Archive for November, 2008

thanksgiving

29.November.08

i actually worked on thanksgiving…then napped, woke up to watch some television and eat some antibiotic-free microwaveable chicken nuggets, and then went back to sleep (to work the next day). I just purchased a Macbook, and while reloading all of my bookmarks into firefox, I stumbled upon this great video on Double Conciousness:

All day on Thanksgiving I kept thinking about what Abu-Jamal speaks of in this radio address. Perhaps because I did not have a thanksgiving dinner and visit with family and friends like many other Americans on this day. Or, as my Uncle Tom said, “You always have to be PC, but that’s what I love about you.”

oh yeah…and happy black friday

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insert witty title here

24.November.08

ok, so I have much to post, little time, so lets get to it.

1. I’ve been waiting to find some commentary on this catchy but messed up song, you know, “Arab Money” by Busta. The song has a hot beat…but is pretty racist. I found a good article at Racialicious:

Busta’s Busted: “Arab Money”

by Special Correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie

I know, I know. If you’re looking for socially conscious rap or hip hop, you don’t go to Busta Rhymes. But this still surprises me:

Maytha from KABOBfest has highlighted Rhyme’s song “Arab Money,” which has some disgustingly racist lyrics. Maytha brings up some great points about this video, namely, that it is a blatant example of the acceptability of anti-Arab racism……

Busta Rhymes’ song (and its fakey Arabic chorus–shudder) is just one more instance of hip hop’s cultural appropriation of Middle Eastern music (producer Timbaland has been “sampling” Arabic songs for years: remember Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin”? That is Egyptian artist Hossam Ramzy’s “Khusara Khusara” that you hear)….

When I first heard the song, I didn’t know whether to be angrier about the sexism (Rhymes makes reference to “Middle East women and Middle East bread”—things), the racism, or the casual name dropping in what Maytha calls “baseless stereotypes masquerading as knowledge….

The major problem with Rhyme’s song is that it uses cultural appropriation to perpetuate stereotypes, which are not only absorbed by non-Arab audiences, but can be internalized by Arabs. Case in point: Maytha shows us Arab American hip hop artist/producer Noose’s reworking of “Arab money” into an equally stereotype-ridden video. Perhaps it was missing the icing, however: there wasn’t a belly dancer…..

Another thought that crosses my mind is that “Arab” is used not as an ethnicity but as an adjective for money. Which begs the question, what kind of money is “Arab” money? From Busta Rhymes’ and Noose’s songs, I gather it has something to do with an obscene amount of wealth, which is in itself a stereotype. But this is especially dangerous in that colloquialisms are easily twisted (please reference the history of the terms “gay” and “queer” for further examples), and “Arab” could (and in some cases has) become a pejorative term, used in negative ways just like “African”, “native” and “Jew” have been.

This is the problem with cultural appropriation: initially, things are appropriated for a reason (wearing a keffiyah to show solidarity with Palestinians, for example). But quickly, this same appropriation turns into empty name-dropping, outright stealing (here’s looking at you, Timbaland), and/or derogatory usage against the original “owner” of whatever was appropriated.

I can’t help but wonder whether Busta Rhymes will get any Arab money for this album.

Great commentary. I’m glad I found this. Though I can’t help laughing (and secretly doing when i hear the song) at Busta’s dance to the song.

2. I found this article on Feministe on mixed race relationships. I must admit I think I have found myself saying some of these before, more than once:

What not to say about mixed race relationships

Inspired by this (The comments thread rather then the article itself) .1) You’ll have such beautiful children.

“But that’s a nice thing to say!”. Yes but it’s also a tired old stereotype. Plus, nothing magic happens when mixed race people procreate, i.e two less than averagely good looking people will probably have a less than averagely good looking child.

