Why Can’t Black Folk Just be Happy?

Update: The evening after this piece was written, the New York Post issued what could best be called a defiant apology:

But it has been taken as something else – as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism. This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past – and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

To them, no apology is due.

via New York Post’s Cartoon Apology.

It goes to show that in some small way it is a new day in America. When the black man you insult is the President of the United States, an apology, however begrudgingly, will be made.

Within minutes of Barack Obama’s inauguration, nix that, Barack Obama’s election, there were whites and blacks alike who declared the United States post-racial. I knew better and two events this week have confirmed my opinion.

Yesterday, speaking to the Justice Department about Black History Month, Attorney General Eric Holder said,

One cannot truly understand America without understanding the historical experience of black people in this nation. Simply put, to get to the heart of this country one must examine its racial soul.

Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race-related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race.

As a nation we have done a pretty good job in melding the races in the workplace. We work with one another, lunch together and, when the event is at the workplace during work hours or shortly thereafter, we socialize with one another fairly well, irrespective of race. And yet even this interaction operates within certain limitations. We know, by “American instinct” and by learned behavior, that certain subjects are off limits and that to explore them risks, at best embarrassment, and, at worst, the questioning of one’s character.

And outside the workplace the situation is even more bleak in that there is almost no significant interaction between us. On Saturdays and Sundays America in the year 2009 does not, in some ways, differ significantly from the country that existed some 50 years ago.

This is truly sad. Given all that we as a nation went through during the civil rights struggle, it is hard for me to accept that the result of those efforts was to create an America that is more prosperous, more positively race conscious and yet is voluntarily socially segregated.

via Atty. Gen. Eric Holder sees U.S. as ‘a nation of cowards’ | Top of the Ticket | Los Angeles Times.

The host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, Joe Scarborough said he was “flummoxed” by these comments. How could the Attorney General of the United States say such things when he is the first black to hold this position and he was appointed by the first black US President? Joe was beside himself. Haven’t we made progress? Pat Buchanan then piped in that self-segregation is part of social freedom.

What does having a black President and Attorney General have to do with racial conditions within neighborhoods across this country? Is it progress that enough white people were willing to vote for a black man that he could become President? Certainly. Does it solve all of our racial problems? Certainly not. Buchanan’s comment as an excuse for segregation is nothing new and does nothing to advance race relations. People self-segregate as much out of fear of “other” as it is comfort among their own kind. The fact that many whites and blacks spend time together when “they have to” in the office or business-related social events, but don’t during their free time indicates that we truly have not come to accept one another. It comes down to the phenomenon of the black or white liking the guy that works in the adjacent office but wouldn’t be caught dead having the guy date his daughter.

The other reminder that we are not yet post-racial came in the form of a tasteless cartoon on the editorial page of  the New York Post yesterday. The cartoon combined the two totally unrelated events of a chimp being killed by police in Stamford, CT with the signing of the stimulus bill. The cartoon shows two police officers looking down on the wounded dying chimp whom one of them has just shot. The one cop says to the other one holding a freshly fired gun, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.” Who is the stimulus bill most associated with? Barack Obama. What animal have blacks in this country been caricatured as for centuries? Apes. The editorial staff and the cartoon’s author, Sean Delonas deny any implication that the chimp was supposed to represent Obama. Rather than issue an apology they chose to attack their critics, in particular saying that Reverend Al Sharpton’s public complaint was just a grab at attention.

Even if we give the cartoonist and his paper the benefit of the doubt that the chimp represented Nancy Pelosi, or Congress, or as one apologist said, “any ape could have written the first stimulus package”, the incident makes clear that our racial wounds are still fresh. The incident confirms Eric Holder’s assessment that even the suggestion of outrage at a perceived racial slight brings judgement upon the wounded party, not the offender. “We know, by “American instinct” and by learned behavior, that certain subjects are off limits and that to explore them risks, at best embarrassment, and, at worst, the questioning of one’s character.” Such was the case with Sharpton. Why make a mountain out of a molehill? Our President is black, we’re post-racial so surely the New York Post could not have made a racial faux pas. We’re past that. Aren’t we?

No we’re not. A black President, a black Attorney General and forty acres and a mule for that matter aren’t going to fool blacks into thinking that everything is just peachy. There is still lots of work to be done and Holder is right in saying that the only way we can do the work is by talking to each other with compassion and empathy.


