Entries from November 2006 ↓

Words or Actions?

In the wake of Michael Richardsí racist tirade at an LA area comedy club, everybody is weighing in on the use of the ďNĒ word and in particular the fact that it is commonly used by Black people, especially performers in music and movies.

News commentators and columnists, as well as fellow bloggers Jasmyne, Nova, Frank and Jonathan, among others, have shared perspectives on the use of the word, its meaning historically and in contemporary society (and whether or not there is any difference), and which is worse, the word or the sentiments behind it.

The Richards incident has even changed the thinking of comedian Paul Mooney, who has known Richards for 20 years. Mooney has made regular use of the ďNĒ word a part of his standup act for decades, but declared this week he will no longer. He will also discontinue references to women that use the ďBĒ word.

All of this linguistic analysis and justification belies the fact that while use of certain language may be identifiable symbols of racist thinking, it is not a prerequisite. Where racism is concerned, actions speak far louder than words. Economic and political power and privilege, and a willingness to exert it over others in order to maintain that position of power and privilege, is the truer test of a racist.

So while I am personally quite tired of hearing other Black people cavalierly toss around the word, in whatever derivation, manifesting a level of internalized self-hatred and confusion they themselves probably canít even deconstruct, and while I long ago grew immune to its use by White people for the shear fact that its definition does not apply to me, I realize that the people I need to worry about the most are those who would otherwise smile in my face, speak only kind words, yet act out their racism by erecting barriers to my pursuit of happiness.

The more virulent racist isnít the one who calls you a nigger, but the one who harbors a preconceived and erroneous notion of who you are, makes no attempt to correct his misinformation, and acts on his ignorance in a way that is detrimental to your well-being.

NBA star, published poet and social commentator Etan Thomas recently wrote about an encounter with a league referee who was unaware of his off-the-court accomplishments. Upon learning about Thomasís life beyond basketball, the ref responded in a way that was insulting, condescending and clearly racist. He never needed to say the ďNĒ word.

ďKramerĒ Kracks Up; Hurls the “N” word

Michael Richards, who played Jerry Seinfeldís crazy neighbor Cosmo Kramer on the hit TV show “Seinfeld,” exploded in anger as he performed at a famous L.A. comedy club last Friday, hurling racial epithets that left the crowd shocked.

Richards was performing at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood, when two guys, both Black, playfully heckled him. Richards lost it.

As in so much of life nowadays, a video camera was present. See for yourself as Richards begins screaming at one of the men, “Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass.”

Richards continued, “You can talk, you can talk, you’re brave now motherfucker. Throw his ass out. He’s a nigger! He’s a nigger! He’s a nigger! A nigger, look, there’s a nigger!”

After the tirade, the majority of the audience members got up and left in disgust.

Ironically, Richards uses words all too commonly uttered by Black people to other Black, but clearly demonstrates that put in their historically accurate context, they carry the same weight as originally intended. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned here for everyone about the continued use of the word.

It will be interesting to see if this generates as much publicity as Mel Gibsonís recent anti-Semitic comments, as well as if Richards ever works again.

Larry KingÖluddite?

Sad and funny at the same time.

Personally Speaking

It has come to my attention that this blog has been sorely lacking in entries of a personal nature. Scroll down and you can see Iíve been playing reporter for the last month or so, covering celebrity comings and goings, politics, local news, sports, movie and theatre reviews, but nothing having to do with things going on in my own life.

Well, thereís a reason for that. There ainít a helluva lot going on in my life right now. Single, middle-aged, unemployed. This ainít Sex and the City. I spend my days surfing the web for jobs and sending out resumes, taking occasional breaks to go to the gym, then coming home to make dinner, watch tv and websurf. Thatís pretty much been it for weeks now. With the daylight savings time shift, it gets dark early and that makes things pretty gloomy. A very unglamorous life.

Iíve gotten to hang out with a couple of blogger friends who have visited from Atlanta recently (at separate times). Good people, both of them and great to see them face-to-face.

Yesterday, I was contracted to conduct a training for my former employer. It went well, I guess. If it didnít I donít really care. Itís over and now I just wait for the check to come. For the five years I was employed there, I trained staff of other agencies in a variety of topics, but the one I had to do yesterday was one I had not done before, so it required me to research and write a new curriculum just for this one time event. Frankly that was far more work than I cared to do and it was agony having to do it. I didnít finish my outline until the night before although I had about two months to prepare. I just wasnít feeling it.

