Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The reincarnation of the poll tax?

I just read that by a 6-3 margin, the Supreme Court has upheld the Voter ID law in the state of Indiana. This coming only a few days before the pivitol Democratic primary election.

According to MSNBC:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can require voters to produce photo identification without violating their constitutional rights, validating Republican-inspired voter ID laws. In a splintered 6-3 ruling, the court upheld Indiana's strict photo ID requirement, which Democrats and civil rights groups said would deter poor, older and minority voters from casting ballots. Its backers said it was needed to prevent fraud....

...More than 20 states require some form of identification at the polls. Courts have upheld voter ID laws in Arizona, Georgia and Michigan, but struck down Missouri's. Monday's decision comes a week before Indiana's presidential primary.

The decision also could spur efforts to pass similar laws in other states.

Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said he hadn't reviewed the decision, but he was "extremely disappointed" by it. Falk has said voter ID laws inhibit voting, and a person's right to vote "is the most important right." The ACLU brought the case on behalf of Indiana voters.

The case concerned a state law, passed in 2005, that was backed by Republicans as a way to deter voter fraud. Democrats and civil rights groups opposed the law as unconstitutional and called it a thinly veiled effort to discourage elderly, poor and minority voters — those most likely to lack proper ID and who tend to vote for Democrats...

...There is little history in Indiana of either in-person voter fraud — of the sort the law was designed to thwart — or voters being inconvenienced by the law's requirements. For the overwhelming majority of voters, an Indiana driver license serves as the identification.

Read the rest of the article here.

For once, I think Republicans got something right. I'm not diametrically opposed to the idea of using identification to vote. I mean, even in my home state of Michigan, I've seen voters who were able to hit the polls without showing so much as a paper ID. So I think having a legitimate form of picture identification is a necessary thing; especially when we recall the debacle in Florida during the 2000 Presidential Election; where certain people (many of whom were black) were erroneously denied their right to vote because of identification issues. Knowing who cast a vote is one of the best check and balance systems we can have.

Still, I'm deeply concerned that a misapplication of this law could spell trouble for minority and poor voters; particularly those who would most likely vote Democrat. While I think that people should have identification anyway and not just for the sake of voting; I fully accept the reality that many people simply do not. The hundred bucks or so that I can spend to keep my identifications up to date is not necessarily a privilege held by poorer people. For those people, mandating them to purchase ID for voting comes dangerously close (to me) as reinstituting the poll tax; which was deemed unconsititutional after the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

If the Voter ID law is to be effective without trampling on the poor and marginalized, I think the government should create a universal Voter Identification Card for all age-appropriate voters. These cards should include the person's name, photo, social security number, date of birth, and an unduplicable seal. Further, these cards should be issued as a courtesy to anyone who decides to exercise their right to vote (including convicts). Anything less than that is a slap in the face to democracy.

That's what I think. But what say you?


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hillary's fighting chance

Very compelling commentary on how Hill can still legitimately beat Obama. I only hope that she's not demonic enough to try any of this:

Hat tip to the Unapologetic Mexican for the video.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Pointless protests

After the officers who killed Sean Bell were found not guilty, Rev. Al Sharpton -- at no suprise -- organized a peace march in opposition to the verdict. Though the story has been receiving national coverage, fewer than 200 people actually assembled for the march. While some people were shocked and disappointed about the low turnout, I was neither. Perhaps an even greater injustice to the Bell family than the verdict itself is the notion that organizing a march will somehow alleviate everything that has gone down. This is what 'movements' have been reduced to: meaningless demonstrations against social injustice that lead to little change -- if any at all.

As another example: I was watching the Daily Show not too long ago (apparently, the real “Most Trusted Name in News”). On it, Jon Stewart and his staff made a mockery of anti-war protesters. As left-leaning as a show can get, many liberals have been up in arms about how the Daily Show could make light of protests; what many people consider a powerful expression of resistance. Sadly for them, videos like this are the very reason why today’s liberalism is fading sentiment:

Though this video was done in jest, the point of the video is pretty pragmatic: it’s easy to mock today’s protesting and organizing because it’s simply NOT effective anymore. Keep that in mind the next time you paint your signs, wear your buttons, kiss random strangers, and come up with catchy rhymes to chant in the street.

