The statement “black lives matter” underscores a theological belief that all life is sacred. Unfortunately the black community, and society as a whole, has been placed squarely in the jaws of a moral vice grip; in the aftermath of Treyvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner decisions how do we articulate righteous indignation from a position of moral authority when so much disrespect towards the sanctity of life comes from within our own camp?
Moral and social relativists have tried to reframe the argument against the black community’s outrage by saying “why don’t you protest when a black person kills a white person” or “what about when a black person kills another black person?” The obvious response is simple. First of all to insinuate that the black community has ever been anarchistic has no basis in reality. Research has long shown that the black community has, by and large, always valued effective and appropriate law enforcement. The recent, senseless murder of a young man trying to protect his twin brother in Chicago has been the topic of discussion in the black media ever since it happened. The boy’s mother has decried the lack of more law enforcement so that no one will have to go through what she’s going thru. Secondly when a black person commits a crime against one of our own the community expects them to be prosecuted fairly and appropriately. In other words the time should fit the crime. Lastly, black people go to jail in higher percentages than nearly any other ethnic group in this country. We don’t have the luxury of not being found guilty by a jury of our peers.
Sadly the bulk of these headline-grabbing events are nothing more than a deceptive smoke screen that is designed to deflect attention from the real battle. That battle is not black versus white nor is it rich versus poor as the media would gleefully have you believe.
The real battle is against the family.
The scourge of violence and death in the black community all originates from the same place: a broken home.
According to recent census data over 60% of black children are raised in a single parent home. More than 80 percent of those custodial parents are mothers. They tend to earn a quarter of what a two-parent household earns even though their expenses are higher due to child care and medical costs. Women historically earn less than men do, which places many of these families headed by a single parent at or below the poverty line. Struggling to survive financially becomes such an ever-present burden that effective child-rearing, a difficult task under the best of circumstances, becomes nearly impossible.
There is immutable evidence that there is a clear connection between poverty and crime. Typically in areas where there is a high concentration of poverty there is also a high concentration of crime. The social assistance programs that sprout up in these communities are not a substitute for a healthy, in intact nuclear family.
A healthy organism begins at the cellular level. Therefore an out of order society comes as a result of an out of order family. In other words if the body is sick you treat it at its most elemental level.
But our western society puts more emphasis on things that continue to make us ill. We are deceived into thinking that our lives are governed by the issue of race, class and gender. In the aftermath of the horrific events in Ferguson, MO and New York the media and most every talking head has served up an intoxicating concoction of injustices done to us by the police. Old stories are being dug up and presented as recent events, one sided and highly inflammatory opinions are being used to present an “us versus-them” mentality. At the end of the day both sides of the aisle are so angry and frustrated with the other that the end result is deeper and more entrenched division.
The deception has worked.
The art of deception is a war tactic that is accomplished when measures are taken to get the opponent to react to the wrong set of circumstances. This is what is happening today. People are being deceived that THE most important part of this whole movement is about police brutality and the lack of justice for black men at the hands of an adversarial legal system. And while these are valid points that need to be addressed, they are not where the heat of battle is taking place.
The war against the family is in full tilt. Everything from an emphasis on hyper-individuality which states that I am who I define myself to be regardless of immutable distinctions that were once defined as being gender related, to a blatant disregard for the scientific evidence that men and women are uniquely distinct from one another have all contributed to the demise of the family. Researchers at the University of California at Irvine have shown the how a woman’s brain and a man’s brain processes the same information differently. Their conclusion was that both sexes are equally intelligent but have unique advantages in different areas. This difference leads to different approaches in socialization. How we view the world, how we raise children, how we interact with those around us begins at this level.
Popular culture does not acknowledge this evidence. In fact it not only discounts it, but it seeks to destroy its very existence. Gross consumerism, runaway individuality and the complete lack of any moral center has become the rule of the day. Media outlets have been successful in branding “family values” as an outdated, dysfunctional, overbearing and freedom- killing relic of the past. This message has ushered us into this current age we live in where division, fear and hatred rule the airwaves.
Ultimately if we are going to fix anything within our own community we have to start at the root. That root is the family. Going to marches, listening to emotionally charged speeches, refusing to spend money at certain outlets, and continuing in the fight for justice and equality won’t mean a thing if we don’t attack the real problem. The deceptive tool of righteous indignation will only take us so far, but the tool of nourishing and recommitting ourselves to a strong nuclear family will insure not only the survival of a people, but of a nation.
