June 3, 2008

You can take Barack Obama out of the Trinity church, but… [Karl]

Stanley Kurtz is discovering you cannot take the Trinity church out of Barack Obama:

Obama shared [the Rev. Jeremiah] Wright’s rejection of black “assimilation.” Obama also shared Wright’s suspicion of the traditional American ethos of individual self-improvement and the pursuit of “middle-classness.” In common with Wright, Obama had deep misgivings about America’s criminal justice system. And with the exception of their direct attacks on whites, Obama largely approved of his preacher-friends’ fiery rhetoric. Obama’s goal was not to repudiate religious radicalism but to channel its fervor into an effective and permanent activist organization. How do we know all this? We know it because Obama himself has told us.

Kurtz relies on a 1995 background piece on Obama from the Chicago Reader — as well as a chapter Obama wrote for a 1990 book called After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois, originally published in 1988, just after Obama joined Trinity:

By providing us with an in-depth picture of Obama’s political worldview on the eve of his elective career, Hank De Zutter’s, “What Makes Obama Run?” lives up to its title. The first thing to note here is that Obama presents his political hopes for the black community as a third way between two inadequate alternatives. First, Obama rejects, “the unrealistic politics of integrationist assimilation — which helps a few upwardly mobile blacks to ‘move up, get rich, and move out. . . . ’ ” This statement might surprise many Obama supporters, who seem to think of him as the epitome of integrationism. Yet Obama’s repudiation of integrationist upward mobility is fully consistent with his career as a community organizer, his general sympathy for leftist critics of the American “system,” and of course his membership at Trinity. Obama, we are told, “quickly learned that integration was a one-way street, with blacks expected to assimilate into a white world that never gave ground.” Compare these statements by Obama with some of the remarks in Jeremiah Wright’s Trumpet, and the resemblance is clear.

Having disposed of assimilation, Obama goes on to criticize “the politics of black rage and black nationalism” — although less on substance than on tactics. Obama upbraids the politics of black power for lacking a practical strategy. Instead of diffusing black rage by diverting it to the traditional American path of assimilation and middle-class achievement, Obama wants to capture the intensity of black anger and use it to power an effective political organization. Obama says, “he’s tired of seeing the moral fervor of black folks whipped up — at the speaker’s rostrum and from the pulpit — and then allowed to dissipate because there’s no agenda, no concrete program for change.” The problem is not fiery rhetoric from the pulpit, but merely the wasted anger it so usefully stirs.

It is some good sleuthing on Kurtz’s part, but as noted here on April 9, Obama wrote almost exactly the same stuff in his 1996 autobiography, Dreams From My Father, as noted in as Ryan Lizza’s March 19, 2007 TNR profile of Obama:

The cross currents appealed to Obama. He came to believe that the church could not only compensate for the limitations of Alinsky-style organizing but could help answer the nagging identity problem he had come to Chicago to solve. “It was a powerful program, this cultural community,” he wrote, “one more pliant than simple nationalism, more sustaining than my own brand of organizing. ”

As a result, over the years, Wright became not only Obama’s pastor, but his mentor…

And as Kurtz has noted, Wright rejects the notion of separating religion and politics, in accord with the tenets of Black Liberation Theology.  Obama has thrown the BLT (or perhaps just LT) inspired attacks on the “powers and principalities” into his 2006 keynote address at a conference sponsored by Jim Wallis and the “religious left” magazine Sojourners, and his 2007 speech at a church in Selma, Alabama.  It also appears in his lengthy 2006 essay for TIME magazine, in which he discusses the church “as the center of the community’s political, economic, and social as well as spiritual life.”

Jonah Goldberg admits:

I don’t know enough about BLT, though I’ve been reading a bunch, but from what I’ve seen from Stan [Kurtz] and others, I’m wondering whether Black Liberation Theology is in part a holdout of the older Social Gospel tradition, a surviving remnant from the Progressive era. Much is made of the BLT rhetoric about blacks being chosen people and the like. But that rhetoric was commonplace among Progressives (and German [Aryan] Christian movement, as Spengler notes here and I allude to in [Liberal Fascism]).

Actually, as noted here on March 18, BLT historically was influenced by Karl Barth, though it ultimately owes more to the other young, Messianic Weimar Protestants who ended up promoting “Aryan Christianity.” But it is considerably more than that; liberation theology is in many ways an inversion of the host faiths to which it attaches itself in an effort to reshape identity in a way that Gramsci would love.

Goldberg notes that Obama has referred admiringly (though perhaps ignorantly) to the Social Gospel, which in the progressive era was far more theocratic and “Christianist” than most anything promoted by the modern Christian Right.  My March 18 essay pointed out that Obama’s big speech calling for a national discussion of race was essentially a dodge because the real issue raised by Obama’s 20-year membership in Trinity was not one of race, but — as with JFK (or Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee) — an issue of religion, and the separation of religion and politics:

Black Liberation Theology is not a standard theology like Catholicism, as Cardinal Ratzinger made clear with respect to the plain Marxist version of liberation theology.  It is at its very core a marriage of religion and politics.  As with all liberation theology, it takes a kernel of truth about most churches’ concern for the poor and wraps it in a pernicious quasi-Marxist hermeneutics that generally inverts the function of faith, placing politically correct activisim above personal salvation.  It is the heir to messianic and apocalyptic schools of thought that run directly contrary to the America’s intellectual and institutional, separation of Christianity and politics.  Its founder converts the gospel into an ideology for a black political cause.  And Obama was drawn to Trinity precisely because he is attracted to the idea of this church as the center of the community’s political, economic, and social as well as spiritual life.

In short, even giving Obama the benefit of the doubt regarding his statements condemning Wright’s worst comments, Obama’s own words mark him as a follower of Black Liberation Theology or its standard Marxist version.  As such, Obama’s election would mark a triumph for the Religious Left on a scale never attained by the Religious Right.  Yet those who never hesitate to decry the threat of Theocons or Christianists in American politics are not only silent about this turn of events, they seem to be rooting for the election of our first Theolib or Black Christianist president.

Although it is nice that Kurtz — and to a lesser degree Goldberg — are teasing this issue out now, it would have been more constructive if they and others had been paying attention in Mid-March, when the Obama campaign was stonewalling even written questions on the issue.

Update: Insta-lanche!

Posted by Karl @ 6:00am
185 comments | Trackback

Comments (185)

  1. Wright rejects the notion of separating religion and politics, in accord with the tenets of Black Liberation Theology.

    Huh. I wonder when we’re going to hear people worrying about “theocracy”; this is a much more pernicious doctrine than any the supposed “theocons” have ever supported.

  2. Then there’s this racist:

    Well, this comes back to the same numbers Byron [York] was talking about in Fox News Sunday today. These are Pew numbers that came out this week that indicate that since February – since the very timeframe we’re talking about, since March 4 – his favorability numbers have been going down … disapproval has been climbing … and this is especially true among white working class voters and, as a subset of that, very true among white women.

    So now we are coming to the swing votes. Unlike Bill Kristol, I think that the fact that John McCain is head-to-head with Senator Barack Obama is an indication of Senator Barack Obama’s weakness. I think the Democrat, according to the generic, should be far ahead and this shouldn’t even be a contest. Instead, what we’ve seen is that Barack Obama has been struggling and much of this is attributable to his personal attributes. Personal attributes brings me back to Rev. Wright and brings me back to Father Pfleger, and … I thought what Father Pfleger did was almost minstrel-like. You know, it’s unbelievable. He looked like a white guy trying to perform like a black minister and doing a poor job of it.

    Baracky, ever the selfless heroic martyr type, didn’t leave Trinity because BLT offends him. He left to protect it from the harsh spotlight that his association brings to it. Hye left it in an attempt to stuff it back in the closet.

    Change you can believe in.

    O!

  3. “Black Liberation Theology is not a standard theology like Catholicism, as Cardinal Ratzinger made clear with respect to the plain Marxist version of liberation theology. It is at its very core a marriage of religion and politics. ”

    So, when does nishi start squealing about O!’s xianism?

  4. Oh, and what the HELL is a ‘community organizer’?

  5. “Oh, and what the HELL is a ‘community organizer’?”

