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“You did it my ni**a!”

The April 30th, 2016 White House Correspondent’s Dinner, also playfully known as #nerdprom, highlighted several key milestones for President Obama. Since 2009, he has been bringing the funny to this historic event, and last night he was his usual funny self. At this social gathering, often looked to as the “night off” for journalists and their guests, President Obama, in all of his basketball enthusiasm, took a line from Kobe Bryant when he closed his last White House Correspondent’s Dinner with “Obama out!” and dropped the mic.

Larry Wilmore, comedian and host of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, had a really hard act to follow.. After President Obama, Wilmore found other targets rather than the usual suspect—Donald Trump—he turned a good portion of this jokes to Ted Cruz as the Zodiac Killer, he sprinkled in some Trump jokes and he lambasted MSNBC, which he said, “actually now stands for ‘missing a significant number of Black correspondents.’” for getting rid of too many of its Black journalists. He was honest and he was funny.

Wilmore ended his speech and the correspondent’s dinner praising President Obama in a serious and sobering moment that allowed all of us to reflect on what Obama’s presidency actually really means. Wilmore said, “All jokes aside, let me

(Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)  President Barack Obama speaks during the White House Correspondents' Association annual dinner on April 30, 2016 at the Washington Hilton hotel in Washington, DC.

(Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama speaks during the White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner on April 30, 2016 at the Washington Hilton hotel in Washington, DC.

just say how much it means for me to be here tonight.” He added, “I’ve always joked that I voted for the president because he’s Black. But, behind that joke is the humble appreciation for the historical implications for what your presidency means.” Wilmore continued, “When I was a kid, I lived in a country where people couldn’t accept a Black quarterback. Now think about that. A Black man was thought by his mere color not good enough to lead a football team. And now to live in your time, Mr. President, when a Black man can lead the entire free world.” After the applause ended, he concluded by saying, “Words alone do me no justice. So, Mr. President, if I’m going to keep it 100,” the cliffhanging line he let dangle in the air of the moment as he did the pre-dap* chest pound, he ended with, “Yo, Barry, you did it, my nigga! You did it.”

Did he just say that? Turn the camera to President Obama, quick! I have to see his reaction!

President Obama showed all of his teeth and received Larry Wilmore’s sentiment by returning the chest pound and the dap*.


The one word that has polarized this nation since its race-infused beginning was delivered by Larry Wilmore to President Obama and received by the president in exactly the way in which it was understood between two Black men—two Black men who I know understand the ugly and vile manner that it has possibly been directed to them whereas, when delivered between the two of them, it is akin to love and acceptance.

The uncomfortableness of the moment, I felt. I knew that white privilege would have a hard time digesting what Wilmore said for many reasons: the fact that historically whenever Black men and people have been called “nigga” it has always been in the most disgusting, humiliating and dehumanizing ways, and because it was viewed as disrespectful to all of America to refer to the President in that manner especially for the world to hear. I understood the uncomfortableness.

But, I also understood what Larry Wilmore meant, especially when he prefaced his closing to President Obama by talking about the historical implications of an Obama presidency. I feel that Larry Wilmore was attempting to send a message to the masses, who in their anger and in the privacy of their minds and home may have defaulted to using that very same word to denigrate President Obama. But, not on this night. In the lexicon of Black vernacular, the most disgusting word in the world was the bond and the bridge of familiarity connecting Wilmore and Obama in the Black [American] experience that has been produced as a result of America’s unyielding system of white supremacy.

For some words, they will never really be “beautiful” or “positive,” and they will carry a double standard in which some groups will understand its “necessary” use. And, other groups will forever be linked to the uncomfortableness of it.

*a dap is the cool way in which Black men greet one another that involves the use of handshakes and embraces–now it is a universal greeting.

Solving America’s Race Crisis According to James Baldwin

I believe the solution to America’s problem of race is somewhere in between Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Baldwin—Suns of [the] movements—and what white people must finally acknowledge and ultimately accept.

Today in 2015, America is at a racial crossroads. As I type this entry, Black churches are up in flames in different places throughout South Carolina, less than one week before this post, President Barack Obama eulogized the pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Pastor Clementa Pinckney, as he and 8 other parishioners lost their lives as a result of a racist, 21-year old gunman who opened fire during a Wednesday night prayer circle in Charleston, South Carolina.  In a little less than two weeks from the time of this post, members of the Ku Klux Klan will march in solidarity against the removal of the Confederate Flag from South Carolina’s State Capitol Building.

