Long Live The Cos!

Ta-Nehisi Coates has this great article on Bill Cosby in the May edition of The Atlantic; this one is recommended reading for us all (and so - apparently - is Cosby's new book: Come On People!; the newest addition to my ever growing books-to-read list).

Mr. Coates presents an excellent long-form article on Dr. Cosby's recent travels across the country, exhorting American Afrikans (I think I am going to like this phrase - I saw another blogger using it) to do for self, instead of waiting for others - perhaps the government - to do for us.  This is, of course, yet but a continuation of that long-running debate first documented by Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois; this is how we entered the 20th century and it is apparently how we are going to enter the 21st century as well.  Fortunately for us, I believe we are entering the end of this phase and prepared to embark on a new evolution of our nation within this nation.

Mr. Coates does a more detailed job than I could ever do in a blog posting, recounting how what Dr. Cosby describes as our current troubles - which he blames on post-civil rights era problems like gangsta rap - are really just modern day manifestations of issues that have been with us ever since we emerged from the previous phase of our existence here as slaves.  Building up this point, I believe that while we do indeed still suffer from the same maladies which have been around for well more than a century, at this time in history we are also more well positioned to make a real transformational change than ever before.

Whether one is a fan of rap music or not, it has minted an entire generation of new, wealthy American Afrikans; while we all mourn the transition of the athlete from the positive role model of Kareem Abdul Jabbar to the anti-hero like Allen Iverson, what is inescapable is the vastly greater wealth that is available to today's iteration; and while we used to have businessmen who were more wholly a part of our community like the publisher of Ebony, Johnson, we know have businessmen who lead major corporate institutions like American Express, Chenault, who are literally giants in the world of capitalism and have subsequently developed even greater wealth.

Today, therefore, we find ourselves positioned with real wealth, from which we can provide the capital to revolutionize our society - even from within the larger society in which we find ourselves.  Today - as at no other day in the 400-year existence of the American Afrikan - we find our talents matched to our resources as never before.

All that we need to demonstrate now is the will to power that every previous generation of American Afrikans has shown and that transformation will be at hand.

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The End of Agriculture

This is an interesting post and thanks for the Guardian link.  I was hoping one of the commenters might have discussed what has happened with Mexico; seems like this article on high corn prices in Mexico - due to corn shortages - relates to the same issue.  This Washington Post article - A Culinary and Cultural Staple in Crisis - points the finger directly at . . . wait for it . . . NAFTA.

US corn - subsidized in our farm bills - is being dumped on Mexico, which in turn drives farmers from the land.  Once that happens, should we expect anything but for those farmers to cross the border to the US seeking work here?

It seems almost axiomatic that a globalized community market will include labor as well as goods and services; we cannot have one without the other.  Instead, for years we have attempted to create a world with no borders for goods and services, all the while with nary a thought on what the impact on labor will be.  "Let them be retrained" is the mantra.  Today, we have farmers without farms and people left wondering where their food is to be found.

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Are we really sexist for not supporting Hillary?

I believe the author considered and dismissed the question of just how Bill Clinton would be received, were he actually running for office again. You can place me in the category of one of those who was glad to be able to look back at Bill Clinton with the hazy, gauzy lens of history. Having that man back has tossed those fond memories aside, only to be replaced full force by all of the unpleasant recollections from the Clinton presidency.

Like how it was on his watch that Lani Guinier and Zoe Baird were thrown under the bus: the first for actually believing that the AAG for Civil RIghts should actually have the nerve to do someting in that role, the second for making the cardinal sin of paying for child care under the table to an "illegal alien"(other nations have paid child care as a right; why not us?). Bill Clinton never met a liberal principle that he would not sacrifice for his own political gain; that is the definition of the DLC-group he created: "Don't worry about electing me, if you tell me about a liberal goal that you do not like, I will abandon it."

So he left the campaign trail in '92 to execute a mentally retarded black man (thereby proving that he was "tough on crime"); he bought into Reagan's "welfare queen" rhetoric and tossed mothers off the dole and placed them into dead-end jobs (who remembers that Michigan mom who left her son in the care of her brother, so she could go to work 50-miles away - thereby allowing her drug dealing brother to let her son get his hands on a gun that he then took to school and shot a classmate with?); he told labor not too worry about their jobs with NAFTA, that free trade would bring them jobs (how many cars do GM, Ford and Chrysler actually build in this country anymore? how many will they build in 10 years?); and how many liberal politicians did Bill Clinton help get elected to Congress (none, in fact he lost control of Congress for the first time in more than half a century - how damaging has that been?).

And to top it all off, he paraded through the White House like he was the leader of some personality cult, enticing young girls with his charms and then pointing his accusatory finger at us when he was caught.

So that is the historical Cllinton, the one we thought we were safely past and now here he is back. Today, he tells us that he was against this war in Iraq from the beginning (news to us, we never once saw him say that in public); today, he tells us that Obama's position against the war is a "fairy tale" (taking one of the view liberal voices against the war and tarnishing it - all in the hopes of elevating yet one more "tough" politician); today, he tells us that Obama cannot possible win outside of South Carolina (as he is the black candidate, just like Jesse Jackson); and he builds on that last point to say that there is no way a black candidate can win the general election (this, from the man given the honorary title of being the "first black President").

