There Are No White Liberals — Really

May 7, 2014

Stephen Colbert meets with members of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Washington, DC, June 30, 2011. (Yuri Gripas via http://slate.com).

Stephen Colbert meets with members of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Washington, DC, June 30, 2011. (Yuri Gripas via http://slate.com).

What I’ve learned in recent months from Twitter, Facebook, The Atlantic and The New York Times, from recent Supreme Court decisions, and from attempts to justify oligarchy and bigotry, is the following. That the term “White liberal” is a media falsehood, meant to create a distinction without any significant differences. That most White liberals are “liberal” by default, only because they’re not conservative — or really, reactionary — enough. That most Whites who see themselves as liberal also believe in colorblindness as a racial philosophy or refuse to acknowledge their own privilege of Whiteness and structural racism as major obstacles on the path toward an egalitarian society. And that people who look and write like me can and should be ignored, precisely because I’m Black and underprivileged by default.

There are in fact Whites who do acknowledge the privilege of their own Whiteness, who do understand the gigantic barriers of structural racism, institutional and individual racism. Some of those are leftists, many more, though, are racists who have fully embraced Whiteness as their cloak of superiority. Hence Donald Trump, Donald Sterling (heck, maybe even Donald Duck), Paul Ryan, Cliven Bundy, Tom Perkins, and, if you’re aware of recent racism rows in the UK, Jeremy Clarkson.

There are the rare handful, though, who are leftist enough to have also become active on the anti-racism front. I’m lucky to count quite a few of them as friends, or at least, colleagues. Some of these folks, whether Tim Wise or Mark Naison, Jessie Daniels or Joe Feagin, sure enough, do acknowledge that their rare enlightenment has its limits, that they, too, can and do get it wrong sometimes in discussing race and racism. They even acknowledge that they have Whiteness and other -isms, that they aren’t perfect or in need of a pedestal because they’ve managed to look past their privilege to be radical leftists.

Colorblind racism cartoon, February 27, 2013. (Gabriel Ivan Orendain-Necochea/Daily Sundial via http://sundial.csun.edu).

Colorblind racism cartoon, February 27, 2013. (Gabriel Ivan Orendain-Necochea/Daily Sundial via http://sundial.csun.edu).

That leaves this fairly large plurality of Whites who see themselves as “liberals,” but refuse to realize that they are liberals because they aren’t fearful or hateful enough to be right-wingers. Politically, they’re basically centrists, folks who don’t want to rock the boat on any issues involving social class, social mobility or structural inequality. They may care about a green planet, recognize that evolution is real and climate change is man-made, but will still see racism as an individual issue, and not one baked into the bricks and mortar of our society and its institutions.

These are the media standard “White liberals,” ones who care more about an individual White guy who uses the N-word on TV than they do about a White supremacist terrorist shooting up a community center or a place of worship. In fact, the media and these liberals will all but refuse to use the word “terrorist” in reference to systemic White violence against communities of color or those of different religious backgrounds. They’ll be the ones who’ll start with the sentence, “I don’t care if you’re black, white, green or red…,” as if racism were a simple matter of melanin, and not material and psychological advantages that begin at conception and end well after death. Not to mention, there aren’t any actual “green” or “red” skin-colored humans.

Yet, despite their colorblindness, they couldn’t possibly conceive of Blacks and Latinos smart enough to make it to an elite college without the handout of affirmative action, or of large numbers of people of color in positions of leadership in business and in  politics, or of a feminism without the contradiction of femininity. For that matter, so-called colorblind White “liberals” still find it easy to call race a “card” that people of color pull out only when it’s somehow convenient for us, or lament the need for historically Black colleges and universities or other Black institutions. Some have even argued for a White History Month, which is ridiculous, considering how Whiteness is ever-present (kind of like the way the most religious of Christians think about God).

So, after four and a half decades as a born and bred American, I’ve realized that the average White liberal is not only not a leftist, Marxist or an anti-racist. That not only that the media labels them as “liberals” by default. But that they are as much to blame for our sorry state of affairs regarding race in America as Frazier Glenn Miller, Wade Michael Page, the NYPD, the LAPD, evangelical Christianity and those Southern Democrats who became Republicans between 1964 and 1994.


President Obama vs. Fake Obama Today

November 6, 2012

Eddie Million’s Obama Effigy, Moreno Valley, CA, October 22, 2012. (Moreno Valley Press-Enterprise).

