this subjects in and around Black Lives Matter. In fact, I discovered that there were more than one lessons that I had learned throughout these last couple of years. These lessons have affected not only how I operate in social media circles, but ultimately in my real-life interactions with white people, but also other black people.

It’s okay to speak up and speak out even if it’s not popular.

I tweeted that on January 12, 2015. I remember dreading that I felt the need to tweet that, but it was true observation. I had a serious criticism of the “leaderless leadership” model simply because I didn’t see how it would translate well into organizing on the street. And better yet, organizing for what goal? Central to my criticism was a seemingly lack of policy attached to the BLM organizing platform. Grassroots organizations such as BLM typically coalesce around a particular outcome that’s policy based: education reform or legislation at a city council or statehouse. Because I couldn’t connect those dots, I was slow to join the bandwagon. In fact, I actually had some questions about the general direction the bandwagon was moving. Questions that needed answers before I got aboard.

My questions didn’t come without a pitiable price. Or at a price meted out by social media. I remembered for the umpteenth time, that social media isn’t the place to ask questions of hashtag movements. The flattening of the conversations doesn’t give me much latitude to ask what I thought was a pretty foundational question; one needed for movement building. I began to see Black Lives Matters as a massive awareness campaign, but not a movement. I penned a blog piece in June 2015 saying a s such, but it was an unpopular point of view. Eventually, I moved into silence.

Silence is death for someone who engages in the life of the mind. People my whole life have told me that I’m unbridled when it comes to speaking my mind. Usually I tell them that I still say only about 10% of what’s on my mind, which gives them a picture that my mind is full and I think a lot. When I talk slow it is me trying to navigate between being true to my thought and sentiments, trying to find the vocabulary that is acceptable to the hearer and navigating do I want to hurt this person’s feelings in order to make my point, or are their feelings worth compromising how I truly feel. Sometimes that calculus is too hard for me to engage, and I opt for the frustrating silence. This is a silence that’s full of death. It’s as though a piece of my mind goes into atrophy when I’m forced to be silent.

It was unpopular to levy criticism at Black Lives Matters and  then-president Barack Obama, so I chose silence over criticism. And for that I need to apologize to myself. I wasn’t living up to my true authentic Self by denying my Self the right to speak my informed opinion. I was more worried about what social media thought of me; how I could make sure a status received likes or a tweet received retweets. The lesson I’ve learned is that I should have continued to be as bold as I was on January 12, 2015 when I tweeted into the ether and no one retweeted or liked it. But more importantly, I didn’t care if anyone did. It was a truism for myself, and that should always be enough.

Stay agitated. 

This is probably the most difficult one for me. Favoring brevity, to be an agitator in this country means to sacrifice the philosophical and at times tangible creature comforts of American life. The lights, the water, clean air, the easy accessibility to food… I can go on. You get my point. We, who believe in freedom, need to constantly stay in a state of agitation. The moment we rest is the moment we’ve capitulated.

One of the worst phrases that came out of the Black Lives Matter project was “woke” and all it’s familiar derivatives. “Wokeness” became synonymous with one’s blackness. That is to say, if you weren’t “woke” you weren’t really black. I rather despise ontological tests of one’s blackness especially when it’s related through the medium of social media. It became a quick and easy way to dismiss a black person’s thoughts; if they weren’t “woke” then you could dismiss their argument. Essentially, the phrase “stay woke” became interchangeable with “stay black.”

Well, you could have just told me that, right?

I’d rather advocate black folks to stay agitated. Not to the point of looking for problem just to be the center of attention, but to be vigilant about the deeper analysis at play and finding the courage to speak truths that empower rather than speaking your truth for the sake of self-aggrandizement.

Never be “too woke to vote.”

Hotepping won’t save black America. It never has and it never will. As I said, part of my criticism with the larger Black Lives Matter project was its failure to be policy minded. That is to say, nationally, it never did the job of connecting voting to political outcomes. The closest it ever came was in the pig-sty that is Chicago politics. Riding the coattails of the Black Lives Matter wave, Chicagoans voted Kim Foxx as the Democratic party nominee for Cook county state’s attorney. This was after the tape of a Chicago police officer killing the unarmed black teenager LaQuan McDonald and the state’s attorney office being slow to investigate and charge the officer. This was a clear cut case of a body politic connecting a desired outcome (a state’s attorney courageous enough to prosecute a police officer) with a needed triggering action–voting.

