Sunday, November 30, 2008

30 things to do before you turn 30

i've seen way too many of these lists and hardly any of them are up to scratch in my opinion, so i made my own.  i know that making this list is reflexive in some way or another. the truth is, i'm an artist and have spent much of my time reading, writing and travelling to do what i do. when it's your career or your lifestyle, the opportunity to explore comes easier than if you were tied to a daily corporate situation.

but the truth is, this list encompasses much of what was commonly understood to be true of someone that recieved a basic liberal arts education, way back when.   what i'm probably thinking of is a classical education that teaches logic and rhetoric -- something that's sorely needed amongst the general populace right about now.  

there's so much that i want to do. live in havana, cuba. see the hermitage in moscow.  learn how to speak french. (finally!) this list is a place to start.  there's always something else to learn. there's always more.
  1. leave home (you'd be shocked and amazed at how many people in this day and age don't ever do this.)
  2. live completely and utterly on your own -- that means you stand on your own two feet and support yourself from the ground up, answering to no one. your apartment, your money, your rules, your good/bad credit, your life. 
  3. live alone.
  4. put aside the idea of marriage and children for as long as possible (preferrably all of your twenty-something years), and have an actual life
  5. learn how to communicate effectively. 
  6. learn how to think critically (this one is kind of huge...)
  7. finish high school
  8. finish college -- get a BA degree from a decent, accredited college or university
  9. own and maintain a passport
  10. travel -- domestically and internationally. here's a tip: do this before you settle in on a corporate plantation (preferrably right after you finish college, if you're living a conventional life) or you probably won't ever pull it off.
  11. see a broadway show
  12. see an off-broadway show
  13. be a responsible citizen, do your civic duty and VOTE at every and any election
  14. live in a foreign country -- as an adult (see #2)
  15. live in another region of this country -- as an adult (see #2)
  16. watch all of the AFI's top 100 films of all time.
  17. read all of TIME's top 100 novels of all time.
  18. live and work in New York City. Or London. Or Paris.
  19. learn how to play a musical instrument.
  20. build at least one career.
  21. get a financial education.
  22. own at least one original piece of art, regardless of genre.
  23. have a hobby that keeps you physically active.
  24. work in the service industry -- so you will always have a healthy respect for those who do.
  25. learn a second language.
  26. develop your own personal sense of style -- and understand what fashion really is.
  27. be a good and reliable wingman/woman.
  28. make every effort to date against type -- especially if you live in new york city or some other large metropolis -- or at least go on blind dates frequently.
  29. do volunteer work or make a contribution of time/effort/money to charity on a regular basis.
  30. start your own business and work for yourself.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

al-qaeda said what?!

when i heard that a second in command al-qaeda leader ayman al-zawahiri called president-elect obama some sort of racial slur, i assumed it was the "n" word and i forgot all about it. i figured they were going after him because he isn't muslim.  but then i read an article about it online from a foreign country and did a serious double take.  "house negro"?  that was specific enough of a reference to pique my interest.  how did he know anything about house negroes -- something that is so intrinsically african-american -- and why would he say that about obama?  there are those who enjoy throwing that remark around about any black person that's accomplished anything, that's verbally adept, that enjoys reading books or having a glass of port after dinner -- in other words, anyone that doesn't fit into the black status quo, whatever that is.  and whatever that is can change with every african that you ask.  

yikes! in his speech, he said that about condi rice and colin powell, too.  it seems that the members of al qaeda read malcolm x's work and don't lump all black people together -- a tidbit that surprised the kids at fox news, probably because they didn't know anything about any of it. there's plenty of time to read books if you don't watch tv.  they probably know more about american history than most americans do -- and if they're throwing around phrases like "house negro," they certainly know more about american history than americans know of their history.

unfortunately, we can't know what al-qaeda has said specifically regarding president-elect obama because no american news agency or cable news network will simply play the tape without talking over it or censoring it. so i will.  

please note -- at the very end of his speech, al-zawahiri plays something most americans have probably never seen: a portion of malcolm x's "house negro/field negro" speech, to explain what was said initially and augment his perspective.

the house negro and the field negro

just for the record: i am a field negress.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

i am the black gold of the sun

i can't even tell you how much happiness flooded my soul when i heard this song. all of a sudden, it was summertime and i was 7 years old again -- surrounded by aunts and uncles and a hoarde of cousins in charleston heights, south carolina.  i remember everything: ripping and running and romping around in the countryside, eating lots of seafood and reading whatever i wanted all the time -- which was mostly encyclopedias and biographies, and of course kid-lit like the little house on the prairie series.  i loved half-pint!

