Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Let Imus speak: He's making my job easy




By Sylvester Brown Jr.
Reprinted with permission of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Don Imus issued yet another apology Monday on the Rev. Al Sharpton's syndicated radio program regarding comments made last week about Rutgers University women's basketball team.

Imus and his producer, Bernard McGuirk, described the student-athletes, eight of whom are black, as "hard-core ho's," "nappy-headed ho's" and "jigaboos and wannabees."

The remarks, which Imus defined Friday as "insensitive … ill-conceived and completely inappropriate," led to an onslaught of notable and racially diverse voices calling for Imus' resignation or termination.

Now, I'm no fan of the cowboy hat-wearing curmudgeon. But I say when his show returns (MSNBC says it will suspend his radio program for two weeks), let him do his thing. Do it exactly the way he's done it in the past: without interference.

It's best for the country.

Racism is easy to deny if it's not in your face. Guys like Imus make my job easier. The unfiltered, graphic, in-your-face, racist commentary makes a far better case than I ever could about the existence of racism.

There's a contingent of folks who worry when black activists, commentators or writers speak out about race. As if only black voices can stir black discontent.

Imus' syndicated show reaches millions. This latest antic has angered thousands — blacks, Hispanics, whites and "others." You couldn't manufacture a better reason for a massive outcry.

You see, not a week goes by that I haven't received a call or an e-mail insisting that I stop talking about racism. It hardly exists anymore, readers tell me. "Perhaps it will go away, if you just shut up," they say.

However, it's not like this is the first time Imus and company have made ugly racist remarks on the program. But where was the outrage at past offenses?

Just last month, McGuirk, in a spoof of poet Maya Angelou, read this little ditty:

Whitey plucked you from the jungle for too many years … took away your pride, your dignity and your spears … into whitey's world you was rudely cast … so wake up now and go to work … you can kiss my big black ass ...

McGuirk recited the "poem" at Imus' urging after the two talked about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's speech in Selma, Ala. She tried to "sound black in front of a black audience," the duo claimed, with McGuirk adding: "Bitch is gonna be wearing cornrows … and gold teeth … giving Crips' signs during speeches."

Where was all the fuss last year when Imus referred to the "Jewish management" of CBS Radio as "money-grubbing bastards?" Before being fired in 2005, another member of his morning team, Sid Rosenberg, called black female tennis players Venus and Serena Williams "animals" who should be featured in National Geographic.

Years ago, according to Imus critics, he called PBS's Gwen Ifill a "cleaning lady" and described a black New York Times sports columnist as "a quota hire."

If Rush Limbaugh can play a parody of "Barack, the Magic Negro" to the tune of "Puff, the Magic Dragon" (as he did in mid-March), why can't Imus toss out the occasional "jigaboo?"

What are the guidelines?

Did the "Imus in the Morning" gang go one "nappy-headed ho" comment too far? Maybe they crossed the line when they chose to target student-athletes instead of more well-known political or entertainment figures.

Still, we need those racist, vitriolic voices out there. It's just what America needs to hear.

Folks like Imus and Rush turn up the volume for those who ignore the racism that reverberates in our society.

During his appearance on Sharpton's show, Imus said he's not a racist, but a good man who made a mistake. To emphasize his point, he talked about how 10 percent of the sick children who visit his cattle ranch in New Mexico are black.

"This is not about whether you're a good man," Sharpton countered. "What you said was racist."

"I can't win with you people," Imus said during a testy exchange with Sharpton.

"You people?" Good Lord.

Tell you what, Don, stop apologizing. I hope you survive the storm. We need you, Rush and others out there doing what you do so well.

It's an ugly — but honest — side of the country we need to see more often.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Racism lives, but influence weakens as time goes on
By Sylvester Brown, Jr.
Originally published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Tuesday, Jan. 16 2007

Sitting atop the domed, 29-story Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse downtown, Ray mocked the group marching down Market Street on Monday in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"We shall ovahcoooommeee. We shall ovahcome, sum da-aaaay!" he sang in a gravelly voice.

Ray absolutely abhors this time of year, when everyone reminisces about King and the civil rights movement. The whole thing repeats in February, during Black History Month, with recollections of slavery, the Jim Crow era, black folks' progress and highfalutin, politically correct talk about "race.