I’ve already voted, a week ago Sunday at my early voting polling place in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. So Election Day for me today is both a matter of waiting and reflecting on the past four years. What I’ve come to realize is that this election has never been about Mitt Romney, Republicans, the Tea Baggers or even President Barack Obama’s actual record. No, this election has been between the President Obama who has let us down versus the President Obama who has sullied the White House because he’s a nigger in the minds of millions of Americans (I hate that word, but it sums up the sentiments of a third of the electorate very well).

Both views refuse to take what President Obama has and hasn’t been able to do into account, to treat him as we would any other president. For progressives — real liberals, not the people who the media paint as liberal merely because they’re registered Democrats — President Obama has done almost nothing right since his second day in office. For some, because he hasn’t done a complete 180° turnaround on Gitmo, on the War on Terror, on immigration reform and environmental policy, Obama has merely been a continuation of Bush 43. Because Obama’s charismatic intelligence wasn’t able to turn Congress into a rubber stamp, because Obama’s magic didn’t bring real unemployment down to under five percent, progressives are less enthused this time around.

The late Michael Duncan Clarke in The Green Mile (1999), December 1999. (http://movies.com). Qualifies as fair use under US Copyright laws – related to subject of post.

It’s almost as if many expected the late Michael Duncan Clarke’s character from The Green Mile (1999) or Will Smith’s character Bagger Vance from The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000) to erupt from President Obama. No wonder the disappointment in the first Black president, who only had to face the worst set of economic, financial, social, international and environmental crises any president has ever faced, Lincoln and FDR included.

For Republicans, conservatives and racists, the issue has always been about how to keep this Islamic jihadist, socialist atheist, and communist anti-patriot from destroying the country since his first day in office. Though President Obama received nearly 68 million votes, there’s no way he earned those votes. Somehow, the Black guy either leveraged the White guilt of White liberals, or he used the Chicago machine to electronically stuff ballot boxes by the millions. Plus, of course, we need his college transcripts from Occidental and Columbia, his original birth certificate and his original application for an American passport to prove that he’s a legitimately intelligent American citizen. But somehow, none of this is about race?

Will Smith and Matt Damon in The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), August 24, 2009. (http://grist.org). Qualifies as fair use under US copyright laws – subject of post.

For this group, it wouldn’t have mattered if Obama had single-handedly developed perpetual nuclear fusion, warp drive for space ships and a cure for cancer. He’s a Black guy in the White House, and they can’t have this. That’s why from the moment Chief Justice John Roberts swore President Obama into office, Congressional leaders, their filthy-rich supporters and Tea Bagger racists have worked non-stop to make Obama a one-term president. They can only paint President Obama in the worst ways because an honest portrayal of him would leave this group with “he’s Black” as their only reason for opposition.

As the rest of you vote today and/or wait for the results, keep the past four years of Obama Derangement Syndrome across the political spectrum in mind, so that you vote for the real President Obama. Don’t vote for the magic man, and certainly don’t vote for the Magic Negro either.


The Ultimate Satan Sandwich

August 3, 2011

Titan in natural color, Cassini spacecraft, April 16, 2005. (Source/http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA06230) - In public domain.

With the passage of the debt ceiling/budget cuts deal that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) called a “a sugar-coated Satan sandwich” on Monday, it became clear that conservative politicians are only patriotic when they can make money off of misery. We know that the conservative/reactionary/Tea Party agenda is to ensure that the legacy of the New Deal and liberal America is as charred as the dinosaurs were 65 million years ago. And with it, our futures and the future of kids like my eight-year-old son.

But how will we get to a future with no future, you ask? How will this capitulation — oops, I mean compromise — between President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lead us into the event horizon of a black hole? It will be because the reactionary Republicans and the diffident Democrats will make one big effort to save the US and world economy, to create jobs and wealth. All while breaking treaties, threatening world peace and destroying the environment in the process.

Forget about “drill, baby, drill” and the ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) issue. Think bigger. Think fictitiously big. Think Saturn’s biggest moon, Titan. It’s not only the second largest moon in the solar system (after Jupiter’s largest moon Ganymede), and double the size of Earth’s moon. It’s the only moon in the solar system with a dense atmosphere, about ten times as dense as our own. It also has a huge reservoir of organic molecules and hydrocarbons in its atmosphere, and liquid methane and ethane all over its surface, at least as verified via the Cassini spacecraft and its unmanned fly-bys since 2004. Some scientists believe that there’s enough liquid methane and other hydrocarbons under and on the surface and in the atmosphere to power the current world economy for the next fifty million years.

