As our nation is turned upside down many of my White friends have asked me publicly and on the down low what they could do to help resolve racial injustices in America. This is my short take on that. Just a few ideas. The video worked out this time.
As our nation is turned upside down many of my White friends have asked me publicly and on the down low what they could do to help resolve racial injustices in America. This is my short take on that. Just a few ideas. The video worked out this time.
This is the first release recorded May 28, 2020. The initial start was going to be in June. However, the George Floyd thing really messed me up. I couldn’t wait and I felt I had to get some things off of my chest. I knew I wasn’t alone. So I did what I could. It was recorded via Zoom audio digital recorder. I thought I was also recording with Zoom video but I was not. Tried to do a do-over but it wasn’t as organic in my opinion. Therefore personally I choose the original audio version.
It’s been a long time
I shouldn’t have left you
Without a dope blog to step to…
Well I’ve wondered about all of that myself. Where has my inspiration been? Not like I haven’t had anything to say. I think I figured it out. These days there is so much going on in the world, and at such a break neck lightening pace that information overload is taking up places and spaces in my mind. These bits and pieces are consumed on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Who has time to read something long and thought out? Who has time to write something like that?
Good writing takes time and thought. And shit, by the time you get your thoughts out well enough to articulate it in a way that makes some kinda sense, something else explosive has happened in the world. I don’t know about you, but when that happens to me, my energy and focus has shifted. I credit social media in that need information can indeed travel fast, even in real time. Equally, it’s sucked the creativity out of me when it comes to this writing thing. There is no doubt in my mind for all the great attributes of social media it has a dumbing down affect. It can be addictive and I’ve had to check my social media crack pipe tools. It’s ongoing.
On a higher note, I started my podcast back up, 4RealTho Show. It had been over three years since my last episode. Moving to another state, starting everything from scratch was a big and unexpected move. It was disappointing not to express myself or have access to that venue. But I was determined one way or another to not quit on it. One of the ways I kept it close was to use my original show logo as my lock screen to my phone. Every day I had to see that logo multiple times and it reminded me of what was needed, what was to be resurrected.
We (I) have a couple episodes loaded and though the technology and studio building is still being tinkered around with, I happy to have it back up. I’ll post those here for anyone interested.
As for the writing; well this is a start right? The last several months have been as stirring for me as anyone else. I have never been one to just write to be read, or to force content out of ego. If it’s not something inspiring or true, I keep silent. I hope to do more writing, however, as it is quite cathartic. There will always be room for words that come from sincere thought and curiosity. I certainly am learning to appreciate the value of a few quiet moments in front of the keyboard. No distractions. No sounds beyond the clicking of the keys. Just me and my thoughts.
Maybe the time away will serve as a lesson. Maybe I just needed a respite and a restart. Maybe I’ll have more important things to say than even before. Who knows.
One thing is for sure; I’m still here.
Imagine Oprah Winfrey became partners with the NFL and when asked about Colin Kaepernick saying, “We are beyond kneeling now. It’s about action.” The same people that hate Oprah and Gail King by association would be saying, “That bitch Oprah always trying to keep a black man down! She needs to stay in her lane!” They didn’t say that about Jay-Z.
Imagine Oprah buying into Papa John’s Pizza making a commitment to clean up its image after the owner was caught calling black people niggers in a conference call. Then it would have been, “See that bitch working against her own people. She needs to stay in her lane. We trade Oprah for Ellen!” They didn’t say that about Shaq.
When Bill Cosby spoke at Morehouse University talking down to black graduates – then followed it up with what was coined The Blame The Poor Tour, saying black people name their kids Shaniqua and Muhammad, and all that crap – (because he was talking down to poor blacks he neglected to say the name Condoleezza) – when he called young black men thugs who need to pull their pants up, who justified police shootings over a pound cake – many black folks applauded Cosby saying he needs to air this dirty laundry and challenge black people to a higher moral standard. When this same Cosby went down for breaking the moral standards he chided Blacks with lesser income and wealth, the same Cosby who admitted in court he drugged women without their knowledge…who did comedy about giving women Spanish Fly to get them into bed. Then this same Cosby – who somehow gets a twitter account and post from prison applauds Snoop – who has made millions upon millions of dollars making records calling black women bitches and hoes for decades calling Gail King a horse face bitch these same black people continue applauding Cosby disrespecting another black woman. R Kelly gets caught basically kidnapping young girls keeping them from their parents isolating them from their families, support system and foundations, and black people are like, “Where were the mommas?”