It’s 2015.

On June 24th, 1963, City College Psychology Professor Dr. Kenneth Clark, in separate interviews, brought three of the most brilliant contempory minds the world has ever seen to discuss the race crisis in America. This one-hour special program was called, “The Negro and the American Promise.”

When opening the program, Dr. Clark offered the following to stimulate the viewers’ minds for the intellectual treats of Malcolm X, King, and Baldwin:

“By all meaningful indices, the Negro is still, and unquestionably, the downtrodden, disparaged group, and for a long time was systematically deprived of his dignity as a human being. The major indictment of our democracy is that this is being done with the knowledge and at times with the connivance of responsible, moderate people who are not overtly bigots or segregationists.

We have now come to the point where there are only two ways that America can avoid the continued racial explosions. One would be total oppression. The other, total equality. There is no compromise.”

Both Dr. Clark and Baldwin believed the future of Blacks and the future of America were linked–Baldwin said they were, “indissoluble.” When asked whether he was pessimistic or optimistic about this future, this is in part how James Baldwin responded.

“But the future of the Negro in this country is precisely as bright or as dark as the future of the country. It is entirely up to the American people and our representatives — it is entirely up to the American people whether or not they are going to face, and deal with, and embrace this stranger whom they maligned so long.
What white people have to do, is try and find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place, because I’m not a nigger, I’m a man, but if you think I’m a nigger, it means you need it.
The question you have got to ask yourself–the white population of this country has got to ask itself — North and South, because it’s one country, and for a Negro, there’s no difference between the North and South. There’s just a difference in the way they castrate you. But the fact of the castration is the American fact. If I’m not a nigger here and you invented him, you, the white people, invented him, then you’ve got to find out why. And the future of the country depends on that. Whether or not it’s able to ask that question.”

For the full text and footage of James Baldwin’s interview with Dr. Kenneth Clark, click here

Race: Medium, Rare or Well-Done, Still Hard to Digest, Pt. 1 

“This assumption that of all the hues of God, whiteness alone is inherently and obviously better than brownness or tan leads to curious acts…” Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, “The Souls of White Folk,” from Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil (1920)

Toure's BookIn 2012, MSNBC’s The Cycle co-host, Toure, explored the issue of race right on the heels of President Obama’s reelection in his book, Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness: What it Means to be Black Now.

In the midst of the latest rash of race-induced headlining stories, two more questions come to mind:

1). What does it mean to be racist in America?

2). Why is race still so hard to digest?


We have not even begun to make that journey.

On April 22nd, 2014 the Supreme Court supported the voters of Michigan by upholding a ban on affirmativesupreme court justices action in the state, specifically as race is used as a factor for admitting students to the University of Michigan. Justice Sotomayor, appointed by President Obama, was one of two justices (Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg joined her) who voted against the Supreme Court decision.  In her now much referred to 58-page dissenting opinion, Justice Sotomayor pointed out that white graduates of public Michigan institutions could still exercise the privilege of lobbying the admissions board to garner acceptance for other relatives into the school; thus, they can use a “legacy” policy of admissions.  Black students, especially ones never having any relatives who have ever attended college before, will not be so fortunate.

And so I began thinking about what would happen to students whose race was “detectable” by their names.  And, would these same students also be denied entry because an admissions counselor had these special “race discerning” powers just by reading the name on the application?

Out of my own curiosity, I presented my students with a role play / scenario to see if they could determine the race of a person based on the person’s name.  In a hypothetical, in-class assignment, I had my students pretend to be a panel of admissions counselors with the sole responsibility of admitting students to our make-believe school, but they could not consider the student’s race.

Hmmm…But, would they?

They were charged with developing our made-up Freshman class from the applicants presented.  While I didn’t disclose any of the racial demographics with my students, they did as I assumed they would–associated the names they considered Black and/ or “ghetto” with a Black person, gave a ‘white’ designation to names that they argued a white person would have, and assigned “other” to names that appeared to be of Arabic, Asian and/or Hispanic descent.