There is no denying that protests were once laced with social significance and were indeed an important part of progressive movements of the past. But today’s protests are nothing than insipid and failed demonstrations of people doing ridiculous and outlandish stuff. Protestors today have no skill for organization, no mission, no strategy. All they have is tons of hot air and lots of paint. Any toughness they think they have is merely a product of habitual exposure and inurement; complimented by the mental and moral elitism to which they lay claim. Quite frankly, none of this matters to policymakers. It may be annoying to them, but certainly will never again create an impetus for change.

I think I should be clear on something: I’m always amazed (pleasantly) to see people – especially younger people – exercising their rights to be politically charged. And far be it for me to begrudge anyone the opportunity to protest the moron who has cursed our nation over the past seven years. But at the same time, I think it is time that some responsible, progressive minded person understand what the score really is. We are cultivating a culture of people who see today’s organizations through the lenses of protesters from four decades ago; people who can organize demonstrations powerful enough to rattle the very foundations of the greater society. They try to emulate those organizations in today’s time to combat the various social and political dynamics faced in the present. But sadly, they just don’t get it. What was effective back in the day will not only be ineffective today, but is borderline lunacy.

For starters, protesters today often fall into a pretty damning (albeit superficial) trap: being defined by their actions and their looks. When fake blood covered anti-war protesters somehow infiltrated a hearing with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, people chalked this up to silly antics by liberal loons with too much time on their hands. Rather than this being an effective strategy to end this nonsensical war, this demonstration merely contributed to the foolishness they were trying to protest. When Al Sharpton picks up his bullhorn to proclaim his anger, people pick up their earplugs. BAMN; a left-wing advocacy group came out in groves to protest when the anti-Affirmative Action proposal; the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative was being introduced. Despite their protests, it still passed in to law overwhelmingly. Similarly, the Berkley anti-Marine shop demonstration wound up being defined more by the ridiculous antics of the protesters than the actual outcome of the protest itself. This may hurt some feelings, but parading around in the streets, having the occasional lesbian moments (i.e. with Code Pink), and singing and hugging may give the media something to talk (or laugh) about, but it certainly doesn't bring this country any closer to progress. It doesn't present solutions to racism that we got from Affirmative Action. It doesn't get us out of Iraq. It won't bring Bell's killers to justice. It's all just incessant noise.

During the 60’s and 70’s you could make a compelling argument about how organizing efforts that were considered awkward could – in fact – defy the status quo. In a culture that called for conformity on every turn, dress, hairstyle, and behaviors put a foot right on the throat of what was forced on society as being “normal.” Challenging that system ensured that neatly drawn out plans of going to the right college, marrying the right person, getting the right job, and subscribing to the ‘right’ morals could be averted if one so chose.

Fast forward to today. Some of the very conformist expectations that were once opposed are not only still in existence today, but they have become a mark of validation. Likewise, the same system classes exist to promote those conformities. But using crazy clothes and hand-in-hand protests don’t get the job done today. I mean, with clothing for instance: the same rummaged look that came to define a movement forty years ago is now sold for hundreds of dollars at Urban Outfitters. Tactics of movements from days gone by are – in no way – threatening to the status quo. If anything, seeing today’s protestors is more of a relief to the power structure; as it suggests weak and socially irrelevant opposition to their agendas. A thousand people making out in the street, marching to the beat of Janis Joplin, and donning pink t-shirts does not strike fear into the hearts of a systemic power structure. Progress won't come about because of these types of demonstrations. For that matter, these demonstrations are not even legitimate enough to get political parties to endorse candidates who will even address the issues being demonstrated.

