Point of View Columns

Clear Vision v. Impaired Vision

The past few weeks have offered a stark contrast between clear vision and impaired vision. This unlikely illustration began with the train wreck of a Meeting of the Megalomaniacs when Donald Trump and Kanye West met in the Oval Office to discuss Everything That Is Important to Trump and Ye. And a few days later a stunning, riveting and immediately historic film “The Hate You Give” was shown in theaters across the country and the truth of life in black America was on the wide screen once more.

First the White House Circus Maximus – for reasons best known to his fans and celebrity addicts, what Kanye West thinks and says seems to be important to some people. The art of his music is acquired taste for some and the answer to the meaning of life for others. However, there is no reason to believe that there is anything that has prepared him to be remotely aware or informed about the major issues of the day – domestic, international or intergalactic.

Yet, however unhinged from reality Kanye West may be, he turned out to be more than a match for Donald Trump who somehow thought that it would be a good idea to meet with a black celebrity so that he could fake-brag about his connection to, and concern for, black Americans. The only thing that was more amazing than Ye’s rant and rampage through the wilderness of his mind, was the fact that he was able to get Trump to shut up for more than ten minutes. If for only those brief moments of peace on earth Kanye West should get some kind of award.

The tragic aspect to this meeting is that while football legend Jim Brown sat in bemused silence while Trump and West went through this imaginary conversation, the White House sound machine tried to portray this as a serious meeting to discuss serious issues in the black community. And with that Trump has added further insult to the daily injuries that he is inflicting on the national black community. But due to their impaired vision of reality, Trump and Kanye really believe that their meeting was a matter of positive importance.

But speaking of vision, “The Hate You Give” has turned out to be one of those motion pictures that does more than entertain. The film is certainly entertaining but director George Tillman, Jr. goes much further than that. With a seriously outstanding cast of black and white actors, “The Hate” informs viewers about the tragic hypocrisy and the seemingly eternal chasm between the American dream and black America. The clear-eyed and unblinking vision of a country that discriminates, demeans, degrades and kills its citizens because of their race is simply undeniable.

There will be very few black viewers of “The Hate You Give” who will not relate to the experiences of the black characters. And there will be too few white viewers of “The Hate” (if they even take the time to skip “A Star is Born” and “The Wife” who will be able to relate to the experiences of the black or white characters. And it is that racial divide that tells us all how far this country has to go to even begin to be something like a truly United America.

But there is no doubt that as murky as the vision of the Trump-West summit might have been, the vision presented by “The Hate You Give” is that clear and undeniable.

And finally, George Tillman, Jr., screenwriter Audrey Wells and lead actress Amandla Stenberg must win Oscars for Best Director, Best Screenwriter and Best Actress if there is even a scintilla of justice to be had in the 2019 Academy Awards.

As always, we shall see.

 

 

 

 

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Point of View Columns

Casting the Second Stone

The controversy surrounding L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his race based rant is fascinating and in some ways difficult to understand. Of course, Sterling’s comments are reprehensible but considering that the Confederate flags still fly over state capitols where NBA franchises are located, it should not be a surprise to discover that some white people really don’t like black people. But if Donald Sterling is to be drawn and quartered for making hateful comments about black people, do black people who make similarly hateful and harmful comments about black people get a pass?

One could argue that enough has been written about a cranky old white man who debases himself before his too-young-for-him mistress. True, he does own an NBA franchise, and true, many black people play in the NBA. And true, there is nothing defensible about his comments about black people. Ergo, so the torch and pitchfork carrying media mob contends, Donald Sterling should be forced to give up his NBA franchise and live his remaining years wearing ashes and sackcloth.

But, as noted, this is a country where the stench of the slaveholding Confederate States of America is still fresh in the breezes that blow Confederate flags above state capitols, state universities in too many places. This is a country where the first black President of the United States has been called a monkey, a Muslim, an alien interloper and a liar on the floor of Congress, all without consequence. And this is a country where black people are routinely barred from the corridors of power by unspoken rules of the road, not by a white robed Jim Crow, but by a pinstripe suit attired James Crow 2.0.

So it should be no surprise when a white man (or woman), who is unaware that they are being recorded, tells us how they really feel about black people. And it certainly seems like the torch and pitchfork media mob and its enablers are more than a little disingenuous in excoriating Sterling while racism and horrific language are hurled at black Americans without consequence every day – by black people.

Donald Sterling is eighty years old. He could live another eighty years and never use the word “nigger” as many times as Jay-Z has. The only difference is that Jay-Z has “niggered” his way to an enormous fortune, seemingly without consequence and certainly with little or no criticism. Certainly Jay-Z has never encountered the withering firestorm of criticism from LeBron James, Charles Barkley or the Reverend Al Sharpton or the Reverend Jesse Jackson that the hapless fool that we know as Donald Sterling has experienced.