"Yuck! He hated it. All of it. Well … maybe not all of it. Some of the images remind him of his glory days, back when he was stronger, when he influenced most Americans. Heck, some of the "Negroes" even carried protest signs with his name on it: "End Racism Now!"

Ray — he never liked the "ism" at the end of his name — remembered the power he wielded more openly then. It was he, in fact, who told police to unleash slathering dogs and powerful skin-shedding water hoses upon marchers. Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace's declaration in 1963, "Segregation today … segregation tomorrow … segregation forever," were Ray's words. It was he who, in 1964, persuaded Mississippi Klansmen to beat, then fire bullets into the bodies of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman — three naive civil rights activists who thought they could defeat him.

"Whoop, whoop," Ray shouted triumphantly about his past from his perch on high, before lapsing into a violent coughing spell.

He's getting up in age. These days, Ray vacillates from feeling a renewed strength to being sick, weak and obsolete. Is he dying? Sometimes, Ray isn't so sure.

He knows he isn't as popular as he used to be. There was a time he could walk around naked and bare, emboldened by a prideful Southern history and fueled by Northern fear.

Ray has to be more subtle, more discreet now. It saps a great deal of his strength to dress up as a banker, Realtor, employer or cop. He renews himself by hanging out near jails and courthouses, where a fear of criminals in black skin often still trumps equal justice.

Sometimes when his spirit is drained, he particularly enjoys watching "brother shoot brother," those who have digested his venom.

"Keep marchin'! Y'all never gonna beat me," Ray shouted at the King Day celebrants.

He recognized a feebleness in his centuries-old rant. Such weakening had become more evident since 1955. That's when an unassuming seamstress, Rosa Parks, challenged Montgomery's segregated public transit rules. Ray expected Negro grumblings when Parks was arrested for not giving up her bus seat. He didn't, however, expect the full-fledged protest, led by that uppity King, to incite the world.

Martin Luther King Jr. scared Ray then. He still does.

"That King fella and his nonviolent ways changed everything," Ray remembered, shaking his head in disgust. But he'd taken him on anyway. If not for television blasting biased images into everybody's homes, Ray still believes he could have defeated King and his ilk.

"No matter what I threw at him, he just kept comin' and comin' and comin'," Ray spat.

The chants and songs faded as marchers headed into the distance. Ray stood, shaking his fist, cursing maniacally. He again doubled over, coughing, wheezing, feeling dizzy and weak.

"This is it. I'm dying," he thought, feeling frantic. He fell backward, catching himself before sliding off the building. Oddly, he felt better, as though the stainless steel of the dome itself had given him strength.

"Keep marchin'," he moaned weakly. "Y'all never gonna beat me."

Monday, June 05, 2006

Everybody Should Sue Michael Moore

Let’s all sue Michael Moore. Heck, if Iraqi war veteran Sgt. Peter Damon wins the lawsuit he filed in Boston last month, it’s open season for a bunch of folks.

The Middleboro, Massachusetts veteran claims the Oscar-winning writer/director used a clip of him in the film, "Fahrenheit 9/11," without his permission and misrepresented his feelings about the Iraq war.

The segment featuring Damon at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was taken from a "NBC Nightly News" program about the medical treatment provided to veterans. The National guardsman lost both arms while servicing a Blackhawk helicopter. Damon is shown on a stretcher after U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, (D-Washington) made what many, including Damon, consider an “anti-Bush” statement: "You know, they say they're not leaving any veterans behind, but they're leaving all kinds of veterans behind."

Damon, who reportedly supports the war and President Bush, said the footage makes it appear as if he‘s “anti-war.” He told reporters that he’s “proud of his service” and “has no regrets at all.” The veteran seeks damages of $25 million, punitive damages of $75 million and additional damages of $75 million. His wife wants another $10 million due to "mental distress and anguish."

I sympathize with Damon. He proudly supports Bush’s Big Democracy Adventure and feels he’s been compensated for his injuries. Then, all of a sudden, BAM!, he finds himself in a controversial film criticizing his core beliefs, while ridiculing his president.

Let’s say I were filmed by a news crew after I’d been robbed and beaten by gang bangers. Now suppose that clip was included in a propaganda film geared to stir up emotions for tougher, anti-gang laws or used in a pro-death penalty documentary. Considering I don’t support either position, I’d be pissed.