    The long form of commissar.

  6. …what the HELL is a ‘community organizer’?

    I’ve been wondering when people would start picking up on that.

    It’s more or less a transliteration of the Russian — the guy who recruits informers, identifies “malcontents” and “wreckers”, reports to the commissar, and serves as a guide when the bullyboys come out from Party headquarters to enforce doctrine.

    Regards,
    Ric

  7. They used to call ‘em ward bosses.

  8. They’ve always called them bootlickers.

  9. Instead of diffusing black rage by diverting it to the traditional American path of assimilation and middle-class achievement, Obama wants to capture the intensity of black anger and use it to power an effective political organization.

    Hmmm. If racial anti-assimilation is equivalent to racial purity and Obama’s inversion of Christianity into a political philosophy is equivalent to German mythology’s political role between 1929 and 1939, I think we are coming quickly up to a Rap-Wagnerian fusion that will blow active device housings off audio power amp heat sinks nationwide.

  10. Comment by Ric Locke on 6/3 @ 6:31 am #

    Yeah, scratch a lefty, find a fascist.

  11. The long form of commissar.

    “Don’t turn around (uh AH OH)
    Der Kommisar’s in town (uh AH OH!)…”

  12. Obama’s goal was not to repudiate religious radicalism but to channel its fervor into an effective and permanent activist organization.

    I find this comment both fascinating and telling. I’ve been saying all along that secular Dems and moderates are going to be very uncomfortable with the traditional black gospel aspects of BLT and the missions of churches like TUCC. (some of this is showing up at leftist blogs already.) This speaks directly to Obama’s potential problem with those precious swing votes that have been slipping a little since the whole Wright thing exploded.

    One could make an argument that Obama might have used this to his advantage if he had had the guts to face the issue head on. The idea of religion as political activism designed to promote a progressive agenda is one that many moderate to liberal secularists would be willing to embrace, an “ends justify the means” sort of decision. However, I find it unlikely that Obama can now reframe the discussion along those lines. He’s in an awkward position where his own writings and speeches are now directly contesting the narrative of “didn’t know, ” “reject the divisive dialogue” and “mainstream black churches.” Some will look at the tone and tenor of his campaign and reach a conclusion that Obama was hiding many of his true political leanings.

    None of this may matter if the weary and pissed off electorate “elects” to shut off their critical thinking and leap to embrace the changitudinous. I do find it ironic that for a guy who so carefully controls his message to the most generic he simply couldn’t (or wouldn’t) see that the more radicalized nature of his own, self expressed, political philosophy as tied to TUCC BLT and Alinsky style organizing would be allowed to pass unnoticed.

    So, in addition to fraud and smokescreener (a kinder description than liar) we can add gutless as well. While I would have disagreed with the concept I would have had a greater respect for the man if he had just really explained the way religion and activist politics shaped his personal philosophy of government and BLT rather than trying to parse the message and hide the more “inconvenient” aspects of the philosophy. The result has been a like a child who continues to grab the hot pot handle again and again while condemning the pot.

    thor rolls in to call us all racists in 3 … 2 … 1 …

  13. Goddam pot !!!!!!!!!!

  14. Liberation Theology is the product of Shleiermacher’s imminent thoeology and the Hegelian dialectic. Marx took Hegel and applied him to materialism. Some Catholics in the 1800’s grabbed onto Marx and coined the phrase ‘social justice’. Gutierrez et al. fused imminent theology with Marxist materialism to say that God is always working for social justice with the poor and oppressed against the bougeoise. The synthesis is the Utopian just society. Imminent theology also poo-poos God’s interventionist activities, so it is up to the people to get things done on earth which is rather ironic as (B)LT theology reads Exodus as its primary narrative.

    So, you have poor and oppressed activists who must rise up and tear down the principalities and powers (no longer defined as Satan and his minions but as the bourgeoise) because God IS on their side and thus blesses everything they do to order society in a ‘just’ way. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you O!

  15. …what the HELL is a ‘community organizer’?

    Yeah, I’ve known one of these very well now for 45yrs. – since he was 13, through the time when he became head of the/a San Francisco Communist Party, then a “Democrat” and University Prof.. You do not want this guy making any decisions for you perhaps beyond organizing barbecues, float trips, and basketball games. He still pines obsessively about never having gotten into the pants of one of my ex girl friends of 40 years ago!

    I also have known another one very well for 30 years now. He’s a little more slippery, but equal in immaturity, incompetence, narcissism, racism, sexism, etc., to the first one. You really do not want either one near you, but….why am I so lucky?

  16. I’m a racist AND sexist.

    I’ve got both strikes going against me: white (mostly) skin and testicles, too.

    The embrace of the ideas behind these two phrases –

    “the unrealistic politics of integrationist assimilation — which helps a few upwardly mobile blacks to ‘move up, get rich, and move out. . . . ’ ” and ““the politics of black rage and black nationalism”

    … should be disqualifying on their face when such a flawed individual is being considered for elective office at any level in this nation. Especially executive office.

  17. I am going to pre-emptively denounce and condemn myself. And BJ.

  18. First, Obama rejects, “the unrealistic politics of integrationist assimilation — which helps a few upwardly mobile blacks to ‘move up, get rich, and move out. . . . ’ ” This statement might surprise many Obama supporters, who seem to think of him as the epitome of integrationism. Yet Obama’s repudiation of integrationist upward mobility is fully consistent with his career as a community organizer, his general sympathy for leftist critics of the American “system,” and of course his membership at Trinity. Obama, we are told, “quickly learned that integration was a one-way street, with blacks expected to assimilate into a white world that never gave ground.

    That is a very interesting aspect of this whole Obama/Wright/BLT dealo. Having lived in a mix community for most of most of my adult life (although I was in the minority), I find that interesting. So … how was my neighborhood a one-way street of integration? How the fuck was it?

    Was it because my neighbors kept their houses and gardens nice? That we frowned on loud obnoxious (ghetto) behavior? Black culture has some SERIOUS problems, social problems – but have those somehow been ingrained to be some sort of black authenticity?

    I really don’t know what else is meant by the whole “one-way-street” integration idea.

    If nice neighborhoods, with children not acting like hellions and people respecting each other is “white” then I just don’t know what to say.

    I could tell stories …

    Kids walking down the street (from nearby hoods) – throwing their TRASH straight on the ground- into my well kept garden. Girls screaming obscenities, screaming- loud talking aimed to make everyone notice them … thugs walking down the middle of the street like they owned it. Girls, and children too.

    I swear, black (urban/ poor) society is broken. /rant off.

  19. One more – a kid was trying to steal my husband’s car, when I arrived home from work -late – I bartended, so it was probably after 3 in the morning. I pulled my car behind the other, so the car (which he was attempting to steal) was blocked in. What did this numskull do? He knocked at my door. I didn’t answer – I’m not stupid, but asked him what (the hell) he wanted. He said it was raining, and could he use my phone. I didn’t know what he’d been doing at that moment. I told him I’d call whoever he wanted, but I wasn’t opening the door. He had me call his MOTHER – who said (to me) “you tell him to get home the same way he got there” … At (almost) four in the morning.

    Nice. The next morning I figured out what had actually happened (his tools were still in the car – and you could see where he was trying to jack the ignition.)

  20. Somebody better denounce me. But, it’s just the basis of BLT offends me so much. How does the “white world” not give? WTF does that actually mean in real terms? I say it is actually a phrase totally devoid of actual meaning.

  21. I’d denounce you Carin, but with my stain of white privilege it would probably come across as more of an endorsement.

  22. Whoa. Black Liberation Theology is fucked up. It has no place in modern day America. It really has never had a place in America at any time. Maybe people took comfort in telling themselves that they were not inferior but in fact superior to their oppressors at one time – fuck if I know. But there IS a legitimate issue that ALL black people discuss, about the legitimacy of the one way street of assimilation. It comes up for every black person. The way I style my hair is a decision on assimilation. Because you talk or think about this issue or even reject the premise that your own color or culture is somehow not as American, it does not mean you are some kind of creepy-assed subversive.

