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Thursday, December 20, 2007


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Y'all knew that the Borg Queen (aka Senator Hillary Clinton) wasn't going to take Sen. Barack Obama's stealth move in bringing out talk-show mogul Oprah Winfrey to campaign for him lying down.

I waited to see what she would do. At first, all it looked like she was going to do was throw down roundhouse punches at Obama's campaign, by digging up what the brotha wrote on his Kindergarten essay, then trying to play on American's fears by bringing up his full name, which his middle name is Hussein (y'all know where she tried to make that connection), and finally, enlisting the aid of Bill Shaheen, the husband of former New Hampshire governor Jeanne Shaheen, to start talking about Barack's youthful indiscretion (cocaine use), and allegeging he was probably a drug dealer.

Obama a drug dealer? You can't make this stuff up.

But, not to my surprise, the Borg Queen came back with a lil' stealth move of her own.

Magic Johnson. Yes, that Magic Johnson (how many did you think there were?). He joined the Borg Queen on her campaign in Iowa, and instantly went from hero to Handkerchief Head Negro with sly digs and comments about Hillary's "experience" and how we didn't need an inexperienced person getting the White House.

To which, I say, "Negro, please!" As in "Please shut your friggin' mouth; you don't know jack about politics."

Now, this is painful for me to write, because I've always been a Magic Johnson fan. Long after his HIV status forced him to retire from the game. I remember when he made the announcement about his status, thinking, "If anyone can beat this, it's Magic Johnson."

But, to turn into a Handkerchief Head is hard for me to swallow, because Magic Johnson is the last African-American I'd care to pin that label on. Campaigning for the Borg Queen, after her husband goes on Charlie Rose's show and literally dissed an African-American for even daring to consider any other candidate except his wife, frosted my cookies in a huge way that I won't be forgetting too soon.

If Obama's candidacy shows anything to politicos, it should be this: YOU CAN'T CONTINUE TO TAKE AFRICAN-AMERICANS VOTES FOR GRANTED AND NOT HAVE IT COME BACK TO BITE YOU IN THE ASS. We are not a monolithic group - and we don't like African-Americans like Magic Johnson trying to lecture us on who we should elect as POTUS. Especially when the brotha's only foray into politics was a worthy one - stepping up legislative efforts on HIV research, education and prevention.

At least he's done better than Michael Jordan - Mike wants you to "be like him" when he's collecting his checks. Political forays into issues like, say, CIVIL RIGHTS, are alien to him and problematic when it comes to getting that check. Magic eschewed that and remade himself into a remarkable businessman, purchasing and running Starbuck establishments and his Magic Johnson theaters, where going to see a movie can be a really fun experience (he even employs people to throw out those who would talk at the screen non-stop during a movie, and he has good eating going on in there, too). Magic's even gone on to make some forays into Civil Rights issues as well, so going over to what I consider "The Dark Syde" is making me toss my breakfast this morning.

Now, you're probably saying I'm being too hard on Magic, by tagging him a Handkerchief Head for spewing Hillary's talking points about Obama. Even if he didn't mention Obama by name, we all knew who he was talking about. I thought Lawn Jockey was too strong - he didn't go that far off...yet. He should be able to endorse anyone he wants - everyone African-American doesn't have to get on board with Obama. And, you're right, because at this point in the game, this African-American woman is not on board the good ship Obama, because his vagueness on his political platform reminds me of John Kerry - whenever someone asked Kerry for specifics on his campaign promises, he'd tell you to "go to" for more information, when it's just easier to tell us what you got planned.

A gospel tour with Donnie McClurkin damned near gave the LGBT community apoplexy - I thought John Aravosis at Americablog was going to do more than lynch Obama on his blog. And sending white campaign workers to black hair salons to ask sistas getting perms or their weaves hooked up, what they thought about Obama, showed an inherent unfamiliarity with the demographics of the very base of voters Obama was trying to reach.

My friend Skeptical Brotha, cynically referred to this period of the Obama campaign as "Amateur Hour", and I couldn't have agreed with him more.

Obama appears to have corrected that - just as the Borg Queen begins her own fumbling of her front-runner status.