At some point and sooner than later we need to stop denying and seriously address this hate of black women in our own culture. We also need to do some self-examinations about the shit we way, the things we write, and not take the most popular and easy way of thinking into subject matters that deserve sophistication and perspective. We also need to stop denying and seriously address this hate of black women in our own culture. We are a most brilliant people. We deserve better, and we can and should do better.
We can agree and disagree on many topics. We are not monolithic. Some of my BEST friends and I disagree on shit all the time. Sometimes vigorously with plenty of profanities in tow. But we never disrespect one another’s person or manhood. It’s always love and true love at that. Somehow we have to find a way to disagree and criticize one another’s actions without the vitriol that tears our souls out right from within our own lips. There are few exceptions where I will just cold kick a black man/woman to the curb or the proverbial revoke their cookout privileges. That is only reserved for the most extreme measures.
And let us not forget: Some of ya’ll mad at Gail and Oprah absolutely hated Kobe both when he played and afterwards. Many black women hated Kobe during Colorado talking about him ‘fucking with white bitches.’ Many black men hated that he mimicked Jordan’s style and strove to be as great as if not greater than Mike. Some of ya’ll hung on to MJs balls so hard you couldn’t appreciate what Kobe brought to the game. Many of ya’ll hated him because you were team Shaq during their personal feud and didn’t identify with Kobe because he came from suburbia. You preferred AI. The killer part is just on a basketball level, the most hard core brothers in the league like Iverson, Stephen Jackson and Matt Barns all LOVED and respected Kobe often saying Kobe was more hard core gangsta and committed to the game than they were. I remember debating a brother in the fall of 2019 for calling him a snitch! I was like, “Man really? You do know he was like 23-24 years old then right? He was an underdeveloped man like many of us were at that age.” He was like, “Still a snitch!” But on his timeline he dogging King with NO mercy. So is it REALLY about Kobe? I think not.
At some point and sooner than later we really need to do some self-examinations about the shit we way, the things we write, and not take the most popular and easy way of thinking into subject matters that deserve sophistication and perspective. We are a most brilliant people. We deserve better, and we can and should do better.
A friend recently asked me what I thought about the NBA and Chinese kerfuffle. There was too much to text. I figured by the time I’d get to it the story would be over; at least till next summer when NBA players make their next pilgrimage to the People’s Republic where over a billion fans await. But a certain NBA player decided to make a public statement so it’s back to the front pages. I’m not going to offer an essay. But I will share some observations I’ve pondered of view through bullets.
The murder of Botham Jean and the subsequent trial and conviction of Amber Guyger definitely has its share of conflicting narratives. First there was the murder itself. Then there was the cover up. Then there was the cover up of the cover up.
So many of my family and friends held our breaths trying to determine how the trial would turn out. In the words of Snoop Dogg, “Murder was the case,” was an easy call. What else would you call walking into a man’s apartment and shooting him dead while he was chilling in his drawers minding his own business? We know that common sense ain’t always common. Especially when it comes to Black people and the police.
I’m in an ongoing text group with people from the East to the West Coast. Two in particular live in Dallas. Minutes after the verdict, the Dallas guys quickly transitioned to the sentencing. The immediate suspicion was the amount of years Guyger received would be way closer to the minimum 5 year range than the maximum 99 years within the sentencing guidelines. It matched my suspicions after the September 11 attacks. When the second plane hit World Trade Center, I calmly got up from my office in St. Louis, went to my car and drove to the gas station to fill up. Sure our nation was under a terrorist attack. Still, I knew many would turn this attack into a money making opportunity. Sure enough, by the time I got off work many stations had gone from an average of $1.23 per gallon to upwards of $5.00. America had trained me well. These men obviously received the same training. We understand the fact that most of the time cops get away with doing dirt to Black folk.