But would I have grounds for a lawsuit?

Maybe. If the film's narrator said, “Sylvester Brown wants congress to get tougher on gangs and he supports the death penalty,” that would be a clear misrepresentation of my words and image.

If, however, a director of an anti-crime film used the news clip that shows me bruised and wailing in the background, I don’t think I’d have a legal leg to stand on.

Moore didn’t claim Damon was in anyway disappointed with Bush or the war. Moore used licensed NBC footage. Damon, at best, served as a symbol. As in any other war documentary, no one assumes that the soldiers shown in the footage have a pro or anti-war position, unless the soldier specifically makes such a statement.

I’m sure all the victims shown in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina didn’t blame the Bush administration for the horrific emergency response, but their images solidified that position for millions of us watching the news.

If Damon’s claim has legal merit, then several others appearing in "Fahrenheit 9/11” might want to cash in, too.

First in line should be members of the Saudi royal family and members of the bin Laden klan. Moore’s film reinforces the perception that the Saudis and Bush have a lovey dovey relationship. One of the most damning indictments in the film depicts the Bush administration allowing more than 20 members of the bin Laden family to evacuate the United States immediately after the 9/11 attack.

Who knows, though? Maybe some of Osama’s kinfolk share Moore's views. How dare Moore give the impression that all bin Ladens are cozy with the Bushes?

Sue the bastard.

The author of “The Pet Goat” might have a case, too. People who saw Moore's movie watched as Bush sat in a Florida classroom for seven, long minutes after being told the country was under attack. He just sat there, listening as children read "The Pet Goat." Thanks to Moore, this children's story will forever be associated with the image of a clueless, dumbfounded president in the midst of national catastrophe.

Sounds like grounds for litigation to me.

A CNN clip of singer Britney Spears is also used in the film: “Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens."

Hey, Britney, you should, like, you know, go to court, because you came off, like, you know, a totally disillusioned, gum-chomping airhead.

That lapdog dude shown helping Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz prep for an interview, definitely has a case. What self-respecting woman would ever want to be seen in public with the man who fussed over Wolfowitz as he combed his hair with a saliva-soaked, plastic comb?

Ugggh!

If a jury helps Damon reap millions from his suit, then all the wounded Iraqis shown in the film have a case, too. I'm sure some welcomed the “liberators” and regime change by military force. Heck, Moore made it appear as though some actually suffered from the invasion and mourned the loss of their loved ones.

The cad. They should take Moore to an international court and, like Damon, sue for misrepresention.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that Damon’s legal team came courtesy of the Bush/Cheney/Rove “Discredit, Defame & Destroy” propaganda machine. The lawsuit has the stench of the same group now seeking to prosecute journalists with the gall to investigate Bush’s many transgressions and wrongdoings.

At the very least, Damon has bought into the right-wing conservative dogma that fuels attacks against 1st Amendment protections.

The suit is not about misrepresenting or misusing a soldier’s image. It’s about maligning and neutering a badass director who brilliantly demonstrates how grossly this administration has misrepresented and misused power.

If a judge or jury rewards Damon’s claim, then every panicked New Yorker, every frustrated Flint Michigan resident, every wounded soldier and everyone pictured in the documentary may as well cash in, too.

It's not a lawsuit motivated by wrong or right. It's another thinly-veiled attempt to silence critics of a corrupt administration that ... to put it bluntly ... simply can't stand Mike.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Ode to My Blog


(An update, inspired by Hamlet)

To be a blogger, or not to be: that is the question:

Nay, past 30 days and nights, and mine voice remain silent.

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of a columnist who doth not blog or a blogger who doth not columnate.

Serve two masters … a foolish fancy? Perhaps. But a scribe’s dream:

Words without dictate, without limit. Words never to heaven go, but swirl for eternity in the great techno-divide.

O villain, villain, daunting, electronic damn'd villain!

“Build it and they will come, by thousands, by millions, ” words that taunt me still.

Seduced by thy templates, tutorials, promises of hard returns, double returns, FTP paths, HTML tags, RSS syndication and Adsense that made so much sense …

I fell captive to thy temptress’ song.

Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment until thy hearest from me

Thus was the very ecstasy of love.

O most pernicious .com woman!

Your wild and whirling words seduced so many of my creed.

