Sacramento Bee, Diana Griego Erwin, "Shaq's 'apology' for racist barb at NBA foe Yao doesn't measure up"
[...] O'Neal also taunted Irwin Tang, the author of the Asian Week piece that called O'Neal out, saying Tang was a person who "just doesn't have a sense of humor, like I do."

A typical defensive tack. What is he really saying here? That mocking Chinese people is funny and the rest of us just don't get it? [...]

[...] According to the Los Angeles Times, O'Neal sat in the locker room after Friday's game with a recorder pressed to his ear, saying "toy-inchee" over and over. "Chinese for 'I'm sorry,' for when I see Yao Ming," he told reporters. Laugh it up, O'Neal.

Unfortunately, "toy-inchee" is a Cantonese apology. Ming speaks Mandarin.
UC Berkeley professor John McWhorter is wrong in Suzy Hansen's "Another shade of black" -- short-sighted and facile, if not disingenuous; stacking a fact here and a hopeful thought there and a pop-culture reference nearby and calling it a response. Sure, you can be a wiseguy and reply, "Well, damn, George, isn't that your M.O., isn't that what you yourself do? What do you want, credit?" No. I want to understand what I don't like there and also here, in his recent take on race distinctions as one of last year's overrated ideas.
My take on this year starts with mice. We have learned that only 1 percent of our genome diverges from a mouse's. With only 300 genes distinguishing us from tiny, mute, artless vermin, the triviality of racial distinctions becomes clear.

This year America has been full of signs that we are realizing this in our hearts and getting past race. White supremacists staged a rally in York, Pa., in January, only to be outshone by a 400-strong interracial "unity rally."

Interracial relationships are on the rise; increasing numbers of caf�-au-lait Americans will soon find the question "What race are you?" as yesterday as Harry Belafonte calling Colin Powell a "house slave" sounded in October.

The black Congressional incumbents Cynthia A. McKinney and Earl F. Hilliard, questioning the "blackness" of their opponents, were defeated. The Bond and Austin Powers girls were black.

We're not there yet � but we don't have as long to go as we're often told.
L.A. Times, Erika Hayasaki, "Reading, 'Riting and Rap"
[...] Nancy Brodsky, 23, a teacher at Samuel Gompers Vocational Technical High School in New York's South Bronx, has her ninth-grade students listen to a song by Dead Prez before reading George Orwell's 1945 fable "Animal Farm," the classic commentary on the Russian Revolution.

The rap song "Animal in Man" is based on Orwell's use of animals to represent figures such as Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. In both works, a group of pigs seizes power on a farm and turns on the other animals. The creatures then revolt against the boss pig, Hannibal.

The last verse in the Dead Prez song says:

They took his tongue out of his mouth.
And cut his body up for sale, for real.
You better listen while you can.
It's a very thin line between animal and man.

When Hannibal crossed the line, they all took a stand.
What would you have done? Shook his hand?
This is the animal in man.

Good work, Nancy.


A competitor for Black Entertainment Television? Krissah Williams at the Washington Post says one's on the way by the middle of this year from Radio One. I can't wait to see it -- not that the prospect of a 24-hour news-and-entertainment channel is enough to get A. and I paying a local cable provider again, or (d'oh!) that said local cable provider where we're moving at month's end is likely to carry it.

Doc catches a Case and praises two favorite news organizations from Ol' Blighty.




MLK Jr. Boulevard, Newark, N.J., Sept. 15, 2001

Miami Herald, Audra D.S. Burch, "'The main streets of black America': Blacks find pride in streets named after King"

N.Y. Times, Jane Gross, "Studying Race, Privilege and Intellectual Levels"

Orlando Sentinel, Kelly Brewington and Stephanie Erickson, "Historic black towns struggle to survive" (with picture gallery)

Raleigh News & Observer, Vicki Lee Parker, "Beyond black and white"

Guardian UK, Hannah Pool, "The new black"

