This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

December 31, 2009

“Seize the promise of tomorrow”

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Michelle and I send warm wishes to all those celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season. This is a joyous time of year when African Americans and all Americans come together to celebrate our blessings and the richness of our cultural traditions. This is also a time of reflection and renewal as we come to the end of one year and the beginning of another. The Kwanzaa message tells us that we should recall the lessons of the past even as we seize the promise of tomorrow.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa – Unity, Self Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith – express the values that have inspired us as individuals and families; communities and country. These same principles have sustained us as a nation during our darkest hours and provided hope for better days to come. Michelle and I know the challenges facing many African American families and families in all communities at this time, but we also know the spirit of perseverance and hope that is ever present in the community. It is in this spirit that our family extends our prayers and best wishes during this season and for the New Year to come.

~Statement by the President and First Lady on Kwanzaa

December 30, 2009

“Find the life that brings joy to your heart”

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As your elder, I support you in your effort to try to crash out of a life that you had outgrown. And I feel compassion for your loved ones who must be as confused and hurt as you feel yourself. It is easy to see how hurt you are feeling by looking into your eyes, which I have recently done (via You Tube) in an effort to see how you, on a soul level, a heart level, are. Sometimes we feel crashing out of a life, by any means necessary, means we are done with life itself. The truth is that we’re only done with the life that no longer feels worth living. That is why we must bear the suffering until it begins to ease, and life shows us the possibility of a new direction.

~Alice Walker

(Her words are to Tiger Woods, but they are good words for anyone.)

December 17, 2009

Should We Try a ‘Class’ for ‘Race’ Switcheroo?

I think the time has long passed for adding socioeconomic status to the categories of affirmative action, but it must not and cannot be viewed as a replacement for race. Poverty is not a proxy for race, and to pretend that it is would eradicate the initial rationale for affirmative action—to correct for society’s demonstrable biases against people of color regardless of their socioeconomic status.

The murder some years ago of Bill Cosby’s son by a white racist who later bragged about the shooting to his friends shows how feeble the Cosbys’s great wealth was in protecting their son against this ugly virus. The recent news that black graduates of prestigious colleges and universities feel they must “whiten” their résumés to hide their blackness demonstrates how little effect affirmative action in its original iteration has today, and how our current substitution of “diversity” for actual race-based affirmative action has rendered the latter almost useless. How many of our colleges count students from Africa and elsewhere toward their “affirmative action” goals?

So bring on socioeconomic status. And while you’re at it, bring back race-based policies—you cannot get beyond race without going to race.

~Julian Bond, Chronicle of Higher Education,
Reactions: Is It Time for Class-Based Affirmative Action?

December 16, 2009

Race Play on Broadway

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In Race, [David Alan] Grier rarely smiles — he practically scowls as he tussles with the man he’s defending. His character tells his client, “Do I hate white folks? Is that your question? Do all black people hate whites? Let me put your mind at rest — you bet we do.”

~NPR, “In ‘Race,’ David Alan Grier Confronts Painful Issues”

November 22, 2009

The Queen is Quitting; Long Live the Queen

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From The Root’s quote round-up “Oprah’s Blackest Moments”:

I thought nothing could beat the folly of Beyoncé showing Oprah how to gyrate to “Bootylicious.” But, then I watched Jay-Z’s cipher with Oprah this September and realized if this wasn’t one of her most overdue black moments, it definitely was one of her most memorable ones. While I gained rare insight into Jay-Z’s editing and freestyle rapping, his spitfire precision and mid-phrase self-correction, I couldn’t help but chuckle at Oprah’s earnest attempt to repeat the most basic of Jigga’s verses: Little boy from Brooklyn, made it from the ‘Stuy/girl from out the South made it to the ‘Chi/Only goes to show that the limit is the sky/if life give you lemons then you make lemon pie. Yes, in this episode of the African-American Horatio Alger story, of black mogul to mogul love, Oprah was too eager, too unfamiliar with the basic rhyme pattern, and pointed her finger too much as she was rhyming. But, there was also something else at play here, for Oprah, patiently guided by Jay-Z and cheered on by both the simple DJ beat and the bobbing heads of her audience, reached her arms out to the hip-hop generation, and finally, if only for a moment, and I mean close to a nanosecond, rocked the mic.

