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Posts Tagged ‘Jay-Z’

Unless you have been hibernating during the Winter of Trump or hiding in a cave in the event of a Trump-induced nuclear holocaust, then you are probably aware that Colin Kaepernick is on his way to being the first player banned from the National Football League for his political views. The only thing worse than the racist right wing hegemony exhibited by the NFL owners is the indolent lap dog acceptance of this travesty by far too many black Americans.
The facts are that since he assumed his status as a free agent after the 2016-2017, not one of the 32 NFL teams has even offered him a tryout, even though most football experts would agree that he is a better quarterback than all 32 of the current backup quarterbacks in the league, and more than a few would argue that he is as good as, if not better, than more than a few of the starting quarterbacks in the league.
The facts are that numerous voices in the NFL Mothership have voiced “concerns” over Mr. Kaepernick’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before games. Further, his expressions of concern, outrage and frustration at the macabre American conveyor belt that transports the corpses of black victims of police brutality across the national landscape have been considered inappropriate for the sport.
The facts are that the NFL has welcomed players who have killed people, raped women, beaten women, ingested all manner of recreational and performance enhancing drugs and paid them enormous sums of money. The facts are that NFL players have expressed their support for Donald Trump despite his history of racism, misogyny, sexual assault and xenophobia without consequence.
The fact is that Colin Kaepernick is being denied re-entry into the NFL because his political beliefs and his public support of the Black Lives Matter movement. And it is also a fact that even though 75% of the players in the NFL are black, very few players have raised a voice of concern, much less protest – Richard Sherman and Martellus Bennett are a few come to mind, but whatever happened to Odell Beckham, Jr. or Russell Wilson or Cam Newton or any number of NFL superstars who are virtually immune from sanction because of their star power?
And what happened to DeMaurice Smith and Eric Winston, the Executive Director and President of the NFL Players Association respectively? Have they been muted by the enormous sums of money that are earned by their membership or have they been neutered by the fear of the awesome power wielded by NFL owners?
And while we are at it, where is the grassroots support for Colin Kaepernick? The black fan base in the NFL is huge and has the capacity to be vocal, but except for a recent protest by Spike Lee, the sound of black silence has rolled across this country like thunder that is simply too quiet.
The reason why the Kaepernick Affair is so important is that the NFL is such an important part of American culture. The fact is that the NFL has suckled at the breast of the American taxpayer (many of whom are black) to the tune of billions of dollars in order to build their football temple stadiums and the NFL has received many more billions of dollars of revenue from American consumers (many of whom are black).
It is sad to see so little resistance from Black America when the NFL owners are acting in such obvious concert to silence black protest. It is sad to see such silence from the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Urban League and Black Lives matter. For that matter, what has happened to the voices of Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Hart, LeBron James and all the other black men and women who manage to dominate the American media for their own profit? In this age of virulent Trumpism, racism and degradation must be confronted all the time.
The NFL season begins in a little less than a month. One can only hope that Colin Kaepernick finds a roster position and one can only hope that all Black Americans – indeed all Americans – find the voice to resist this blatant injustice.

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The controversy surrounding L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his race based rant is fascinating and in some ways difficult to understand. Of course, Sterling’s comments are reprehensible but considering that the Confederate flags still fly over state capitols where NBA franchises are located, it should not be a surprise to discover that some white people really don’t like black people. But if Donald Sterling is to be drawn and quartered for making hateful comments about black people, do black people who make similarly hateful and harmful comments about black people get a pass?

One could argue that enough has been written about a cranky old white man who debases himself before his too-young-for-him mistress. True, he does own an NBA franchise, and true, many black people play in the NBA. And true, there is nothing defensible about his comments about black people. Ergo, so the torch and pitchfork carrying media mob contends, Donald Sterling should be forced to give up his NBA franchise and live his remaining years wearing ashes and sackcloth.