The Town Talk (Alexandria, La.), Eugene Southerland, "Interracial marriages"
Observer UK, Emily Yoffe, "Bridge of Sighs"
[...] Twenty-one years ago, Air Florida Flight 90, on its way from Washington National Airport to Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, crashed seconds after takeoff, its wings frosted with snow and ice. As the Boeing 737 hit the 14th Street Bridge, it sheared the tops off cars stuck in a traffic jam caused by the storm. On the plane, 74 people died, including three babies; and four people were killed in their cars. There were only five survivors. Television crews filmed them as they waited almost half an hour in the ice-filled water to be rescued, hanging on to debris from the plane. A young office assistant for a government agency, Lenny Skutnik, briefly became famous when he dived into the river and, on national television, saved a woman who was about to drown. [...]

At age 10 and a half, this was hugely frightening. I'd flown on a plane twice before. The first time was to Florida, most likely Walt Disney World. We must have flown down from Washington on Eastern Airlines. I remember coming back with a toy Eastern plane. All that stuck with me was the then-impending Epcot center, which I might have confused with a trip later that year when my family wound up going to see the World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee, with its geodesic-sphere-topped building that, I thought, was What The Future Is Going To Be Like.


Aaron 8Legs' Grandma Duck is no longer in any pain. Godspeed and Ashé, ashé, ashé.

Bad Subjects, Elizabeth Hurst, "Speaking My Conscience" (via wood s lot)

WampumBlog notices the Washington Times' "Fighting Whites inspire imitators" as well as a little vaccine manufacturer accountability.

Jason Toney's written his first article for Vibe.

Ralph Nader will guest-host on Monday's CNN "Crossfire"? Can't wait!

Guardian UK, Estelle Addley, "Faking It"
[...] "All I know from the men I've ever spoken to is that they like girls to have an arse on them," she tells GQ, "so why is it that women think that in order to be adored they have to be thin? Very thin?" [...]

*sigh* Now is the Winslet of my digital discontent.

In between episodes of running into A., Joe Pennant got to check out the People's Republic of Berkeley's civic proceedings.

I owe Adrienne many thanks for lacing me recently with largesse.

I have a feeling I'm going to want to PayPal a few sawbucks to Cory Doctorow after I finish "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom."

Jacked from Cheek: the Global Consciousness Project.

Freaky Trigger Christmas Joke. You'll laugh 'til all is quiet on New Year's Day. (via Intervention Magazine), Frederick Sweet, "Green Party 'Terrorists'" (via David Grenier)
[...] At one point during his interrogation, Stuber asked if they really believed the Greens were equal to al Qaeda. Then they showed him a Justice Department document that actually shows the Greens as likely terrorists � just as likely as al Qaeda members. [...]
Washington Post, Adam Bernstein, "Mamie Till-Mobley; Civil Rights Figure" and Donna Britt, "One Woman's Unending Pain; Another's Silence" and Miami Herald, Leonard Pitts Jr., "Open casket opened eyes"




George Lucas, digitize this! Alex Golub's "My Weekend with," Vols. 1, 2, 3, 4 and (finally!) 5.
N.Y. Times, Guy Trebay, "Bring On the Clowns: Goofy Today, In Stores Tomorrow"
[...] the distinction between clothes produced for the runways and those designed for the tanbark is no longer sharp. It is not merely a matter of fashion don'ts becoming must-haves, of consumers being encouraged to flout the conventions that once forbade wearing plaids with stripes. Rather it is that markers of minority, and often outsider, cultures (drag queens, performance artists, clowns) have been taken up by fashion, which has carried them to the mainstream. A half-century ago dreadlocks would never have been encountered outside a sideshow tent or the hills of Jamaica. These days you would be hard pressed to avoid them on a college campus or, for that matter, on catwalks in New York and Milan. [...]

Note to Trebay: Go buy a copy of Outkast's "The Whole World" and Common's "Electric Circus," and don't mock the 'locks.

L.A. Times, Tina Daunt and Jill Leovy, "LAPD Offers 1st Data on Traffic Stops"
The Los Angeles Police Department stops members of different racial groups in numbers roughly proportional to their share of the population, but blacks and Latinos are far more likely than whites to be removed from their cars, patted down or searched, according to a study released Monday.

