Megan speaks on the debt crisis. I especially like the historical perspective.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More
Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.
Megan speaks on the debt crisis. I especially like the historical perspective.
Group News Blog makes a point that us politically-aware Negroes have been thinking for some time, though not around white folk. But this is the age of Obama so here it goes--Folks, there's something vaguely familiar about Bob Barr:
You see, Bob Barr has long been the butt of many jokes in my family since the ugly winter of 1998. He was such a annoying, little pit bull against Clinton, you just wanted to smack him...but...
There was something odd about him. Something that was "off".
Media people have noted that "offness" of late, but I will tell you that this has been long discussed in other more insular circles.
Bob Barr, um...well...as my mother said it "Looks a little 'funny' 'round the mouth...
Dig the lips, folks...That ain't collagen...that's collards and Coltrane.
Funny-ass hair texture too--particularly on the 'stache. "Rev. Al's shit is straighter than Barr's is." one friend loves to note frequently.
The first time I saw Bob Barr, during his Bill Clinton-pursuing heyday, I thought to myself, "I didn't know there were was another black Republican in the House besides J.C. Watts." I have of course since been corrected, but I have to say, there really is some Anatole Broyard/Nella Larsen/Jessie Fauset business going on with this cat.
Courtesy of H&R, a commenter over there responds to the convoluted lines of attack Republicans have used against Obama
I don't think "dork" and "charismatic godhead" descriptions can exist side by side.
He's one of those awkward dorks who fills football stadiums.
He's one of those gaffe machines who can spellbind the populace with his rhetoric.
He's one of those devoted leftists who has no discernable political philosophy.
He's flip-flopped on Iraq, while stubbornly refusing to change his position.
He has a relentlessly negative message of hope.
Are all of the smart Republican message gurus sitting this election out?
I generally thought this David Brooks column on debt was interesting, but I've got a couple quibbles. His invocation of culture bothered me, not because I don't think it's true, but because of how selective he was in applying it:
Some of the toxins were economic. Rising house prices gave people the impression that they could take on more risk. Some were cultural. We entered a period of mass luxury, in which people down the income scale expect to own designer goods. Some were moral. Schools and other institutions used to talk the language of sin and temptation to alert people to the seductions that could ruin their lives. They no longer do.
It's interesting that he applies a "economic" explanation to home owners and " cultural" explanations to "people down the income scale." This, basically, is my beef with conservatives who invoke culture. It isn't that culture isn't an important factor--it is--it's that culture impacts people at all levels. So if you live in the projects and you got a big-screen TV from Rent-A-Center, you are crazy, no question. But if you live in the suburbs and gambled on a second mortgage, so you could build a a home theater, you are equally crazy. Furthermore, you're a victim of the same culture as the person who lives in the projects. The fact that other factors--some of them cultural, some of them not--allowed you to move into the middle-class doesn't mean your values are automatically different from that person who lives in the projects. Some of them are. Some of them aren't.
Conservatives often whip out the culture card to reinforce this idea that if this large group of people change their individual behavior, then they too could have the American dream. Bet. But don't switch up the logic because we now have middle-class people foolishly running up credit card bills, taking out second mortgages which they can't afford and then crying to the government for relief. We've seen this transference game before--let's not talk about antisemitism, let's just focus on black antisemitism. But it's a dodge, in that it allows folks to not deal with their own issues. It's like saying "Yeah, my kitchen is on fire, but look over there, that dudes whole house is burning down."
This is just great. Really, incredible. Between this and the Jeff Ross piece, I'm starting to see what this coalition is all about. On another note, I'd love to do is get an ethnicity breakdown for interracial marriage between blacks and whites. I wonder whether blacks who marry whites, disproportionately marry Jews. Meh, maybe I've just been in New York too long.
...on some things, I've got the brains of a slug. Economics would be one of them. I know bloggers are supposed to have at least rudimentary knowledge of everything they post about, but it seems to me that one of the assets of the form is it allows you to interact with people who are smarter than you. We have some sharp-ass commenters on this board, and a couple who I've noticed who are really sharp on the econ end of things.
