As someone that voted for you both in 2008 & 2012, supported your campaigns financially, volunteered my time and even played key stroke warrior on your behalf when undue criticism ,insults and racist diatribes were lobbed at you and your family, I feel that I’ve earned the right to express how disappointed I am at what I see as one of the lowest moments of your presidency. At least as it portends to the uplift of African-Americans (particularly the most vulnerable) and the continued fight against white supremacy in America (particularly law enforcement).
Question(s) for you Mr President:
Did you call George Zimmerman a thug for stalking, attacking and then shooting dead that unarmed kid that you claimed would look so eerily similar to your son if you had one? How about Darren Wilson–did you call him a thug for shooting Mike Brown as he had his hands raised–the universal sign for surrender? Timothy Loehmann shot and killed 12 year old Tamir Rice within 2.5 seconds of arriving at a park where he innocently played with his TOY gun–was that not an act of thuggery? Did you call him a thug? Walter Scott was shot 5 times in the back by a thug in uniform that sits in a jail cell as we speak–did you label him a thug yet?
I get it, they are all law enforcement (minus the wannabe) and American law enforcement are sensitive creatures so for whatever reason you feel that you must coddle them so I will forgive (for the moment with a dash of sarcasm) your reluctance to call a spade a spade vis-a-vis law enforcement. What about the guy who stormed an elementary school and murdered in cold blood over 20 babies? Did you call Adam Lanza or any of the plethora mass shooters that thugged out on your watch thugs for any of their thuggery?
What is a thug in the first place?
Now that we have a baseline to work with in the form of definitive means, let’s examine exactly what you could have meant by calling some of the poorest,most disaffected, and criminally mis-educated, boys from poorest end of one of the most impoverished cites in the country you lead a bunch of thugs. A thug is defined as acruelorviciousruffian,robber,ormurderer. Now I know they were rioting and throwing rocks but they did not kill anyone, nor were they particularly cruel. In fact one of those thugs even had his mom greet and beat his ass all the way home. Now I’ve listened to a lot of rap music in my life and at least according to the hip-hop doctrine that ain’t how a thug goes out.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that your flippant use of the term to describe these provoked, misguided and rightfully angry youth was more a generalization for what they were doing at the time (rioting) and not part of the American racial codec. Every year you host the winner of the Stanley Cup at the White House and almost every year that that cup in won and loss there’s rioting in the streets of the city that one or both teams represent. I never ever saw you or anyone in your administration or the mainstream media call them thugs or petition the team owner from the winning team to talk sense into their unruly (for no damn reason) fan base. Like everyone else in America you picked Kentucky to win the NCAA championship this year. There was a bunch of college students in Kentucky that took that loss way harder than you, I and most other Americans–funny how you nor anyone else in media labeled them thugs. What gives Mr. President? Why does black America get the Angry Obama Alter ego in real life concerning real issues and white America only gets to see that guy in a stand up routine talking about a bucket lists?
For someone who normally has his ear to the street and stays connected to the realities faced by many you sure let your radar down with that one reference. Either your code switching skills are slipping or there is at least a modicum of truth to the widely held belief propagated by many in the black community that you take our feelings, worth and even intelligence for granted. It’s not necessarily a belief that I subscribe to in fact I vehemently disagree with that notion. I’m still however having trouble wrapping my mind around why you called those boys a thugs and what exactly did you mean by it.
Your employ of such a dubious term to describe the Baltimore youth that rebelled at YOUR (I stress your because you have yet to denounce them) armed and shielded agent provocateurs better known as the BCPD (as well as the rest of them in America) was nothing short of heart breaking. While the totality of what you said was fair-minded and empathetic your use of the word thug to describe those kids does a great disservice to them and most black men in America. It over shadowed much of the good things that you said.
Baltimore councilman Carl Stokes perfectly summarized what the media and other irresponsible handlers of the bully pulpit (yourself included) mean when they call those disadvantaged kids thugs.