Jay-Z and Kanye West collaborated on the misogynistic and obviously racist “Niggers in Paris” album and the silence from the Sterling hangmen was deafening. The characterization and reference to black women as “bitches” and “ho’s” and worse has been part of the accepted culture of “artists” like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Little Wayne, Fifty Cent and so many more and nowhere has there been a call to boycott their lucrative “art” or to skewer them Sterling-style.

And let us not forget the less than memorable Cornel West and his anti-Obama rants, likening the first black President of the United States to a “lap dog”. And while Dr. West is entitled to his full exercise of free speech, his off the chain critiques of President Obama have given clear aid and comfort to the enemy. And yet, Cornel West continues to rake in speaking fees based on the insults and calumny that he hurls at President Obama again, without consequence and certainly without receiving the Sterling Special Treatment.

There is nothing about Donald Sterling that is worthy of defense or further mention. The “art” of Jay-Z, Fifty Cents, Little Wayne, Kanye West and others have had a deep cultural and behavioral impact on the American black community, almost all of it negative and decidedly demeaning.

On his worst day Donald Sterling has never inflicted as much damage on the black community as the aforementioned crew and their running buddies. After the torch and pitchfork crew is finished with Sterling, maybe they will turn their attention to the real villains.

 

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – June 22, 2012

Shelden Adelson is one of the wealthiest men in America. He thinks President Obama should be defeated and is prepared to spend $100 million to make that happen. Welcome to the 21st century edition of the American Way. Meanwhile Professor Frederick Harris of Columbia University seems to feel that trashing the Obama presidency is his way of exercising academic freedom – but whatever happened to responsibility? And finally, Adidas came out with a sports shoe that has shackles attached……really. Protest was predictable. What was also predictable is the lack of attention to the context in which such a product could be sold.

Can You Spare $100 Million?

For those of you keeping score at home, the Citizens United decision by the rightwing of the rightwing of the United State Supreme Court has opened the way for unlimited sums of money to be spent on campaigns by individuals and corporations. By equating the uncontrolled expenditure of money with freedom of speech the RobertsScaliaThomasAlito cabal has guaranteed is that the only remaining question will be the extent to which abuse and excess will be seen.

Working hard to be the Poster Boy for Campaign Excess is Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Adelson, who is reported to be worth $20 billion, made his fortune as a glorified bookie and innkeeper, building and operating hotels and casinos in Las Vegas and now Macao.

Although his enormous wealth continues to grow exponentially, he has come to the conclusion that President Obama is bad for business and so he has announced that he is prepared to spend $100 million to defeat him in the upcoming election. And, we should all keep in mind that $100 million for Sheldon Adelson would be about $40 for a middle class family in this country.

In other words, wealthy individuals and large corporations can skew the political process and screw the American people for an investment that is less than a pittance for them.

And, thanks to the Citizens United decision there is nothing wrong with this.

The Revenge of the Little People

Dr. Frederick Harris is the director of the Center on African American Politics at Columbia University. In the midst of his sublime isolation in his ivy covered ebony tower he has published a book which asserts that the presidency of Barack Obama is a “disappointment” and unworthy of the struggles and sacrifices of the civil rights movement.

Dr. Harris must have uncovered some heretofore unknown document which sets forth the election of a black president as a stated goal of the civil rights movement. The election of Barack Obama is clearly related to the civil rights movement in that advances in voting, employment and academic opportunity helped to create an environment in which he could have been elected. But to suggest that the election of a black president has ever been a goal of the civil rights movement is not supported by any real evidence and makes no sense.

The problem with Dr. Harris, as with other ebony tower occupants, is that he will be taking no responsibility for the negative impact of his book as the presidential campaign begins in earnest. To the extent that some people will read his book and even fewer people will pay him any attention. Dr. Harris can serve to erode the edges of Barack Obama’s support at a time when literally every vote counts.

The inauguration of President Mitt Romney might be a bit bothersome for Dr. Harris but he will still be a tenured professor at one of the leading universities in the world with all the compensation, benefits and trappings that go along with the package.

But I would ask him the same question that I would ask Dr. Cornel West and the other Ebony Tower rock throwers – if Barack Obama is defeated and a Romney Administration takes over in 2013, what will you say to the millions of Americans who will suffer – many of them black – when Mitt Romney keeps the draconian promises that he has made during this campaign?

I’m just asking.

Shackled to Stupidity

This past week we learned that the Adidas shoe company had planned to sell a sneaker that featured ankle shackles. It is not clear if the shackles were meant to invoke images of slavery or prison but the uproar was both predictable and puzzling.

Wearing prison garb, complete with bandanas and sagging, oversize pants has been in fashion in the black community for years. Ankle shackles would just seem to be the next logical fashion step to take. High profile individuals like Jay-Z and Kanye West have made fortunes promoting misogynistic and violent behavior in the black community. When Jay-Z and Kanye West recorded and released “Niggas in Paris” last year there was not even a peep of protest – anywhere.

We are now supposed to believe that Adidas was misguided because it did not have a more diverse marketing team. Given the self-degradation and stupidity that has been created and sold by black people during the past thirty years, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were black people in the room at Adidas on the day that sneakers with shackles were approved.

Have a great weekend!

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