Archive for January, 2010

The issue of light skinned/dark-skinned has found itself at the center of today’s national political debate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apparently made comments about President’s acceptability as an African American candidate stating that he is a light skinned African American who does not speak with the “Negro dialect” unless he wants to…. This comment was made as then Senator Obama was gearing up for his electoral run…. And now, America is up in arms about this comment and the subject was fodder for the Sunday talk shows and headlines are ablaze with accounts of Senator Reid’s subsequent apology to President Obama and the various civil rights leaders. Folk are calling for Sen. Reid’s resignation as Majority leader and the pundits are speculating that the remarks may have put his re-election bid in peril.

But why does Sen. Reid owe Black America an apology? His comment only places a longtime cultural dialogue onto the mainstream stage. We all know that the “general market” is less intimidated by the light skinned African American. The light skinned African American has always been more accepted by the mainstream. The light skinned/dark skinned battle has raged within our culture for centuries. In slavery, the light skinned black was the recipient of generous favor – often given the opportunity to gain education, own land and maneuver around with less scrutiny than that of the darker brothas and sistas. The issue of “passing” was a persistent benefit in the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Even now, the one that is light skinned with “good hair” is yet and still a preferential choice when identifying a more “favorable” black person.

We don’t need the mainstream to apologize. We already know that the light skinned person is more accepted. This is not news. So many studies and analyses have been conducted to prove the point and a gargantuan effort to overcome the stigma darker blacks have contracted because of this has been part of the fabric of our culture for years. The notion that the light skinned one is somehow better than being dark has wrought seemingly irreparable psychological damage on our people. We have been conditioned to perceive the darker skin as bad, dishonest, and somehow less valuable than the light skin….

The black elite contains more light skinned people than dark. The lighter black person rises to the heights of corporate promotion and opportunity while the darker one faces a more intense discrimination. Sometimes no matter the education, pedigree, experience… if you’re black, step back…

We don’t need the mainstream to apologize because we have perpetuated this self hate on ourselves for centuries. Back in the day, the standard for color-acceptability was the brown paper bag test. If you were darker than a brown paper bag, then you were too dark and would not be accepted into certain segments of black society. Daughters were prevented from dating brothas who were too dark because the darkness was a preventative from getting to the upper echelons of mainstream America.

On a global scale, the stigma of dark skin has catapulted skin lightening creams and cosmetic procedures to the top of the beauty industry. We have been duped into thinking that being dark is somehow bad…. The hair weave and pressing comb have provided an escape from our naturally nappy hair. All over the world, the notion of dark skin light skin and good hair, bad hair has caused us to be ashamed of who and how God created us….

While Sen. Reid’s observations are probably politically incorrect, he was only thinking what we know mainstream America thinks of us. And that is that the light skinned black is somehow more acceptable and less threatening in their eyes than the darker black person. Even Vice President Joe Biden made comments to the same, stating that “finally we have a mainstream African American, who speaks well….”

When President Obama was running for his office, an article appeared in Advertising Age, a marketing industry newspaper. This article examined the marketing strategies of the Obama campaign and expressed a perspective as to why even hardened racists would vote for him. The prognosis of the piece was that President Obama’s complexion makes him “acceptably black” and therefore white folk would be comfortable enough to hear his message and place a vote in his favor….. They called it the Halle Berry test.

It tickles me to hear light skinned blacks express outrage at the remarks of Senator Reid. They are the same ones who teased and ostracized dark skinned blacks in the ‘hood, in church, at college…. There are still black organizations that only admit and support light skinned blacks. In the not too distant past, and in some cases this may still stand, but you could always tell the girls who pledged Delta from the ones who pledged AKA because the AKA’s were always lighter. This collegiate fact was spoofed in Spike Lee’s School Daze(‘Your just a jigaboo, tryin to find somethin’ to do… you’re just a wannabe, tying to be better than me….) We still find light skinned black families who caution their daughters to stop dating a dark man based on their own sensitivities about skin color within our race.

It is ludicrous for Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele to get on national television and call for Harry Reid’s resignation and deplore the remarks. It’s fairly obvious to me that this light skinned consciousness is the same consciousness which allowed him to rise to the political heights to which he has attained? I bet he has been told of the paper bag test… I am sure he has engaged in this cultural self hate. I wonder how many times in his lifetime has he looked around his neighborhood and identified people as “too black”

Naw, Harry Reid doesn’t owe me an apology. We already know how white folk think of us. He has only brought to the light a secret that has plagued black culture for centuries…. there is an internal battle within the culture. The battle of light and dark. politically incorrect? probably. But we can’t get so up in arms about it because let’s keep it real-Long before he spoke, We were already a color coded culture….

Guns in the locker room??? really, Arenas?