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46 thoughts on “Why Can’t Black Folk Just be Happy?

  1. Inarguably, the fact that the US elected President Obama is a mark of progress.

    To any thinking person, though, the fact that the “bad side of town” is the side with the most African-Americans, and that imprisonment rates, unemployment rates, etc. reflect racial divisions means that we aren’t there yet.

    On a lot of the big things? Yes, we’ve more or less arrived. it would be hard to find someone who really thinks that we should go back to the days of Segregation.

    But there are still a lot of cultural issues that aren’t resolved.

  2. I guess you find nothing about irony as you seem to infer the problem is still white bullying black while we are “celebrating” Black History Month?

    I noted last night on TV, not only do we now have a Black CPA organization, Black Fraternal Order of Police, Black Sports Heroes on ESPN Special, United Negro College Fund, NAACP, and now a Black MBA organization [ad nauseam], perhaps it might be somebody else that is at least partially responsible for the segregation between the races?

    I don’t disagree with your assessment that we are hardly a post-racial country. But perhaps you might want to contemplate that people tend to associate of like mind and taste, and both like it that way?

    Finally, some of those cultural issues that Wickle hints towards are not racism, but self-imposed immorality. Going to be hard to spin 70% illegitimacy rates as reason being racism

    P.S. – the joke was both racist and tasteless. But I assume you will be making a personal note that wasn’t the stereotypical Klan country that the Yankees like to point toward that produced that little screed? Remember my lecture I gave you about where I met real racism face-to-face jog your memory? And that is about as blue voting as a state gets.

  3. I guess you find nothing about irony as you seem to infer the problem is still white bullying black while we are “celebrating” Black History Month?

    This fascinates me. Why do some white people read my post, or Holder’s comments, and infer that the comments are directed solely at whites? Communication is a two-way street and blacks are just as guilty of self-segregation as are whites. If it were just a matter of folks who share common interests that would be fine but I don’t buy that. One cannot downplay the role that fear, mistrust and discomfort play in self-segregation.

    To be honest, I find the Black MBA a bit absurd. You bust your ass to earn an MBA and then you cloister yourself with a bunch of other MBA’s who have nothing else in common with you but race? It’s ridiculous. In fact, I have always maintained that race is absurd. Italian Americans share a history of customs, and culture. Polish Americans do also, And honest to goodness African Americans do also. But being black in this country is not equivalent to being African American no matter how many euphemisms we want to throw around.

    African Americans share the heritage of Africa. Blacks share the heritage of slavery, discrimination, oppression and dark skin (or being related to someone with dark skin). To my mind, the two are distinct. The same goes for “whites”. There is a difference between being Italian American and being white. Being white is absurd and meaningless, just as being “black” is absurd.

    I would go a step further than Holder did and say that we should stop this foolishness of black and white and just focus on reconciling our histories and learning to live together appreciating our diverse backgrounds.

  4. I agree with everything the Attorney General said.

    The Dead Rabbit’s wife once got transferred to Richmond, Virginia. Off we went, to the capitol of the Old Confederacy. We bought a house we couldn’t afford (sold it a year later making a killing) in what turned out to be a mixed neighborhood. Coming from the most racially segregated metro in America, we were at first horrified. We thought for sure we were swindled. However, we quickly learned that the south is much more racially diverse then the snooty north.

    In Virgina, I worked a job where I was one of two white people. I have never worked with better people in my life. On my first day, every person came and introduced themselves to me. In many ways, it was the same when I was in the service. Even though I politically disagreed with almost everything these black dudes say, we still keep in touch as true friends.

    Now I’m back in the Detroit area. Last Friday night some black dude was going door to door trying to sell carpet cleaning jobs. It was later in the evening, the sun had gone down. The color of his skin was the tipping point. The first thing I told him was I have a Winchester speed pump I wasn’t afraid to use.

    I have no idea what I’m trying to say….

  5. First Holder is a tool for reasons other than his most recent comments.

    African Americans share the heritage of Africa. Blacks share the heritage of slavery, discrimination, oppression and dark skin (or being related to someone with dark skin). To my mind, the two are distinct. The same goes for “whites”. There is a difference between being Italian American and being white. Being white is absurd and meaningless, just as being “black” is absurd.

