This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

January 18, 2010

#MLK

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As I have said here in the past, I am ambivalent about Twitter. I have been tweeting, and I even have a couple handsful of followers—who are not trying to sell me herbal v-eye-ah-grah and foolproof investment advice. But I would not yet say that I am committed to doing so long-term. We’ll just have to see.

But I am glad that I am at least familiar enough with the concept of Twitter to be able to get the humor of this Vanity Fair piece from Baratunde Thurston.

It was just the laugh I needed today while contemplating posting an angry, perhaps not-appropriate-for-MLK-Day post. I may still post it (working title: “Don’t Call It a Movement”). In the meantime while I try to get my heart and mind right I’ll leave you with this wonderful, hypothetical Tweet from Dr. King that pretty much sums that draft post quite nicely.

January 12, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Why I am Blacker Than Barack Obama

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10. Though we both have government jobs, mine does not involve being the leader of the free world.

9. He is a “light skinned” Black; I am light skin-ded.

8. I personally grew and picked the cotton used to make the underpants you are at this moment wearing.

7. Unlike the White House garden, the only plants I grow in my organic garden are collard greens, yams, and grits.

6. I have the words to “Lift Every Voice and Sing” tattooed across my back.

5. I do, in fact, speak in Negro dialect.

4. I shine shoes. (Well, just my own, but I’m sure the President has someone who does his.)

3. My last name means “She of the Mothership Connection” in Swahili.

2. I am the real-life person on whom the Blaxploitation film character Cleopatra Jones was based.

And the number one reason why I am blacker than Barack Obama:

1. Because I know all the words to the theme song to “What’s Happening!!”

(With apologies to former Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich.)

December 16, 2009

I picked a bad day

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to start reading The Huffington Post again.

November 11, 2009

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Questionned

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"Ask What You Can Do For Your Country," Randy SOn of Robert, http://www.flickr.com/photos/randysonofrobert/2463004864/

Just in time for Veterans Day comes the question, are today’s military rank and file personnel resistant to serving with openly gay and lesbian colleagues?

A new study about the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy questions the assumption that allowing openly gay and lesbian military personnel to serve in the U.S. armed forces could harm military readiness.

The study surveyed military personnel who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and found that having a gay or lesbian colleagues in their unit had no significant impact on their unit’s cohesion or readiness. The study, by researchers from the RAND Corporation and the University of Florida, was published online by the journal Armed Forces and Society.

“Service members said the most important factors for unit cohesion and readiness were the quality of their officers, training and equipment,” said Laura Miller, study co-author and a sociologist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “Serving with another service member who was gay or lesbian was not a significant factor that affected unit cohesion or readiness to fight.”

Since the law prohibiting open service of gay and lesbian military personnel is based on the premise that open integration would harm cohesion and readiness, the findings suggest that the U.S. military should revisit the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” [DADT] policy, said Miller and study co-author Bonnie Moradi, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Florida.

The study found that just 40 percent of the military members surveyed expressed support for the policy, while 28 percent opposed it and 33 percent were neutral—less support than seen in previous surveys.

About 20 percent of those polled said they were aware of a gay or lesbian member in their unit, and about half of those said their presence was well known. In addition, three-quarters of those surveyed said they felt comfortable or very comfortable in the presence of gays or lesbians, according to the study.

The study, “Attitudes of Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans Toward Gay and Lesbian Service Members,” will appear later in the print edition of Armed Forces and Society. The study was commissioned by the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Although RAND has done other research on this topic, this study was the product of a contract directly with the researchers and not through RAND…. [Source]

One caution I have, however: Data like this are important in showing the growing irrelevancy of DADT, and in chipping away at the reasons for it that are often given. But policy change of this nature should not be tied solely to popular opinion. Leadership must lead the way.

Which leads to my second question: did you know that women generally, and Black women in particular, are especially impacted by DADT?

African Americans are overrepresented in the U.S. military, especially in the Army. The percentage of African Americans in the military still exceeds that of the general population: around 17 percent in the military, versus 12.8 percent in the U.S. population.