Unfortunately, this example exists in a singularity

Viral videos surfaced on social media left and right with black people saying that they weren’t going to vote in 2016. And Black Lives Matter never organized a national get out the vote campaign. To my knowledge, there was not a single Black Lives Matter supported candidate from municipal to federal elections in 2016. With all of the nascent rumblings of young black people, you would have thought that black millennials would have flocked to the polls in record numbers and there would have been a record number of blacks who decided to run for office, even if it was for dog catcher in their city council district. But it seemed that Black Lives Matter was more interested in mounting philosophical and non-policy based challenged to Hillary Clinton and too disinterested and dismissive of Bernie Sanders which effectively told hundreds of thousands of young people that the political process was worth divestiture. That it was okay to be “too woke to vote.”

And then Donald Trump won.

There’s always a deeper analysis.

I recently listened to a podcast hosted by Princeton professor Eddie Glaude and produced by Princeton’s African American Studies department, and he interviewed his mentor, Cornel West, professor of public philosophy at Harvard–his second round there. In the midst of the anthropological and ontological shade that only West could throw at other black colleagues of his, he stuck to his guns about his criticism of the Obama presidency. Specifically the ways in which Obama, as president, continued to perpetuate the “rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer” dynamic when it came to economic bailouts of Wall Street, as well as the human rights ethics around drone strikes. He also, poignantly noted that we will eventually have to deal with the fact that a “black lives matter” campaign was generated under the nation’s first black president. This is a deeper analysis that most people don’t want to delve into. It’s much more popular to relish in the representation of blackness in the White House–the hip rhetoric of Obama, the images of Michelle dancing, BET hosting a farewell bash in the actual White House. But Black Lives Matter taught me there’s always a deeper analysis.

That is to say, this battle, maybe even the war, as it’s laid out is not going to be fought with hashtags as bows and arrows. Twitter assassins cannot and will not move the levers of power in this country; Facebook screeds are but a fart in the high wind of market forces. Social media, most times, doesn’t allow for a deeper analysis. That deeper analysis comes when you log out and actually talk to people. When you get in their face and have a conversation. Part of what I think doomed Black Lives Matter as a movement was that we saw many people on bullhorns at marches taking Twitter hashtag musings and trying to translate that to real people. And it fell flat.

I will always commit to a deeper analysis. Not for the sake of trying to be “the deep one,” but for the sake of making sure we’re thinking this thing through all the way. Black people will never get justice if we’re half stepping our analysis of the situation. If we’re more interested in the person occupying the seat of power rather than the invisible sourcing of the power, we will stay losing.

My life is more than a hashtag.

About the only time I invoke the written words “black” “lives” and “matter” is to make a hashtag. Twitter appropriately created a permanent emoji of black fists across the color spectrum–light skinned to dark skinned–that accompanies that hashtag. In a real sense, Black Lives Matter has been reduced to a hashtag. I look back at that tweet from January 12, 2015 and I wonder was ever even more than a hashtag. At times it felt like it was. Like it should have been. Like it could have been. Could it have been more during the Baltimore uprising? More at the death of Walter Scott? The shooting at Mother Emanuel AME church? The election of Donald Trump?

I am reminded that I am more than a hashtag, and I am more than what I choose to write and say. My words point to bigger meanings and ideas; things that are greater I. That is to suggest, my criticism in the face of popular opinion or my reasons for voting are all more than just words to read on a screen, or 140 characters to scroll by and retweet on a timeline. My black life matters not because an organization says so, but because I say so and the real and lived community I live in affirms that.

An Open Letter to Louisiana and its Prison System

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Prisoners from the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center line up as they prepare to undertake a training exercise to learn how to cleanse oil from birds affected by the oil slick from the BP Deepwater Horizon platform disaster in New Orleans Louisiana, on May 3, 2010. Using remote-controlled submarines to shut off the leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico is like doing "open heart surgery at 5,000 feet in the dark," the head of BP's US operations said. BP America Chairman and President Lamar McKay acknowledged that the oil gushing from the fractured well nearly a mile (1,500 meters) below the ocean surface was due to a defective equipment designed to shut down the well in a blowout. Six robotic submarines struggled to activate a 450-tonne blowout preventer valve that failed to work properly when the well exploded April 20, igniting a fire that sent the Deepwater Horizon rig to the ocean floor with 11 workers missing and presumed dead. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Dear Louisiana,

How can I even begin?