When the sentence of 10 years was revealed, the thoughts I and many of my brethren felt was familiar. “Dammit! One step forward two steps backwards!” We got the right verdict, but the jury (who were encouraged they could focus on a lighter sentence) made it so Officer Guyger received more compassion than her victim.
Immediately the media focused on the love showered upon Guyger by the brother of Botham Jean, Brandt, as well as the judge in the case Tammy Kemp. Photos of Jean and Kemp embracing a sobbing Guyger became a weird symbol of grace and mercy for a cold blooded murder in the spaces of what was supposed to be a righteous judgment. As those photos circulated the internet, reactions were strong. Many are bewildered at how a young man who lost his brother in a brutal and unjust shooting can ask to hug the woman who is responsible for taking his life. These questions deserve answers.
The reason is simple. Christianity; specifically black people’s version of Christianity. The following statements are going to seem sweeping. Those that understand nuance understand the context of sweeping terms when something is generally true without taking into account every single individual sample. Historically in America Christianity has had a dual sense of purpose and benefits. For White folk, ever since slavery, God, Jesus, the bible are all tools and symbols based in reinforcing their inherent belief that they are god’s chosen people on the earth. For Black folk, God, Jesus, the bible are tools symbolic of helping to survive being second class citizens on earth, waiting to receive the true citizenship and value they deserve in heaven. This was taught from the beginning on American soil. How else could one justify slavery and all the horrors that came with it in the first place? Slavery wasn’t just about forced labor, bloody violence, rape, splitting up of families, it was about a system of mental degradation and oppression. One wonders how you can have both the slave and enslaver share the same religion at the same time. The only way that’s possible is to emphasize a different form of core teachings as it relates to earthly vs. heavenly life. White folks taught Blacks, ‘Slaves obey your masters.’ They taught Blacks to accept; no EMBRACE their subservient place and endure whatever they had to endure. After all, the more meek, humble and docile you are, the better chance god will reward and let you into heaven where there would be no more slavery or violence forced upon you. White folks never had to take on that perspective. They believed in receiving their benefits right here on earth as they lived. For enslavers, Jesus preserved the order. For slaves, Jesus would reward them in heaven for submissive and loving behavior towards the enslaver on earth. Black Christians spend their lives trying to get to heaven. White folk demand earth as its birthright. Heaven is a forgone conclusion.
In a way, Black folks embrace certain moral core principles of Christianity similar to how we believe in the moral core principles of The Constitution. It appears we believe in the ideas more than the ones who brought it and tout it the most. But those that gave us the constitution and to a large degree the bible never intended for Black folk to receive any of the benefits in the first place.
One key principle that black Christians embrace is that of forgiveness. We take seriously the principle that God will not forgive us unless we forgive others. As Brandt Jean took the stand to talk about how the murder of his brother affected him, he kept talking about how he hoped Guyger would receive Jesus. This is key for him because even as he attempts to grieve and process the loss of his loved one, he is told constantly to depend on his faith in god. While grappling with his pain, grief and anger, his faith tells him that god isn’t pleased with his anger. He must forgo it and give it to god. As a result there is a constant pressure or being pressed on two sides of harsh reality. On one side it’s watching this woman and her backers lie, cheat, and attempt to do everything in their power to escape justice. On the other, it’s Jesus looking down on him demanding he show compassion and mercy for the sake of his own soul. This isn’t unusual at all. When Dylan Roof took 9 Black lives at Mother Emmanuel Church, plenty of surviving members went out of their way to express forgiveness in tears and wailing to a man who detested the sight of them. To be honest, I put myself in Brandt’s shoes. I was raised in the same kinds of churches he was. When I was his age I may have done the same thing.
Now contrast this to White people’s experiences, again they’re version of Jesus isn’t the same. So if the tables were turned, instead of touting grace and forgiveness looking to absolve the perpetrator of as much internal guilt as possible, they would simply lean in towards the calls of justice. “You reap what you sow. We have to be tough on crime and punish criminals harshly as a way to preserve order in society. The criminal must take personal responsibility for his actions. Where were his parents? Why are they as a people so violent? They must pay for what they’ve done.” This is the difference in the outlooks. Both sides were raised Christian. But Christianity and its emphasis in this area are polar opposites. Whites were never told to forgive Blacks for anything.
