Monday, March 31, 2008

The Second Black President

When author Toni Morrison proclaimed Bill Clinton as "our first black President" it was enough to evoke pause, confusion, frustration, and anger. To hear this from the author of The Bluest Eye, Sula, Jazz, and Beloved (some of the most complex books on black culture since Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Alice Walker's The Color Purple), one might need to step back and consider her perspective. Morrison is not an idiot. Her esoteric mind is responsible for the brilliant darkness beneath the surface that infects a small Ohio town in Jazz; for the longing of a black girl to not be who she is (having gone beyond the abuse of Celie in The Color Purple) with The Bluest Eye; the local blacklisting in Sula. So for Morrison to step up and claim Bill Clinton to be "our first black President" is not only a cause for disturbance, but a cause for an outcry of irony because Morrison's point was unbelievably accurate when one takes the statement within context.

Her reference was from the Bill Clinton blow-job, gone public, in that he garnished understanding from black men around the world accompanied with shrugs from men of all colors and praise in rap music (Too $hort used Clinton as the launch pad in the declaration of "Player's Holiday", featuring Mac Dre, Mac Mall, and Ant Banks when saying "The President did what?...awe, that's all good, baby."). Not to mention embraced his loose nature, even within the denial, as a tribute to human error. For in black culture human error is a cause to forgive, while keeping it firmly locked in memory. Not that blacks would turn a blind eye to such an action (while making it the butt of all jokes on Def Comedy Jam), but blacks are more apt to understand a slip up than conservative whites; especially if the slip up comes from someone that blacks relate to.

Morrison states it perfect in her defense for Clinton when she wrote:

"...white skin notwithstanding, this is our first black President. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children's lifetime. After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas."

She goes further in saying that the backlash he received would have been less extreme had it been an actual "white" president. For infidelity is top priority for men in power (white men especially). Therefor the Clinton scandal created a cause for Clinton to be considered "one of us" while, like most blacks in power, going on to make a bigger fool of himself by creating the newest annoying slogan (twenty years too late and stolen from black culture) with the whole "Chill Out" madness in regards to Hillary (needing) to drop out the race.

But that is neither here nor there.

Barak Obama is a direct contribution to the strange twist American culture has taken over the last ten years. In a time where the golfer to idolize is black, the rapper topping the charts is white, Queen Latifah is doing Jenny Craig commercials and Oliver Stone is making PG-13 movies, it is not an unreasonable bout that we might potentially have our official "first black President" by the end of the race. Despite Morrison's defense of Clinton (along side her claim in his defense of victim-hood) the relevance of Obama tops the Clinton "blackness" for the simple fact that his clean cut approach might be toeing the line, while being much less dangerous than the presences of Clinton. It's interesting how this works, because white people actually feel a calm in Obama's presence instead of worry. Not that this is going to make the "nigger" comments go away; it is more like Obama will be placed in the "safe-Negro" category, along side Will Smith and Denzel Washington, and looked upon as a model for black men to aspire to.

This does not stop the internal racism within black culture who question if Obama is "black enough." The fact that a black candidate is closer to presidency than any one before him is not enough for blacks to smile with a gleam of hope. It is taken that there must be some Uncle Tom buried down there some place, and we should be of the interest of NOT trusting him (as we find the room to shout "WE WAS ROBBED" upon Alfonso Jackson's resignation from HUD after suspicion of special treatment towards friends of his ...then again, Jackson may be thought of as an Uncle Tom solely based on his twenty year friendship with President Bush), just in case he turns out to not play the game the way we always dreamed a black president would.

Strangely enough, the criticism from Obama's blackness came down strong from writer/professor Shelby Steele. Steele states that by going to an all black church which is "intellectually beneath him" he is not only selling himself short by surrounding himself with his own kind, but denying his white mother who raised him. Steele states that who Obama is comes from a direct influence from his white mother, not the black church; and so, essentially, for Obama to attend such a church is more of an attempt to please the black voters at the expense of his heritage.