    That’s very good. I’ve always held it will be the regular folks who live their lives amongst one another calling each other friend (or by name) that will overcome racism.
    One of my “happy dad moments ” was when I discovered one of my sons friends was black. The kid was just his friend,just Herman. It never entered my sons mind that skin color had anything to do with anything.

  6. I bet Rutherford gets all clammy and quiet in the presence of a black dude. I mean this as no insult. I have just found that those upper middle class east coast white guys get weird around black folk. I have a liberal buddy who enlisted in the service after he graduated from college in New Jersey. We used to think he was so damn smart and, well, so did he. But we would always razz him about how nervous he got around the brothers. We told the black guys about it and they started busting his balls as well. It probably doesn’t sound too funny, but it was hilarious at the time.

  7. I have no idea what I’m trying to say….

    I shouldn’t laugh but that was my reaction.

    So Rabbit, what did the carpet cleaning guy say? I’m also a bit puzzled about another thing. Has Detroit recently had a rash of people (black or white) politely ringing your door bell before they rob and kill you?

    It sounds to me like your experience in Virginia (or in the service for that matter) provided you only with memories and was in no way life-changing. How was the carpet cleaning guy dressed? You say his skin color was the tipping point but if he had been wearing a suit and tie, would you have reacted the same way? Maybe I should not give you the benefit of the doubt but perhaps it is only in retrospect that you blame his skin color for your reaction. Maybe there were other factors at play on you in that moment?

  8. Rabbit, LOL you forget that I AM black.

    As for getting clammy. My clammy factor relates more to education level than race. I know that is a terrible thing to admit but it is true. I feel a poorly dressed guy with a low income and inarticulate speech (white or black) is more likely to hit me upside the head than an articulate neatly dressed person. I’m not proud of this prejudice. At Harvard we had brotha’s who were “ghetto” and we had brotha’s who spoke the Queen’s English. To be honest, I was more comfortable around the latter group. This doesn’t make me any better than any other bigot. We all have our prejudices.

    And it doesn’t stop me from commending Holder in his attempt to get us to talk to each other.

  9. He kind of laughed when I threatened him with a gun.

    Rutherford, I live in a white neighborhood, he didn’t belong there. Sure the other factors played a part in my reaction, but as I’ve already said, the color of his skin was the tipping point.

    I’m not sure how to explain myself other then the fact that I’ve long ago learned to trust your gut and if something doesn’t seem right it aint.

  10. Rabbit,

    I think you’re trying to say the same thing I learned long ago. Every race, creed and color has its good folks and its bad folks – forget the political winds.

    When I was a college kid, I worked in a steel fabrication shop busting my ass with the hardest, poorest, “colored”, most uneducated folk I’ve ever been around. And it took a while for them to allow me to get close enough to be a part of the group – they referred to me as the “white college” kid. Many of them could read a blueprint and not much else. It was backbreaking, hot, nasty work that paid about $8.00 an hour – good money for 1980 grunt work.

    They had an arm wrestling tournament one day at lunch and I entered on a dare and won it. It was pretty ironic that I guess I had to “prove” myself to them as being ordinary enough to be willing to arm wrestle a black man, and that I was not some privileged, wimpy, white college punk who had never known real work.

    After that, they accepted me as one of their own and to this day, it was the as a whole the most decent people I’ve ever worked with. What you see is what you got. Most of them would take half their pay check on Friday and blow it down at the local bar with me in tow, eating beanie wienies the next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday until they received another pay check. If you’ve ever seen Animal House during that scene where the white college punks walk into the black bar, that’s about how I felt the first time I went.

    I would buy a couple of boxes of those cheap ass Little Debbie snack cakes that still taste good about mid week and share it with these crazy loons. I’ve long ago lost track of those guys but I sure would like to see them again. I’ll bet some are long since dead.

    Sorry about all the adjectives.

    “R” – you may not believe this, but you want to know what my biggest fear of Obama really is?

    It’s not my fear that he excels but my fear that he fails and I’m not talking about my own little personal wealth because that is quickly going anyway. Because if he does, and right now he’s off to a poor start not all of his own doing, I can virtually guarantee the charges of racism will begin to crop up when the mostly white media begin to turn on him in print and the tube. Most blacks will interpret this as a latent racism that was always right underneath the surface, and race relations will turn worse – much worse.

    I’ve got to admit. The fact that we even refer to Obama as black is somewhat troubling. He’s every bit as much white as he is black. It’s like Tiger Woods – when I see Obama or Tiger, I don’t much think color.

