Friday, July 31, 2009

Guilty As Charged

My name is Christopher James and I have a problem: I have proven hypocritical (in more than just the usual ways) today. Let me tell the story from the beginning.

First of all, I criticize my generation a great deal. This is not because I think that I am better, but because I see the potential that we have, the advantages that we have been given, and the opportunities we waste on a daily basis. I often speak about this and about everyday occurrences that I think are indicative of some of the problems that we need to solve. One such occurrence is careless and inconsiderate driving (and the bigger issue of a lack of common courtesy), something that I think is indicative of the fact that we are only looking out for ourselves and our own interests - taking absolutely no interest whatsoever in what other people are doing, where they are going, or how we can make sure that we do not hinder or impede them. This is also clear on campus at USM when just walking around. Many students are trying to get to class and very few of them yield to anyone else. Many of us see people facing us, heading in our direction and walk straight toward them. Most seem to be thinking "the other person will move" or maybe, "the other person better move." Again, I think these things are indicative of bigger social issues. Many of us cannot see past our own motives and viewpoints to recognize that we are all similar people with similar goals - so we get in each other's way and refuse to move, making enemies out of those that we have enough in common with to make into friends. Don't think it's that serious? I'd argue that you're a part of the problem because it is that serious and we just don't realize it. Common courtesy and respect for others are essentials that we need in order to function properly because, as the saying goes, "no man is an island." Beyond that, the way that we treat each other when on our way to class or driving to our respective destinations translates into the way that we view each other in life. An example of that is murderous road rage - a mentality that says "I don't like the way you drive and think you are a nuisance, so I will kill you to rid myself of the irritation you cause" or, to put it simply, "you're in my way, so you have to die." So the way that we treat each other in certain situations is usually indicative of the way that we see each other in life.

What does that have to do with me?
Here goes:
I recently finished up working a dead-end summer job. Mind you, I do not refer to it as a dead end job because I am ungrateful for my employment. I simply recognize that there is no upward mobility at all, nor is there the potential for any. The work is simple and I make minimum wage working full-time, which is enough for me. Actually, I rather enjoy the job because it is a taste of exactly the kind of work I don't want to do for the rest of my life and provides an extra boost for this already driven young man to pursue his education, goals, and dreams with abandon.
I got my last paycheck today (yes, we have to actually pick them up, no direct deposit). I picked it up, and headed to the bank to deposit it. It was a pleasant drive, until I was almost at the bank. At that point, I came across a Mack truck carrying an oversized load right in front of me. It was going extra slow, and I was almost there. What did I do? You guessed it, I switched lanes, sped up, and cut the truck off to make my turn into the bank. The turn proved quite eventful being that I almost didn't give the truck enough time or room to stop, and actually had to coast down to the bank's second entrance to prevent being rear-ended by the monstrous vehicle behind me. The driver blew his horn, and in one instant it was over. I handled my business and came home, disappointed in my behavior. I talk about this all the time, yet I was the one guilty of it today. I was more concerned with what I had to do than with my fellow man (or the safety of either of us, for that matter). To make matters worse, I was almost at the bank when I saw the truck - which means all I had to do was proceed slowly behind the truck until I reached my destination, which only would've taken 10-20 seconds more. Instead, I put us both at risk. I know better. However, knowing without practicing doesn't do me nor anyone else any good. I have to do better as well. I could come up with all types of excuses for why I committed this ignorant and inconsiderate act.

  • It had taken me a little longer to get my check, being that the lady that usually handles payroll was not in her office.
  • I do not own a car of my own and drive sporadically, making me a little rusty in certain situations.
None of these matter because any and everyone else on the road has a million reasons why they could choose to be inconsiderate and selfish. So does anyone walking to class on campus. We're all in a hurry. Anyone, and that includes ME, who chooses to act discourteously is saying that what they have to do - or the reasons that they are in a hurry - are more important than the next person's. Again, it's a rather selfish thing to do. I was selfish and inconsiderate and made up my mind that my destination was more important than that of the driver of the Mack truck. I do not know the driver and cannot apologize to him personally, but I can and do apologize here on this blog. I know better and pledge to do better from now on - whether walking, driving, or simply living.

**I know that someone may read this and say something to the effect of, "this dude is way too dramatic." It's not like I plan on grounding myself or resorting to some other drastic means of self-punishment. I'm simply acknowledging a bad, yet willful decision (not a mistake, we use that word too much for things that we choose to do despite better judgement) that I made. This type of decision is one that I criticize so many people for making because I believe, as written above, that it has certain social implications. We all make bad decisions from time to time and have to learn and move on. I'm doing both, and I'm certainly going to go on with my day. I simply chose to share the lesson with any and all who actually read the musings presented here.**

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Almost Became Radio Raheem

Yeah, you remember Radio Raheem.

Sad, sad story. The fact of the matter is that people are afraid of the anger of black men. Seriously afraid. Worse yet, many people like to act like there is no basis for such anger. I beg to differ. Anyway, when a Black man gets angry and the police are around, MANY police officers feel obligated to act with force. Being angry at a mistake (understatement) by the police force when being in your own home somehow merits your arrest? After presenting ID as a Harvard Professor and world-renown scholar? That's justifiable anger. Gates was arrested for that justifiable anger. He was well within his right to voice his objections in his home. Sgt. James Crowley conveniently moved him outside so that he could be charged with a public disturbance or disturbing the peace. Officials stepped in and said he had done what he was supposed to do. Why, then, were the charges dropped? Would they have been dropped without the media attention?

Here's Michael Eric Dyson and Kathleen Parker with their respective takes on the whole thing:

Here's mine. If the charges were dropped, it's most likely because there was no basis for them in the first place. Yet Crowley's bosses or colleagues don't seem to be willing to concede that fact despite the fact that Gates has been cleared. What else should I take that as instead of police officers sticking up for their own? I heard someone call into a radio station and say something to this effect: Many Black men are usually characterized as angry, immature, aggressive, and violent individuals by the media and many law enforcement officials (of any race) who have encountered them. What we do not hear about is the angry, immature, aggressive, and violent law enforcement officers who act out when they feel that their authority is challenged in any way. That's a lot of them. Not all of them, but a lot of them. I'm sorry. Remember Ryan Moats? The NFL Player that wanted to visit his sick and dying mother-in-law?

She died before he could get there because of his run-in with an insecure and slightly deranged police officer. Kinda reminds you of Abel Turner, Samuel L. Jackson's character from Lakeview Terrace, huh? So how do we fix the problem? I love the President. I also love the fact that he wants to bring Henry Gates and James Crowley together. I HATE beer. That's beside the point, which is that a one-on-one conversation will not fix the entire problem. Police officers, minority males, and the US Judical System are the only ones who can help bring about the kind of change needed in this highly tense relationship between Po-Pos and the Bros. Police have never really been punished for brutality. Amadou Diallou, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Rodney King, the list continues. They scarcely lose their jobs for this kind of crap - which means they need to offer an apology, and more importantly, a genuine and concerted effort to see all criminals as human beings no matter what color they are, how bad their English is, or how they are dressed. Let me stop right here. Gates is a Harvard professor. He speaks impeccable English and was dressed in a polo shirt and slacks. It is obvious that some people see Black and cannot see past it. Others see white in a uniform and can't see past that, either. I don't know if either of them saw past the racial implications of the situation.