In case the memo has not made its way to 1600 Penn, let me be the first to break the news to you that “Thug” is euphemistic speak for nigger–ask Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch and Fox News. Hell, you’ve been called a thug numerous times–how could you not know it’s contemporary meaning? The first black president codifying such racist code speak is akin to giving up on black youth. As much as your use of the term thug disturbs me (and your lack of use of the word at other times) I know for a fact that that is not your aim so this letter is written with love. You established the My Brothers Keeper initiative and pledge to improve the lives and mitigate the hardships faced by black boys in urban America. One of the first steps in uplifting our black boys to manhood is to disabuse the notion that they are the embodiment of their worst acts–especially while mired in the doldrums of poverty.
My organization signed up to take your pledge. We are taking it very seriously and we aim to make a huge difference in the lives of some of Urban Americas least franchised. That would make us partners Mr President and as partners in this great and worthy endevor I hope you receive this letter of slight rebuke in love. Your words were disturbingly counter-productive. An apology and retraction of that very in-artful sound bite would be nice. A vow to never ascribe that term to the kind of kids that you did the other day would be even better. I’m not saying that you need to have a mock funeral for the word thug like that failed mock funeral they had for the word nigger a few years ago. We’d actually like to hear that word roll off your lips a little more often. First it would be nice to hear you ascribe that term to cops that murder innocent unarmed individuals. Second and more importantly we’d like to hear you mention all of the good work that our organization is doing with the youth. THUGS Inc is the organization (Together Helping Unite Gods Sons) and we are our brothers keepers. The kids that you refereed to as thugs are actually sons of God. Help us help you help them.
Those that know me and even those that briefly meet my acquaintance know me to be a pretty fuckless kind of dude. Generally speaking I have far less fucks to give about the mundane minutia that comprises American media and pop culture tabloid gossip than the average blue blooded American or urban dweller so when I logged on and hit the ‘like’ button for a high-minded status that came across my timeline and was met by the following automated message: my most immediate reaction was “fuck them, I don’t give a fuck. I still got Twitter, Instagram and Black Planet”. I said that to myself of course because at this point the only means of communication on Facebook I have is the inbox. I guess that’s their way of allowing me conjugal visits.
Then a few days went by and I realized that I had more fucks to give than I led myself to believe. In lieu of this most humbling revelation and to get back at Mark Zuckerbergs censorship warriors I figured I’d share a few of the fucks that I had to give this week but could not because my habitual fuck free ways landed me in Facebook jail (again).
Fuck-2-give #1: The Xenophobic out break of Violence that has South African blacks attacking, maiming and murdering fellow African migrants from across the continent.
Giving too much of a fuck about this issue is actually what landed me in Facebook jail in this time around. I posted a graphic and disturbing video of black South Africans burning alive two young Africans boys that have migrated there from other parts of the continent along with some unflattering yet innocuous commentary about these innocent young boys tormentors. I’ve had far more offensive musings and diatribes on Facebook that have flown far below the FB Polices radar, at least not to the point where I was banned. Hemming me up for this one is sort of like getting hemmed up for driving while black–or even worse, running while black after committing the cardinal sin of making eye contact with an officer (more on that later).
As it pertains to the issue itself (the xenophobic violence) it’s a much more complex phenomenon than most people (self included) can see with the kind of naked-eyed purview afforded to those of us outside the continent of Africa–so much so that even calling what’s taking place in South Africa xenophobia is sort of misleading. It only tells part of the story.
I was discussing this issue with a co-worker from Uganda (because when you don’t have Facebook you have to actually talk to people) and he conveyed to me a better understanding of the unfortunate conflict. The acts of violence in the name of faux black South African nationalism is one of the reverberating forces of Apartheid South Africa. To discuss this issue devoid of a primordial understanding is to engage in vacuous and more over frivolous banter. So in that respect the post needed to be deleted because unbeknownst to me and my initial commentary on this matter, the ghosts of PW Botha and FW de Klerk are far more operative in the ongoing violence than the severely misguided and uneducated people committing the violence. A nation of fools and babies is what is left of native black South Africa post Apartheid. It’s one of the reasons why Nelson Mandela’s rise from prison to the presidency to this day is seen as a mixed bag. Sure there was progress, but it’s underwhelming and microscopic progress.