2) Any cooking metaphors/ animal husbandry metaphors

Mix..blend…yuck, yuck, yuck. Remember you’re talking about human beings, not food. People can’t actually mix or blend. Also, people in mixed race relationships (MRR) have children for exactly the same reasons other people do, not as some kind of eugenics project. When people say “Oh x ethnicity with y ethnicity, that’s a really good mix”, is that meant to be taken seriously? Is there such a thing as a bad ethnic mix? Are they expecting people in MRR’s to be grateful for their approval?

3)Whether you approve of them or not

Yes, everyone’s entitled to their opinion but consider the wisdom of sharing that opinion, and whether the person you’re talking to wants that opinion. If the reason you don’t approve is “It’s not fair on the children”, then the 1960’s are calling and they want their prejudice back.

4) Speculate as to why they are having a Mixed Race relationship.

Unless you are dating that person, then it’s really none of your business. Even if you think it’s just a big fetish, so what? Are you the love police, ready to bust up any relationship that doesn’t fit your criteria?

Again, people in MRR’s, are probably with each other for the same reasons as any other relationship – because they like each other and being together.

5)Any stereotypes (positive or negative) or your general opinion of their partner’s ethinic group.

Aside from having heard all the stereotypes already, do you think the person you are talking to will say “Oh you’re right, all “n” men are domineering/romantic/generous/mean (delete as appropriate). I should leave him/stay with him forever.”?

Makes to step back and think about things….

3.  A blog from Salon has voted Jay Smooth one of the Sexiest Men of the Year. I second that motion.

Jay Smooth is the hip-hop vlogging, self-confessed nerd, founder of New York’s longest running hip-hop radio show, and mastermind of hip-hop video blog Ill Doctrine. Ill Doctrine comments on contemporary hip-hop, something I admittedly know very little about but of which I am now an avid slobbering novice fan, as well as everything that touches, informs, reflects, and develops hip-hop. Which is everything. His videos are intelligent, funny, and make me slightly ashamed that the most I contribute to the Internerd are posts about peanut butter (this blog) and yoga classes (old blog).

Sexy to me has a lot to do with a combination of two crucial elements: intelligence and self-confidence. And I don’t mean that kind of swaggering and unchallenged self-confidence that we attach to so-called sexy men, the Clooneys and Pitts of the world. What I see in Jay Smooth is that intelligence coupled with that good sense called humor. His posts are relevant and challenging, and they demand a lot of critical thinking from his viewers, and they avoid bombast. He doesn’t take it easy. He makes his ideas complex, and he does it with this smile — eyes at half-mast, eyebrows a-quizzical — that shows he’s comfortable and confident with who he is and what he says. That, my friends, is the crucial combo.

Plus he’s cute as hell

4. And last but DEFINITELY not least….another reason I love me some JT:

p.s. 1:01 –  Wtf is Samberg doing??

1:13- Go ‘hed Paul Rudd. Go ‘hed.

***AND, I found this amazing article on Beyaki from PostBougie, originally posted by BlackScientist:

If You Liked It Then You Shoulda Put A Ring On it: Beyonce and Socially Conservative Idealogy

Let me say upfront that Beyonce is my choice poison. If I had to choose one musical artist with a crappy message who I could listen to for the rest of my life, it’d be her (beating out weezy f baby only because of her music videos). I love Beyonce. She is my favorite overachiever. You can find me any day naomi campbell walk-ing back and forth in my bedroom to “Freakum Dress” or trying to shake my derriere to “Single Ladies”.

THAT BEING SAID.

Beyonce is like the feds when it comes to promoting a conservative social agenda. She alone is policing social behavior like bill o’reilly is paying her do it. The whole time I’m getting down to her jams I’m just like “dang b! thats jacked up!” The messages in her songs almost always encourage patriarchy, female subservience, and heteronormativity like a mug! –pretty much conformity overall (including gender conformity) to the socially conservative status quo. In her songs, Beyonce celebrates the oppressive power dynamic that exists between men and women, while simultaneously trying to imply that women can utilize the subordinate position in a heterosexual romantic relationship to empower themselves. If he doesn’t marry you, step! That’ll show him who’s boss. She perpetuates this entanglement of systems of inequalities, such as marriage, with other concepts that have been socially constructed such as love and gender.

