As you all know, the butter has hit the fan for the Paula Deen empire. Her admission of using the N-word in the past in jokes and conversation, as well as a desire to give her son a true South plantation wedding with Black servants in white suits, did her in. There is also a discrimination law suit filed by a former White employee which brought all of this into the light of day. Paula has done her best to apologize but with sponsors dropping left and right, the damage is done.
I don’t know what is Paula in Deen’s heart. I do know what is in her cookies and cakes and that alone should be a crime, but that’s another matter. Here is the problem with all of this: how do we punish people today for wrongs which were done in the past. She said that it has been a very long time since she had used the N-word. I’m not saying all have, but if you wanted me to bet on any elderly White woman from the deep South having used a racial slur at lease once in their lifetime, the odds would be heavily in my favor. If using racial slurs isn’t part of her current behavior and she is regretful of her past ignorance, why can’t we move forward? Why is she being attacked as if this is who she is today? Our three most recent Presidents have admitted past marijuana use, yet we accept that as a misstep that no way reflects on who they are today. But when it comes to past racial ignorance (so many confuse this with racism), we are so quick to have a lynching.
We should, however, discuss a different issue coming out of this PR disaster. Southern Whites still have this habit of romanticizing all things Dixie. Paula Deen’s desire to have a real plantation wedding, with respectful and profession Black waiters (ahem…servants) goes to the heart of this problem. In their heads, they imagine a problem-free existence of Godly folks, cold lemonade, gentlemen and ladies, large porches and beautiful homes, and happy Negroes with a sole aim to please their loving caretakers. This is what the confederate flag represents to them: all things good and right and proper. And like Paula Deen’s cooking, this dream world looks good drenched in butter and deep fried, but underneath the surface was a foundation of heartache and death. I don’t think these Whites see themselves as racists but simply desiring a better, happier past. What they fail to grasp is that loving Dixie wonderland of the good ol’ days means loving the racial system those days were built on.
You have to love the politics in Washington. Any slip up or sign of blood and the sharks converge without mercy. So, the latest news inside our seat of government involves lower level IRS officials needlessly delaying or deny non-profit tax status to applying groups with conservative sounding names (tea party, patriot, GUNS-GUNS-GUNS). Of course the republican and conservative talking heads are rallying the troops and tying it directly to Obama. At worst, this was a move sanctioned by the White House, though there is zero evidence of this. At best, Obama appears to be too distant to know the chaos happening under his watch.
Well, I’m sorry, conservatives, but there is no grand conspiracy here. The truth of the matter is that a unique set of circumstances led to this pattern of discrimination. No major media outlet will point this out because it isn’t PC but is obvious enough that Blackneks is on the case. First, you have to understand the demographics of DC. Politics and government is the biggest employer in town. This is what attracted thousands of Blacks from the South looking for good paying jobs with terrific benefits. The draw was so big that the city became known as Chocolate City. Most of the entry and middle level government positions, including those in the IRS, are fill by Black workers. And the large majority of these are democratic voters. Now fast forward to today, where you not only have a democratic president, but the first Black one as well, and you can see how the IRS unofficially became an Obama fan club by default. With the independent power that this branch of government, the bias against those groups with anti-Obama agendas simply was a unique convergence of demographics and history. This was a case of Obama fans with low level power using it to support the Prez without anyone telling them to do so. Sadly, people will be fired over this, and the scandal will cast a shadow over the Obama term, but the President was more of a bystander than a conspirator. A major flaw in how the IRS works has been exposed and should trigger needed reforms, but there is nothing more to the story than that.
There are many people and organizations which dread the end of systematic racism. Fighting against racism has fueled their power and filled their coffers. One of the easiest means to perpetuate great racism conspiracies is to use statistics and leapfrog to fearful conclusions. 50% of the prison population consist of Black males; well this is obviously because white vans drive through urban cities in the middle of the night and snatch up innocent Black men with nets. It can’t be because of complex internal problems which need to be addressed? High rates of single, Black motherhood….this is only because the racist government agencies which prevent Black couples from getting marriage certificates as easily as White couples can get them.