~Salamishah Tillet, regular contributor to The Root

November 10, 2009

“We are a nation…”

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…We are a nation that endures because of the courage of those who defend it.  We saw that valor in those who braved bullets here at Fort Hood, just as surely as we see it in those who signed up knowing that they would serve in harm’s way.

We are a nation of laws whose commitment to justice is so enduring that we would treat a gunman and give him due process, just as surely as we will see that he pays for his crimes.

We’re a nation that guarantees the freedom to worship as one chooses.  And instead of claiming God for our side, we remember Lincoln’s words, and always pray to be on the side of God.

We’re a nation that is dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are created equal.  We live that truth within our military, and see it in the varied backgrounds of those we lay to rest today.  We defend that truth at home and abroad, and we know that Americans will always be found on the side of liberty and equality.  That’s who we are as a people….

~ President Barack H. Obama, Ft. Hood, Texas


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.



October 12, 2009

Race and Real Estate “Riots”

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…Yet if hard numbers mean anything, the 1970s FHA-HUD Scandal, and not “the riots,” bore well over the lion’s share of responsibility for the decayed buildings and vacant lots that scar urban minority communities.

Take Detroit, for example.

In that city’s 1967 riot, 2,509 buildings were looted and burned. In comparison, the FHA-HUD scandals of the 1970s were responsible for the abandonment and ruin of ten times that number – approximately 25,000 properties.  The scandals, moreover, clearly foreshadowed today’s subprime mortgage crisis that is similarly hitting black families in grossly disproportionate measure.  In both the 1970s and the late 1990s and early 2000s, minority communities that were vulnerable because of decades of state-sanctioned racial discrimination in the granting of credit were suddenly promised a “chance at home ownership”….

~Beryl Satter, Associate Professor of History, Rutgers University;
author of Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America

October 9, 2009

A Call to Action (and Happy Birthday, Bo)

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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!

September 29, 2009

Derrion Albert: No More Space on the Wall

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…Latiker wonders how she can possibly make room for Derrion’s headstone. Latiker created a memorial two years ago to honor the young people killed in Chicago. Each time a child is shot, stabbed or beaten to death, she adds a stone to the memorial wall.

“We have 163 stones right now, but we are 20, now 21, behind,” she said. “I thought, well, I hoped, I dreamed that there’d be more space on the wall than kids being killed.” (Source)

September 21, 2009

We Probably Think His Song is About Us

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Kanye West is not a person, he is a verb and a metaphor for the lives of the clamoring Black middle class. I feel like the day that we’re ready to deal with our own issues around race, class, and identity will be the same day we’re ready to tell Kanye “ENOUGH!” and mean it. Until then, I’ll expect more tweets, more album sales, and more tragic outbursts that result from a life of living betwixt and between the color and class lines.

~Dumi Lewis, “Why We Love to Hate Kanye (Black Middle Class Blues)

September 16, 2009

At the Intersection: Some of the People Some of the Time Interlude

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Two-ness, Four-ness, Six-ness, Eight...

"Two-ness, Four-ness, Six-ness, Eight..." PPR_Scribe

One thing this whole thing is about is multiple, intersecting identities. Not a new idea, granted. But I think that any time any group of people begin to take note of how their identities may be morphing, some interesting conversations may follow. So how about this as a first question—for all you Black hipsters or otherwise:

Is there a “Black middle class culture” that is distinct from other intersecting cultures—namely White middle class and Black “underclass”?

Note that I am not talking about the “Black elite”—the “old money” Black upperclass. What do you think?

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