There are two basic camps among Black folk. One says, “I’m tired of Black folk doing all the damn forgiving toward Whites for the deadly shit they do. The other says, “You can’t tell Brandt Jean how to grieve. If he wants to hug his brother’s killer, then so be it.” I think the most important thing is to understand what is behind his motives and how he got there. The fact is, forgiveness is a personal decision and journey. Unfortunately, many of us feel we must display it publicly in order for it to be legitimate. I also believe we don’t really understand what forgiveness is and what it isn’t. In other words, it’s one thing to release someone from causing you pain and turning your grief into darkness. There are plenty of people I’ve had to forgive. But for some, the acts were so devious and damaging there is no way in hell we are going to be hugging it out. That is not the same as wishing harm on the person or seeking to ruin their lives. Forgiveness in this case is no less valuable or sound than Jean’s. In fact, it’s probably more sustainable.
Again, there was a time in my life I may have reacted the same way as Brandt. I grew up with his brand of faith. Now if someone took away my only sister, at worst the hounds of hell will be unleashed if I have anything to do with it. At the very least, I’m going to be like them White folks and be on the side of justice. But I digress.
What I cannot justify, however, is Judge Tammy Kemp’s behavior in also hugging the murderer in her courtroom. There is something to be said that the Fraternal Order of Police in Dallas support her. Take that how you like it. But it’s interesting that she chose to give Guyger a bible. In most cases if someone is about to do time, you give them a bible for comfort in a time of need. In this case, Guyger already received just about everything she needed. A dramatically short sentence, the forgiveness of the people she hurt in public, and oh this… she’s expected to appeal so who knows maybe the murder conviction is overturned altogether. Hell, according to the established rules of the game, she should have given the bible to Brandt.
Definitions of terrorism. … In general, terrorism is classified as: the use of violence or of the threat of violence in the pursuit of political, religious, ideological or social objectives and. acts committed by non-state actors (or by undercover personnel serving on the behalf of their respective governments)
For those of you following the drone attacks on the Saudi oil facilities let me explain a few things to you.
Part of being a terrorist is causing death, destruction, carnage, then being able to brag about the damage they caused. Publicity, not anonymity is what these groups crave.
There is a certain code among terrorist groups. For instance, you don’t see two different organizations take credit for the same act. There are a few reasons for this. 1) As mentioned, the responsible group want the credit for the act. 2) Claiming acts one hasn’t committed is against the code. Not to mention to do so means gaining a new enemy. 3) Unless a group is engaged in fighting another one on one, their terrorism isn’t a competition. Isis and The Taliban are enemies, for instance. If ISIS blows up a café in some residential area, you will never see ISIS take credit – only to be closely followed by The Taliban claiming, “No No No, it was US! We blew up the café!” It doesn’t work that way.
Which brings us to the weekend bombing of the Saudi oil facilities. Immediately the Houthi rebels in Yemen took responsibility. You see the Houthis have been in a civil war against a Saudi led military coalition. It may sound like basic Middle East stuff but if you look closely into the war torn areas such as Yemen, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, who’s backing who and so forth it gets much deeper and more complicated.
Getting back to the attack and specifically Saturday when it happened in particular:
Normally what happens at that point is the American media start teaching some and reminding others who the Houthis are and why they would send weaponized drones to take out Saudi Arabian oil facilities. However, before they could open up their Mac Books and start reporting, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly announces that Iran staged the attack. He doesn’t note any evidence. Just says it. While flipping through the Sunday morning news shows I noticed plenty of talking heads from the White House being interviewed. The host acted as if Pompeo’s claims were gospel and focused all of their questions on Iran and what the United States would do to respond. All of a sudden, there is no more talk of the original gangsters or the responsibility they publicly admitted to. There were no questions about evidence, just response.
Since then 45 has tweeted accusing Iran as well. First he claims to know it. On Tuesday September 17, he says in so many words, “I’m going to wait for the Saudi government to tell me who THEY think did it.” Why? Saudi Arabia says, “Yea we’ll be able to tell you by tomorrow.” The next day it’s “Yep it was Iran!” That was quicker than the Cavanaugh investigation conducted by the FBI!