Land of liquid methane lakes, as radar mapped with false color mosaic, North Polar Region, Titan, October 11, 2007. (Source/ http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/?IDNumber=PIA10008) - In public domain.

Because many of our fearless conservative leaders don’t believe in global warming/climate change — but do believe in making money — they would see the recent discovery of the stuff on Titan not as a place to explore the possibility of life. Instead, it would be a grand opportunity to solve the world’s energy crisis. Of course, they’d have to admit that there is such a thing as peak oil, and then have ample evidence that the world has reached peak production to boot.

So, say it’s 2014, and everyone from OPEC to the UN to Exxon Mobil has reported that we’ve reached the outer edge of peak oil. If the neo-con/Tea Party types are still in control of the House of Representatives, or worse, in control of the Senate and the White House, there wouldn’t even be a debate. They’d put together a bill to push through a $100 billion package for NASA to work with Exxon Mobil, Shell and Halliburton in sending a team of scientists, petrochemical engineers and drillers to figure out how to pump Titan’s frigid air and hydrocarbon lakes into massive tanks to return to Earth for our consumption. The companies would have to match the $100 billion package dollar for dollar, which they would do, of course.

If Obama’s in his second term with a divided government, though there would be more protests from environmental groups, climatologists, and grassroots organizations than even with a President Mitt Romney, it wouldn’t matter. With the promise of as many as five million new jobs in three years, and 150,000 jobs to support the Titan “Oil” Pumping mission within the first six months, the majority of anxious Americans would endorse this plan.

Obama would talk about “honoring America’s commitments” to space as exploration. He’d complain about the need to protect the Earth from even more disastrous and accelerated climate change, not to mention the wasting of financial and scientific resources that could leave Titan a moon-sized example of an EPA Superfund site if the mission somehow set the moon’s atmosphere on fire. Obama would even bring up green alternatives for using the Sun and solar system to supply the world’s energy needs. Then he’d fold like a warped desk of cards.

This would violate the Outer Space Treaty, signed by the United States, the former Soviet Union and the United Kingdom in 1967, and by half of the countries of the world in the forty-four years since. Not only are we not suppose to have nuclear weapons in space, the more immediate intent of the treaty, but we’re also prohibited from claiming any part of outer space as an individual nation, as they are the “common heritage of mankind.” The act to drain Titan as a petrochemical resource unilaterally would break the treaty, and leave other space-faring nations into a new and potentially dangerous space race.

So, whether Obama or a semi-fictitious Republican president, the world would compromise with the US government, allowing this cockamamie scheme to move forward without the threat of war if they could receive a twenty-five percent share in whatever hydrocarbons are recovered from Titan. In exchange, a new treaty is signed promising a thirty percent reduction in fossil fuel consumption by 2040, made up for by a twenty percent increase in green energy over the same quarter-century.

McDonald's McGriddle breakfast sandwich, the ultimate Satan sandwich, at 420 calories, September 27, 2006. (Source/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/u-suke/253343509/Yusuke Kawasaki). In public domain under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.

All a great idea. The ultimate Satan sandwich, because if such a mission to Titan succeeds, the new Kyoto Accords wouldn’t mean a damn thing. We’ll be burning methane until we all have to buy oxygen tanks in order to breathe.

Though this is a fictitious scenario, it’s based on a reality that has been unfolding in our country for decades. The unfortunate truth is, between the lustful servants of money and corporations and capitulating national leadership, this Satan-sandwich-story is more of a possibility than us seeing a human being walk on Mars. At least in my lifetime.


GOP/TPers’ Theme Music for Election 2012

May 30, 2011

Huckabee with Ted Nugent on guitar, Huckabee Show, FOX News Channel, May 14, 2011. Source: http://dailymail.co.uk

Ever since Mike Huckabee announced that he wasn’t running for POTUS in the Election ’12 cycle (after playing chords with Ted Nugent), I’ve been thinking about an appropriately snarky and sarcastic way to understand the GOP/Tea Party candidacy process. It’s been a bit confusing. Between Trump and Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain, Pawlenty and Romney, Palin and Bachmann, I’d have a hard time finding a candidate I’d vote for even if I were a true American conservative.

But I do know what would help. Theme music to get our juices flowin’, to rile us up about how excited we should be that among these candidates is a challenger worthy of President Barack Obama. Heck, it’s worked before. Ed Meese and Don Regan used Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The U.S.A.” and John Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses” as theme music in ’84. This despite the fact that these were protests songs of an America anti-common man and pro-war.