So…NBA All Star Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards and his teammate Javaris Crittenton drew down on each other in the locker room. Yup, with guns…. Over a gambling debt. According to one story, apparently, Gilbert needed $60,000 to pay somebody from whom he’d lost a game of cards… Javaris fronted him the money… and when he asked about his repayment in the locker room, things got heated to the point where each man went to thier locker and pulled pistols…..

Pistols? in an NBA locker room? how many laws does that break? and why oh why are highly paid basketball players coming to work strapped? they were playing cards on the team plane, but playing for real… gambling and all (err, what happened to playing for quarters???) Debts pile up… somebody doesn’t pay or doesn’t want to pay and pistols are brandished in a false display of bravado, machismo, thuggism, and a very real display of foolishness.

So what is the deal with this exchange? I mean today’s NBA player is fabulously famous, fabulously wealthy and they play a fabulous game for a living. They travel the country, gain VIP status wherever they go… It’s a far cry from the ghetto…. So what’s up with the guns?? It seems to me that these young guys have it made…. They were pampered in High School, given a free ride through America’s finest universities, and now are paid millions as they take center stage in one of America’s favorite pastimes, professional basketball.

Even if the young men grew up on mean streets where being strapped could be a necessity, a priviliged educational experience and multi millionaire status would smooth the rough edges and every conflict is resolved through reasoning and attorney negotiation, not street justice. The young men are trying to reinforce thier perception of a strong man through the display of firearms, but that’s not strength plus the city is full of stories of men in jail or in the ground behind the brandishment of a weapon.

Gilbert Arenas says he had the guns at the arena to hide from his children. Bullcrap. Even responsible gun owners know how to store weapons around thier homes. And even if the safety of his children were the real issue, then why did Jarvis Crittendon have a weapon in his locker? Why are y’all carrying heat? If you’re so rich, why not hire someone to carry for you??? And why do you need to carry? So the burden of being a rich athlete is a life threatening proposition? So then the hoop dreams are more like hoop nightmares….

And in these days of terrorism, I am sure the people who run these facilities where professional basketball is played are reviewing and practicing extreme security measures, looking for signs of terror among the fans coming in and around the stadium… These days all facilities are alert to make sure terror does not strike. But I wonder if they ever ever ever thought that they would have to watch the players? Now Homeland Security has a whole new meaning.

And what message are you sending to young people across the globe??? It’s ok to pack heat? It’s ok to threaten the life of your teammate? And what of the old adage that if you’re going to pull it, you better be prepared to use it?

And now as the investigation into the episode unfolds, we find that Gilbert Arenas has been suspended indefinitely. But what about the other guy?? He is just as culpable. Further I’d want both contracts voided. Both men should be forced to make anti gun violence PSA’s and appearances around the country. Both men should meet and talk to those who have lost loved ones to the violence of guns…

The damage done to the leauge could be irreparable. They have worked through so much and now, this. The damage done to the black male image is irreparable. They already think of us as violent men who can’t control ourselves. These guys should be made into an example. They should bear the brunt of harsh punishment. Their star should be extinguished as a consequence of their actions. Second chance? no. Jail? perhaps. redemptive work in the community? definitely.

For Love of the Game – Pistols and Basketball……. dag

Happy New Year…. not too long ago, the clock struck midnight and we ushered in yet another year. I love to listen to the city when it is in celebration mode. Yes, I received a load of invitations to New Year’s shindigs. But, as is my custom, I am here…. home… in the quiet…. playing my playstation two while wifey watches Shaq’s All Star Comedy Slam…. And trust me… we are completely cool with that.

Happy New Year…. we’ve popped a little champagne and asti spumante.. clinked our crystal glasses… and welcomed the new year in…. After our toast.. I took my crystal champagne glass outside and listened to this town celebrate the new year…

pop pop pop!!!…. bang bang bang!!! buck buck buck!!…. the guns are shooting off into the air….. true to form someone nearby is having a party and has turned thier stereo way loud… so loud that if this were not New Years, the cops would be called most ricki tik…. That’s how quiet it usually is around here… The music is bumpin though….. in spanish!!

I stand out front… in our super quiet neighborhood…. and listen….. The full moon is big and beautiful in the Southern California sky… and this town is off tha chain right now….. and me? ….. I take a sip of champagne… tske a deep breath of new 2010 air and go back inside….. and enjoy the peace and meditation of contemplation…. for 2010…. is the REAL year of change……

I look to the television… look! it’s the Black Eyed Peas!!! dang they’ve gained a lot of weight…. that’s what success will do for you…. I wonder if they resolve to lose that stomach…

I change the channel…. Green Day is live from LA Live… I bet that place is off the chain…

I wonder where the hot spot is in this town… I guess in the end it doesn’t matter…. I hope everyone is having fun… and being safe…

I’ve settled down in front of my Playstation….. looking forward to tomorrow’s dinner and football games….

Happy New Year, everybody…. Look toward the light…. Keep your head up…. for we have no where to go but up……..

2010… it’s our time….

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