I was but one of your suitors sent begging for favors:

“Come, visit, ping me, link me, take me home, please, please, please?

But to my mind, though I am native here. I am columnist. Man of local recognition. Words produced for modest, monetary reward. More words, more rewards.

Thus was the motivation of our mad, impetuous affair.

What is't but to be nothing else but mad?

Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.

To grunt and sweat under a weary life. Column by day, blog by night.

Easier to dream. Difficult to live.

Read, write, edit by day. Read, blog, edit by night.

O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

But to persevere. In obstinate condolement is a course.
Of impious stubbornness; 'tis unmanly grief;

Dick & George; a parody. Smite thy emperor’s throne. Shaggy hypocrisy laid bare. A walk with Christ, a pox on O’Reilly’s house;

Penniless pearls lost in a sea of more pearls, celebrity muse and pithy, petulant blather.

Oh, leftist lovers, mourners of darkened light and arrogant right, where art thou?

“Come, visit, ping me, link me, take me home, please, please, please?”

To be a blogger, or not to be: that is the question:

Perhaps, to take arms against a sea of troubles, admit thine humanity and render the renegade blogger’s voice to die: to sleep;

For all that live must die,

O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!
If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not.

Let me not think on't: Frailty, thy name is woman!

Rest, rest, perturbed spirit!

Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution

Press on. Press on. By all means, press on!

To be reborn: that is the answer.

To blog as a columnist; never more.

Shackles of daily habit, tossed aside at dusk.

Brevity is the soul of wit.

If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity awhile,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
Listen, while I speak once again

More matter, with less art. The rest is silence.

Sweets to the sweet: farewell!

By Sylvester Brown, Jr.

(With humble apologies to “the Bard”)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

“Decider” House Rules

"I'm the decider and I decide what's best."

President George W. Bush's words a couple of days ago, stating that he planned to stand firm behind embattled Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, gave me pause.

“Decider?”

Is that even a word?

Well, if someone who runs is a runner, then someone who spits must be a spitter and someone who decides must, then, be a "decider." I guess we're all "poopers," too?


Really, though, shouldn’t the leader of the most prosperous and advanced nation (though I have my doubts of late) use better ... I don't know ... more "growner upper" words? How about, “I’m a leader and I stand by my decisions" or “I contemplate, then stand by my convictions"?

But "decider?" Really?

Oh well, our “decider” has decided and that’s that. No matter how big the pile of poop he's created gets, Bush says Rumsfeld's done "a fine job" -- kind of like Brownie, I guess.
This despite recent charges from the New York-based group Human Rights Watch that Rumsfeld might have been fully aware of the abuses inflicted on at least one prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay. The international human rights group is asking the president to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Rumsfeld and other senior Pentagon officials.

"The question at this point is not whether Rumsfeld should resign," said Joanne Mariner, HRW's director of terrorism and counter terrorism, "it's whether he should be indicted. A special prosecutor should look carefully at what abuses Rumsfeld either knew of or condoned."

The "Decider is sticking by his man even after six retired military commanders publicly declared Rumsfeld “unfit to lead the nation's military forces” and called for his resignation.

“What's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense," Bush responded in news conferences.

The military critics, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
pointed out , are not "perfumed Pentagon princes." They’re Marine and Army generals, who unlike Bush and Rumsfeld, have seen up close combat that's taken soldiers' lives.

But, hey, what do those who Bush and Rumsfeld describe as “two or three or four retired people” really know?

Apparently quite a bit. Just listen to NPR host Diane Rehm’s
interview Tuesday with Retired Major General John Batiste and other military leaders. Batiste, who specifically retired to speak publicly against Rumsfeld and the poop he and Bush created in Iraq, lays out a succinct argument for the defense secretary’s ouster.

No matter. We abide by “Decider” House Rules these days and that's scary stuff if you allow your mind to dwell on it -- especially c
onsidering his response to the question about plans for a nuclear strike against Iran:

"All options are on the table,” the president replied.

What!?


Just how exactly are China, Russia, Germany or any key members of the U.N. Security Council supposed to keep international tensions on low-boil with a trigger-happy “decider,” who's still cowboying through Iraq by the way, blabbering about dropping nukes?