College ApplicationSurprisingly however, my students naturally capped the number of perceived Blacks they admitted despite the applicants’ qualifications.  And, they were far more lenient with the spaces given to white and Other students arguing their attempt to create a “diverse environment.”

This is what racism does.  It forces those that have been disenfranchised to self-impose limitations.  It makes the targets of its practice justify why racism may not be happening when clearly the effects of the actions imposed by the dominant, ruling class suggest that racism is the only plausible explanation.

While watching my students continue with this assignment, it was clear to me that Professor Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, Constitutional Law Professor at John Jay College, was right to coin the Supreme Court’s Schuette vs. Coalition of Defend the Affirmative Action ruling a ‘Supreme Flaw.’ in the New York Amsterdam News, Vol. 105, No.17.

Our world has evolved in ways I am certain earlier Neolithic people never imagined. The idea of race is already a baffling enough construct. Add to that the notion that we still have not reached a place where it can be discussed genuinely and meaningfully there is no wonder it appears we are all suffering from indigestion.

We could all use a little bit of relief.

Standing on Bones, Part 1

Today, August 20th, 2013 is an Anniversary that we never acknowledge. For the capitalist it could easily be marked, “Reversal of Fortune” Day.  For the humanitarian, however, it is easily marked “The Day the Oracle[1] Bones Spoke.” jamestown slave tradeOn this day the first Africans were kidnapped by British pirates in the Atlantic Ocean, and brought to Jamestown, Virginia—to be enslaved in the Western Hemisphere’s enterprising system of chattel slavery, the system that bound persons in servitude as the property of a slaveholder or household, primarily for economic gain.

Today is for them.  There were 19 in total coming from the Congo and Angola in Africa. We have forgotten them. But we must remember who we are and not the label Europeans used to identify what we were while pursuing their interests.  

Today and forever we stand on their bones, not just their shoulders. We stand in their light, not in their darkness. We are their reflections; and, they are not simply a part of our past.  We are their children, the “posterity” the Preamble refers to—we are their future generations and we have inherited their same resilience, intelligence, and honor. But, we have to remember who we are.

On the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, we will walk the same paths our ancestors walked, molding our feet to match the imprints of their footsteps. And, for the [Community] Organizers of the March on Washington of 1963, they walked the same petrified paths of those that came before them where the footprints are no longer visible, but where bones lie underneath the protected Earth to be returned to a forgiving universe and the comfort of the Almighty’s spirit.

Every question we have about the challenges we face has already been answered by our ancestors if we just remember who we are and acknowledge that we stand on their bones.

Did You Know?

The largest maximum security prison in the United States is called the Louisiana State Penitentiary, formerly known as Angola. Check out this article: http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2013/07/angola_prison_conditions_inhum.html

The African Burial Ground is a great place to visit to learn more about the discovery of a cemetery of enslaved men, women, and children in the Wall Street section of New York City. For more information or to visit, go to www.nps.gov/afbg/.  There is also an African burial ground in Portsmouth, NH that you should check out: http://www.africanburyinggroundnh.org/

You can learn more about the Jamestown, VA slave trade from this 2006 article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/02/AR2006090201097_2.html

[1]  Oracle Bones were used by the Ancient Chinese as a way to communicate with the ancestors. They were inscribed with questions that would later be revealed as answers once the oracle bones were heated and inspected.

READ —> Rinku Sen: The Racist Mind

Ever since the Trayvon Martin tragedy happened, I have been consumed with articles about race that have either been “discovered” by me or ones that I have strolled upon in van_jones_header_1my Twitter time line. The article that is the subject of this post appeared in my time line courtesy of Van Jones (@VanJones68). You must know who he is; he wrote the best seller: Green Collar Economy. He is also the President and Co-Founder of Rebuild the Dream, an organization focused on helping people to help fix our economy using various innovations. In addition, he attended Yale Law School, and he is a [good-looking] Black man.

What intrigued me most about this article is the role that science, according to this article, plays in how race is understood, carried out and applied in our daily lives. EveryZimmerman Trial Enters Jury Dissertation Phase article I have read has given some sort of excuse for the stain of racism–I have read history, socio-economic, and now scientific explanations. And, the biggest thing is that they are all viable explanations.