Secondly, more minority men need to try not to escalate situations with police and let them do their jobs. Impeding them in any way only makes matters worse and leads to more charges. The police are in authority and have no problems reminding you by any means necessary.
Finally, if we had judges and jurors who would prosecute and punish law enforcement officials in accordance with their excessive force offenses and as a deterrent for others who may act in the same way, the problem may have been a lot smaller by now.
Why hasn't this happened already with the judges and jurors? Because of a simple truth probably most eloquently put in the movie/book, "A Time To Kill." Mississippi lawyer Jake Brigance, played by actor Matthew McConaughey, said "... the eyes of the law are human eyes - yours and mine - and until we can see each other as equals, justice is never going to be evenhanded."
It's a problem, ladies and gentlemen.

As far as the president saying that the officers acted stupidly? I certainly don't think he owed them any apology. I can't see too many white men being arrested in their own home after reports of a break-in that home and the presentation of valid ID. There were probably pictures of Gates on the walls, too. The President, being biracial (which in America = Black and should show how far we have to go in race relations, another story) knows all about racial profiling and prejudice and it seems that he spoke from a very personal knowledge or memory. Somebody needs to say it. Law enforcement officers spoke up for their own during the ordeal. Why shouldn't the President? The police organizations that responded with outrage at his comments need to do the same thing I say about my generation in response to criticism. Take it, change yourselves, and turn the legitimate criticism into a false statement as soon as possible. Instead, they are agitated at what he said instead of what they did. Be glad I'm not the president - yet. If anyone gets mad at me for calling them like I see them, I stand my ground, support my argument, and refuse to apologize as the title of this very blog might suggest. It's time for a national reconciliation. That can only come when both sides acknowledge wrongdoing from incidents in the past and pledge their efforts to correct the problem going forward.

My Reaction to CNN's Black In America 2

They should've featured a story about me on it. The second part was more about the solution to the problem.

*Side Note/Random Thought Did you see all the Brothas with waves in Black In America 2? Duke, S-Curl, Sportin' Waves and Wavebuilder should've done some advertising during the special - they would've come up.*

Anyway, I saw a lot more about education on there. I'm a fan of that, so it was really great to see. Especially at the beginning, when they talked about Malaak Compton-Rock's program - by the way, Chris Rock must be glad that he made the right spousal selection - in which she took several underprivileged, yet unlimited in potential, students to Africa for 2 weeks. The program is called Journey For Change and seems to be based in New York. I certainly wish that Oprah or Morgan Freeman or Jerry Rice or anyone else with loot like that could send some Mississippi kids somewhere to participate in such an experience. Location, location, location - but I digress.
The young lady made quite an improvement, the two guys they focused on did not. I bet there was a young Black male in that program whose grades actually dramatically improved. We wouldn't know from the broadcast, however. I'm not upset, I'm just saying that it could have been more balanced.

Then there was the school in Connecticut, a really inspiring and promising segment about a man by the name of Steve Perry, founder and principal of Capital Prep Magnet School. He was very focused and passionate about sending young Blacks to college and supporting them all the way there and beyond. He demands a lot from his students as well as himself, and could be seen driving kids to school and showing up at their extracurricular activities. He got angry at the lack of parental support and participation he saw and beyond that, made what I'm sure will be considered quite a controversial remark about teachers. His remark was that students don't need summers off. He said that no other job gets to take summers off and that students need all the help they can get and need teachers that are committed to educating them year-round instead of those who desperately look forward to summer vacation (I'm paraphrasing, of course). Sounds like greatness to me.

Much of the same in the Harlem's Children's Zone, except they expect greatness and achievement in every aspect, including the physical. Children and adolescents are expected to be active, get exercise, and compete for a prize while learning and reading everyday. What else do these two stories have in common besides their devoted, urgent, and strong Black patriarchal figures as well as their standards of success and excellence? They focused on young black women in both programs. Maybe this was to balance out the images of the successful men I described above who run both programs? That's fine, but it makes one wonder. In such environments, is it truly difficult to find positive, young male academic achievers? I would think not, but I could be wrong. I'm not saying that the young ladies should not have been featured, I'm just saying that they should have had male counterparts, and they didn't. Do we have a problem showing successful young Black men who might turn their caps to the side every once in a while and might wear baggy jeans, yet act and think in the direct opposite of the stereotypical manner? I'll give CNN credit, they did show a young Black man from an affluent home who attended the Tuxedo Ball - a social dance and networking event exclusively for young and affluent Blacks - and came from a long line of Black achievers. He does like to rock his fitted caps, too.

Other than that, inmate Chris Churn left prison seemingly rehabilitated and part of a program for inmates. It got real very quickly, however. He had mouths to feed, a baby on the way, rent to pay, and his part-time job just wasn't cutting it. The brotha committed armed robbery and went back to jail. Another negative image of a black man on this program.

Next, there was the doctor offering medical consultations and examinations in the barbershops. A really good idea from a smart Brotha who is trying to help more Black men live healthy lifestyles and make healthy eating choices. I liked it, although I thought it kinda seemed as if every brotha was a pork eating, overweight, sparsely educated individual. Maybe those were just the Brothas who were scheduled to get their ears lowered that day.

Finally, there was Tyler Perry. Survivor of abuse, the young church boy began writing plays and the rest was history. He went against Hollywood when Hollywood tried to dictate to him how Black life should be depicted. He also went against Hollywood's description and definition of the Black audience. He has multiple number one box office debuts under his belt. An ever-extending catalog of films and plays, and television shows. He even has his own production studio sitting on 30 acres of land (he needs 10 more and a mule, and I'll be satisfied). He also owns the rights to his actual films and therefore profits off of the movie and DVD sales. That's the way to do business, people. Own your work, be your own boss, and the author of your own horoscope. Now that's a positive Black man for you.
However, success does not come without its haters. Certain individuals have the nerve to say that his characters represent the lowest common denominator in Black life. Professional (or broke and unemployed) individuals with their noses stuck in the air for some reason or another who probably identify more with Mitt Romney than Barack Obama. Here's my tirade:
First of all, are we denying that people like some of the more stereotypical characters in his plays exist? Seriously? If anyone denies that, he denies his history and his family. No one should be ashamed of either of the two. We all have aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmas, or at least people that we know, grew up around, or go to church with that act just like some of Tyler Perry's most famous characters. Say you don't, and I say you're a liar. Period. That includes the black professor they interviewed, too. Get back at me whenever you're ready, Professor Snooty.
Secondly, what about all of the educated, wealthy and prominent characters in Tyler Perry's work? In "Diary of A Mad Black Woman," Charles (the abusive husband who ended up temporarily paralyzed) was a lawyer. The abusive fiance in "Madea's Family Reunion", played by Blair Underwood was a business executive. They were certainly flawed, but they were educated and upper-class members of society. What about the characters in "Why Did I Get Married?" We had a doctor, a lawyer, a business owner, an author - just to name a few. All of the characters in that story were upper or middle class? What's stereotypical or lowest common denominator about that? In "The Family That Preys," Sanaa Lathan played an accountant. In "Daddy's Little Girls," Gabrielle Union played a lawyer. What about Cicely Tyson's speech in 'Family Reunion?' Did that represent the stereotype? Was it 'lowest common denominator?' Imploring men to take their rightful places in the community, our young people to practice some morality and have some self-respect? I think not.
Finally, what about the messages of forgiveness, redemption, strength in adversity, and most importantly, the power of God that are clear, evident, and resonant throughout his work? There's nothing about these messages that says stereotypical or lowest common denominator. I didn't take time to get the Professor's name right. He's a nobody to me, and from what I can tell of his opinion, he's not important enough for me to know his name. Professor Snooty sounds about right for me. He can either put his own money up and create his own films, or kick rocks. Personally, I prefer the latter.