And i understand she’s talking to her audience and that many girls and boys can relate to what she’s saying, circumstantially. But I just wish there could be some critical analysis of her implications, and maybe the tweaking of a few words here and there. The fact that she legitimizes only certain expressions of ‘love’ (commitment), masculinity and femininity, and what that means for young girls and boys who are trying to shape their identities, as well as for grown folk who are expressing themselves in alternative ways. Also how those particular expressions that she endorses are part of the larger structure that keeps people in their places, acting as productive bodies for the economy. I want whoever is on her team to at least consider these ideas, and how they could alter her message to communicate a more progressive politics on gender, sex, sexuality, and certain institutions.

Now for kicks, I want to highlight some lyrics that have stood out to me as being particularly annoying and as leaning right of center. Please, add some if you have any! or argue with me about how Beyonce made “Independent Woman” or whatever.

Lyric: If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it.
Translation: If you liked it – “It” most likely refers to a woman here, and perhaps one’s relationship with her, or her sexual abilities. If you liked the woman you were with, you should have married her because not only is that the only way to keep a woman but it is the only legitimate form of recognizing love.

Lyric: Pull me into your arms. Say I’m the one you own. If you don’t you’ll be alone. And like a ghost, I’ll be gone.
Translation: This is why you put a ring on it. Marriage has historically been about who has property rights over women. So tell me you own me, it makes my heart warm.

Lyric: You need a real woman in your life. Taking care of home and still fly. And Ima help you build up your account. When you’re in those big meetings for the mills, you take me just to compliment the deal.
Translation: I’m a trophy wife. When you make business deals, you tote me along like a new car. I’m your favorite prop. Oh, and I can clean the kitchen, wash clothes, cook your dinner, AND put your durag on, all in monolo blahnik heels.

Lyric: I can do for you what Martin did for the people. Ran by the man but the women keep the tempo. It’s very seldom that you’re blessed to find your equal. Still play my part and let you take the lead role, believe me. I’ll follow, this could be easy. I’ll be the help whenever you need me.
Translation: I’ll validate your masculinity by letting you take the ‘lead role’, because the only way I know how to support you is by ensuring that you feel control over me. I’m comfortable fading into the background and being your hot assistant sidekick.  You’re the block, but I’m the lights. You’re the diamond, and I’m the little glimpse of light that makes you shine.

I can’t even start on “If I Were A Boy”… that’s like a whole nother blog in itself.

These are just a few examples trying to illustrate why Beyonce is one of the biggest, albeit flyest, proponents of a retrograde conservative ideology that is restrictive to everyone’s expression, normative and non-conforming alike. It either traps you within (with limited options of expression and often oblivious privilege) or marks you outside (in what is sometimes a more intimately liberated but nonetheless socially and politically marginalized space).

alright, sleepy time for me. later haters.

puppy addiction

21.November.08

so i’ve been addicted to this Shiba Inu Puppy Cam…and I think you should be addicted, too!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

They are going to their future homes in 3 weeks, so these last 21 days are your last chance to indulge in the cuteness

yo gabba gabba

18.November.08

its late and way past my bedtime. but I wanted to download music so there.

So I don’t really know what cartoons are on TV for kids nowadays (b/c im so old…), but i think that I had heard of Yo Gabba Gabbaa from channel surfing. To make a long story short, I fould this amazing video of The Roots on Yo Gabba Gabba….i die

many thanks to nah right for this fun.

back in attack

15.November.08

Hey y’all! I know. It has been more than a week. I’m a terrible blogger….I’m sorry. I’ve been busy and my craptastical laptop has been at circuit city (who happened to go bankrupt the day after I dropped my computer off there…nice) getting a diagnostic test. I just picked it up last night; thanks to some god it still starts up and works, (enough to deal with), but the Firedog guy said there was a “hard drive failure”. I love how the people there talk to me like I don’t know anything about computers…anyhoo, long story short I am currently on Laura’s computer (she had a great dinner party last night and I ended up passing out here) and I have some ish to post.