We also know from the 2000 census data that an estimated 65,000 men and women in uniform are gay or lesbian and are serving on active duty and in the National Guard and Reserves, while there are at least one million gay veterans in the U.S.

Too often we think of these figures as mutually exclusive: to paraphrase Gloria Hull, “all the gays are white, all the blacks are straight, and where does that leave the brave?”

According to U.S. Census data, black women with same-sex partners serve in the military at 11 times the rate of women overall. And new pentagon data shows that while women make up approximately fifteen percent of the armed forces, they account for nearly half of all “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) discharges from the Army and Air Force. Pentagon data show that African American women are discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at three times the rate that they serve in the military….[Source]

The recent tragedy at Ft. Hood brings up another important question for me: If a soldier sees an Army psychologist or psychiatrist regarding mental health concerns related to her or him being lesbian or gay, or otherwise through treatment discloses this orientation, will the service member receive confidential treatment? A recent article in the American Psychological Association’s magazine for graduate students addresses this dilemma as part of a discussion on the pros and cons of a military career:

Another tension raised by students is potential conflicts between military orders and psychological ethics, says Lt. Nicholas Guzman, who is completing an internship at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. After a presentation he made to students, several wanted to know if, as an officer, he’d be required to report a disclosure of homosexuality made by a patient. Guzman says psychology’s ethical code compels him to keep such disclosures confidential. Yeaw emphasizes that military psychologists adhere to their state’s licensing regulations and regularly consult with APA’s Ethics Office on questions of confidentiality and privacy.

“As a psychologist, you’re not put in a position where you have to break someone’s confidentiality because of orientation,” he says.

Finally in an only marginally related matter, my daughter gave a phenomenal performance as the narrator in the elementary school’s Veterans’ Day play. Her main fear prior to her performance was that she would pronounce Corps like the rotting thing that rises from the dead on Halloween instead of like the group of Marine troops. She successfully did the latter. Could her mother be prouder?

November 7, 2009

Novembertime…and the Living’s Postracial

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Colson Whitehead lobbies for a presidential appointment and tickles the funny bone (and jiggles the restless leg) here in the New York Times:

ONE year ago today, we officially became a postracial society. Fifty-three percent of the voters opted for the candidate who would be the first president of African descent, and in doing so eradicated racism forever.

…There are naysayers, however, who believe that we can’t erase centuries of entrenched prejudice, cultivated hatred and institutionalized dehumanization overnight. Maybe we haven’t come as far as we think. That’s why I’d like to throw my hat in the ring for the position of secretary of postracial affairs.

…My plans aren’t mere abstract theorizing. As the secretary of postracial affairs, I want to get out there and engage the people, organize town halls, get up in people’s homes and faces. Eat their food. There’s a variation on an old parlor game that I use to ease people in. You write down on a card what race you were pre-postraciality, and stick it on your forehead so the other players can see. Then, prompted by their clues, you try to figure out what color you were before everything changed. It’s a real icebreaker.

I can’t do it alone. We each have to do our part. I’m just a sad, lonely man trying to piggyback on this whole postracial thing to educate folks about my restless leg syndrome.

November 5, 2009

Post-election Analysis Done Correctly

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Instead of letting your blood pressure rise unnecessarily due to listening to political pundits talk about the recent elections, why not just start with Nate Silver?

Why did Democrats lose in Virginia and New Jersey on Tuesday? Because independent voters moved against them, say the pundits.

This is true, insofar as it goes; Democrats lost independents nearly 2:1 in the gubernatorial race in Virginia, and by a 25-point margin in New Jersey.

But it doesn’t really tell us very much. It’s a lot like saying: the Yankees won the Game 6 last night because they scored more runs than the Phillies. Or: the unemployment rate went up because there were fewer jobs…. [Source]

BTW, I am getting together a listing of resources for bloggers who may not be statistical wizzes. (I include myself in that number—educational credentials notwithstanding.) My idea is that as blogging as a means of social media has matured, we bloggers need to be more intentional and factual about how we interpret statistics. If you have any links to suggest, please drop me a line.

