Mr. Keyes announced towards the end of the campaign that,
"Jesus Christ would not vote for Barack Obama... because Barack Obama has behaved in a way that it is
inconceivable for Christ to have behaved."
...I was urged by some of my liberal supporters not to take this
statement seriously...But what they didn't understand, however, was that I had to take Mr.
Keyes seriously, for he claimed to speak for my religion, and my God.
Besides keeping an eye on the battle to take back our culture (I'll deal with who 'our' is another time) I'm also trying to get my hands around the throat of the Obama-rama. Not to choke it, but just to feel that carotid pulse thump what may be the American heartbeat.
There's too much stuff out there to even count: 6,400 del.icio.us tags, 17,000 Google hits, etc. His net roots seem to go deeper by the day, as does his mainstream institutional cred (see today's WSJ on pulling even with Hilary in the polls.)
But let me narrow this to the subject of the core of Obama's undeniable (and poll verified) appeal. People invest him with all their intangible hopes for genuine change. Call it uplift, reform, progress, reconciliation (racial, but also multinational). He's being cast as the perfect vessel for whatever oil people feel will soothe our strained relationship with each other and with the world.
As one Obama-maniac I recently met put it, "He's JFK meets MLK."
I'm no better than anyone else feeling Barry. I want to see him as part of what I've been calling the Revival. Through this lens, Obama's address to a diverse conference of religious groups calling for a Covenant for a New America last summer is must reading.
Just a quick hit on two developments. Russell Simmons has called for banning 'b@%ch', the 'n-word' and that well known garden implement from rap in radio play.
Immediate reactions from some quarters in the AP story: Russell can only be a part of the problem.
My take: Even if it's pure CYA in a press release from Simmons and his Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (consigliere Ben Chavis) the brother should be engaged, taken at his word, and then held accountable to it for results.
And when we're done, let's somehow find some tough (very tough) love for the rapper Cam'ron, recently photographed pointing an automatic weapon at the camera (life imitating my metaphor at bottom of preceding post life) for a Daily News piece. (Hat tip: Bold As Love)
As the V-Tech slayings dominated the headlines, Cam'ron made news by declaring he'd never help the police, even if he knew a serial killer was right next door. Yes, once again, rappers keep it real--real ignorant--for money. Stupid, with a bullet, literally.
Russell, put your mouth where your money is and talk to this young man, please!
Thanks to Racialicious for staying "on it" about what's shaking in race/identity/anti-racism. Two recent posts highlight the starting line for the opportunity in the iMuss to begin addressing the sickness in our culture that keeps us apart as the American people. And, inevitably, the dithering has begun.
One points to a round table at Salon on "Is Rap Racist." It features such estimable thinkers as Nelson George, Bakari Kitwanna, Juan Williams, Margo Jefferson and Michael Eric Dyson. The exquisitely windy Prof. Dyson best represented the worst early tendency of this discussion: worrying more about who most deserves blame than the case for action itself.
Yes, greedy corporate masters call the ultimate shots in the pop culture industries. Yes, the so called "white media" has been hypocritical, duplicitous, complicit and just plain stupid in discharging it's responsibilities to us as consumers and citizens. And yes, muzzling every guilty gangsta will not pull misogyny and racial self-hatred out at the roots.
But neither will failing to admit the truth without qualification: the music that pours 24-7 from every orifice in some communities of culture is not part of the solution. And (as the neo-60's-revolutionary Prof. Dyson must know) that means it's part of the problem. A big part. Because, even if it's only a symptom of the accumulated racism/violence/misogyny and rapacious capitalism that makes us who we are, it's a symptom that validates the disease. 24-7. And loud, usually to the exclusion of all competing information. Even Prof. Dyson can't get through to someone with an iPod on max in their ears.
First, my deepest condolences and prayers for the families and loved ones touched by the Virginia Tech slaying. My prayers especially extend to seeing something good come from the outpouring of national attention to something so bad. We will never really know the truth about why it happened. But, once again, we do know how it happened: easy legal access to guns that have no other purpose but killing people.
I'd like to see this tragedy reopen the discussion about effective national gun control. But meanwhile, let's focus on the good that is coming out of the iMuss bad. It's not about Leon, but I was very proud to talk this possibility up last weekend when I was interviewed on NPR's "On The Media." I was pleased right down to the outtro music, a bit of instrumental from Stevie Wonder's "I Wish".
Lookin' back on when I/was a little nappy-headed boy. Then my only worry/ was for Christmas what would be my toy... I wish those days/would/come back once more...
You could call the choice ironic, but I choose to take it as Stevie Wonder, in his genius and love for black and all peoples, intended it: inspirational and prophetic. I wish the iMuss will morph into a spirit leading a movement to turn the heart of our common culture to loving and building each other up, and away from tearing each other down for money. Every movement needs a name: I'm calling it The Revival.
This is not, repeat, not a nostalgia trip.
I don't mean to get Pentecostal on you (I'm not) but here's where I've seen the spirit moving:
Credit to the power of wishful thinking. And prayer, for those of us who believe.
As I predicted in faith last Thursday, the war for American cultural renewal is looking to open up a front against the main force degrading people of color in general and black women in particular: the rap/hip-hop media marketing and entertainment industry. So says the AP: "With Imus Gone, Critics Turning to Rap". Some quotes:
"We all know where the real battleground is," wrote Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock. "We know that the gangsta rappers and their followers in the athletic world have far bigger platforms to negatively define us than some old white man with a bad radio show."
