Monthly Archives: November 2007

God Hates…Sags? (Late Pass.)

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A few cities are actively trying to dissuade saggin‘, putting up anti-saggin’ billboards and, in some cases, fining and arresting people for letting their jeans sit too low.

Dallas has even commissioned a local rapper to create a song to poo-poo the trend. Ignore the fact that Dooney Da Priest’s song, “Pull Your Pants Up,” which is part of a campaign by a Dallas city official to dissuade young dudes from letting their pants sag is hot garbage; can it work? And is targeting sagging part of some larger broken windows crime prevention strategy, or is it just a way to more aggressively police black men?

Duke professor and author Mark Anthony Neal says that while “Pull Your Pants Up” may be well-intentioned, but it’s unmistakably homophobic. Dooney has since, um, apologized for the anti-gay lyrics in his song (but maybe he should consider apologizing) for all of them.

  • Black women support Hillary Clinton because their men cheat too? Essence Magazine editor Tasha says that one of the reasons Hillary has such support among black women is because they know what it’s like to have unfaithful spouses. [from Racialicious.]

And Then They Said … ‘Yo, Lemme Get That Statue Fried HARD.’

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The California chapter of the NAACP is pissed off because the sculptor chosen to create the Statue of Martin Luther King at the King Memorial in D.C. isn’t black (the artist, Lei Yixin, is from China). You could argue over how valid their beef is, but the NAACP isn’t going to win this argument mainly because their perpetual indignation is aimed at the most questionable causes.

  • James Hannaham asks: If even most African-Americans believe the black poor are primarily responsible for their own plight, does that make it true? “The older generation assumes that the overt racism of yesteryear was harder to combat than today’s smiley-faced version; therefore, if a young person can’t make it, she must be from a single-parent family lack gumption, listen to rap music or suffer the influence of some other conservative bugaboo. But nowadays it takes a university study to prove that racism affects hiring practices, not just a sign outside reading ‘No coloreds need apply.'”

The Audacity of…Op?


We knew it was coming. With polls showing the two Democratic frontrunners in a statistical dead heat in Iowa, Hillary pulled out her biggest weapon: her maddening but toweringly charismatic husband. Her campaign has been trying to dole Bill out in measured doses, because dude so often reduces her to looking like his hypeman. Or hypewoman. Er…hypeperson. (See his virtuoso performance at Coretta Scott King’s funeral for proof.)

But Obama parried by finally rolling out The Oprah, his outspoken supporter and arguably the only person in the world who is more famous than Bill Clinton. I remember reading in disbelief an earnest letter to the editor in Time in 1999 arguing for Oprah to be the magazine’s Person of the Century. It’s not just that she’s famous, but that her fans see her as a paragon of human decency. She inhabits the most rarefied space in the public’s consciousness.

While pundits debate whether Oprah’s stumping in Iowa will prompt legions of undecided Chico’s-clad housewives to defect the Obama camp, the other very important question is: what happens to Oprah’s brand? Is it some kind of imperial overreach for Oprah to hitch her wagon to Obama’s political star?

Backing a politician isn’t like plucking some author from the ranks of semi-obscurity, because Oprah wields all the power in that set-up, and can more easily sever ties with folks who do wrong by her golden imprimatur (as in her public sonning of James Frey last year). If, say, a campaign scandal involving some kind of ethical violations were to come to light, she could have a pretty hard time distancing herself.

A major part of her strategy toward media domination is that she’s pretty safe in who or what she uses her platform to go after, digging into only the most easily condemned and rooting for people who are the easiest to champion. A less ignominious but equally dangerous risk to her reputation would be that Oprah’s audience may just not like Obama’s center-left politics — or just be made uncomfortable by one insanely popular high-profile black person using her platform to endorse another. You know, it could remind people that Oprah is black. (And if he says or takes a position that is really controversial, Oprah could see some of that backlash.)