 

 

November 4, 2009

Cranberry Homophobia

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"Cranberries in fudge." villoks, http://www.flickr.com/photos/villoks/34352744/

Good point: Now that marriage equity has been repealed in Maine, will we see the same vitriol against segments of the Maine population as we saw against Black Californians (actually, all Black folks) following Proposition 8? Will Dan Savage write about feeling betrayed by small town and rural voters in Maine, who apparently voted overwhelmingly in support of Question 1?  Will he write,

I do know this, though: I’m done pretending that the handful of racist cranberry- and lobster-hating gay white men out there—and they’re out there, and I think they’re scum—are a bigger problem for African Americans Maine residents, gay and straight [and cranberry- or lobster-loving], than the huge numbers of homophobic African Americans cranberry and lobster lovers are for gay Americans, whatever their color [or juice/seafood preferences]… [Original quote here]

Probably not.

At the time of Prop 8 I read lobster-crates full of incredibly racist, stunningly naive, or just plain ignorant commentary about Blacks and marriage equity and responded around blogland until I was cranberry-red in the face and utterly depressed. Eventually I quit reading and quit commenting, concluding that folks just needed to vent and that they were just (unfortunately) using Black folks as a temporary whipping group.

But I am not so sure. It is my belief that that racism never goes away and never will go away. That may be an unpopular and pessimistic view, but it is one that I hold. I do not think there will ever be a “cure” for racism, resulting in its eradication forever. There may be vaccines for uninfected young people. There may be treatments that put the scourge in remission. But it will always be there—virulent as ever in those who refuse treatment, ready to newly infect others with mutated strains, and powerfully rebounding in those who thought they were over it for good.

The fight, then, to manage racism generally and anti-Black racism specifically is an on-going struggle. As is and will be the fight against homophobia. The building and maintenance of ally relationships will have ups and downs. And probably more of the latter than the former. There will be steps forward* as well as steps—like Question 1—back.

But the way forward when we find our chins deep in the cranberry bog is to pick ourselves up, dry ourselves off, and start all over again. (Without pointing fingers at others absent the benefit of facts and context.)

*And there’s at least this look on the bright side from the world of the Chicago Cubs.

October 29, 2009

The Obamas and The (Re)Discovery of Blackness

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The past few months have seen a constant string by the mainstream media of discoveries about Black people. I use the word “discoveries” in the same sense of Christopher Columbus and his discovery of what we now call the United States of America. Of course the land mass already existed. Of course other people were already living on it. And indeed, others from other places had previously “discovered” it.

We Black people—like the land mass and folks living there—did not become that interesting, that open for analysis, that ripe for exploration (and exploitation) until others discovered us.

There have been other times when attention has been focused on Black people and all things Black. But the most recent interest is the direct result of Barack H. Obama and his family.

I am sure someone has the data:

The number of news stories on interracial marriages and multiracial people pre- and post-Barack Obama (e.g., “Should we call Obama ‘black’ or ‘biracial’?” NY Times).

The amount of discussion about Black people’s (men, women and children) hair pre- and post-Barack (e.g., re: his barber), -Michelle (e.g., “Why Michelle’s Hair Matters,” Time Magazine), and -Malia (e.g., re: her hair style during a trip to Russia).

The level of fascination about Black women’s bodies pre- and post-Michelle (e.g., “First Lady Got Back“).

We have even been exposed to the shocking!yes,shocking! news that the First Lady has Whiteblood!yes,whiteblood! in her genetic ancestry.

Now comes the latest (for the moment) oddity of the Obamas: their marriage. Of course, married presidents are not something new. But according to the writer of this New York Times Magazine cover story, “the Obamas mix politics and romance in a way that no first couple quite have before.”

The entire article is worth a read. And in fairness, I cannot blame the media for being somewhat fascinated by, or at least interested in, the Obamas. What’s there not to be interested in?