So first, one of my facebook friends posted on of her friend’s pictures that he received from election night of the Obama crew. here are some of my faves:

Barack and Michelles mother

Barack and Michelle's mother

Barack and Malia

Barack and Malia

creepy grandpa joe? haha. just kidding. precious.

creepy grandpa joe? haha. just kidding. precious.

Mother and Daughters

Mother and Daughters

yes, that light is god

yes, that light is god

Ok. Now onto the mess that is Proposition 8. If you haven’t heard about THIS, then you have been living under a rock and don’t know that we have a black president; because the two have been HUGE in the news.

I found a group on facebook that pretty much sums up my views on this whole situation, regarding the reports on who voted for Prop 8 and why. These two guys created a blog about it…here is the group description:

Facebook Group: I Still Think Marriage is the Wrong Goal

A lot of stories are circulating right now claiming that Black and Latino voters are to blame for Prop 8 passing. Beneath this claim is an uninterrogated idea that people of color are “more homophobic” than white people. Such an idea equates gayness with whiteness and erases the lives of LGBT people of color. It also erases and marginalizes the enduring radical work of LGBT people of color organizing that has prioritized the most vulnerable members of our communities.

Current conversations about Prop 8 hide how the same-sex marriage battle has been part of a conservative gay politics that de-prioritizes people of color, poor people, trans people, women, immigrants, prisoners and people with disabilities. Why isn’t Prop 8’s passage framed as evidence of the mainstream gay agenda’s failure to ally with people of color on issues that are central to racial and economic justice in the US?

Let’s remember the politics of marriage itself. The simplistic formula that claims “you’re either pro-marriage or against equality” makes us forget that all forms of marriage perpetuate gender, racial and economic inequality. It mistakenly assumes that support for marriage is the only good measure of support for LGBT communities. This political moment calls for anti-homophobic politics that centralize anti-racism and anti-poverty. Marriage is a coercive state structure that perpetuates racism and sexism through forced gender and family norms. Right wing pro-marriage rhetoric has targeted families of color and poor families, supported a violent welfare and child protection system, vilified single parents and women, and marginalized queer families of all kinds. Expanding marriage to include a narrow band of same-sex couples only strengthens that system of marginalization and supports the idea that the state should pick which types of families to reward and recognize and which to punish and endanger.

We still demand a queer political agenda that centralizes the experiences of prisoners, poor people, immigrants, trans people, and people with disabilities. We reject a gay agenda that pours millions of dollars into campaigns for access to oppressive institutions for a few that stand to benefit.

We’re being told marriage is the way to solve gay people’s problems with health care access, immigration, child custody, and symbolic equality. It doesn’t solve these problems, and there are real campaigns and struggles that would and could approach these problems for everyone, not just for a privileged few. Let’s take the energy and money being put into gay marriage and put it toward real change: opposing the War on Terror and all forms of endless war; supporting queer prisoners and building a movement to end imprisonment; organizing against police profiling and brutality in our communities; fighting attacks on welfare, public housing and Medicaid; fighting for universal health care that is trans and reproductive healthcare inclusive; fighting to tax wealth not workers; fighting for a world in which no one is “illegal.”

One of the group members also posted an interesting blog post from Frank Leon Roberts and his view on “marriage“:

Clarifying my position on “marriage.”

If We Have To Take Tomorrow
(Edited by Frank Leon Roberts and Marvin K. White,
Institute for Gay Men’s Health, 2006)

Several years ago, while I was still a young-little lad, Bay Area poet Marvin K. White (a former member of the 1980s performance troupe PoMo Afro Homos) and I co-edited a small collection of essays entitled “If We Have To Take Tomorrow (HIV, Black Men, and Same Sex Desire).” The book was published by AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the Black AIDS Institute. It featured original essays by E. Patrick Johnson, Tim’m West, David Malebranche, Kenyon Farrow, Thomas Glave, Rev. Osagyfeo Uhuru Sekou and many others.