Whether or not Obama is the eventual Democratic nominee, if Oprah (who lobbed some softball questions at both Bush and Gore on her show 2000) were to sit down with a pol who gives a lame interview, that person’s camp would go after Oprah and assert that she has a dog in the fight. Interviewing Obama would be even trickier. And she could still possibly be subject to the FCC’s equal air-time provisions.

Or…maybe none of this is true. Maybe Oprah just shrugs off any poor showing and pretends like the whole thing just never happened.

It’s gonna be fun to watch this play out.

  • Tears and head-scratching following the shooting death of Sean Taylor, the Pro Bowl safety for the Washington Redskins. Jemele Hill of ESPN.com: “Perhaps the most pertinent question is, how much closer does it have to get before we realize these unfortunate incidents are reflective of an enormous crisis that requires our immediate attention and action? A New York Times article reported the homicide rate among young, black men in America was seven times higher than any foreign country studied. That article was published in 1990. Why has nothing changed?”
  • NBC discusses issues affecting black women. “Throughout the week of November 26, “NBC News With Brian Williams” will take a look at the issues facing African-American women across our nation in a new series ‘African-American Women: Where They Stand.’ The series will cover a wide-range of issues from their role in the ’08 Presidential race, to the increased health-risks that they need to be concerned about.” Has anyone seen this? Is it a reductive and cynical ploy for ratings, or does it actually have some merit?
  • Shahadah and Samoas. Immigrant Muslim communities are enrolling their daughters into the Girl Scouts to help them have an easier time assimilating.
  • Not exactly a noose today, but definitely wild noose-ish. A flyer in Iowa imploring Iowans to “Vote for Edwards, Not the Bitch or the Nigger. Vote for the White Man!” Seems a little calculated.

Is America ready for this?


    “The era of cowboy diplomacy is over.” Senator Hillary Clinton told a group of black ministers in South Carolina today that if she receives the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, she’ll reach out to leaders from both parties in choosing a Vice President, “people like Colin Powell.” Powell, former Secretary of State under W, resigned last year ending a contentious relationship with Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield over the direction of U.S. Foreign Policy. Powell, through a spokesperson, said he hasn’t been in touch with the Senator and has “no comment.”

    Lott’s final bow. “Senator Trent Lott – the Mississippi Republican who told Senator Strom Thurmond and those gathered for his 100th birthday celebration back in 2002 that if Thurmond had been elected president 30 years prior, “we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today” — announced yesterday that he would resign from the seat he’s held for the past 35 years. In case you don’t remember your 20th century American history, or the flurry of news stories that followed Lott’s remarks, Thurmond ran as the Dixiecrat candidate for president in 1948 and on a platform calling for continued segregation in the South. Lott’s resignation comes as no surprise, and the Times reports that he has been frustrated with the lack of bargaining between the embittered parties and with the Republican’s minority status, leaving little use for his deal-making skills. Lott, however, beat the deadline that would require senators to wait two years before lobbying former colleagues. Smart man.

  • It’s OK as long as you don’t tell anybody. A lesbian pastor of an Evangelical Church in the Bronx could be defrocked next year by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which allows openly gay pastors but forbids them from being in same-sex relationships.
  • Isn’t he amaaaaaazing? Andre J., who dons ankle boots and a knee-length turquoise peacoat on the November cover of French Vogue, refuses to be confined by the conventions of gender. “Think of him as a performance artist who rolls out his own stage everyday,” according to the Times. And Andre J. is fierce; check out those legs!

Keeping up with the Rodriguezes.

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A census report says that Garcia and Rodriguez are among the 10-most-common last names in the U.S. (That sound you hear is Lou Dobbs hissing.) This is the first time this has happened — a fact that hasn’t escaped notice from politicians who want to court Latino voters or advocacy groups who want those same voters to start flexing their considerable electoral muscle. Seventeen million Latinos will be able to vote in 2008, and factor heavily into some important battleground states. The Indian surname Patel also cracked the top 200, jumping over 400 spots since 1990.

