Friday, February 27, 2009

Racist Images - The best is yet to come

Over the last couple of weeks, images have catapulted to America's consciousness because they are offensive to black people. We saw the political cartoon depicting police officers shooting a chimpanzee saying"they'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill." The chimpanzee was perceived to be a characterization of President Barack Obama. The community was outraged and Rupert Murdoch, Owner of the NY Post came forth with an apology. The cartoonist and editor of the paper completely and utterly did not view the cartoon as offensive. They apologized but did not, could not, would not see the offensive nature of the images they created and published....

Here, in Southern California, a story broke involving the Mayor of Los Alamitos, a small town in Orange County. It seems that he found it amusing to send an email out to his friends depicting the White House with a passel of watermelons sprouting from it's storied garden... He joked in the email, "I guess there'll be no Easter Egg Hunt this year"... One of the recipients of the email was an African American business woman... She was offended, shocked and appalled that the Mayor would send out such a racist image and make a joke of it... The Mayor could not, did not, would not understand why she was offended and offered no apology at first... She called him on it, went public and now the Mayor has apologized to the entire City, the City Council and will be resigning from office.

Now, I suppose we will see even more offensive images coming to the forefront. And the refrain from the perpetrators will be that they did not know that the image is offensive to black people. On one hand, we will be perceived as over-sensitive, looking for racism under every image and thereby will become paranoid in a society that needs our contribution. On the other, we remember all too well that our history in America is rife with stereotypes and innuendos... cruel jokes about our God-given features and the nuances of our distinctly black American culture. You and I know that this is to be expected...

The increase of offensive images and the subsequent "I didn't know I offended" defense is an offshoot of what has been happening in America since integration. IN my lifetime, I have been the only black at a job or endeavor. I have been part of a small group of blacks in a large group of whites. I have befriended white people in this setting. And in my experience, most of the time, white people will inevitably tell you a "nigga" joke or show you some cartoon, joke or satire created at the expense of black people. When you protest, they are dumbfounded that the joke offended you. They are your friend after all and the jokes should not offend you... After all, you "aren't like them"... This tragic scenario is what I think is behind the seemingly ignorance of the perpetrators of the aforementioned mis steps...

I hope that the attention given to this ill-placed humor will evolve America to a consciousness that says color truly does not matter... In the meantime, even with "the man" in the White House, the struggle continues...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Black Out; Image Awards is best for my taste

So.. the OScars have come and gone and by all reports we won't be celebrating black faces in the winner's cicle.. On one hand it's ok, we've broken that barrier already. It's awesome that Taraji P. Henson received a nomination for her role in the "Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons"....

But in all the hoopla following the Awards, I don't hear any names that are culturally relevant to me... Sorry, much kudos to Heath, Penelope and 'em, but I'm not really going to the movies to see them on first weekend....

That said, I think the best and most important awards show this season has been the NAACP Image Awards... Click the vid below to check out some sights and sounds of the 40th NAACP Image Awards held earlier this month....

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Next Level Consciousness

"And He said to me, "Son of Man, can these bones live?" So I answered, O Lord
God, You know." Ezekiel 37:3

After years of doing things the same old way, executing the same old policies, promoting our essence based on the old concepts and procedures, we find ourselves realizing that change is inevitable. The old ways are dead. There's a new way of thinking, a new consciousness. A new order... We have to change. Change how we want our country to work. Change how we look at our neighborhoods. Change how we walk. Change our talk. Change and/or increase our spiritual consciousness. But we find change is not easy. We have found a measure of success doing what we do for all this time, but we have not gotten higher. People know us for what we do when we do it. People expect us to be what we are when we are it. And this makes us comfortable. But deep inside, we know that it is time for change. We are not living life to the fullest potential as God has planned for us.... Stagnant. Dead. Dried up.

But it's not that we don't know what to do for positive change in our lives, we know what it is that will add to our essence. We know we have the skills, the contacts, the experience to go higher.. We know and feel that God has so much more for us in our lives... so what is the next level?

In the scripture quoted at the top of this blog, the prophet is shown a valley full of dry bones. The bones represent the whole house of Israel who has given up all hope of reviving their kingdom because they had been captives of Babylon for 10 years. And so God asks the prophet "Can these bones live?" His answer "Lord God, You Know"... The prophet knows that God is all powerful, omnipotent and merciful and he already knows the answer to the query. In our Bible, we can look to Ezekiel 37.. the story of the dry bones.. (you can read it here)

Sometimes I think we forget that we are children of God... oh yes, we go to church, we pray and meditate, and even as we read our bibles, we lose hope. We become stale. Complacent. We forget that our God can do anything. We have forgotten that he can certainly guide us to the highest potential. We have forgotten that he will revive our vigor, our enthusiasm and stimulate within us the creative vision to lift us to the next level... We have to have faith. We have to tap into that inner strength that got us to this level and leverage it to take us to that next level.