The book has since fallen out of print, but hopefully it will finally be available through amazon.com later this year. You can download a free copy in PDF format by visiting the following websites: AIDS Project Los Angeles or the Black AIDS Institute. Even though if I could do it again I would do a lot of things differently, I think the collection is still worth taking a look at.

In the book I contributed a brief essay entitled “Why I Hate Gay Marriage, or, Notes on Queering Black Gay and Lesbian Politics.” In light of some of the mail that I’ve been receiving in response my recent post on Duanna Johnson, I’m encouraging folks to read If We Have To Take Tomorrow, where you can get a fuller sense of my position on the same-sex marriage debate . Though my essay in that book is tinged in somewhat of a youthful naivety, most of my positions remain fundamentally unchanged.

Some folks have accused me of being insensitive to those queer people who actually want to get married. That was and is not my fundamental intention. Let me be clear about something. I have long said that I am not necessarily opposed to gay people getting married as much as I am opposed to the gay marriage movement. I should explain that distinction.

Though it may wreak of a liberal humanism, I do believe that people should be allowed to marry whomever they want. Nonetheless, I believe in an obliteration of “marriage” as a legal institution. I believe that marriage should remain a religious or symbolic exercise for those that wish to engage in it (sort of like a Bar Mitzvah), but should never form the basis by which critical legal rights are distributed.

I continue to find myself longing for a more sophisticated and democratic queer agenda that would advocate for more widespread redistributions of the legal rights associated with marriage, rather than simply a reinscription of the legitimacy of this troubled institution. The problem with “gay marriage” is that it never critiques or challenges the assumption that “marriage” must be a state-sponsored legal institution rather than simply a religious or symbolic exercise.

Too often marriage allows for an unfair legal path to healthcare, insurance, or citizenship rights that single people (or couples that choose to remain unmarried) do not have equal access to. Unfortunately “Gay Marriage” discourses in no way challenge these fundamental legal inequities. It simply asks to “make more room at the table” rather than attempt to burn the table down.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Time does not allow me to get into a more substantive debate about the gay marriage movement. Luckily there are plenty of other, far more knowledgeable, queer scholars who have critically addressed this issue in recent years. I would encourage folks to review the important work of historian Lisa Duggan, among others.

Good stuff. Now onto some more sad but still very relevant news. Another facebook friend of mine posted this post from AngryBrownButch about Duanna Johnson, a trans woman from Memphis, TN, who was brutally beaten by a Memphis cop in February 2008 and who was recently murdered:

A Google News search for “Duanna Johnson” yields 50 results, many syndicated and therefore redundant. Much of the coverage is tainted by the transphobia and victim-blaming that tends to inflect media coverage of violence against trans women of color (like this Associated Press article). A search for “Proposition 8″? 18,085 results – 354.6 times more than for Duanna Johnson.

The skew in the blogosphere is less severe but still pronounced. A Google BlogSearch for Duanna Johnson: 2,300 results. For Prop 8? 240,839, or 100 times more.

Don’t think I’m being deliberately unrealistic or dismissive here. I don’t deny that the passage of Proposition 8 is harmful to the LGBT community and bears much anger, attention, and agitation. I understand the difference in magnitude of the number lives directly affected by the passage of Proposition 8 versus the number of lives directly affected by Duanna Johnson’s murder. I get that.

Yet still, the disparity in attention is damn stark. And that skew isn’t limited to this particular incident; it is a skew that is present in the collective coverage of and attention paid to all violence against trans women of color. And it is a skew that reflects what the GLb(t) mainstream chosen to prioritize with time, energy, and resources, and what it has chosen to address primarily with lip service and leftovers. An apt example of this: the Prop 8 op-ed written by Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese communicates more anger, more commitment to an enduring fight for justice, more of a sense of giving a damn than his brief, comparatively tepid statement in HRC press release on Duanna Johnson’s death.