    When we get to the point the color of skin is like the color of your eyes, we’ll all be better for it. Don’t know if that will happen in my lifetime but I do know from my own children that the situation is much better than when I was in high school.

  11. Rutherford, I live in a white neighborhood, he didn’t belong there.

    Now, c’mon. In 2009 what in the world does that mean? Now here’s the fine tuning on your statement:

    “I live in a white neighborhood that is well known to be racist. He didn’t belong there.”

    Yeah, I can sign up for that statement. Any black dude, regardless of what he is selling does not go into a hostile neighborhood. That makes him a fool. And yes, you probably ought to be suspicious of a fool.

    Well, I bet you get all clammy and weird when you look in the mirror then.

    LOL. No not really. You see, i dress well, I am articulate and I look white. 😉

  12. Tex I have to pinch myself that I basically agree with everything you said including your comment about Obama. This country sees so much through a racial prism that it is hard to imagine that Obama’s failure, if it does happen, will be cleanly objectively evaluated. Honest attempts at criticizing him will be marked racist and for some his shortcomings will confirm for them that a black man ought not to be President.

    In this country, it is a dicey situation all around.

  13. “R”,

    I’m still giggling about Rabbit’s comment ” Well, I bet you get all clammy and weird when you look in the mirror then.” 😆

    That was damn funny.

    And now I’ve got to make a personal admission unless you’re pulling our leg. I had you pictured as this prissy, turtle-necked, lilly white, Miata driver with the top down Bostonian. And I think that is funny too! 😆

    I don’t know why I thought it funny, but I do.

    One of these days, I hope we get to meet. But don’t get your hopes up. I’ll probably still be as crass as I’ve always been knowing that fact.

  14. Elian & LAPD for two starters. I mean tool in it’s truest form too. I believe people have chosen him to do some jobs they thought needed to be done and calculated that his race would be a plus. I think that does a disservice to him & others. I’d throw MA Gov. Deval PAtrick and his Coca Cola/ AmeriQuest past in the same vain.

  15. I would agree that America still has racial issues (I didn’t read the previous comments, so redundancies may occur). If we were truly over race, would we care about having a black president? But we are doing much better than nations like Iraq. Three major races and they all hate each other, and two of the races have more of a religious seperation than an ancestral seperation.

    I think that the major divider between the races (this is coming from a guy who lives in the whitest county in the United States) is the media and how they make things bigger than they are. Hyper-sensitivity is another problem all races seem to have to deal with.

  16. Hey “R”,

    I got another topic you ought to be addressing. I believe Obama may have indeed gained my support. I figure if you can’t beat them, join them.

    Since my home is paid for, I am going to refinance every dime I can get and after receiving the cash, stop making my mortgage payments.

    I need to get my hands of some of this funny money we are giving those who don’t pay their mortgage, while the ones that are paying their mortgages or own their homes foot the bill.

    Sounds like a sweet deal to me. I think I’m going to enjoy being irresponsible and being rewarded for it. I guess this stuff called liberalism ain’t so bad after all. 😮

  17. Tex, why is it that we use those few who might unfairly gain from Obama’s housing initiatives to condemn the whole lot? I played by the rules. My bank approved my mortgage. Had they and I been smarter, the mortgage probably would not have been approved since its payment depended on my keeping my job. If Obama’s initiatives help me make an arrangement with my bank that keeps me in my house, I will be very grateful. I don’t feel it’s owed to me but I’d sure appreciate the relief. I didn’t try to swindle anyone. I didn’t think I was living above my means. And I’ve never missed a mortgage payment. But two years hence (when my 401K runs out), if my fortunes don’t change, I will be in very hot water for circumstances that I never asked for.

    We all pay taxes that benefit folks other than ourselves. It’s part of living in a democracy where we are all to some extent our brother’s keeper.

  18. Sorry “R”,

    Don’t mean to be the heartless bastard here, but for the 91% of us who paid our mortgages, or have been paying their mortgages on time, who have also been hurt by this downturn in more ways than just our house, why should we foot the bill for your unfortunate event? And we’re not talking about just a few as you insinuate, though the number changes nothing on principle.

    You know fully well that people were living beyond their means and now they need to take their own responsibility for their actions and suffer the consequences accordingly. You’re a smart guy and nobody forced you to sign that mortgage. I don’t need to preach to you about the associated risk involved in taking on debt.