i suppose i could ask "how green was my valley" as i remember my little kidhood but the real question to explore is: how black was my world?  i had my great-grandparents, my grandparents and my parents. get christi love! was on the tv. pam grier was at the drive in. and so was cicely tyson. and abbie lincoln. and blacula. don cornelious was on soul train. all of my aunts and uncles had naturals.  everybody wore dashikis. the first time i ever saw my uncle jackie's then girlfriend/now wife aunt mattie, she had on a beautiful gele, and i thought she was glowingly lovely. lots of their friends were visiting africa and spending time there. and this song flooded the airwaves -- or at least, my uncle tyrone's 8 track stereo system.

no one had to tell me that black was beautiful.  

i watch black music videos nowadays, i look at black pop stars and i wonder -- was it all a fad? was it fashion?  or a dream that we collectively felt would never end?  

i think there was a moment back in the day when we began to truly love ourselves and each other.  it's not that the "n" word didn't exist -- it's just that everybody was so caught up in calling each other "brother" and "sister" that no one ever bothered to use it.  (we were COGIC, too -- i'm pretty sure that had a lot to do with it.) we began to explore our history, we embraced our past and found our way back to africa as best we could. 

and then the 80s happened.

the thing is, all of what i remember is still alive in all of us, right below the surface. i know this is true because when i walk down the street and i call someone sister or brother, they give it right back to me with so much feeling that sometimes, it aches. years ago, i fell back into the habit of saying it all the time -- especially to the africans. instant unity: the glow that is exchanged never goes away. it's just sitting there, waiting to come alive whenever any of us says it to each other again.

we really are the black gold of the sun.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

After The Party

ah, yes. i'm back in black.

now that senator obama is the president elect and the emotional high of watching the election results rise in his favor has worn off slightly, it's time to stop reveling in the euphoria of it all and think this situation through, as clearly and as intelligently as we can. this newsletter -- written by a brother named paul ifayomi grant in nottingham, england primarily for other africans of the diaspora -- was emailed to me from at least two sources. although i examined it with one eye initially, i thought it was interesting and somewhat encouraging to hear critical thought from a black source -- no matter how flawed the argument may be.

frankly, there were quite a few points that gave me reason to pause.

it is with all of this in mind that i've included the entire newsletter in this post. whether you agree with him or not, it's time for all of us to get past all the rhetoric and the feel good sentiments to understand what's actually going on. only then can we instigate real change.


After the Party
The likely implications and impact of an Obama Presidency

Sadly for some of you, the words, Hope, Change and Inspiration will be in short supply in this newsletter. Instead I have chosen the unfashionable path of focusing on the policy positions espoused by Barack Obama and his closest advisors, which are all one can use to judge a prospective or new, as opposed to well established President.

Well the votes have been cast and counted and in some cases double counted or not counted at all. The tears have been shed and the celebratory alcohol consumed and Barack Obama has been duly elected as President of the United States. The mainstream media has duly dubbed this a landmark, historic election which marks a crucial turning point in US history. Well, they would wouldn’t they, however what is the evidence that, skin pigmentation aside, Obama represents anything significantly new. Even if you are overjoyed at Obama’s election victory I would ask you to think about what I have to say and see if any of it makes sense.

Can we talk Policies?

Let’s look at what Barack Obama has actually said he will do and the things he has said he won‘t do. You can judge for yourself the extent to which you agree or disagree with his policy positions.
1. Despite all the hype Obama has moved rapidly from his former (2004) clear cut position on the Iraq invasion. He now opposes the withdrawal of US troops in Iraq in favour of what is euphemistically called "redeployment; the relocation of US troops from combat zones to training and logistical positions, contingent on the military capability of the Iraqi Army to defeat the resistance. Obama opposes a clearly defined deadline to withdraw US forces from Iraq because US troops in Iraq are essential to pursuing his overall policies in the Middle East, which include military confrontations with Iran, Syria and Southern Lebanon." (Petras 30 October 2008

2. What you will gain in Iraqi military de-escalation on the one hand you will lose with large scale Afghan military escalation on the other. Obama is mad keen on pursuing this 19th century style colonial war. He pledges to pour in more US troops into a country that has broken the resolve of numerous imperial powers.

3. In pursuing the Afghan war Obama promises to carry out military attacks in Pakistan without the permission of the government of that country. Do you remember all that old fashioned nonsense about respecting the borders and sovereignty of other nations? Wasn’t that the pretext for the first US war on Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait?

