To many he blew the doors off the house with said speech upon accepting a humanitarian award, applauded for taking the opportunity to make meaningful public commentary on something as impactful and profound as the devolving state of continued police brutality on minority communities, particularly the black community. Being a member of the black community, doing it as well as the Harvard graduation speech also going viral online earlier this summer, graduation speeches earning standing ovations, national recognition, and for good reason. This of course brought out the haters who thought he should be fired from his gig on Grey’s Anatomy for being anti-white, circulating a petition to that effect; basis of the petition seeming to be, had a white person said the same things about African Americans they would have been globally chastised and expediently Fed- Xed to the unemployment line, relegated to answering want ads, virtually black listed and rightly so. Especially considering the fickle nature of his profession and that one little wrong move can derail your career in Hollywood, being deemed difficult to work with or one big movie flop, one lack luster performance, suddenly no one wants you. In this case citing precedent on the Grey’s set, who could forget of course, Isiah Washington’s very public firing and removal of character Preston Burke after Washington made a homophobic slur to fellow cast member, at the time, TR Knight referring to his as faggot. Orientation of Shonda Rhimes, Grey’s Anatomy creator’s politics aside, never mind what Williams said about race and police while being ‘anti-white and anti-law enforcement’ was 99% true and needed to be said; what he said wasn’t a slur of any kind rather a frank, blistering assessment of the way things still are, an example of the work still needing to be done, how far we still have to go…Few however alighting on what the true firestorm should have been about: the redundant, unhelpful indictment of his own community taking on a new face; the hypocritical indictment of white people willing, trying to help after seeing with their own eyes videos describing, detailing what minorities have said for years, having had the scales taken form their eyes, so to speak, finally beginning to think what if that was me, my child, my sister, my brother, aunt, uncle, friend. And he repays them with that speech, after years of begging, pleading, imploring whites to find their conscience, see blacks, other ethnicities as human beings, as equals, not animals, chattel, see and acknowledge the injustices visited upon blacks by police, employers, those who should be their fellow citizens, they start to and he rewards their effort with that speech….How is it that someone did not stand up from the BET awards audience and tell him just as ‘eloquently’ where he could stick his thoughts on the ‘right’ way and the ‘wrong’ way to wear ‘black identity,’ the ‘right’ way and the ‘wrong’ way to represent ‘black’ identity,’ represent the African in African American, grabbing that award trophy away and breaking it over his obviously too thick, fame inflated head or at his feet, whichever is non-lethal while imparting the same powerful lesson. There isn’t just one way to encapsulate a culture, an ethnicity, a community, and if you have to start your commentary, your work telling whomever it is you’re endeavoring to help to look more like this, don’t do that and start doing this, you are precisely the wrong person to be receiving a humanitarian award, the wrong person to be speaking to, or on behalf of, ethnicity issues, regardless of your skin color, if your skin color matches those you’re trying to reach, make understood to the rest of the world… the problem with Jesse Williams’ speech isn’t that I have heard spoken word poetry done better, though I have; my skinny, white high school writing teacher read Sekou Sundiata’s Space to classes year after year with more great oratory befitting a single, underrepresented ethnicity, in literature or elsewhere, than any aspect of Mr. Williams’ delivery that night. Nor that there is a palpable anxiety around discomfort in our supposedly increasingly coddled culture of safe spaces; though I have no idea if that’s the core reason their named conservative targeted him or attacked comedy ‘because it was no longer fitting into the mold of almost totally white and acceptable excluding all previously fringe portions of society.’ And the reason I don’t care about either 2 items is because there is so much more to care about; the bright red bullseye problem with what Jesse Williams said in his BET acceptance speech is it’s the same old repackaging of black respectability politics that never really went away in the first place…. It smacks too much of Bill Cosby shouting down the kids who weren’t getting shot down for political reasons, but got shot for stealing pound cake when we knew it was about so much more than pound cake, Coca Cola; asking where parents crying at their child in an orange jumpsuit were at 2, 12 and 18, how they missed their child had a pistol, when he should have been asking why trained police felt it ok to shoot anyone in the back of the head for suspicion of petty crime. Knowing full well a staggering percentage encompassing those absentee, clueless parents were probably incarcerated on varying degrees of legitimate charges, virtually assassinated in the street not by thugs, bangers, gang members committing drivebys, rather by police before we knew names like Eric Garner—Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, the newest names added to the carnage since Jesse Williams decided to channel Cosby in front of a microphone trying to tell it like it is… Mr. Jell-O…Irony of a man telling kids to pull up their