But I suspect that with this NY Times Magazine story may follow a rush of articles trying to figure out What is going on with marriages between Black professional men and Black professional women? … to uncover the truths about What forces are challenging these unions in the 21st Century? …to declare that the Health and Future of The Black Family is dependent upon these Black Marriages! …to headline all manner of other questions, and problems, and observations about a demographic that—I am sure it will seem—sprung up out of nowhere. I would like to supply some perspectives from one woman involved in such a fascinating Black Marriage, so as to save some writers some research effort when it comes time to produce these news pieces.

* I have been half of a Black Marriage for almost as long as Michelle and Barack. (They’ve got us beat by almost exactly 1 year.) Our circle of friends include other Black couples who have been married as long or longer than the First Couple.

* “The centrality of the Obama marriage to the president’s political brand opens a new chapter in the debate that has run through, even helped define, their union….” Though my spouse’s and my marriage is not a capital-P political one, that we are both Black and married (to each other) seems to be very political in some people’s eyes. For example, my spouse has had Black women in his workplace act warm and friendly toward him after previously being cold and aloof once they find out that his wife is Black. Part of our “brand” very much seems to be that we are individually successful, individually well-educated, and yoked to each other. Like the Obamas, we have learned to deal with and even embrace this.

* We’ve dealt with those imbalances that come from managing continuing educations/training, jobs, a marriage, and two children. Like the First Lady, I have usually been the one who has had to put something on hold, take up some slack, slide something to the back burner, make some extra adjustments. Many women of many different races deal with this. However, the racial component makes things that much more interesting for me. For example, I once had a fellow mother at a private school where our daughters attended express surprise when she found out that (a) I had an advanced degree and (b) my husband was a physician. (I suppose, when she heard that we both worked, that she assumed we were what was euphemistically called a “scholarship family.”) She—a stay-at-home-mother—asked me why I didn’t just stay home, as she had done. Further, she couldn’t understand why I did not hire a nanny to help me with my twins when they were younger as she had with her twins. That was not a very pleasant conversation after that, and as a result, this woman avoided me for the next two years.

* Black married couples have all sorts of married models they are drawing on for inspiration. I know part of the fascination with Michelle is that, unlike her spouse, she grew up in an “intact” family. Both my own spouse and I spent our childhoods in such homes. And in my case, both my parents had advanced degrees. There was nothing necessarily “unique” about this upbringing. Once during the run of “The Cosby Show” a White colleague on a college campus expressed how “unrealistic” the family was. I probed her to explain to me what made the family such an inauthentic portrayal of Black life. (You can probably guess where the conversation went from there.) I certainly knew of Black single mothers, or men who had second (or third) simultaneous families. But I also had “traditional” couples to draw from, and those are the ones that have informed my own relationship ideas. (Not to mention my relationship models that were “non-traditional” same-sex couples…a different story for a different day.)

When she interviewed for a job at the University of Chicago Medical Center, her baby sitter canceled at the last moment, and so Michelle strapped a newborn Sasha into a stroller, and the two rolled off together to meet the hospital president. “She was in a lot of ways a single mom, and that was not her plan,” recalls Susan Sher, who became her boss at the hospital and is now her chief of staff….

* I can relate. Because of my spouse’s schedule at one time, I was the one rolling around a stroller, alone, with two little babies strapped in. But this comment by Mrs. Obama’s old boss reminds me of an additional element to all this that I never quite got used to:  Frequently people assumed, just by the sight of me, that I was a single mother. Once, a colleague I had known for just a few weeks told me that if there was anything she could do—anything at all—to help me out, to just give her a call. This, because she had “so much respect for what it must be like for a single Mom.” Another time, a woman pushing her child-filled stroller on the sidewalk in the opposite direction from me stopped to comment. “Are they twins? My hat is off to you! You are one strong sister to be able to raise two by yourself.” (The first woman was White; the second was Black.)

