Friday, October 31, 2008
Michelle Obama On The Tonight Show:
To watch Chris Rock's appearance, click here
Ashley Todd: A Counter-Argument to “Post-Racialism”
By: Tolu Olorunda
Staff Writer - YourBlackWorld.com
Perhaps one of the greatest ironies of the 2008 Presidential race is the constant assertion of the notion of a “post-racial” period, while juxtaposed with an endless torrent of refuting occurrences. Last week, Ashley Todd, a Pittsburgh McCain worker, reported a compelling story of being “robbed at an ATM at the corner of Liberty Avenue and Pearl Street in the Bloomfield area around 9 p.m. Wednesday after leaving a Republican phone bank.” To avoid misleading the local police station, Todd was quick to comment that her purported attacker was a “dark-skinned African-American man about 6'4",” who “stole $60 from her and became enraged after seeing a bumper sticker supporting Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain on her car.”
The bizarre story took an unusual twist when Ashley Todd told Pittsburgh police that her “dark-skinned” bandit made sure to carve “a ‘B’ in her cheek,” when he noticed the McCain sticker on her car. From the onset, this mystery was suspicious at best. Nevertheless, John McCain and Sarah Palin swiftly conducted personal phone calls with the victim: Ashley Todd. Even Sen. Obama’s camp would not risk being charged with condoning this reported act of bestiality. In a released statement, the campaign stated: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the young woman for her to make a speedy recovery, and we hope that the person who perpetrated this crime is swiftly apprehended and brought to justice.” Damn. Tawana Brawley must be feeling pretty disgusted at this point.
With the president of College Republicans in Pittsburgh, Patrick Graham, comparing the incident to a “hate crime,” mainstream media exploded with outrage. FOX News, the conservative gangsters, milked the cow for what it was worth. Right-Wing radio shows questioned why the “left-wing” news networks didn’t devote more time of coverage to this gruesome tragedy. Before long, questions concerning the verity of Todd’s statement began creeping out of the woodworks. By the third day, the truth had resurrected itself. It turns out, not surprisingly to most Blacks however, that Ashley Todd had LIED about the whole ordeal. Todd was neither at the ATM – where the fantasy-driven mugging took place – nor was the backwardly-carved “B” a doing of anyone, other than her very hands. One wonders how skilled or devious the mind of a college student has to be, to have concocted such a well-detailed account of robbery and assault.
Ms. Todd borrowing a page from Susan Smith and Charles Stuart’s playbook is all but a shocker to African-Americans who see the value in embracing history. The myth of the “Black beast” is a resounding one in society these days. John Moody, FOX News’s V.P. went as far as suggesting that, “If Ms. Todd's allegations are proven accurate, some voters may revisit their support for Senator [Barack] Obama, not because they are racists ... but because they suddenly feel they do not know enough about the Democratic nominee.”
Moody’s reminder that society still deems the actions of a singular Black man as representative of the whole culture, or better yet, all Black men, is impressively refreshing, in an age replete with cries of “post-racialism.” Worse than Moody’s assessment, is the lingering echo of Jim-Crowism which has found a useful servant in John McCain and Sarah Palin. Ashley Todd’s story was deemed credible from the start – as the widespread falsehood that Black Men have a preoccupation with White Women remains a firm belief in this very day and age. Sen. McCain promptly applied this theory in the “lipstick on a pig” charge against his Democratic opponent, a few weeks ago. Banking on the possibility of White Women blindly accepting the untruth that Barack Obama had “assaulted” Gov. Palin with the political cliché, John McCain was able to build a steady case against the “disrespectful” Obama. The disproportionately white media beltway has been just as culpable in proliferating the slime and slander of bigotry, as the McCain camp’s slime-filled talking-points. It has helped ensure that, most of the time, the only Black men featured on TV screens are jail-bound, dead or misogynists. Slain Hip-Hop Icon, Tupac, understood this reality tremendously. In a song titled, “Blasphemy,” Tupac noted how “the media be crucifying brothers severely.” The severity of mass-media’s assault on Black male integrity is what granted Ms. Todd ample confidence in misleading the country, and fearing no backlash.