I love Iggy Azalea. I think what she’s doing is brilliant. She has taken the rap industry and turned it on its head by coming out with a song, err rap, which highlights her ability to sound like a drowning kitten WHILE racking up over 135 million views on YouTube. That’s right, 135 MILLION YouTube views. You do the math. If only 10 percent of her fans went out and bought her single, she will have sold 13.5 million copies, on one song!
Get yo’ paper girl!
And after all, isn’t that what the rap game has turned into? Cash moves everything around me, CREAM, get the money, Iggy, Iggy, Iggy yawl. The ends justify the means, and if the ends are all about, well, ends (money for those of you less initiated in hip hop vernacular) then Iggy Azalea gets my vote as being the queen bee.
Still, there are the critics who are saying that there’s no way this white Australian should be rapping about the things she’s rapping about.
I believe that this is where her true genius shines. What she has done is pull the sheets off the façade that says this generation’s brand of rap has to have any nutritional value in it. Today’s brand of salacious cellulose that is saturated in gross consumerism and passing itself off as rap music is audible crack. The first time you hear lyrics and a beat that you like, you’re hooked. Couple that with the visual stimuli of The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous meets ghetto-fabulous and voila, you have found the mixture that is sure to gain you a lot of customers.
And, just like crack, it’s equally as useless and destructive.
Growing up in New South Wales, far from the pot-holed riddled and drug infested southern neighborhoods that created the style of music she does, little Miss Amethyst Amelia Kelly heard her first rap song and decided “I want to be a rap star.” The pull must’ve been so strong that, along the way, she decided to trade in one form of white privilege (Australian heritage, long legs, thin waist, blonde hair, and opaque white skin) and morph herself into the object of overt male misogyny. She traded in one career, which was modeling for one of the top agencies in New York, for some butt injections and “swag-on-demand” when the studio producers yelled “spit” (with lyrics undoubtedly written for her).
One of her first hits to go viral was a song about a part of a woman’s anatomy that rhymes with the name Delores. Her audience was primarily comprised of hard living, what I call “catfish folks” who either don’t understand or appreciate the art of subtlety. She put it all out there, and then capitalized on flaunting her “otherness” to a people programmed to be envious of the very physical traits that she was genetically pre-disposed to have.
Think about it. She already had the hair texture that she witnessed many of her rap contemporaries spend hours, and thousands of dollars, to get their hair to look like. She already had the white skin, sans skin bleaching creams and who knows whatever else many of her other women of color artist were doing. She learned how to rap with the inflection, and the swag, of a rapper from the “dirty-dirty”. She even started dating from what I am sure was a very willing, and eligible, pool of black men.
What Iggy Azalea has done, rather what rap music in its degenerated bastardized form has allowed her to do, is to become the face for a new kind of minstrel act. Like Dr. Frankenstein, she is the monster that rap has created.
In the earliest days of minstrel the performers were exclusively white. They performed in black face to white audiences who were very comfortable with seeing the buffoonery and racially insulting caricatures of black people. What Iggy Azalea has done is a hybrid of minstrel act and survival in a male dominated industry. I have no doubt that she is truly a fan of this style of rap music, and as a woman she is doing what she feels is necessary to succeed in this genre. But, what is most damaging now is that black people have a much greater degree of control over our image than we did back in the 1830’s and 1840’s. The best that we can do is to equate having a big booty and over-exaggerated sex appeal as a mark of approval for a woman rapper?
The repetitive message that most of today’s top rap artist broadcast is as healthy as the residue of a used crack pipe.
This is why I like Iggy Azalea. Her presence atop the charts right now is a mirror that this present rap industry should look into and see that they are the emperor who is wearing no clothes, that they are the evil mastermind that has gathered the parts of a thousand dead bodies and recreated something that has no soul. They’re the ones who have made it very easy for someone like her, and the multitudes that will surely follow, to become the maniacally unpredictable brute who roams the countryside.
So keep on doing it, and doing it and doing it well Miss Kelly. Maybe one day someone in the rap “game” will wake up from their THC induced haze and realize that they’ve allowed one of the greatest musical art forms on the planet to degenerate into a watered down minstrel show. But, until then, Iggy Azalea you really are fancy.