There is a call out for people to donate money to help Johnson’s mother pay her funeral expenses, which are right now expected to total $1195. Unfortunately, there is some confusion about how to make donations and concern about whether the funeral home is doing right by Mrs. Skinner. I advise folks who wish to donate to use caution; I hope that a clearer, more secure way of donating is established soon. UPDATE: It’s been established.

But when it is possible to make donations safely, I hope that many people donate whatever they can. $1195 is a relatively small amount to raise. Given that the No On Prop 8 campaign was able to raise $37.6 million – or 31,464 times the cost of Duanna Johnson’s funeral – raising this far smaller amount should be no problem for our community. Right?

So sad how this news is not brought up by the media, but Prop 8 is. And another very sad story about a Mexican immigrant who was beat to death in Suffolk County, NY, by some drunk high school kids just for the hell of it:

Friends of Jeffrey Conroy, a star athlete at the school, say he was known to do it, too. And last Saturday night, after drinking in a park in the Long Island hamlet of Medford, Mr. Conroy, 17, and six other teenagers declared that they were going to attack “a Mexican” and headed to the more ethnically diverse village of Patchogue to hunt, according to friends and the authorities.

They found their target in Marcelo Lucero, a serious-minded, 37-year-old immigrant from a poor village in Ecuador who had lived in the United States for 16 years, mostly in Patchogue, and worked in a dry cleaning store, sending savings home to support his mother, a cancer survivor.

After the boys surrounded, taunted and punched Mr. Lucero, the authorities say, Mr. Conroy plunged a knife into his victim’s chest, fatally wounding him.

The attack has horrified and puzzled many in this comfortable Suffolk County village of 11,700. Prosecutors have labeled it a hate crime and County Executive Steve Levy called the defendants, who have pleaded not guilty, “white supremacists.” And some immigrant advocates on Long Island have described the attack as a reflection of widespread anti-Latino sentiment and racial intolerance in Suffolk County.

What gets me is that this attack “puzzled’ he residents on this town. I am not proud to say that something like this does not surprise me. I would also like to point out that just because we voted for a biracial president, does NOT mean that we all of a sudden live in a post-racial world.

Ok, back to sleep. I may upload some more uplifting stuff later…

what does this mean

5.November.08

tim wise’s analysis of obama’s win. some i agree with. some i don’t. but nonetheless, an interesting read:

Good, and Now Back to Work: Avoiding Both Cynicism and Overconfidence in the Age of Obama

by guest contributor Tim Wise

Tonight, after Barack Obama was confirmed as the nation’s president-elect, I looked in on my children, as they lay sleeping. Though they are about as politically astute as kids can be, having reached only the ages of 7 and 5, there is no way they will be able to truly appreciate what has just happened in the land they call home. They do not possess the sense of history, or indeed, even a clear understanding of what history means, so as to adequately process what happened this evening, as they slumbered. Even as our oldest cast her first grade vote for Obama in school today, and even as our youngest has become somewhat notorious for pointing to pictures of Sarah Palin on magazines and saying, “There’s that crazy lady who hates polar bears,” they remain, still, naive as to the nation they have inherited. They do not really understand the tortured history of this place, especially as regards race. Oh they know more than most–to live as my children makes it hard not to–but still, the magnitude of this occasion will likely not catch up to them until Barack Obama is finishing at least his first, if not his second term as president.

But that’s OK. Because I know what it means, and will make sure to tell them.

And before detailing what I perceive that meaning to be (both its expansiveness and limitations) let me say this, to some of those on the left–some of my friends and longtime compatriots in the struggle for social justice–who yet insist that there is no difference between Obama and McCain, between Democrats and Republicans, between Biden and Palin: Screw you.

If you are incapable of mustering pride in this moment, and if you cannot appreciate how meaningful this day is for millions of black folks who stood in lines for up to seven hours to vote, then your cynicism has become such an encumbrance as to render you all but useless to the liberation movement. Indeed, those who cannot appreciate what has just transpired are so eaten up with nihilistic rage and hopelessness that I cannot but think that they are a waste of carbon, and actively thieving oxygen that could be put to better use by others.