So, USAToday yesterday published an article discussing high rate of school suspensions amongst Black students compared to others. What makes these statistics evil is that the media never provides any context but simply takes in interviews of people representing racism dependent groups, who predictably make the leapfrog conclusions which help further their agenda. When the reporter asked the leader of the NAACP of Tennessee, Gloria Sweet-Love, what she thought of the statistics, she said they were ‘appalling’. This is great as they are appalling and would her next comment be about the need to address the internal issues which are causing Black kids to get suspended? Sadly, no.
Sweet-Love believes that white teachers are more likely to deem a black student “threatening” instead of simply disobedient, and therefore more likely to “make an example” by suspending a black students.
Of course this complete ignores the large number of suspensions in schools with mostly Black teachers and administrators. It also assumes that school staff simply ignore the times Asian, Hispanic, and White students engage in fights, bring guns to school, or engage in other standard violations of school policy. But here in lies the reason why the NAACP is completely irrelevant to solving the issues afflicting the Black community. To remain popular, they ignore the obvious and spend time and effort chasing external racism ghost. A Black kid shoots another Black kid over a pair of sneakers and nothing is mentioned. But, a Black couple gets an undercooked hamburger by a White owned restaurant and a week long protest and boycott is organized. I’m not even sure what solution race baiters could come up with if suspensions are based on systematic racism. Should 100% of the White, Hispanic, and Asian kids be suspended for fights and bringing weapons to school but only 25% of Black students? This would certainly make the statistics look better but hardly address the underlying problems. If Black America is going to make progress for the future, it won’t come from these traditional organizations dependent on creating racism monsters where there are none. Furthermore, the dangling race statistics published by media outlets amount to irresponsible journalism. It is the equivalent of yelling fire in a movie theater to see what happens.
News can be a real bummer most of the time. Earthquakes, murders, rapes, and so on. So we can all celebrate the rescue of 3 young women kept in sexual slavery for 10 years,
But there is something else that stood out to me. Check out the video below and you will see the man who helped rescue the girls, Charles Ramsey, and the people making up the neighborhood. In this happy ending story of three girls , two White and one Hispanic, saved from a monster of Hispanic ethnicity with the help of a Black man, you can’t help but think what a uniquely American canvas this was. And in the video you clearly see the beautiful ethnic rainbow of people all showing concern and love for these missing girls. I don’t know how your neighborhood looks now, but that Cleveland community is very much representative of what every place soon will look like in the next 20 years. I don’t understand why so many people are trying to fight it. It is inevitable. So, we all need to be prepared to enjoy some salsa with our ribs.
As most of you have heard, an active NBA player recently came out as being gay. No matter what people say, this IS a big deal as there are certain sports which promote a culture of ultra machismo. Jason Collins is a minor role player for the NBA’s Washington Wizards who has just come to the end of his 12th season. He was engaged to a beautiful woman before breaking the news to her as well.
So, what is the Blacknek angle on this story? A large number of people inside and outside of the NBA, including President Obama and Kobe Bryant, have congratulated Collins on his decision to come out. People have even compared his bravery to that of Jackie Robinson. I am glad that Jason Collins has come to terms with who he is and is no longer under the burden of trying to live a lie. I, also, understand why he would be considered a hero to in the closet, gay male athletes worldwide. I don’t want to lessen anything from his personal struggle, but let’ s be clear. This is not a Jackie Robinson situation.
Jackie Robinson was a Black man trying to play in a White league in a society in which Blacks weren’t supposed to integrate with Whites in any way except in clearly defined roles of subservience. He could not come out of the closet because he was born outside of the closet. Now, if Jason Collins came out 20 or even 10 years ago, at a time in which 60% or more of Americans disapproved of homosexuality and gay couples, I would predict that he would have had an even worst experience than Robinson. But we live in a new world. Time magazine recently declared the fight for gay marriage and approval of gay lifestyles all but over. Only a minority percentage still disapprove, and even these know that they better not express their opinions too publicly. The one pro athlete with a negative response to Jason Collins, Mike Wallace, was so swiftly attacked by the public that he deleted his Twitter post in hours. Looking at the situation objectively, for an aging, low productivity support player reaching the end of his contract, his media declaration of his sexuality could be considered a brilliant career move. With a few spoken words, he has moved from a nobody on a nobody team to a national role model, with calls from the President and celebrities, talk show invites, book offers, and endorsements. And how can the Washington Wizards not offer someone now declared an American hero a new contract. I will say strongly that I have no idea if any of these alternative motivations played a role in Collin’s decision to come out as a male athlete, but there has never been a better time in the nation’s history to do so. But while Collins has a surfboard just at the peak of a cultural wave, Robinson’s journey involved rowing a rowboat into a perfect storm surrounded by sharks. Jason Collin has helped lay the groundwork for other current and future gay athletes to no longer hide who they are, and for this he deserves all the praise given, but let’s just keep prospective.