Following news that Ashley Todd had fabricated the story and told a bold-face lie, the corporate-owned media hurried to provide some alibi in protection their integrity, and that of Ms. Todd. Insistently calling Todd’s law-bound statements a “hoax,” the mainstream press furthermore played the role of P.R. manager for Ashley, by propagating the myth that Ms. Todd has a history of “mental problems” – hence, unworthy of scrutiny, prosecution and incarceration. Radio host and activist, Mark Thompson, put it best: “Her mental problem is Racism.” In the wake of such criminal double standard, certain questions of concern must be raised to protect the sanctity of our democratic values: If Ms. Todd were a Black Woman, would the same media – with a history of torturing the integrity of Black Women – defend the lying, self-proclaimed victim – at will? Or, if Ms. Todd were a Black Woman, with a white attacker, would the same media outlets been as swiftly responsive in taking up her cause? History suggests otherwise; the present deepens the doubt; and the future is, at best, bleak.
Originally Appeared On Black Commentator
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
MICHELLE'S PALIN EMPATHY
BURBANK, Calif. - No $150,000 wardrobe malfunctions for Michelle Obama.
"Actually, this is a J. Crew ensemble," the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told comedian Jay Leno on Monday on his talk show. She wore a yellow sweater, skirt and blouse ensemble.
"You can get some good stuff online," she added.
Questioned by Leno, the potential first lady declined to criticize GOP vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin about revelations that the Republican National Committee spent $150,000 at Neiman Marcus and other high-end retailers on clothes and accessories for Palin and her family.
Obama said she and her husband have a policy of spending their own money on their clothes. But she said she wanted to be "empathetic."
"A V.P. pick, it's like being shot out of a cannon. All of a sudden you're at the center of attention, and you want to look good," said Michelle Obama, adding she has never met Palin. "You're living in your home, minding your business, and all of a sudden you're on the national stage and everyone's watching."
Leno asked about Barack Obama's ailing grandmother. Obama recently left the campaign trail to spend time in Hawaii with his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who virtually raised him and is his main remaining family.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
By: Shannon Joyce Prince
The author has the greatest respect for Tim Wise, whom she has quoted with feeling in these pages. But she's got a serious beef with the acclaimed anti-racism activist's "This is how fascism comes" essay. "There's no need for me to enumerate all the stereotypical qualities of a fascist that Tim Wise lists: wearing ‘What Would Jesus Do' bracelets, being a Nascar fan, living in a small town, drinking Pabst beer, etc." Such type-casting of people is "hateful and unacceptable - particularly from someone who considers himself liberal and progressive."
"The conflation of aesthetics with morality, geography with intelligence, and class with worth is just as foul coming from Tim Wise as it is coming from Bill Cosby."
In writing to condemn an attitude held by a white anti-racist activist I respect, I must begin with the words of William Lloyd Garrison, another white activist who is his intellectual antecedent. Garrison said, "Little boldness is needed to assail the opinions and practices of notoriously wicked men; but to rebuke great and good men for their conduct, and to impeach their discernment, is the highest effort of moral courage." Tim Wise is clearly a great and good man and one of the nation's foremost anti-racist activists, yet his recent blog post "This is how fascism comes: reflections on the cost of silence" reveals not only a powerful lack of discernment but also an intolerably ugly hatefulness.
I'll address the lack of discernment first. In an election between two men who have voiced smiling, unequivocal commitment to apartheid Israel, who each, while congressmen, voted to enlarge the scale of the war in Iraq, one of whom considers Vietnamese people to be g**ks, the other of whom merrily assures America that racism is 90% over and repeatedly chastises blacks for being lazy whiners who feed their children cold fried chicken for breakfast, Tim Wise claims that fascism will come because of the sentiments of those who support McCain as opposed to Obama. Clearly, when these are the only two viable choices fascism is already here. Indeed, the original definition of fascism was a strong coalition between business and government, yet many labor under the delusion that because we get to pick which of two men preselected by oligarchic CEOs and sponsored by Wall Street's most powerful corporations will run the country, we have a democracy. We don't get to question the system, just who runs it. The media makes so much of this small choice to hide the fact that it is the only choice we are permitted. By portraying voting as a civic duty, as opposed to a quick, infrequent ritual, citizens are relieved of their real, quotidian duties to their society. In such a context, voting for Obama over McCain is not choosing the lesser of two evils, it's simply the perpetuation of an evil system that succeeds as an illusion because one candidate is allowed a more progressive guise than the other.
