Wednesday, June 14, 2017

When Being Funny Goes Wrong: A Comedian's Take on the Relevancy of Bill Maher and How Liberalism Got Too Comfortable With Black America


    When a rich, famous Jew calls himself a “house nigga,” we are all in trouble.  Webster’s Dictionary defines “house nigga” as “a Uncle Tom-ish Black slave that works in the home of his white master serving domestically.  Rumored to be treated better than the field slave also having the listening ear of his master.  The truth of the matter is Real Time with Bill Maher is a left-focused show pandering to progressive Democrats and Gays.  The Trump election, in regards to Russian conspiracy theory, showed proof of how delusional and disconnected political elitist liberals have become with the everyday working white voter.  Trump’s victory spit in the face of intellectuals such as Maher.  How do you remain relevant on the losing team?  The struggle is trying to sound young, fresh, and edgy when you’re an old, white, lame millionaire.

Who cares?  Less and less people obviously.  Maher’s attempt to evoke passion into his stale show’s format was to invite Alt-Right leader, and all around rebel rouser, Milo Yiannopoules on the show for a crossfire debate.  Milo showed himself to be everything Bill once was yet is no longer.  His point of view and outsider’s swag made the geezers on the panel seem older than they actually are.  Maher had a difficult task ahead.  How does he prove to his audience he is still criminally insane without harming any group of people with true power and privilege enough trigger real world consequence? He picked a powerless target.

            Common sense tells us white people have a simple equation; your life for my luxury.  American whites are willing to continuously kill to ensure a quality of life for themselves.  Anyone in America is a beneficiary by proxy of those theatrics.  All races, other than Anglo-Saxon Americans, can be called “house niggas” from enjoying freedoms offered in this nation.  Bill told the truth.  He, as we all are, is a “house nigga.”  With a stinging comedic delivery, he told a useless and tactless truth as a publicity stunt that backfired—only a little bit.  Ultimately, the stunt, though it angered many, was successful in that Real Time with Bill Maher is still airing on HBO and his name has been in the media and on the tips of the pens of bloggers for the past week and a half.  Maher has been revitalized and made relevant again.  Blacks cannot stop whites from saying “nigga,” so it is in the best interest of Black Americans to cease being so easily offended and enraged and emotionally-puppeteered by attention-seeking puppet masters.

                                                                                         -Henry “House Nigga” Coleman
      (Instagram: Henry.Coleman.733)
      (Twitter: @comichenry)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Ball ‘Til You Fall: How Lavar Ball and His 'Big Baller Brand' is Redefining the Notion of Black Ownership



       Lavar Ball has been a constant presence in sports media, a danger to some and a darling to others, for the last couple of months.  Almost immediately after UCLA was defeated in the Sweet Sixteen by the University of Kentucky,  the University of California at Los Angeles star point-guard Lonzo Ball ended his brief collegiate career and declared himself eligible for next month’s NBA Draft. And from that day forward Lavar Ball, with the aid of ESPN and Fox Sports, unleashed the Big Baller Brand’s promotional juggernaut like the Krackin. His brash antics and claims of the greatness of his oldest son’s skill-set and potential has cast fear into the hearts of sports pundits, NBA franchises, and the Big Three sports apparel companies (Nike, Adidas, Under Armour) of his, and, I “think,” the family’s Big Baller Brand sports apparel company.

      Now, I’m not statistician. And even though I have been teaching at the collegiate level for almost 15 years, and have been dubbed a scholar by many, I detest the tedious task of researching.  I have never and will never claim myself to be a statistician.  So, my comment section-reading “survey” Lavar Ball-focused social media posts is probably faulty, but definitely not unreliable, yet I cannot help but notice that “the hate is real.” 