Overall, I thought Black In America 2 was good. It was mainly positive and I was proud as I watched it. I didn't, however, like the fact that there were no young Black men from working class families with their minds on education and making a drastic, history-altering, positive change in the world. Many of the adults and older men on the show whose work was being featured were positive. However, I would've liked to see more of a balance of coverage of young Black men and young Black women (of which several were shown) who are focused, driven, and determined to be successful. Not only do Brothas like that exist, but we are more numerous than television and certain people would have you to believe. I happen to know a brotha just like that. He goes by the name of - drumroll please -
Chris J The Genius!

Which brings me back to my original point. They should've featured a story about me on it. Tell Soledad O'Brien (with her fine self) I'm ready for my interview and close-up whenever she is. Until then...
Latino In America is coming, and I will certainly be looking forward to checking it out as well.

*By the way, when I say that Soledad O'Brien is fine, I'm observing - not coveting. That goes for the last post as well.*

My Reaction to CNN's Black in America

They should've featured a story about me on it. When watching it, I wasn't aware that there would be a Part 2. Therefore, I thought Part 1 focused a lot on the problem and reinforced a lot of the stereotypes that seem to be the norm in African-American life. Problems such as crime, prison, deadbeat dads, and the like. It also focused quite a bit on hip hop and featured one of my favorite rappers, Lupe Fiasco. In his interview, he talks about the fact that he is antithetical to the typical rapper with bling on, using broken English and unintelligent rhymes to say unintelligent things (yes, that is the norm in hip hop right now - unfortunately) and that he hopes to influence young people not to try and emulate the glamorized and glorified and fake lifestyles that are shown TV, through hip hop, to many young African Americans. Great stuff.

Also, Soledad O'Brien (with her fine self) interviewed one of my favorite authors, and a guy that I always end up sounding like when I sound off on the issues - most times without even realizing that he is saying or has said the same exact thing. I consider him a mentor and a kindred spirit, even though I have never met the man. I'm talking about Michael Eric Dyson. He spoke on the fact that, as I have said before, the industry of hip hop thrives on the minorities and youth of this nation continuing to struggle and be deceived (more on that later). All of these songs about sex and baby mamas? They couldn't exist if there were not so many of us - although NOT ALL of us - having kids before we can actually afford to provide for them financially and emotionally by being married and obtaining steady employment first. Songs about 'making it rain' and spending extreme amounts on clothes, shoes, cars, and jewelry could not exist if more African Americans looked at investing and saving more of our money. Someone might argue that many African Americans cannot afford to invest. I say, can't afford to invest? Fine. If that's the case, don't bling it out, either. If more of the hip hop audience was primarily concerned with education, less of the ignorant, violent, and stereotypical rap would be accepted. People would be more concerned with progressive rappers who have an actual message in their lyrics. In short, I think MED is right. See why I could've been featured?
Back to the point. Other than these two instances and one or two others, they reinforced quite a few stereotypes and I didn't think they did a good enough job of showing us the promise within our community. Fortunately, there was a Part 2.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

LeBreezy, You're Doing A Heck Of A Job

Translation: "The ship be sinkin'."
Case in point:

Where should I start? Probably with the news that made the most headlines and waves across the sports world.

You guessed it, LeBron James got dunked on. He contested the dunk, and got it slammed all in his face. At his own training camp, the LeBron James Skills Academy. Wow. That's like somebody beating Tiger Woods at the Tiger Woods Golf Tournament. It's like Jay-Z being upstaged at his own concert (which very well could happen if Nas is a featured performer). Nobody likes it, but things happen. Every once in a while, someone gets one over on you. Allen Iverson crossed Michael Jordan up, and we all saw it. Remember?

They were both in the league, though. LeBron got embarrassed by a college student named Jamal Crawford. Yes, I said embarrassed. Why? Not because Crawford transferred to Xavier and therefore sat out the entire season this past year. Nope, that has nothing to do with it. Like I said, things happen and 'every dog has his day,' as the saying goes. He was embarrassed due to the way that he handled the whole thing. He reportedly had the tape showing this dunk confiscated by Nike personnel. Are we seeing a trend here? When does competitive spirit become unsportsmanlike and selfish bulljive? Hmm... At the end of his playoff run when he stormed off the court and refused to shake anyone's hand? Not only that, but he later gave an interview saying that 'he didn't understand' why he was expected to shake hands with those who had just defeated him. However, he seemed to have no trouble understanding or expecting those he had beaten to shake his hand on their way back home to watch the remainder of the NBA postseason on TV. Now, he has footage of himself getting dunked on confiscated. This is dumb for several reasons. First of all, we live in the information/technological age. Everybody's phones or other handheld devices have video capabilities and videos taken on these devices can be stored or sent in an instant. Anyone - and yes, that includes LeBron James - who thinks that he can somehow get rid of or confiscate any and all video footage of any event or occurrence which happens in front of a crowd of people in an audience is an idiot. Period. Secondly, these things are bound to happen if one plays basketball. Trying to hide it is like T.O. getting tackled and trying to have the hit edited out. It's like me walking around campus, tripping over something (maybe even my own feet - it happens) and then pulling a gun and swearing all passers-by to secrecy.

"Tell anyone I tripped, and I mean anyone, and I will put a hollow tip in your dome. Understand me? I mean it. Try me, you'll bleed!"

Make sense? Of course not. People will probably see it and laugh or talk about it for a few minutes. After that, it's pretty much over. But if you try to hide it, it becomes more of a story. This guy is taking the "King James" moniker bestowed upon him a little too seriously, is he not?
What, does he think that he is too good to be dunked on? If so, Jordan Crawford of Xavier put that one to rest. To make matters worse, LeBron actually has something to brag about in all of this. People get dunked on everyday. Every single day. 24/7, 365. They do not, however, get their names printed or remembered and Google searched like Crawford did. His buzz grew considerably. If I were LeBron, I would be saying something like,
"I'm the only guy you know that can get dunked on and make the other guy a household name. Behold the power of LeBreezy!"
He made a mountain out of a molehill by trying to cover the ish up. Dumb move. People were already getting over the LeBron honeymoon after he failed to reach the finals and live up to the muppets commercials.

It's four now, LeBreezy. Count 'em. One, two, three, FOUR! To your zero.
Plus he dissed the Magic after they beat him, as I mentioned above. Now this. Too bad it's not over yet. Now, LeBron's coming out with a book in which he admits to using marijuana and acting like a jerk in high school. His words. However, from what I can tell, his "jerk" days are far from over. LeBron recently paid a visit to my state. That's right. King James in all his glory and splendor came to Mississippi. Why? His teammate, Mo Williams, had a basketball camp here. Mo is a Jackson, MS native and played ball at Murrah High School. He does something for the kids every year, and this year he had a basketball camp that featured a highly-anticipated LeBron James appearance. Once again, as I have said in earlier posts, NOBODY famous really comes to Mississippi besides Morgan Freeman. Lots of celebs are from here, but they get the heck away. We don't spot or sight anyone famous or that we see on TV around here. So you can imagine that LeBreezy mania hit a fever pitch in Mississippi in the days leading up to his arrival. How'd it turn out? Like this:

Of course, a special shout-out and thank you to Scott LaPeer of Mississippi's WLBT Newschannel 3 for having the guts to speak up about this when many other people kissed butt and tucked tail.
Real men are standing up. It's about time. Let's recap for those of you who didn't or can't watch the video. LeBron comes through with his entourage and doesn't engage the crowd at all. He doesn't interact with the kids or even look at them very much. Instead, he took pictures with kids from each age group accommodated at the camp. So that it would look like he got around to many people, maybe? He then mingled and took pictures with those who had paid for VIP passes and whatnot to meet him. He spoke to the crowd for about a minute flat, and then did a shootaround which ended in an unenthused, anticlimactic dunk. No autographs or words of encouragement for the kids. He didn't even pick anyone up so that they could dunk. That's a must when you're playing basketball with kids. I do that with the neighbors and I'm not anywhere near the shape or skill of this guy. Here's an opportunity for one of my favorite NBA players to really do something memorable in the lives of so many young people who have no one to look up to, or at least not up close - and he blows it. All it takes is a little time, energy, and compassion. No money, probably not even any sweat. All we needed was for LeBron James to give a you-know-what. Obviously, he didn't. What gets me is that this guy acts as if he doesn't know that it's the FANS that made him who he is. If it weren't for adoring fans who are enthralled by this man's ability and kids who wanted to wear his jersey and beg for their parents to buy it, he wouldn't be a hot enough commodity to demand the amount of money that he does from endorsements. Yet he neglects to sign autographs? He'd better be glad that people want his autograph. I know a rapper that would probably kill to be asked for an autograph these days (hint: It's Murda!). The fans' adoration is a testament to the greatness and relevance of a public figure, relevance and greatness that celebrities' careers cannot survive without. I understand that celebrities often want their "space" and to be anonymous like normal individuals. They can't! Fame and anonymity cannot coexist. No one can be a public figure and a nobody. I understand that there are some drawbacks to public life, but when this guy signs contracts there are hundreds of millions of dollars... er, reasons that the advantages far outweigh the drawbacks. Fame and the requests and demands that come with it are a small price to pay, in my opinion, for such a privileged life. A life that is provided by the fans (either directly or indirectly) when you think about it. My advice to one of my favorite players is to grow up, grow some, and start acting like he cares about the people that he means so much to. If he doesn't, he may wake up and find that people just don't like him anymore. That has nothing to do with his skills, of course, but it will certainly dim the bright sheen of success already apparent in his career - not to mention the fact that it would decrease his overall popularity and therefore his jersey sales and endorsements as well. Thanks, LeBron. For arriving but never actually showing up. It's like going to a restaurant, paying for a meal, and not even touching the food. There's absolutely no point in making the trip at all. You could've stayed in Akron or Cleveland, on Jay-Z's nuts, or any other place you call home instead of screwing around with us. Once again, you are truly doing a heck of a job. Kobe's stock just went up in Mississippi big time. In fact, with all of Bron Bron's antics, I'd say it has risen tremendously at the national level as well. He knows his mama raised him better.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Red and Blue, Indeed.

So I've been thinking. Maybe we need to hang sneakers on the telephone poles around Washington D.C. Why? More on that later. To put it simply, it's about to go down. The issue: health care. President Obama wants a new health care bill before Congress takes it's August recess. He doesn't seem to be able to get it. We're still seeing the same partisan stalemate that has led to the mess that we call politics and red tape to this day. It's sickening. People are disagreeing merely to disagree, with very few individuals actually providing alternatives to the measures and lines that they disagree with in this and other bills that come up for votes in Congress. Read the full story here.
Once again, I tend to lean to the left - but not so far that I miss the truth. Democrats and Republicans both have certain valid concerns that they address, like they do on most issues. After they address them, nobody budges! Nothing happens! Democrats seem to be more bent on spending rather high amounts of money to distribute health care to everyone and make it affordable - whether government or employer-provided. Republicans, however, seem to be most concerned with the amount of spending and the fact that taxes will be raised for the nation's highest earners to pay for it. These are supposed to be some of the best and brightest people in the nation. The nation-changers, the world changers, who take vows and give us their word that they will honor their party's core principles while reaching across the aisle.
It appears that their arms are broken, as there is very little reaching going on.
Back to those hanging sneakers.
So what are these politicians doing instead of reaching across the aisle to compromise?
They're hurling insults and criticisms of each other's plans with both sides refusing to acknowledge the merit in the other's concerns and views. Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina is quoted as having said the following about this health care bill:

"If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."
Nice. See the problem here? We've got people in office who are too preoccupied with trying to break the President to even begin the process of fixing health care. Ain't that a you know what? By the way, is it just me, or are Republican sons of the south screwing up in politics these days? Thought so. I can't stop there. I feel the same way about this as I feel about the many people who have expressed their "hope" that the president fails (and that includes Rush Limpballs, as I call him). Who is their audience? Who are they talking to when they say this stuff? That was NOT a rhetorical question. There's not only shame in saying this vicious and venomous crap, there's also shame in agreeing with it or refusing to challenge it when it is heard. These politicians obviously feel comfortable saying these things in front of people, and that's our fault as the American public. It signifies that there is an audience for such ridiculous rhetoric. Obviously, someone agrees and is cheering this mess on. My money is on those earlier-mentioned Republican sons of the south, but keep that between you and I. Someone should have been willing to say, "And just what do we stand to gain from a "broken" President in a country that is feeling the effects of going broke? Don't we need him to succeed? Shouldn't you, as a public servant, care enough about your constituents to want the best for them regardless of what party or individual is the source of the solution? If not, why the (insert controversial and offensive four-letter word here) did we ever send you to the Senate in the first place? I don't know, but pack your stuff in time for the next election because you don't have to ever worry about coming back."

That's what someone should have said, and had I been in the room when this ignorant and arrogant FOOL uttered this despicable nonsense, believe you me, I would not have hesitated to deliver the message in all my mean-muggin', I'm-about-to-kick-your-so-and-so glory. That's right, I would have used the sensibilities, attitude, and demeanor that come from our neighborhoods and families and communicate our aggression so well (and are exploited throughout mainstream media on a continuous basis). In other words, Chris J The Genius would have remained quite articulate, yet would have proven to be straight-up stereotypical.
Believe that.

One down, one more to go.

Next, there's Michael Steele - or MC Steele as I call him due to his expressed affection for rap music and his belief that hip hop can be used to sway minority voters to the Republican Party.

Riiiight. So the same party that makes it clear time and time again with words and deeds that they don't give a rat's rear end about us will be able to win us over with the right hook and the right beat? As opposed to.... actually engaging minority voters in conversations to see what we want from any political party that wants our support or at least having party leaders to watch their mouths in public so that they can give the appearance of giving a curse word? Wow, that Michael Steele sure is a competent guy. He's just what the GOP needs. Like the Titanic needed that iceberg. On the other hand, this dead hip-hop that so many of us listen to on the radio and already imitate along with the lifestyles glorified within the so-called music says to me that Steele may have a point. Anything with the right beat and right hook seems to fly with us (a la "Every Girl In The World").

Sorry about that, back to health care. MC Steele accused the President of trying to push along a "multi-trillion dollar experiment with our health care" and added that the plan not only risks our economy, it risks every American's health too." He finished with the following: "Under this plan, costs are going up, and you, the American people, are going to pay."

This George Jefferson-lookalike Brotha (and I use that term loosely) most likely passed out the RNC's demo tape after that, which probably featured a "hit" entitled "Holla At Our Health Care Plan."

First of all, I don't hear his proposal for a health care plan, or any suggestions to improve the current one, for that matter. This seems to signify that the plan is to do whatever is necessary to disrupt the President's plan. Thus, "breaking" him, as the fore-mentioned honorable senator from South Carolina said earlier. Secondly, this dude is crazy. Accusing the President of experimenting with "our health care." That's a see-through gimmick. Let it be known that the majority of Republican constituents are wealthy, older and pigmentally-challenged men and that MC Steele is most likely "stackin' that paper" as party chairman. He's a fool if he thinks for one second that I believe that his interests and mine are even remotely the same as far as health care. He's in a different income bracket under totally different circumstances. Statistically speaking, so are most Republicans (and politicians in general, for that matter) - one of the main reasons that many of the American people are worried about affording health care and many of the politicians are worried about having to foot the bill in taxes and the interests of small businesses. See what I mean? Completely different interests under completely different circumstances. I must also say, however, that the Democratic Party would be remissed and would prove incompetent or unworthy of the power they have come to wield in Congress if they neglect to compromise and make sure that these issues are addressed before moving forward. Third, he says that the current bill "risks every American's health, too." Hmmm... Oh really? Just like the political back-and-forth that delays a bill from ever being passed!? People are dying and getting sick or worse while they continue to bicker with each other. It's inexcusable. On his last quote, saying that the costs are going up and the American people will pay, doesn't he sound just the least bit hopeful that his words will come true? He certainly does to me. Put it to a beat and pop champagne to it and maybe it'll work for you, dawg.

