Monthly Archives: July 2009

Friday Genius Ten.

Because we all need something to ride out to for the weekend, here’s another installment of what we hope will become a regular – or at least, semi-regular – post.

No themes this Friday. Just good music. Feel free to let us know what you’re listening to this week or consider it something of an open thread:

1. Warm It Up, Kane – Big Daddy Kane (BI)

2. 88 Keys – MILF feat. Bilal (NP)

3. Bridge Over Troubled Water – Eva Cassidy (S-o)

4. 24K Rap – J Dilla feat. Havoc and Raekwon (BI)

5. Peruvian Coke – Immortal Technique (Bi)

6. For Real – Amel Larrieux (Bi)

7. People Make the World Go Round – The Stylistics (S-o)

8. Oh No – Chico DeBarge (BI)

9. One for My Baby – Frank Sinatra (NP)

10. Birthday Sex – Jeremih (BI)

I’d like to apologize for including this song on the list. But it’s the First Lady’s birthday, and I couldn’t find a better tribute. Even though she’s derisively referred to it as the “D*ck in a Box” remix. Sorry again.

Enjoy the weekend.

The Jokes Write Themselves.


Get your people, Shani:

Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the nation’s oldest sorority for collegiate and professional black women, are asking a D.C. court to remove the group’s national leadership and order its president to return funds allegedly paid in contravention of the organization’s bylaws.

The group’s national president, Barbara McKinzie, has come under fire for a long list of alleged financial misdeeds. The most interesting of those allegations: The plaintiffs claim McKinzie used the organization’s money to commission a $900,000 “living legacy wax figure” of herself.

h/t AverageBro

Y’all Know What Time It Is.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

dot dot dot.

UPDATE: The e-mail.

From the Boston Herald, via the Root:

A Boston police officer allegedly sent a mass e-mail using a disgraceful racial slur in referring to Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., prompting the commissioner to move immediately to fire the cop, the Herald has learned.

Officer Justin Barrett, 36, a two-year veteran assigned to District B-3, was placed on administrative leave pending a termination hearing yesterday afternoon. When a supervisor confronted Barrett about the e-mail – in which he called Gates a “jungle monkey” – he admitted to being the author, according to officials.

Police Commissioner Edward Davis immediately stripped the cop of his gun and badge, according to officials. Barrett, who could not immediately be reached, has no prior disciplinary history.

Barrett is also a member of the National Guard, a source said, and the e-mail was sent anonymously to his fellow guard members and the Boston Globe. It was unclear whether the scurrilous missive was sent to members of Boston police as well.

“There is no room on the department for someone who uses those words,” said Boston police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll, who declined to provide the specific text of the letter.

Commenting on the News.


Have you seen this story? It’s an lengthy piece by Gloria Campisi for the Philadelphia Daily News about a group of black workers at a city trash facility who are suing over racially segregated bathroom and water facilities. And apparently, these workers have been filing complaints about racism since 1999, with no investigations or follow-ups from the city.

Lawrence “Lonnie” Powell, 58, a semiskilled laborer at the city’s Northwest Transfer Station, in Roxborough, said that since he began working at the trash-handling plant in 2003 he has had to seek the superintendent’s permission to go to the bathroom — then descend five flights of stairs to use it.

Powell, who is black, said that white employees have been permitted to use a bathroom just 25 feet from his work station.

“On several occasions I’ve actually defecated on myself, trying to get down to the bathroom,” said Powell, who operates a machine that packs trash into tractor-trailers to be taken to landfills.


A Word About Acting Stupidly.

At a certain point, I was really close to brushing off Gatesgate. I thought it was clear the cops had overreached and that Professor Gates should have known better than to engage the authorities in that way, if only because it spoke poorly of his self-preservation skills. What else was there to say?

I didn’t have anything to add to the conversation. And I’m still not sure if I do.

But this fantastic post from digby needs to be acknowledged. Here’s the thrust of it:

Now, on a practical, day to day level, it’s hard to argue that being argumentative with a cop is a dangerous thing. They have guns. They can arrest you and can cost you your freedom if they want to do it badly enough. They can often get away with doing violence on you and suffer no consequences. You are taking a risk if you provoke someone with that kind of power, no doubt about it.

Indeed, it is very little different than exercising your right of free speech to tell a gang of armed thugs to go fuck themselves. It’s legal, but it’s not very smart. But that’s the problem isn’t it? We shouldn’t have to make the same calculations about how to behave with police as we would with armed criminals. The police are supposed to be the good guys who follow the rules and the law and don’t expect innocent citizens to bow to their brute power the same way that a street gang would do. The police are not supposed wield what is essentially brute force on the entire population.

And yet, that’s what we are told we are supposed to accept. Not only can they arrest us merely for being argumentative as they did with Gates, they are now allowed to shoot us full of electricity to make us comply with their demands to submit.

Please read the rest.

I should have known better than to dismiss the incident, having been stopped by cops on a number of occasions and reading through comically unreliable arrest reports on a daily basis. I should have been smarter. I should have been more empathetic. And most importantly, I should have been more skeptical.

Amanda Marcotte points out this tendency to reflexively side with the authorities, even in clear cases of abuse:

But by and large, I’ve seen more concern out there with whether or not Gates was stupid for not staring at his shoes and apologizing for breathing the second a cop started speaking to him. Since I’ve been blogging for a long time, on and off, about the politics of rape, I know this behavior when I see it—it’s victim-blaming.

And it’s easy to see how this societal acceptance of inexcusable behavior, of cops acting “stupidly” if you will, can start with Gates and end with Shem Walker.

Book of the Month: Things Fall Apart.



It’s the story of pre-colonial Nigeria, groundbreaking because it was originally written in English by a black African writer. The title was taken from a William Butler Yeats poem. It features the story of Okonkwo, a young man struggling to maintain the old customs with the ones brought by white Christian missionaries.

Gods and Soldiers, briefly reviewed at, is a new collection of contemporary African writing that features established and up-in-coming writers presented by geographic location. In the introduction to the collection, editor Rob Spillman writes:

“It has been fifty years since Nigerian Chinua Achebe published his novel Things Fall Apart, a classic work of anti-colonialism that became a worldwide literary sensation, its commercial and critical success opening the door for many other black Africans.”

Achebe is considered a literary father to widely-read contemporary African writers like Chris Abani, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Tsitsi Dangarembga. Things Fall Apart was first published in 1958. We will be discussing the novel on August 15th.

Happy Reading.