Now ask yourself; have you heard from the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, The Department of Defense? No! Just 45, his sycophants and Saudi Arabia. The same Saudi Arabia that chopped journalist, Jamal Khashoggi into little pieces at their embassy and lied about that. The narrative continues and the news agencies aren’t asking any questions.
So why would 45 want to paint a false narrative?
The first thing that comes to mind is 2020 is an election year. Starting a war give him better odds of re-election. Not to mention he has already made plenty of statements indicating that he is not willing to leave The White House regardless of election results. He’s been trying to start it with Iran since he was sworn in by breaking the Obama nuclear arms agreement.
And let’s not forget that just a couple days before the attacks John Bolton turned in his resignation as National Security Advisor. Bolton was often called a Hawk. But that was during the Bush years. Though he talks tough, he never seemed too eager to start a military conflict with Iran.
And what does Saudi Arabia get out of a US war with Iran? Saudi Arabia and Iran are enemies. So they would love to see the US do their bidding. Last but not least, it’s kind of embarrassing to admit that a group of rebels took out a nice chunk of your oil supply.
I’m not a big conspiracy guy but history shows shit happens all the time. Keep your proverbial heads on a swivel cause this is some bullshit and the way the American media is falling in line instead of asking questions, the distraction toward war is on.
I can’t remember the first time I noticed that I was down or what would later be defined to me as depressed. Was it as a child? A teenager? Being middle aged all I know for sure is that it’s been an ongoing battle for most of my life. Being a critically deep thinker, sometimes an over thinker, I have sought the world over looking for internal peace. I looked towards religion, spiritual teachings, self-help knowledge – books, you name it. I used to believe that once I learned that one thing – that thing would be the answers to all that would sustain me for the duration. It would become my rock. Think of the ‘Infinity Stones’ from “The Avengers,” series. The idea was that once I received these keys to life, knowledge, wisdom, spirituality, and peace, I would be able to sustain life’s balance and not be moved by hurtful emotions, loneliness, self-doubt, and the feelings of unworthiness.
For decades I have gone from one thing to the next. And it’s not to say that my search hasn’t taught me a ton of extremely important lessons along the way. The opposite is true. My hunger combined with experience has provided me with knowledge, wisdom, self discipline, compassion for others, and boundary setting. Yet the saying that with much wisdom comes much sorrow is true. Learning provides one with the capacity to get but a small glimpse of what he doesn’t know or understand. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing that keeps me humble and hungry. But some lessons – even the best ones are learned through great pain and devastation.
A few years ago I’ve learned to ride what I call the waves of life. There are moments where I am at such peace that I want for absolutely nothing. My mind is clear, my heart is open and my existence is totally aligned with The Universe. It’s euphoria. In these moments there is no place I would rather be than where I am. The present moment is filled with indescribable joy! I recognize the moment and I accept it understanding that it is but temporary. I know that the cycles of life will once again challenge me, battle me, burden me. But for now – or in those moments, all is beautiful and right – perfect!
One of the exercises I am currently invested into is facing that which is deepest inside of me, yet uncovered. Those areas where my pain is most deepened, my insecurities are most haunting, and where peace and answers seem impossible to reconcile. These are places where mentally and emotionally I seem to be hardwired. Reading and hearing answers that should help are at first hurting me more because there is a gulf between the new and the hard wiring that is within. My hard wiring are things that seem impossible to change – even in my imagination. And my thought is I accept the changes and the process of hard-wiring becomes rewiring, the most innocent, primal and idealistic fabric of my nature will also be changed. It is at this point that I am afraid to lose myself.
I don’t feel suicidal as often as I used to when I get extremely down. But there are times when it has crossed my mind as an option that is always there. In a way that has taken some pressure off and lifted the urge to dive deep into consideration. After all, if I want to take my life I can do it tomorrow or next week. It doesn’t have to be today! And then there is music. The art, the gift, the light of music has saved and stabilized me more than I could ever say. Music is one of the most pleasurable, comforting, and settling gifts – food for my soul that has carried me through. The Universe, I’m sure knows this.
And so today I fight for my life… And I hope this helps someone else to do the same.