4. I have written previously about Obama and his unconditional support for the Zionist Lobby. Like all US Presidents of the past 40 years if you show him a Zionist butt he gets down on his knees and kisses it. He has given Israel a military blank cheque, offering support whatever they do and to whomever they do it. His speech at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington 2008 the day after defeating Hilary Clinton was cringe worthy for anyone who knows the history of Israeli colonialism and militarism and who possesses an ounce of integrity. He supports the continued expansion of Jewish settlements and the expulsion of Palestinians in what is no more or less than ethnic cleansing. Look at his pro-Zionist advisers and you know the score.

5. Obama has promised to attack Iran if it continues to process uranium for its nuclear programmes despite the fact that this is not in breach of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (which is a farce anyway and which the US supported Israel in breaching). Obama’s running mate Joseph Biden stated in a closed door speech in Seattle just weeks before the election that within the first six months of an Obama presidency an international crisis will be "generated" in order to give the new President an opportunity to prove himself. This crisis is likely to be manufactured in one of the various ‘points of conflict’ (including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and North Korea) that Biden identified. "Obama’s senior Middle East advisers include leading Zionists like Dennis Ross, closely linked to the ‘Bipartisan Policy Center’, which published a report serving as a blueprint for war with Iran. Obama’s proposed offer to negotiate with Iran is little more than a pretext for issuing an ultimatum to Iran to surrender its sovereignty or face massive military assault." (Petras 30 October 2008

6. Obama has identified at least 100 countries as sources of terrorism. With the US having military bases in over 130 countries around the world anyone who thinks an Obama Presidency will yield a significant decrease in US militarism is deluding themself. As part of his support for ‘the war on terror’ he supported the FISA bill that allows unrestricted wire tapping and eavesdropping on US citizens.

7. Obama has offered precious little in support of Afrika. He has not, to my knowledge, denounced the US proxy imperial war being waged by Ethiopia and the puppet regime in Somalia; on behalf of the US and against the Somalian people and in particular the Islamic Courts movement which had brought stability and order to that beleaguered country for the first time since 1994. The UN has declared Somalia as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis – even worse than Darfur. I have heard nothing from him on the crisis in Congo, nothing about eliminating the debt that is crippling so many Afrikan economies, and the usual one eyed rhetoric on Zimbabwe.

8. Obama has surrounded himself with some highly dubious advisors. There is Rahm Emanuel who Obama has appointed as his Chief of Staff. The Illinois congressman is an Israel first Zionist and fittingly his middle name is Israel. There is James Rubin who was part of the Clinton administration and was a pro-Wall Street advocate who helped fashion the deregulation of financial markets in 1999 (continued with even greater vigour by the Bush regime) that led to the current economic depression. There is Zibigniew Brezinski an old fashioned cold war warrior (from the Carter administration) if there ever was one. He claims suckering the Soviet Union into its invasion of Afghanistan as his greatest achievement! There is Madeline Albright, who claimed that the million plus Iraqi deaths resulting from the US war was "a price worth paying". His choice of the gaffe prone Joe Biden as his running mate was instructive. Biden is a rabid Israel First Democrat. He has been quoted as saying "I am a Zionist; you don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist."Then there is Colin Powell that supposed ‘dove’. "The liar who lied to the members of the United Nations and led us into this fiasco in Iraq and now Obama may appoint him to be the ambassador to the UN. Perhaps he can get his old job back as Secretary Of State." (David Truskoff 22 October 2008 As they say ‘birds of a feather flock together’ and if you lie down with dogs you get fleas. Barack Obama has been mixing with some real dutty darg so don’t be surprised if he starts scratching. The futile hope that Obama is somehow different to and is not in general agreement with his closest advisors is naive in the extreme.

9. Obama supported the $850 billion bailout of the Wall Street kleptocrats, an initiative that anyone who did even cursory research could see did not address the real roots of the financial crisis and which rewarded the rich culprits and did little for the much poorer victims. He is happy for massive amounts of taxpayers’ money to be pumped into private financial institutions and precious little into the hands of homeowners facing foreclosure in a deal that is much worse for the US taxpayer in terms of potential returns than the similarly unsatisfactory rescue package put in place by the UK government.

10. Obama supports the continuation of the highly inefficient and incredibly expensive private health insurance based health care system operated in the US. This system gives the US some of the worst health outcomes in the rich world at one of the highest per capita costs. The only people who really benefit from it are the huge corporate insurance companies, conservative medical and hospital associations and pharmaceutical conglomerates. So much for change.

11. In every direction one looks Obama is a friend of corporate America. He was actually the candidate with the biggest backing from the corporate sector despite all the ‘little people’ spin and was the favoured candidate amongst Washington lobbyists.