I want to thank you for all of the substance you have added to the American lexicon. Your land and cultural influence gave birth to jazz, swamp pop, and zydeco. Your eating delicacies range from gumbo, jambalaya, to even Popeye’s chicken. The Essence Festival, The Vodoo Experience, and the ever-famous Mardi Gras has entertained many constituents for decades. Without Louisiana, there would be no reason to claim the greatness that is America.

Prisoners from the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center line up as they prepare to undertake a training exercise to learn how to cleanse oil from birds affected by the oil slick from the BP Deepwater Horizon platform disaster in New Orleans Louisiana, on May 3, 2010. Using remote-controlled submarines to shut off the leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico is like doing “open heart surgery at 5,000 feet in the dark,” the head of BP’s US operations said. BP America Chairman and President Lamar McKay acknowledged that the oil gushing from the fractured well nearly a mile (1,500 meters) below the ocean surface was due to a defective equipment designed to shut down the well in a blowout. Six robotic submarines struggled to activate a 450-tonne blowout preventer valve that failed to work properly when the well exploded April 20, igniting a fire that sent the Deepwater Horizon rig to the ocean floor with 11 workers missing and presumed dead. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

As much as you, Louisiana, have made America look good, there seems to be reason for seeing you as a state capitalizing on things that make America look bad. And that thing is the prison system.

I wish I was making this all up, but I am not. You see, it has come to my attention that you have the highest incarceration rate in the world. And to be transparent, the U.S. leads the world among nations when it comes to incarceration. Since you lead the nation, then you automatically lead the world. While you have a rate of 816 people per 100,000, Russia has 492, China possesses 119, France has 100, and Germany ends up with 78. It is safe to say that you, my sweet Louisiana, is King Koopa of Incarceration.

I’m sorry, but this is the type of shit you can’t make up in fictional novels. A U.S. state leading the entire world in incarceration rates.

And there is much reason for this.

Louisiana Prisoner Problem

The reason why there are so many prisoners in you goes back to that pesky “war on drugs”. You know: that “tough talk” bullshit war on poor and (mainly) black people? Yet, that isn’t the only problem. You also have experienced this lingering number of inmates when the practice of releasing prisoners for good behavior after 10 years and 6 months of their life sentences was ended in the 1970s. Thus, you (my ever wonderful Louisiana) are filled with prisoners and we have government policies to thank for it.

And let us keep it all the way honest: as much as Black people have contributed to your artistic culture, you have forced them to contribute to the prison one. This all goes back to the slavery days. In 1860, when the Civil War started, two-thirds of the Louisiana penitentiary was white. Eight years later, two-thirds of that same population was black. I don’t know about anyone else, but I think Louisiana likes the idea of keeping their prisons filled with black people.

Plus, you house Angola Penitentiary. And historically, Angola remains the largest maximum security prison in the United States. Over 5000 prisoners “take up residence” there. But that isn’t the only alarming fact. At Angola, the average sentence for prisoners is 93 years. Meaning: the vast majority (say 95 percent) of the prisoners there will not be getting out before they die.

When the saints come marching in, I don’t want to be a part of Angola’s number. Hell, I wouldn’t want anyone to even consider it. It must be conflicting that I can find the best beignets and worst prison system all in the same state. Louisiana, your flavorful culture for the arts is being blemished by your thirst for treating people like chattel. And this must end.

Louisiana Prisoner Shame

Louisiana, you should be ashamed of yourself. It is appalling that a state in the U.S. leads the entire world in prison incarceration rates. Yet, that does not seem to be an issue for you if people come party on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. And therein lies the problem: you are good for black folks celebrating but not enough to free its incarcerated.

Louisiana, you have to change baby. You need to free yourself by finding ways to free your people.

Love,

Mark A. Harris

Jason Whitlock Has A White Man Dying Inside Of Him

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On television recently, noted sportswriter and commentator, Jason Whitlock, said that LeBron James was too rich to be affected by racism. According to Whitlock, racism is a problem for poor people. Yes, he said this. Yes, it was on television.