Protests of today can now be ignored because...well...protestors of today are different. Elected officials know that once their little protests are done, most of the participants are going to go back home and complain with their buddies over tofu and a glass of soy milk. Riots in the street are a thing of the past. Campus takeovers are lost in legend. Even non-violent approaches like using the power of the vote are met with apathy and laziness. At the end of the day, nothing will change.

I’m certainly not implying that the only way to tame the social power structure is by waging a full-scaled Les Miserables-style revolution. No. Instead, we can fight and protest in a way that will draw attention to a cause and will cause the policymakers and leaders to take notice: hit them in their pockets. Imagine the chaos if we stopped working, stopped buying, stopped making companies and interest groups rich. They would cave one by one. Disrupting commerce is the way to make a real statement. Unfortunately for us, we’d take the hit as well. On top of that, many some institutions that have been subjected to boycotts are not necessarily rooted in commerce. It’s for those reasons why protests and boycotting – while having its share of effective outcomes – will never be a holistically effective method of opposition.

At the end, all we’re ultimately left with are organizers who can do as good a job as any to give people headaches, but are absolutely useless when it comes to bringing about change. That’s the only card we have. And that's why "rage against the machine" is nothing more than a tagline.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Justice unserved

I just received word that three NYPD detectives; charged with killing an unarmed black man just hours before his wedding; were just acquitted. The judge found the officers -- two black and one white -- not guilty, despite evidence showing that they shot at the victim, Sean Bell and his two friends, over 50 times.

50 gunshots at an unarmed man...

...and the officers walked....

...without so much as a slap on the wrist.

I haven't heard a story of denied justice this insane since the 41-shot killing of immigrant Amadou Diallo. I'll concede to one point: I don't know all the facts in the case. I've heard that Bell and his friends were unruly and belligerent toward the officers. But at the worst, that's an offense punishable by a couple of hours in jail; not a death sentence. Shooting semi-automatic firearms 50 times only means one thing: they were out for blood. And they got it.

...and they walked.

That's justice for you.


Better late than never (I guess...)

I think I need to be a little more prolific (and timely) with my blogging. Other bloggers seem to beat me to the punch about EVERYTHING these days.

Earlier this week, one of my boys and I were talking about Alicia Keys' recent conspiracy comments regarding the state of Hip Hop. After our discussion, I was prepared to form an argument in her defense. I was prepared to cite that -- while I thought she was wrong -- she certainly wasn't off base for her suspicions. Having just watched a segment on the History Channel about how the FBI historically attempted to subvert Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, I was prepared to argue that her ideas were pretty justified. But then I found this video on J Smooth's site:

So once again, my attempts to be smart have been twarted by somebody else who got there first. I'm like the Christopher Columbus of the blogosphere (minus the whole slavery, rape, and genocide thing). I really need to get my act together.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Prosperous thinking

I'm going to take a break from what has become my regularly scheduled programming about Democratic elections, moronic Presidents, racial discussions, and the like. Instead, God has put something on my heart that I have to get out. Bear with me.

Lately, I've noticed somewhat of a deluge of -- what I would consider -- bad teachings and off-doctrine regarding the idea of being prosperous. From Leroy Thompson's "Money cometh to me now" proclamation to Crefalo Dollar (how appropriate of a name is that?), the message that seems to persist is that what you've gained materially is somehow indicative of your walk with God. Your faith, obedience, and willingness to sacrifice for God (i.e. contribute to a multi-million dollar life center before you pay your own light bill) gets translated into material as a reward for your efforts. At least that's what being taught. But I submit to you that God is not a vending machine, where you pop in some money, hit a few buttons, and watch every little thing you've ever wanted crank out (frankly, I'm glad God isn't a vending machine. Have you seen some of crap that comes out of those things?). To me, understanding God is understanding that God is not a machine. He is not programmed to respond to our stewardship. If vending machines don't give us what we paid for, we can get our money back. But God is not required to give us a single thing. He does it because of His love for us; not because of what we put into it.