      I have read, and reread, claims and  assertions that the elder Ball is arrogant and even delusional to demand and expect greatness from his first-born son, Lonzo (Ball—he has the same last name as his father which is not always a guarantee in the Black American Community), let alone attempt to commandeer a distribution deal, rather than a shoe contract, from one of the Big Three sports apparel companies (Nike, Adidas, Under Armour).  I have perused numerous comments from people, mainly Black males, rhetorically accuse him of being arrogant, ignorant, foolish and even an exhibitionist of the stereotypical buffoonery of the often-cited legend of the Black American caricature “coon.”  You know, the loud, obnoxious, inarticulate Black male that will do and say any and everything in an attempt to kowtow, entertain, and be economically-fed by his white master, oppressor, or authoritative and financial superior.  

     What I cannot understand is why it is so difficult to rally behind a man that, regardless as whether it be ego and selfishness or grasp for economical gain for himself and his family or a legitimate and authentic "want" for his sons to "own" their athletic productivity, wants his son, and sons, to own their physicality and body? 

           Since 1619, the Black body, particularly the male body, has been commodified, abused, and exhausted for economic gain vis a vis the institution of slavery and laborious tasks in the United States and, for the most part, only white men, or corporations owned and operated by white men, have capitalized and profited from these bodies.  So, why is it a problem when a Black male, and father of the body that the NBA and Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and other sports apparel companies would like to profit from, wants to cut out the middle-man and take that massive entrepreneurial leap of faith of investing in himself?  I say “himself” because any man that has a child, let alone a son, believes that he is innately and physiologically a part of, if not part-owner, of the flesh in which he created.  

     Again, why is he being castigated for attempting to guide his son towards the path of "self-ownership" and Black entrepreneurship?  Is it because America and the corporations that profit from the Black Body do not want to equitably share in the "ownership" of the Black Body?  Is it because Lavar Ball may create a spark that prompts future generations of Black Athletes to "own" themselves rather than collect a few million dollar checks for their superhero-like athletic feats and skills?  Or is it that Black Entrepreneurship and a Black Father, who is not only present, but actively involved, and loves his seeds, is a seldom seen and foreign obstacle that the oppressive culture of American sports, particularly the National Basketball Association, is unwilling and scared, for lack of a more demonstrative term, to engage?  

     In 2016,  the Nike Jordan Brand made $2.8 Billion dollars of which Michael Jordan took home a paltry sum of $66 million.  LeBron James’ Nike shoes and apparel garnered Phil Knight’s corporation $ 350 million dollars while  King James grossed six percent of those profits ($20 million).  Kevin Plank, Under Armour’s CEO is worth a reported $2 Billion dollars and Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight is worth $25 Billion.  Reports show that the three major sports apparel companies, Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour, grossed $32.4, $19.291, and $4.8 billion respectively.  Now, do you see why Daddy Ball wants more ownership or compensation for the talent connected to his eldest heir which will be exploited, one way or the other, for public consumption?  Lavar is only mimicking George and Weezy Jefferson in that he, as other athletes should, wants a “piece of the pie.”  The only problem is the Lavar Ball, and family, want a bigger piece than what has, up until this point, been given.  And some people, it seems, don’t like to see the pie sliced in an equitable manner. But, Lavar wants to be a baller.  And with the surname he and his family have, why shouldn’t he? And most ballers are bosses, and bosses get paid.  You dig?