  • Does Obama have skeletons in his closet? Obama played proactive defense in response to an alleged bombshell that Hillary and the Los Angeles Times may be sitting on — or may just be using as a bluff. Says Slates Mickey Kaus: “Now Obama is on notice that if he plays the Clinton marriage card, a scandal bomb might drop on him too — assuming there is a bomb to drop. It doesn’t matter so much if Hillary actually has some goods on Obama as long as Obama thinks Hillary has some goods on him.”
  • Remembering Harold Washington. Could Obama exist without Harold Washington? Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor, saw 90 percent of white voters switch parties after the Democratic primary and vote for a Republican rather than vote for a black man, according to this superb episode of This American Life. (Harold died in office 20 years ago this month.)
  • Men’s Vogue is the new Ebony. Men’s Vogue has given four of its last 12 covers to black men. (Does this mean Men’s Vogue is some kind of brave pioneer, or does it mean that Will Smith et al. are all marketable and ‘postracial’?)
  • Dangerous Minds and Secret Service agents. An inner-city school teacher tells her young charges that when black people or people of color are treated like trash, they should rise up in protest. Just another workday for Jenna Bush. (Wonder what Daddy thinks? Oh, right. We already know.)
  • Explaining the gap in wealth between black folks. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. weighs in on the disparities in wealth among black people outlined in that much-discussed Pew study: “I have been studying the family trees of 20 successful African-Americans, people in fields ranging from entertainment and sports (Oprah Winfrey, the track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee) to space travel and medicine (the astronaut Mae Jemison and Ben Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon). And I’ve seen an astonishing pattern: 15 of the 20 descend from at least one line of former slaves who managed to obtain property by 1920 — a time when only 25 percent of all African-American families owned property.”
  • No snitching means no witnesses. Police in New Jersey are trying to make gang cases with no witnesses, who fear violent retaliation. Says a detective: “If you push someone and they agree to testify, now they’re your responsibility. You’ve got to keep them from disappearing or getting hurt. Can we protect them? Maybe. But God forbid that two years later you have to tell someone their husband or father got killed. I don’t want to have to live with that.”
  • Please not another noose story. Nope, sorry. It’s another noose story. It’s good for you.

She BLACK! : Hillary Clinton, PostBourgie’s Inaugural Honorary Negro.

Back when the Monica Lewinsky scandal was dominating headlines and talk show monologues, Toni Morrison wrote a head-scratchingly bizarre piece for the New Yorker in which she called Bill Clinton the First Black President. Her rationale? “[Clinton] displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.”

We at PostBourgie thought to ourselves: why should literary giants get to have all the clumsy fun with simplistic racial characterization? So in homage to the esteemed Ms. Morrison, we’ll be periodically inducting public figures into our PostBourgie Pantheon of Negritude.

That our inaugural inductee is none other than the wife of the O.G. is sort of fitting. Since her conversation with America began, Hillary Clinton has been hopping around the country and whipping the asses of all comers, including that of a black man from the South Side of Chicago among black voters. She’s getting that good black love because she’s one of us.

But what really sealed it for us was Hillary’s refusal to tip her waitress during a campaign stop at an Iowa diner last month. Hillary and her handlers popped in at a Maid Rite diner to chat with the locals.

“So…what’s up with that tip, Senator?” waitress Anita Esterday asked audaciously.

Our girl Hillary didn’t miss a beat. “Here’s a tip for you, Anita. Wax that upper lip.”

“Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn!” campaign manager Patti Sollis Doyle said over the snickers of weary reporters watching the exchange. “That was gully!”

No, Patti. That’s BLACK.

According to the Washington Post, Esterday “stood there looking real stupid.”

Hillary Clinton: proudly, uncompromisingly and problematically BLACK.

We Happen to Like Hacky Male Comedian, Though.

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Y’all better get used to those “I Love New York” marathons: the Hollywood writers’ strike has shut down production on all scripted TV shows, and there’s no end in sight (somewhat related: news writers are threatening to walk out on CBS).

Angela Nissel, an author, supervising producer on NBC’s “Scrubs” (“Chocolate Bear!“) and one of the aforementioned folks on the picket lines, was gracious enough to let PostBourgie use a letter that she’d sent out detailing the writers’ position.