12. James Petras tells us that "Obama is and continues to be an advocate for Big Agro and its highly subsidized and profitable ethanol program, which has increased food prices for millions in the US and for hundreds of millions in the world." (Petras 30 October 2008

13. True to form Obama is against any government, democratic or not, that does not offer unfettered access for economic rape and pillage to US corporations. Whether it be the thrice elected Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who Bush (the even Littler) tried to have assassinated, or the Castros of Cuba (there are numerous documented US attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro) it is not how the leader is elected or selected that matters, but rather the nature of their political views. In other words you are entitled to your view as long as you agree with me. Obama fits the mould of all his predecessors. With regard to the situation in ‘Latin’ America Glen Ford of Black Agenda report notes:

"Long retarded by the fiction that Latin America has no racial problem, people of color are finally confronting the racial dimensions of Latin American poverty (disproportionately non-white) and oligarchy (always white).

As usual, the U.S. is on the white oligarchy's side. So is Barack Obama, whose support for the oligarchic, super-corrupt Colombian regime amounts to backing a barbaric, color-coded caste system. One need not be fluent in Spanish to understand the meaning of political cartoons in the newspapers of the rich that portray Hugo Chavez as a monkey." (Ford: 2008)

14. Obama has said nothing about the need to dismantle the prison industrial complex which currently houses well over 1.1 million Afrikan men and women (about 96% male) and over 2.5 million prisoners in total. Just as that other ‘Black President’ Bill Clinton presided over the biggest increase in the US prison population in history, whilst crime was falling in nearly all major categories and Negro leadership fawned over his syrupy overtures, so Obama promises nothing in return for Black support. Many of those people crying tears of joy over his election will shed tears of pain as their sons and daughters are incarcerated in the new hi-tech plantations of the USA; over the next four years.

15. Similarly, Obama has no plans to dismantle the US military industrial complex which has now become a centrepiece of the US economy. Far from it, he plans to increase the size of the huge US army by another 90,000. More poor cannon fodder to kill and be killed on foreign fields. As usual Afrikans in the US will be offered more than an equal opportunity to die for the stars and stripes.

16. If you are socially ‘liberal’ Obama is your man. He is pro unfettered access to abortion and received awards from Planned Parenthood; the organisation founded by the White Supremacist Margaret Sanger, whose clear intent and desire was to reduce the Afrikan population in the US (check for yourself). Planned Parenthood was recently exposed for welcoming a donation from an investigative reporter posing as a racist potential donor who wished to have their money specifically used to abort Black babies. Around 36% of all US abortions are carried out on Afrikan women who comprise 13% of the US female population. You will find an abortion clinic in every Black community. To date about 18 million Black babies have been aborted since the Roe vs Wade act legalised abortion in the 1960s and in some US cities the Black abortion rate is 50% i.e. half of all Afrikan conceptions end in abortion. When you add in a 13% miscarriage rate you can see why the Afrikan-American population has stagnated (see Missing Assets book or CDs by Keidi Obi Awadu). Obama supports homosexual civil unions but don’t ask him about reparations for Afrikans, he is dead set against that.

17. Throughout his career Obama has made it clear that he will ditch anyone or any policy that stands in the way of his political advancement. Only a fool believes that he was shocked by the sermons of Reverend Jeremiah Wright. He had attended Rev Wright’s church for years and had his children baptised by the Reverend. The minister did not suddenly get all radical in the lead up to the election. Similarly, as mentioned earlier Obama dropped his original correct position on the Iraq war, dropped his opposition to the wiretapping bill and has generally failed to hold firm on anything that he feels could cost him votes or that would upset Wall Street and corporate America.

He has thoroughly rejected the idea of a ‘Black America’ and when asked about persistent existing racial discrimination against Afrikans in the US quickly moves the goalposts to talk about some form of generalised inequality. On the other hand he is happy to respond to the specific concerns of virtually all other constituencies such as Jews, Hispanics, homosexuals, ‘the middle class’, ‘blue collar workers’ (a euphemism for the white working class’), White feminists, abortionists, Washington corporate lobbyists etc. Etc. It seems that whilst everyone else can sit around the table we have to stay cooking in the kitchen unless we are happy to represent the views of one of these other interest groups. Obama has stated categorically that there is no Black America, only America and has made it clear that despite Afrikans in the US offering him the highest degree of loyalty and support (around 94% share of the Black vote) of any political constituency he offers nothing in return except the symbolism of his skin colour and paternal lineage.

Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda report, who has know Obama since his early days in Chicago politics, when he considered him a friend, has been warning Afrikans of the illusory change offered by Obama and in an article entitled ‘Barack Obama versus Black Self-Determination’ states plainly:

"Obama-ism - a thoroughly corporate political concoction soaked with banalities and wrapped in fraudulent brown packaging - presents a clear and present danger to perhaps the greatest legacy of the Black Freedom Movement: African Americans' embrace of their right to self-determination. Although African American yearnings for self-determination are evident in all previous eras, the general and dramatic emergence of this fundamental understanding among Blacks of their distinct "peoplehood" and inherent right to shape their own collective destiny, free of veto by or need for validation from dominant whites, marks the Sixties as a transformational period in African American history.

Obama has revealed himself as a rabid nationalist of the standard, white America variety. "I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country," says Obama - which pretty much says it all. The candidate has repeatedly telegraphed his contempt for any worldview that fails to glorify the U.S. rise to global dominance - a ritual that collides instantly with truth as it actually exists, with history as Black people have known it, and with Black aspirations to make their own way in the world unencumbered by the burden of white lies............................ Clearly, if the United States is inherently good, then Black people and Native Americans must have done something catastrophically wrong to bring down upon themselves such suffering at the hands of the U.S. government - not to mention the sins committed by Vietnamese, Nicaraguans, Angolans and all the other peoples that have gotten in the way of white American Manifest Destiny." (Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report 28 May 2008)
Obama’s Blackness is a privatised, de-politicised Blackness which finds its most public manifestation in trivialities such as the ‘fist bump’ with his wife. In terms of the crucial life and death issues for Afrikans at home and abroad I can find precious little of substance to justify all of the elation at his election.

So that is a flavour of the real Obama. The politician and not the dream. Here is a policy scoring guide to assist you in analysing to what degree you agree with his positions on the foregoing seventeen areas of policy/ideology:

0-4 If you scored in this range and profess support for him then your support is based on pure emotionalism and self-deception. I would suggest treatment from an Afrikan-centred psychologist/psychotherapist/counsellor and reducing your sugar intake.

5-8 You have some alignment with him but not really enough to feel comfortable voting for him

9-12 You can make a solid case for supporting Obama. You are socially ‘liberal’, support welfare for big business and warmongering in support of corporations and Zionists.

13-17 It’s a done deal. He da man.

In policy terms Obama is little more than Bill Clinton with a shiny paint job, just as Hilary Clinton is little more than Bill Clinton with ovaries and a uterus. The fascinating part of the whole Obama/Clinton primary battle was how quickly many Afrikans who had always loyally trooped off to the polls to support Bill Clinton and vociferously extolled his virtues, discovered that he was little more than an old fashioned Southern Cracker - albeit an intelligent Cracker – who expected the ‘boy’ Obama to know his place in the pecking order, which was behind Hilary. Similarly it was interesting to note how many Afrikans were supporting Hillary Clinton in seeking the Democratic nomination until Obama received the endorsement of Whites in Iowa (95% White population).

To finish off this section let’s look at how policy, be it economic, social or political policy is really formed in the United States. A similar process is present in many other countries.
The above diagram is taken from chapter nine (page 170) of Amos Wilson’s classic work BluePrint for Black Power. I would thoroughly recommend that anyone seriously interested in understanding how political policies are really developed in the US reads this chapter. My apologies for the quality of the scan which is due to the layout of the diagram in the book. Next to the box marked ‘Universities’ at the bottom of the diagram it says ‘Reports, news items’ and the next box to the right says ‘National news media’. The diagram clearly depicts the linkages between Resources, Research, Decision-Making, Opinion Making and Law-Making and clearly refutes the notion that it is politicians who are solely in charge and that their policies are a result of listening to and interpreting the needs of the general public. The public is presented with a carefully selected menu of policy options from which to choose just as they are presented with a carefully selected menu of politicians to vote into high office.

One of the most recurrent backstop arguments used by supporters of Obama is the ‘lesser of two evils’ argument. I received an email from a brother who like me is a lonely voice amidst the clamour for Obama and who touched on this subject. He says:

"Honestly, almost ANYONE would be an improvement over that past 8 years. But we must remember that the National Security establishment has a long history of covert operations around the world, which have disaffected the economy, education, employment, healthcare, etc. for years, regardless of who's in office (as noted by Jeremy Scahill, John Perkins, John Prados, Naomi Klein, etc). By now, most in the Afrikan-Centered community know that the POTUS is a mere figurehead for the corporation known as "The United States of America," which has always been run by elite families and corporations. ......... .............In a way, cheney/bush should be commended. Malcolm put it this way: "I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands -- even if he's wrong -- than the one who comes (off) like an angel, and is nothing but a devil! As I mention Malcolm, I am reminded of what he said about "progress." "...I will never say that progress is being made. If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there's no progress; you pull it all the way out, there's no progress. The progress is healing the wound that the blow made; and they haven't even begun to pull the knife out, much less try (to) heal the wound... they won't even admit the knife is there!" (Italics Ka`Ba) Unfortunately, most of our folks won't admit it either! Most of them don't want to deal with what true healing would entail: Pan-Afrikanism, rejection of foreign ideologies, redress, reparations, etc. They say, "I'm an american! I'm no Afrikan! I was born in d.c.," etc. As for the knife, they say, "oh, I'm okay... everything's alright, that's not a knife! It's a needle! I made a mistake and fell on it! IT'S MY FAULT!" As for Obama's election, they say, "this isn't just for African-americans, it's for EVERYBODY!" As Wilson pointed out ad nauseum, that kind of sentiment makes many of us "feel good." For many of our people, saying that "it's not that he's black, he's a capable american, who happens to be black," makes them feel righteous and patriotic! Of course that's not how they really feel. Otherwise, there wouldn't have been the record turnout and unyielding support for Obama in the black community in '08. Rather, it was another unsolicited act of capitulation to the collective white ego. We didn't want to upset them; instead most of us just "cut out (our) own back door" as Woodson posited. It's about assimilation for most blacks, and Obama represents someone who some whites deem acceptable, so that makes him acceptable to them (e.g., blacks didn't start to jump onboard the Obama train until after he won in Iowa, a state that is 95% white). Many of those same people are for Obama because "he's for all americans," they say. But their support is mostly about him being a black person who "proves" to whites that we're "alright." The fact that many of those same blacks won't even step foot in a black-owned business without it having to be damn-near perfect (I know because I worked in one, and can tell you some sad, sad, self-hate stories from some of our people) is evidence enough. If the black person is a CEO for American Express, it's a great achievement for Black people! But if s/he owns her/his own courier/delivery service, then s/he will be fortunate if she's acknowledged at all by most in the Black community. Returning to Wilson, the Great Ancestor also brought attention to the fact that Africans have already led euro nations before, and that all it signified was that the euro was even MORE powerful than before!" (Brother Ka`Ba email 06 November 2008)

The timescale for reality dawning

How will things pan out? There follows my prediction for how the eye squint inducing harsh light of reality will gradually wake Obamaites out of their hypnotic trance.

0-1 months. Hysteria and jubilation abound. We have last!

2-4 months. The warm glow still keeps some people smiling as their friends’ and relatives’ homes are foreclosed and jobs are lost.

5-6 months. The foreign crisis that Joe Biden spoke of is "generated" to prove to the world that Obama can be as tough as Republican Presidents and is no liberal softie.

7-12 months. People realise that the US is in the deepest recession since the 1930s and the tinkering at the edges offered by an Obama Presidency offers little respite for those on middle and low incomes. House prices continue to plummet. The US piles troops into Afghanistan and finds it easier to take territory than secure it. The ‘war on terror’ continues unabated.

13 months to 24 months. Reality bites. The honeymoon is well and truly over and the economy is in a mess, billions a week are being spent on overseas wars and too many Afrikan men and women continue to move seamlessly into prison at a rapid pace. Afrikan people start to question whether the ‘success’ of one man means anything for the tens of millions who don’t live in the White House, however the vast majority remain loyal. Some non-Afrikans start acting as if Obama created the economic crisis.

25-48 months. It’s business as usual except that it’s not business as usual. The US economy will have been in the toilet for most of Obama’s presidency. The recession is far deeper and longer than predicted in 2008 and his hopes of re-election rest upon being able to engineer an upturn at least six months (the length of most voters’ economic memory) prior to the 2012 election.
By the end of Obama’s first term Hispanics will have well and truly replaced Afrikans as the second largest ‘ethnic’ (Hispanics are not really an ethnic group) group in the US and many Black Nationalists who should have known better will be rueing their failure to have kept their eyes on the prize of ‘Black Power’ and Nationbuilding; as the pseudo-integrationist chickens come home to roost. Meanwhile Caucasians will have well and truly buried racism and congratulated themselves on their historic achievement of creating a ‘post-racial society’, proving once again why America is the ‘Greatest Nation on Earth’, which will be the epitaph on the grave of Black America.


