Archive for the ‘Race Matters’ Category

Afrocentricity vs. Ghettocentricity (a.k.a. In Response to 'Boycott Black People')

December 11, 2011

I recently watched a video on Youtube entitled Boycott Black People that had been posted by a young black man deriding other black people. Many of the people I know who watched the video disagreed with this guy, but to be honest, he was spot-on with about 85% of what he had to say. The problem was how he was saying it—his message was not all that well articulated, and he seemed to be struggling with the larger point he was trying to get across. Here is a link to the video, which you should seriously consider watching before reading any further. (more…)

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In Support of President Obama (a.k.a. The Well-Done Negro)

November 22, 2011

After watching the video Not Disappointed by President Obama by Jake Lamar, I was motivated to write some of what has been long-developing in my mind. Despite some policies and actions that I have not agreed with, I still support President Obama. Lamar, who I have been a fan of for many years, succinctly drives home my feeling about Obama, and gives voice to much of what I think and feel. But at the same time, Lamar has not addressed one of the key issues surrounding Obama’s presidency that to me is obvious, but not exactly something people want to tackle. Some might argue that it is a topic best left for historians to address, though I would disagree. History is riddled with inaccuracies, and is often written purely to make the reader feel good. I, however, am not interested in making anyone feel good. Instead, I would much rather talk about what so many of us are thinking about, and perhaps discussing in small conversations amongst our close friends, but not coming out and actually saying. (more…)

Casting a Black Actor as 007

October 5, 2011

There was a bit of a buzz floating around on the Internet a few days ago, regarding the possibility of Idris Elba (above) assuming the James Bond mantle after Daniel Craig leaves the role (read it here). This was based on comments made by Craig several years back, and it opens up a long-running topic that I talked about for many years.

Since the film debut of James Bond in 1962, six actors have played 007 (provided you don’t count the early versions of Casino Royale), and many more have been mentioned and considered for the role over the decades. In 1973, Roger Moore replaced Sean Connery as Bond in Live and Let Die, blowing the perfect opportunity to cast a black actor as the secret agent. (more…)

Slavery + Rape = Two-Parent Households, According to GOP

July 13, 2011

Presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum both recently signed a pledge that had been authored by a conservative Christian group called Family Leadership. Among the things listed in this pledge were promises to work to end same-sex marriages, stop pornography (which by the way violates the First Amendment), and a statement that promoted slavery as something positive. Here is what this pledge said: “Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”

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Freedom, Slavery & the Things We Don’t Like to Talk About

July 2, 2011

With celebrations of Independence Day raging all across the country this weekend, I though it might be a good time to talk about what it means to be free in a country that pounds its chest and roars of freedom like it was King Kong. Don’t get me wrong, because what I’m about to write is not some anti-American screed about how little freedom we all have. I believe, that despite existing limitations to our freedom—not to mention limitations some would like to manifest into reality—I do believe that we enjoy unprecedented levels of freedom. At the same time, many people don’t really understand the history of this nation, especially when it comes to the complex ideologies of race and racism or the true dehumanizing nature of slavery, which is a wound of shame on this nation that has yet to heal. (more…)

The Batman of Africa?!? Gimme a Break!!!

June 13, 2011

DC Comic has recently announced the revamping of their entire line of comic books. This has cause much heated debate amongst fans, and I haven’t felt the need to weigh in, in part because I don’t care, and also because I don’t care. Did I mention that I don’t care?

But all of that changed when I read about a new title called Batwing. I’m not going to get into the details of who Batwing is, because it would be a long, complicated story that involves how DC creates these ridiculous events to sell tons of books. Instead, I will quote from a recent interview with the writer of the upcoming Batwing series, who describes the character as “the Batman of Africa.” (more…)

LESSON IN BLACK HISTORY – David Walker*

February 28, 2011

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* NOTE – I posted this Lesson in Black History last year, but people either missed it or forgot. As a result, I got several requests to write something about David Walker, so I’m re-posting this one.