The data, from July through November of last year, were the first statistics publicly released as part of a federal consent decree that requires the department to collect information to determine whether officers engage in racial discrimination.

Among the findings: Thirty-eight percent of drivers stopped by police were recorded as Latino, 33% were white and 18% black. According to the 2000 Census, the city's population is 46.5% Latino, 29.7% white and 10.9% African American.

Of those pulled over, 7% of whites were asked to step out of their cars, compared with 22% of Latinos and 22% of blacks. Once out of their cars, 67% of the blacks were patted down and 85% were subjected to a search of their person, car, residence or belongings, while 55% of Latinos were frisked and 84% were searched. Meanwhile, 50% of whites were frisked and 71% were searched.

Information on pedestrian stops revealed a similar pattern of blacks and Latinos being patted down and subjected to searches more often than whites. [...]

[...] Jack Riley, director of the Rand Institute's public safety and justice program, concurred.

"It's easy to measure the number of people who have been stopped and ticketed," Riley said. "But what's harder ... is then drawing conclusions about when police behavior is disproportionate."

Researchers have struggled to determine the baseline against which to compare data on traffic stops, Riley said. Population statistics are not enough, he said. Researchers must consider not just how many motorists live in an area, but also when and where they drive.

"It is very hard to get good information on people's driving habits and patterns without enormous investment in measuring," Riley said. "There are literally tens of thousands of intersections in L.A., not to mention miles of streets. All those people driving on them are potentially committing driving violations. You have to got to understand what they are doing."

In addition, he said, analyzing the data properly requires adjusting for factors such as the level of crime in a given area and the number of calls for service, which may affect how many officers are deployed there.

The racial makeup of people on parole and probation also matters, Riley said, because "if you are on probation or parole, police have a presumptive right to stop and search you and question you. That's part of appropriate, proactive policing." Given the difficulties, said Riley, who is helping to analyze data for the Oakland Police Department, "I'm not convinced that looking at this kind of stuff is very useful. I don't think it gives a police department a strong tool for understanding how to do their job better." [...]

Bonus round: The study (PDF; 3.2 MB)

Funny where you find a birthday girl when you bother to look for her -- even right down the street from our apartment, according to Carolyn Jones' "Putting the art in BART"
The metal panel, which was installed two weeks ago in front of De Lauer's news stand on Broadway, is called "Their Eyes Were Watching God," from the Zora Neale Hurston novel. It features a central area adorned with eyes glancing expectantly in different directions, surrounded by a representation of the Oakland hills.

Bates said: "It's supposed to suggest that something is about to happen, something is about to be born, and you never know what you're going to get." [...]

And then there's the play, the stamps (coming Jan. 24) and those new biographies.

Bit of a contrary spirit, though, eh?, Susan Larson, "Wrapped in Rainbows"

[...] And there is the complete text of her letter to the Orlando Sentinel decrying the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. "How much satisfaction can I get from a court order for somebody to associate with me who does not wish me near them? . . . I can see no tragedy in being too dark to be invited to a white school social affair." [...]

San Francisco Chronicle, Nia-Malika Henderson, "Her own muse"

In the fall of 1939, when noted folklorist and writer Zora Neale Hurston began her tenure at the North Carolina College for Negroes in Durham, an all-white theater group from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill invited her to present her plans for creating a Negro folk theater and a drama department. And, as was often the case, Hurston began her talk with a colorful story: While she was driving to the segregated campus in her convertible, a university student yelled out to Hurston, "Hi, nigger." Not content to have anything other than the last word, she replied, "Hi, freshman!"

While it is impossible to know whether or not the audience understood that Hurston's joke was on their closely held Southern mores, many were undoubtedly taken aback by the thought of a colored woman driving a car, and a convertible no less. And surely in recounting an ordinary racist exchange, and recasting it as a joke, Hurston was again setting herself up as a fiercely independent thinker on matters of race. At a time when black artists like Richard Wright and Billie Holiday were concerned with lynchings, Zora Neale Hurston was making a race joke in the hotbed of the South. For anyone who had read her 1928 essay "How It Feels to Be Colored Me," where Hurston insisted that she wanted no part of "the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it," her flippancy was no surprise. [...]