    But I agree that there may be a legitimate concern about him being a theocrat. Black churchy types get a free pass with their crazy Jesus-banging, gay bashing, and general fucking nuttiness all the time and it pisses me off. He had some “ex-gay” fucktard traveling around with him when he first announced his bid. But he suddenly got rid of him when people noticed. What an asshole. I have been monitoring his speeches for any theocrat dog-whistling. We will see.

  23. It’s the same dynamic, Carin, that gave us ebonics. Because talking English correctly was “talking white”/talking in the language of the Oppressor.

    Whereas the bastardization of the language revealed a kind of authenticity — even if it was a completely manufactured indicator of authenticity, such that those who weren’t speaking it were somehow race traitors.

    Now, don’t get me wrong: the richness of this country’s language is built on the admixture of ethnic argot to the primary set of standard English signs. It is when such argot demands segregation as its own language, one that insists upon coequal status to its host, that we find critiques of “assimilation,” and appeals to authenticity.

    And of course, that in turn demands that those who have wandered off the linguistic plantation either head back and get up to speed, or else be deemed bourgeois sellouts (which is the modern day meaning of Uncle Tom, particularly when “middle classism” is now somehow a “white” phenomenon).

    So much could be written on this in a serious, academic way. But I think when I get back home, I’ll just let a steamed dumpling and Billy Jack do the Socratic work necessary to illuminate the pernicious kernel assumptions of such a worldview.

    Till then, suffice it to say that Obamalot won’t be welcoming in any Green Knights, lest they first learn to hate their greenness as a tool of institutionalized racism directed at the Black Man and those others who’ve yet to be (socially) knighted.

  24. “SERIOUS problems, social problems – but have those somehow been ingrained to be some sort of black authenticity?”

    Giving all that up is resented in some local circles. I’m not sure why. Is it “black” to reject learning to speak and read? Focus on math and science instead of playground basketball and early sex?
    I remember some discussion in the “Story of English” doccumentary that ran some years ago, that speech patterns really did get in the way of assimilation. I remember discussion of differences in so-called “black speech” – volume of speech was much moreso an inflection for meaning.

    In my own local experience, There’s a native tongue or patois and using any other is seen as fakery or attempt to pass, necessary to get ahead…emcumbered by resentment and ambivalence by the people who completely succeed at it. It’s like they feel they have to reject themselves to fit into what they percieve as the “white world”, even though the white world hasn’t really cared if they are black or not, just if they can think and speak and write and do as well as anyone else.

    I’m totally denouncing myself right now.

  25. The way I style my hair is a decision on assimilation

    So’s mine, along with everything else I do. Get used to it: it’s called dealing with life.

  26. But there IS a legitimate issue that ALL black people discuss, about the legitimacy of the one way street of assimilation. It comes up for every black person. The way I style my hair is a decision on assimilation. Because you talk or think about this issue or even reject the premise that your own color or culture is somehow not as American, it does not mean you are some kind of creepy-assed subversive.

    No, it doesn’t mean you are some “creepy-assed subversion”; it just means that you don’t particularly understand how culture works.

    The way you style your hair is not an issue of assimilation. Styling your hair anyway you like, by dint of your being an American, instantly makes that hairstyle part of American culture. “Culture,” that is, absorbs what is happening culturally — which quite naturally explains how, for instance, language is enriched by ethnic jargon that, so often, becomes mainstreamed.

    Just because people in the past have thought that to assimilate they must break out the pomade (and yes, there were legitimate social reasons to do so, given the state of race relations at certain times in this country) doesn’t mean that they were correct about the central premises of assimilation.

    Assimilation is simply the recognition that we all share, say, a national identity — one that is (counterintuitively, perhaps) able to absorb just about any kind of fringe behavior.

    The only caveat being that that fringe behavior does not demand special dispensation and segregated status — nor does it insist upon its ability to segregate based on certain essentialist* ideas about identity.

    *and here, remember that I believe “social construct” theories as they pertain to ‘race’ are but essentialism dressed in the fashionable garb of sociology and post structuralism.

  27. But there IS a legitimate issue that ALL black people discuss, about the legitimacy of the one way street of assimilation. It comes up for every black person. The way I style my hair is a decision on assimilation. Because you talk or think about this issue or even reject the premise that your own color or culture is somehow not as American, it does not mean you are some kind of creepy-assed subversive.

    The way you style your hair, Lisa, is no more of a marker than the way anyone styles their hair. Everyone has basic insecurities that no one else understands. For (some) blacks, I think those insecurities get cloaked into a racial mix, where as a “white” person can’t pigeonhole it in that way.

    I don’t have long, flowing, silky hair like all the models either. So what the hell does that mean?

    Can anyone here admit to ever giving two figs to how a black person chose to wear their hair? If it wasn’t American enough? I cry BS, I honestly do.

    I (only) car about how one ACTS and lives their life. My old neighbors (I moved a few months back to take care of my father) were mostly the sort of neighbors one would want. One used to get out a set of steel drums, dress in full African (colorful) dresses and play music when we had a street fest. I loved it. Everyone did. It was uplifting and joyful.

    When my other neighbor used to blast his ghetto/crap music from his car (so loudly our windows would rattle) , my elderly (retired) black neighbor would go over and tell him to turn the damn shit off.

  28. Or you can just opt out of the whole hair thing. It’s America.

  29. I mean don’t you see that in Rev. Wright’s (incredibly racist) assertion of, or demand that the world accept, that blacks perceive the world through the lens of a completely different brain ( the “right brained cock-and-bull) – “they” think in sounds and colors and smells like they are the farging Instapundit with funny wiring. Can’t tell time, can’t be expected to have this work ethic or that, that the “white standard” of behaving oneself like a calvinist or epicopalian is just impossible and oppressive and demeaning of the reality of the quote-unquote black brain. I don’t have to tell you this is the exact opposite of what my idea of racial equality was…that there is an objective standard of upwardly mobile aspirational behaviour and that anyone might meet it and succeed.

  30. Black Bald is beautiful?

  31. Shiny hairless domes rule …

  32. Exquisite argument Jeff.
    Society shapes culture according to its needs.
    Razib said that, not me. ;)

    I disagree that BLT wasn’t culturally relevent at the time of origin.
    When Cones book was published in 1970, he had seen a decade of white southern christian churches in action.
    His book was a reaction to that culture.

    The themes of the book are no longer relevent, is all, and Wright and others atttempts to inform modern culture with BLT themes are dated and falacious have devolved into simple greivance politics.

  33. I wish to make an important denouncment of myself, but first the purge-confession.

    I think one way you can tell Michelle Obama is angry is her hair. It it ruthlessly resisting her attempts at relaxation. Yet she has chosen to smooth it out and flip it. I get the impression she feels she has to do that to her hair to meet her own idea of what being an accomplished black woman is, and what she thinks everyone else’s idea of is, and that she hates her hair, hates is. Both it’s smoothness and its naturalness and the hair wrangling is like those black and white guys on star-trek fighting till the end of time.

  34. sarahw, genetic discrimation is a fact, between group variation is a fact, and you all are simply going to have to accept it as our knowledge of the human genome increases.

  35. Carin that is simply because no one ever told you that your hair was too ethnic for a business meeting. Nor has a headhunter ever told you to make sure that you don’t wear braids or a kinky (natural for us) hairstyle to an interview.

    It has been an issue for a long time. I dont expect you to understand it, but don’t just dismiss it because it isnt part of your experience. It is what it is. It is really not as big a deal anymore. But it is there. And we talk about it. Wooooooooo scary!!!

  36. “hates her hair, hates it. I think she’s mad she lives in an America where hair is a star-trek guy fight.

  37. Well sure yeah it also helps if you have a great body. You can pull off just about any hair you want. I see this a lot.

  38. “BLT themes are dated and falacious”

    They were fallacious when Hegel dreamed them up. They were dated before BLT was ever conceived. The actual micron thinness of your “understanding” is a rebuke to the education system of the United States.

  39. But there IS a legitimate issue that ALL black people discuss, about the legitimacy of the one way street of assimilation. It comes up for every black person.

    Lisa, it comes up with every minority: to assimilate or not?