    You’re going to find yourself in the small minority on this one I predict. Our newly elected President was openly mocked on the floor of the Chicago Board today over this very proposal. I think the call for a revolt, Boston Tea Party style, is not too preposterous an idea.

  19. Ignoring the morality of bail outs in general, I feel this kind of bail out economically makes more sense then giving banks mystery money.

    Now back to the morality. I’m pretty sure I will qualify for the mortgage sweepstakes. My house has lost up to 50% of its value. Officially 40%, but who’s buying? I’m not behind on my payments. I live pay check to pay check, but live pretty damn good minus the Sunday night stress. I have a kid on the way, God willing. Do I accept the money? Should I allow the government to lower my house payments?

    My Dad used to always do this joke where he puts his right hand out for money and then keeps his left hand behind his back in the form of a middle finger.

  20. for the 91% of us who paid our mortgages, or have been paying their mortgages on time, who have also been hurt by this downturn in more ways than just our house, why should we foot the bill for your unfortunate event?

    I may have been too hard on myself in my initial description of my circumstance. I am among the 91% of “you”, the only difference being that over two years ago my company broke their covenant with me and robbed me of my income. It’s what is commonly called a layoff. I didn’t get some quick, slick and dirty mortgage. I got a standard 30 year fixed rate mortgage from a reputable bank based on mine and my wife’s combined income. The only area where I kick myself is that the mortgage payment depended much more on my salary than my wife’s. So when I lost my job, there went the mortgage payment. (By the way, my wife reminded me that the bank really did not take high risk on my loan. They did not include escrow in their estimation of my ability to pay. My property taxes increase my monthly payment by a good 28%.)

    In these two years, I haven’t asked for a dime from anyone. We used the severance package, then our savings, and now my 401K. We have never missed a payment. We are not the deadbeats that the leader of the “Chicago Tea Party” seems to be railing against. Do I think the government owes me assistance? Hell no. If such assistance means the difference between my daughter sleeping in her bedroom vs in a box behind the railroad station, then yeah I’m gonna take it. My preferred outcome is a steady income that will keep me in my house. You can bet I’m working on that.

    Sorry to sound defensive but I do want to get the record straight that I’m not flipping houses or doing any of the other irresponsible things that others are doing.

    Dead Rabbit, I’m with you until you say your are doing pretty damn good. If you’re doing pretty damn good, you shouldn’t be getting a bailout. If you’re in danger of losing your home due to layoff or illness, that might be a different story. And let’s keep in mind folks that the only reason any of us may get a bailout is that SO MANY of us are screwed right now. In a strong economy, those few folks with bad luck have to pay the piper. When everybody has bad luck, intervention might be needed to keep the country from going totally in the dumper.

    Hey last but not least, Tex, I’m confused about something. Didn’t you vote for Bush in 2000? Wasn’t he the “compassionate conservative”? 😉

  21. “R”, now I am confused.

    Hey last but not least, Tex, I’m confused about something. Didn’t you vote for Bush in 2000? Wasn’t he the “compassionate conservative”?

    Aren’t you (the collective left) the very ones that have been telling me Bush is the Devil’s spawn, or in your atheistic word, the reincarnation of Hitler?

    I know I certainly have been personally called stupid, Nazi, homophobe, racist, bigot, shill, hack, hate monger, fascist, BushMcChimpyHitler, Halliburton Hack, Cheney ****sucker and a host of other unmentionables I won’t leave on your board the last eight years. Guess I just assumed you weren’t seeking compassion after the last eight years, but war. 😉

    But it is a tough call with kids and the health issues. So therefore, I am not completely without compassion. I assume you have talked to the bank about your situation and they haven’t budged?

    I can be compassionate and still feel you need to take responsibility for your own decisions, which you have. Neither do I want you, your wife, and especially your daughter hurt either.

    I’m open to suggestion.

    Unfortunately Rutherford, your unethical former employer did give you a disservice, you deserved better, maybe further explaining why I left corporate America over the very things that happened to you.

  22. BushMcChimpyHitler

    ROTFLMAO! I’ll be chuckling about that one for the rest of the day if not the weekend!

    Well, I never said Bush was a compassionate conservative, I just said that that was his bill of goods back in 2000, and considering you bought into that at the time, I’d expect that compassion to endure through 2009.