Bonus round: "Mules and Men" and Village Voice, A.J. Verdelle, "The Largesse of Zora Neale Hurston"


Los Angeles Times, Tim Rutten, "African-Americans at the top: Where is coverage and context?" (via Romenesko's Media News)
[...] Maybe these individual achievements don't add up to what one would hope. When you connect the dots, you don't get a picture that signifies the end of social discrimination in these strikingly individual successes. Maybe the dots are still too widely separated by the divisions of class and race that continue to exist."

Republicans need to take this to heart. I'm hopeful, but I don't expect context on prominent blacks; one of the reasons I blog the way I do is to take that on. I haven't been all that disappointed. There's little context in stories about Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. They're George W. Bush's living proof that his administration is inclusive; they come off like "air quotes." Their presence lets people stop thinking about issues of race and class, but it doesn't stop those issues from being germane. They'll still be the elephants in the room, even (and especially) if William Rehnquist's retirement should elevate Justice Clarence Thomas (or White House counsel Alberto Gonzales) to the Supreme Court's top spot, or if a path is somehow cleared for Rice to become (notice how I don't say which) Bush's vice president. It's trompe l'oeuil "affirmative access." It's power, not representation (skim Gary Younge's "Always in the shadows").

[...] Notwithstanding the casual, culturally ingrained bigotry that emanates from Conservative party associations, the right embraces equality to the extent that it believes everyone should have the right to exploit anyone else. It seeks neither to redress the imbalances of the past, nor to address the lack of opportunities of the present. So when it promotes minorities and women it promotes only individuals. Those who emerge under its banner do so free from the baggage of history and community. And since they are travelling light they can also, when the opportunity arises, travel fast. [...]

You could argue that this is less of a factor for Chennault, O'Neal, Raines and Parsons (at least two of whom I've seen lauded this year, even if Rutten hasn't, on the cover of Black Enterprise as recently as this year).

African American Publications, "Richard Dean Parsons"

[...] "There are a number of other black executives who have elevated positions in corporate America," said Parsons in Black Enterprise. "The process is rolling forward, even if it isn't moving as fast as some of us would like." Despite his distinction as a high-ranking black in business, Parsons downplays the racial aspects of his success. He has claimed that race was never a "defining character" in his life. "I don't do anything differently than I would otherwise because I have that responsibility to my family," he told the New York Times in 1994. "Whether I was an African-American, an Arab- American, a Jewish-American, or some other American, there are a lot of people who I cannot let down, so you have to live your life a certain way to be a role model to the people who are important to you."

You could argue it. For now, I won't.

Bonus round: Billy Cheng (with "In the Black" author Gregory S. Bell), BW Online, "A Slow Walk Up Wall Street for Blacks"

[...] I don't think any community looks down on an African American for simply for choosing to work on Wall Street. I think they only look down on successful African Americans if they have made it on Wall Street but fail to use that knowledge and other power to give back to the community. So I think that today, it is not the act of going to Wall Street that people examine, but rather what one does after achieving success in the business, and if that success is used to help others. [...]
Ack. What did I learn at work today? I drop handled compliments like they're hot. To top it off, I've become The Guy Who Overtalks at Meetings. (Stop me before I cut in again! My specialties, you ask? Going that extra mile for the only-funny-to-myself pun, and the reanimation of disputes both Minor and Previously, inna von Franken-schteen stylee.) And the day's not even over yet. So glad it's Friday. Never needed a weekend more.


'So What,' by John Szwed
Sometime in late 1947, Miles was stopped one evening on 52nd Street by a thin white man in a cap and workers' clothes. Miles had seen him in the clubs, munching salted radishes from a paper bag. What he wanted from Miles was permission to make a big band arrangement of "Donna Lee." He was Gil Evans, an arranger for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra. [...]
Associated Press, Jets 41, Colts 0
[...] This was the first NFL playoff game featuring two black head coaches. The Colts' Tony Dungy and the Jets' Edwards, longtime friends, are the only black head coaches in the league. Edwards spent five seasons as Dungy's top assistant in Tampa before becoming the Jets' coach in 2001.

