Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hey, Nigger. You look like a Nigger.


Recently, I’ve been challenged via Facebook because of many of my racially ‘charged’ postings. So often, my non-Black, Facebook friends tend to think that I enhance the race problem in the U.S. rather than “move past” or “get over it” as many of my posters, actually both Black and white, suggest that I do. But, what I endured last night may offer a parable (yes, it’s oxymoronic to call last night’s situation a parable because it actually happened—non Fiction, not make-believe) that will help my non-African American ‘friends’ understand why I persist in offering socioeconomic, sociopolitical, and hierarchical observations and commentary on the issue of race and the conflicts that exist because of race in My Country ‘Tis of Thee.

The aforementioned scenario unfolded like this: Around 8:45 p.m., I was sitting on the steps outside of my condo indulging in one of my vices, cigarettes, when a neighbor and I, who was also outside talking about the Lakers dismal showing against the revitalized Los Angeles Clippers, observed two, young white men in khakis, button-downs, and ties walking through the complex. I shouted out, “Ya’ll lost?” to which they replied, “No, man. We’re missionaries.” I snickered, glanced at my neighbor with an inquisitive look and replied to the ‘missionaries’, “Be careful.” I didn’t think much about it, but I did find it intriguing and perplexing that two white males would be prosthelytizing in an all Black complex at that time of night, yet didn’t try and offer my neighbor and myself any of the missionary material or indoctrinating spiel that I’m sure they are charged to do when they go out on these ‘missions.’ We both watched as the two young men disappeared around the corner into the black cloak of night and continued dissecting the Lakers’ loss and analyzing their lackluster offseason acquisitions and failed trade attempt.

Within moments, our conversation was interrupted by the screeching of tires in front of our building. Quickly a Ford Expedition and two Dodge Chargers were in front of us and ten Narcotics officers, adorned in bullet-proof vests and Jodeci-like combat boots exited the vehicles and asked who lived in the building. I replied, “Me.” The leader, a white male who looked to be in his early 30s with a red, Brawny man beard said, “What’s your name?” I gave him my last name and he responded by reciting my first name from a sheet of paper in his hand. I asked him what was the problem and he told me that there had been complaints of me selling drugs through the fence behind my building to residents of the adjacent apartment complex.

In awe, I began to explain to him that I am a professional, a professor to be exact, and that I do not indulge in that type of criminality and that I had my fiancé and son upstairs preparing for bed. My neighbor, young, Black, and aware, did not scamper into his home leaving me to the boys in blue, but rather remained outside positing himself as a witness-of-sorts in case the lawmen had intents of skullduggery. After asking for my license, to which I did not have on me, I gave the Brawny man my social and he typed it into his hand-held, computerized pad. He informed me that there was a tip from someone that I was a drug dealer and that they had to respond to this complaint which, by the way, had been issued in September.
I asked him who I could talk to in order to clear up the complaint and whether I could retrieve a report concerning this matter. He told me it was an internal Narcotics matter, and, since I was compliant, he would return to the office and cancel the complaint. I found this odd, yet I never put my cigarette down nor moved from my position. The men,draped in guns, bullet-proof vests and all, reentered their vehicles and vanished just as quickly as they had appeared.

Now, I know many readers may wonder what this has to do with race, but it has everything to do with race and the relations and stereotypes thereof in the U.S. of A. I mean, would they have come ten deep to my home if I was a white man who lived in a predominately white neighborhood? Would they have even responded to an unfounded complaint if I lived in a complex that wasn’t occupied by Blacks and a few Hispanics? I doubt it. The mere characterization in this nation of young, Black males as being drug-dealing thugs is so permeated in the minds of the public, that they felt this complaint was warranted and needed to be checked out, even if it was four months old. And, as I compose this piece, I think about how only one of the Narcotics officers was Black and he was the only one with his hand on his gun-in-holster as if he was a heel from an episode of Bonanza. Maybe it was the way I speak that made them figure I was innocent of this allegation. Maybe they just bring almost a dozen officers to your home to question you and not search your home and pat you down. I thoroughly doubt this. I watch enough television and know enough about the streets that no police department in this country, maybe even the world, bring that much manpower and leave without doing anything or confiscating anything, let alone not even search one’s person.