Today is the day millions of Americans celebrate our nation’s Declaration of Independence from British rule over 200 years ago. But was that declaration of independence a natural extension of the frustration felt by the early colonist against the “tyranny” of the British monarchy, or was it more about a powerful few wanting to secure their riches through their newfound money printing machine, aka, slave trading.
That the Declaration of Independence heralded the foundation of a new nation is a foregone conclusion. It is well known that, despite the fact that there were still many British loyalists making up the voices of descent (of which one of them was William Franklin, the then Governor of New Jersey and son of Benjamin Franklin), those voices wanting full secession from British rule prevailed. These “patriots” eventually, through diplomacy and battlefield victories, prevailed.
We have been told all too often that the colonists were angry about the fact that they were being taxed so heavily by the British crown yet had none of their interests represented. Taxation without representation was one of the main reasons that many of us were taught was the reason why the American Revolution was even considered.
But, consider the fact that British soldiers were better paid than the fledgling colonies were able to pay their soldiers primarily comprised of rag tag militias. The British crown was powerful enough to provide protection against hostile nations and savvy enough to provide incentive for businessmen looking to make their fortune in the new colonies as long as they remained loyal to the crown.
Interestingly enough, prior to 1776, the amount of African slave rebellions in the colonies and in the Caribbean, which was home to many plantations owned by wealthy colonists living in North America, were increasing at an alarming rate. North American plantation owners were consumed with fear that the uprising of the African slaves abroad would spill into the borders of this fledgling nation. Additionally an increasing amount of African slaves were escaping from their owners and joining the British Armies in order to fight against American secession. Why? The anti-slavery sentiment in London was growing at a fever pitch and, by all accounts, according to professor Gerald Horne in his exhaustive historical analysis called The Counter Revolution of 1776: Slave resistance and the Origins of the United States of America, that sentiment was going to spread through the British empire and was leading to the institution of slavery being abolished in all of its colonies (even though it hadn’t yet happened).
It is argued very effectively that the wealthy land owners, slave owners and those sympathetic to them were the primary drafters of the document called The Declaration of Independence. This document insured that their fortunes made by virtue of slavery being legal would be secure for many more generations. The counter-revolution, aka The American Revolution, therefore was a targeted campaign that the framers of this new document approved of in order to maintain their way of life, namely legalized slavery.
African slaves, my ancestors, were not set free as a result of that Independence Day. Almost another 100 years would have to pass before their freedom was secured by the bloodiest war in US history and the ratification of the 13th amendment. Another 100 years after that would have to pass before they were fully able to participate in the political process.
So, as a proud American whose ancestors were undoubtedly victimized by the morally bankrupt system of chattel slavery that this country perfected, Independence Day does not resonate as much with me as it does with many other Americans. Yes, I enjoy the food, the fun and the revelry, but by acknowledging the facts of the story of my people in this country I am no less proud to be here. In fact, that I am able to acknowledge these facts and still be proud to be an American makes me not only a good American, but a great one.
I used to cringe every time I heard a black woman cry about a black man they saw with someone from a different ethnic group. It used to literally make me nauseas because, to me, it assumed that just because people have the same outside wrapping means that they’re automatically supposed to be a match. The simplicity of such fallacious logic never made sense to me, but in this arena we weren’t dealing with logic. This was some straight emotional stuff sent over by the special effects department.
As this socially discomforting drama would unfold, quickly rising to a full scale code red alert the glaring black woman would often eventually enlist the help of a few friends who likewise expressed their utter contempt for what they saw. As the fully fueled and battle ready sortie readied themselves for takeoff I could only look on in pity at the poor, unsuspecting villains who, until the storm clouds of dissension had formed, were probably having a good time. And God please don’t let it be a white girl. That was usually his, and her, death warrant.
Over the years I learned that their anger/frustration wasn’t random. It was very specific. Yes, and while the often unsuspecting female companion was made to feel as unwelcome as someone showing up to fashion week in Paris wearing overalls and an Elmo t-shirt it was the black man who received the majority of the visual gunshot blast. The often raw emotions hid what was really at the core of the reaction: the black man consciously chose the other.
Being told that we live in a society that values a more Eurocentric standard of beauty is a foregone conclusion. Most of the fashion magazines that you see while standing in line at the grocery store display images that, except for hair color, could pretty much all be the same woman. Whenever a Black woman graces one of these covers it becomes such a big deal because, well, it’s out of the norm to say that something not gleefully Eurocentric is actually worthy of being a standard of beauty.