Then, going back to the old shop I find things havenít gotten any better. A new group of my former co-workers have been told they will be out of work at the end of February, and those who remain are wisely looking. What once was a great place to work is now a mere shell of its former self. Believe me when I tell you, this was the perfect job for me. It was good work that I was good at, a supportive environment, very accommodating hoursówe NEVER worked evenings and weekends unless we wanted toówhich allowed me free time to do all the other things I enjoy. A good salary and generous benefits too.

Then the asshole-in-chief launched the country into a totally unnecessary war in Iraq, and this social service agency which got 80% of itís funding from the federal government, saw that money siphoned from the federal budget to support the ballooning war effort. Cuts, cuts, and more cuts. If there is any question as to the correlation between who is in office, federal spending priorities and their impact on real people at the grassroots level, look no further than this example. Its not about me being unemployed, itís about the loss of services to our clients that was the end result.

Rant off. Thank you for letting me share.

I am so doubtful of finding a job like that ever again. I see lots of positions for which I am qualified, but then thereís the line ďoccasional evenings and weekendsĒ or ďsome travel involved.Ē I think not. I really donít care to work that hard. I am soooo not trying to be in somebodyís office until 8:00 doing paperwork every night.

My resume would suggest I should be management level. Been there, done that, donít need to do it again. I donít need a title or a big office or lots of responsibility. I am not the ďdrivenĒ type when it comes to working for someone else. Forty hours a week, clock out at 5:00, save time to do my stuff. A good salaryóI donít need a lotóbut comprehensive health benefits, so I can continue to see the battery of health specialists I used to keep on retainer. Such jobs are hard to find, unfortunately, but I keep looking.

Iíll be doing Thanksgiving back upstate with the family, as I always do. I donít have to. I want to. Family, food and football, is what that holiday is all about, as far as Iím concerned. I suspect Iíll have some role in making dinner, although I donít know to what extent, and will pack my knives and recipes for the trip.

Newsman Ed Bradley is dead

Ed Bradley, a longtime veteran of the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes,” has died. He was 65 and died from complications of leukemia at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital.

The 2005-06 season of “60 Minutes” marked Bradley’s 25th year with the groundbreaking, critically hailed CBS news magazine. Recently, he did an investigative piece on the Duke lacrosse team alleged rape incident.

He collected 19 Emmys, the most recent for a segment on the reopening of the racially motivated murder case of Emmett Till.

Bradley was born June 22, 1941 in Philadelphia. He grew up in a single parent household, and learned the value of hard work from his mother. He attended Cheyney State College, graduating in 1964 with a degree in Education. His first job was teaching sixth grade at the William B. Mann Elementary School in Philadelphia’s Wynnefield community. While he was teaching, he moonlighted at WDAS in Philadelphia, working for free and later, minimum wage. He programmed music, read news, and covered basketball games.

His introduction to news reporting came during the riots in Philadelphia in the 1960s. In 1967, he landed a full-time job at the CBS-owned New York radio station WCBS.

In 1971, he moved to Paris, France and was living off of savings. As he ran out of money, he became a stringer for CBS News and later covered the Paris Peace Talks.

In 1972, he was transferred to Saigon, to cover the Vietnam War. He spent time in Phnom Penh covering the war in Cambodia. While covering the war, he was injured by a mortar round. He had shrapnel wounds to his back and arm.

In 1974, he moved to Washington, DC. He covered the Jimmy Carter presidential campaign in 1976 and then became CBS News’ White House correspondent until 1978. From 1978 to 1981, he served as principal correspondent for CBS Reports.

In 1981, he joined the staff of 60 Minutes, when Dan Rather left to replace Walter Cronkite as the anchor of the CBS Evening News. He was the firstóand to date onlyómale correspondent to regularly wear an earring on the show. He had his left ear pierced in 1986 and says he was inspired to do it after receiving encouragement from Liza Minnelli following an interview.

An avid jazz fan, he hosted the radio program, ďJazz at Lincoln Center.Ē

He was married to the artist Patricia Blanchett. He had homes in Woody Creek, Colorado and New York, New York.

In remembering his colleague, fellow “60 Minutes” commentator Andy Rooney said, “He wasnít a television star to me. He was just my friend.”