Cultural critic, author and columnist Stanley Crouch, a longtime foe of rap music, suspected the Imus ordeal would galvanize young black women across the country. He said a key moment was when the Rutgers players appeared at a news conference this week - poised, dignified and defying stereotypes seen in rap videos and "dumb" comedies. "When the public got to see these women, what they were, it was kind of shocking," Crouch said. "It made accepting the denigration not quite as comfortable as it had been for far too long."
Let it be noted without comment that the Rev. Al Sharpton also said he was committed to the battle that, frankly, cynical conventional wisdom holds to be an already lost cause.
We'll see...but for now I want to start a watch on the Apologists Parade. That's all those people, starting with the usual self-interested suspects, that convene (connive?) conventional wisdom on this issue. Snoop Dogg was first up; his asinine rant was actually a godsend, a perfect pretext to put gangsta rap culture into our sights.
(It comes from an interview with MTV. If you find their site as impossible to navigate for information as I do, here's the operative quote:
"It's a completely different scenario," said Snoop, barking over the phone from a hotel room in L.A. "[Rappers] are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We're talking about ho's that's in the 'hood that ain't doing sh--, that's trying to get a n---a for his money. These are two separate things. First of all, we ain't no old-ass white men that sit up on MSNBC [which announced Wednesday it would drop its simulcast of Imus' radio show] going hard on black girls. We are rappers that have these songs coming from our minds and our souls that are relevant to what we feel. I will not let them mutha----as say we in the same league as him."
I will let Snoop hang.....er, speak, for himself.
And did you hear about the Allentown, Pa. rock-jock who got fired for having listeners call in to say "I'm a nappy-headed 'ho" for a chance to win tickets to a NASCAR event?
The format, the gimmick and the prize says reams about what we're dealing with, as well as the resolution. He wouldn't have done it in the first place, but he also wouldn't have been fired if it weren't for the iMuss.
Thanks, Don Imus, for a gift that seems to keep on giving.
I hate it when things move so fast that I can't claim credit for my best navel gazing.
Before I could get it out of my journal and into the blog, it may be coming true that the next target of outrage over Don Imus's ugly-hip remarks about the Rutgers women will be the primary source of commercially acceptable misogyny and racial self-hatred : the hip-hop culture industry.
Quick, before I discover any more fresh belly button lint, here are my three basic points about the Imus vs. the Rutgers women flap.
It puts a salty finger right in the old black hair wound, especially for women. Since the 90's we've acted as though technology and fashion had ended the trauma of black hair in a white world. We have black blondes, yards of braids and locks and everybody sporting un-be-weaveable hair. But, in one short nasty sentence, this white guy in a cowboy hat got right under our collective wig of shame.
It brings us even closer to a showdown about the rot that ghettoized popular culture has caused. Racist or not, Imus was doing his version of what almost every white public personality (comedians, anchors, talking hed hosts) does to some extent to signal they're hip or funny or even outrageous. He went ghetto. Some do it with deliberate self-parody that puts most of the joke on them. Others do it with cold- blooded intent to appear hard-core. They let the chips fall where they may depending on who they're trying to impress. But after Imus I think the stakes are now too high for the average wannabe hipster to risk their careers on something they really don't get. (right, Michael Richards??)
Credit must go to the amazing nobility, discipline and leadership of Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer in representing her charges. And credit also to the untiring efforts of the womens NCAA and WNBA to present their athletes in the squeakiest of squeaky clean lights. It has been said that if you’re black you have to be twice as good to get half as much. Same for women ballers (of all colors) only they must be three times as good. They play their hearts out, keep their public noses clean, and they try real hard to look good—even ladylike—in their on-court appearance. The Rutgers women have the hearts of anyone who watched the women's tourney last month. No matter which team you favored, the Rutgers and Tennessee finalists represented the collective hope of all the fans of the still under-loved women's game.
Oh yessssss, Imus picked the wrong sisters, at the wrong time, to mess with. But the wrong time for Imus may prove exactly the right time for the rest of us who agree with Roy Johnson that the iMuss moment should be:
...a time when our collective consciousness simply said, Enough. No longer would the language of hate be tolerated. No longer will the words we’ve become desensitived to be tolerated.
At 76, the 18-term congressman is promoting "And I Haven't Had A Bad Day Since" at a pace that would drop someone a third his age. Try two major book signings, 23 radio, 2 web, and 11 national television appearances since Sunday April 1!
Ok, I am biased. But I stand behind the publisher's short blurb:
"…And I Haven’t Had a Bad Day Since,” is the engaging, often humorous and sometimes bittersweet memoir of Charlie B. Rangel, from his youth as a dropout on the streets of Harlem to the frozen battlefields of the Korean War, through the rough and tumble of Harlem clubhouse politics and finally the chairmanship of the most powerful committee in Congress. Rangel’s story reveals the emotional making of a very public man through the context of his times: the post-war experience of black American empowerment.
At least until I can write a better one.
Here are some quick links to the media hype. Then I'm off to start building a website that I promise will add some multimedia value to this unique story of African-American becoming.
"Meet The Press" (Tim Russert asks about Democrats stiffening opposition to the Iraq War) click here to get to a video podcast download of the show, then slide to about 31:50 (works cool on iTunes).
"Lou Dobbs Tonight" (CNN, April 3) (Lou Dobbs actually read this book, and the interview suggests he loved it. Click here for the print version on the CNN site, then click "watch Lou's interview..." link in the third paragraph. (Windows (ugghh) Media Player may be required)
"Daily Kos" (long interview about the war, the Dems, and the book.)