As the yearly tournament of the best college basketball teams in the country gets underway, it’s a good time to sit back and reflect on all of this March Madness. You will find no shortage of talented, young Black men doing magic on the court in the next few weeks. But this game is so linked to the identify of the African-American male and has been for half a century, that you have to wonder what has been it’s effects overall. Day and night, millions of Black boys and men spend hour after hour, day and night, mastering the moves and skills involved in moving this orange ball around and in a basket. Certainly, there is a great appeal to the game. It is relatively cheap to play, is enjoyed solo or with a group of friends, can serve as a gateway to respect and admiration in neighborhoods lacking strong male figures or heroes of any kind, and is a path to the rich and famous lifestyle so many of these young men desire.
But the concern I have is that the percentage of young black men chasing the basketball dream is incredibly large. Getting to the National Basketball League involves making it to a top college basketball program. Even, then, you need to stand out in some way from the thousands of other highly talented kids. A statistic from Livestrong.com says that 0.3% of high school basketball players make it to the pro leagues. Even more alarming is another stat: only 10% of NBA players have a career longer than 4 years. Even if this 0.3% finally make it to the mountaintop, it will be for a brief time. It might be argued that these kids will at least move on to college and get a higher education. Sadly, only 3% of high schoolers continue play at the college level. Here lies the problem. Millions of black males are dedicating themselves to a sport with little reward, at the expense of developing other academic and work-related skills to support themselves and any future families. Outside of coaching, there are few fall back careers requiring the ability to dribble and throw a round ball into a basket. With so many dreamers, we are becoming less and less prepared for reality.
Those lucky enough to make it to the NBA still have nothing much to offer the Black community. Millions are spent on mansions, yachts, and other money drainers. 60% of retired NBA players are broke after 5 years. Event worse, NBA players are constantly on the road and constantly surrounded by attractive women hoping to have a taste of the good life. The NBA player associated with infidelity and baby momma drama seems more of the rule than the exception.
I love basketball and spent a good chunk of my youth playing it as well. But what we are lacking is perspective. Basketball must stop being the lifestyle and the dream gateway and more of the hobby. I blame a great deal on high schools who are letting these kids move through their classes simply because of their basketball talent. Having good grades should be a requirement to even being on a team. When the game ends, these poor kids are left with no skills and no solid plan for the future. Let’s stop the madness.
With Pope Benedict XVI hanging up his shoes (or hat I should say), the papal candidate pool is wide ope, and one of the men believed to be in strong contention is Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. He has been part of the conclave of cardinals since 2005. As the Catholic church looks to bring the image of their church into the modern era, many see a non-European pontiff as a possible symbol of new thinking and new directions for the church. An African pope would also be a tip of the hat to one of the few continents where Catholicism is still growing. Now as a Blacknek, we would hope that the next pope would be selected just on his abilities to do the job, but the political realities of the situation means the birthplace and demographics of a pope are always factored in.
I am just not sure if the European Catholic base would be ready for a Black pope. Many liberal Catholics feel distance from church leadership already due to the child sex abuse scandals and views on gay marriage and abortion, but these liberal Catholics tend to be overwhelmingly White. Perhaps, a Black pope would trigger an official ‘us vs them’ movement like the Barak Obama’s presidency has done with the creation of the Tea Party. Looking at the widespread incidences of open racism towards Black players in European counties, these countries really don’t have enough of an exposure to Black communities to not be ruled by ignorance and prejudices. Truthfully, it is hard to predict what the reaction might be, and we can only hope if a Black man is chosen as the next pope that European Catholics surprise us all with positivity and tolerance.