Posted by: nquest2xl | July 25, 2008

Why? “Black In America” … ???

I’ll let that percolate.  Just know that when I ask “WHY?”, I’m trying to figure out the purpose and all those “what is gained by” questions.

I’ll be back with some thoughts on the series — or, perhaps, some reflections on the reaction to the series.

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Posted by: nquest2xl | July 20, 2008

Obama and Jim Crow 2008

(To Be Continued??)

Posted by: nquest2xl | July 20, 2008

Reparations – Exhibit #4

Any questions?

Posted by: nquest2xl | July 20, 2008

The N*gga and the veil

“Probably the single greatest problem between blacks and whites in America is that we are forever witness to each other’s great shames . . . Of course, shame is made worse, even unbearable, when there is a witness, the eye of an “other” who is only too happy to use our shame against us.”Shelby Steele

I have, perhaps, a complicated view on this “issue.” Typically, I don’t say the word. Anytime, really. Frankly, I don’t like the word but that’s a personal thing. I grew up hearing and, at times, using the word myself. When I heard the word used amongst family, friends… I heard it used in a variety of contexts. Sometimes it was said to purposely demean. Other times out of frustration. Still, other times used as casually and as endearing, even laudatory like “man, you’re crazy”; said like the title of the Richard Pryor album, “That Nigger’s Crazy.”

I’m grown now.

Since I don’t say the word and it’s rarely said in my house, when I’m either among my family back home or wherever or with my wife’s family, the mere sound of the word leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But I don’t feel offended by it. No, not in the least — when I hear Black people use it. And, really, I don’t care to discuss the issue. I think I get more pissed off by it being the kind of issue the media wants to make it out to be.

So don’t let the picture of Jabari Asim’s book fool you. The “Who Can Use It?” question is stupid. It’s completely inappropriate just like the “Should America Pay Reparations?” question. These questions are raised when they never should be considered legitimate questions in the first place. Whether White folks can use the word or are supposedly given mixed signals when Black folks can use it and they can’t is NOT something that’s open for discussion.

Jesse said the word… SO WHAT?!?!??

ENTER > Michael Eric Dyson – Part I

(((1 min. 30 sec. mark)))

Michael Eric Dyson – Part II

The first video clip was from Tavis Smiley’s 2005, State of the Black Union where Dyson “made a spectacle of himself” (what Obama said about Rev. Wright’s “performance” at the National Press Club). I did essentially agree with Dyson’s former stance. Former because…

I have decided to retire the use of the “N” word in public… I have decided to stop using it for two reasons: many black folk who otherwise supported my work and agreed with my perspectives were thrown off by my public identification with the downtrodden and the debased of our race through use of the term. Despite all the good they thought I did, they believed that the use of the word made it difficult for them to fully embrace me.

Finally, Rev. Jesse Jackson, after we both attended Johnnie Cochran’s funeral… asked me to refrain from publicly using the “N” word because it obscured what he termed the effectiveness of my intellectual wittiness… So, I have decided to refrain from public use of the “N” word where I cannot explain the context of the word.

For the record, Jesse’s use wasn’t exactly public (and his beef or advocacy is not estranged to “personal responsibility” or calling out absent/irresponsible Black fathers).

In the 1970s, Jesse Jackson said, “You are not a man because you can make a baby. You’re only a man if you can raise a baby, protect a baby and provide for a baby.”

The only way we know anything about it is because Fox lifted the veil (and some question whether their “hot mic” constitutes eavesdropping). Just consider rap music Fox News’ when Fox News wasn’t cool. The open, public use in music has lifted the veil and all fake outrage hell has broken loose with White people feigning offense over that god awful, excruciating and unequal mouth arrest imposed on them.

Imagine the anger. After years of being told they couldn’t use the word, they found out that Black people have been using it the whole time. Man do they feel cheated! (roll eyes)

I’m almost 40. That means one of my favorite “Black Power” songs, “Niggers Are Scared of Revolution” is about 40 years old, too. Richard Pryor’s album, about 35 years old. Both public. Both on wax – i.e. audio media – just like rap music. So what’s the difference now?

White folks are seeing our shame. So what?

We are human. Fully human for all that entails and should be respected as such. And since there seems to be a decided lack of attention and questioning of other people who use slurs that were used against them by other people on themselves… (White people do it all the time. I’ve witnessed it right along with all kinds of Black people. Ethnic jokes about the Irish. Pollocks. From “white trash” to redneck, WHITENESS IS NOT INVISIBLE no matter what White people think.)

Double-standards? I don’t want to hear it. The very question/issue surrounding the word is an attempt to hold Black people to a standard NO ONE ELSE is held to.

Bottom line: I don’t scratch where I don’t itch and I’m not ashamed of every beautiful inch of me and my people even when I see a pimple in the mirror or when someone (with some issues) sees behind the veil that only existed because Blacks and Whites in America have and continue to live in two different worlds largely due to the wishes of White folk.

The whole purpose of the word was for Black folks to be ashamed of themselves. The position they were in, etc. I’ll be damned if White people are going to ever use the word to make me feel ashamed. I don’t have any such complex. Some Black people do (worrying about what White people think or pretending as if White people aren’t responsible for their own behavior when someone White decides to use the word).