I was reading a piece about prosperity where Old Testament Joseph was used in the discussion. Before I get to crux of it, let me give you the Reader's Digest version of Joseph's life:

Joseph was sort of a "daddy's boy" who received favor above all of his brothers. It didn't help his case much when he started having dreams about ruling over his already pissed brothers. In their jealousy, they sale Joseph to a merchant named Potiphar. Potiphar then grants Joseph authority over his house when he's away on business. Things are well with Joseph for a while until Potiphar's wife tries to get her groove on with him. When he resists, she frames him. He's subsequently arrested and jailed. Once in jail, he's placed in charge of the other prisoners and -- after being able to translate enigmatic dreams haunting the Pharaoh -- is rewarded with royal favor.

This fascinating story aside, what struck most to me is that Joseph -- like the rest of us -- didn't need to be in high positions in order to receive favor of prosperity. Joseph was just as prosperous as a slave and as a prisoner as he was in being one of the Pharaoh's chief officers. Location, material, and social positioning are NOT what makes us prosperous.

Prosperity is not calculated by what we have or where we are in our lives. While I jokingly suggest that money is the root of my happiness (to some extent, I'm serious about that though), my approach to living prosperously isn't dictated to by bank accounts. We can have the nicest homes, drive the flashiest cars, and wear the most stylish clothes and still be out sync with God's standards of living. The accumulation of stuff is an inconsequential definition of prosperity when you compare it to being in God's will and being as close to Him as possible through our daily walk. For me, the most definitive aspect of prosperity is not what I drive, spend, wear, or cash out. It's knowing that the people I see, the places I go, and the things I do were blessed by God's hand being in the mix. When I become a better person because of the God that is in me, my life has increased; regardless to what my monthly bank statements may say.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

ABC = Absolutely Biased (for) Clinton

Am I simply a blind Obama supporter or was ABC's "debate" between Sens. Obama and Clinton last night overtly biased in Hill's favor? I would liken this debate debacle to a crusade against Obama, but that would be too nice of me to say. This was sabbotage; through and through. And I'm not the only person who seems to think so.

For starters, George Stephanopoulos; a loyal Clinton supporter and former advisor was one of the moderators. Red flag, anyone? As if that somehow wasn't enough, he and Charles Gibson were pitching Obama fastballs full of titaniam, while tossing underhanded pitches to Hill with softballs filled with marshmellows. That, to me, makes for a pretty unbalanced homerun derby (or is it that ABC debate questions = performance enhancers for Hillary?).

On top of everything, not only were the questions clearly pointed, but they were tragically shallow; considering that America is facing more crises than we've ever experienced. For that matter, most of the MSM has been disappointing me so far. Rather than focusing on international policy, economic matters, this endless war, etc.; areas like Rev. Wright, lapels, "bitter" citizens, etc. all keep finding their way to the forefront. On one hand, the candidates need a national forum to put these stories to rest. But once they've sufficiently addressed them they NEED to actually be put to rest.

CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC putting out dismal performances is pretty expected. They're serving special interests of their respective networks. But ABC should know better. Shame on them.


Here's the director's cut of the PA debates that we didn't get to see:

**UPDATE (Again)**

On the real, Obama has responded to that ridiculously biased debate. Check it out:


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Black card REVOKED!

BET founder and devout Clinton supporter Bob Johnson is once again up to familar race-baiting antics against Senator Obama. To refresh your memory, during a public appearance for the Clintons, Johnson weasled in a cheap shot about Obama's drug use as a teenager. After the damage was done, he denied ever saying anything; only to then apologize for it. But recently as he interviewed with the Charlotte Observer, Johnson gave a hat tip to former Clinton advisor Geraldine Ferraro for her recent declaration that Obama would not be in the position he's in had he been white. Apparently, Johnson didn't learn a lesson from the hailstorm that ensued from Ferraro's comments.

Then again, this dude also conceived BET. So it's not that uncommon for him not to 'get it.'

Said Johnson:

What I believe Geraldine Ferraro meant (is) if you take a freshman senator from Illinois called 'Jerry Smith' and he says I'm going to run for president, would he start off with 90 percent of the black vote? And the answer is, probably not. Would he also start out with the excitement of starting out as something completely different? Probably not. He would just be a freshmen senator...