The crux of the problem is there are very few levers in South African society to uplift the black masses in a majority black nation. Therefore all of the skilled and even non-skilled work goes to the migrant workers (the jobs that are not held by the white minority Afrikana) while the natives wallow in the extreme poverty and ignorance that Apartheid, global white supremacy and the failings of the ANC have birthed into existence. Or rather failed to mitigate. I’m afraid that there is no easy solution to this very complex problem. Much like the myriad problems that beset African-Americans state side. One could go so far to say that the issues that black people in america face are a microcosm of what’s happening across the continent of Africa. I digress…
Fuck-2-give #2: Floyd Mayweather proclaims that he is better than Muhammad Ali wasI know, I know. For someone who claims to have less fucks to give than the average this is sort of a frivolous fuck to be giving, right? This fact notwithstanding after a week of being regulated and relegated to strictly being a Facebook lurker I’ve seen this conversation cross my timeline too many times for me not to want to add my two cents to the potluck. Mainly because Ali is both my boyhood and adulthood idol–more so than any man or women to have walked the earth before or after him. That being said Ali’s legacy in the ring is not what earned him the universally recognized moniker “The Greatest”. It may have been his own claim to fame while a young, spry and talkative fighter (much like Floyd today) but What earned him the Title of The Greatest was his heart and mind outside of the ring. Since no sane or thinking individual would confuse Mayweathers heart and mind with Ali’s heart and mind it’s most obvious that Floyd was speaking about being a better fighter inside the ring and there’s very little evidence to disprove his assertion. Floyd like him or not is pound for pound the greatest fighter in most of our lifetimes. He leaves a lot to be desired outside of the ring, but that does not trump his lofty accomplishments on his day job.
Fuck-2-give #3: The most intellectually stimulating hip-hop beef of all time: Michael Eric Dyson Ethers Cornell West
If you gave even half of a fuck about the classic rap battles that have taken place in the annals of hip-hop history like Biggie Smalls vs 2Pac, Jay Z vs Nas, MC Shane vs LL Cool J, LL Cool J vs Kool Moe Dee, Roxanne Shante vs UTFO, The Real Roxanne vs UTFO, Sparky D vs Roxanne and plethora of other lyrical jousts then how can you not love the classic take down of Cornell west by Emcee Michael Eric Dyson in his New Republic article The Ghost of Cornell West (long but a worthwhile read). In light of Dyson’s very public take down of his mentor turned adversary he’s been catching a lot of heat from many in the activist community for taking to task a man who purports to be a stalwart of truth, justice, equality and all things intellectually honest. Many are saying that the salvo lobbed by him at his former mentor was untoward, unwarranted and unbecoming of a black leader–especially in the era of #blacklivesmatter. I wholeheartedly and most vehemently disagree–for several reasons. First and foremost it was West that started the beef. Due to my cyber incarceration I was unable to remind some of the Cornell West sympathizers that crossed my time line of some of Wests innuendos and straight shots at Dyson and every other black figure that he formerly respected until they failed to follow his lead in opposing all things Obama.