Bill Clinton has cost Hillary Clinton this election, as he cemented the movement of black voters away from his own wife. Perhaps it is too far back to remember now, but Obama was losing the black vote in most polls, even after he had spent 12-months on the campaign trail. It was the Clintons' who campaigned hard in Iowa and then when they lost complained that "caucus rules are unfair"; and then they built on that disrespect by claiming that South Carolina did not count either. It was those two actions: telling black voters that a win by a black candidate in a white state like Iowa was invalidated by the nature of a caucus along with the statement that a win by a black candidate through the support of black voters was invalid on its face - that drove black voters away from our initial support for a candidate we used to view with some degree of fondness. Those actions by Bill Clinton (with the passive support of his wife, who has never rebuked him, much less controlled him) drove a wedge into the Democratic electorate (blacks on one side; white women on the other) and left the choice in this race up to whom white men would decide to support.

Is the reason for some of that white male support for Obama sexism? Perhaps so, perhaps not. But answer this question: is sexism found within men who are not also racist? I tend to believe that if someone is sexist, they are more than likely also racist and vice-versa and that most folks who hold those views have left for the Republican party many years ago.

Obama talks to these divisions in a much better manner than I ever could; in his response to the firestorm over the comments of his pastor, he showed his ability to see and recognize the point of views from both blacks and whites; I think his career in the Illinois Senate and the influence of all the women around him (is it not clear that his mother is still his lodestar?) shows that for him it is not an either/or choice between men and women. I would ask each of us to give him the benefit of being the sort of trusted advisor our country needs at this particular inflection point in our history.

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The Fist: What Happened To Black Unity and Solidarity?

The Fist: What Happened To Black Unity and Solidarity?

I just posted this as a comment to this entry on another blog; still trying to figure out what that wheel is . . . :

I have wondered about this myself and while I do not have the solution, I believe it lies in with the destruction of the social fabric of our communities as a result of Nixon's "War on Drugs".

That war has cost tens of thousands of lives and sent hundreds of thousands more to prison, to waste away their youth behind bars, only to return as older men who have been scarred for life. Having our communities turned into the open-air drug marts as depicted in the "it's so realistic!" show from HBO, "The Wire" has just destroyed the base from which we could act in a unified manner. Blacks who could left those communities; blacks who stayed had so many things to struggle with and against that enlisting in a larger "struggle" just seemed like more than could possibly be done.

Our government thrives on this divide and conquer model, such that even were this outcome neither planned for nor sought, the natural turning of the wheel brings about this sort of outcome.

We need a new wheel.

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George Will should Stick To Baseball

Much of my time - too much, in fact - is spent patrolling the calcified pathways of our nations' political discourse, a route lined with the still mumbling corpses of the past half-century of debate.

Oh, how I long for the freedom and freshness of a new generation of partisans.

But, you cannot go to war against the enemy you want, you have to war against the enemy you have.

Today, Will makes a somnolent attack on Obama - in the midst of an attack on the resignation of Mark Penn. See, Will is so "with it", when it comes to "free trade" that he thinks the Penn resignation is a mistake. Then, after setting up this straw horse with some handy but miscomprehended statistics, he proceeds to take aim at Obama; foolishly.

His thesis, as best it can be understood, boils down to these points:

  • Colombia is too small an economy to much care about anyway
  • Only a small portion of the US workforce is confronted with international competition
  • Globalization and free trade only account for a "small fraction" of today's widening income disparities.
If these are the stones upon which his argument is built, then lets set to some disassembly:
  • If Colombia is so small, then there cannot possibly be any urgency to signing this free trade deal; any candidate for the presidency would be well advised to reserve their judgment until in office - so as to not be bound by a deal struck by a lame-duck predecessor.
  • Will provides us with examples of the vast numbers of professions who face no international competition: dentists and auto mechanics as well as government employees. But if this is true, then those self-same workers have as little to gain from this free trade deal as they have to lose; how would dentists or auto mechanics trade with Colombia anyway?
  • But it is in his third point that Will makes his fall, for if there is some "small fraction" of today's widening income disparity that is related to globalization and free trade, how is that accounted for in this agreement? The fact is that regardless of how small it may be, it is not accounted for in the slightest by any of the free trade agreements that have been signed since NAFTA. This is the main argument against the treaties, that they treat the interests of corporations (fictitious persons) as sacrosanct, which treating the interests of workers (actual persons) as insignificant.
At last, we have some Republican agreement that "some fraction", no matter how small, of income disparity is related to improperly designed free trade agreements. Now, we just need to develop the particulars on hoe to address this issue and we can then move forward together.

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The House at Sugar Beach

Wow. I have to thank Helene Cooper for writing this book: The House at Sugar Beach - and it has not even been published yet. It has been excerpted already, just in yesterday's Sunday New York Times. What an awesome and touching book this will be; I can see it already.

Almost every Black American I know feels a deep-seated draw - almost tidal in nature - to the continent we call the "Motherland", even though most of us have never sat foot there. And within the continent is that little place known as Liberia and in many ways the pull is strongest from here. For Liberia was founded by freed slaves; it is almost like they are the ones who got out. There is a sense of they are the ones who escaped and managed to fulfill a long held dream that we all shared.

Of course, that dream died back in 1980. I was just a few years younger than Ms. Cooper, but I too remember the announcement of the coup. Still, I must confess it was with much less detail and depth than her own, front-line reporting. To me, it was a mysterious and far-off event and not one that was too infrequent on the continent of my long-lost home. The reports of the government change over were pretty much just a clinical report to my 10-year old ears.

Even in just this excerpt, Ms. Cooper does a brilliant job of little us into the world of the "Congo People", the nomenclature the native inhabitants develop to speak of the newly arrived immigrants. And this excerpt does a brilliant job of introducing us to her "adopted" sister Eunice - all without completely telling us just what was her fate. Now we have to buy the book!

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