pants who couldn’t keep his zipped and needed to drug women to get them into bed despite his celebrity status, probably committed the far greater crime, than expecting things handed to you, sagging your pants or blaming ‘the system’ for your own failures—rape, fathering at least one child out of wedlock while bashing women for having 8 kids by 8 different fathers simultaneously amassing 20 mistresses, paying hush money to protect his stellar image was lost on all of no one… No, Jesse Williams shouldn’t be fired for his provocative poetry, neither should he be lauded for it, but like Bob Costas, Lawrence O’Donnell and Ed Shultz in late 2012 emphatically insisting if Jovan Belcher had not owned a gun, i.e. had guns not been so easy to get, he and Kasandra Perkins would still be alive, he deserves to be called out for getting it horribly wrong in crucial ways, for too quickly jumping on the bandwagon of respectability politics run by those who came before him to the same disastrous results, resorting to discussions on pound cake, sneakers, vernacular instead of the issue…Or in Williams’ case, why name brand clothes are bad for blacks and blacks alone: because slavery… How easily he dismisses for all the “Burying black people out of sight and out of mind, while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil—black gold. Ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them.” Those who happily line up to be ‘stolen from’ ‘exploited,’ who don’t see it as exploitation and shouldn’t; to make money and do well showcasing your culture all of it, the good, the bad, the ugly, the raw, real places people come from, come up from and come out of informing people and creating a good life for you and yours, fluffing the economic 11th commandment: giving your children better than you had, the 11th commandment for the impoverished: get the heck out of the projects. The ‘white’ people who work at record labels, similar venues who aren’t racist or exploitive making the same money helping back people tell their stories through their music, their clothing, their business venture, and what pray tell is wrong with that again, other than you don’t like it… . It reminds me of a white college English professor I had who told the story of her little boy also ethnically completely white (no more than 8) who liked talking in black vernacular was very free in church, things she tried to discourage him out of lest he be called a racist, accused of the same, wrong, bad form, exploitive cultural appropriation; let’s make that sit down and for good measure shut up… Jesse Williams is the type of person, at least in his identity politics, who makes people feel they aren’t black enough, loyal to the cause enough if you don’t do certain things, arrange their life a certain way, accused of cozying up too closely to oppression otherwise…deemed uneducated fools in the streets who will never reach their full potential thanks to their habits. And if this is not Jesse Williams, if this was not his message, why did he give that speech and give it that way; if I’m reading this wrong and his not touting respectability politics with a side note or 2 on other issues, then why give that speech, why the lines about brands on our bodies, why the lines about gentrifying genius, extracting dollars like oil, black gold? If it meant something else, other than telling black people the evils of money, to focus on something else, never saying what, acting like we should all be in sack cloth and ashes until such a time as what, he never clarified either, then why did it hit my ears and so many others that way, why engage the argument that way at all, why not the line about Tamir Rice and stop, giving people more to think about on top of it?
Category Archives: CURRENT TRENDS
Brexit Buyer’s Remorse, Calls For A Do Over A Cautionary Tale To Americans Considering Their Own Elections?
Impact felt immediately as world stock markets tumbled after the profound uncertainty of an outcome every educated person looking at it said wasn’t likely to happen; comment from one British analyst: they lost more in one night than in 15 years of payments to the EU, the pound cratering to a 31 year low against the dollar…Worries there, now former Prime Minister Cameron was onto something when he forewarned of a possible self-induced recession, the UK representing the largest to second largest, depending on source, European economy, thought being where they go others will follow or be caught in the undertow; thinking not limited to economic realities, who could be hurt in the interim 2 years it may take to engineer the UK’s lengthy, complicated, convoluted and, complex EU exit, who could find themselves in dire straits as the UK implements Brexit, shifts from EU guidelines, regulations and laws to exclusively UK ones. While worries in America center on their own coupled with global financial markets, stocks tumbling for 2-3 days straight, 401ks, retirement accounts losing up to $5,000; market uncertainties not going anywhere knowing as, stated, it could take up to 2 years for the UK to process its formal, official I’s dotted, T’s crossed exit. Down the road issues of trade, alliance on a global political scale, what the threat of a breakup of the UK, more likely the EU, means for global security, a constant American concern as definitive global leader in shaping worldwide events. Real trepidation is reverberating through Europe other countries will follow suit using Britain’s example, that it could reach so far as to divide the UK itself; Scotland for example, overwhelmingly voting to remain in the EU, already having held their own internal referendum seeking Scottish independence from the UK in the not so distant past. Defining catalyst behind forming the