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SAID.IT.BETTER.THAN.I.DIDS

Ta-Nehisi Coates – “Leave The N-Word Alone

All About Race – “Elizabeth, dry your eyes and “Just Say No!” to the N-word

Stuff White People Do – “insist on occupying center-stage

Posted by: nquest2xl | July 18, 2008

Changing Hearts and Minds Is Not Enough

“The idea that white America… gives a rat’s ass about doing what’s right,

flies in the face of more than a couple hundred years of experience.”

The following essay was written by a fellow traveler of mine, “Listener” – a German female anti-racist of whom I’d had the pleasure of posting/dialogging with for the past year or two on various blogs and boards. The header quote above comes from the Understanding the Importance of Self-Interest section of Tim Wise’s May 2006 commentary entitled, “Paleness as Pathology: The Future of Racism and Anti-Racism in America

The internet offers the possibility to connect with the world. I started connecting about 8 years ago in Germany where I live and since then I have also been reading American message boards and websites. The topic: racism and anti-racism.

I feel it is the responsibility of all white people worldwide to understand the urgency of a living in a world free of white supremacy. Eurocentrism and Western politics impact the entire world and, in a globalized world, combating white supremacy is no longer an issue of individual nations. White supremacy is a system which doesn’t exist only in America (or Germany, for that matter) but globally. Racism may come in many different faces and anti-racism in different forms, but one thing is without question: whites are, in a global context, on the top of a racial hierarchy whites created.

While it is not possible to make exact comparisons, one to one, between individual nations, whites can educate themselves by looking beyond their own national borders to learn from mistakes and successes of other nations. Whites can also benefit from listening to people from different nations affected by the system of global white supremacy.

I think it is the difference in history, and how history is taught, which has created one significant difference between Germany and the U.S.: Germany lost the war. The history of the Holocaust is at school taught in detail, with all the cruel details and never glorified. In Germany, we have what is known as “German collective guilt.” There isn’t as much of a tendency to hide behind individualism as there seems to be in America. (More on that later.)
It was a German collective that made the Holocaust possible. It was also the collective silence Germans that gave Hitler free reign. It wasn’t just Hitler or some group of “bad apples” (i.e. those individuals over there). There was a systemic nature to the Holocaust and the machinery of the system behind Hitler’s maniacal desire to exterminate an entire people functioned like clock work.

It takes a system to correct a system.


After WWII, Germany paid reparations and not because the majority of the Germans had a sudden spark of awareness or a sudden change of heart or mind. It was a political decision of West-Germany’s politicians that made reparations to the Jews happen and outside political pressure from other European and Western countries was a big part of the decision. In fact, my opinion is that the outside pressure was the only reason why West-Germany paid reparations. West-Germany’s politicians wanted West-Germany to be accepted as part of Europe again and paying reparations for the Jewish Holocaust was a way to gain that acceptance.

Politicians have a way of doing things that voters don’t agree with (and few Germans agreed with paying reparations; few were even concerned about it) but most people are conformists. The same way Germans adapted to a Nazi ruled Germany, they adapted to paying reparations. It wasn’t a new mind-set but outside pressure that led to new laws and the political commitment to pay reparations.

Something different happened in the US. The genocide and forced removal of Native American’s from their land and the kidnapping and subsequent enslavement of Black Africans are diminished in the the country’s tales of a great founding, good character and unparalleled progress. The way some people talk about American history, the holocausts against the red and the black were just speed bumps in the country’s triumphant march to democratic greatness.

A city on a hill.

There is no comparable sense of collective guilt among white Americans. Instead, the excuse is that slavery and Jim Crow was just a few “bad apples” (e.g. the idea that only a few white individuals owned slaves that often comes up in debates about reparations for African-Americans). It’s as if white Americans are unable or unwilling to see the bigger picture — the systemic, society wide nature of American slavery and its offspring, Jim Crow. Instead, from my experience, white Americans choose to conveniently reduce the whole history to the “bad” behavior of mere individuals (the KKK, slave-owners, etc.). But that’s where the differences end.

Like the post-war political pressure against Germany, the civil rights bills that marked the end of the racist Jim Crow system wasn’t the result of white Americans suddenly changing their hearts and minds. The laws changed as a direct result of the success of the Civil Rights Movement. So it was political pressure, in this case from the inside, that was the reason for the concessions America made by including non-whites in mainstream society.

Like in Germany, the laws changed, not the people.

Because of that history lesson, I feel the popular approach in anti-racist work to try to change white people’s “hearts and minds” is an illusionary goal. It tries to appeal to an empathy which whites, as a collective, prove isn’t there. It also diminishes racism to something on an individual level rather than institutional; it, therefore, neglects the true impact of racism and denies the political nature of racism.

Wars won’t stop with an appeal to humanity. Likewise, racism won’t stop with an appeal to someone’s conscience or empathy.

I think, “anti-racists” have to understand that ending racism and dismantling White Supremacy is a political struggle and not an emotional or moral one. That it is about changing and challenging politics and systems and not just “minds and hearts.”

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