Click on the link BELOW and please READ THIS ARTICLE.


The Mis-Education of Mark Judge

On Monday April 9th, 2012, author Mark Judge published an article in the Daily Caller called “The End of My White Guilt,” in which he discussed how he was delivered from this affliction carried by white people as a result of past injustices inflicted on various groups, especially African Americans, as a result of racism. On Good Friday, Mr. Judge’s bicycle was stolen while he was observing a Pre-Easter celebration at that National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  Aside from the sense of violation one experiences when personal property is taken, it was the symbolism and purpose for why he had purchased the bike in the first place that fueled his fury and led to his declaration of no longer carrying white guilt; in 2008, Mark Judge was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and, according to doctor’s orders, exercise would help him to strengthen his body due to the nerve damage he’d experienced from the chemotherapy. The bicycle was his strengthening apparatus.

Mr. Judge, I felt terribly sorry that someone would take your “sharp silver-blue hybrid” bicycle “from L.L. Bean.”  After all, it provided you with prime parking spaces, the chance to soak up historic Washington, DC, and catch breath-taking views of the cherry blossoms; most importantly, it represented a symbol of recovery due to your battle with cancer. After having loss my favorite uncle to a dreaded battle with cancer, I know too well the pain in not being able to triumph over illness. And, for your recovery, I rejoiced with you!  On the other hand, I did not celebrate your public confession of no longer owning “white guilt.”  For all of the years you “owned” it prior to April 6th, 2012, I don’t believe you have managed to change the world, at least not for very many African American people, with your liberal education. Finally, I would suggest is that you use your energies to remain thankful that your illness was not worse. Please don’t use your loss as an unproductive way to further castigate an entire race of people. Prejudice is not your friend.

No one can make you own guilt; it is experienced when we accept our connection to some sort of depraved wrong, directly or indirectly.  No matter how much you would like to distance yourself from the past behaviors of your ancestors, you are inextricably linked to their horrors just as I am forever linked to the history of my enslaved ancestors. You will never be a “master” and I will never look to you as one as your enslaved subject, but our connection to our past is relative.

In the same vein, a declaration that you’ve gotten rid of “white guilt” is problematic and quite laughable. Primarily, your public denunciation of white guilt may make you a martyr to other white people needing to feel empowered by your sudden act of “bravery” but certainly, you will not be referred to as Saint Judge anytime soon.  Secondly, your confession was written as if you have been doing Black people a favor for all of the years you’ve held on to this alleged guilt, but what it really reveals is that one incident can cast away your moral compass and provoke you into showing Black people—you only felt compelled to believe you did because that is what you were taught and not how you really felt.

Unfortunately for you, you were poorly taught about how to treat African Americans.  The teachings you were given were not as careful or as liberal as you’ve believed for all of these years; and, the whole misnomer of being liberal in a lot instances, especially in cases of race, means carrying feelings of being “the savior” to those liberals perceive to be in need. How arrogant!  The “liberal” friend you ranted to validated that point. You wrote that your liberal friend responded, “That person needs our prayers and help,” she said. “They haven’t had the advantages we have.”  What is so liberal about believing that people, just because of their race and circumstances, are predisposed to criminal behavior and should need help derived from pity?  If only race were the litmus test in determining how a group of people would behave, I would never trust that a white person could ever have an ounce of humanity in them after knowing how they treated people who look like me in America. I have lived and observed the actions of white people to know that all people require the same emotional and logical considerations from me; and, my observations will determine my behavior and thoughts about these individuals.  My mother and my aunt (who, by the way are in no way liberal when it comes to race) did not to teach me that lesson—humanity did. Race is not what determines how people should be treated. It is clearly not the barometer that people marginalized in this country have chosen to use to judge you and others that look like you.

You are far too old to hold on to the issues you have with race. I will commend you on one thing; at least you are now finally able to be honest.  In addition, your article opened my eyes in a great way to the mis-education of White folks. Hopefully your Black friends have gotten the memo.  I have but one last piece of advice for you—instead of getting rid of the guilt, get rid of your bitterness and your learned inclination to pre-judge people based on their race.

The full article can be read here:  http://dailycaller.com/2012/04/09/the-end-of-my-white-guilt/#ixzz1rwofuv1o