In the text, God instructs the prophet to speak to the bones. He told the prophet to tell the bones to hear the word of the Lord- the word that tells them to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19)... The word that tells us that he is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us (Eph 3:20) When the prophet spoke, the Lord moved, breathing life into the bones to where they were restored with skin, sinews and stood up to be again a strong army... And so we have to speak to our situation. Yes, life and death is in the power of the tongue, so we have to encourage ourselves. Tell our situation about our God. And God will therefore move and promote and elevate you to the next level. When we find oursleves stagnant, needing change, looking for the next level, all we need to do is trust God to move in our lives and we can step forth with courage and conviction because we know that God is able to anything. And if he is able to do anything, he can certainly guide us to the high potential that he has planned for our lives. If he can raise an army from a valley full of dry bones, he can certainly move in our lives to take us to the next level. If he can raise Jesus from the dead (graveyard dead), than he can certainly resurrect the vim and vigor in your consciousness causing you to continue to achieve greatness.

Faith in the Lord combined with decisive action will bring us to the next level. Faith without works is dead.

Stay Focused my brothers and sisters. Be encouraged. Trust in the Lord. And always Love One Another....

Friday, February 20, 2009

New York Post: It's not funny

Ok, I have to admit that at first I was feeling a little ambivalent about the political cartoon that ran in the NY Post this week. In case you have not heard about this, the Post published a cartoon depicting a chimpanzee being shot and killed by police with one of the officers saying "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill"...

Now some say say the monkey represents President Barack Obama. If so, then the cartoon has been correctly identified as a racist, disrespectful piece that should have never been published. The cartoonist and his editor should be summarily reprimanded and maybe even fired. As I write this, people of all colors and cultures are expressing their extreme displeasure over the cartoon because this is not just a black issue. By electing Barack Obama President of the United States, people-all people are saying they are tired of the old racist dogmas of this country. And so when they see something like this they voice their malcontent.
The Post has issued an "apology":

Wednesday's Page Six cartoon - caricaturing Monday's police shooting of a
chimpanzee in Connecticut - has created considerable controversy.
It shows two police officers standing over the chimp's body: "They'll have to
find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," one officer says.
It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.
But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President
Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism. This most certainly was
not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.
However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had
differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an
opportunity for payback. To them, no apology is due.
Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.

Some say this is not a racist portrayal, but merely a satirization- a parody of the tragic incident,where a chimpanzee went berserk, mauling the owner's friend to the point of inflicting life-altering injuries. Police had to be called who shot and killed the primate. They say the satirized chimp represents the Democratic Congress who pushed the Stimulus bill through.

At first I saw the parallels and what the cartoonist saw, but as I thought about it - I find myself asking why the cartoonist and editors of the Post could not see that this was a bad joke that could result in the community taking offense to the piece. Sometimes you tell a joke that is not funny. The history of racism and prejudice in America is rife with the imagery of chimps, monkeys, baboons and gorillas being used to describe black people. The image of the chimp is offensive. Not to mention that the animal is being killed...Are you saying President Barack should be killed? President Obama deserves much more respect than this. He is due the same decorum and elevation that every other American President has received.

I watched Anderson Cooper 360 the other night and he had a panel consisting of David Gergen, Ron Christie and Roland Martin. I was very surprised even as David Gergen saw the racist imagery as did Roland Martin. Ron Christie (in his words "a proud black man"), could not. He cautioned against seeing racism behind everything and while I feel him on that point, I agree with Gergen and Martin, finding it hard to believe that he could not, no strike that, would not see the problem with the cartoon. I think he is being untruthful to himself, proud black man that he is... click here to see the conversation...

I think the lesson to be learned from this is that the imagery of racism past still exists. I agree with Roland Martin when he says "I'm going to call it out every time I see it"...

This cartoon was intended as a joke. It was a bad joke. Not funny. A dud. New York Post, your comedy bombed... But in the process you've reminded us that the struggle continues and the more things change, the more they stay the same....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Black Man's Image: Check Yourself before you wreck yourself...

Just when I thought we just might have a level playing field... ok, at least the field was stabilizing just a tad..... Just when I thought the image of the black man as a responsible husband, father and career man was finally at the forefront.... Just when I thought the gangsta image was pushed back to the underground... Just when the image of the black man as a woman beater was done away with... just when I thought reckless, violent behavior had taken a hiatus in the wake of President Obama's election.... Just when I thought the stereoptype of a sex starved perverted brotha would be a thing of the past... Just when I thought our image in America would improve and those unacceptable behaviors would dissipate......

I see:
Tyler Perry's photo plastered all over the community dressed as a disheveled old woman on her way or residing in jail... emasculating the newly minted image of a strong, responsible man taking care of his family, loving his wife and loving this country.... Some say I'm taking this too seriously, but I just think we have gone way too long with the cross dressing just to make us successful (I should note that my wife strongly suggests that I go to the mall and get my dress and wig if someone offered me the same millions that Tyler Perry gets - but I'm just saying...)