And then there are cultural differences. The African culture is a very expressive, live out loud experience. How we love, how we communicate, how we feel music, how we dance, how we desire, they all solicit passion. It is a fundamental element of who we are as a people.
Of course there are varying in-house degrees of temperance. We’re not all running around a fire, naked, at night on the beach (which sounds kind of cool…and is actually something an “other” girlfriend once told me her family thought black people did…seriously). Some of us find it equally fulfilling sitting in a quiet room all day long fully engaged in a book, a variety of cheeses and a cup of herbal tea.
While we may all have the same root truly there are many different branches to our tree. That we are not monolithic is quite evident, but rarely a message that we hear.
The prevailing messages that we do hear and see tend to be the most damaging ones. For instance, if you turn on the radio and listen to pop music, most of those messages are two-dimensional at best. They mostly consist of “your booty is_____________” or “I’m wanna take you home and _____________”, or “let’s ________”. All of the songs sound the same. And the videos are…let’s just say they’re pretty much soft porn. In them women have been reduced to being the basest form of sexual objectification. In fact that’s their only job. Having a big butt and walking across the screen in clothes that are too tight must be a hard job to cast for.
So the next logical role that many young women feel forced into assuming, if they want to get the attention of the vast majority of young hustlers, ballers and shot callers, is that they have to look like the video girls. So now you have an inordinate amount of young women getting boob jobs, butt jobs, ribs removed and plastic surgery. And what’s the result? You have an army of young women, and men, sprinting to the bottom of social decency.
My goal is not to bemoan pop culture. It is what it is. It has always been about making money by appealing to the least common denominator in people. I get it. But when you look at the most recent study by the Centers for Disease Control regarding marriages by ethnic groups and out of four distinct ethnic groups in this country, black women have the lowest rate of marriage at 29%. Conversely, research conducted by the Guttmacher Institute reveals that black teens between the ages of 15-19 have the hands down highest rate of all abortions at 41%.
So, do you still think those images don’t do any damage? Of course they do. These images make it easy to perpetuate the myth of the oversexed black woman. The numbers above speak for themselves. There’s a lot of sex going on, but not a lot of marrying. Consciously choosing a black woman to be your wife is quite different than choosing a black woman to go to bed with. Those two are not even remotely the same thing.
Sometimes consciously choosing a black woman means turning off the television, getting up from in front of the computer screen and actually going out and meeting one of them. That takes a lot of courage and a lot of men are chickens. It’s easy to hit it and quit it. That doesn’t take any social skill nor does it exhibit the kind of backbone that it takes to create a legacy. Why not choose a black woman to settle down with? That means you’ll have to suspend any pre-conceived notions that you may have (see fears) and realize that they’re as fiercely loyal, passionate, creative, complicated, endearing, loving, supportive, calculating, multifaceted, intelligent, reserved, vulnerable, alluring, articulate and physically wondrous specimens as any woman worth loving is.
A few months ago I’m standing and talking with one of the other parents on my son’s soccer team. He and I have known each other for quite a while now and have a mutual respect for one another. So, when the following conversation happened I was a little surprised. It went like this.
Him: “Man, your son is super-fast. I thought my kids were fast, but your son has cheetah speed. Were you fast when you were a kid?”
Me: “Yes, I was very fast at their age, faster than most.”
Him: “Can I ask you a question?”
Me: “Ssssuuurrre….” (Spider senses started to tingle).
Him: “My sons are the fastest kids on their track team, but when we went over to (insert name of all black high school in an all-black neighborhood) those kids made my sons look so slow.”
Me: “So your question is?”
Him: “Do black kids have an extra leg muscle back there or something?”
Welcome to no wiggle room Wednesday. Today’s topic is: Are black athletes inherently faster than white athletes?
It is well documented that slave owners, Thomas Jefferson being one of them, practiced what is known as selective breeding. Because slaves were looked at as a valuable financial asset (they were the second largest cash asset in the southern states), they were treated like cattle and bred for certain desirable characteristics that could be passed onto their children.
To do the type of back breaking labor that most slaves had to do, a wispy looking runway model type with soft hands and small, lady-like ankles would not do. You wanted muscle, strength, shoulders the width of a boxcar, a back as strong as a train of oxen. In other words you didn’t want a Michael Jackson, you wanted a Bo Jackson.