Should the Borg Queen win - will there be a Cabinet position for loyalist Negroes like Magic? Create a government agency that provides oversight of professional sports, perhaps? I want to know what's in it for African-Americans like Magic Johnson, or, for that matter, half of the Congressional Black Caucus that have hitched your wagons to Hillary Clinton's campaign. You need to review just what the Clinton Administration did for people of ethnic background during the 1990s:

  • Gave us trade agreements that took your jobs out of the country (NAFTA & CAFTA);
  • Increased taxes on the working and middle-class;
  • Opened the door for media consolidation and monopoly (and probably gave birth to Pravda networks like Fox Network);
  • Dismantled any and all gains made by Civil Rights and Affirmative Action with that "Mend it, don't end it" shyt;
  • Refused to stand up like Harry S. Truman and further integrate the Armed Forces by allowing gay and lesbians to be open about their sexual identity, instead of hiding it with that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" shyt;
  • Pushed through all legislation that the ReThugs wanted that would screw over anyone else through cutbacks in social policies and programs;
  • Slung people like Joycelyn Elders and Lani Guinier under the bus because Oren Hatch whined about their positions on masturbation and affirmative action like a lil' byotch.
So, I want to know what's in it for you that support the Clintons when it's well documented that everytime he had the opportunity to do some real Field Negro stuff, he always choked and put away that honorary Negro card Toni Morrison gave him. Because his wife is no better on her track record either. You can find continuous votes to fund the mess in Iraq among her atrocities, and her recent attacks on Obama should wake all of us the hell up.

I'm on record about Obama - he has not articulated his policy platform well enough for me to co-sign. But whenever I see a brotha being attacked, as if, by virtue of being Mrs. William Jefferson Clinton, Hillary thinks she's entitled to the White House because she hitched her ambition wagon to Bill and suffered the public humiliation of being cheated on because her husband got a blow job in the Oval Office; well, what qualification for the job is that?

Magic Johnson - you can add him to the list of Rent-A-Negroes. I'm wondering who's going to be next, because you know, John Edwards is going to have to trot out a rental Negro, too.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007


The following is an exchange on one of my favorite blogs, Jack and Jill Politics:
The blog entry is entitled "What "Diana Ross and Mahogany can Teach Us about Oprah and Obama."
In case you weren't paying attention, the civil rights struggle migrated from politics to the board room sometime in the 1980s and 90s. An actual historian might be able to tell us why but perhaps it might have something to do with disillusionment and impatience that political power didn't translate as quickly into gains for ordinary African-Americans as climbing the corporate ladder as affirmative action began to open doors and fill wallets. The best and the brightest African-Americans seemed less interested in running for office or leading protests and more interested in leaping over loosened barriers to get Harvard MBAs and socially climb. Progressive meant sitting or speaking in all-white boardrooms and proving your intelligence and equality as many times as it took to get promoted.

To gain financial muscle, many leading African-Americans appeared to feel they had to cloak their political leanings behind a friendly, harmless smile. To appear as "safe Negroes", people like Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Al Roker and Jay-Z strove to show America that the most important color to them and other mercantile blacks was not black but green, baby. Whether you were conservative or liberal, white, black, brown, whatever -- you could love your favorite black celebrity/mogul without resentment or guilt. Even Queen Latifah and Whoopi Goldberg toned down their images to appear safer. The message was all about sameness and minimizing difference. At the same time, awed whites began to make jokes about how rich Oprah had become and blacks started worshiping at the alter of prosperity, reading books like "Girl, Get Your Money Straight!". Mercantile blacks had taken over.

That all started to change in reaction to the Bush Administration. It started in hip hop with Russell Simmons and the Hip Hop Political Summit and Sean "P.Diddy" Combs and his Vote or Die voter registration campaign. It was prima facie non-partisan but if your target audiences are young people and minorities, we all know the demographics are going to skew Democratic.

Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and Barack Obama of Illinois are a flashback to the optimism and determination of Billy Dee Williams. They represent the best and brightest that chose not to work for Merrill Lynch for example where they might make more money or become world-famous doctors like Ben Carson MD but take what many middle-class African-Americans would see as the riskier route of politics as their road to success.

What's different from the 60s and 70s is that their message is the hope of a brighter future not for African-Americans but for all Americans in their states no matter the color of their skin nor the size of their pocketbooks. They've taken the language of sameness pioneered by the mercantile blacks and have adopted it as a canny political strategy to cross socio-racial lines. They are the new Black Panthers, moving stealthily through the jungle of a new era.

What's different from the 70s is we may be on the verge of another alliance between mercantile blacks and political blacks. Oprah Winfrey has stepped out of the political shadows out of her neutral comfort zone to throw her voice and her money behind Barack Obama. She knows she may lose some of her audience and doesn't seem to care. She's willing to trade the The goals of mercantile blacks and political blacks are becoming re-aligned. In part out of desperation to push the people who have sent our relatives to maiming and death in Iraq out of office. This force -- last seen during the struggle for civil rights in the 1940s-60s -- is what drove incredible progress and prosperity in America and not only for African-Americans, dig. It introduced lasting change from which we continue to profit as a nation today.