Please don’t label me a playa hater or party pooper. Don’t froth at the mouth and dismiss views you don’t agree with. Stop and think. Balance all that emotional, racial pride with some cold sober reflection on the issues. Politicians have the power of life and death, particularly the President of the United States. It is a diminishment, not an acknowledgement, of the sacrifices of our ancestors to rally behind a politician, or any individual, who has so clearly rejected Black America and who is the creation of the oligarchy that rules the US, just because one of his parents is an Afrikan.

Whilst everyone needs hope and inspiration there is also a pressing need for substance. Obama represents superficial, literally skin deep, change. The euphoria surrounding his candidacy and election amongst Afrikans in the US – and across the globe – is symptomatic of our oppressed and conquered status and the deeply held, if often unspoken, desire for acceptance by Caucasians who have dominated and oppressed Afrikans for hundreds of years. It’s the Stockholm syndrome, where the kidnapped come to psychologically empathise with their kidnappers and seek to rationalise their abduction and captivity.

Obama’s appeal to Caucasians is largely rooted in his personal charisma and inexperience and hence lack of tainted political record – although he has some Chicago skeletons rattling in his political closet. His bi-racial heritage makes him the symbolic representation of the ‘melting pot’, ‘can’t we all just get along’, ‘forget the past’ approach to race favoured by Caucasian liberals. His lack of roots in the Afrikan-American community is also reassuring to whites who have come to realise that he is happy to distance himself politically from Black people in the US.

Cutting across all constituencies that supported Obama (and McCain) is the incredible level of political ignorance amongst the US populace. Most people simply did not know and could not be bothered to find out what the candidates actually stood, hence why there were so many ludicrous accusations, such as Obama is a Muslim, socialist, terrorist, picked up and regurgitated by the candidates’ respective supporters and why these same people could muster little more than clich├ęd slogans, such as ‘I want change’ to explain their support for their candidate.
‘Hope’, ‘Change’ and ‘Yes we can’ do not represent a political philosophy. Barack Obama is a true believer in the ‘American dream’ whilst I am not; therefore it is natural that I should be highly sceptical of what he represents. Not all Afrikan people believe in the same things or want the same things and it is naive to think that we all do; or that we can or will all unite. It is each person’s job to fight for the things they believe in, hence why I had to write this article despite the fact that most Afrikans in the US and around the world will disagree with me.
One positive that may come out of this process is that it presents an opportunity to engage our people in a debate on critical questions such as exactly what it is we are ‘struggling’ for and if we can agree on that, how we are going to achieve it.

The citizens of the US voted in record numbers, however as usual they were Had, Hoodwinked, Fooled and Deceived by the ruling elite. They ‘chose’ between a maverick who is no such thing and an outsider who is really an insider. The Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same coin which is why national politics offers only the ‘illusion of inclusion’ for Afrikans and the poor in the US and why virtually all the key social outcomes for Afrikans in the US show no sign of improving and in fact in many areas are getting progressively worse.

I know there are a minority of people out there who feel very similar to me but who are keeping their heads down for fear of the backlash they will get, however I would encourage those people to speak out now and play their part in shaping the future direction of our people.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, so we will see if Obama is the ‘Undercover Brotha’ or the ‘Manchurian Candidate’. Whatever happens the need for Afrikans to organise has never been more pressing, so as Marcus Garvey warned us, ‘Organise or Perish’.

Wilson, A. N. (1998) ‘BluePrint for Black Power – A Moral, Political and Economic Imperative for the Twenty-First Century’, New York: Afrikan World Infosystems
Brother Ka`ba email 06 November 2008
Keidi Obi Awadu, Conscious Rasta Report on CDs, ‘Missing Assets’
Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report, ‘ Barack Obama versus Black Self-Determination’ Wednesday 28 May 2008, published in Issue for Oct 29 - Nov 4, 2008
James Petras, ‘Twelve Reasons To Reject Obama And Support Nader/McKinney’
30 October, 2008,
David Truskoff, ‘More Reasons Not To Vote For Obama’ 22 October, 2008
Ifayomi Grant © November 2008
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Saturday, November 08, 2008

gone fishin'...

while writing is always a constant at the start of my day -- whether i'm putting pen to paper or making my pithy thoughts come alive electronically on these pages -- i can't seem to pull it off very well while i'm living out of a suitcase.  there's a lot of business to take care of and there are a lot of ideas flying around and there is a lot of love in the room and there are way too many happy albeit dissonant distractions in my head.  in a week, i will have returned to my harlem manse and settled back into my daily bump and grind, and hopefully i will have made a substantial amount of progress.  i've certainly left you plenty to peruse while i am away.

rest assured that i shall return victorious, much encouraged and full of the sun.