    Actually, I haven’t talked to the bank yet. I’m hesitant to give them something to worry about until there is really something to worry about and that won’t be for another 2 years (almost).

  23. “R”,

    Then you’re making your second big mistake. There is no shame in this economy to explain to your bank the situation – and if they’ve got a clue, they’ll help. Not to mention, you’ve already proven your trustworthiness.

    Using your 401k is no way to finance your house (I assume you are borrowing against it without penalty?). Do you want to be left with nothing to retire on while you make good and owning a depreciating house in the process?

    I’m going to have to get up there and slap a friend’s sense into you. And if I understood correctly, in the absolute worst case scenario, is that it is practically impossible to boot somebody from their primary residence (word from an attorney friend of mine that applies here and I just checked). Call an attorney friend, ask a favor, and confirm where you live. I would have checked for you, but I wasn’t sure which state you resided in.

    And don’t be calling me BushMcChimpyHitler either! Actually, that one was one of the more original names and my personal favorite too. That one was from some gal I made act ugly one day while in my usual smart ass mode. 👿

  24. Tex your reaction to the 401K withdrawal is similar to that of some of my other associates. “Don’t touch your retirement money!”

    Well, first, it’s not a loan because my lovely ex-company does not allow former employees to borrow from their 401K. Nice huh? So, I’m taking straight withdrawals in amounts that won’t kill me at tax time. When I decided to do this, I said to my wife “who are we fooling? I’m going to work until I drop dead. I’m not retiring.” The tax plus penalty on the withdrawal pretty much amounts to my company’s match so I’m actually getting all “my” money back out in tact. I’m obviously going to stop withdrawing once the income starts coming in again.

    However you are probably right about talking with my bank. Probably better to see what can be done before crisis time, even if it is 2 years out, worst case scenario.

  25. “R”,

    I’m almost scared that I find myself agreeing with your more. Something is wrong…and I know it isn’t me, because once THE ONE became President, I’ve become an ever more cynical bastard. I think I’m wearing on you. 😆

    Because concerning medical school, I’ve almost come to the conclusion you did. Why not? Hell, I’ll be working until they bury my – so what am I fretting about?

    My only concern about my chosen employment is can I stay healthy enough to do it without leaving my wife and children with a mountain of debt?

  26. Rutherford,

    You and I have already gone around and around on this matter when I commented as Ecclesiastes.

    You note that nothing in Holder’s remarks identifies the cowardly and courageous. Just so, he doesn’t. What I must remind you is how atypical and courageous I have found you to be, engaging me.

    Holder, however, has invited an argument during and about Black History Month, saying something whiney and forgettable about it being separate and unequal.

    Gee. Ya think?

    Since the only acceptable sources of racial comment are Black Americans, I must say that I rather like Morgan Freeman’s rather than AG Holder’s, and not just because he is a fellow Mississippian.

    There are a lot of people with their panties in a bunch about that monkey cartoon, citing old insults, like yourself. Considering the last eight years of relentless association of a chimp with President Bush, and how many of President Obama’s positions are now ‘monkey see, monkey do’ copies of the Bush’s – including a stimulus bill that eerily resembles TARP, which itself is looking like a repeat of the Katrina bailout fiasco, I’d say the racial aspect of the cartoon is the least of worries that Black Americans should have. Suddenly lobbyists, torture, and Gitmo are ‘in’ and transparency is ‘out’. Didn’t you want Bush’s ilk out of office?

    On a personal note, my mother’s nickname is ‘Monkey’, for her childhood habit of following other people around. There’s a funny story to go along with that. Ask me about it, privately.

    Seriously, you aren’t that fragile, unlike some.

    AG Holder calls for courageous dialog, but he actually sounds more like Rep. Clyburn, which leads inevitably to silence.

    In as much as AG Holder has already characterized each of our camps as “the other”, y’all can’t have it both ways. Sure, there are reasons to be unhappy, but either y’all will have to man-up and shrug off the occasional bumps or y’all aren’t going to get to have that ‘adult’ dialog about fixing them.

    Well, I will talk with you, but that’s because I’m cruel, rude and would play one-on-one ball against NY Gov Patterson if he was silly enough to ask for it.

  27. Good post, Rutherford!

    Not much of an apology, but that’s as good as we’re going to get from the New York Post.

    Just the other day, I overheard a couple of people talking about apartment hunting. One woman said to the other, “Oh, [that] is a really bad area. There are a lot of black people there.”