This election does indeed matter. No, it is not the same as victory against the forces of injustice, and yes, Obama is a heavily compromised candidate, and yes, we will have to work hard to hold him accountable. But it matters nonetheless that he, and not the bloodthirsty bomber McCain, or the Christo-fascist, Palin, managed to emerge victorious.

Those who say it doesn’t matter weren’t with me on the south side of Chicago this past week, surrounded by a collection of amazing community organizers who go out and do the hard work every day of trying to help create a way out of no way for the marginalized. All of them know that an election is but a part of the solution, a tactic really, in a larger struggle of which they are a daily part; and none of them are so naive as to think that their jobs are now to become a cakewalk because of the election of Barack Obama. But all of them were looking forward to this moment. They haven’t the luxury of believing in the quixotic campaigns of Dennis Kucinich, or waiting around for the Green Party to get its act together and become something other than a pathetic caricature, symbolized by the utterly irrelevant and increasingly narcissistic presence of Ralph Nader on the electoral scene. And while Cynthia McKinney remains a pivotal figure in the struggle, the party to which she was tethered this year shows no more ability to sustain movement activity than it was eight years ago, and most everyone working in oppressed communities in this nation knows it.

It’s like this y’all: Jesse Jackson was weeping openly on national television. This is a man who was with Dr. King when he was murdered and he was bawling like a baby. So don’t tell me this doesn’t matter.

John Lewis–who had his head cracked open, has been arrested more times, and has probably spilled far more blood for the cause of justice than all the white, dreadlocked, self-proclaimed anarchists in this country combined–couldn’t be more thrilled at what has happened. If he can see it, then frankly, who the hell are we not to?

Those who say this election means nothing, who insist that Obama, because he cozied up to Wall Street, or big business, is just another kind of evil no different than any other, are in serious risk of political self-immolation, and it is a burning they will richly deserve. That the victorious presidential candidate is actually a capitalist (contrary to the fevered imaginations of the right) is no more newsworthy than the fact that rain falls down and grass grows skyward. It is to be properly placed in the “no shit Sherlock,” file. That anyone would think it possible for someone who didn’t raise hundreds of millions of dollars to win–at this time in our history at least–only suggests that some on the left would prefer to engage politics from a place of aspirational innocence, rather than in the real world, where battles are won or lost.

So let us be clear as to what tonight meant:

It was a defeat for the right-wing echo chamber and its rhetorical stormtroopers, foremost among them Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

It was a defeat for the crazed mobs ever-present at McCain/Palin rallies, what with their venomous libels against Obama, their hate-addled brains spewing forth one after another racist and religiously chauvinistic calumny upon his head and those of his supporters.

It was a defeat for the internet rumor-pimps who insisted to all they could reach with a functioning e-mail address that Obama was not really a citizen. Or perhaps he was, but he was a Muslim, or perhaps not a Muslim, but probably a black supremacist, or maybe not that either, but surely the anti-christ, and most definitely a baby-killer.

It was a defeat for those who believed McCain and Palin would be delivered the victory by the hand of almighty God, because their theological and eschatological vacuity so regularly gets in the way of their ability to think. As such, it was a setback for the religious fascists in the far-right Christian community whose belief that God is on their side has always made them especially dangerous. Now, having lost, perhaps at least some of these will be forced to ponder what went wrong. If we’re lucky, perhaps some will suffer the kind of crisis of faith that often prefaces a complete nervous breakdown. Either way, it’s nice just to ruin their Young-Earth-Creationist-I-Have-an-Angel-on-My-Shoulder day.

It was a defeat for the demagogues who tried in so many ways to push the buttons of white racism–the old-fashioned kind, or what I call Racism 1.0–by using thinly-veiled racialized language throughout the campaign. Appeals to Joe Six-Pack, “values voters,” blue-collar voters, or hockey moms, though never explicitly racialized, were transparent to all but the most obtuse, as were terms like “terrorist” when used to describe Obama. Likewise, the attempt to race-bait the economic crisis by blaming it on loans to poor folks of color through the Community Reinvestment Act, or community activists like the folks at ACORN, failed, and this matters. No, it doesn’t mean that white America has rejected racism. Indeed, I have been quite deliberate for months about pointing out the way that racism 1.0 may be traded in only to be replaced by racism 2.0 (which allows whites to still view most folks of color negatively but carve out exceptions for those few who make us feel comfortable and who we see as “different”). And yet, that tonight was a drubbing for that 1.0 version of racism still matters.