                                                                                                      -Gee Joyner

Too Close for Comfort: A White Man Called Himself a N!gg#r The Other Day


My parents raised me to believe in whatever God I wanted. I just had to do my research.  So, I was kinda raised atheist? Coming up in 1980s and 90s North Carolina meant that there was Jesus in my face every day--whether I wanted it or not.  This continued throughout college  which is why when Bill Maher started doing his Religiocity thing, I became a fan.  I used to watch Real Time regularly. And this is why I’m really torn about this current kerfuffle with Bill Maher calling himself a “house nigger.”
  I watched the clip, a conversation between Maher and some Nebraska politician.  The politician told Maher he should come work in the fields of Nebraska.  He insinuated Maher couldn’t handle that kind of good ‘ol American work.  Maher fired back with feigned indignation with something akin to, “Field work? I’m a house nigger.”
            So now, everyone is calling Maher a racist.  Liberals and progressives are calling for the show’s cancellation, including some celebrities like Chance the Rapper. Conservatives are appalled at the racist scandalamity Maher has found himself in.   There are black folk on Facebook saying that the word should forever be stricken from our lexicon and collective memories. Hell, even alt-right racists are calling Maher racist. 
            I think I might disagree.
            Maher did what white folks have been doing to black folks since day one in this country--  Taking something that isn’t theirs and appropriating it for themselves. Maher used the N-word with contextual prowess.  But in doing so, he disrespected black history, black experience, black suffering, black thought, and most of all, black victory. A millionaire white progressive just compared himself to a slave in America. He used that joke, which would have been hilarious if Dave Chappelle had said in that interview chair, for himself. He took black angst, and wrapped it up in snark, and used it promulgate whiteness, and then served it to his fellow agent of whiteness in a debate about nationalism. 
            Was Maher racist?  I don’t think so.  With something as charged as a white guy using the n-word, Maher considered the potential consequences.  And he probably figured he could weather the storm.  But that’s the problem.  Maher perpetuated systems of whiteness by appropriating a theme related only to black comedy and whitewashed it.  He got his Tom Sawyer-picket fence on. That’s it.  His audience is mostly white, some even booed in the audience.  Maher just shrugged them off.  He told what he thought was a funny joke.

            But it stuck in me the wrong way.  Maher could have used his privilege for the actual cause of disrupting systems of whiteness in this country.  After catching the backhanded work ethic insult from the politician, Maher could have looked him in the eye and said, “Field work? Huh? I’m white. You better go do what you normally do and exploit some Mexicans.” Same feigned indignation, but an even more powerful impact.  But Maher didn’t want to piss off that demographic of white folk.  So instead, he used the n-word for himself. 

                                                                                          -Anjan Basu

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Time to Pass the Ball: Why Lavar Ball is More of a Hindrance to Lonzo Than a Help

As I've watched the lives of the Ball Family unfold over the last year, it's been impossible not to hear more of Poppa Ball AKA Lavar Ball, and his marketing of the Big Baller Brand (BBB), than about the actual skill-set of his son Lonzo—who, by the way, is one of the front runners for being drafted within the top three picks in June’s NBA Draft.   Zo's performance as a freshman has wowed fans all over the country and will most likely place him in competition with the "creme de la creme" of NBA rookies next season. However, it seems another level of competition has come from the likes of his own father's grandiose level of promotion of the Big Baller Brand.
 On the surface, Lavar Ball seems to be another typical overtly-involved sports dad that wants to see his boy get the most recognition possible. This type of dad is commonplace in youth sports and beyond, yet Lavar Ball is more than that. He's more than just an overbearing dad, that thinks his son is the "2nd coming". No no no... he's the ultimate God-level troll that seems to piss lots of people off with his verbose machismo.  The elder Ball captures others with his ability to promote with flair and undeniable captivation. When he talks, people listen.  No matter how outlandish the claim may be. For example, he recently stated, when speaking of his oldest heir, "Zo is better than Steph Curry.”  Now, anyone with any knowledge of the game of basketball knows this is simply not true.
Based on the time Lavar has been the focus of the much debated controversy surrounding his sons and the BBB, there has been a lot of discussion about the premium price of the shoe and his ability to market it to a "select level" of individuals. The inflated retail of a signature shoe that hasn't been tested, reviewed, or vetted in any way reflects the bravado that Lavar displays concerning his son's, his brand, and most of all himself. Even though he isn't the first to offer an untested product at premium price to the market, he is, however, the first to do this in the basketball arena; One dominated by players who are proven superstars. From a business perspective, the price doesn't match the value that buyers typically find when making that type of purchase.
So. long term. the brand will have to build loyalty in order to sustain and achieve profitability. But again, we seem to be talking more about the shoes, the brand, and the sports dad, instead of the player that is to be drafted on June 22nd; Lonzo Ball.  You know the actual basketball player from UCLA that has to perform on the court to solidify his position as one of the sport’s best. His father, Lavar Ball,  has solidified himself as one the media's best at garnering attention by arrogantly proclaiming that "Lonzo will only play for the Lakers". It is now time for “Baby Ball” to take the bottle out of his mouth and speak for himself.  A young man is only as good as the freedom his father gives him to be autonomous. And if that father inserts himself into the young man’s decisions, he may cripple the opportunity for that young man to grow and develop into the “individual” that he is meant to be.  Solely crafted by him, not his dad.   It's time for Lavar to pass the ball. 