    My heart always sinks when I hear stuff like that. My son heard it too and asked how the remark about black people was relevant to the conversation. He really didn’t understand.

    Maybe someday…

  28. Rutherford,

    I’ve been giving this matter some thought and I have a question.

    Why is it many blacks feel the requirement for the “black” identity? For instance, the need to refer to oneself as African-American?

    Isn’t the real requirement for universal rights, and not the simple fact of being recognized as being black?

    By the way, you’ll note I refuse to use the term African-American unless it is in the context of quoting someone. Not only do I think it a tacit request for power, but more importantly I actually find it demeaning to what is a supposed to be blended harmony; actually a tacit cause of division. We are after all, supposedly a melting pot.

    This may seem trivial, but I do think it gets more to the heart of the matter of why we continue to have superficial dialogue concerning the color of one’s skin. And it gets me back to my first post in that I think everyone shares a part of the blame.

    What’s ironic is I find myself agreeing with Holder, but I imagine my reasons being quite different in the way I arrived at my conclusion.

  29. Tex,
    You also have the black churches. I understand how and why they were created, back when blacks couldn’t go to white churches and whites couldn’t go to black churches, but now they are unneccasary and (dare I say it) are racist.

  30. Tex…I don’t think I’ve ever personally met a person of color that called themselves African-American. I’ve of course seen people that do but on the face to face level,common folk man on the street deal…never. Weird ?.

  31. I must say that I rather like Morgan Freeman’s rather than AG Holder’s

    Rigorist. I absolutely LOVE Morgan Freeman’s approach to this and I remember seeing him on “60 Minutes” years ago making the statement you referenced and I applauded it back then. My only problem with it is that Freeman’s approach requires that we agree to be sane, mature individuals. The problem with racism is that it is for the most part irrational. Freeman can easily say the solution is for “you to stop calling me a black man and I’ll stop calling you a white man” but such an agreement can only be made between men who see the absurdity of race.

  32. I confess to stinking at putting forth a good summary. It was a good book even though the subplot/title of “Why Obama can’t be elected” turned out to be false.
    There is a lot of interesting stuff (this coming from a white guy mind you) about the relationships of whites/blacks, white guilt, and a look at two types of black positions that work to deal with it all. Think Oprah vs Sharpton.
    That’s what brought out the memory and connected to the thread.
    On a completely different note good luck w/ you BTR thing.

  33. Why is it many blacks feel the requirement for the “black” identity? For instance, the need to refer to oneself as African-American?

    Isn’t the real requirement for universal rights, and not the simple fact of being recognized as being black?

    Interestingly, I’m engaged in a similar discussion over at The Chamber.

    Calling oneself African-American should be no different from calling oneself Italian-American, Polish-American and so on. What’s funny is that semantically, an Italian-American usually calls himself an Italian. The same for Poles, Chinese, etc. But if a black man calls himself an African, he is likely to get “oh what African country were you born in?” When he says he was born in Detroit, he gets the response “you ain’t African, you’re just black. Get over yourself”. The black man’s self identification as African-American is to highlight his cultural roots, same as anyone else, and to take the focus off skin color, which is truly meaningless.

    As I said over at the Chamber, I’m truly somewhat of a nasty chauvinist in this area. I feel if you love the mother country so much, go back there. If you love this country, you’re an American, period. Case closed.

  34. Oh, i realize that I should revise my last comment slightly. We shouldn’t ignore that Africans for the most part, in our early days, didn’t come to this country voluntarily as so many other ethnic groups did. So my “if you love the mother country so much…” concept may not completely apply to blacks.

  35. Think Oprah vs Sharpton.

    Actually another pair comes to mind if I get your drift correctly. Think Reverend Eugene Rivers vs Tavis Smiley. I contrast their view of black self determination in this post.

    As for the BTR show, thanks for the good wishes. It’s been a real challenge as it is way more difficult to ramble (and unfortunately, I do mean ramble) for 30 minutes live uninterrupted than I expected it to be. I view it as the little engine that could. Hopefully with more listeners we may get some callers to really spice things up a bit.

  36. I can’t wait to make my first awkward, anonymous, heavy breathing call…

    LOL that reminds me of a story my wife tells. She comes from such a small town that everyone knew who the obscene phone caller was. You’d pick up the phone and hear heavy breathing and then say “c’mon Dave, knock it off.” 🙂

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