"Geraldine Ferraro said it right. The problem is Geraldine Ferraro is white. This campaign has such a hair trigger on anything racial. It is almost impossible for anybody to say anything."

Call me crazy, but I think Johnson is jealous. I think he's pissed that -- with all the billions he has -- the greater society will never respect his work as much as Sen. Obama's. Being the father of the worst black form of media in history, Johnson can never match the style, charm, class and dignity (and apparently, a legitimate shot at the White House) that Obama has. Obama represents everything wonderful about black people; while Johnson represents everything sad and unfortunate.

But I'll concede on one point. Johnson and Ferraro are right: Obama would not be in the position he's in if he were white. If he were a white candidate:
  1. He probably wouldn't have people associating him with Islam at a time where being Muslim is the new "Black"
  2. He could probably buy his way into the White House.
  3. He probably wouldn't have any student loans to pay off.
  4. He most definitely would not have worked his way up from the streets of Chicago. Unless of course he was doing community service as a replacement for the prison time he SHOULD'VE had.
  5. He would've completely blown Hillary out of the water a long time ago.
  6. He would not have been accused of "shuckin' and jivin'.
  7. People would never make references to his race.
  8. He would not be guilty by association with his controversial minister.
  9. He would have never been called "Boy" (which, in some context, is the same as being called a nigger).
  10. He could actually be an elitist and not be called one (versus the opposite with Obama)

I guess they were right about Obama all along.

Now, I'm not trying to suggest that Johnson must be loyal to Obama simply because it would fall under black-on-black support. I mean, I wasn't exactly leading any protests in support of black Congressmen William Jefferson (also a Democrat, I should point out) when he was caught with his hands in the cookie jar (or should I say the freezer). I'm not exactly on Jesse Jackson's mailing list. To this day, I still bury my head when I see Evander Holyfield give an interview. So if Johnson wishes to remain committed to the Clintons, all power to him. But at the same time, I'm disgusted at how Johnson would stoop so low when it involves another brotha; a righteous and prophetic brotha at that. But after watching BET for a half hour, I'm reminded that Bobby has never really had black interests in mind.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

AIDS-ing and Abetting

My sister sent me the following video this morning. I can't tell whether or not this particular video is a hoax, a public service announcement, or truly authentic. I'd like to think that people aren't so evil and callous as to maliciously do stuff like this, only to then broadcast if for the whole world to see. But that's anybody's guess.

Whether or not there is any veracity to this video, I still feel obligated as a blogger with a voice to share this.

[Warning: This video contains explicit language]:

I've heard the urban legends about moviegoers deliberately being infected with AIDS , gas pumps with AIDS needles attached, and stories of prostitutes intentionally dragging their unsuspecting clients into "The World of Aids". It's likely that the masked villian in this clip will eventually get added to the directory of this ever-so ubiquitous folklore. Even when he does drop what appears to be actual names, let me remind you that urban legends always seem to happen to a friend of one of our sister's hairdresser's cousins.

The point of all of this is not to promote fear-mongering propoganda. Nor is it oppositely my intention to expose this video as a fraud. And this certainly isn't a post about moral vs. immoral sex (contrary to what religious fundamentalists think, passing AIDS is not exclusive to pre-martial sex). I'm simply challenging you to use this as an opportunity to be aware of the dangers (mythical or not) associated with unsafe sexual practices. If you absolutely must have sex, be safe about it. Demand that your partner get tested. Wear condoms. Know who's sharing your bed (or backseat, closet, whatever...).

Otherwise, your name might be read on the next video.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Whether it's indirectly or directly, racism has its beneficiaries. Understanding this is the first step to reconciliation.