EU was to shape a post-soviet Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, moving from vision to existence a unified Europe for the benefit of participating nations pillared on ‘four freedoms’ of: movement of goods, services, people and money; emphasizing these are small counties land mass a faction of the United States, populated landmasses in Canada, Asia causing a coalition, unification like the EU to make sound sense allowing people things, workers, service to flow freely in such close quarters, increase trade, lower costs, completely disconnected from the elitist power play, better to go it alone lines fed to the people. Processing the leave vote, worries there may be significant problems operating their national health service as it depends heavily on other EU members for doctors, nurses, support staff…foreshadowing for Americans if they continue to blithely listen to Donald Trump and like-minded persons, is hearing people’s explanations behind their vote, thought processes, lack thereof resulting in the shockwave magnitude world consequences; comments like they didn’t think their vote would count, thought their vote insignificant, they didn’t really want to leave they just wanted to make a statement, shrugging it off saying they could always vote differently next time. Right after the vote’s announcement the most googled thing from there, what is the European Union, what does it mean to leave the European Union; shouldn’t that have been a topic you were googling before you cast your ballot, whichever decision you made? It’s like watching a montage to the uninformed voter, would be funny if it wasn’t so serious…British born comedian John Oliver never letting up on Britain for their monumentally stupid decision, quashing calls for a revote with this succinct line: there are no f-ing do overs, sentiments needing to be prevailed upon the public prior to election day obviously, realization coming too late; the punch in the nose, mentioned during the first set of videos at the top of the piece, coming to the voters who thought this would solve your problems. Politicians lied to you, shocker—that’s what politicians do; they said the 300 million pounds going to the EU daily would go to the NHS, strongly implied it, and it didn’t? Except anyone having passed high school level government 101, knows the excess money not used by countries in paying bills, seeing to operations, funding various programs is usually funneled back into generic government coffers and there are no earmarks; someone please tell me if UK democracy, democratic republic structures are that different…What could this mean for Americans poised to make their own decisions, we can’t keep buying into the Trump mantra of making America great again by dragging back jobs from China, Japan, Mexico, everywhere when existing trade deals, trade memberships like with the WTO, stand in the way. Moves away from them could mean drastic ripple effects not singularly for us but other westernized and developing nations alike. We can’t buy that one liner realizing it doesn’t matter how many jobs he might bring back with different deals if it translates into making enemies out of people we must trade with, equal world players, superpowers holding their own weight to throw around who can make things infinitely worse in trading with the United States, if animosity is the ‘weapon’ of choice, and most importantly, when we don’t have the skilled workers waiting to fill those suddenly available jobs. Young people today seen as being pushed away from dirty jobs, working with your hands, Mike Rowe and Bill Maher fond of saying “we can’t all be the person drawing on the cave wall,” the former saying we need people to do something, forever sounding the alarm about the skills gap still failing to understand what’s truly behind it. Young people are going in different directions to follow job landscape shifts yes however, also possessing different talents and seeking out different places to ply them; regarding America, business, including the remaining facets of the manufacturing, skilled trades, construction, exc., failing to be candid and forthcoming about their need for workers, the academic subjects needed for success in field X paired with places to receive training…As the child of a blue collar, unskilled worker, a parent who did factory work, who grew up as part of the transitional generation between pencil and paper, the typewriter and the computer, smartphone, tablet, information age I’m struck by one fundamental question, why can’t we understand industry, working, job markets have changed…e last time industry kept pace with service was in the 1880’s…tasks, technology experts predicting a drastic shift in the face of what future work looks like. Leading my analytical mind to a single set of follow up questions, where is the revitalization of steal towns, coal towns, rust belt areas to match the changing job landscape whether from the government or neighborhood by neighborhood renovations instigated by the people? UK or America, if you don’t like your neighborhood can you mobilize people and supplies….imagine if some of those older citizens in the UK seeing the younger people on street corners offered to teach the knowledge, skill they worked in for years…
The Collegiate Money Machine Has So Many Other Problems Than What They Pay Commencement ‘Celebrity’ Speakers For 45 Minutes Of Work