So here's the deal: I've been following this business with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. There's one thing I don't understand here--Isn't it inherently dangerous to have half the mortgages in country controlled by two entities? If it is in fact dangerous, have there been criticism that suggest other ways of doing business? If so, what are some of those other ways?
And now I throw it out to you, my illustrious commenters
NPR looks at the end of "white flight." William Frey is on there. Really smart guy. I'm less impressed with the WSJ reporter. There's something condescending about this whole conversation. Obviously there's the conflation of the "black poor" with all black people. But moreover there's just this expectation that black people won't be affected by the exact same market forces as white people, that black people won't want to move to a suburb with good schools and big lawns just like white people.
Swimming is pretty good. Anyway, it's time for another music thread. What are we listening to folks?
Only 37 percent of Jews view the Connecticut Independent in a favorable light compared to 48 percent who have a negative perception. As for Obama, 60 percent of Jews view him favorably while 34 percent view him unfavorably.
Sam Stein inexplicably goes on to note that if Barack Obama has a Jewish problem, than Joe Lieberman is "in monumental trouble." Sam didn't get the memo--black people always have problems. Black people are "monumental trouble" incarnate. Every time a white guy eats a steak, some black kid somewhere develops heart disease.
Anyway, my point is that Lieberman is now entering that territory where--much like Al Sharpton--he gets gravitas for representing a group of people, who, in reality, have decidely mixed feelings about him. Lieberman poses a Jesse Jackson problem. Both Lieberman and Jackson's greatest appeal is to a portion of the base which thier respective candidate have already locked down. Furthermore, both are repellants to other members of thier respective candidates coalition, who are far less wedded to them.
The same white voters who wouldn't support Barack in the primary, are the same white voters who hate Jackson. The same right-wing evangelicals who hate McCain for his refusal to completely bow before thier social agenda, are the same right-wing evangelicals who despise Joe Lieberman's support for abortion rights. Lieberman's main right-wing accolade is his support of the war--but that's also McCain's main right-wing accolade. Obama is smart enough to see that Jesse can't help him. But because media love the facade of bipartisanship, and don't hate Lieberman anywhere near as much as they hate Jesse, McCain hasn't ben forced to take a hard look at how much Lieberman is helping. My guess is not much.
Sorry this deserves it's own post. In the comments section below Margaret Weis, who with Tracy Hickman wrote the Dragonlance series, posted the following note:
I am the co-author, with Tracy Hickman, of the Dragonlance Chronicles and I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful mention in Time Magazine. I am proud to have been a part of your life, albeit a small one!
And I just wanted you to know that you can take comfort in the fact that skinheads do not play D&D, nor do they read Dragonlance. They're not smart enough! A survey done by TSR, Inc, back in the early eighties discovered that D&D players tend to be of above average intelligence, highly imaginative and creative.
Again, thank you so much. It means a great deal to me. (Oh, and if you go back to read the books, remember that Dragons of Autumn Twilight was our very first novel! I can't read it myself without wincing!):)
If you were a Dungeons & Dragons player, you know all about Dragonlance, Tanis the Half-Elven, Kitara, Flint Fireforge, Strum and the rest. If you didn't play D&D, well....I guess it's never too late. Anyway, to the extent that fantasy epics like A Wrinkle In Time, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, and the Neverending Story, were second homes to me--Dragonlance was a mansion. It will sound wierd, but I can draw a direct line from,say, The Labrynth to Dragonlance to the Uncanny X-Men to Follow The Leader to It Takes A Nation Of Millions to Hold Us Back. What is Rakim's "Microphone Fiend" if not an origin tale? And what is Rakim, if not the greatest verbal swordsman of his era? All of these works were using the word--and in some case images--to say that there is beauty is seeing more in the world than what is actually there.