* I cannot relate to complaints from some of my married friends (of any race) about their husband’s lack of help around the house. In addition to working full time my spouse also cleans and cooks. He even does little girls’ hair so long as what is required is a basic symmetrical afro. I once had a woman at an academic conference tell me that this was because we were a Black couple and Black couples are a lot more egalitarian than White couples and White men had a lot to learn from Black men. (You might be able to imagine where that conversation went from there.) Once again, the way that we have organized our lives, our parenting, and our household has become political. Yet our arrangements are really just what work for us. We do not join each other in a round of “I (She) Am (Is) Woman, Hear Me (Her) Roar” following a joint clothes-folding session or after tucking our children in bed at night. Things do not always go smoothly. There are “bumps,” as Michelle Obama said about her own marriage, and yes they are pretty continuous. But in general, things are good.

I often find it strange that I sometimes feel disloyal or embarrassed for saying so.

* “…Parenting in the White House is more complicated….” Actually, Parenting-While-Black is complicated enough already. The biggest challenges my husband and I face as a couple have less to do with us as individuals or a couple, and more to do with our roles as parents. As my battle conversation with my children’s school personnel over their decision regarding the President’s back-to-school speech illustrates, raising Black children in the USA can, indeed, be life on a battlefield. There are some negative things my children have faced that I thought were over with. There are new negative things they’ve faced that have completely bewildered me. They have also, however, been fortunate to be exposed to a similar diversity as I was in my parents’ 70s college-era environment. (Alas, not so much now as when we were in the Twin Cities.) Life as a Black couple parenting Black children is challenging—but not all gloom and doom.

As the great experiment of the presidency rolls on, the Obamas may finally learn definitive answers to the issues they have been debating over the course of their partnership. The questions they have long asked each other in private will likely be answered on the largest possible stage. They will discern whether politics can bring about the kind of change they have longed for and promised to others, or whether the compromises and defeats are too great. They will learn whether they were too ambitious or not ambitious enough. And even if they share the answer with no one else, the two will know better if everything does in fact become political — if their marriage can both embrace politics and also at some level stay free of it.

Then, in three or seven years, the president’s political career will end. There will be no more offices to win or hold, and the Obamas will most likely renegotiate their compact once more — this time, perhaps more on Michelle Obama’s terms.

The equality of any partnership “is measured over the scope of the marriage. It’s not just four years or eight years or two,” the first lady said. “We’re going to be married for a very long time.”

* In the end, that is what it is about with my own Black marriage, too. A belief in the long-range. A faith in the this-too-shall-pass. That to some my spouse and I are considered an anomaly, an outlier far beyond the normal data points—none of that matters. It should not make me feel more special than anyone else, or less “authentic” than anyone else.

There is no Black Marriage. There are Black Marriages. And mine is just one of them.

October 27, 2009

Eating Obama (Again)

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Here we go again with the Obama-food-racist imagery. This time the culinary delight is fried chicken. Apparently, one of the RNC’s Facebook fans uploaded an image of the President chowing down on what appears to be a chicken wing (no word on whether it is the left wing or the right wing) with text that read, “Miscegenation is a crime against American values/Repeal Loving v. Virginia” (Source, incl. image). The image has been removed—but it seems it was up for some time before this action was taken. This reminded me of this post from a while back, so I decided to re-post.

Yes, Obama makes some folks bat-sh** crazy ravenously hungry. Not to mention scared that he’s going to be the harbinger of Black men taking up with the all the White women eating up all of America’s friend chicken….

Eating Obama

One thing I know for certain: Barack Obama sure seems to make some people hungry.

"Now, for some pie!" PunditKitchen, http://punditkitchen.com/2008/11/11/political-pictures-barack-obama-pie/

We’ve had Obama Waffles (“Change You Can Taste!”), White House lawn-grown watermellons,  and Obama Bucks to buy all of this food. More recently there have been Obama Fingers—a tasty fried chicken treat, and this frozen ice cream treat that appears to be vanilla covered in nut-sprinkled chocolate.

On a less sinister note, we’ve also witnessed portraits of Obama in the medium of over 1,000 cupcakes, Obama campaign logo cookies, and even Obama (flavored?) hot sauce.