First let me explain to you what this post is NOT about:
It’s frustrating to hear people dismiss something as a lie that they have not seen. I’ve heard and read more than a few in the Black community say they refuse to watch the documentary. The reasons vary from, ‘They just want money,‘, or ‘The media is out to destroy Jackson,’ or ‘Why didn’t the come forward years earlier or why lie about it before?’ These questions are tremendously shortsighted. For example, I was sexually molested as a child. Am I a liar because this is the first time I put it in print? Less than a handful knew before I hit ‘publish.’ Also I know that molestation has been an issue in my own family.
I recall a time when a family member called a family meeting to confront another member. The incident or incidents happened to them as a child. (I’m being vague to protect privacy) During this meeting they gave their account of what the person did to them. Their pain and agony filled with tears was devastating to watch as they described what was done to them as a child. This relative was in their 40s. On another occasion it was suspected that a member was molested. A safe space was provided for them to open up. They denied it for about 15 years. By the time they were ready to admit the truth and face the trauma, they were on the verge of a nervous breakdown. There are more examples I could give but I’ll stop here. The point is one cannot determine for someone else when they should be ready to share their truth. And it should be understood that the high level of skepticism of victim’s stories is part of the reason why it’s so hard to come forward. First of all victims tend to blame themselves. The longer the secret is held, the deeper the guilt and shame. Couple that with the fear of not being believed creates a no win situation. Every time someone says, “I don’t believe any of the victims in the ‘insert public molestation or sexual abuse scandal,’ you reinforce the need to remain silent lest they too be called a liar. Not to be missed, it both covers and empowers the perpetrators.
I was listening to the radio the other morning and caught the tail end of an interview with Arsenio Hall. He was on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” talking about a sequel to the film, “Coming To America.” At the very end of it without being prompted he said, “Don’t waste your time on the Michael Jackson documentary. It’s slow, it’s annoying and people letting their kids go to Michael’s for five days in a row without their parents. …He then joked. “You know what? Tito didn’t send his kids to the ranch for five days.” Finally he took shots at one of the alleged victims Wade Robson, saying, …“the boy has Rob in his name…Unless you had ‘thief’ in your name you couldn’t have a worse name for the documentary.” This is fandom. Since Arsenio knew Jackson and is a lifelong fan, he would rather ‘cancel the accusers.’ Regardless of how he feels about Jackson’s guilt or innocence, discouraging people from watching the documentary and using their own judgment is weak!
As someone who has seen the complete documentary, including the Oprah Winfrey interview, “After Neverland,” I find the critics terribly uninformed. They site money as a motive. They question the timing. (as usual) They speak as if it’s merely 4 hours of simple minded accusations without any road maps, logic or rationale. I too didn’t know what to expect. What I found upon viewing is that it’s really not so much about Michael Jackson. It’s about grooming, not just the kids but the adult parents as well. It’s about how the young underdeveloped brains of children can be manipulated into a false sense of love. It’s about seduction and how even small children can be turned on both in a sexual and erotic sense, leading to confusion and self blame. It’s about the fallout of recognition, confusion, and deception as the child grows into teen and eventually adulthood. It’s about how those who are in charge of security can be hypnotized into forfeiting basic protections which should be forged with common sense. It’s a story of tragedy that the victims and their families including the wives of both Rob Robson and Jimmy Safechuck must endure for the rest of their lives. Jackson is merely a vehicle to illustrate the story.
Oprah (a sexual molestation survivor) said that what director Dan Reed accomplished with this doc was what she tried to accomplish with 217 shows on the subject matter. I agree. I have no idea how the director got all of the interviewees to open up the way he did. Even with the sometimes graphic descriptions it’s carefully done in a totally non salacious fashion. Personally, I believe it should be required viewing. I would consider Oprah’s interview ‘The Workbook’ if the documentary were text. Whatever one takes away from watching, these men are not laughing, they aren’t rejoicing, they certainly are not mentally or spiritually free. To ignore what is presented is missing an opportunity to learn how children are seduced and preyed upon, often right under our noses.