But, as noted, this is a country where the stench of the slaveholding Confederate States of America is still fresh in the breezes that blow Confederate flags above state capitols, state universities in too many places. This is a country where the first black President of the United States has been called a monkey, a Muslim, an alien interloper and a liar on the floor of Congress, all without consequence. And this is a country where black people are routinely barred from the corridors of power by unspoken rules of the road, not by a white robed Jim Crow, but by a pinstripe suit attired James Crow 2.0.

So it should be no surprise when a white man (or woman), who is unaware that they are being recorded, tells us how they really feel about black people. And it certainly seems like the torch and pitchfork media mob and its enablers are more than a little disingenuous in excoriating Sterling while racism and horrific language are hurled at black Americans without consequence every day – by black people.

Donald Sterling is eighty years old. He could live another eighty years and never use the word “nigger” as many times as Jay-Z has. The only difference is that Jay-Z has “niggered” his way to an enormous fortune, seemingly without consequence and certainly with little or no criticism. Certainly Jay-Z has never encountered the withering firestorm of criticism from LeBron James, Charles Barkley or the Reverend Al Sharpton or the Reverend Jesse Jackson that the hapless fool that we know as Donald Sterling has experienced.

Jay-Z and Kanye West collaborated on the misogynistic and obviously racist “Niggers in Paris” album and the silence from the Sterling hangmen was deafening. The characterization and reference to black women as “bitches” and “ho’s” and worse has been part of the accepted culture of “artists” like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Little Wayne, Fifty Cent and so many more and nowhere has there been a call to boycott their lucrative “art” or to skewer them Sterling-style.

And let us not forget the less than memorable Cornel West and his anti-Obama rants, likening the first black President of the United States to a “lap dog”. And while Dr. West is entitled to his full exercise of free speech, his off the chain critiques of President Obama have given clear aid and comfort to the enemy. And yet, Cornel West continues to rake in speaking fees based on the insults and calumny that he hurls at President Obama again, without consequence and certainly without receiving the Sterling Special Treatment.

There is nothing about Donald Sterling that is worthy of defense or further mention. The “art” of Jay-Z, Fifty Cents, Little Wayne, Kanye West and others have had a deep cultural and behavioral impact on the American black community, almost all of it negative and decidedly demeaning.

On his worst day Donald Sterling has never inflicted as much damage on the black community as the aforementioned crew and their running buddies. After the torch and pitchfork crew is finished with Sterling, maybe they will turn their attention to the real villains.

 

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The Law of Unintended of Consequences is one of those laws that cannot be questioned. We have known all along that the race-based and unconstitutional Stop and Frisk procedure employed by the New York Police Department has resulted in the erosion of trust and confidence in law enforcement in many communities of color. As recent incidents at Barneys and Macy’s show, it has also resulted in the general criminalization of people of color.

Just about every adult black American who lives in or near a city has a story that involves their being followed around in a department store by security. It happened to Barack Obama and if you are an adult black American reading these words, it has probably happened to you.

During the past week, however, news stories regarding the arrest and detainment of black people who have legally purchased high end luxury items makes it clear that in New York, thanks to Stop and Frisk, white paranoia regarding the criminality of black people has reached hysterical, if not historical, levels. The fact that the wrongly apprehended individuals were offered a perfunctory apology by the NYPD does not hide the fact that there appears to be a new crime in the New York State Penal Code – LWB or Living While Black.

The Law of Unintended Consequences has been hard at work here. After over 4,000,000 unconstitutional and race-based stops over the past ten years, the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk policy has not only trained its officers to look at people of color as likely criminals, the virus has spread.

After ten years of official criminal profiling of people of color in New York City, a policy specifically and heartily endorsed by the mayor and the police commissioner and praised by more than a few businesses, newspaper editorials and citizens groups, there should be no wonder that many white (and non-white) New Yorkers (and retailers like Macys, Barneys and others) have come down with bad cases of profile-itis.

