a thousand words

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


So often I have said that America cannot prosper without its living soul, the descendants of the slaves who help to build this nation then suffered another century of atrocities on the path to equality. This week, we can see very clearly that this journey is far from over, that the value of America's black citizens is still very much in question.

Paula Deen, George Zimmerman and the Supreme Court's decision on the VRA illustrates how far we have to go and why we are still a very racially divided nation.

Paula Deen engaged in offensive and degrading behavior toward black people for years and no one said anything. She is not a bad person to be sure but that she saw nothing wrong with Plantation Weddings and comparing a black assistant to a blackboard ("Move away from that board, Hollis we can't see you.") speaks volumes about how arrogant she was about race relations. 

The Supreme Court defended equal rights for gays to marry but the day before sent a gut punch to blacks for whom the voting rights act was written. If we had not seen widespread voter suppression in the last election, no one would care but the same concerns that lead to the law being passed are still very real concerns today. And a day before that, SCOTUS dealt another blow to using race as a factor in college admissions. 

And George Zimmerman is on trial for murdering a boy because he was black. The Zimmerman case is the worst news of all because it devalues black life to the maximum degree. He and his attorney have actually pinned their hopes on their belief that the fact of being black presents a threat for which an appropriate response is death.

All of these events are connected by the issue that does not exist in a colorblind society: race.  and yet, here we are with voter suppression, a celebrity career in ruins and a man on trial for his life all because we have not and will not solve an issue that divided this nation into bloody conflict.

Even as our media tells us that race doesn't matter as much as it did in the last generation, race is causing seismic shifts in every area of life. The jails teem with black men, the black unemployment rate is twice the national average, the black family has been decimated and the black marriage rate is at an all time low.  Even our black President smacks us on the head and tells a crowd of black male college graduates to "be responsible."

We are over nothing, people.

Race still divides if not defines us here. And we can sweep it all under a rug until the bulge is as big as a mountain but that will change nothing. Paula Deen is now a villain for saying a word that's said a thousand times a day on radio. Southern states have already moved to uses age old tricks and deceptions to deter certain groups from voting.

And Trayvon Martin is still dead.


In A Bizarre Set Of Events, SCOTUS Issues A Ruling Making Marriage Between Men And Women Illegal.

WASHINGTON D.C. - There has been so much attention to Affirmative Action, the Voting Rights Act and of course Gay Marriage, that no one noticed that SCOTUS quietly outlawed marriage between all heterosexuals yesterday.

In Taylorfield v. Pennsylvania Commonwealth, the court affirmed a lower court ruling that held that all marriages between men and women were invalid because none of them were working.  

The obscure case was brought by James Taylorfield who sought to end his 20 year marriage but did not want a divorce but for a court to agree that the institution was invalid as a "matter of societal fact."

Two lower court judges granted the relief thinking it was a joke.  Everyone was surprised when the Supreme Court granted certiorari. 

Justice Thomas wrote the majority opinion which had a unanimous vote of 9-0. 

"I think the Justices all thought it was a joke, said Paul Freed, a law clerk for Justice Sotomayor.  I mean it was ridiculous and it was from Justice Thomas who never writes anything.  The Justice (Sotomayor) just kept laughing as she signed off saying "Sho you right." over and over.

The court is moving to reverse the accidental ruling but in the interim, all marriage in the U.S. between men and women is invalid.

One Justice says he will not be changing his vote.  Atonin Scalia said off the record that he thinks we should keep the law. "Everyone knows marriage sucks.  So let the showtune crowd get married, see how they like it. Meanwhile, I've set all normal people free."

Scalia later denied this statement and said he loved his wife.

No one knows what effect this will have on couples in the U.S. but the Bunny Ranch in Las Vegas which deals in legal prostitution says that after the decision it was inundated with calls for reservations by men, claiming to be single and that it is booked until 2018.


Sunday, June 23, 2013


CHICAGO - Clarence Wilson never saw it coming. He had just left a local supermarket when a white man approached him. An argument ensued, then the white man said the word nigger. Witnesses report that Wilson's head exploded on the spot.