until that happy moment, i leave you with this: a small slight snippet of the one and only ivie anderson with duke ellington and his orchestra singing -- appropriately enough -- oh, babe! maybe someday

isn't she something?!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

ralph nader is right

no, ralph nader did not call president elect obama an uncle tom -- though him using that term was enough to send everyone at fox news off the deep end in an indignant self-righteous huff.  i suppose that's the way some behave whenever anything racial is mentioned, which makes their behavior even more suspect to me.  sometimes all it takes is a little context and some real live perspective to understand what's going on.

what he basically said was that obama can either be a president of the people or he can be a corporate tool.  and you know what? he's right.  

this video is of mr. nader defending his initial remarks beautifully, in spite of the interviewer's attempts to bully him.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

i missed everything!

sure, i enjoyed watching the results roll in from the comfort of a deluxe hotel suite with family and friend and brand new baby nephew all the way on the other side of the country. and yes, i had fun. but truth be told, my heart was in harlem -- the capital of black america if we ever had one.  i could help but wonder what was happening on 125th street. these videos gave me a small slight glimpse into the way everyone came together and celebrated with real abandon. 

some small part of me is sad that i wasn't there in the middle of it all with my girl renee -- shell-shocked that yes we can and yes we did and staggering down the street in a happy daze, arms akimbo as we stop and take it all in every so often, screaming our heads off when we see black folk we know, running into ralph in the middle of the fray, or james, or kenny, or God knows who all, hugging perfect strangers, dancing with the kenyans, getting high as hell off of euphoria alone, greeting the senegalese mamas in french, tossing one back and then some with a random mexican or dominican or puerto rican or nuyorican, letting some african perch us up high on a phone booth or a box of some sort or maybe even his shoulders so we could have a kodak moment and relish it all later.  feeling the unity, the oneness. feeling the love. and thinking over and over and over, just like tiny tim -- God bless us, everyone

the last time that happened, the last time i felt anything that was anywhere near that feeling of togetherness and love that spanned the african diaspora and the whole world, really was at james brown's wake.  that was nothing short of incredible.  what a bright shining black moment that was.  how elegant, how lovely. our differences melted away that night. the black pride was so strong, it was very nearly tangible.  at least, mine was. always has been, actually. that's a bigger part of what makes me such an uppity negress. but i digress...

election night was our finest blackest moment. and i missed it. then again, so did renee. she's in puerto rico visiting a friend. 

maybe they'll blow it out on 125 when he's inaugurated...

this one is interesting.

here's more.

this is my favorite.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

yes, i voted. did you?

i knew that i would be out of town on election day, so i sent off the paperwork to vote in absentia several weeks ago. and then surprise -- i never recieved anything. no ballot, nothing. and i wasn't the only one. there have been some strange snags that have found american citizens flying back home to vote.  new york's system is especially antequated.  i couldn't afford to be amongst their ranks. i called the new york board of elections and i kept calling until i got an actual person on the line.  she was effusive, upbeat and way too happy to help me. as it turned out, they were located on houston and varick, they would be open until 9pm, and they would stay open every day all weekend and on monday, the last day that they could accept any in absentia ballots.

my friend and i braved the freakshows on the streets and made our way from west harlem to houston and varick, then waited for less than 30 minutes in a dingy room filled with those hard plastic school chairs you have to squeeze into to sit in, with way too much flourescent lighting and trash everywhere.  it was over in no time.  i celebrated by going to a costume party and staying up all night, packing.

knowing how white men in this country have historically worked so hard to disenfranchise anyone not like them from the voting process. knowing that such people are still working hard to keep certain people from the polls -- like ex-felons, for example. (almost 5 million of them won't be able to vote this year. if you pay taxes, you should be able to vote, period. but i digress.)  knowing what my 92 year old daddy's parents and their families went through, in south georgia and south carolina -- how they were systematically excluded and shut out of the political process. knowing that he and my mother voted as soon as they opened the polls in georgia -- them and every other black anybody that i can think of. knowing that the system is so corrupt, its a wonder that anything gets done. knowing that the electoral college elects the president, not individual voters. knowing that more than 40% of eligible voters didn't vote in the last election. knowing that some people won't vote because they think that not voting is voting. knowing the bradley effect. knowing how racist so many good americans really are.  knowing that no matter how many black people are breaking out the champagne glasses and celebrating in the streets and in our haphazard chats with each other, he's not elected yet.  

so now here i sit, watching sarah palin on cnn as she casts her vote and yammers away, spewing these pro-american jingoistic talking points like a trained parrot, and i wonder. 

it'll all be overwith by 9pm tonight. 

let us pray.