If there's anything that I would want more of for black boys and girls, it's imagination. Obviously I'd wish it for all kids, and here, I'm just speaking on what I know: When you are young and black and you have the vague sense that the world is not as it should be, you need to be able to imagine other ways of being. You need to understand that somewhere there are people who pay their bills by, not shrinking themselves for the streets, but by becoming bigger, by seeing more in the world. It's a damn shame that the very people who need imagination the most, are the ones who get it drummed out of them the quickest.
Hip-Hop, D&D, comic books--all of it--really allowed me to live. It's true, I had to learn the dialect of the people I was around, and come to see the beauty in that too. But in fantasy, in Dragonlance, I guess I saw that there were other kinds of beauty and those kinds--and my native kind--were ultimately variants on the same theme.
Sometimes you mean to blog about something that's bothering, but you don't quite have it analyzed. So I'm sorry I'm late on this Times stories in which a gaggle of comedians sit around wondering why Barack Obama won't write their jokes for them. My sense is that if your job is to make fun of Barack Obama, and you can't, then that's your problem. Blaming it on racism is about as weak as me saying I'd be at the New Yorker or the New York Times if it weren't for racism. Do your job. I get that it's easier for David Alan Grier to make jokes than Jimmy Kimmel. Got it. But that's the job. If your main line about John McCain is that he's old, you aren't a very good comedian. Likewise if your only line on Barack is that he's black, you're not much better. I'm willing to bet money that Sarah Silverman will have material on Barack inside of a year. Meanwhile, here's one of my favorite--if crude--examples of white guy making jokes at the expense of black people. It's pretty good.
UPDATE: Commenter Doctor Jay basically nails it when he says, "I got the feeling watching that clip that Ross has spent a fair amount of time around black people, whether in barbershops, in clubs, or churches, I can't say. I think that's where it starts."
In other words if you've spent some time around black people, you likely get the sensibility, and thus are able to make the jokes. Or maybe you've spent no time and you have an extraordinary gift for insight. Either way, it's the same deal--If you want to know why you can't make jokes around black people, it's because your black people jokes aren't very funny. If you want them to be funny go do the work of being a comedian. There is no ban on making fun of Barack Obama, or black people at large. It just takes a comic who knows their material.
For what it's worth, Jeff Ross is also Jewish. Damn. We need to just get it over with and intermarry. This is crazy.
Heh, back in the day white flight was the worst thing that ever happened to black people. Now it's allegedly reversing (I'm really not convinced that there are more white people who want to live in cities, than those who want to live in exurbs, for instance) and it's still a problem for black people. The Wall Street Journal looks at more whites moving into cities and blacks moving out and concludes there must be a crisis afoot:
In Washington, a historically black church is trying to attract white members to survive. Atlanta's next mayoral race is expected to feature the first competitive white candidate since the 1980s. San Francisco has lost so many African-Americans that Mayor Gavin Newsom created an "African-American Out-Migration Task Force and Advisory Committee" to help retain black residents.
"The city is experiencing growth, yet we're losing African-American families disproportionately," Mr. Newsom says. When that happens, "we lose part of our soul."
Oh no, not our soul! A black church actually trying to attract white members, a white guy actually running for office in Atlanta, and a big city mayor who has to fight to keep black people. Race war, indeed. Sometimes, there really is no way to win with media. Part of the reason cities like Atlanta are becoming white is because black folks (like myself) who grew up caged in cities want their taste of the stereotypical American dream and thus are leaving. But there never is any black agency--to be African-American is to be an automaton responding to either white racism or cultural pathology. No way you could actually have free will. Race war, always Race war. And the whites win. Again.
The Washington Post ran two pieces that ostensibly defend Michelle Obama. But not really. Both authors try to look at Michelle Obama through the lense of upper-class black America--more upper-class than black. I could pull together a long post about dangers of looking for race and racism around every corner. But I've had my "OK, white people you have a point" moment for the month. I'll simply say that for most of my professional career, I've been either the only black person or one of a precious few black people on the job. The same thing is true of my partner. Frankly, I have no idea how race affected my tenure at any of my stops, and I never spent much time trying to figure it out. I've been in stores and gotten the "Do you work here?" treatment from old white ladies. Was it because I was black? Or was she confused. I don't know. And I don't much care.