I want to know what this was all about. I’m almost positive every Black male in America has had something like this happen to them, whether it be me or Harvard's own Dr. Henry Louis Gates, and wonders to themselves, "Would this have happened to me if I was white?' It’s not the spewing of hate speech or the declarations of white supremacy that bother people like me. No, it is the de facto racism that cannot be measured or properly analyzed to the non-Negroidian in this country that so infuriates and stupefies those of us who have been unjustly profiled. In essence, you don’t have to be called ‘nigger’ to be treated like one.

                                                                                                              Gee Joyner

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Klansmen Need Love Too

For the first time in my Black-by-way-of-African-Americanism life, I have not stood behind someone because he or she was Black, like me—even if they were wrong or acted inappropriately, or, God forbid, reinforced the horrifically negative stereotypes that cloak the darker-hued African descendents who reside in the U.S.A. I always ‘bet on Black’, but in the peculiar case of Troy Davis, and the seemingly clear-cut jurisprudence associated with the case of Lawrence Russel Brewer, I’m wondering ‘Does the socially constructed, by Anglican-Americans I may add, ‘race card’ exist?’ Apparently, from reading numerous status updates and comments from mainly African-Americans on the social networking behemoth Facebook pertaining to the execution of Troy Davis, the Loch Ness Monster lives amongst us in plain view. There really is a Big Foot/Sasquatch in the remote mountainous areas. Oh, and shooting stars are really UFOs, Elvis, Tupac, and Jimmy Hoffa are alive, and Shakespeare wrote the Bible.

Last night, I read, dissected, and contemplated upon the plethora of posts and comments of undying empathetic compassion and support for the stay of execution of Troy Davis, yet only read one status, from a Black minister, which questioned and protested the death of Lawrence Brewer. Obviously, as I write this editorial piece, both Davis and Brewer are no longer among the living, but I cannot understand why the majority of those protesting the execution of Davis and the totality of the concept of the death penalty did not abhor the execution of Brewer. Then, I realized that the ‘race card’ is a real trump card that Africans Americans utilize when things of sociopolitical relevance are antithetical to their belief system. So, Davis allegedly kills an off-duty white policeman and is sentenced to die and Blacks in America say the death penalty is immoral, but Brewer participates in the 1999 Jasper, Texas lynching of James Byrd along with other Ku Klux Klansmen and it is fine because he killed one of ‘us’. Sure, seven of the nine witnesses who once testified against Troy Davis recanted their testimonies and Davis maintains his innocence, but so does Brewer; He says he participated in the attack on Byrd, but that he was not the one who killed the man (though being in the truck and watching Byrd’s body dragged from the back of a pick-up truck on a gravel road does implicate you as a member of the lynch mob, thus being responsible—if not partially—for Mr. Byrd’s death). So, why no fuss from the African American populace?

If we are not to ‘play God’, as my pastor said in Bible Study last night, then why are Black Americans ‘playing God’ by favoring Davis over Brewer? Is this a Cain and Abel situation? Why are African-Americans so outraged over the death penalty when someone who looks like them is at the receiving end of this punishment, but when the punishment is handed down to a white American, the discussion boards and social networking sites are void of any dissent, and barber and beauty shops, churches, and Negro watering holes are so quiet you can hear a rat piss on cotton?

I am maturing as a man and as a Negro, so I am trying my best to be as objective as possible when it pertains to any human’s unequal treatment, socioeconomic plight, discrimination of any kind, and any –ism that may bombard them during their time here on planet Earth. I guess what needs to be said is that ‘we’ Blacks must begin to exhibit the equality and objectivity we so long for when interacting with and existing among those that are different from us—if only visibly different.

The execution of Troy Davis was no more a tragedy than the execution, on the same night I may add, which reeks of irony, of Lawrence Brewer. The judicial system played God by determining when, how, and who is deserving of murder. The judicial system decided that these two men’s lives were no longer worth living and the punishment should be death. Is the Negroidian American anti-death penalty or only against the death penalty when a Black person is on the receiving end of this kind of terminal punishment? There is no gray area here, folks. It’s either up or down, left or right, or, for lack of a better analogy, Black or white. No pun intended.