                                                                                                    -Samuel Ivan Upshaw 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Colin Kaepernick's Afro Has No Choice But to Stand During the National Anthem


     In the midst of it all, Colin Kaepernick’s Afro must stand for the National Anthem.  Not because of its girth and height and fabulous glory but because it must do it because of the History of the African in America since 1619.  Sure, Colin is of mixed heritage and his adoption by white, Anglo-Saxon parents and his rearing deems him to be a resident of the village of Mulatto.  But, his afro speaks volumes as to why it, and he, must stand, not sit, for America’s national anthem.  In the past few days, the media has used Colin’s decision to not stand, nor sing, during America’s national anthem, as a ratings-boost to create a dialogue, mainly negative, about whether or not it is patriotic or treasonous to disregard, or, even, show disrespect for the nation and the people that fought and/or died for the the Democracy and Freedoms that the United States uses as a tool of nationalistic superiority that is often times lorded over the global community.  It has stirred a debate that is dividing the country again to say the least.

     Colin's Afro, which apparently was picked or blown out from his previous locks of curls, is an aesthetic exhibition of his defiance of, and inclusion in American History and its culture.  Along with his decision to not stand during the anthem, his choice of hairstyle displays his understanding and embracing of his African-American heritage as well as how Black American hairstyles have been used and viewed as a tool of subversion as it pertains to combatting, challenging, and even dismantling the hierarchical structure of America that so often utilizes, at least since 1619, one's aesthetics, or physical appearance, to subjugate them to a life rife with inequality and a lack of justice and opportunities as well as demonize and dehumanize an individual's very existence. 

     From the Black American Civil Rights Movement to the Black Power Movement of the 1970s, the Afro has served as a radical and revolutionary symbol of the American ideals described in the Constitution that afford “all” Americans the freedom of expression  and (aesthetical) freedom of speech (First Amendment). And the monumental Afro probably speaks to those freedoms more loudly than any other act in that it is verbally silent yet speaks with a deafening sound that cannot be ignored.  I would even go as far as saying that, for the most historically oppressed group of people to ever reside on U.S. soil, the Afro is the embodiment of America in that it serves as a symbol of solidarity amongst those who choose to deviate and counter the archetypes and hierarchical structures of Eurocentrism that, internationally and domestically, have been the face, skin hue, and hair of the American portrait that was published in the World's Yearbook. 

The Afro, particularly when it is grown long or high, stands up to the oppression, bigotry, classism, and racism that lurks in the minds, hearts, and souls and shadowy cul de sacs of American culture.  It protests the aforementioned picture in the world’s yearbook.  It has served in all of the branches of the military and government.  It has fought crime on the nation’s police forces. It has put out fires and saved kittens from tree limbs within the nation’s Fire Departments.  It has entertained the country through song and dance.  It has won Olympic medals, many of them gold.  It was there when San Diego Chargers' running back Duane Thomas declined to stand still nor sing the anthem before a game against the Dallas Cowboys in 1972. It stood when NBA guard Mahmoud Rauf declined to put his hand on his heart nor say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the National Anthem before games.  And apparently, it will be standing when its owner throws passes in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers when, or if, Kaepernick’s number is called this season.  And whether we like it or not, it will be standing tall and high and glorious when the National Anthem is sung regardless of whether or not Colin decides to stand. 