Steele may have a point, but his claim is not nearly as accurate as Morrison's statement of Clinton as "our first black President." Steele is telling us that by attending a black church and denying his mother (Obama has never, one time, denied his Mother; these were actions done by Fredrick Douglas and August Wilson), Obama is actually deceiving the black community by being a politician rather than a spiritual being. In a sense Steele feels that Obama should not attend the church, surround himself with more "diversity" and claim his white roots along side his black roots, while allowing them to flow through the same vein. Ironically Obama's universality and closeness with a wide range of people is not only an honor to his mother, but a greater fusion with black culture. Obama is proving the theory of "legacy" through action not through coaxing. Not that Steele has missed the point, but Steele's lack of belief in the potentiality of a black president is a let down at the least, and betraying at the most. Steele's pessimism, mistaken for "reality", comes off as self-hating and welcomes the internal limitations within black culture rather than dismissing them (along side Randall Kennedy). To make a claim that Obama does not have a chance at winning the election is NOT living in reality; it's living in oblivion; for Obama's chance to become the second black president becomes more of a clear vision as the days go on.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Coming Soon: The Next Virginia Tech

It's the classic reaction from a filmmaker when viewing such a sight that makes one say: "I never could have directed that."

This poses true on the video below, which shows a killer in the making. The child resembles Huey P. Freeman from Aaron McGruder's "The Boondocks", while also revealing how Huey P. Freeman became so militant; the same reason that Huey P. Freeman will grow up to either make a difference, or snap on society with blazing barrels screaming about "THE CAUSE!!" Freeman's protest is important in youth for the sake of urban expression of anger (channeled through hip-hop, spoken word, and the culture of video games). Though the anger is often buried beneath questions (and a lost mentality in creation of "the thug"), the "fuck you" expression can be a healthy release for future adult bliss.

Not the case, unfortunately, for the child in the video (who must be between the age of 8 and 10). Here the child is told that his Christmas gift is an Xbox -- the very gift he's been wanting all year long. He glows with excitement as he unwraps his Christmas gift; a gift that results in a cause of deception through cruel satire and family guilt. For the child is expected to "understand" the hardships of the working class; and to ask for such a gift, on Christmas, in their eyes, is a call for this child to be taught a lesson; and this lesson cannot be done by verbal communication and luring him to understand; but rather through ablatant act of betrayal that will sever the trust in this child's bones for the rest of his life. What the family is missing is that the child is being a child; to ask for an Xbox is not an act that deserves a cruelty beyond the measures of human tolerance (they would have been better off spanking him), but rather a "No" for the sake of clarity; yet the family feels such an act is not cruelty, but rather an important part of life. In other words:

"You will be let down your entire life. So you might as well get use to it, right here, in your own home."

What makes it worse is that the asshole who not only taped the unwrapping, but posted it on You Tube, will forever move through life without guilt based on the support of his family (who ripples with the "crab" mentality carried by black folks since the late 1800's). Their laughter of the joke turns to anger when the child responds with sadness. A sadness he is forced to keep inside, because if he cries he deserves to be punished further. The family does no clue in on what can come of this. How this child will grow and become vicious. When this happens they will have the nerve to say: "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONGWIT'CHO ?!!" forgetting their satirical backfire that created a monster; a monster that goes beyond Huey P. Freeman, and destroys the potential importance he might contribute to the growth of America.

An act like this answers the questions when one grows to commit horrific crimes. Acts like this answer the "why" when it comes to Columbine and Virginia Tech. The neglect this child feels, while trying to soak up every ounce of hurt he can muster, is an insight to the psyche of American children. The family is a prototypical working class black family (similar to "white trash") with too many people in the house, all of them clawing to one up each other, and elevate themselves bymitigating others. The level of "love" is low based on the surrounding self-esteem, and old world Southern tactics blacks take on their children. Though, this is not limited to the South (it lives in urban areas across America), but one may recall Richard Wright's "Black Boy", and his puzzled responses to the beatings and cruel tactics of black parents in the South. These types of acts spawn hatred, mistrust, and wrath that sits deep enough to wait for the correct moment to react. For one should be prepared to view this video again, the day this child snaps. When/if this happens, the answers to the "why" will be right here in front of us.


- d'juan

About Me

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writer, actor, & producer in training. in 2005, along side my partner in film and best friend since childhood, we produced and executed 3 films. to this day i am still working in "the business" to the best of my abilities and moving forward to the "next level." currently i am producing a film project, co-writing another, awaiting word on a stage play for New York, and pursuing my next one-person show. i'm also in school pursuing my Ph.D in Social Science.