GOP/TPers can do the same in ’12. Here’s a list of songs to usurp — oops, I mean use — between now and November 6 of next year.

1. Genesis, “Illegal Alien” (1983), as in, “It’s no fun/being an illegal alien” — especially if the GOP/TPers take over in ’12.

2. James Blunt, “No Bravery” (2005), a truthful description of what it takes to run on the GOP/TP ticket, i.e., no independent thought.

3. ABC, “How To Be A Millionaire” (1985), which should be retitled, “How To Be A Billionaire,” since that’s the ultimate goal of the leaders of the GOP – “a million is not enough” could be the party’s new slogan.

4. U2, “Crumbs From Your Table,” (2004), which, if these folks are elected next year, will be all we’ll have to eat by the ’16 election cycle.

Crumbs on my table, courtesy of Noah's old elephant and a Lipton tea bag wrapped around trunk, May 30, 2011. Donald Earl Collins.

5. Chicago, “Hard Habit To Break,” (1984), especially in the refrain, “I’m addicted to you,” meaning easy money from top 1%, debt and low taxes, and oil, oh, sweet crude oil!

6. The Cranberries, “Zombie,” (1994), the sincerest hope of the GOP/TPers when it comes to what’s left of our voting populace.

Herman Cain, They Think You're Stupid Book Cover (more like We Think You're Stupid), 2009. Source: National Black Republican Association, http://nbra.info

7. Al Green, “One Of These Good Old Days,” (1972), a tribute to the way the Party of Corporations wants things to be for rich – it’s their climax song!

8. Prince, “1999,” (1983), except they would definitely change it to “1899,” the height of affluent largesse, corporate greed and monopoly-building (until the ’00s), and acceptable racism.

9. Creed, “My Own Prison,” (1997), one of the ultimate dreams of the GOP/TPers, that we’d build our own prisons and then put ourselves in them so they don’t have to worry about job creation.

10. Grover Washington, Jr., “Summer Chill,” (1992), what the party hopes their paid-off scientists can “prove” in a new study funded by the John M. Olin Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the Scaife Foundations, making “Drill, baby, drill” a reality in ANWR.

11. Public Enemy, “Welcome To The Terrordome,” (1989), most likely would be used by the GOP/TPers to promote gladiator-like games as a way to bring the unemployment rate down for those they can’t get to build their own prisons.

12. Sade, “The Sweetest Taboo,” (1985), a tribute to all of their in the closet and anti-gay party members willing to sacrifice the civil and human rights of LGBT Americans everywhere for a seat in Washington.

13. Maxwell, “…Til The Cops Come Knockin’,” (1996), the general plan for all elected GOP/TPers until they’re caught in illegal activities.

In addition, there’s Alexander O’Neal’s “When The Party’s Over” (1987), another example of what would happen to us, our country and our world if the GOP/TPers reclaimed and remained in charge. They’d suck the bottom ninety-nine percent of us dry until the good times are over, and then blame us for not letting them steal the plumbing, too. Please add to this list. I could’ve created an iPod list of a hundred appropriate songs, but fourteen’s just a start. Eat your heart out, Ted Nugent!


President Obama and The Rules of Racial Standing

September 10, 2009

President Barack Obama has a problem. And no, it’s not just emotionlessness, or fringe evangelical conservatives, or his attempts at universal health care. President Obama’s problem is the same one that every person of at least some African descent faces in America. His problem: The Rules of Racial Standing.

Of course, President Obama should know what I’m talking about. After all, he studied under the author of these rules while at Harvard Law, the one and only Derrick Bell. Bell, a two-time New York Times bestselling author in his own right, devoted a chapter in Faces at the Bottom of the Well to these unofficial Rules of Racial Standing. Bell’s point: that few– if any — of those of African descent have the legal, political or social standing necessary to address deeply divisive issues such as race. At least, without being considered irrational and discountable. Below is my summary of Bell’s Rules of Racial Standing, as published in my Radical Society piece “Rules to Live By”:

First Rule
(“Rule of Illegitimate Standing”) …No matter their experience or expertise, Blacks’ statements involving race are deemed “special pleading” and thus not entitled to serious consideration.