Once again, back to the sneakers hanging in the streets leading up to the Capitol and the White House. Hanging shoes represent gang affiliations and the usual criminal activity that accompanies them (drug dealing, shootings, robbery, prostitution, etc.). With that said, I must tell you that I find it quite fitting that Republicans and Democrats represent themselves with the colors red and blue, respectively. These are the same colors as the Bloods and Crips (again, respectively), two of the most notorious gangs in the world -not to mention bitter rivals. These colors fit both parties because they follow the same traditions of tribalism that terrorize inner-city streets and neighborhoods. Crips and Bloods harm each other physically and kill each other. Dems and Repubs harm and kill one another politically and professionally (or should I say they "break" each other, Mr. DeMint?). Crips and Bloods cannot see past the colors on each others' bodies to realize that they all have a great deal in common, want the same things out of life, and are part of the same struggle. Dems and Repubs cannot see past their party affiliations to tackle the issues that affect us the most and make this country a better place for the People, a job that they are all called to do and have in common. In regards to this issue, they can't see past red and blue to the American people who do not have time to continue to suffer and wait for adequate health care for themselves and their children. Once again, politicians do not know this situation firsthand as they are well taken care of, and fail to understand, recognize, or acknowledge the urgency. They certainly don't act with any urgency on this or any other issue, either. Don't like the bill? Fine! Never has a bill been written that didn't have the capacity to change based on compromises, ideas, and solutions discovered by a meeting of the political minds. So change the bill. Amend it to include the things that it lacks and redact the things that prove unnecessary. When did politics become all about whining because we don't like the first draft of legislation? We don't have time for fruitless and frivolous arguments and political assassination attempts. We've got doctor's appointments and corresponding bills to pay. Rich, mostly white, and well-dressed. Doesn't sound like the typical suspect description on the 10 o'clock news, does it? However, it does describe most of our politicians and government officials. Unfortunately, it appears that they can also be described as territorial, loud, obnoxious, tribalistic gangstas. They're not playing around either. They're set trippin' and representin' their cliques and whatnot. Be on the lookout for hand signs and graffiti, and maybe even a drive-by or two. Before I go, somebody tell MC Steele to grab his microphone. It's time for him to battle a Genius. The cipher never closes.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Genius of Dave Chappelle (Is He On The Verge of A Comeback ? Let's Hope and Pray)

Do I really need to talk about the genius of this man? More than a comedian, he is a social commentator as all the great comedians were before him. Pryor, Murphy, Lawrence, Rock, Mooney. All of them had something interesting and rather observant to say about America at the time of each of their respective performances. With his stand up, but more popularly with his show, Chappelle taught us about us. Think of characters such as Clayton Bigsby, the blind and black white supremacist. He hears loud rap music coming from the next car and simply assumes that the driver and passengers are black. He tells them to turn the music down and calls them the n-word. They listen to rap music and obviously incorporate much of what they hear into their lifestyles as best they can. This is made evident by their mutual elation at being called "niggers" by a Black man (see my note located on the right side of this page if the use of that word offends you). Funny, yet truthful and telling. Why is that an ingenious move? Here's why: Chappelle makes a mockery of the ridiculousness of racism and racial stereotypes in the sketch, when he uses a racial epithet on the white men in the car based on their "sterotypically Black" behavior. The moral of the story is, all people have a capacity to act a certain way in certain situations. To simply attach stereotypes to a certain group of people is dismissive and ignorant when every race has the same characteristics (maybe in different situations, but the same characteristics nonetheless) and the same diversity of thoughts and interests. Also, the 'n-word' is an insult. Insults and other degrading words, images, and concepts (such as self-hatred and fratricide) are often glorified in the most prominent hip hop songs, films, and personalities - to the point that the white men in the sketch - who have obviously been influenced by Black culture - get excited and happy that they are referred to in such a hateful way because it is the same way that many Black men see each other, as made evident by the way that many of us refer to and treat each other. Plus, of course, to sum it all up - the white supremacist doesn't know that he's black. In one sketch the ridiculousness and lack of credibility found in racism, epithets, stereotypes, and the glorification of the destruction of Black people by Black people are exposed for the idiotic and inexcusable practices that they are. Genius - no other word quite describes it.

Chappelle did a sketch about Law and Order, in which he tackles the injustices and racial disparities ever-present in our legal system. He does this by using two subjects who get in trouble with the law. One is a (black) crack dealer while the other is a (white) white-collar business executive with shady books. He switches the typical legal experiences of the two, making the white-collar criminal deal with the crack dealer's typical experience in the courtroom, and vice versa for the crack dealer. Tron Carter, the crack dealer, turns himself in at a date and time of his choosing while the executive is taken off to jail, after a grenade has been thrown in his home. Tron Carter is barely questioned while the executive is viciously interrogated, an event that ends with a cigarette being put out on his forehead. The executive has a public defender while Tron Carter has a prestigious legal team. Tron Carter admits nothing and instead hilariously pleads the "Fif." The executive, on the other hand, is lied on by police who planted drugs on him. In the end, Tron Carter's sentence is reduced to two months while the executive, a white guy, is sentenced to life by 12 of his "peers," an all-black jury. After his sentencing, the judge calls the executive a "filthy, big-lipped beast" and tells him that his life sentence will provide plenty of time for him to "lift weights and convert to Islam." That shoe looks a lot less appealing on the other foot. When mainstream America gets confronted with the problems found commonly in the minority experience, it just seems more ridiculous (when it is actually just as ridiculous when it happens to minorities). This role reversal is seen quite a bit in Chappelle's sketches and here's the reason: Black people are demonized everyday in the mainstream media to the point that injustices go unnoticed and heroes go unsung in our community. In order to really show how idiotic and illogical the system is that puts Black men in jail while giving White counterparts slaps on their wrists, Chappelle turns the tables and uses Caucasian (and therefore more sympathetic, as my argument goes) characters facing the unjust legal system that many Black men are subjected to every day - Jena Six, anyone? It's undeniably and unjustifiably unequal, and many who may not have realized this have realized it with a laugh thanks to the heroic comedic genius of Dave Chappelle.

Chappelle also does this in another sketch, Black Bush. The premise of the sketch is that a Black man would not have been able to do all the controversial, secretive, and suspicious things that George W. Bush did in office. The reason? Because America would be more suspicious of a black president and would question him about every decision that he made. Black Bush comes out and says that he wants to go to war with Iraq because of his father's run in with Saddam Hussein. He also claims that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, but cannot evade the fact that the war is actually about oil. Here's the Black Bush sketch in bad quality.

He says everything that everyone thinks about George W. Bush by looking at how people would likely react to the same things if Bush were Black. Look at Fox News and the people who expect and hope for Obama to fail and question his every move and statement. They're calling the guy incompetent as if he is the source of the economic recession or as if John McCain would have gotten us out of it already. Now there are posters of Obama in the same makeup that Heath Ledger sported in his legendary perfomance in "The Dark Knight?" With the word socialism underneath? Not to mention the fact that people are weighing in on his progress every 100 days of his presidency? Where were these progress reports during the last eight years? Tell me that sketch wasn't ahead of it's time!