    Think of a culture as something big and heavy that’s being pushed by all the members. Not everybody pushes in the same direction; a minority whose culture goes in a different direction pushes sideways on it. But because they are a minority, that force doesn’t change the course much — their force isn’t strong enough to overcome the others’. By the same token, it does move a little — assimilation does work both ways; it just may not move Juggernaut far enough to satisfy the minority, while still deflecting it enough to irritate the majority (“Hey, those b*s are pushing in the wrong direction!”)

    Dictators often exploit that latter. “Hey, we could go a lot farther and faster if everybody pushed in the same direction!” It’s true — but there are hazards. If the direction everybody is pushing is toward a cliff, which it often is, the result is disaster. The secret to American success is that we don’t get too antsy when people push sideways. It might just be that the guys pushing from the side can see ahead, as the ones in back can’t, and have detected a pit that needs to be avoided. But it’s always true that the ones who get too far in front, pushing backwards, are gonna get graunched. That’s not because anybody wants to steamroller them, mind you; it’s just the way the process works.

    Regards,
    Ric

  40. Carin that is simply because no one ever told you that your hair was too ethnic for a business meeting.

    My boss once told me I smiled too much in the hallway and looked like Miss America, so I needed to stop smiling. I wore my hair pulled back into a low ponytail for almost a year so it wouldn’t look too feminine. I wore those god-awful rosettes and little man suits at work in the late 80’s.
    A guy I worked with was told to cut his hair. Another guy was told he couldn’t wear his Perry Ellis rain slicker into the office.
    We’ve all been through it, Lisa, even us white peoples.

  41. - I don’t know just how useful this observation will be in gaining some perspective and insight along the cliff of changing American culture admixes, but one thing that always seems to underline the swirling churn of the multirace dance is that two bedrock immutables always seem to frame the portrait.

    – With Blacks it is the perpetual “disadvantage”, and with Whites its the codified dream of “civility”. Black America would seem to be willing to follow absolutely any template, just as long as they exit the other end, race card intact. Whites will entertain any sort of social shift, as long as their vision of the “comfortable, civil life” remains essentially intact. Within these constraints, any sort of social integration might proceed apace. Threaten either sacred cow, and conflict results.

    – Cosby has it right. Both cultures need to outgrow their security blankets, and focus on coorperative success. Diversity is an invauluble traint, and a wonderful aspect of the human state, but diversity without focus and goals is just noise. America is the best canvas for humankind advancement on the planet. It would be a shame if we wasted it on such an abstract meaningless painting that no one could benefit from it.

  42. Assimilation means throwing aside all of the contrived historical identifiers and leaning on the “Content of Character” of both those being assimilated and the assimilator.

    While the above, upon reflection, sounds like a “Borg” storyline, assimilation into culture has never stood for removing all cultural indicators. That which makes each culture unique and rich becomes a part of the national identity. What would our country be like without the genesis of African dance, Italian food, Latin music, Greek Festivals, Indian Clothing, Native American lore etc. et al?

    It’s only when one “side” or the other sees the cultural uniqueness as a barrier to be defended that the trouble starts. From either side. In order for a national society to function and be enriched cultural differences are received and embraced as long as they do not differ from the fundamental rights as put forth by the constitution. (That includes, IMHO, national sovreignty and border security.) We are not free to worship anyway we want nor are we free to institute cultural practices anyway we want if if those practices are at odds with our legal system. Thus a muslim is not free to beat his wife nor are muslim communities free to institute shar’ia law within their own communities.

    Those that insist upon promoting racial/cultural barriers from either side of the argument create way more problems than they solve.

  43. Lisa, I am thinking you may not understand something. Hair, for plain old white chicks, is a huge deal in the business world. There is business meeting hair and working girl hair. I have seen women counseld on their hair. Lawyers do it this way, drug-reps that way, beauty queens another way….it’s like business dress.

    White women get counseled for stupid hairstyles. Overly elaborate, long, teased, sprayed, braided, frizzy….is just as bad for a white woman. It determines your image. For men, too. Some fields tolerate one thing, some demand another.

    Being told not to wear fussy hair is not a slam at some great African-American tradition of glistening towers of weave-braids. A natural haircut kept neat and simple is actually highly approved of in the business world. Crazy hair never is.

  44. It has been an issue for a long time. I dont expect you to understand it, but don’t just dismiss it because it isnt part of your experience. It is what it is. It is really not as big a deal anymore. But it is there. And we talk about it. Wooooooooo scary!!!

    It’s not that I don’t understand it -why don’t you just say it like you wanna – “It’s a black thing, you wouldn’t understand.”

    Believe it or not, but white people actually need to dress up for a part as well. Men cut their hair when they graduate from college to go on interviews. Women style their hair in a professional manner … in certain professions, it’s just the bs that goes along with it. It’s not racism. sorry.

    Black or white, people need to assimilate (in different ways) in the business world. It’s important in some careers, not so important in others.

  45. Let me caveat before i link Steve, that Jeff’s construct: race is cultural, based on memes, and Steve’s construct: race is based on the statistics of phenotypic expression and molecular biololgy.
    Two entirely different things.

  46. The themes of the book are no longer relevent, is all, and Wright and others atttempts to inform modern culture with BLT themes are dated and falacious have devolved into simple greivance politics.

    Yet she continues to have O!-gasms.

    Lisa – Those headhunters are idiots then.

    Assimilation was never a choice for Better Half. It was expected. Assimilation in no way requires one to abandon their roots or their culture.

  47. “god-awful rosettes and little man suits”

    AUUuugghhh. Oh, lordy. At least that did get old quick, though. Eventually it was marker for someone with no power and, thus, abandoned.

  48. For men, too. Some fields tolerate one thing, some demand another.

    It’s worse for men. The young hopeful in the business world has maybe two hairstyle options and those barely vary. Unless he happens to be black, then the options increase a bit because black hair doesn’t conform to the uniform white hairstyle. Men’s dress is similarly restricted to a degree that women’s isn’t, and that goes for black guys too. Anyone know of a business gig for men where pants are an option?

  49. Rick Ballard, what I said was true.
    Cone’s 1970 book was a reaction to the dominant culture of white southern christian churches.
    In his perception the white christians did not consider blacks to be part of their congregations.

  50. My boss once told me I smiled too much in the hallway and looked like Miss America, so I needed to stop smiling. I wore my hair pulled back into a low ponytail for almost a year so it wouldn’t look too feminine. I wore those god-awful rosettes and little man suits at work in the late 80’s.

    Linky ? ;-)

  51. Rick Ballard, what I said was true.

    That would be a first, or at the very least, a notable event.

  52. JD,

    Assimilation was never a choice for Better Half. It was expected.

    This is the culture. You will excel in it. Or something like that, right?

  53. Pablo – More like … Our lives were saved by Americans, and you have been given the greatest opportunity on this planet. You will take advantage of it.

  54. Lisa, I suppose we are to believe that Blacks have special needs because Amerikkka is racist. Now just how could that possibly work, especially given that it never has?

    Lose the imposed fantasy, Marxist Narrative, Lisa. Free yourself.

    p.s. – at least your BDS seems to be subsiding.

  55. When I did the 1/4 inch clippers thing my boss told me he felt I should grow my hair longer. They found him dead in his house like a few months after that. I figure it was the added stress of having my hair to worry about.

  56. Ah, gratitude. That always sneaks up on me.

  57. Pablo – Pants might be optional for taber-tossers. Or is that just underpants?

  58. No no no….I totally understand what you are saying. But I think we are going into the realm of being uncomfortable with the fact that sometimes people are uncomfortable with the demands of our culture. I am not saying that I have some big frigging issue with getting the Oprah hairdo or that I simmer with resentment at mainstream American culture.

    I remember a discussion Dan Collins and I had not long ago about how pretty the daughter of Alice White is. The picture we were looking at showed her in her natural, kinky haired glory, but that wasn’t even an issue – showing how different we are than the folks just a generation ago. Not long ago, Dorothy Dandridge and Lena Horne were the ONLY acceptable “pretty” for black people. Obviously, I can wear my hair any way I want in most situations. But it was only 1996 when I was recruited help with a big merger and was told to show up with my hair straigtened and to please not wear any braids. I never wear my hair kinky or in braids but I am always surprised when I am instructed not to. Then I want to show up with a big fro with one of those picks with a fist on the handle.