It is an ongoing tragedy that law-abiding citizens of the City of New York should have to worry about being questioned, detained or arrested for the simple crime of LWB. White citizens in New York do not think twice about walking into a department store and going to that section of the store where the luxury items.

Black citizens of New York have every right to feel that, in a similar circumstance, they are seen as escapees from some racial township in a latter day version of American apartheid. They are simply out of their “territory” and even having the funds to purchase the items that they want is not enough to keep them from being caught in the jaws of a criminal justice system seemingly bent on promoting injustice rather than public safety.

Macys, Barneys and the NYPD have already issued their precooked apologies with all of the sincerity of stale beer. But just as New York City Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly remain adamant and unrepentant with respect to the odious race-based policy of Stop and Frisk, it is certain that there will not be any acknowledgement that “Ten Years a Suspect” could be the working title for a description of how that policy has been perceived by communities of color.

Meanwhile, as an ironic footnote to this sordid display of institutionalized retail racism, the rap mogul Jay-Z is planning to launch a line of eponymous high end clothing at……..you guessed it………..Barneys. And predictably, many of Jay-Z’s fans and others have called upon him to break off his relationship with Barneys. And predictably, Jay-Z has demurred to date.

The irony is that through his outlandish lyrics and commentary that glorifies violence, criminality and misogyny, Jay-Z has actually done more to convey the perception of young black Americans as potential criminals than ten years of Stop and Frisk. Again the Law of Unintended Consequences is hard at work.

One can be fairly certain that Jay-Z has never given a second thought to the impact and effect of his promoting some kind of faux gangster lifestyle. But one of the consequences of his successful promotion is that too many people, black and white, take him seriously. And the next consequence is that people of color get racially profiled and arrested by his business partner.

One would never have thought to see the NYPD and Jay-Z as strange bedfellows – but there they are – both complicit in demeaning, degrading and criminalizing communities of color but never thinking about the consequences.

 

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It has been observed that the exact moment that America began to lose its mind was at 12:10 PM on January 20, 2009 when Barack Obama became President Barack Obama. Since then madness has become the new normal as hordes of white Americans have donned their Tea Party Hats and wrapped themselves in Confederate flags seeking to “take back America”. Black Americans have not been immune from this crazy contagion and Dr. Ben Carson is Exhibit A in the American Mad House.

Clearly Dr. Carson was seeking to claim the Most Obnoxious Black Critic of President Obama, a prize that Professor Cornel West has been trying to turn into a Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Carson has overtaken Cornel West by claiming that the Affordable Care Act is “the worst thing to happen to America since slavery”.

Considering the indelible stain that racial slavery has left on this country’s moral, political and social fabric, it is beyond obscene for anyone to make that claim. Every oblivious to the horrific history of racial slavery in America, any number of white Teapublicans and others have made this baseless and logically indefensible claim.

But frankly, it is even worse when a black American will pick up the whip and the noose – lashing the truth and lynching the legacy of pain and perseverance of his own forebears. That Ben Carson should know better is not even the point. As a high school and college graduate and a medical doctor it is a good bet that he has a passing familiarity with the history of black and white people in America and knows that racial slavery was an abomination that can only be described as a crime against humanity.

Ben Carson is entitled to employ hyperbole and exaggeration but not at the expense of the history and legacy of his own people. To smear his muddy boots of extreme rhetoric on the graves and memories of generations of slaves and their descendants is simply unacceptable and he should be called to account for his misdeed.

Consider that you will never hear a member of the Jewish community, no matter how outraged at whatever political event, compare that event to the Holocaust, and with good reason. An American of French descent would never bring up the Nazi occupation of France in political discourse. That Ben Carson would not give the same level and respect to the victims of racial slavery in America and just leave them out of his howling screeds against Obamacare is offensive and shameful.