My point is that I think those two pieces outline a pretty big break between my own politics, and the politics of some of the folks I went to school with. To me, the struggle--at this moment--is about tangibles--incarceration rates, home ownership rates, the wealth gap, public schools etc. I have almost no interest in sitting back, looking out my window on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon and wracking my braing trying to figure out what white people think of me. I just don't have time.
Damn. We've been figured out:
The only reason the word "nigger" is such a taboo -- and yet is used freely among blacks -- is because keeping it a whites-only taboo is a way for blacks to intimidate and dominate whites
That's some genius over at Megan's blog (as always, thanks for the link-love Megan) who's apparently discovered our blueprints. Can't get anything past that guy. We'll have to be smarter next time. But first we have to do something about those IQ scores, no?
Interesting piece here in the Times that looks at how the legal system generally throws out ill-gotten evidence. That is, if you're a weed dealer and cops find you with, oh I don't know, say twenty pounds of the lime-green in your trunk, but they pull you over and search you on bogus cause, you could get off. I'm sympathetic to the prosecutors on this one, and I'd be more sympathetic if most of the cases in the Times piece weren't drug-related. My biggest problem is violent crime. But I could see how a killer could go free on the same sort of snafu. Any lawyers in the house? I'd ask Hilzoy, but she's guesting for Andrew this week.
UPDATE: Meh,"buying it" is a little strong, batojar. I said I'm "sympathetic to the prosecutors," and then I qualified that sympathy with my lack of enthusiasm for pursuing drug laws. In other words, I see the point--sort of. That said, I think there is a couple of issues here that could be unpacked. I'm not a lawyer, and so I'm completely open to one coming in here slapping me up some. So with that magnificent hedge, I proceed forward:
1.) As some of you know who read this blog, the issue of police power is not abstract to me. I love cops. But I think bad cops face too little punishment for making bad decisions that cost innocent lives. I don't think the criminal courts are the best place to handle that issue. But I believe that I cop who kills someone who's innocent should never carry a gun again, and probably shouldn't be a cop. It doesn't seem too much to trade your livelihood for an innocent life. More to the point, it just seems like if your shooting the good guys, you may not have the judgment necessary to be a police officer. I say all that to say, I'd probably be willing to see some bending when a cop screws up on a search, if I knew that actual rogue cops would be punished. Of course that issue is downplayed in the Times piece, some.
2.) I am curious as to how common all of this is. I mean, how big of a problem is this? In real terms how many cases are lost because of this? I didn't see any hard numbers in the Times piece. I'd want to know that. We could be talking about a very minor league problem.
...is that Ryan Lizza's article is a Herculean feat of reporting. If you haven't read it, read it now. Here is one of the many, many great images Lizza give us of our next potential president, as he beefs with a fellow state legislator in Illinois:
Obama voted—a parliamentary error, Obama says—to block funding for a child-welfare facility in Hendon’s district. Hendon rose and criticized Obama for the vote. The two men became embroiled in a yelling match on the Senate floor that looked as if it might become physical; they were separated by Courtney Nottage, then the chief of staff for Emil Jones. Nottage led Obama off the floor to a room that legislators used to make telephone calls. “It looked like two men that were having a serious disagreement and they had walked up to one another really close,” Nottage told me. “I didn’t think anything good could come of that.”
Hendon told me, “He’s the one that got mad, because he said I embarrassed him on the Senate floor. That’s when he came over to my desk.” Before Nottage broke them up, Obama, who had learned to box from his Indonesian stepfather, supposedly told Hendon, “I’m going to kick your ass!” Hendon said, “He said something like that.”
Hmmm. Sounds like a black president to me.
...and MF Doom and Morgan Freedom are tied for second--or the Malcolm X slot as I like to call it. Vote and help break the tie
Yes, it happens from time to time. Anyway here is commenter Prajk speaking on the appropriation of "Nigger" by nonwhites:
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Pardon my French
As a candidate, Barack Obama said we needed to reckon with race and with America’s…