I’m from a family of union folks so I know the decision to strike is never easy. It’s a decision that affects more than just the people on the picket line. When I checked “yes” on my strike ballot, I did it after much thought… after being sure that it was the only way to have a shot at a fair contract for our work.

A lot of the AMPTP’s news releases seem to assert that the majority of WGA members make six figures and up. That is untrue. The average WGA member makes 42K a year. My first two years, I made under 25K and flipped thrift store clothes on ebay to pay bills until I got staffed on Scrubs. Being on a hit show is a *very* rare thing. It’s much more common to be living three to an apartment, working as a waiter, then getting on your knees in deep, grateful prayer when the occasional freelance job comes through.

Studios and networks are laying people off by the dozens, telling them to blame writers. Why are the writers to blame when the AMPTP has yet to come back to the bargaining table (and we have removed nine requested proposals). What we are asking for is very fair and very simple. When they make money from our work, we would like to be paid a *very* small percentage of that money. They claim the internet is too new to know how profitable it is going to be. Okay, then why not agree to give us the very small percentage and if the profit turns out to be zero, we all get zero?

Instead, they fire people, claim we make huge salaries (which none of us are collecting from them right now), and neglect to admit that they have also proposed to take away residuals entirely which would affect people in more ways than this current strike does: a huge percentage of our residuals fund the health and pension plans of truck drivers, casting agents, and various other non-writing industry workers.

Sorry I’m being so long winded. By all accounts, this is going to be a long strike. It will possibly economically devastate a lot of workers, not just writers. Yesterday a group of us were outside of a studio sucking down a cups of coffee at 6AM when a Teamster approached our group. Tears started streaming down his face. He stuttered out apologies, explaining why he was crossing our picket line – his wife had cancer, they lost their home during the Teamsters last strike, the studios hired scab drivers… He said as soon as they run out of scripts to shoot in two weeks, he’d join the picket line. One of the things we are fighting in this contract is the
right to honor other union’s picket lines. In the past, we *didn’t* honor Teamster picket lines because of our contracts. But still, this man felt so bad about not respecting our line that he cried. Damn.

Okay, I’ll wrap it up now. It’s almost always writers vs studios and networks. When I hear people saying, “With the stuff that Hollywood writers are putting out, I hope they stay on strike forever!” Most Hollywood writers don’t want to write “Jetsons 2009: Elroy vs Robot Maid” or “Laugh Tracked Sitcom with Hot Wife and Washed Up Hacky Male Comedian”…it’s what the networks and studios program because they have researched that Robot Maid and Hacky Male are America wants to see. One day there will be a channel that airs the piles of scripts that were turned down…

Anyhow, I’m off topic. Check out this youtube video if you want a clear understanding of what this strike is about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ55Ir2jCxk

There’s also a great opinion piece by the creator of Lost:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/opinion/11lindelof.html

Thanks for reading (and watching if you have the time). I truly appreciate it. I wouldn’t be supporting this strike if I didn’t think it was 100% fair.

[Special thanks to Tabitha Mason from GROW Productions.]

  • A really, really well done piece in New York Magazine (again…wtf?) takes a look at the gruff Gerald Boyd, the New York Times’ managing editor who took over just before the Sept. 11 attacks, and whose head was one of those that rolled in the aftermath of the Jayson Blair fiasco. Much of the conversation after the Blair nonsense went down was about whether Boyd had taken Blair under his wing and given him a wider berth because he was black. The piece suggests that while Boyd wasn’t without his faults, he still got done dirty.
  • Bob Herbert takes issue with folks who try to whitewash a particularly gross play at the racial fears of Southern voters by Ronald Reagan when he was running for president.
  • A new study by the Pew Research Center says that black folks are more pessimistic about racial progress in this country than they’ve been in 20 years. (NPR’s Juan Williams — he of the notorious and inexcusably ass-kissy interview with President Bush — makes an almost comically unrelated point about the study, spending the first few graphs of his analysis crying like a wounded dog. (I actually laughed out loud wondering where he was going with that. Ah, good times.)