                                                                                                - Gee Joyner

Monday, August 29, 2016

It's All About the Benjamins: Black Lives and the Money That Makes It Matter


I recently saw a post via Facebook stating that the Ford Motor Company was giving $100 Million dollars to the Black Lives Matter Movement.  Being the skeptic that I am, I researched and found this to be not entirely true, you know like Clinton and Trump have been doing for the last 6 months on the campaign trail as they spew their “facts” to the general public.  But what I found is quite interesting, disturbing, and even condescending.  Per the Washington Times, Ford Motor Company and Borealis Philanthropy are pledging $100 Million dollars over six years to the BLM Movement along with another $33 Million the Civil Rights organization received from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.  What and where exactly are the “allotted” funds going to do as it pertains to Black Lives mattering?
 I mean, I get it. Having grown up with my father the owner/operator of a small, Black-owned business, I understand how business works and the expenses thereof.  I imagine plenty of those funds will go to travel, legal, and operating expenses, materials, overhead, and personnel salaries, but if a Black life like mine isn’t connected with a particular chapter, more than likely the national chapter, or does not have a seat at those decision-making, camera-stealing, microphone and ambulance, I mean police car-chasing tables, how can my Black life benefit from Black Lives Matter?  And I’m not just being salty or a hater because the founders and members of the national and local chapter are getting caked-up with paper after all of the protests and bull-horning they’ve done to garner national and international opinion. 

         I actually came across something on the BLM website that was blatantly, and even disrespectfully, exclusionary under their Get Involved/Find a Chapter tab that stated the following:  Please note that #BlackLivesMatter is a network predicated on Black self-determination, and BLM Chapters reserve the right to limit participation based on principle.  Please be aware that BLM chapters have varying membership policies, and may or may not be accepting new members at this time.  The aforementioned reeks of exclusion and divisiveness.  It seems to suggest that the BLM’s criterion is set and the choice to include or exclude an individual from being a part of “the Movement” is purely subjective.  My question is, “Who is doing the picking and choosing?” and “What makes me unqualified for acceptance into the Black Lives Matter Movement?”  The bigger question is, were the liberal funders of the grant money from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation and Ford Motor Corporation vetted like those who want to be an official member of the Movement will be?  Or did the money trump their individual and collective ideologies?  I get it.  It’s all about the Benjamins, baby., the Movement’s official website, lists numerous tenants or criterion necessary for inclusion in the movement and the tenants/criterion are quite subjective in their interpretations.  It lists Diversity, Restorative Justice, Globalism, Black Women, Collective Value, Transgender Affirming, Unapologetically Black, Black Villages, Empathy, Queer Affirming, Black Families, Collective Value, Loving Engagement, and Intergenerationality as the things one must subscribe to in order to stand in solidarity with the movement as a whole.  But, after reading through their explanations, I failed to see any mention of Black Men under the exhaustive list of the Blackness in which Black Lives Matter promotes and champions. This is ironic being that the movement, and the hashtag, which to me aren't necessarily synonymous, gained its following in notoriety on the backs of the murders Black bodies, predominately males, by Blue cops.  To add to this, how does the BLM Movement include a Black Family as one of its focuses/themes yet fails to mention the Black male?  There can be no Black Family null and void of the Black man, be they be present as a father, husband, or brother. This is disingenuous at best and dreadfully exclusionary to say the least?  And please, miss me with the Black Man being a parroting clone of America’s robust tradition of white, male patriarchal ideology, rule, dominance, and subordination of the non-male, non-heterosexual American—I will argue that in another rhetorical and sociopolitical writing space at a later date. Plus, I’ve never been able to exclude nor dominate anyone or anything in my 38-years of the American experience.

