Cultural Critique / Politics / Pop Culture / The Color Line

Uppity Updates

Seeing as how I have a “day job” now, I’ve noticed my posts have gotten farther and farther between–monthly almost.  But nonetheless, I’m still here in the blogosphere and you can check out my comments on some other famous blogs that I visit pretty regularly.  That being said a lot has happened in the month since I’ve last posted, so here’s a rundown on the latest current events with the usual uppity twist to them.

Obama and the Debt-Ceiling Crisis

Quickly stated, Mr. Obama acted as he always has: slowly, yet deliberately.  That’s half the reason why he won the nomination in June 2008 because we believed in his ability to be a bit more calculated in his approach to politics.  With recent blog topics and op-ed pieces throwing out the question of Democratic buyers remorse with regards to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the question is moot.  Neither had any presidential experience and Clinton still has none, I think to ask such a question opens up the topic to too many “what ifs” and nothing is concrete.  To ponder seriously is to fall into the trap of “the grass is greener on the other side” myth that really does nothing to help the current situation.

Nonetheless, there is a liberal fatigue that is sweeping the nation, so much so that former D-NY Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat is actually being contested by a GOP candidate–seriously so.  I would encourage people to not miss the forest for the trees.  Even if someone is elected who’s a GOP (the trees), I wouldn’t worry about the 2012 election (the forest) for a district that has historically been Democratic and the people aren’t changing that much in the long haul.

What I do think the White House has done a bad job of is getting the word out about Obama’s fiscal responsibility.  The Congressional Budget Office clearly can show that just in the two years Obama has been in office that we’ve seen reduced spending in comparison to the Reagan/Bush I years and Bush II administration with a drastically reduced spending in the future.  Part of this reduction is because of the predicted withdrawal from our wars overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.  While Medicaid/Medicare and Social Security have been the proverbial third rails of politics since the mid-20th century, the issue of the mountains of money shelled out to fund these wars has been almost mum from the White House to the GOP and to all other talking heads.

Simply stated, the wars are driving us to the poorhouse–and quickly.

Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann and the GOP Presidential Contenders

Rick Perry

I still say Mitt Romney is the best hope for the GOP up against Obama come 2012 given the trajectory we’re headed.

Seeing as how I don’t have a glimpse into the future, I don’t know how well or how terrible the economy is going to fair in the next 12 months or so, but if unemployment numbers stabilize and don’t uptick, a GOP candidate can still come in and Obama would lose the White House.  It’ll be a tough sell if jobs numbers begin to go up and unemployment starts ticking down; all Obama needs is a solid full 1% drop close enough to the election time when the jobs gains are close enough in the voters minds.  I will admit this: if unemployment drops to 8.1% or hell, even a nice 7.8% by December, and it hovers between 7.5-8.0% for all of calendar year 2012 during campaign season, this country would still elect a GOP candidate who ran on the promise to bring unemployment down further.

The problem with Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann is that they’re not center enough.  The religious right that elected the likes of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush aren’t in existence the same way.  I think its safe to say the country has ticked a bit left to center (evidenced by Obama’s election), but the far right has dug in their heels in a way we haven’t seen before in this country–just look at the Tea Party.  While they have candidates in office across the country, most of them are in state representive or House of Representative offices and in highly conservative districts that haven’t seen liberal Democrat elected in decades if ever.  The districts that switched from Democratice to Tea Party GOP in 2010 were districts that have historically flip-flopped and had a mostly evenly divided electorate anyway so to believe anything otherwise is pretty much smoke and mirrors.

As of this moment, I don’t think the Tea Party has enough collective capital with the U.S. population to garner a national election.  Considering how Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell’s campaigns in Nevada and Delaware for U.S. Senate so gloriously imploded upon themselves as major Tea Party candidates, I’m really not convinced about the campaign of Michelle Bachmann and even a Tea Party support candidate of Rick Perry.

Black Racial Sensitivity and the Nivea Ad

Honestly, I don’t think there’s much ado about nothing.

For me to call something racist, I have to first understand what’s the intent.  If anything, the ad is weird before it’s racist–or prejudiced or bigoted.  Why there’s a cut off head in the guy’s hand is a mystery to me.  And seeing as how Nivea has a series of ads with random people holding random heads, I think we’re being hasty in judgment in calling the ad racist.