Second Rule
(“Rule of Legitimate Standing”) Not only are Blacks’ complaints discounted, but Black victims of racism are less effective witnesses than are Whites, who are members of the oppressor class. This phenomenon reflects a widespread assumption that…cannot be objective on racial issues…

Third Rule
(“Rule of Enhanced Standing”) …The usual exception…is the Black person who publicly disparages or criticizes other Blacks who are speaking or acting in ways that upset Whites. Instantly, such statements are granted “enhanced standing” even when the speaker has no special expertise or experience in the subject he or she is criticizing.

Fourth Rule
(“Rule of Superenhanced Standing”) When a Black person or group makes a statement or takes an action that the White community or vocal opponents thereof deem “outrageous,” the latter will actively recruit Blacks willing to refute the statement or condemn the action. Blacks who respond to the call for condemnation will receive superstanding status…

Fifth Rule
(“Rule of Prophetic Understanding”) …Using this knowledge, one gains the gift of prophecy about racism, its essence, its goals, even its remedies. The price of this knowledge is the frustration that…that no amount of public prophecy, no matter its accuracy, can either repeal the Rules of Racial Standing or prevent their operation.

There are exceptions to these rules, such as when a prominent Black throws other Blacks under the proverbial bus in a way that is consistent with the views of a majority of Whites, or at least, conservatives regardless of race and ethnicity. Or by having someone White or of legitimate standing vouch for his or her otherwise controversial views. These rules not only apply in a legal proceeding. They have found their way into every corner of American culture and politics.

With President Obama, we have a living contradiction of Bell’s Rules of Racial Understanding. Not only is he technically multiracial yet considered by himself and others as Black. Obama holds the most powerful political office in the world, maybe in the history of the world. On most matters he has standing the equivalent of the Sun when compared with the Earth. But because Obama’s also Black, he also lacks sufficient standing on the most controversial issues of our age. Anything involving race, racial bias, prejudice, religion, the growing socioeconomic divide, terrorism, American patriotism, civil liberties, or social justice is potentially toxic for Obama. While being president gives him standing few on the world stage could imagine — much less enjoy, being African American dilutes Obama’s standing at the same time.

And we have neo-conservatives like Limbaugh and Palin — and as of last night, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) — evangelicals, and much more obvious bigots that remind us of this rather interesting contradiction every week, if not every day. Birthers declaring that Obama is an illegitimate president we allegedly haven’t seen his birth certificate. Folks accusing him and Congress of creating “death panels” for the elderly as a way to pay for universal health care. Madmen bringing guns to town halls or hoarding guns because they believe that Obama’s the anti-Christ. The last time I believed that about anyone was when I was eleven years old, and just about as naive about the world as the fully-grown nuts rolling around now.

To say that this has nothing to do with race or Bell’s Rules is to suggest that many of us are so narcissistic that we can conjure up denial at will. But it’s not just Whites or conservatives (or, rather, neo-reactionaries) who can knee-jerk themselves into nonsensical “it’s not about race” answers. Obama and his administration have done the same thing. They’ve treated the political discourse and discord of the past eight months mostly with academia-like silence. Great if one’s attempting to rise up the White male-dominated corporate ladder or trying to get tenure at a predominantly White university. Not so great if you’re the President of the United States. Obama either sees himself as T’Pol or Spock, a logical, emotionless Vulcan. Or he’s taking cues from Michael Douglass’ character in The American President. Both of which communicate a certain degree of cynicism about his opposition and the American electorate in general.

Does this mean that Obama can’t be post-racial, or overcome the thinly-veiled racial, pro-business and anti-intellectual proclivities of his opponents? Does this mean that Bell’s Rules of Racial Standing could place a stranglehold on his presidency? Only if Obama and those who support him take a pessimistic approach to governing and social justice. Despite all the wackos out there, the yellow-journalism that is offered up to the public, and our own hysteria about the decline of our once great nation, Obama has an opportunity. He holds the keys to the kingdom, something that wasn’t supposed to happen until I reached retirement age three decades from now.

This is where Bell’s Fifth Rule on Prophetic Understanding becomes important. Without an understanding that effort on the most gut-wrenching issues is necessary, even if it results in a loss. Otherwise, there would no need for an understanding of the first four rules in the first place. Maybe that’s what has been lacking in Obama for the past five months, at least until yesterday. That sense that striving and struggle — risk-taking — is needed out of our leadership, even when that leadership flies in the face of what is comforting and familiar to most, whether it be shameless supporters or venomous opponents. Hopefully, Obama will do more than give speeches and issue communiques in dealing with Bell’s Rules so that we can truly have change that we can believe in.


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