Why am I writing about Chappelle? Because I hope to high heaven that he returns to comedy. According to this article, he has been doing free shows here and there throughout the country. His last one was in Portland. The story goes as follows: Text messages go out, telling people that DC will be in town at a certain venue. People forward these to their friends, and everyone turns up at the venue. Chappelle comes through and does absolutely impromptu material. No script. No writing. No holds barred. Pure, unadulterated comedic genius. Come to Mississippi and do your thing, man! 100% Dave, too. I mean it. Don't come through like Lebron James and leave us with a bad taste in our mouths (more on that later). We don't see celebrities everyday around here. Seriously, we never see them. We have plenty of them, too. Brandy and Ray J were born in Mississippi, as was Oprah and Jerry Rice. Brett Favre, too. Heck, we don't even see David Banner anymore. All we've got is Morgan Freeman. Bottom line is, MC Hammer could probably come to this state and sell out a show. I know DC can. I mean, it's not like we couldn't use the publicity. We also need jokes that cause us to be conscious of our own racial biases and prejudices so that we can begin trying to correct and change them. Dr. Martin Luther King said, in his famous "I Have A Dream" speech, that Mississippi was a state "sweltering with the heat of injustice."
It's still pretty hot.
Nuff said. Bring back Chappelle. If I worked at Comedy Central, the multimillion dollar deal would still be on the table and I'd have a crew ready to start production at the word "go." Bring back Chappelle. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are fine and funny in their respective niche of comedy, but in a time of economic hardship, job losses, home foreclosures, pinching pennies, and all the other things that make any recession so uncomfortable, we need to really laugh again.
In a time of uncertainty, despair, and darkness, we need some sunlight. Bring back Chappelle because in a time that demands great and unprecedented change, we need to first see ourselves as we are so that we can determine what we must become. Am I saying that Dave Chappelle alone is the answer to all of America's problems? Of course not. I am saying, however, that looking at ourselves and laughing may put us on the path to a solution. Nobody does it with the intelligence and insight that he has, nor with the candor, sincerity, and honesty he displays. Road trip to Yellow Springs, Ohio? Yup, I thought so.

Just Call Him 'Chip Off The Old Party Block'?

Oh, you knew it was coming. You knew that I was gonna have to speak on this. Chip Pickering? More like Chip Dabbling... or Chip Frolicking. Maybe Chip Cheating? Remember on the last post - about Gov. Sanford - when I said that South Carolina had to do better? Then I added, and I quote, "but I'm from Mississippi and have no room to talk." I proved prophetic yet again. Enter Chip Pickering, a lobbyist and former U.S. Representative from the state of MISSISSIPPI! Guess what party he's from? You guessed it, the Grand Old Party full of "Good Old Boys" (which Michael Steele so desperately wants to be but I digress), the party of "family values," the Republicans. It is not looking too good for these guys, is it? Between hoping that President Obama (and therefore the country, duh) fails and getting caught with their pants down, it looks like no one is going to be able to actually lead the party (not to mention that Sarah Palin's microscopic, nearly invisible shred of political capital or credibility is gone due to the fact that she's quitting). Let's look at the facts in this story, shall we? The full story can be found here.
So... Chip Pickering has a wife, Leisha Pickering (at least until the divorce), and five sons. One more than the four that Gov. Sanford had and left to be with his Argentine Aphrodite. Here's a picture of Chip and his wife, probably during better times? Pickering met his freak-on-the-side in college, and some time after his marriage, had rekindled his relationship.

*Side Note* The freaks are in college. Remember the Freaknik? Seen House Party 2? Heard of the date rape drug? THE. FREAKS. ARE. IN. COLLEGE. Period.
If you have half a brain, do not go to college to find the freaks. I repeat, do not go to college to find the freaks. You'll wake up broke with no education and a strange sense of satisfaction, not to mention inexplicable stains and/or smells. Pardon the interruption, back to Chip.

Chip's freak-on-the-side goes by the name of Elizabeth Creekmore Byrd. I, for one, can't wait to see what she looks like. Once again, cheating is unjustifiable by any and all means. However, if you're going to wind up in the wrong and busted, at least get caught with someone who dazzles just a little bit. If I find a pic, don't even worry about it. It's as good as posted. Your mind could run wild imagining the types of things they may have done in college. Sneaking in sorority houses, breaking curfew, etc. Here's what makes it worse. Why do I always say that infidelity is unjustifiably wrong, no matter the circumstances? It's simple, really. Married couples take vows. Before God and man, they take vows to love one another til the end. That's a capital G-o-d. Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. He created us in the beginning and we'll see Him in the end, whether we want to or not. Back to the vows, how do they go again? For better or for worse. For richer or for poorer. In sickness and in health. Maybe they should add things like, for example: for finer or for uglier. For sexier or for more repulsive? For exciting or for mundane. Most wives can't trust their politician husbands. Why, then, do we expect to be able to trust them to serve us? We don't even know them that well, we're just the public! Not only did Chip Pickering make these vows before God, but he lived in a facility set up for Christian politicians who work for the government in Washington, D.C. Basically, this dude got his adultery on while he was staying at the We Love Jesus Hotel (no, there's no such actual place that I know of). They probably prayed every morning and read scriptures every night. They probably sang songs of worship together and blessed every meal. Read Bible verses just like they read legislation. But in the meantime and in between time, they got their God-fearing freak on. It gets better. Pickering retired and now works as a lobbyist for a firm that represents Cellular South, which Elizabeth Creekmore Byrd's family owns. Hopefully the child support people are jotting this down. Those five sons WILL BE FED! Good hearty meals, too. Pickering released a statement asking for privacy. Why don't they think about privacy until they become public figures and screw things up horribly? Tsk, tsk. Leisha Pickering, Chip's wife (what kind of Chip, you ask? I'm thinking Lay's) said that Pickering was offered a Senate seat by Gov. Hell, er... that is, Haley Barbour, when Trent Lott resigned without warning and with much controversy in 2007 (I could go into that a lot deeper, but I'll leave it for you to Google Search). Pickering refused. Now if you look at the Senate vs. the House of Representatives - Senate has longer terms, less people so it's more prestigious, easier to make connections, better committees and councils to sit on, etc. Also, it's a step closer to the Presidency - you know that any Rep would love to become a Senator if possible. It's like a bill waiting to become a law.

But Pickering refused. Why would he do such a thing? His soon-to-be ex-wife says that his mistress told him that he would not be able to be with her and continue his life in public service because it would be better for his image and campaigns for him to be married. Thus, alleges Leisha Pickering, Elizabeth Creekmore Byrd hit him with the ultimatum: choose a job in the private sector or I'm leaving. No senate seat for Pickering. Gov. er... Haley Barbour says that he only offered the job to Roger Wicker. This could very well be true. It could also be false, due to the fact that there is a sort of conflict of interest here. Barbour's nephew is a partner at the firm at which Pickering works. Can you see why he wouldn't want Pickering's name dragged through the mud any further? Might be bad for business at his nephew's firm. None of us really wants our extended-family relatives living with us if we can help it. Just a thought.
Back to the refusal of the senate seat. I can just see how that conversation probably went.

"Baby, if you take that Senate seat, we're done. You know what that means..."

"No more playing Clinton and Lewinsky in my office during lunch break?"

"Thaaaat's right!"

"I'll call the Governor right this minute!"