What makes Ben Carson’s all the more galling is that they come just as the Teapublicans in Congress and in the street have decided to show their true colors once and for all. On Sunday, October 13, 2013, there was a Tea Party demonstration in Washington and Confederate flags were unfurled along with racist taunts and slurs being hurled against President Obama.

All the while, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and all the rest of the unhooded New Knights of the White Magnolia stood silent, never uttering a syllable of restraint or decency. Dog whistle politics is not new in this country – but now it seems that one will hear “nigger” more times than is heard on a Jay-Z album and that is saying something.

One hundred and thirty years ago, Frederick Douglass spoke truth to power once more and his words are worth repeating:

 “…Though the colored man is no longer subject to barter and sale, he is surrounded by an adverse settlement which fetters all his movements. In his downward course, he meets with no resistance, but his course upward is resented and resisted at every step of his progress.

If he comes in ignorance, rags and wretchedness… he conforms to the popular belief of his character, and in that character he is welcome; but if he shall come as a gentleman, a scholar and a statesman, he is hailed as a contradiction to the national faith concerning his race, and his coming is resented as impudence.

In one case he may provoke contempt and derision, but in the other he is an affront to pride and provokes malice.

Frederick Douglass September 25, 1883

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With his recent remarks disparaging Latino immigrants Congressman Steve King has once again proven that Teapublicans never run out of racist sewage. Meanwhile Attorney General Eric Holder has taken on the state of Texas and its vicious voter suppression plan. And finally, Jay-Z is a wealthy superstar, adored by millions of fans around the world, but he is no match for Harry Belafonte.

This King is a Pauper

In explaining why he opposes just about everything related to immigration reform except self-deportation and higher walls, Congressman Steve King slimed the millions of men, women and children who have come to this country in recent years as he neatly sanctifies his own immigrant forebears.

Serving a bizarre stew of fiction, fantasy and racism, Congressman King claims that most immigrants coming from Mexico are drug mules. He even went so far as to say that many of these immigrants “have calves as big as cantaloupes” from carrying so much drug weight.

Unfortunately, his employment of racist myth to support his lily white America fantasy is nothing new. And when questioned, King was unapologetic and repeated his slimy statements.

And sadly for this country, Representative Steve King is also representative of the new leadership in the Teapublican Party.

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Immediately upon the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 states, counties and local governments rushed to implement some of the most restrictive voter suppression measures since the high cotton days of Jim Crow. That the paperwork was already completed before the Shelby v. Holder decision was even announced shows how eager some white people are to suppress the vote of anyone who is not white.

Now Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the Department of Justice will take the state of Texas to federal court to challenge the transparently racial and racist redistricting measures that will ensure white rule even as the demographics of the state turn darker every day. For this Attorney General Holder should be congratulated since thanks to the SCOTUS VRA travesty the Department of Justice will have to fight for voter rights trench by trench, case by case – hand to hand combat in every courtroom in every jurisdiction where voter suppression raises its ugly head.

And this is a good time to ask what do you think an Attorney General appointed by President Mitt Romney would be doing? Playing golf or just working on his tan?

Harry Belafonte v. Jay-Z

During the past few weeks there has been a media match going on as a result of lyrics in a song recently released by Jay-Z. Leaving out the profanity and the self-hating racist references, it appears that Jay-Z is criticizing Harry Belafonte for criticizing him for not demonstrating enough social responsibility.

Referring to the iconic Harry Belafonte as “boy”, Jay-Z basically deflects Mr. Belafonte’s criticism by alluding to his own charitable contributions. And we can give Mr. Sean Carter the benefit of the doubt that he and his wife, Beyonce, give significant sums of money to charity.

But Mr. Carter misses the point of Mr. Belafonte’s criticism. Social responsibility is more than giving away turkeys or dollars to the needy. Al Capone used to do that and drug dealers and gang leaders still do it.