    Maybe I am erroneously non-plussed because it is something that is always so casually discussed among black people. But those of us with ambitions are always worried about being too ethnic or coming off as the “stereotypical black”. It is one of those “hey you do what you have to do to make it in America…but it kinda sucks sometimes”.

  59. Not just a black thing, this speak-properly or hairstyle thing.

    What of the mullet-wearing town folks? If one of their number goes to college, cuts his hair more conventionally, and speaks without using “ain’t,” he’s in danger of being scorned by his community of origin, too.

    That’s an interesting, subtle racism–assuming certain experiences are unique to the black community, or (more generally) to racial minorities, and never happen to whites.

  60. Pablo – Gratitude, coupled with a complete lack of choice. You will learn English. You will get good grades. You will complete college. You will be successful. Her family reunions look like a Lexus/Mercedes dealership.

  61. #47: No, I try not to be dismissive just because someone never went there. That was my point. Just because I have never gotten a sunburn does not mean the shit doesn’t hurt.

    I know we all have to make compromises. I worked in an environment where I sometimes had to mix the then CEO of Chevron a highball. I totally talked trash about having to do it, but I was not going to loose our agency an account to make a point. Shit like that happens in life and it is not a big deal. But that does not mean that you don’t discuss it and sometimes question whether you are being a chump or not.

  62. But those of us with ambitions are always worried about being too ethnic or coming off as the “stereotypical black”.

    Possibly, but I want to reiterate what someone said (better) upthread. Perhaps if you are black you can say they didn’t want you to be too black. I’m a woman, so I can say they didn’t want me to be too womanly. Maybe only white men have the freedom to say it’s just business and not try to blame it on oppression of some sort (although those rosettes were a human rights violation).

    Maybe Lena Horne was the only acceptable prettiness for black women (although who is that banana-leaf dancer chick?), but not all white women looked like Jane Russell or Marilyn Monroe, you know?

  63. It comes down to having to fit the mold, and that’s something we all have to do to some extent if we want to work in places that desire people who fit a certain mold.

    We can all fly our freak flags if we want to but we’re not going to do it while working for Goldman Sachs or Ropes & Gray.

  64. Lisa – I get what you are saying. Just about everyone that works in corporate America has to make those kinds of choices at some point. I guarantee I could not have got to my position with a mullet, or a comb over. And do not even get me started on the difference in acceptable dress codes for women and men …

  65. Josephine Baker.

  66. Maybe only white men have the freedom to say it’s just business and not try to blame it on oppression of some sort (although those rosettes were a human rights violation).

    I feel compelled to point out that men are required to tie a noose around their necks before showing up at the office.

  67. MayBee is just teasing us by denying us a linky … ;-)

  68. Any talk of nooses is racist, Pablo. I denounce and condemn you too.

  69. It is one of those “hey you do what you have to do to make it in America…but it kinda sucks sometimes”.

    Well, at least no one seems to be pining about going “back” to Africa, ala BLT and “African Americans”.

  70. #62: That is spurious.

  71. #63 JD – That’s the part I was expecting.

  72. How is #62 spurious? I’ve seen it happen! Culture shock when a guy arrives from some mining town at college? ‘Course, he doesn’t have a special office to go to, though.

  73. But, Lisa – this isn’t about hair. That’s really just a diversion from the issue. Hair is “fashion” and thus does tend to saying something about the person. To say that whites must conform to business “norms” while blacks can do whatever the hell they want … well, that’s not really equality, is it? I bet most white women let their hair down the minute they get in their car, and kick off those uncomfortable shoes and panty house as soon as they get home.

    OTOH, Happy is right – an absolutely gorgeous woman can wear her hair however the hell she wants to. How unfair is that?

    To return – I really doubt that the original idea – First, Obama rejects, “the unrealistic politics of integrationist assimilation — which helps a few upwardly mobile blacks to ‘move up, get rich, and move out. . . . ’ ” This statement might surprise many Obama supporters, who seem to think of him as the epitome of integrationism – was about hair.

    Obama rejects the unrealistic politics of integrationist assimilation. Assuming he’s not talking about hair – what does that mean?

  74. Pablo- it’s a lynching!

    JD- http://tinyurl.com/454sgb

  75. JohnAnnArbor,

    I’ve never seen anyone reviled in his hometown for renouncing the mullet, or doing well in school. Although my Mom did relate the sad tale of a Newport TN sharecropper who denounced higher education for his son on the basis that he shouldn’t know more than his father. Some aint’s and stuff were sprinkled in, there, I don’t do the story justice. That was a sad story, told with sadness.

  76. - JD – In my youth, as the garden party gathered its feild of snobs, preparing to award me with some hard earned badge of compliance, my “boys” would have been busy stealing all their shiny hubcaps.

    – But then I was always a “soft antagonist”, playfull, and stylishly disrespectful to the dogma.

    BTW – We seem, as a intellectual community, to have defacto adapted a sort of cultural “carbon credits” “get out of racist jail card”, in regards to our affiable acceptance of total senounciation of this subject.

    – Ergo. We’re probably not very good at this racism business.

  77. Well thanks for at least considering my point rather than dismissing it out of hand.

    But just because you are aware that you are assimilating and have some sadness that you have to do so (isn’t that the premise of a thousand movies/books) does not mean that you are: A) Feeling Oppressed B)Hating on Teh Whitey C)Hating on Teh Menfolks D) Whining and crying for reparations E) Stupidly thinking that NO other people have had to make compromises in life.

  78. That was a white sharecropper, if it matters.

  79. Barack Obama, whooooop!

  80. SarahW- really? You’ve never heard someone criticized for “putting on airs?”.

  81. - “denunciation” – the other is probably some new-age ailment I’m suffering from, but not rich enough to have it recognized formally.

  82. Pablo – I wish I could have everyone hear Better Half’s parents, and their siblings, tell their story. I have been trying to get them to put it to paper. Success was not really an expectation, because that implies that there was the chance of failure. The parents worked many tireless jobs to ensure that every available opportunity would be afforded the children. They are truly some of the most selfless people I have ever had the honor to meet.

  83. “We’re probably not very good at this racism business.”

    The ROI has been crappy for decades – since about the time Byrd gave up his Kleagleship, if I’m not mistaken.

  84. Ergo. We’re probably not very good at this racism business.

    As it turns out, it doesn’t tend to pay. On the other hand rejection of it through one’s actions can and does.

  85. MayBee – I think I can speak for everyone when I say that though we appreciate the link to Ms. Baker, that is not the link we were hoping for. But, your links have proven to be painful in the past, ie. Rosie in black leather and a hairy back.

  86. Lisa, no it doesn’t always or even generally mean” A) Feeling Oppressed B)Hating on Teh Whitey C)Hating on Teh Menfolks D) Whining and crying for reparations E) Stupidly thinking that NO other people have had to make compromises in life.”

    But sometimes it DOES.

    Michelle Obama, has serious hair issues, there is pain and definately seething in that hair.

  87. #76: I was using hair/beauty as an example. That is all. That is all I could think of as a personal anecdote for why I have had those kind of conversations.

    My point is that talking about assimilation is common among people who eh, happen to be black. I am not saying that other people DON’T talk about it or casting any aspersions upon any other American’s experience. I am not even saying that assimilation is some kind of black only subject.

  88. As it turns out, it doesn’t tend to pay. On the other hand rejection of it through one’s actions can and does.

    In theory. It does not keep you from being called a racist for being in disagreement with Teh Narrative, or various policy positions, or not liking Baracky.

  89. Lisa, melancholy is perfectly appropriate. Such realizations are the beginning of lost youth and nobody loves them.

    Anger, and teaching your children to buy into such anger is not even close to appropriate.

  90. Just how is some guy who is worried about his racist, anti-American Church getting too much heat and light a “uniter”?

  91. You will be happy to know that I will avoid all posts of this nature in the future. I never really end up saying much of any value though it is my intent to do so.