     If Black Lives Matter, shouldn’t any and all things pertaining to Black Lives be listed?  I’m sure they could have considering the lengths they went to be explanatory as it pertains to the 14 criterion necessary to be in solidarity with the movement.  But my major concern is financial/economical equity, equitability, dissemination and occupational opportunity.  Is the Ford Motor Company, the Open Society Foundation and the Borealis Philanthropy Group subscribing to each and every tenant listed?  I doubt it.  But, it’s all about the Benjamins, baby. And would it not be more economically prudent to receive, and solicit, grant funding that will guarantee, promise, or earmark salaries and positions within major American companies and corporations totaling over $133 Million dollars over that 6 year period rather than the funds just being allotted to the BLM Movement to do as they wish?  Granted, I have not, nor will I ever be privy to the nuances and deliverables of the grant that was awarded, unless I apply for membership in my local city’s Black Lives Matter branch, but I’d like to know whether it is or isn’t “All about the Benjamins, baby.” 

                                                                                       -Gee Joyner    

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Show Me the Money: The Significance of Harriet Tubman and the Twenty Dollar Bill


     I like the old, weary, accomplished photo of Queen Harriet.  There is a story to be told in those wrinkles that reside upon her beautiful face.  There is a narrative connected to that feeble, Black, female body that lead enslaved Black bodies to freedom up North.  There is sadness that sits in that chair as she contemplates what her people overcame and what was to come for the American Negro.  And that is why I chose this particular picture of  "Moses" or "General Tubman" (it is peculiarly ironic how all of her monickers were masculine yet she is now the first female to grace paper U.S. currency that has always been occupied by the faces of white males) to preface my attempt to justify and celebrate her being chosen to be the next American icon to grace the "front" of the third most used U.S. piece of currency (the 5, 10, 20, then the dollar)--the twenty dollar bill.

     The late, great, Black American singer, writer, and composer, who can only be rivaled by a Chopin, Beethoven,  Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, or Mozart, Prince Rogers Nelson once sang, "Money didn't matter yesterday, and it sho' don't matter tonight."  But, I must, though it pains me to do so because Prince is my favorite and the most influential artist in my lifetime, beg to differ within the context of those sentiments.  Sure, money cannot buy you love or satisfaction or acceptance or self and societal worth, nor can it rid the world of greed or poverty, which were the major literary themes addressed within the lyrics in his 1992 "Money Don't Matter 2Night tune. But, in this particular instance, money can purchase a place, if not a position, of power and profundity to a Race of people who have been systematically denied the aforementioned since setting foot on what is now the United States of America.  Maybe (Lady) Moses' likeness being on the $20 bill will help lead Americans out of the wilderness of gender inequality and racial bias as did the historical and biblical Moses literally did the Egyptians from the grasp of the despot Pharoah.  We can only imagine what the psychological effect on Black people and women will be when, in 2020 or 2030, they will own and spend currency with the face of a woman and an African-American on it.  The literal pictorial of the renowned freedom fighter will induce Google searches and historical research so that Americans will know who it is that adorns the money in their pockets, wallets, and purses.  Who knows?  Maybe Black folks will think twice before haphazardly throwin' Tubmans as they would Benjamins.  Folks may possibly cease makin' it rain---or at the least not rain Tubmans down upon the naked bodies and at the feet of occupationally disenfranchised strippers at both high-end and ratchet gentlemen clubs.

     Like any logical and apt scholar of American and Black American History, I am aware of the distasteful irony that persists within academic dialogue and scholarly discourse when thinking of the possible disrespect of putting Tubman on a piece of currency that is validated and given "worth" by the same government that enslaved her and her people and created a perpetual second-class citizenship of people of the darker hue and African descent.  I can almost guarantee that, if a quiji board and an available medium was used to contact Harriet in the afterlife, she would rather have women obtain wage-equality than her face be plastered on a bill that a woman, at this point in History, is only entitled to 70%.  The mere visual of Queen Harriet on U.S. paper currency will be transformative for our children's generation and generations to come.  Rejoice sometimes.  Everything should not be trivialized by academic and Black Nationalistic debates, damn it!   So, yes, money didn't matter yesterday, but if we are to measure societal victories, money sho' does matter tonight.

                                                                                                         -Gee Joyner