Things were so bad with his wife (shot in the dark here) that he refused to quit his affair, even though he had to forfeit a Senate seat, the ultimate promotion for someone like him. Ol' girl must have been drinking his bathwater, as the saying goes. She has him wrapped around the wedding ring finger. Wow. She did something so well that he was too turned on to turn her down. How does the song go? "That girl is poisoonnn!" It never ceases to amaze me how men tend to let temptresses and seductresses keep them from advancing. Shake my head. Played by the pelvis. Again. We've got to control ourselves.
I'm a left-leaning moderate, but parties don't even matter to me anymore when it comes to this. Once, just once, can't some guy in a powerful position or political office be strong enough to resist these Desperate Homewreckers? Democrats, Republicans, Independents? Green Party? Reform? Libertarians? Anarchists? There's gotta be somebody. One thing is for certain. Infidelity is a bipartisan practice. Freaky women reach across the aisle in more ways than one, and the lusts thereof seem to be the only things that diametrically-opposed politicians can agree upon.

The moral of the story is....
Sex is a powerful thing! Beyond pregnancies and STDs, it has social and psychological effects that people don't talk about. The R&B singers never mention these effects in their songs. The rappers never rap about these effects as they make it rain on oiled-up video girls. Most movies tend not to depict it, either. But sex is powerful and unauthorized sex (i.e. outside of marriage) can lead to all types of horrible things. You end up getting played because you are emotionally bound and under the control of your partner. You may put up with neglect, abuse, infidelity, etc. because of the way your partner makes you feel on passionate nights. Before you know it, you're in over your head and you're throwing your life away. Sanford's four sons who were fatherless on Father's Day? They'll never be the same. Pickering's five won't either. Steve McNair, need I say more? Families are broken up, relationships damaged, lovers killed or injured. Senate seats are forfeited, jobs and credibility are lost along with respect. Control yourselves. Men and women, control yourselves. Hold on to purity, before you find yourself DOA (either literally or figuratively), the victim of a libido lynching.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Speaking of Affairs, What About Gov. Sanford?

Is it just me, or is Steve McNair ending up looking worse in the public eye than Governor Mark Sanford? Why? Could it possibly be because one lived to apologize for his certain parts of his scandal while one did not? Okay, let me keep it real for a minute. I'm a Christian, and a moderate - meaning that I'm in the middle. I like the Democrats' stance on equality and income, energy, and most other things. The Republicans have me sold on the family values for the most part, though (plus I plan to be wealthy one day and can appreciate the fact that they usually have wealthy people's interest at heart). I have to hear the issues and decide, I do not simply align with one party or the other with blind loyalty. My thoughts on politics are a lot like those of Chris Rock (except that I don't condone prostitution, of course).

But for some reason (probably because many conservative politicians seem to like speaking from their ever-shrinking moral high ground) it never ceases to amaze me how many of them get caught doing the very things that they vote against in Congress, campaign against, or speak out against in public. Some of them, including um... I don't know,SANFORD HIMSELF even called for the impeachment of others for infidelity in the past (namely Bill Clinton). Next thing you know, South Carolina's governor is missing. Yup, South Carolina. Home to State Senator Kevin Bryant, remember him? They've got to do better, but I'm from Mississippi and have no room to talk. Anyway, this dude was missing for nearly a week. His aides didn't know where he was, nor did anyone else. Turns out that he was in the arms of his Argentine lover. The song "Area Codes" by Ludacris comes to mind, or should I say "Pimpin' All Over The World?" His tryst included Father's Day weekend! FATHER'S DAY WEEKEND!Sanford has four sons!

I'd really hate to say this, but it's too funny for me not to. Do you even know how good this lady had to be putting it on this man to make him leave four sons on Father's Day? That's like over-eaters - without saying a word. She must be a kama sutra expert or something because homeboy was ready to shirk every duty he had just for another go. Wow. I'm thinking that maybe I should do a study abroad in Argentina soon? The whole thing reminds me of a scene from Harlem Nights. The scene where a hooker named Sunshine goes undercover to set a guy up, and he falls helplessly in love with her. So in love with her that he calls his house. Evidently, his son answers the phone. He says:

"Put your mother on the phone.
(Long pause)
Hey. I ain't never comin' home again

Talk about life imitating art. Sanford has called his mistress his soulmate and does not really seem to have any intentions of ending the relationship.

His mistress has been identified as Maria Belen Chapur of Argentina. Chapur is an Argentine journalist and English translator, and she looks like this.

Maybe she was doing an investigative report on American politicians and infidelity? If so, it seems that she really likes to throw herself into her work.
Just a thought.

Oh, and Sanford has not resigned. He was censured, but never impeached. I bet he understands Bill Clinton very well these days.

A Lesson On Interracial Dating (w/ new revision)

First of all, RIP Steve McNair. Secondly, don't let the title mislead you. No, I am not about "tear Air McNair a new one" about keeping up a relationship or sleeping with a woman of a different race. Infidelity is wrong, period. The woman's race doesn't make it any better or any worse. One has to be seriously ignorant to make comments like the ones I have heard since the story broke, like "That's what happens when you get with a white girl!" First of all, she's not white. Judging by her name, Sahel Kazemi, and skin tone - one can easily surmise that she is, most likely, of Middle Eastern descent. The issues that most likely led to his death were male/female issues and, as far as I'm concerned, do not have a racial context whatsoever.

If you couldn't tell from the above disclaimer, I am getting rather sick and tired of people acting as if Steve McNair's cardinal sin was being in a relationship with a woman of a different ethnicity. He shouldn't have cheated, and if you've been following the story and reading between the lines like I have, you probably reached the same conclusion. Here's the theory, either one of these two things happened.
#1 - He told her all kinds of things in order to sleep with her, leading her to think that she was really in a loving and long-lasting relationship although she was not. He may have finally said something to her (either in a fit of rage or a drunken stupor) that let her know that she was in an unbalanced relationship and that he didn't really care for her like she thought he did. For a 20 year old young lady like her, this may have turned her world upside down, as her nephew has told police that she was looking to sell her furniture and expected to move in with him and marry him. Sex is a powerful thing, and some people can not handle it when they realize that there are absolutely no strings attached to it (which is one of many reasons that I advocate abstinence - you may not be popular, but you won't be dead, either). That realization may have set her off and sent her on her suicidal rampage.
#2 - Ever seen the movie Unfaithful? This is like Unfaithful with a twist. In the movie, the woman who is having an affair decides to end the affair. However, she is too late as her husband has already gone out to find and kill the gentleman who has stolen his wife's heart. He does, and both members of the couple are left filled with regret for their actions (if you need to know anything else, go to - that's all I know). Steve may very well have decided that he would divorce his wife and be with Sahel Kazemi. However, he may have had a change of heart and decided that he would instead go back to his wife and children. This may have set her off and sent her on a suicidal rampage.
*Update* While writing this, I came across an article that speculates that Kazemi may have suspected that McNair was seeing someone else (ditto, suicidal rampage, etc.). I'm not really in the mood to delete all this and start over, so it stays.

The lesson on interracial dating with context to this story is that no matter what color anyone is, it takes years and years to actually get to know someone, what they think, how they react to certain situations, and what they are capable of. People with sense don't find spouses in a few months, so why would they get into affairs within a few months? We don't really know people that we associate with, that's why it is important to be careful and most of all to honor our vows and commitments. Obviously, cheating can get you killed. I don't want to come off insensitive at all to the fact that a man is dead. Wrong or not, it doesn't matter. The truth is that we all make moral mistakes and missteps, some willingly and some unknowingly. He will truly be missed, regardless. I met Air McNair once while I was a second-grader at Bowmar Elementary. He just walked into our school while we were in the hallway and said hello to our class's assistant teacher. She asked him to take a picture with us, and he did. I cannot find the picture at all and probably lost it somewhere over the years. I would be a little more upset about the fact that I can't find it and post it here, but I got lost in the crowd when we were taking the picture so all anyone would see of me in that picture is both my eyes poking out of the crowd. My head is pretty much covered, as is everything else and you can hardly tell it was me - so the picture is not important. What is important is that the experience and the man meant a lot to me. As is usually the case, both mean even more now that he is gone.