  92. Assimilation is not a bad thing. There is a well worn path that leads to success in this country. Not assimilating should not be an option. One need not give up their culture, race, anything to become a productive and successful member of society.

  93. My point is that talking about assimilation is common among people who eh, happen to be black.

    What is said? Is there any unfairness or discrimination mentioned?

  94. You will be happy to know that I will avoid all posts of this nature in the future.

    I will most certainly not be happy should that be the case.

  95. I still want to know what Obama is talking about.

    And, it would be nice if we could get (at least) to the point where “being white” wasn’t the punchline in the jokes of black comedians.

  96. JD – true, but in that case the term racist has been redefined to mean those who disagree with me. So it’s not actual racism, its being lied about that causes the negative effect, as lies often do.

  97. You will be happy to know that I will avoid all posts of this nature in the future. I never really end up saying much of any value though it is my intent to do so.

    No, that wouldn’t make me happy either.
    You do add value, but that doesn’t mean we’ll all agree. In fact, that’s the valuable part.

  98. I never really end up saying much of any value though it is my intent to do so.

    Not true at all. You’ve been the springboard for a number of these discussions that I’m told we’re supposed to be having as part of the healing process. You’re a uniter! Lisa ’08!

  99. But, Lisa, don’t you think that a discussion leading to the conclusion that this isn’t about “hair” is of value? If we (larger) society are talking about integration/assimilation and the black folks are thinking “hair” and the white folks are talking about something else …

  100. - Lisa. If you quit, then I quit, and if we all quit then there goes all that hope for the shining house on the hill. Don’t do it.

    – Rage against the dying of the light.

  101. 102 comments so far — mostly without Nishi. See, Lisa. You do add value.

  102. I believe that we have reached a point in our nation where the structural barriers have become less important than the individual ones.

    That’s not to say that retro-structural barriers based upon race/sex/culture have been obliterated. They exist as shrinking pockets here and there, usually defined wither by specialty industries or particular regions. Rather there are still individuals who are bobbing along playing the same narrowly defined game of cultural identity as if the 1950’s never left and the three martini lunch was still in force.

    One would think that the sorts of philisophies like BLT that rely on aggresively attacking structural barriers are too often destined to be like that gifted child leaning hard into a door that says “pull.” (ht – Gary Larsen) In many circumstances the individual can be empowered to deal with individually created barriers under those circumstances where the institution is not to blame.

    This is my fundamental problem with progresivism: It structures the clarion call around a meta-structural meme, damning the system, while excusing and sissifying the individual. One needs structure to !FIGHT THE MAN! after all. There are times when barriers require an organization to effect breaching but most of that is already contained in State and Federal statutes. Empower the individual and teach them personal responsibility and self reliance and a great many of those barriers will be breached.

    You know, that whole “content of their character” thang!

    JD: I denounce you for any barries you may have erected in front of Better Half and/or family due to you unconscious lily white tendencies. My brown person denouncement is worth double points, BTW.

  103. We need more Lisa’s in these sort of conversations, not less.

  104. - And Lisa. I for one would like to extend my appreciation for exactly that, all the value you bring to the discussion. I won’t go off in some over the top gushing nonsense. But you understand without me saying the words. They’d sound condescending, and they’re not nearly that phony. I love your contributions. Thats the simplest way I can say it.

  105. #96: Sometimes. A lot of times, people talk (and argue) about standards of beauty that seem to eschew blackness (my mother talks about her college days where sororities that used the “brown paper bag test” for admission – where if you were darker than a brown paper bag, you were not allowed in); questions about what American black culture is; criticisms of people who think they get to define what is authentic, etc, etc.

    But that is my defense of Obama questioning the concept of assimilation. For all I know he could have been talking about painting the White House black. I don’t know. But I always feel the need to say “whoa” when I see this kind of post because it seems paranoid to me. But then again, I thought that Trinity was probably not as crazy as the media was making it out to be and I turned out to be wrong. So maybe I am wrong again.

  106. the interestin thing about Wright, is that while MOST of what he says is absolute crap, there are particles of truth in the torrent.
    like Operation Ajax did likely contribute to poisoning our relations with Arab states, so that might be one chicken….the rest of his chickens are lies tho.
    there ARE racial cognitive differences, but not the profoundly goofy ones he points out like black/white clapping.
    BLT WAS relevent protest against an oppressive at the time, but not any more.

    IJS

  107. Maybee, If you mean people looked down on for graspy,failing climbey-ness. sure. But I don’t think I’ve had the experience too many times of seeing people run down for achievment.

    Honestly I’ve never heard anyone criticized for losing a mullet on purpose. Maybe a commiseration, like, “too bad the poor SOB had to cut his hair” like they don’t know mullets are wrong.

  108. an opressive culture

  109. BJ – I am an oppressor. That is my nature. White penis people cannot help it.

  110. like they don’t know mullets are wrong.

    If having a mullet is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

  111. it is like Wright has classic dementia praecox, paranoid schizophrenia with delusions of grandeur.
    i wonder if he has ever been diagnosed as schizophrenic.

  112. - Well you must suck at it JD. Otherwise you wouldn’t have to do your own typing.

  113. And we all know that the nishit can recognize teh krazy. It is the self awareness part that it struggles with.

  114. “SERIOUS problems, social problems – but have those somehow been ingrained to be some sort of black authenticity?”

    The horrible answer to this question is that there is some truth in self-destructive behaviour being seen as necessary to authenticity. This would be where the “hair” is surface treatment.

  115. like Operation Ajax did likely contribute to poisoning our relations with Arab states

    Iran is (mostly) Persian, not Arab.

  116. JD, I believe you might be the Ginger Rogers of mullet-wearing. If the planes and dimensions of the face are just so, a mullet can emphasize attractive traits. Most girls couldn’t carry off a Rogers upsweep, but Ginger could.

  117. “Iran is (mostly) Persian, not Arab.”

    – Facts have never interfered with nishi.

  118. I never really end up saying much of any value [here] though it is my intent to do so.

    Beware the Progressives, who will say this statement is a sign of brainwashing – because that’s what they do.

    To the contrary, and your lack of value claim is false, imo. [= more "brainwashing"?]

  119. See also, Happyfeet #39.

  120. #96: Sometimes. A lot of times, people talk (and argue) about standards of beauty that seem to eschew blackness (my mother talks about her college days where sororities that used the “brown paper bag test” for admission – where if you were darker than a brown paper bag, you were not allowed in); questions about what American black culture is; criticisms of people who think they get to define what is authentic, etc, etc.

    Thanks.
    What I’m trying to say is this. It gets really easy to become insulated and think those things are happening to us because we are (fill in the blank). I see a church like TUCC telling people that is indeed the case, and the answer is to insulate yourself from the people imposing this on you.
    In reality, we all have experiences like this. Standards of beauty are always something other than what we all look like. We are all rejected for some things based on our looks, our clothing, our mannerisms.
    You can choose to see it as being directed at you (not you you) because you are (fill in the blank), or you can choose to see it as a common experience with all people in society.
    I mean, who gets to say what is authentic about anything?

    I’m not saying this well.

  121. Thank you! I really appreciate that. I realize I have a lot of assumptions that have been spoon-fed to me from birth. Though I am a mostly happy liberal, one of the biggest disappointments of progressivism is the bullshit about race that one is expected to swallow – and a lot of people on the left think they are totally right – Teh Whites are Teh Evil and that is it – and subject should be closed (or you are a self-hating house pickaninny or whatever). I don’t buy that, but I don’t really know the right way to discuss it. It is such an odd subject. But I am glad for you all. You kinda rule.

    Gathers you all my bosom/sugartits for a hopeyhug.

  122. questions about what American black culture is; criticisms of people who think they get to define what is authentic, etc, etc.

    See, I think this is part of the problem. I don’t believe there is a “American black culture.” Attempts to create one – pigeon hole it into this or that is damaging to both blacks and larger society.

    There are lots of American experiences. Some black, some white … but most having nothing to do with color.

  123. #45: Ha!!!