Uh-huh, he said it while the cameras were running.

No, Whitlock didn’t get caught on a hot mic.

Yes, and I’m pretty sure that he was conscious when he said it. I know, it’s hard to imagine someone, let alone a black man, saying something so asinine. And I can promise you that he said it because I saw it myself. And no, there wasn’t a racist white man with his hand up Whitlock’s ass using him as a ventriloquist’s dummy when he said it either.

So why would Whitlock – a grown-ass black man – say something so ignorant? It’s really simple, folks. The truth is that Jason Whitlock has a white man trapped inside of his body who’s tired of eating fried chicken and watermelon. I wish I could blame it on him being a conservative and possessing conservative values. But there’s no way that a black conservative can be this idiotic. Conservatism aside, this level of stupid is impossible.

I mean, Ben Carson is known for saying stupid things as I pointed out recently. But seriously, Ben Carson isn’t this stupid. Sure, Carson thinks that poverty is a state of mind, but still. So yes, Jason Whitlock has a white man trapped in his 350lb-plus body that’s tired of him.

Oh, and he said this in the wake of James’ house being vandalized and spray-painted with the word “nigger.” Yes, that happened. And yes, again, Whitlock is black. Well, black-ish.

Yes, kinda black.

“Racism is an issue in America, but it’s primarily an issue for the poor. It’s not LeBron James ‘ issue,” said Whitlock. Mind you, the interview was on Fox Sports 1’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd”. Cowherd mentioned that he granted the interview at Whitlock’s request.

This means that an attention-starved Whitlock thought that his opinion was important.

“I think it is a disrespectful inconvenience for LeBron James. He allegedly had the n-word spray-painted on his $20 million Brentwood home. He wasn’t there. His family wasn’t there. He heard about it…

“He has removed himself from the damages and the ravages of real racism. He may have an occasional disrespectful interaction with someone, a disrespectful inconvenience.”

Whitlock also criticized LeBron for acting like a victim and bringing up the 1955 murder of Emmett Till. LeBron’s reference to Till simply illustrated the point that nobody is exempt.

Not even a child.

“LeBron needs to quit embracing his victimhood because he’s not a victim and it’s a terrible message for black people,” Whitlock said. “This message that we are constantly pumping out to young black people that we’re just victims and oh my God the worst thing in the world is to be black in America, is just not true.”

“The worst thing to be in America and anywhere on the planet is poor…If you’re poor, regardless of color, you’re catching hell in America and on this planet,” Whitlock added.

Watch the interview below:

As if Whitlock’s premise wasn’t shitty enough, in his critique, put himself in the financial class and tax bracket as Oprah Winfrey. I’m sure you’ve heard of her, yes? She’s a billionaire.

Jason Whitlock, however, is no fucking billionaire.

He might think that he is ballin’ like he is Oprah, but he isn’t.

The tragic irony is that even Oprah has been a victim of racism in recent years.Oprah has been a victim of racism in recent years.

Image that?

Oprah Winfrey, a billionaire who has way more money than Whitlock’s 15 cents, has admitted to being a victim of racism. Oprah has enough money to buy Whitlock more Debbie Cakes and snacks his fat ass can eat more stupid hats than Whitlock will ever own.

“It’s not tough being Oprah Winfrey,” Whitlock said. “It’s not tough being LeBron James. It’s not tough being Jason Whitlock,” he added. Honestly, that line made me laugh.

Jason Whitlock is a very sad man

And to add insult to pure fuckery, Whitlock mentions that the guys who park his car and opens the door to his building are black and brown. You know, those other niggas afflicted with all that racism, lack of self-discipline, and poverty. Yes, they rub that shit in their skin like cocoa butter. And I suspect that in his eyes, Lebron is the reason they do.

Yes, him and all the rich black people and their fake racism.

Because, unlike them, he eats a big bowl of sugar-free Cheerios with a side order of cage-free gold-plated eggs. You know, because that’s how he rolls. Whenever his “nigga wake up call” comes, I hope it’s on video. I hope it goes viral. If so, I must see this.

Dead slaves cry when Jason Whitlock speaks

I don’t know if you saw Lebron’s press conference where he addressed the vandalism of his Los Angeles home. But from where I sit, Lebron’s response was very poignant and spot on.