The student came out on top of the mentor because his offense was unstoppable, his defense stingy and his special teams dominant.

"I'm just thankful for our friendship and the chance he gave me to stand here and be a head coach," Edwards said.

Dungy said he'll be rooting for Edwards' team the rest of the way.

"They played awfully well and made us look awfully bad," said Dungy, who took Indianapolis from 6-10 to 10-6 in his first season after being fired by the Bucs.


Kevin Young, "Mrs. B and Me," "Urgent Telegram to Jean-Michael Basquiat," "Satchmo," "Eddie Priest's Barbershop & Notary," "Langston Hughes" "Negative" and "King Zulu."

Oh, and a preface to the screenplay for Hal Hartley's "Flirt" that makes me want to see it again. (The movie, not Hal Hartley.)
Guardian UK, Benjamin Kang Lim, "More work, less sex, Chinese told"

Washington Post, Peter S. Goodman, "Sex Trade Thrives in China"
Weekend reading, filtered through the hazy memory of a few PBS Empires series episodes on Queen Victoria, is most likely Michael Ignatieff's New York Times Magazine cover story "The Burden" (mm-mmmm, not just for white men anymore!) and "The forefathers of imperialism," Walter Russell Mead's Los Angeles Times review of Walter Zimmerman's "First Great Triumph."
C.'s e-mailed love tap (via her Daily Dose e-mail list) about "Stakes is High" led me to this week's The Nation cover story, Ann Powers' "The Power of Music" forum with Boots Riley, Carrie Brownstein, Amy Ray, Eddie Vedder and Tom Morello:
[...] You are a historical agent. History is not something that has happened in the past and that is made up of names and dates and places of kings and generals, history is what you make in your home, in your place of work, in the streets, in your community and in the world and your actions -- your actions or your inaction is directly affecting the fate of the world that you live in and should be treated with that gravity. [...]


Contra Costa Times, Daniel Borenstein, "GOP's state vice chairman in hot water"
A leading candidate in the upcoming race for chairman of the California Republican Party distributed an article suggesting the nation would have been better off if the South had won the Civil War.

The article was included in a 1999 e-mail newsletter that state GOP Vice Chairman Bill Back sent to party members. It was written by Bill Lind, director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism, an arm of the right-wing Free Congress Foundation.

"Given how bad things have gotten in the old U.S.A., it's not hard to believe that history might have taken a better turn," Lind wrote. "... The real damage to race relations in the South came not from slavery, but from Reconstruction, which would not have occurred if the South had won." [...]

[...] Shannon Reeves of Oakland, state party secretary and the only African-American member of the state GOP executive committee, was outraged.

"There's no room for bigotry in the Republican Party and I don't think there's a lot of room in the Republican Party for people who distribute bigoted information," Reeves said. "What's appalling is to have the vice chair of the Republican Party distribute this and act like I just sent it around to kick up discussion. I absolutely reject that notion."

Reeves said he was not supporting either of the two candidates for party chairman. But he added that Back has resisted his efforts to bring party activities to Oakland and reach out to African-Americans.

"I wonder, does the African-American community have any value to the leadership of the party when leaders send out something like this, not considering at all this would be offensive?" Reeves asked.

"On the outside, when I go home, I'm called the Uncle Tom sellout black Republican. But when you get people like this, it just sets me back from the work I'm trying to do."[...]

Also useful: California Republican Party profiles on Back and Reeves.

Predictions from textism and The Daily Kos.
S.F. Weekly, Darren Keaster, "Preaching to the Unconverted"
[...] "When someone gets beat with a bat, that's not cool, but [neither is] violating someone's personal space. ... If motherfuckers would have came in on me, they would have got they ass whupped too, straight up and down. I definitely wouldn't have taken a bat and tried to kill somebody over it, but the point would have been made." [...]