  124. Pingback: ZEITGEIST

  125. Carin –

    There are lots of American experiences. Some black, some white … but most having nothing to do with color.

    That’s the way it should be thought about. And there are plenty of people willing with their hands on the denounce button for that kind of thinking.

  126. re 128
    willing to activate the trap door to the racist-labeling pit below, that is.

  127. - #128 – There are not a few people on both sides of the discussion that have lots of reasons to never complete, or even begin the healing.

  128. oh, Ajax messed us up with the Iranians, never doubt it.
    but as far as 9/11 chickens, Ajax convinced a lot of Arab states(from whence the 9/11 hijackers originated) that we were the new colonialist imperators on the block, and they were going to be next.

  129. - Matter of fact I’ve often wondered just what the hell one of the “prevayers of the chaos” would do, if at the end of such a speach the entire crowd would stand up and say…..”Ok sir. We have all decided to adopt to the program you’re espousing completely. We will henceforth do everything by the book as you’ve outlined it. No more straying. We are of one mind and totally dedicated. so now you can rest at ease, The die is cast, and you can go home now. Thank you.”

  130. “but I don’t really know the right way to discuss it”

    If you run accross someone who does, could you let us know? ‘Cause it isn’t as if you’re in a particularly lonely place. I actually feel a bit crowded.

  131. wow…racism is a fantasy liberal constuct?
    man, you guys are delusional.

    all join hands with Lisa and sing koombyah, plz.

  132. “racism is a fantasy liberal constuct?”, No Nishi, just the labeling of “anti-racism” as racism. There’s fantasy in that.

  133. Fantasy, and some really hot tiger on Unicorn action.

  134. #113: Laughs hard.

    You crack my shit up.

  135. Lisa, some of the jumpiness you may see here is that many white people (and lots of Asians) are used to being called collectively racist a LOT. College was the worst; from the beginning of orientation all the way through, the message was “you’re racist, shut up and let your betters tell you your opinion.” (This could be backed up with discipline, as some schools, like mine, imposed speech codes that were administered by secret tribunals; the Supreme Court struck the one at my school down several times.) Truth and evidence were not a defense against being called a racist.

    Example: at the University of Michigan, after a 1990 stabbing at a building called the Union, security started requiring student IDs at night to get in (the stabber and stabbee had not been students, I think). This was immediately called racist, and for years the accusation was floated constantly that security only checked for ID of black people. Well, then I must be one of those rare Scottish-German blacks, because they checked mine very single time, and I knew of no one of any race who was allowed in unchallenged. Yet the accusation was out there, and saying it wasn’t true earned you an instant “RACIST” label. I knew a student ID checker at a campus recreation building that was told to TACKLE (if necessary) people who tried to get by without showing ID, no matter how familiar, because if even one got by, they’d be open to a “RACIST” charge. Didn’t matter; they were labeled racist anyway!

  136. JD- if you look at the picture of Rosie and the guy with the hairy back and squint really hard til you see a fat lady with a hairy back– then it will be just like you’ve seen a picture of me.

  137. Someone’s talking to the voices in her head again.

    WEDGE!

  138. JAA, another example in which they came right out and said “All whites are racist.”

  139. wow…racism is a fantasy liberal constuct?
    man, you guys are delusional.

    all join hands with Lisa and sing koombyah, plz.

    Shorter Nishi: You are all racists cavorting about with yer token nigger.

    Sigh. You just made my point in #124 nishi. All discussions on race don’t have to be recriminations and “you fucking Bushitler racist bitches!” to be authentic. People might even walk away from such a discussion disagreeing, but still being okay with each other. That is how people discuss things in Grown Up Town.

  140. Excuse me but I have to go find my Official Aunt Jemima Head Covering.

    Be back later.

  141. Well, Lisa, in Nishi’s defense, you are probably too stupid to know we’re using you, right? ;)

    BELLCURVE!

  142. #144: Oh lawd!

  143. ..pick a bale o’ cotton.

    Oh, Lawdy, pick a bale o’ hay.

  144. Does Aunt Jemima still wear one? I thought she’d become more modern…

  145. Leave it to nishit to drop a deuce right in the middle of an actual discussion.

  146. I often wear a bandanna when I make pancakes. And the pancake-consumers are glad of it.

    Sometimes I just use a silastic ponytail holder, though.

  147. I know Mrs Butterworth has that bun going on.

  148. #150: Yes. Cooking with a bandanna on your head is good. Keeps your hair from smelling like bacon and keeps your hair out of the pancakes.

    Side note: I have considered donning a white suit with a pimp cane and an old school goatee when serving fried chicken – but it just has no practical use.

  149. Yes, Aunt J. has lost the bandanna.

    Those loose earrings look like a cracked molar waiting to happen, though. I hope they are not clip-ons.

  150. Yeah Mrs. Butterworth has the bun. But she creepily comes to life while you are eating pancakes and tells you how buttery she is. I don’t like that.

  151. I don’t believe there is a “American black culture.” Attempts to create one – pigeon hole it into this or that is damaging to both blacks and larger society.

    Wow, aren’t post-modern Marxists just o-soooo progressive!

  152. Does Obama’s rejection of ‘assimilation’ imply that he rejects assimilation for all minority communities at all times or just for his community of concern at this time? If it worked in the past, doesn’t work now, might it not still work in the future under his theory? Had assimilation never worked for any ethnic community? Does it work for any active ethnic community today, say Koreans, Mexicanos, Montagniards, native Nyer’s moved to N.C., what have you?

  153. To be honest, his rejection of assimilation/ integration kinda props up the ideas put forth by Wright about rejecting white “middleclassness.” I wondered if that was where he was going with it. It hints at it, doesn’t it?

    But, then he repudiated Wright, so CERTAINLY that is not what he meant, right?

  154. Carin
    It is particularly hard to figure out where Obama is coming from, not least because he won’t tell us, but keeps his politico/philosophical antecendents so carefully hidden. It appears that he comes into his “community oganizer” phase of his life with certain convictions in place. These, in turn, lead him to TUCC & Wright. (1988ish?) The paper he wrote, Karl notes, occurs just after he met Wright so it isn’t clear that O’s ideas about the failure of assimilation weren’t already fully formed. I’m open to correction on this.

  155. Lisa –

    But I think we are going into the realm of being uncomfortable with the fact that sometimes people are uncomfortable with the demands of our culture.

    I’m uncomfortable with the demands of our culture. Every day. That’s what freedom is, though. NOTHING is written; it is up to people to make freedom work. Injecting preconditions/stereotypes/false assumptions into the process is inefficient at best, and if carried to extremes becomes fatal to freedom. People TRULY are only worth the content of their character. Looking anywhere else is deciding which car to take to the dragstrip based on paint color.

    John makes a great point, too:

    “Lisa, some of the jumpiness you may see here is that many white people (and lots of Asians) are used to being called collectively racist a LOT.

    … which I alluded to way back up at the beginning of the thread.

    I was once diagnosed as borderline antisocial, ma’am, during an extremely stressful and exhausting time in my life. I’m MUCH better now *rimshot*. Part of the “cure”, if you will, is engaging strangers in respectful debate. I don’t have to agree with you, I don’t have to convince you, I don’t seek to be enlightened.

    But I have to behave. Over the years this practice has lead me to understand that of all treasures sprinkled in my path (our paths, and there are truly more treasures than we can number) the most precious is the ability to disagree without leaving blood on commons. If more folks accepted disagreeing amicably and respectfully as just about the highest achievement we, as a bunch of mange afflicted monkeys, are capable of, we might appreciate our world just a little more than we seem to do.

    Then again, maybe if I could write a succinct sentence, the same affect would be realized.

    Weigh in when you get the urge, ma’am. It’s all we can ever do.

  156. Lisa,
    Even the Colonel got more practical. It’s change I can believe in.

  157. “Obviously, there are many low-income minority kids who strive and manage to do well in school despite their disadvantages. But sadly, they’re not the majority. Too many of them — and especially the boys — accept the idea that school is a white-oriented institution that doesn’t offer anything they need or want.”

    “The boys’ attitude is to idolize millionaire rappers and basketball stars, to believe that you can’t be a real man and a student at the same time and that if you study you’re a sellout. This set of ideas is so strong and prevalent that it often affects even middle-class or lower-middle-class students.”