Because of his success and popularity Jay-Z has the potential to follow in the footsteps of Paul Robeson and yes….Harry Belafonte. But to do that he would have to contribute to the enrichment of the lives and environment of his fans and supporters and that would mean reversing the decades that he has spent writing and singing lyrics glorifying and romanticizing violence while demeaning and degrading women all the while turning an incredibly racist epithet into some kind of bizarro term of endearment.

That might be a lot for Mr. Carter to do – but wouldn’t it be great to see him try.

Have a great weekend and stay strong!

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Shelden Adelson is one of the wealthiest men in America. He thinks President Obama should be defeated and is prepared to spend $100 million to make that happen. Welcome to the 21st century edition of the American Way. Meanwhile Professor Frederick Harris of Columbia University seems to feel that trashing the Obama presidency is his way of exercising academic freedom – but whatever happened to responsibility? And finally, Adidas came out with a sports shoe that has shackles attached……really. Protest was predictable. What was also predictable is the lack of attention to the context in which such a product could be sold.

Can You Spare $100 Million?

For those of you keeping score at home, the Citizens United decision by the rightwing of the rightwing of the United State Supreme Court has opened the way for unlimited sums of money to be spent on campaigns by individuals and corporations. By equating the uncontrolled expenditure of money with freedom of speech the RobertsScaliaThomasAlito cabal has guaranteed is that the only remaining question will be the extent to which abuse and excess will be seen.

Working hard to be the Poster Boy for Campaign Excess is Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Adelson, who is reported to be worth $20 billion, made his fortune as a glorified bookie and innkeeper, building and operating hotels and casinos in Las Vegas and now Macao.

Although his enormous wealth continues to grow exponentially, he has come to the conclusion that President Obama is bad for business and so he has announced that he is prepared to spend $100 million to defeat him in the upcoming election. And, we should all keep in mind that $100 million for Sheldon Adelson would be about $40 for a middle class family in this country.

In other words, wealthy individuals and large corporations can skew the political process and screw the American people for an investment that is less than a pittance for them.

And, thanks to the Citizens United decision there is nothing wrong with this.

The Revenge of the Little People

Dr. Frederick Harris is the director of the Center on African American Politics at Columbia University. In the midst of his sublime isolation in his ivy covered ebony tower he has published a book which asserts that the presidency of Barack Obama is a “disappointment” and unworthy of the struggles and sacrifices of the civil rights movement.

Dr. Harris must have uncovered some heretofore unknown document which sets forth the election of a black president as a stated goal of the civil rights movement. The election of Barack Obama is clearly related to the civil rights movement in that advances in voting, employment and academic opportunity helped to create an environment in which he could have been elected. But to suggest that the election of a black president has ever been a goal of the civil rights movement is not supported by any real evidence and makes no sense.

The problem with Dr. Harris, as with other ebony tower occupants, is that he will be taking no responsibility for the negative impact of his book as the presidential campaign begins in earnest. To the extent that some people will read his book and even fewer people will pay him any attention. Dr. Harris can serve to erode the edges of Barack Obama’s support at a time when literally every vote counts.

The inauguration of President Mitt Romney might be a bit bothersome for Dr. Harris but he will still be a tenured professor at one of the leading universities in the world with all the compensation, benefits and trappings that go along with the package.

But I would ask him the same question that I would ask Dr. Cornel West and the other Ebony Tower rock throwers – if Barack Obama is defeated and a Romney Administration takes over in 2013, what will you say to the millions of Americans who will suffer – many of them black – when Mitt Romney keeps the draconian promises that he has made during this campaign?

I’m just asking.

Shackled to Stupidity

This past week we learned that the Adidas shoe company had planned to sell a sneaker that featured ankle shackles. It is not clear if the shackles were meant to invoke images of slavery or prison but the uproar was both predictable and puzzling.