Often a strong male was forced to impregnate an equally strong female. The end result was baby Hercules. And, because institutionalized slavery lasted in this country for over 200 years, and forced segregation lasted another 102 years (laws that made intermarriage between black and white illegal were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1967) the gene pool remained small and became more defined.
In other words, there was a bunch of baby Hercules.
Nobody wants to talk about this in our overly politicized society, but the fact of the matter is this: professional athletics in this country is the unintended beneficiary of the darkest moment in our American history.
Of course the white athlete has his place in history. I would argue, however, that had there not been forced segregation in all professional athletics black athletes would’ve been equally dominant in football before Fritz Pollard in 1919, in basketball before Church Cooper in 1950, and in baseball far earlier than Jackie Robinson. It can be argued that black boxer Jack Johnson would’ve won the world heavyweight championship had James Jeffries, who was white, not refused to face him in as early as 1900.
Not all black people were physical specimens of epic proportion. We can’t all run like cheetahs or dunk the basketball or outrun defenders or hit the baseball a country mile. Some of us missed that portion of the genetic gravy train. Still, there are enough that would give the casual outside observer the impression that we’re all physical wunderkinds, that we all have an extra leg muscle hidden away somewhere.
Sadly, that’s simply not the case.
Fast forward back to my conversation:
Me: “No, last I checked there was no extra muscle back there. I think it’s because we’re used to being chased.”
Him: (awkward silence)
Me: “Just kidding.” (I couldn’t resist it)
“Twisted, jammed into a paradox….”
Going into today’s no wiggle room Wednesday I had nothing to talk about. But then, wouldn’t you know it, I’m sitting in my car, and a car full of young guys pulls up next to me. Our windows are down so I can hear them as well as they can hear me.
That’s when my auditory sanctuary was invaded with the bristling ugliness and vocal stench of a terrible, hateful word used so effortlessly by these guys that I had to do a double-take.
“Hey n-word….n-word hurry up and get in the car…n-word why you tripin’, n-word that’s messed (sic) up….”
I was shocked! I didn’t know who they were talking to. Someone is getting knocked out. Was I about to go to jail? Was I going to catch a case? I began to experience emotional overload.
But as I looked closer into their car my mouth flew open even more. It was a group of young Hispanic guys and they were referring to each other! When they saw me staring they looked at me like “what?” They never stopped using the word. In fact, I think their use intensified.
What just happened? Did these kids know what they were saying?
I was definitely offended, but it was more the type that accompanies copyright ownership.
“You can’t use that word like that. That’s OUR word,” was my initial reaction.
But my inner voice quickly reprimanded me. It said, “Do you really want to OWN that word?” It was right. Owning that word is the equivalent of being a white south Afrikaner who is proud of apartheid.
The struggle to define our own identity in a country that has historically been very demeaning in its imagery of people of color seems to be lost on the new breed of youth emboldened with an MTV styled bravado. The end sum of the struggle, if you listen to and believe the multitude of rap lyrics today, is in the ability to substitute the n-word for everything. The n-word is a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, conjunction, preposition, participle and epicene.
On the one hand, these looked like high school kids who obviously had no idea of the history surrounding that word and how it was, and still is, used to subjugate and objectify an entire group of people. Should I read them the riot act? Where did they learn this crap from?
That’s when I heard coming from their speakers….the most foul mouthed rap lyrics I can proudly say I’ve never heard. And that’s where the paradox arose. The only reason these kids felt comfortable using this word is because of its overuse in popular rap music, by, regrettably, black rap artists.
So then the logical question becomes this: on what basis do black rap artists, and to a larger extent, the black community have in taking the moral high ground when it comes to other people using this word? I would say not much.
But then maybe that’s the genius of these artists, to strip the negative power from the word by giving it an interchangeable universalism. Morning cereal can be the n-bomb, a dog, a cat, a weasel (whom you should never tease, by the way) a pet hamster, all n-bombs. Appliances, especially computers, you got it, n-bombs. Perhaps one day the Pope will stand before millions of faithful at the Vatican and say “I bless all of you n-bombs in the name of the father, the son and my n-bomb Jesus.”
I’m not buying it! These folks are not that sophisticated. If I’m the only black person in a crowded room and someone yells out “n-bomb”, everyone looks at me to see what my reaction is going to be.
And that, sadly, is how I felt when these young kids were using it to address each other. As they sped off when the light turned green, what made me sicker was that I know it was probably someone who looked like me that taught them it was okay, in a rap song, to use that word in the first place.