    The idea of “selling-out” (whether it be leaving behind an ineffective political party, or striving for something higher than your situation) is rooted in the crab-pot mentality.

    It’s an invisible form of slavery that keeps people bound to a lower quality of life than they deserve or are capable of. It’s really ingeniously self-perpetuating.

    Keep people thinking that they “must” act a certain way and they’ll maintain the facade (which is what it is by the way) forever. Notice the teacher said that many boys’ idolize millionaire rappers and basketball stars (if one more little kid tells me his dream is to go to the NBA). I put this fault on the parents.

    and this from Bill Cosby:
    “Let me tell you something, your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30 every day. It’s cursing and calling each other ‘nigger’ as they’re walking up and down the street. They think they hip — can’t read, can’t write — 50 percent of them.”

    “The more you invest in that child, the more you are not going to let some CD tell your child how to curse and how to say the word ‘nigger.’ This is an accepted word. You are so hip with ‘nigger,’ but you can’t even spell it.”

    “When you put on a record, and that record is yelling ‘nigger this’ and ‘nigger that’ and cursing all over the thing and you got your little six-year-old and seven-year-old sitting in the back seat of the car — those children hear that. And I am telling you when you put it the CD on and then you get up and dance to it — What are you saying to your children?”

    “Young men and old men, you’ve gotta stop beating up your women because you didn’t find a job, because you didn’t want to get an education and now you are [earning] minimum wage. You should have thought more of yourself when you were in high school.”

    “Our children are trying to tell us something (with their self-destructive behavior) and we’re not listening.”

    This is what the assimilation discussion is about really, not the hair thing. The hair thing was hashed out back in the 60’s.

  158. But she creepily comes to life while you are eating pancakes and tells you how buttery she is. I don’t like that.

    That’s kinda hot actually.

  159. john Asquared, are you mad?
    of course U of M is racist.
    when they quota-ized the black back in the bad old affirmative action days they had to make a buncha new remedial classes because the poor kids were so far behind the usual crop of incomers.
    check ur history. lawsuits?

    the Bell Tower Rapist…i read a book about that.

    “You are all racists cavorting about with yer token nigger.”

    lawlz, Lisa, you arent their token niggrah, youre their token librul!!!!!!
    hawhawhaw

  160. and im never gonna grow up, never grow up, not me!

  161. Sgt Ted – that is so dead-on it makes me wanna cry. I lived in that. A few blocks away from me was one of the worst high schools in Detroit. All that waste. Of potential and of money; tax money to educate when the parents won’t do the bare necessities to improve the odds that their kids will grow up to be productive and successful. Horrible.

  162. Well as a Kuyperian, I reject the idea that politics and faith are separate as well, but what that means to me is very distinct from what it means to Obama and Wright.

  163. Faith finagles the Kantian a-priori problem?

  164. I have as much hair as a boiled egg. This thread has left me feeling excluded.

  165. Lisa, some of the jumpiness you may see here is that many white people (and lots of Asians) are used to being called collectively racist a LOT. College was the worst; from the beginning of orientation all the way through, the message was “you’re racist, shut up and let your betters tell you your opinion.”

    Oh God, how true.

    My girlfriend in college (who I refer to around here as “The Librarian” since she decided to re-enter my life) had a roommate sophomore year who was a Jain; this roommate was dating a black guy. We all got along just fine; maybe not friends, but definitely friendly, if you understand my meaning. I mean, hell, there were nights all four of us were sleeping in that room, and as far as I can remember, I spent more time over there than in my actual dorm room.

    Then a jackass named Matt Hale popped up on campus. He’s a white supremacist (now in prison for conspiring to kill a federal judge), and did what that type of scum always do — try to put himself at the center of attention. There was the usual brouhaha about free speech, and what can be done about his type. My girlfriend and I made it clear we despised him — hell, I still do, and I suspect she does, too, if she’s even thought of the weasel in the years since — but her roommate said this to us:

    All white people think like him!”

    That was close to eighteen years ago, and it still leaves me baffled, and kinda hurt. I’m not going to claim to be absolutely perfect on the race front, but I have no delusions about being “superior” to anyone, for any reason.

    That specific episode — and lots of much smaller events over the years — made me very sensitive to being called a racist. How do you refute such an accusation?

  166. - *169 – Thats not a dishonest feeling I don’t think. One of my friends told me he finally figured out something that was so steeped in emotional baggage it took him years to discover it. He had a choice of rejecting hopelessness, and striving to a better life, or caving to the demonology. He said it takes a hearty soul to drive through the blizzard of peer pressure, and even the steady angst of your parents and family, if they are disillusioned to. He has done quite well, so theres evidence he knows what hes talking about.

  167. #170: That is so horrible. I wish people knew how hurtful that is, that white people DO have feelings feel pretty frigging insulted and hurt when someone makes that kind of blanket judgement based on one person or even a group of people.

    I feel the same nervousness and jumpiness (so do most of my peers that are black) when something like the OJ trial or the Duke Rape thing hits the headlines. You see black folks acting a fool on tv and inevitably, a friend or collegue will angrily demand “Why do you people act this way?” or “What is wrong with you guys?!?!?” And you just sit there hurt and pissed off but not really knowing how to answer that. It is like all the friendship, the hanging out and breaking bread with someone is just crushed under the weight of that moment of racial resentment.

    The sad, tiresome part is that someone like Rob has to explain that he is not racist, never burned any crosses, called anyone a nigger, doesn’t pay any particular attention to Matt Hale or David Duke. Or that I have to explain that I am not a racist; never burned down a Korean liquor store; had ten kids by different dads; never lived in the hood (okay now I live in Baltimore); I have never called anyone a cracka-assed cracka (I may have called my ex that); don’t demand reparations, etc., etc.

    It is exhausting, you know?

  168. O!ur next President ain’t no Racist!

    He’s an O!reo.

    WhO!op!

  169. Thank you all for a most interesting thread today….well, except for Hammer Bot and the Rocket Powered Turtle…

  170. SO!ck it!

  171. I feel the same nervousness and jumpiness (so do most of my peers that are black) when something like the OJ trial or the Duke Rape thing hits the headlines. You see black folks acting a fool on tv and inevitably, a friend or collegue will angrily demand “Why do you people act this way?” or “What is wrong with you guys?!?!?” And you just sit there hurt and pissed off but not really knowing how to answer that. It is like all the friendship, the hanging out and breaking bread with someone is just crushed under the weight of that moment of racial resentment.

    Yep. Too many people can’t separate the instance from the class; that an individual is an ass doesn’t mean that everyone who shares some trait with that individual is also an ass.

  172. #175: Exactly.

  173. I do not care what y’all say, you will always be a bunch of racist sexist homophobic bigoted arseholes.

  174. That specific episode — and lots of much smaller events over the years — made me very sensitive to being called a racist. How do you refute such an accusation?

    You don’t. You proceed with life but also get ready to deliver the Big Payback, however the opportunity presents.

  175. you forgot “childrapists”, JD.

  176. What, prithee, is the Big Payback? That sounds like the name of a Chuck Norris movie containing a lot of ass whoopin.

    #177, 178: LOL. I denounce you for forgeting childrapist, JD. I denounce Maggie for not using “babyraper” which is even more pleasant and colorful.

  177. Obama’s own words mark him as a follower of Black Liberation Theology

    Indeed. Every time he opens his mouth about religion they do.

  178. What, prithee, is the Big Payback? That sounds like the name of a Chuck Norris movie containing a lot of ass whoopin.

    No, the term was coined for me by James Brown, who expressed his disconcert on being back-stabbed in the “Big Payback”. Likewise, I’ve always reserved the right to do what I think is deserved. So far, that only involves words, as in James Brown’s case, which I hope will be determinitative. But if I can’t make words work, then I’ll have to do something else, and beyond the other things I have already done – incessantly – and continue to do.

    Tolerance has its limits. But, otoh, don’t go all paranoid on me to conclude the worst opposite.

    As I said, it’s called dealing with life. Always a challenge.

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