-Gee Joyner

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Is 'Gay' the New Black?

Is ‘Gay’ the New Black?
I am writing this piece of rhetorically, pertinent composition from a biased standpoint. Not biased in the normally referenced negative connotation, but from the bias that is inherent in all humans because of our individually sculpted cultures and life experiences.

For some time now, via media and social networking outlets, I have been hearing proponents of same-sex/homosexual marriage comparing Gay Rights to the African American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, yet I must beg to differ on the fact that homosexuality, unlike one’s ethnicity (unless ‘passing’), can be disguised, if not totally hidden, from public view, therefore making subordination because of homosexuality a ‘choice’ situation rather than a ‘forced’ situation as in the case of the United States’ societal discrimination and subordination of the American Negro, and even the international castigation, dehumanization, and subjugation of the Moors of the world. The treatment may be the same, yet the impetus for that treatment is as simple as ‘see’ versus ‘say’; one cannot know you are Gay unless you verbally inform and clarify the fact to them—Black, on the other hand, is understood on sight, and therein lies the conundrum that deconstructs the comparison between the Civil Rights Movement of the American Black and the Gay American.

By no means will I turn this article into a homophobically constructed composition laden with right wing sympathies, whether social or political, nor will I attempt to be the monolithic voice of the Christian/Protestant sect that the majority of Americans proclaim to reside. But, I will defend the Civil Rights struggle of the African American in 1950s and 1960s America as the most unique, heroic, and incomparable social fight for liberty and equality that the United States of America has ever seen (i.e. in comparison to, if you can compare, Lesbian/ Gay/ Bi-Sexual/Transgender(LGBT), Women, Latino, Disabled). For quite a few months now, and especially since the last week of my life (29 June-2 July 2011), I have been hearing colleagues, close friends, students, and even strangers discuss the possible ramifications of the legitimizing of Gay marriage throughout the states of America that are supposed to be united. Though it has been on the political radar since Hawaii banned Gay marriage in 1993, the 2004 Massachusetts legislation that ‘approved’ (funny how humans have to get approval from other humans to get married) same-sex unions, the recent approval by the state of New York this past week has created quite the discourse throughout our homes, churches, college campuses, golf courses—if you play, gymnasiums, and practically everywhere where individuals have the time and opportunity to discuss anything at all with other individuals whom they share any attribute of cultural identification (i.e. Race, gender, economic status, occupation, education, regionality, nationality). True, there are currently 30 states that have amendments on the books of law that ban same-sex or gay marriage, but besides the discrimination of the legal union of gay peoples, what other ways is the Gay Rights Movement remotely similar to the Black American Civil Rights Movement?

How can an employer not hire you if you are a homosexual if they do not ‘know’ you are a homosexual? Maybe I am a proponent of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’? Maybe your sexuality and sexual activity should be a personal thing, like your mate’s G-Spot or the fact that you abuse your wife or husband or children, either mentally or physically, or that you chug down a bottle of Smirnoff every evening after work to make it to the next day, or that you nasally scoff down five or six lines of Peruvian on a nightly basis to cope with your inadequacies, or that you eat a ‘family size’ platter of Popeye’s chicken while locked away in your bedroom to satisfy your pleasure principle. In my opinion, some things should be an individual’s own business.

I am concerned that when Gay individuals compare their movement to that of the African American Civil Rights Movement they are minimizing the sociopolitical and economic restrictions that exist when discriminatory actions persist because of one’s appearance. Black don’t come off, but you can hide Gay. For instance, unless one walks around adorned in the androgynous garbs of an Adam Ant or 1980s…and 1990s…hell, 2000s, you would be hard-pressed to readily identify one’s sexual preference via the natural visual aid we call appearance.