Last thing in the world I thought I'd see is a Morehouse grad named Martin Luther going out like that over that foul beatdown incident last semester. I didn't have to take anything but soap, a washcloth and shower shoes during the fall semester of '89 I spent living at Holmes Hall. Try making your point nonviolently, M.L., with a rapier wit, sense of self-possession and a lack of fear, for yours and your brothers' and sisters' sake.

UPDATE: The Prime One's Mike points to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's "Gays feel left out of Morehouse brotherhood"

Guardian UK, Val Wilmer, "Obituary: Clare Deniz"
[...] As a black woman moving in snobbish circles, Deniz swiftly recognised the need to comport herself with dignity; she had stylish dresses and tailored costumes made for her, and bought the best accessories she could afford. Such behaviour was important for black artists establishing themselves in prewar days, but, although she was seen by some as a fashionable adjunct to her husband, as a pianist she frequently worked more than Frank, the guitar being an optional instrument. [...]

Guardian UK, Stuart Jeffries, "The black Dvorak"

[...] Why have there been so few black classical composers? Musicologist Samuel A Floyd asks this question in his impressive book The Power of Black Music (OUP), and gives two answers: "First, emerging from slavery only in the 1860s, significant numbers of African-Americans were barred from majority-culture musical institutions and, consequently, were generally prohibited from learning and internalising the behaviours, myths and rituals associated with concert-hall practices. Second, many African-American composers ignored or rejected the myths and rituals of their own culture, making impossible the fusing of their traditional myths with the rituals of the concert hall."

Both of Floyd's points suggest that a better question might be: why have there been so many black classical composers? It's a thorny one, embracing such tricky but gripping sub-questions as: was Beethoven black, and if so does it matter?

Does the fact that Haydn was known as the Moor suggest that he could be black too, and if so, should we re-evaluate his work? Do black jazz composers such as Duke Ellington (who wrote suites, serenades and other classical-sounding stuff) and Scott Joplin (who composed an opera) count, and if not why not? [...]

Guardian UK, Alexis Petridis, 'I hope your ears don't bleed'

[...] Worried that if I just sit around my flat listening to Throbbing Gristle all day, I might start baying myself, I venture outside. This proves to be the biggest error of judgment I have made since embarking on the project in the first place. It's difficult to know exactly what would be the ideal activity to engage in while Throbbing Gristle provide the soundtrack. But I can reveal that shopping in central London is not among them. A journey by Tube is even more like a descent into some netherworld of the damned than usual. The heaving crowds of Oxford Street, nerve-jangling at the best of times, are rendered nightmarish.

I stand it until about 4pm: less than halfway through my 24-hour marathon. Aware I am regarding my fellow shoppers with bulging eyes and am in danger of developing a twitch, I rip off my headphones. I am unprepared for what happens next. My ears are assaulted by the most appalling noise I have heard all day: children screaming, couples arguing, teenage girls bawling at each other, buskers playing tinny carols and, underpinning it all, Cliff Richard's Mistletoe and Wine. I replace my headphones. [...]


A. and I gave notice at our building. We're moving to downtown Walnut Creek, 94596 by month's end.
San Jose Mercury News, Matthai Chakko Kuruvila and T.T. Nhu, "Multiethnic multiplex in Fremont will close"

The owner's shutting down the one where A. and I went to see "Hello Brother" the day we got married. Thank goodness the Gateway Plaza Naz8 (conveniently across from Fremont's BART station) will stay open.


Rabbit, rabbit. *

L.A. Times, Brian Lowry, "King Stern's legacy: He launched the raunch"
[...] The only aspect of Stern's act that hasn't been widely co-opted is the most distasteful -- namely, the not-so-subtle racism that peppers his show, from "Black Jeopardy" to the jibes directed at sidekick Robin Quivers during his recent "world's meanest listener" contest. Then again, to the extent such material reflects pandering to a sub-lowest-common-denominator segment of the audience, there are clearly plenty of indirect parallels elsewhere in the media. [...]

Just one reason I don't listen.


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