What’s going on with all this Obama-inspired culinary activity?

Are folks just hungry, and want to combine their love of (or hate for) Barack Obama with nutritional ingestion? Are some supporters on an Obama Eucharist kind of trip, thinking they’ll witness some kind of miraculous transubstantiation after eating foodstuff emblazoned in his image? We Obama supporters often were accused of looking upon the man as Messiah. But my answer to all that was always, “Don’t hate because you have a boring snoozer of a candidate. We Dems certainly have had to suffer with such candidates in the recent past.”

As for the more negative portrayals, is food just an efficient shorthand tool for expressions of racism? In the case of the non-US food companies, do they really just have no clue? Well, at least with the frozen treats, it seems as if the whole racial “____ on the inside and ____ on the outside” meme is a feature of their product line. Clearly they know more than they seem to be letting on. But perhaps they still see the product as harmless, even complimentary? The Americans—I have no sympathy for them. Everyone past a certain age who grew up here knows what they are doing when they invoke food-related racial imagery.

**Sigh**

I don’t know. Damn the Internets, though, for bringing this constant barrage of images to our front doors/browsers. It’s going to be a long 4-8 years…

October 21, 2009

LOLObama

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As this blog is not even a year old yet, it may be too soon to do a re-post. But I think this post is an appropriate one to re-examine given my little piece of fiction from yesterday on the subject of humor. (And for anyone who read Part 1, Part 2 is on the way. I know you just were on the edge of your seats waiting to find out about the lady with the clown make-up!)

I first posted this February 19th, just weeks after Barack Obama’s historic innauguration. Considering all that has gone on since, it seems like a lifetime ago. It also seems like there has been a lot less political humor, and a lot more incivility and anger—on all sides of the political spectrum—than I hoped for or think is healthy. What do you think—of these two examples of political humor specifically and the state of political homor in the “Obama Age” generally?

(Also possibly of interest, the follow-up post, “Ur, hoa evr, doin it rong…“)

Humor in Post-Post-Racial USA: Ur doin it rite, akshully

Nation’s Blacks Creeped Out By All The People Smiling At Them:

WASHINGTON—A majority of African-Americans surveyed in a nationwide poll this week reported feeling “deeply disturbed” and “more than a little weirded out” by all the white people now smiling at them.

First witnessed shortly after President Obama’s historic victory, the open and cheerful smiling has only continued in recent months, leaving members of the black community completely unnerved.

…According to the poll, more than 92 percent of African-Americans have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of beaming Caucasians in their vicinity, as well as a marked rise in the instances of white people making direct eye contact with them on the bus, engaging them in pleasant conversation, and warmly gazing in their general direction with a mix of wonder, pride, and profound contentment. All respondents reported being “petrified” by the change.

“Yesterday, I’m pretty sure the cashier at the Giant Eagle winked at me,” said Eddie Wilkes, a Pittsburgh resident who described himself as “not a politics person.” “Then she said something about what a happy day it was and tried to bump fists. The whole thing gave me the willies”…

Discussion here before about the complexities and challenges of joke-making in this so-called Age of Obama. Joke-tellers everywhere may find themselves walking a thin line between forging new paths in comedic observation and retreading old paths of racist humor. Joke-listeners everywhere may find themselves challenged with their reactions to such jokes. When is offense and indignation justified? When do we allow ourselves to lighten up?

The above Onion satire is, in my opinion, a good example of a hopeful direction in this comedy and is well worth a full read.

Why it works: Like many Onion pieces, this one has an air of borderline (at least) plausibility. Polls like this are taken, names of people and organizations are real and familiar, and the behavior described is not wholly unbelievable. The joke can stand as an observation of the (perhaps temporary) goodwill and brother-/sisterhood towards humans that seemed to sweep many quarters of the country in the time leading up to election night right through inauguration day. Viewed deeper it also subtly pokes fun at the notion of a “post-racial America”: Blacks and Whites still have different views of the same phenomenon, some Whites are still clueless as to their impact on people of other races. The simple regard for Blacks’ humanity is shown simultaneously as previously missing from much interracial contact and likely just a blip in such interactions.