Now, I’m no Condoleeza Rice, but how can Bush expect Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or North Korea’s Kim Jong-il to quietly abandon their nuclear ambitions when he’s unwilling to take a nuclear option against them off the table.

Haven't our misguided adventures in Iraq convinced enough Americans that the president's simple talk comes with very dangerous consequences? How long was it after Bush uttered the words "axis of evil" that we found ourselves embroiled in the nation-building, democracy-spreading fiasco that is Iraq?

I get nervous when Bush sounds his goofiest. Because while we're laughing, the "Decider" is deciding and nothing ... I mean nothing ... is funny about that.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

FUN WITH DICK & GEORGE

by Sylvester Brown Jr.
"If You're Not Completely Appalled, Then You Haven't Been Paying Attention..."
My wife's bumper sticker speaks volumes about America's response to the capers of the Bush administration, but only partly.
Within the past few months, we've heard about the president's illegal wiretapping program, his efforts to allow takeover of American seaport operations by a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates, and his recently exposed plot with Britain's Tony Blair to start the war in Iraq even if no WMDs were found.
Then, last week, we learned Bush directed Vice President Cheney to leak classified information (already proven false, by the way) to bolster the case against Iraq. The winking and nodding that insued ultimately exposed a CIA agent, Valerie Plame. Why? To discredit Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who dared to challenge Bush's whopper of a tale about Saddam Hussein's attempts to obtain "yellowcakes," a processed form of natural uranium ore, for his nuclear weapons program.
Are Americans paying attention? Some are, but it seems to make little difference. The Bush crowd figured out a long time ago that the attention span of many Americans lasts about as long as OxyContin in Rush Limbaugh's briefcase. All the administration has to do is deny, deny, deny and sprinkle the debate with a few cliches like "executive privilege" and "war on terror." They then turn to Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and other journalistic prostitutes (those at the FOX News brothel included) to parrot the rhetoric and Presto! our A.D.D.-challenged electorate gets distracted by the pretty, red, white and blue balloons.
It's not like credible information isn't available. Last week's Washington Post article painstakingly laid out how Cheney's former top aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, followed orders giving select members of the press "select" classified information to discredit Plame's husband. HuffingtonPost Blogger, Larry Johnson, offers an excellent chronology of events that blows away any doubt that the president lied (and kept lying) about the whole sordid Plame affair.
Yet, the masses of voters act as if all is well in the White House. Why? Because "the facts" are more complicated -- the evidence not as visible as a stain on a blue dress.
If Democrats and the so-called "liberal" press ever want to get serious about exposing the president's follies and contradictions, they'll have to find a better, more effective means to communicate. Forget about blogs, mass e-letters and in-depth investigative reports. That's a waste of time with the majority of lazy Red State voters.
Maybe the progressives ought to borrow a tried and true method that helped millions learn the "basics." Maybe it's time to communicate with the uninformed, uninspired voters on another level. Maybe it's time for a simpler approach:

FUN WITH DICK AND GEORGE
Red State Reader Books

CHAPTER ONE

"Come, George, come and see," said Dick.

"What is it, Dick? I can't see," said George.

"Yellowcakes, yellowcakes, see, George, see. See the mean brown man with yellowcake? He wants to blow up the world. We should tell everyone," said Dick. "Every boy and every girl."

"I'll pretend to see," George said. "Will everyone else see, like me?"

"Don't worry, George, we'll make sure they all see what we see," said Dick.

"This is a happy day for me. A happy, happy day," George clapped.

CHAPTER TWO

George was sad. No one believed he saw yellowcakes.

Mean old Joe said there was no such thing.

"George told a lie, lie, lie," Joe told everyone.

Dick was mad at Joe for making George sad. Dick was mad, mad, mad.

"Don't worry, George. I'll stop Joe. You wait and see."

"How?" asked George.

"I'll tell his secret," said Dick. "Then everyone will stop believing Joe and believe you again."

George was afraid. He and Dick were team leaders. They were supposed to play by the rules. Revealing team secrets is wrong, wrong wrong, George thought.

"Oh, no, Dick. If we tell, we might go to jail."

Dick laughed at George.

"Ha, ha, ha. Don't worry George. I will tell Scooter to tell. He will tell. We won't go to jail. Never, never, never! We will never go to jail."

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," George said.