DAVID WALKER – Not to be confused with yours truly, this other David Walker, with whom I proudly share a name, was the legendary abolitionist born in North Carolina on September 28, 1785. The son of a slave father and a free mother, Walker was not a slave, but still witnessed the life of slavery. He traveled throughout the country, eventually settling in Boston. In 1829 he wrote and published Walker’s Appeal, a scathing commentary on slavery and racism in America that ignited great controversy and earned the label of sedition. Among other things, Walker advocated violence as a means to end slavery, even if it meant death. A price was placed on Walker’s head by those that supported slavery ($10,000 alive, $1,000 dead). Southern states banned the seventy-six page pamphlet, and possession of Walker’s Appeal by blacks was often met with violence or jail. Despite efforts to suppress the publication, it was heavily distributed throughout northern cities, and smuggled throughout the south. Walker was found dead under mysterious circumstances on the doorstep of his home in 1830, at the age of 44. Towards the end of Walker’s Appeal, he wrote, “If any are anxious to ascertain who I am, know the world, that I am one of the oppressed, degraded and wretched sons of Africa, rendered so by the avaricious and unmerciful, among the whites.”

LESSONS IN BLACK HISTORY – Ken Gampu

February 27, 2011

Ken Gampu—Born in South Africa in 1929, actor Ken Gampu rose to prominence during the height of apartheid, and helped pave the way not only for black actors in South Africa, but the entire content as well. Gampu is probably best remembered by American audiences for his role as the president in The Gods Must Be Crazy or the tribal leader in The Naked Prey. He never got much of a chance to play lead roles, but frequently turned up as the bad guy in a lot of African-lensed films, and he was one of the only black actors to get any kind of fame during the oppressive apartheid era of South Africa, when segregation was still legal. Despite the critical praise he received for both his stage work in plays like No Good Friday or films like Dingaka, which brought him international recognition, Gampu was still a victim of the racist government of his homeland. At the same time, he was an inspiration who served as a symbol of hope that blacks in South Africa could break free of the oppressive system that held them down. In 1975 Gampu made history when he was granted special permission by the government to share the stage with white actors in the play Of Mice and Men. “For the first time the black man was on an equal footing with the white man, and you know, the heavens didn’t fall,” said Gampu during an interview, looking back on something that meant everything and nothing at the same time.

LESSONS IN BLACK HISTORY – Bill Pickett

February 26, 2011

Bill Pickett—The son of former slaves and one of thirteen children, Bill Picket is considered not only one of the greatest cowboys of all time, but also the greatest rodeo star of all time. Born in Texas in 1870, Pickett began working as a ranch hand at an early age. Pickett is credited with coming up with the rodeo move known as “bulldogging.” This is when a cowboy takes control of a steer by talking hold of its lip with his teeth. He learned the trick from watching how bulldogs, or catch dogs, were used by cowboys to catch stray steers. Also known as steer wrestling, Pickett became world renowned for his bulldogging prowess. In modern rodeos bulldogging consists of the cowboy riding up alongside the bull, jumping off and wrestling it to the ground by twisting its horns. But in Pickett’s time, he actually bit into the lip of the bull. He was a performer in the Miller Brothers’ 101 Ranch Wild West Show—one of the more popular of the touring Wild West shows—from 1905 to 1931. Pickett showed off his cowboy skills all over the world, and appeared in several films during the silent era of movies. He retired from performing in 1932, and was soon after killed when he was kicked in the head by a bronco. Pickett’s legacy as a rodeo star continues to this day with the Bill Picket Invitational Rodeo, the only touring black rodeo in the United States.

LESSONS IN BLACK HISTORY – The Vanport Flood

February 25, 2011

The Vanport Flood—Vanport City was founded in Oregon, just north of Portland, in 1943. A makeshift community that was built to house the shipyard workers who had come to work in Portland and Vancouver, Washington, during World War II, Vanport was the second largest city in the state of Oregon. It was also home to approximately 6,000 blacks, who made up rough a third of the city’s population. At the time, Portland had a reputation of being incredibly racist and unwelcoming to blacks, which led to the formation of Vanport City, a public housing community that served as a means to keep the “undesirables” out of the rest of the state. Although the Vanport was never meant to be an actual community, it thrived in the years after World War II, with its own school system—including Vanport College which would go on to become Portland State University—and local business community. Unlike Portland, Vanport was a heavily integrated city, with blacks and whites going to school together and living in the same neighborhoods. After a winter of heavy rainfall and snow, the Columbia River that bordered Vanport on the north was in danger of flooding. On Sunday, May 30, 1948—Memorial Day—the river broke through the railroad dike and the river came rushing in. Within hours the city of Vanport was wiped off the face of the Earth. There were only 15 reported deaths, but urban legends of hundreds of deaths, including a school bus full of children and a warehouse full of corpses hidden from the public, still persist in the Portland. With almost the entire black population of the state displaced by the destruction of Vanport, the city of Portland and the state of Oregon was grudgingly forced to desegregate.