"To cruelly mock those whose way of life is different from your own and to ascribe to such people all the failings of American society is hateful and unacceptable."
However, what filled me with such visceral disgust at "This is how fascism comes" is the full flowering of a usually subtle prejudice I've tried to overlook in Tim Wise's writings since they are otherwise intelligent, well researched, insightful, and compassionate. This prejudice is the conflation of aesthetics with morality, geography with intelligence, and class with worth that is just as foul coming from Tim Wise as it is coming from Bill Cosby. There's no need for me to enumerate all the stereotypical qualities of a fascist that Tim Wise lists: wearing "What Would Jesus Do" bracelets, being a Nascar fan, living in a small town, drinking Pabst beer, etc. Suffice it to say that almost everything he lists has no bearing on how intelligent, morally sound, politically astute, or racist or anti-racist someone is. Furthermore, the list is unnuanced. No distinction is made, for example, between feeling homosexual acts are wrong and being homophobic, or between being a devout student of the Bible and using distortions of the Bible as a way to mistreat others. To cruelly mock those whose way of life is different from your own and to ascribe to such people all the failings of American society is hateful and unacceptable - particularly from someone who considers himself liberal and progressive.
As someone who lives in a white gated community, grew up surrounded by multi-degreed adults (including both of my parents), and attended a predominantly white, college preparatory, private school from kindergarten through twelfth grade in one of America's largest cities before entering Dartmouth College, an Ivy League university in New Hampshire, America's second whitest state, I can say with confidence that almost all the bigots I've met have been well read, well traveled, and well off. Some of them even voted Democrat and were addicted to the Colbert Report. All of them were too savvy to sell Obama Waffles, too eloquent to use the "n-word," and too stylish to sport a trucker cap, but they were bigots all the same.
"Almost all the bigots I've met have been well read, well traveled, and well off."
Similarly, many of the most articulate (which is not to say grammatical) and radical (which doesn't mean they read Counterpunch) white people I know have been poor and/or religious and/or rural white people like the almost entirely white, rural, lower class non-professional staff at Dartmouth. In discussions I've had with these individuals I've found them to be adept recognizers of non-white disenfranchisement, white privilege, and the classism both whites and non-whites suffer. Many of them regularly engage in activities such as protesting the sexual abuse suffered by migrant Mexican female strawberry pickers. These people are not exceptions to the rule, but evidence of the fact that all communities produce a diversity of good and evil, wise and ignorant. They are people who are always rendered invisible because they have the superficial qualities progressives like to mock despite possessing the moral values progressives claim to honor.
I myself fall into at least one of the demographics Tim Wise attacks - I'm a creationist who believes the world was literally made in six days. Does that somehow undermine my anti-racist activism? Does it make me too stupid to attend Dartmouth? Does it tell you how I treat people, what books I read, how I vote (hint - I'm not a Republican), where I like to travel, or what passions stir me? Nothing unrelated to creationism can be inferred about me from the fact that I'm a creationist - only ignorant people who rely on stereotypes as opposed to deep thinking would argue otherwise.
"All communities produce a diversity of good and evil, wise and ignorant."
It might seem odd that I am defending white people in Black Agenda Report, but I do so because of my blackness. While whiteness was constructed as a way to rob others of their humanity, blackness has never been about acquiring humanity vampire-style by taking it from others. It is an expression of both my blackness and my humanity that I defend the humanity of others.
Originally Appeared In Black Agenda Report