Just when you think we as a country might be able to get through a national event, a nice, joyous occasion on a national scale with minimal, it’s too much to hope for no, controversy the embarrassments start crawling, in a slow trickle, out of the woodwork to showcase the worst of us. Graduation ceremonies grinded to a halt for the dumbest of reasons initiated by adults who should know better, not ditzy, entitled brats blocked from getting their way, ceremonies denied students displaying the very traits we say we admire, reward, conveniently tied to either ‘the rules’ contrived so those charged with administrating don’t have to make the big D—a decision, exercise the other D—discretion, or the hot button issues of the year; remember the kid who couldn’t even voluntarily reveal his sexuality as the last 15 seconds of a several minutes valedictorian speech, or the kid barred from wearing his tribal eagle feather on his graduation cap after coming from far behind to graduate with his class, crass explanations of graduation dress codes were replaced with exposed racist test questions in one school currently wrapping up the year, salacious editing of yearbook photos for modesty has been replaced with kicking people out of ceremonies for facial hair i.e. male beards, goatees, the kid who passed out on a hot school bus where the driver refused to let students open the windows for fear of emergency alarms exemplifies why year round school remains a bad idea. Top other ones in 2016 causing people to go some variation on berserk, transgender people who dared use the bathroom corresponding with their identity not their birth sex assignment, Muslims walking down the street, getting on airplanes, and to older peoples’ chagrin, graduating high school while wearing their traditional headscarf. And now a supposed exposé espousing our addiction to greed and shallow celebrity culture ensconced in how much we’ll pay famous commencement speakers to grace graduations while keeping most professors part time and below the poverty line. Sure we get many millennials and younger people, relatively new, first time voters comprising high school/college graduates are feeling both the Bern, movement started by Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and the burn of their student loan debt, the looming prospect of all the money it will take to enter then compete college, but is this really the place to put, channel their outrage, at ‘bad’ commencement speakers and their pay? …. But that isn’t where all, or some, of your tuition hikes, 4 years of incurred debt, are going, what your student loan dollars are buying; in fact it’s hard to tell where exactly that money, in its massive amounts, is going… what they’re paying commencement speakers, even lumping in all the student activities, celebrities and events used to keep students there and spending their financial aid dollars, their parents’ cash, educated guess comes out to a single year’s tuition for an entire small, lone, individual classroom of students. Ah, another uncomfortable truth, the author seems to have suddenly woken up yesterday realizing student activities budgets, predictably derived from some portion of your tuition, go to all those fun events that make college campuses not only fountains of learning but one of the coolest places you’ll ever be…Then there’s Scott Timberg’s perplexing response to should be acceptable commencement addresses rendered by those who aren’t celebrities in the traditonal sense…30,000 as starting to make sense because “giving an accomplished person whose accomplishments fit the mission of the school bother me a lot less: For Rutgers to pay Toni Morrison – a novelist who has won a Nobel Prize, after all…;” me thinks I smell a jilted English major who wanted their favorite author at commencement and didn’t get them…
Then there’s the evolving story that cropped up about 2 weeks ago as George Zimmerman put up for auction the gun he shot Trayvon Martin with, recently returned to him by police; one gun seller almost immediately taking it down, another auction site inundated with prank bids ranging in the millions, latest announcement—auction, on the one site willing to host it, is closed, bids in the double digit thousands. Reigniting old debates about race, individual rights and gun ownership in America; assuredly opening old wounds for Martin’s family as Zimmerman treats the death of their son via the gun he used, as a celebrity piece, as a means to an end to make money he admittedly says he will spend fighting the group Black Lives Matter and its supporters, in his mind, including democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Actions generating comments like Larry Whitmore’s spot on scathing assessment encapsulating it all: “who woke up this rotting piece of human excrement?”…Yes George Zimmerman is, independent of opinion, for better or for worse, a free American who is free to do what he wills with his possessions, in accordance with the law, including selling a controversial gun in the most public way possible. We as a society, a collective public are also free to express, sans violence and lawbreaking ourselves, our unease, our upset, our insistence that he not make a buck off of killing a teenager, however heroic he wants to paint himself to be. Graduating to a special kind of sick to use the auction as a means to come out publicly badmouthing and trashing his parents who ‘didn’t raise their son right [‘]…And we wonder why kids are so apt to fight, why Trayvon Martin resorted to his fists that night, because it’s a survival skill less for the mean gang banger, drug infested, dilapidated streets of the inner city and more and more for ordinary suburbia, the modern day classroom, not from their fellow students, bullies 2 grades up, but their teachers, school resource officers, beyond school, zealot neighborhood watch wannabes. They never know when or if someone, an adult, an authority figure, random person on the street is going to hit them, punch them, choke them, tackle them, sit on them till they can’t breathe, cut them, shoot them, kill them.