Police and medical were dispatched but it was too late, Wilson was gone. The assailant, John Billingsley, swore that he had no idea that the word could actually kill black people. He said he was just trying "to piss Wilson off" in the debate about who was the best basketball player of all time. Jordan or LeBron.

"I didn't call him anything," said Billingsley. "I just said it in a passive, non hateful way. I don't understand it."

Paula Deen lost her job because she said the word and many black people have stated that it is a word filled with mystical juju and power.  Others have said that it's just a word and folks need to stop trippin.'

"Dat nigga's head just blew the fuck up!" said Orlando Tillman, a witness to the incident.  "I mean, BLAM! Like in the movies. And I swear fo' God, before the pieces fell, it formed what looked like a waffle and a drumstick."

Al Sharpton and other black leaders say this is a sign that the N-Word needs to be outlawed.

"It's a vile, filthy word," said Sharpton. "The government should issue a tax every time it's said and the proceeds should go to a community fund to be administered to the people, through my organization, of course."

President Obama was asked whether the word should now be banned and he had this to say:
"Words have power and we should all be aware that free speech shall never be curtailed as long as the citizens of this nation stand tall and come together over our differences as one people aligned to the democratic principles that bind us all." 
A crack team of translators are working on what the fuck this statement means.

Dr. Vincent Rayland, a black psychologist says the head explosion was not the fault of any word. "I've heard that word a hundred times and I'm still here.  Mr. Wilson made his own head explode because he's overly sensitive and frustrated about race relations. He did it to himself.

Police released Billingsley without a charge, noting that there was no law against saying a word, even if it may have killed a man.

The incident has already become urban legend. Jay-Z is making a song about it and Quentin Tarrantino is making a film called "World War N" where he says all the dialogue will be the word, "nigger."

I for one, can't wait to see it.

© 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013


The American cowboy is back with a vengeance, just as manliness is taking a beating.

My father loved a show called Gunsmoke, which was for a long time, the longest-running show on TV.  My cowboys were violent and ruthless. They didn't wait to shoot a bad guy and damned sure wasn't interested in taking him to prison like  Sergio Leon's Man With No Name Django and Trinity.

The cowboy disappeared for a long time until Clint Eastwood (who played the Man With No Name) brought them back with the oscar winner, Unforgiven. Then slowly, the cowboy returned to  films like Tombstone, Wyatt Earp and The Cowboy Way.

In the meantime, the moral ambivalence in our TV heroes had changed into full-out villainy. The TV show The Shield was a game-changer for TV cops. It's hero was a dirty cop whose morality was as fragile as the tin star he wore. Don't get me wrong, The Shield is a great show because it contained good men and women who were cops but it brilliantly focused on a man whose morality was a reflection of a society whole values had changed. At the same time, the cops and hoods in The Wire raised this theme to cinematic poetry.

But now there are some new sheriffs in town.

Justified's Raylan Givens, Hell on Wheels', Cullen Bohannon, Django and Longmire's Walt Longmire all have the best of the old and the new.  The are strong, kind, moral and take no shit.  But they also understand society's river of darkness and how their job navigates it. And whenever they need to, they will dip into those waters and then--look out.

In stark contrast to the many anti-heroes on TV, you know, the vampires, werewolves, serial killers, drug dealers and dirty cops, the millennial cowboys echo John Wayne, Gary Cooper as well as Vic Mackey and The Man With No Name.

And judging from the previews of the new Lone Ranger movie, the man behind the mask is out for revenge and bringing hell with him.

And the cowboy has come back just in time to slow the decline of masculinity we are now seeing in American culture.

In the western-themed movie, No Country For Old Men, Tommie Lee Jones as Sheriff Ed Bell gives this long speech about dreams he had of his father, telling us that his kind, the hero, is going to pass on, leaving us with the psychopath Anton Chighur are our new alpha male.

I think the new cowboys in that picture above would disagree with that.

And so would I.