The truth of the matter is that historically we have had sexual abuse and assaults damaging our youth for generations. It’s happened in our homes, our churches, our schools, in back alleys and public spaces. Sadly we haven’t done a good job in protecting our children or creating a pathway of safety for them to reach for help when something evil happens to them. It’s all about preserving the secrets. Victims aren’t listened to enough. And when the accused perpetrator is a celebrity, we send clear messages that past and future victims will not be believed. But it’s time to take the covers off and recognize that this isn’t a problem, it’s an epidemic! We’ve ignored the injured. We’ve empowered and embolden the perpetrators. We must stop this vicious cycle!
Sacred Cow: (an idea, custom, or institution held, especially unreasonably, to be above criticism (with reference to the Hindus’ respect for the cow as a sacred animal).
Sometimes I get a lot of flack for not worshiping sacred cows. I’m a 52 year old Black man from East St. Louis, Illinois. I have my sensibilities for sure. But I’ve made it a practice to check them before drawing harsh conclusions. In other words, I value substance over style when it comes to the real issues facing Black folk or Americans for that matter. One of my favorite words is ‘nuance,.’ defined as (: sensibility to, awareness of, or ability to express delicate shadings (as of meaning, feeling, or value)
Nuance isn’t a refusal to point out black and white facts. It is understanding time, place, circumstance and relevance when it comes to discussing a particular matter. A rule of engagement. Nuance requires work and intellectual honesty. Not an easy thing in society. In my community we experienced this with our discussions on Bill Cosby. Many of my people could not wrap their heads around accepting that a man who provided so much entertainment along with his America’s Dad image could do the things he’s been convicted of doing. Others just didn’t care. Because he was a Black icon of sorts, they considered him to be the victim. Now we are having this same debate with R. Kelly. Some of us are appalled and disgusted with what we’ve heard in the streets over the years. The Lifetime series brought a scathing in-depth look that I found hard to stomach. Yet I’m pushing back on Black people who feel Kelly is the victim. Some are once again bringing up White men who are accused sex abusers or pedophiles as a reason to let the ‘Pied Piper’ escape our judgment. I call bullshit on it all! Nuance say’s we can recognize talent without lying about the dastardly deeds of the talented. I’ve had conversations with friends over the years and we agreed on this premise: R. Kelly knows how to make a hit. The numbers back that up. With this additional information, it is also evident that this talented individual is a narcissistic, manipulative, and predatory human being. How one chooses to compartmentalize this dynamic is up to them. Long ago I refused to listen to his music. If someone else chooses to, it’s their right. But I don’t want to hear shit about what White people do as a reason.
This article isn’t about R. Kelly, however. It’s about people and their sacred cows. Each group whether by race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation all have them. There are none that are irredeemably flawed, nor pristinely perfect. I’ve criticized Black and White folk, the LBGTQ community, PETA, Christians, Muslims, Atheist, Democrats and Republicans. Why? Because sometimes folk just be doing too damn much! It’s the nature of having humans in your group. Show me a group that doesn’t need to be ‘checked’ sometimes, and I’ll show you a big fat Moo Moo that needs a ceremonial machete.
One group that seems to escape the blade in these United States are my Jewish brethren. I’m not talking about from Right wing extremist who hate Jews for the sake of hating them. I’m not talking about The Nation of Islam or Louis Farrakhan. I’m referring to the mainstream activist groups who seem to be the gatekeepers in suppressing voices and opinions which they do not agree with. In the latest example I site The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama. In September of 2018 the Board of Directors elected to give it’s annual Fred L. Shuttlesworth award to political activist, academic and author Angela Davis. In December, The Southern Jewish Life Magazine criticized the museum citing among other things Davis’ critique of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Soon afterwards, the Civil Rights Institute not only rescinded the award, it cancelled the gala altogether.
I call bullshit on these actions on so many levels. First on the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute for allowing someone outside of it’s community to tell them who to honor, but I’ll get back to that.