Hat tip to Barry Deutsch (aka Ampersand) over at Alas, A Blog for this strip.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Shameless plug

For all y'all spoken word fans out there, I've got a treat for you. Here are a couple of joints from my homeboy Edwin Wilson (aka the Future). This dude is crazy sick on the microphone. Check him out:

I'm not good at promos but if you like what you see, he's got more stuff (even better, in my opinion) to check out on his page or his Myspace spot. Check him out some time!


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Racism in the courtroom...?

I was watching Fox & Friends the other day (strike one). On the show, they were discussing the racial implications of a controversial story surrounding Marvin Arrington, a black judge in Atlanta who removed the white attorneys from his courtroom as he lectured to black defendants prior to their sentencing. Using the lame and baseless citation of "reverse racism", some of the commentators were quick to call the judge on being racist. After all -- they say -- if a white judge demanded that blacks leave the room while he addressed white defendants, the NAACP, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson would be all over the place.

I can address their observations and claims in two words: DEAD WRONG!

For starters, I will at least concede on one point by saying that the judge should have used a more tact in clearing the courtroom. I believe he would've likely been less accused of racial isolation if he met with the defendants privately in his chambers. Oppositely, his decision to essentially kick people out of the courtroom exuded the notion of separtism, thus fueling the "reverse racism" argument.

That concession aside, I'm amazed at how people can sit back and play the race card on this story. But I'm not letting them off the hook; no more than I let blacks who unmeritability play the race card off the hook. Consider the following:

(1) Judge Arrington's moves were not anti-white. They were pro-black. There's a HUGE difference between those two ideologies. Arrington didn't use his platform to villify those 'white, blue-eyed devils'. Instead, he wanted to smack some sense into black defendants who keep appearing in his court. Now one might say that a "colorblind" judge would have that same level of sympathy for all people, regardless of color. And I'd agree with that. In fact, even Judge Arrington agrees with that himself. But, as I've argued before, delivering messages to a person or group of people is far more effective when it's done by someone who has a shared experience; even if that experience is as cursory as race (though I personally don't think that race is a superficial topic at all. But you get the point). The fact is: the judge saw this as an opportunity to empathetically intervene in lives of black kids in a way that a white judge probably could not or would not have intervened. I mean, who better to kick knowledge about being black to other blacks than ANOTHER BLACK PERSON? I remember watching an episode of The Practice where a white judge became the laughing stock of his courtroom when he tried to give moral lectures to black defendants. For this reason, Judge Arrington is the right man for the job.

(2) The hypothetical scenario of "reverse racism" is foolishly and incorrectly used in this situation. Contrary to what we might see on Judge Joe Brown, Judge Mathis, or any of those other ridiculous court shows, the American judicial system is predominately made of up white officers and black defendants. In order to use a hypothetical argument effectively, you have to consider the complete inverse of the scenerio currently being assessed. So in the case, the judicial system (and indeed, the greater society at large) would have to be set up where blacks were the controlling and leading elements and whites were the socially oppressed minority group. If that were the case, then I'd see nothing wrong with a white judge -- sick of seeing his people damaging themselves and their communities -- unleashing a "Judge Arrington" on trouble whites teen. If he felt it necessary to kick blacks out (thus avoiding the bad practice of airing dirty laundry), you best believe I'd be supportive of his cause.

Again, I don't deny that the judge should've avoided kicking people out or making his 'lecture' solely focused on blacks. But I applaud Arrington for addressing an issue and indeed people central to his own existence. The occassional house cleaning is good for us; especially when it's done by us.


Friday, April 04, 2008

40 years later

An excerpt from a speech delivered by an angry black preacher:

God didn't call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war. . . . And we are criminals in that war. We've committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I'm going to continue to say it. And we won't stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation. But God has a way of even putting nations in their place.
...and if you don't stop your reckless course, I'll rise up and break the backbone of your power.

No; this didn't come from the now villified minister of Sen. Obama, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. This came from the one and only Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Source

As we commenerate his death -- 40 years to this date -- we should ask ourselves how the media would respond to this passage from Dr. King. Lord knows they still refuse to lay Rev. Wright's "anti-American" comments to bed.