** It has come to my attention that I did not go into enough detail about the interracial aspect of this situation. So here goes...
People have been saying all types of things, such as that Steve should have seen something like this coming because he dated a woman of Middle Eastern or Indian descent. They say this as if her ethnicity gave her a predisposition to such violence. Let me break it down further. Certain Sistas seem to be trying to imply that Black women are all perfectly sane and no other types of women can be trusted - or that a Black woman scorned won't kill a man. As I said earlier, this is a male-female issue - not a racial one. The saying is that "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." It doesn't say Black woman, White woman, Hispanic woman, Native American woman, etc. It simply says a woman. Any woman. Case in point: Al Green - remember the hot grits episode? The story goes that his Black girlfriend wanted to be his wife. He decided that he was not yet ready to be married, much to her chagrin. That chagrin turned into rage and she entered the bathroom door where Green was taking a shower and dumped a pot of hot grits on him. People like to laugh at it now and make all types of jokes (as do I from time to time, I admit) but the brotha was hospitalized afterwards and suffered third degree burns. Most people end the story after she topped him with the popular (at least in the South) breakfast confection. However, she later killed herself. Sound familiar? I'm not done yet - there's more.
Sam Cooke allegedly got into a tussle with a Black woman named Bertha Franklin, manager of the hotel he was staying in. There's the scorn. What happened next? You guessed it. "Bang." She shot him and a permanent change did come shortly thereafter.

Plus, we all saw the movie "Set it Off," did we not?

So the ethnicity of a woman does not matter - if she's scorned, she's scorned and you wind up wishing that you were never born.
I understand what the issue is here, and why many people responded the way that they did. Interracial dating is controversial because of the circumstances in which the relationships occur, one of the most prominent circumstances being that Potentially Successful Black Man meets girl of his own race. She stays with him, loves him, encourages him, supports him and builds him up when things seem to take a turn for the worse. Potentially Successful Black Man becomes Succesful Black Man and it's not too long before he leaves the loving Sista he was with for a new blond-haired, blue-eyed companion. Kanye West chronicled this rather routine occurrence in his song 2005 hit, "Gold Digger."

"You go out to eat, he can't pay, y'all can't leave
There's dishes in the back, he gotta roll up his sleeves
But while y'all washin', watch him
He gone make it to a Benz out of that Datsun
He got that ambition baby, look in his eyes
This week he mopping floors next week it's the fries
So, stick by his side
I know it's dudes balling and yeah, that's nice
And they gone keep calling and trying
But you stay right girl
But when he get on, he leave your ass for a white girl"

Get down, girl, go head, get down. Wonder
why that hurts so much, or why so many women react in such a negative way to it? Here's why. Since this country's inception, culture has pointed to one type of woman as the standard of beauty - the white woman. Seriously, slave masters putting their wives on pedestals and refusing to sleep with them outside of procreation purposes while running rampant throughout the slave houses at night (as in Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, anyone?) are an indication of this cultural bias, as are so many covers of magazines, leading roles in films and plays, and now almost every rap video prominently features at least one blond. Such a standard sends a message from American culture to Black women that they are not good enough, beautiful enough, or feminine enough to be treated equally. With the Gold Digger scenario, Black men seem to reinforce this sentiment that Black women are not good enough - especially not after major success and the lucrative financial stability and comfort that it brings. I understand why this is upsetting, but there is a flipside.
For one thing, I have met several Sistas who tell me that they will not date black men, citing the stereotypical images of us as loud, ignorant, violent, aggressive, idiotic, irresponsible, and destructive as their reasoning. This self-hatred is just as bad as anything mentioned in the scenarios above, yet most Sistas don't seem to get quite the public backlash that many Brothas get from crossing the fence. Secondly, what about the Black men that aren't "cool" enough, or don't have enough "swag" to get at most of today's black women? What about the guy who's intelligent, has a slang IQ of 0, and a similar lack of knowledge about urban fashion? There's no glide in his stride, maybe he's not that slick with his words - but he likes Black women and he is polite and respectful (which is almost a horrible thing to be these days). Too bad
he has all those things against him because he has trouble finding a date - his "game" isn't "tight" enough and neither are his shoes. So many women say that they want an intelligent, progressive man who knows how to treat a woman with respect and who wants to get to know her, not just what she's hiding in those jeans. However, when you actually see the guys that some of these women date, it's the total opposite. When that guy marries a White woman (or a woman of any other ethnic persuasion) and the Sistas get upset, is their anger justified? Sure, once these guys "make it," they probably can pull any type of woman they want. I guess the question then becomes - as far as successful Black men are concerned - is a Black gold digger better than a White woman who actually loves and cares for her man despite their racial differences? I think not. Furthermore, should every Black woman be offended and be "through" with Black male celebrities, other public figures, or otherwise successful Black men if they choose a woman of another race? Is every interracial marriage a message that holds large cultural and historical ramifications? Last I checked, marriage and dating are personal decisions that do not require our permission or approval. It seems that if we truly saw all people as people - equal people, with no one being any better or worse than anyone else, we would only consider the love, commitment, and understanding involved in each relationship and not the colors present in them. Despite feeling this way, I admit that I am torn as to whether or not I should feel guilty should I ever choose a non-Chocolate lady to love. Why, you ask? Because I know that I'm not stereotypical. I'm an intelligent, educated (I'm in the midst of my college education, but I think you get the point), well-mannered and well-read guy. I'm articulate and have plenty of ways to express myself other than violence or sex and want nothing but to treat an intelligent, classy, sophisticated woman with the utmost respect. I'm abstinent and will (although not now or in the immediate future) seek a wife. I refuse to be a "baby's daddy" or a surprised and agitated guest on the Maury Povich show, but look forward to being a proud husband and father of mine and my wife's children. Children with the same mother and the same last name, with characteristics from the same two gene pools. When I look at the fact that the opposite is becoming the norm for society as a whole - but even more so in the Black community - I ask myself, "Doesn't a Black woman deserve such a man and such a life? Doesn't a Black woman deserve to be loved, valued, and respected in the ways that I know I have been raised to treat any woman? Don't Black children deserve to know who their fathers are and to actually be raised by them as well as their mothers so that they can go on to be successful and prosperous adults with healthy minds and personalities?" Common once said, on his 2005 song "Real People"

"Black men walking
with white girls on they arms
I be mad at 'em
As If I know they moms
Told to go beyond the surface, a person's a person
When we lessen our women our conditions seem to worsen"
I go back and forth with myself about this one nearly every day, and I come to the same conclusion: We've got to do a better job as African-Americans of taking pride in who we are and treating ourselves and our women with respect. We've got to do better jobs of removing and destroying the stereotypes, popular opinions, and public perceptions that have plagued us for so long, or the guilt, pain, and shame that all-too-often associate themselves with interracial relationships will continue. Either way, I still refuse to put ethnic limits on myself as far as who I date, surround myself with, converse with, or choose to marry and would even contend that the fact that so many people do those things - that is, only choose potential lovers from one particular ethnic group - could be the reasons for so much unhappiness and infidelity in relationships in general as well as divorces in marriages, specifically. I'm looking at the nature, personality, and heart of my future lady love. The color of the skin is of no consequence to me. Fortunately, I happen to be smooth and charismatic enough to have a rainbow coalition of admirers and options and bask in the glory of such universal appeal. I also have the sense not to put a woman in a position to "show off."

***Yes, I know. Kanye could have gotten the point across without a half-naked woman. He understands - as do I - however, that most people don't watch music videos for the concept, art, or storyline. Hence, half naked women with large assets.