“No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, you know being black in America is tough,” James said. “And we got a long way to go, for us as a society and for us as African-Americans, until we feel equal in America.”

Racism, LeBron said, “will always be a part of the world, a part of America.”

“Hate in America, especially for African-Americans, is living every day,” LeBron said. “And even though it’s concealed most of the time, even though people hide their faces and … when they see you they smile in your face, it’s alive every single day,” he continued.

There’s no way on God’s green earth that anyone can come to the conclusion that Lebron was simply playing the victim. Newsflash: His house was spray-painted with the word “nigger.” This makes LeBron the victim of a crime. In fact, a racially motivated hate crime.

Since being fired from ESPN, if this is his way of gaining attention from the conservative crowd, shame on him. If he truly believes what he’s saying, shame on him. Moreover, if there is truly a white man trapped in Whitlock’s body, then shame on him for being so damn hungry. All jokes aside, the truth is that this is who this man is.

This is the same asshole who criticized Lebron James not too long ago for participating in a Nike ad campaign that promotes equality. Yes, because, Jason Whitlock is pure trash.

Kathy Griffin Was Wrong, But You’re Still Deplorable

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Kathy Griffin is catching hell right now. So much hell that we probably won’t see the 69-year-old comedienne do another New Year’s Eve Countdown show on CNN ever again. Well, maybe not ever again like ever again. After all, even Don Imus came back from his “Nappy headed hoe,” controversy. And I’m pretty sure that Paula Deen is out there somewhere still getting paid to give white people diabetes and heart disease after being outed as a racist.

Kathy Griffin, like Paula Deen and Don Imus, is white, so she’ll be fine.

So what did Kathy Griffin do?

Kathy Griffin participated in a photo shoot that featured her holding up a bloody head resembling President Donald Trump. Yes, it was like an ISIS beheading video, but with white people. Was it in poor taste? Of course. Was it threatening? Of course not. Like I said, white people were involved. Had it been done by a black comedian, my black ass, as well as that of every black person including the Obama family, would have been sent back to Africa by now.

Trust me, it would have happened.

Amid the uproar, Kathy Griffin did take to Instagram to offer an apology for her misdeed.

“I’m a comic,” she said. “I cross the line. I move the line, then I cross it. I went way too far. The image is too disturbing. I understand how it offends people. It wasn’t funny. I get it.”

She said she will ask celebrity photographer Tyler Shields to take down the photo.

“I beg for your forgiveness. I went too far,” she said in the Instagram post. “I made a mistake and I was wrong.” At one point in her apology, I thought she would blow snot bubbles like Viola Davis did in the movie Fences. But she didn’t.

Nonetheless, I won’t question her sincerity.

I will, however, question the sincerity of the outrage by some folks.

Kathy Griffin exposes right-wing hypocrisy

Remember when right-wingers were burning Barack Obama in effigy and putting a noose around his neck and all manner of disrespect? Yes, this was one of the many ways in which they chose to voice their displeasure with America’s first black president.

Well, I don’t remember many of our right-wing friends condemning that like they are Kathy Griffin, for what she did. Obama was depicted as a monkey, a Kenyan witchdoctor, and lord knows what else. Back then, those images were circulated via email by our right-wing friends and, to them, it was only a joke. Well, it wasn’t funny. It wasn’t funny when they did it to Obama, and it wasn’t funny when Kathy Griffin did it to Trump. Yes, it wasn’t funny.

I hate Trump like everyone in the resistance, but no – not like that, fam.

 

So yeah, where was the collective outrage from right-wingers then?

 

I’m not pointing out the hypocrisy of our right-wing buddies in defense of Kathy Griffin.

 

No, like I said: what she did wasn’t cool.

 

However, given this country’s racial history, it’s ironic that many of them were silent when Obama was depicted the way he was on many occasions. Yes, their silence was deafening.

You know, because they’re not racist.

 

But yet, today, they raise all types of hell after the racist orange overlord they chose to vote for is depicted as he was by Kathy Griffin. Yes, because again, they’re not racist.

And, well, “ALL LIVES MATTER!”

Miss me with the faux outrage, but do call me when Trump apologizes for birtherism.