Chris Brown beats down a woman - most likely Rihanna.... reinforcing the notion that our youth are out of control and we have no respect for the women in our lives..underscoring the myth that most of our men are women beaters always one step from the long arm of the law... Why are we not teaching our young men to respect the woman? They can disagree without violence and degradation. Why aren't we teaching our young women that testing the limits of a man's anger with taunts and challenging his manhood because they know he won't smack them is unacceptable??..Why can't we learn to work out our disagreements without a smack down.... And if it is learned behaviour, then why can't we break the cycle???

Suge Knight gets beat down... again! This time, Akon's manager gives him the one two to the jaw... ok, is it me or is Suge Knight just too old and perhaps too rich to be getting into scrapes...I mean c'mon dude!! Death Row is over and that whole gangsta thang is old as hades... besides how much more humiliation do you have to take before you get a clue!!! And dayum, is it me or is Akon's camp just outta control... didn't he just get acquitted or something for beating down some fans? This violent behavior in and around the hip-hop game has got to stop... somewhere somebody is saying "see, you can take the n***a out of the hood, but you can't take the hood out of the n***a.... We have got to do better!!!

I see Jermaine Jakes, son of TD Jakes getting arrested for indecent exposure and lewd behavior... This guy goes to a public park which is known for sex crimes and activity, pulls his peepee out, and masturbates in front of undercover officers... How contrary, embarrassing and downright trifling... Now, I'm not necessarily knocking this guy for his reported sexual orientiation or proclivities... awww let me stop lying, this was way wack and the brotha needs counseling ....

And all this happened within the last week!!!!

In my estimation, in the wake of the election of President Barack Obama, we have a propitious opportunity to beat down the negative stereotypes of the black male. And for a minute there, it looked good for the brothas.... and now this.... We have got to do better!!!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Adverse economic times: Choose life!

"Today, I'm giving you a choice. You can choose life and success or death and
disaster...Deuteronomy 30:15

If I may wax spiritual for you today:I'm sure you've heard the story of the Lupoe family in the City of Wilmington. After getting laid off from Kaiser Permanente, Ervin Lupoe shot and killed his wife and their 5 children. In a note faxed to a TV station, he said he and his wife planned thekillings as an escape for the whole family. According to published reports, for California, this was the fifth mass suicide or murder in a year. People are just giving up in these tough economic times.This instance troubled me deeply. I know that times are hard and sometimes it looks pretty bleak out there, but I don't think it is worth your life. Your wife's life, and the children??? No, not the children... This is a man who saw no way out. A tragedy.

Layoffs, Closings, Foreclosures, Evictions, so much is going on in this country.The previous ways of our institutions have led us down a path of hardship.People are suffering.... But by what authority does this man and his wife kill their children? By what authority does this man kill his wife?? Why did he choose death for himself and his???

Please, brothers and sisters... be encouraged during this season. I'm asking you to trust the Lord God with all your heart that he will help us. As we go through these troubled times, stay up. Keep your joy. Love One Another. Don't cheat yourself and God by resorting to drastic measures to help you cope.. or not cope...

Some of us are blessed to still have a job even in the face of a depressed economy, but we see the destruction of lay-offs all around us... It's a stressful time... But we cannot allow depression and fear consume our being...

Some of us have been laid off, victims of the economic crisis. It's a critical time... Don't allow desperation take over...I know it looks bad, my brothers and sisters, but, I saybe encouraged.

There's someone that's watched the bank take over their home....There's another who's been locked out because they could not pay the rent...Nonetheless, be encouraged, because we have hope. The Bible says in Romans 12:12 that we should be

"rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing constant in prayer.."

We have hope we can see, because we went to the polls and made our voice heard... We wanted change... And so, through the leadership of President Barack Obama, we have hope that the nation can turn around.
Things will get better...
Yes We Can!

We have hope, because we are children of the Most High and trust that He will protect and keep us...While the government does what it will to revamp the economy, those of us who are connected to the Almighty look to his Word for guidance... and the Bible says that we should choose life so that He may move and bless us.

And so, people of the Lord, I would ask, if you will, to lift your inner voice towards God and pray for protection in this time of lack. Pray for restoral of jobs. Lord protect us..Deliver us...Make a way out of no way... Lord we choose to follow your Word and strive to live... even in the face of adversity... we encourage your people who in the face of foreclosure..choose life!!
The eviction is near... brothers and sisters - choose life!
Got laid off...Choose life!!
Don't give up! never surrender! Keep walking. Keep talking, keep striving... keep praying... Keep loving the Lord... and as Jesus said, Love One Another...

because I believe that God is not done with us yet!!!