Who might find it especially funny: Some Blacks who have experienced these kinds of reactions might be especially inclined to laugh uproariously at this piece, similar to how I reacted the first time I explored the Rent-a-Negro and Black People Love Us websites. Others who are fighting the feel-good idea/myth/wishful thinking of a post-racial world might also find the piece humorous, regardless of their race and ethnicity.

Who might have problems with it: Some people may take offense at how the butt of the joke is mainly White people and, perhaps more specifically, the largest segment of White people who supported Barack Obama during the campaign (urban, well educated, young). Obama-age humor will be particularly prone to having a “strange bedfellows” quality to it. In this case, both some Black people—both who did and did not supported Obama—and some White conservatives and others who did not vote for Obama may be laughing. But for different reasons.

Let’s try another one. This one is from the popular user-generated Pundit Kitchen site. It depicts a loving moment between the Obamas. Michelle is saying, “Let’s play Naughty Nurse meets the President again.” Barack responds, “Okay, but this time I get to be the President.”

//punditkitchen.com/2008/12/05/political-pictures-obamas-naughty-nurse/

Why it works: Classic comedic reversal of expectations. Because Barack is, in fact, the President—and, is male—the initial assumption from the first line is that when the two play this game Michelle is the “Naughty Nurse” and Barack is “the President.” Of course, the second line throws this expectation on its head.

Who might find it especially funny: Someone who feels that Barack Obama is too “soft” and Michelle Obama too “manly.” So, this might be funny to some detractors of the Obamas. But also, the joke might be funny to someone who believes in the empowerment of women, the positivity of sexual expression, gender egalitarianism, or other such notions. Particularly the empowerment of Black women, the positivity of sexual expression in Black couples, etc. Again, different segments of people will be laughing for different reasons.

Who might have problems with it: Someone who is troubled by what they see as the sexual fetishism that seems to be directed toward this particular President and First Lady, and the racial overtones involved in it. Black women as sexually loose and emasculating, Black men as sexual studs, etc. Also, some feel that this type of joke-making about the leader of our nation is inappropriate no matter who is in office. The presidency should be held in high esteem, according to this view, so this kind of focus on the President’s sex life is disrespectful and inappropriate.

Me? I find both of these examples extremely funny. Hard times are here, with harder times to follow. We’ll all get through them a lot easier if we are able to laugh at ourselves, each other, and our leaders.

October 15, 2009

High Hopes: Obama’s First Presidential NOLA Visit

Filed under: NOLA Post-Katrina Levee Break — Tags: , , , — pprscribe @ 9:43 am
"9th Ward in black and white." cbanck, http://www.flickr.com/photos/cbanck/466315333/

"9th Ward in black and white." cbanck, http://www.flickr.com/photos/cbanck/466315333/

President Obama travels to New Orleans this week for a town hall meeting — and for a look at the recovery in the city battered by Hurricane Katrina four years ago.

It will be Obama’s first visit since the presidential campaign, when, as a candidate, he had a long list of promises for the city.

In early 2008, Obama told an enthusiastic crowd at Tulane University in New Orleans that his administration would restore their trust in government.

“This will be a priority of my presidency,” he said at the time. “And I will make it clear to members of my administration that their responsibilities don’t end in places like the Ninth Ward — they begin in places like the Ninth Ward.” (Source)

Previous post-levee breech NOLA posts here. BTW, is Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recovery chief really named Paul Rainwater?

October 9, 2009

A Call to Action (and Happy Birthday, Bo)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — pprscribe @ 1:33 pm

Good morning.  Well, this is not how I expected to wake up this morning.  After I received the news, Malia walked in and said, “Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo’s birthday*!”  And then Sasha added, “Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up.”  So it’s good to have kids to keep things in perspective.

I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee.  Let me be clear:  I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build — a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents.  And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.  And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action — a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century….

~President Barack H. Obama, on winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize

*And it is PPR_Scribe’s wedding anniversary!

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