I've been telling people not to sleep on the Oprah/Obama combination for almost a year now. We'll just have to see how powerful this force really is and what it might mean for the relationship between mercantile and political African-Americans in the new millennium.

What happens when the Black Crusaders meet the new Black Panthers -- watch out!
As part of the generation that was a child when Martin Luther King was killed, yet heard these Civil Rights war stories from my parents (who thought Jesse Jackson was nothing more than a hustler even back in the 60s), I saw the logic of Jill's arguments, but I've also dealt with the likes of Harold Ford, Jr., Artur Davis - those brothas on Capitol Hill who are 40 and under (in other words, my age or thereabouts) who should be able to both appreciate the Civil Rights vets, yet be savvy and respectful enough to not flat out diss their contributions by their willingness to collect a check from the corporat masters, hastily pick up their lanterns and take up their positions on the lawn, for their own personal gain.

So, before I decide if I'm going to comment or not, I find that my colleague, Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report, has his own ideas on the subject:

I would fundamentally disagree with the author's statement that “the struggle has “migrated” from the street to the board room,” though that's precisely the way some of the black faces in the board room like to tell it. More accurately, at the end of the sixties, the board room doors swung open for the few that were already prepared to enter. On their way in the door they turned around to the rest of us in the street. They assured us that this was the next phase of the struggle, that marching, boycotting, grassroots organizing, and nearly everything that violated the law was obsolete, to buy from Black businesses, and that they'd be back to tell us how to vote every year or two.

A second generation of conscienceless black politicos followed at their heels, folks like Greg Meeks of NY and Artur Davis of AL and of course Harold Ford of TN, whose crossover to the realm of shills for big business has been so thorough as to leave room for only the most cursory nod to the train that got them there, let alone the sacrifices of ordinary folks who laid the rails and what motivated them.

The ascendancy of Obama, Patrick and the rest is a kind of fork off that branch, a slicker and more privileged generation who seek to renew their legitimacy by cynically evoking the ghost of movements past to cloak the fact that they offer nothing of substance policy-wise that would line up with the goals of those movements. This generation of co-opted “black leadership” relies on a a compliant media and the absence of black radio news to keep its place in the front pew among black folks, at the same time it sends messages to whites assuring them that it has nothing to do with those loud black folks in the street who make them uncomfortable.

Thus Obama helped register a six figure number of Illinois voters in 1992, but as a senator would not stand up to oppose the disenfranchisement of Black voters in Ohio in 2005. Thus he is for “universal health care” but against single payer, which is the only practical way to achieve it. He is supposedly”the peace candidate”, but vows he will not bring home the troops till at least his second term in office, intends to add another 100,00 bodies to the military and has advocated bombing Iran and Pakistan to show how tough he is. Thus he campaigned against the Patriot Act when running for the US Senate, but voted for it once in office, and voted for so-called tort reform that keeps ordinary citizens from suing wealthy corporations.

The alliance with Oprah makes eminent good sense for Obama, whose career at this moment is now built on the endorsement of corporate media who sell for him the PR packaged personae --- the celebrity, the non-threatening Negro to some whites, the “Joshua generation” guy to some blacks. It's a marketing proposition that dovetails with the practice of a master marketer, like Oprah, and appeals to large parts of the same audience.

It must be said that the corporate mainstream media are not fools, and they do not boost the folks who work in OUR interest. They boost the candidates who work in THEIRS. If Barack has, in their pages and broadcasts, metamorphosed into their darling “rock star” he has indeed been anointed. Some baton has definitely been passed to him. And not by us.

Well, I have to say, since I've made my government career as a Civil Rights/EEO Specialist for the last 20 years, my sentiments are more with my colleague, but to Jill's credit, she made good points as well. Which is why I'm thanking both of you for writing my blog post today; you made it very easy.

The above discourse is proof that African-Americans are no longer a monolithic race and we should never have been approached in that way, be they Republicans or Democrats, because at this point, both parties are really two heads of the same snake, looking to strike for any thing that gives them the advantage. It's a mistake the Borg Queen (aka Hillary Clinton) is making at this very point in her campaign, when she had front-runner status before she even declared her candidacy.

If her campaign had only spent $3.00 to rent an old DVD of "Mahogany" instead of James Carville trying to bust his best KKKarl Rove impersonation, we'd still have respect for her, and we'd return to asking Obama to prove himself. The fact that no politician, not even John Edwards, has bothered to take their "Mahogany" class on how to approach African-Americans as a voting block, will all be to their detriment.

We have clout. It's way past time we acted like it, especially on the journey of political influcence.

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