CHAPTER THREE
Scooter said, "Come here, Judy."
"Come here, Matt."
"Come here, Bob."
"See, see, see? See what Dick wants you to see?"

"I see," said Judy.
"I see," said Matt.
"Where? Where?" asked Bob.

"Will you tell all the others?" Scooter asked. "Will you all tell?"

"I don't know," answered Matt.

"Pretend I was never here," said Bob and Bob ran away.

"I'll tell, I'll tell," said Judy, happily. "I told everyone about the mean brown man with yellowcakes. I'll tell this, too."
"I will tell everyone what Dick wants us to see. Tell, tell, tell," Judy sang.
CHAPTER FOUR
George was sad. The team found out he and Dick were telling secrets.
Matt had told. Bob had told. Judy went to jail. Scooter might go to jail, too.
George was afraid that he and Dick might get kicked off the team.
He started to cry.
Dick laughed at George.
"Ha, ha, ha. Don't cry George. The team will blame Scooter, not you, not me. Scooter will go to jail but we won't. Never, never, never! We will never go to jail."
Dick gave George a pretzel and let him sit on his lap.
George felt much better.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dick," George said.
And George fell fast asleep.
Other Red State Reader Books:
Dick and George Steal an Election (Parts 1 & 2)
Dick and George Go to Church
Dick and George and the Scary Hunting Trip
Dick and George Have Fun With the Constitution
Dick and George Go to Jail


Thursday, April 06, 2006




Rise of the Black Racists?

An interesting phenomenon has occurred in this country over the past 40 years or so.

Back in 1966, a person tagged with the term "racist" more than likely had white skin. Back then, it was the Confederate-flag-waving, civil-rights-loathing, black-skin-hating, KKK, Bull Connor, Gov. George Wallace type who wore the label.

More and more, however, I'm hearing seemingly articulate, professional, high profile white folk casually refer to blacks as "racists."

Just the other day, embattled former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) called Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) a racist while threatening to file ethics charges against her. Last month, conservative pundit and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin dissed a young prodigy, Autum Ashante, after the girl's poem, "White Nationalism Put U In Bondage," made national news.

"Meet the 7-Year- old Racist Poet," Malkin wrote in her March 15th blog. According to Malkin, the child shouldn't be blamed; she's just the product of Black History Month in public schools, separate recruiting programs, and government contracts awarded by race.

"Autum Ashante is the natural offspring of militant multiculturalism and government-sanctioned identity politics. We reap what we sow," Malkin wrote.

I'm assuming everyone with a computer, TV, radio or newspaper has read or heard about Ashante and McKinney. There's definitely room for criticism and defense of both individuals, but I'm not going to wade into those murky waters -- at least not now.

Instead, let's discuss the application of the word "racist." Readers of my column sometimes call me racist. It always puzzles me. Yes, I discuss race relations and hot-topic cultural issues and, at times, I even criticize perceived racist actions, but I don't consider myself a racist.

When did it become racist to talk about race? Can African Americans even be racists? Have we enjoyed so much cultural progression that the word has taken on a generic connotation?


I read quotes from several whites that called McKinney and the young poet racists, but they weren't the only ones. Some blacks did, too.

Maybe the word has been revised. After all, rappers claim they've changed the meaning of the words "pimp," "Ho" and the "N" word. Perhaps whites and a few blacks flipped the script on the "R" word, too.

If so, I missed the memo.


I turned to my nifty desktop dictionary for clarification.

"Racist (noun):
The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. Discrimination or prejudice based on race."

So, according to the dictionary, blacks can, in fact, be racist. In a practical, historically accurate sense, however, I don't agree.

Racism without power is like a gun without bullets. Sure, blacks can be prejudiced. I'm sure there are many who don't like whites simply because they're white. And, yes, blacks can be racial opportunists. They can certainly use race to advance their careers or cover transgressions. McKinney might be an opportunist and young Ashante may very well be prejudiced, but can they be racists?

I don't think so.


McKinney's and Ashante's actions and words are not powered by slavery, rape, lynching, Jim Crow, and property theft or the denial of basic privileges like home ownership, voting rights, education, civil liberties and the use of public accommodations. Their words are just words. Their "prejudice" lacks bullets.

In my day the definition of a racist was clear. I suspect it still is. Unless, of course, you ignore the history from which the word was born.
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