And tonight was a victory for a few things too.

It was a victory for youth, and their social and political sensibilities. It was the young, casting away the politics of their parents and even grandparents, and turning the corner to a new day, perhaps naively, and too optimistic about the road from here, but nonetheless in a way that has historically almost always been good for the country. Much as youth were inspired by a relatively moderate John F. Kennedy (who was, on balance, far less progressive than Obama in many ways), and much as they then formed the frontline troops for so much of the social justice activism of the following fifteen years, so too can such a thing be forseen now. That Kennedy may have been quite restrained in his social justice sensibilities did not matter: the young people whose energy he helped unleash took things in their own direction and outgrew him rather quickly in their progression to the left.

Tonight was also a victory for the possibility of greater cross-racial alliance building. Although Obama failed to win most white votes, and although it is no doubt true that many of the whites who did vote for him nonetheless hold to any number of negative and racist stereotypes about the larger black and brown communities of this nation, it it still the case that black, brown and white worked together in this effort as they have rarely done before. And many whites who worked for Obama, precisely because they got to see, and hear, and feel the racist vitriol still animating far too many of our nation’s people, will now be wiser for the experience when it comes to understanding how much more work remains to be done on the racial justice front. Let us build on that newfound knowledge, and that newfound energy, and create real white allyship with community-based leaders of color as we move forward in the years to come.

But now for the other side of things.

First and foremost, please know that none of these victories will amount to much unless we do that which needs to be done so as to turn a singular event about one man, into a true social movement (which, despite what some claim, it is not yet and has never been).

And so it is back to work. Oh yes, we can savor the moment for a while, for a few days, perhaps a week. But well before inauguration day we will need to be back on the job, in the community, in the streets, where democracy is made, demanding equity and justice in places where it hasn’t been seen in decades, if ever. Because for all the talk of hope and change, there is nothing–absolutely, positively nothing–about real change that is inevitable. And hope, absent real pressure and forward motion to actualize one’s dreams, is sterile and even dangerous. Hope, absent commitment is the enemy of change, capable of translating to a giving away of one’s agency, to a relinquishing of the need to do more than just show up every few years and push a button or pull a lever.

This means hooking up now with the grass roots organizations in the communities where we live, prioritizing their struggles, joining and serving with their constituents, following leaders grounded in the community who are accountable not to Barack Obama, but the people who helped elect him. Let Obama follow, while the people lead, in other words.

For we who are white it means going back into our white spaces and challenging our brothers and sisters, parents, neighbors, colleagues and friends–and ourselves–on the racial biases that still too often permeate their and our lives, and making sure they know that the success of one man of color does not equate to the eradication of systemic racial inequity.

So are we ready for the heavy lifting? This was, after all, merely the warmup exercise, somewhat akin to stretching before a really long run. Or perhaps it was the first lap, but either way, now the baton has been handed to you, to us. We must not, cannot, afford to drop it. There is too much at stake.

The worst thing that could happen now would be for us to go back to sleep; to allow the cool poise of Obama’s prose to lull us into slumber like the cool on the underside of the pillow. For in the light of day, when fully awake, it becomes impossible not to see the incompleteness of the task so far.

So let us begin.

from Racialicious

i can’t believe it

5.November.08

i mean i can. but i can’t at the same time!!!  thank goodness i dont have to move to germany and become a german citizen now (although i wouldn’t mind living in Berlin…)

i’m so excited. i don’t want to go back to sleep. i think tomorrow should be a national holiday...

the 44th president of the united states of america

the 44th president of the united states of america

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