There’s a nuanced discussion we need to be having when it comes to discussing “post-racial America.”  One of which is whether or not post-racial is really where we need to be headed.  One of the initial problems with this concept is that it advocates the “melting pot” theory over the “gumbo pot.”  A melting pot speaks toward us moving toward a homogenous texture irrespective of race, religion, thought and everything else that makes one culture unique.  A gumbo pot on the other hand takes uniquely different items, mixes it together to form a unique taste, but the shrimp is still the shrimp, the andouille sausage is still the andouille sausage and the chicken is still the chicken.  The roux forms and acts as the substance that blends all flavor to produce a new taste and holds all of the disparate parts together.

When I speak of us moving toward a post-racial America, I am speaking of reconcilliation.  There must be a day in human history where we can “study war no more” and discover our similarities and celebrate our differences.  Do I think this Nivea ad is holding us back or moving us forward?  I don’t think it’s doing either quite frankly.  But just as Jay-Z and Kanye pulled the clip from “Blades of Glory” on their track “Niggas in Paris” where Chaz Michaels and Jimmy MacElroy are having the discussion about “My Humps” song being used and Chaz says “because it’s provocative,” I think such a phrase is appropriate here.  Just as Jay-Z and Kanye give an explanation for some of their imagery, the same holds true for this ad–it’s provocative.

London Riots and U.S. Flash Mobs

Riot police patrol the streets in Tottenham, north London as trouble flared after members of the community took to the streets. Photo: PA

Let me be clear from the beginning, I do not condone violence as an appropriate means of offense and protest.  That being said, I’m still at a loss for what was going on with the London riots.  For the life of me, I cannot rationalize violent acts throughout a municipality as a means of public protest.  Does this mean that I side with the British officials that are wantonly calling the looters as “thugs” and miscrients of the lowest kind?  No, I do not.  Rather, I am more interested in trying to move said protests toward relevant revolution.

There’s a difference between a revolt and a revolution.  Revolutions are interested in the long term and usually are a series of events that lead a point in history and result in structural and fundamental social change.  Revolts on the other hand result in short term gains for a small section of a populace and possibly can result in negative gains.  This is not to say that either aren’t birthed out of the same oppressive conditions that need to be changed, but the question protesters must always ask is what is the ultimate result.

I had a conversation with a colleague when I pressed the matter saying how can the London rioters loot their own neighborhoods for the sake of material spoils whilst knowing that eventually it was going to settle down?  He responded that the acquisition of material possessions was a mimicry of the oppressor; getting the same things that the ones who they claimed to be oppressing them possessed.  I thought it was a keen observation.  Why are we, the underclass and oppressed, struggling for the same things that the oppressor owns?  For me, the question of struggle is are we moving toward reconciliation or simply vying for the formerly oppressed to now be the oppressor.

What spurred the flash mobs in American cities as of late, namely Philadelphia, was the result of oppression American style.  Much like in London, police brutality brings out the masses to riot.  One need not go to the Watts Riots or the King Riots or even the Rodney King Riots, but think back to the Cincinatti race riots of 2001 or the Benton Harbor, Mich. race riots of 2003 all spurred from police brutality cases.  The problem that I have with the governmental response in both London and Philadelphia is that it’s the same oppressive rhetoric that helped create the atmosphere for teh rioters to riot.  Yes, order needs to be restored as soon as possible, but labeling the protesters as anything less than concerned citizens worthy of being reasoned with is a recipe for disaster.

Check the clip below [particularly from minute 9:00 and forward]:

Notwithstanding the black church culture, the image of the black preacher and all that went into this moment, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter choosing to focus on many of the aesthetics of young black teens and hearkening back to an era that has long been passed and using tactics that are outdated and outmoded for an iPod and social networking society, one is dead in the water.  Just last Sunday, I was talking to some of the young male students where I work and was asking why some of the incoming freshman males were standing outside of the chapel rather than waiting inside.  They responded that young black men don’t like church, I asked why, they said “We don’t like being talked at.”

That’s what’s happening.

We’re talking at the youth and certainly are keeping the marginalized marginalized for the sake of our own selfish sensibilities.  As humans and fellow citizens we have a responsibility to ourselves to live in harmony with one another.  No one group, young or old, rich or poor should be subjected the way many of these demographics are.

And these are my uppity updates.

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

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One thought on “Uppity Updates

  1. Excellent recap! I think the Hillary question is so left field and crazy that people would even suggest that she could have done a better job as POTUS or that she should serve as a potential challenger to the nomination. Leave it up to Democrats to attempt to eat their own.

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