Wearing prison garb, complete with bandanas and sagging, oversize pants has been in fashion in the black community for years. Ankle shackles would just seem to be the next logical fashion step to take. High profile individuals like Jay-Z and Kanye West have made fortunes promoting misogynistic and violent behavior in the black community. When Jay-Z and Kanye West recorded and released “Niggas in Paris” last year there was not even a peep of protest – anywhere.

We are now supposed to believe that Adidas was misguided because it did not have a more diverse marketing team. Given the self-degradation and stupidity that has been created and sold by black people during the past thirty years, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were black people in the room at Adidas on the day that sneakers with shackles were approved.

Have a great weekend!

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While the G.O.Tea Party presidential circus careens across America spreading lies, misinformation and worn out comedy routines, black and brown America is killing itself. This is not a metaphorical observation. I mean it literally.

The latest New York City crime statistics indicate that even though 30% of the city’s population is African American, fully 60% of all homicide victims are black and 60% of the suspects in these crimes are black. If you add in members of the Hispanic community, fully 90% of all homicide victims in New York are black and Hispanic and 90% of the suspects are black and Hispanic.

Aside from reaffirming that the world is going crazy, these statistics tell a very interesting story. Most of these murders are committed with guns. It would be fair to say that there are too many guns that are too easily available.

But it is also about culture. For the past thirty years popular music, movies and literature have glorified violence, “gangster” ethos and disregard for human life. This cannot be disputed.

Consider the latest video game miscreation, “Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 3”, sold hundreds of thousands of games as soon as it was released. This game modernizes, romanticizes and glorifies warfare – basically the wholesale slaughter of the “enemy”. While the “enemy” might be mythical in the video game, an impressionable youngster who plays the game incessantly can easily translate the ethic and mindset to the streets on which he lives.

Meanwhile, for the past thirty years popular music and music videos have promoted, popularized and glorified violence – all in the name of “keeping it real”. Fifty Cents might be wearing a coat and tie now, but he made his money rapping about killing other people. The same is true for Jay-Z, BET and too many others.

The argument that these performers and entertainment networks are just “keeping it real” and “giving people what they want” is facile and baseless and virtually unworthy of serious consideration. The bodies of men, women and children pile up on the streets of New York and across this country while the beneficiaries retire to their mansions while riding in their Maybachs.

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association and promoters of the “rights” of gun owners pervert the Constitution to somehow support the notion that everyone has the right to own as many automatic weapons as they can afford. States’ rights advocates in Virginia and South Carolina falsely claim that they have no responsibility for the carnage in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York even as they profit from the sale of weapons that have only one purpose – the wholesale slaughter of other people.

The combination of this country’s gun culture and the gangster culture promoted in communities of color has produced a lethal cocktail. If the Ku Klux Klan or Posse Comitatus or the Tea Party was killing blacks and Latinos at the rate that blacks and Latinos are killing blacks and Latinos, national outrage would rock this country to its very foundation.

The NAACP and the Urban League and the Congressional Black Caucus would be demanding Congressional investigations and the intervention of the United Nations. If white people were killing people of color at the current levels of homicide being perpetrated by people of color it would be an international disgrace.

Somehow, a black man killing a black woman or a Latino boy killing a Latino girl does not provoke the same level of outrage and concern. The combination of the gun culture and the gangster culture has turned every inner city street into a potential killing zone. And when the bodies fall there are the obligatory candle light vigils and marches and then it’s back to business as usual.

The problem is that “business as usual” shields the men and women who are responsible for creating this toxic atmosphere from any responsibility. The men and women who are responsible for the blood and gore and death never touch the rotten fruits of their labor while vacationing in St. Bart’s or taking private jets to Paris.

The numbers simply don’t lie. “Business as usual” means death on the streets of the cities of America. And the purveyors of this lethal, toxic and poisonous culture are able to escape any blame or responsibility.

The problem is that “business as usual” means another black girl or Latino boy will die before the end of the week. The rap potentates and music producers and gun advocates sleep easily in their beds of luxury.

The victims of their vicious “business sleep” forever.

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