The back story…
Cornell West and Tavis Smiley after not getting enough traction, support, and bunk mates for their attention whoring “poverty tour” from his friends in black academia that have a wider and much more diverse media perch took constant shots at Al Sharpton, Melissa Harris Perry and Micheal Dyson. Much of their thinly veiled insults (and not so thinly veiled) went un
“And we saw of course the coronation of the bona fide house Negro of the Obama plantation, our dear brother Al Sharpton supported by the Michael Dyson’s and others who’ve really prostituted themselves intellectually in a very ugly and vicious way” in exchange for access to the White House.~ Mad Rapper C-West
Micheal Eric Dyson then countered with this:
“I’ve probably known him longer than anybody on this panel. Hung out with him,” Dyson said. “I’ve been a victim of his vicious assaults in public. I’ve held my powder. That ain’t my usual nature. … I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t hurt for you to call me a sellout because I disagree with you. You can be ‘ride-or-die,’ but while you’re riding—see who your vehicle is rolling over. I’m not mad at principled critique, but you still could be wrong. But when you start indicting my soul like I’ve given my soul over to Obama or the devil — now you’re tripping. You ain’t that important. You’re not God to be able to leverage the divine assignment of privilege or punishment.~ Emcee Mikey Dee
This was last year and in between that time these two venerable leaders lobbed jabs back and forth but it was Dyson’s latest 10,000 word take down that took the beef to a higher level and what I suspect it’s finale. Based on Cornell Wests much humbler retort to the article using the most layman mediums on earth (Facebook):
But it was all good just a week ago when he was calling folks house negros for not co-signing his ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrom). Calling a black man a house nigger or coon is a very serious charge if in fact he’s not a house nigger or coon (something that’s never been associated with his ethos). Sounds like a mea culpa to me. It’s either that or the old man has amnesia. Either way this beef is much more 50 Cent vs Ja Rule than Jay vs Nas because I have a funny feeling that long winded status update by the Wiley and Whooly Nutty Profesor was his round about way of saying “No Mas”. Advantage Dyson.
Fuck-2- give #4 (the final fuck): The Murder of Freddie Gray by Baltimore City Police, the subsequent protests and the continued culture of police corruption and abuse of authority in American law enforcement.
While this is one of those issues and causes that I have limitless fucks to invest in I’m sick and tired of what seems like a weekly deposit of fucks to some unknown brother guilty of something petty or less being executed by an overzealous cop looking for a few weeks off and some Go Fund Me dollars.
With all that’s taken place this past week I don’t even know where to begin. So many layers to this story alone. Let alone the fact that it’s a continuum of a long standing threat to black life on American soil since at least 1619. There’s still a uniqueness to this latest episode of a black man guilty of being human having some beat cop who’s from outside of his community play prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner all in a matter of minutes. I can go on for days lamenting and angry black ranting about what’s taking place in Baltimore but I’m sure you have better things to do today than to read a weeks worth of my backed up angry thoughts on an issue that has reached a critical mass for so many. So in the interest of your time I will make two brief points.
Mayor Rawlings ain’t shit and she needs to go. It’s time for real leadership in Baltimore and now that ground zero for civic protest and redress of serious long standing grievances from the community about the occupying police forces has moved to Baltimore it’s high time the cities cream rise to the ashes to assume stewardship. Note to Baltimorians: Your leader is somewhere in the crowd.
The sytem needs a diet. Ice Cube once said that riots ain’t nothing but diets for the system. Rioting, looting and anarchist behavior in large crowds are precursors for movements. They literally represent the entire affected community reaching the critical mass (when it’s not a bunch of white college kids bemoaning or celebrating an NCAA win or loss. The critical mass brought everyone out to the streets. The normally civic minded folks met up in the same square as the apathetic and happy go lucky. They were joined by the destitute, down trodden and the criminally under-educated class (known even to the voiceless black folks as thugs).So what a few windows got broken and some goods were looted. How many unarmed people were killed in these riots again? My point is that this sort of salad bar style of spotaneus combustion is the same incidental energy that formed the Black Panther Party (the original, not them new niggas).
The rest of my forgotten fucks that pertain to this issue have more to do with some of the things that I would have said on some of the links, statuses, memes that crossed my timeline.
Would have said if I could have said…
Other random Facebook ish that I would have liked, commented on or responded to last week (hence a sliver of a fucketh given)
Facebook even felt the need to remind me past comments of mine that they have deleted. Apparently calling a coon a coon is an erasable offense.
I even had my own cop stop that being censored prevented me from chronicling in contemporaneous fashion.
All in all being banned from posting for a week was not so bad but I’m glad to be back.