Before I go on let me start prefacing lest I be labeled an anti-Semite. If I have a friend from Palestine I don’t know it. I do, however, have several Jewish friends, one with whom I am very close. I’ve worked at Jewish Community Centers in two different states for over 10 years. My experiences and interactions with Jews have been on par with any other group of people. Politically speaking, I didn’t have anything to do with Israel becoming a state, and I certainly do not begrudge it either. For the sake of peace and human decency I am both pro Israel and pro Palestine. As the region goes, there has been dirt done on both sides. The history is centuries old and extremely complicated. Often, the players making the decisions are evil power hungry people. If an Israeli or Palestinian leader is not a radical, his own party is subject to oust him. Logic tells me because Israel has the most funding, assets, weapons, and technology – (especially from the United States) they tend to get better press and empathy. The White Evangelical movement is also an ally. On the other hand, Israel is surrounded by countries that hate them. Some for perhaps ‘legitimate’ reasons and some over religious bullshit. But I digress. Hopefully you get my point. I don’t proclaim to be a scholar in these matters. But I understand a little history and the human condition.
Recently, LeBron James used Instagram to make a statement about his competitive drive for success. He used a rap lyric from 21 Savage, “We been getting that Jewish money, Everything is Kosher.”
In the art of Hip Hop, lyrical gymnastics and word play are clever ways to describe narratives and make points. In the eyes of James and Savage, everything about that lyric was complimentary to Jews – something to aspire to. It was not to imply a hyperbolic narrative that every Jew has generational wealth. Understanding nuance, I posted to my Facebook page that LeBron was right to apologize – simply because as a Non Jew he can’t tell them what to be offended by. I realize that all Jews were not offended. I know of many who were not. But for those who were there is nothing wrong with owning the offense and correcting it.
The reason some Jews were offended is because they feel the words ‘Jews and money’ reinforce stereotypes of Jews controlling the media and or the world. It’s part of the narrative that fuels anti Semitic hate among people who wish them harm. I get that. And my message to Jews is this: Do you want to know how to dispel the myth that Jews run the media and control the world? Stop pressuring groups like the Civil Rights Museum on who they should honor! Otherwise, you are in effect doing exactly what you hate being accused of; manipulating an organization, people and process that has nothing to do with you.
Listen, when people like me say they are pro Palestine having a peaceful homeland, they are not saying to hell with Israel! Protecting yourselves is expected. But don’t act like everything Israel has done in the region is right! Israel has as many hard asses and goons as any other group of people. Don’t even get me started on Benjamin Netanyahu. Bibi has plenty of shit in his own game. But speaking against his criminal actions should get me fired or disqualify me from an award or a speaking engagement? (Like CNN did Mark Lamont Hill) GTFOH! Since I’ve worked at the Jewish Centers in St. Louis and Columbus, I’ve witnessed all kinds of programs for writers, performers, intellectuals, scholars, and so on. I have never heard of a Black organization trying to get them to shitcan one of your guest. What gives you the right to propose shitcanning one of ours? If you don’t like Angela Davis, don’t invite her to your programs! If you care to see where she’s coming from, engage her, or set up a meet! I believe you as proponents know where she’s coming from. And if she doesn’t say Israel can do whatever the fuck it wants and damn the Palestinians, then you got beef with her. You overstepped your bounds! This isn’t the way to make friends out of the Black community.
And to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; you guys are cowards! I don’t know if it’s about the funding or something else. But at some point you have to learn to stand on the legacy for which you claim. You wrote in your statement that “..we believe this decision is consistent with the ideals of the award’s namesake, Rev. Shuttlesworth.” But that’s bullshit! Fred Shuttlesworth was a personal friend of mine. I’ve had days and days of conversations with him about the movement. He personally told me all the details of when his home was bombed by the Klan. I’ll tell you one thing about Fred. He was politically savvy but not politically expedient! He didn’t compromise with any sort of foolishness! So don’t put your decision to diss Angela Davis on him! You own that shit yourself! Angela Davis is an ICON in our community! For decades she has given her life to the righteous cause of black people. Fred would absolutely honor her! You missed out on a great opportunity! And your lack of integrity is disgusting! Shame on you!
Ice Cube said almost 30 years ago, “Cause you can’t be the Nigga 4 Life crew – With a white Jew tellin’ you what to do!”
***Update: See Angela Davis’ response on an interview with Democracy Now
Shoutout to Jewish Voice for Peace and other Jewish people and organizations for supporting Angela Davis! We know you are out there!