Are Gays, or is the LGBT, community piggybacking on the Civil Rights Movement? Yes, I know that Gay Rights are nothing new to the national agenda, yet I get sick of hearing the comparison between the two movements. I mean, really? How in the world is being ‘gay’ at the least similar to being Black. I can’t hide my hue or the tint of my skin or the permanent tan I’ve had from birth—Gays can. Sure, you will eventually have to bring your mate to the company picnic or the company Christmas Party or whatnot, but I can never leave my Black at home—no way no how. Sometimes, if I could, I wish I could leave my Black at home while searching for a prestigious position at an elite company that will afford me the opportunity to pay off student loans, for the two degrees and graduate certificate which I have earned, and garner me enough of an annual salary where I can properly provide for my son and his college education and first car and prom and attire he can wear to school without being ridiculed by his classmates for not having upper middle class garments and summer vacations abroad, but I cannot; I cannot hide my Blackness—you can see it in my skin and in the juicifully thick lips and kinky, black hair. And my walk and the base and rhythmic intonation of my voice and my…’cool.’ Gays can hide their sexuality. Even if they bring their mate to a company outing or out in public, who’s to say the two, or the couple, are not just close friends, or friends? People know me and my ‘Blackness’ aren’t friends—they know we are one—one in the same.

And I know everyone reading this article will reference the U.S. Miscegenation laws from 1913-1948 where 30 of 48 states enforced a ban on interracial marriage and the 1967 Loving vs. Virginia case where the Supreme Court ruled the Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924 unconstitutional and readily compare that one aspect wherein the Civil Rights and Gay Movements intertwine. But sexual preference, and the ability to display one’s sexual preference, and one’s race are incomparable like shit to fart—they both smell, but one is of substance and the other is just gas. There is a reason why old adages exist like ‘that’s like comparing apples and oranges’ or ‘that’s neither here nor there’—because arguments like this one fit that bill.

-Gee Joyner

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Bedroom Is My Business: Legalization of Homosexual Marriages in 21st Century U.S. Culture

Whether it is discussed in the framework of politics or religion, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) matters have the tendency to be divisive subjects for many people. Marriage for gay couples is particularly divisive because many people view marriage as a religious based subject. I will gladly state my position on marriage for gay couples before submitting my points regarding my stance….I do not think the word ‘marriage’, or the action of marriage, is maintained exclusively by any group of people. At one point and time, it was generally used for white men and white women; then it became recognized for various ethnicities but only among those within the same ethnic group. Marriage, in the United States of America, was finally ‘legally’ accepted for any man and woman regardless of race. I am sure there are people who still believe that white people should marry only white people and black people should only marry black people. Some people think that different religions or sects of religions should not marry (e.g. Jews shouldn’t marry Christians or even Jehovah’s Witness shouldn’t marry Baptists). Some people hold the belief that wealthier people should not marry people with less wealth. While these are matters of opinions and personal preferences, from a legal stand point none of it matters. As far as the law, in any state and on a federal level, none of the aforementioned examples matter. With the exception of polygamy, any one of any background can marry any one of any other background—anyone but gay couples.
I think, in many wedding ceremonies, the phrase “marriage should be taken seriously and not entered into lightly” is uttered in some form or fashion. With the recent legalization of marriage for gay couples in New York and the upcoming passing of legislation for Civil Unions in Rhode Island, the issue of marriage for gay couples makes another lap on the cycle of social and news media conversations. In the most recent of three polls (Gallup Poll, CNN Poll, and the ABC/Washington Post Poll), support of marriage for gay couples appears to be favorable with 53%, 51%, and 53% respectively in favor of the recognition of marriage for gay couples as legal.
While the growing trend appears to be in favor of supporting the legal recognition of marriage for gay couples, only six states thus far have legalized the unions of marriage for gay couples (Washington, D.C. and the Coquile Indian Tribe in Oregon also recognize same-sex marriages). Setting the successes of marriage for gay couples in the six states aside, 12 states prohibit marriage for gay couples through state statute and 29 have altered their state’s constitution to bar gay couples from marriages. That is correct—41 states have laws in place that bar gay couples from marriage and the rights therein.
So, why is marriage for gay couples such an issue? I honestly cannot comprehend it. Some people may take the approach that gay lifestyles are against their religious beliefs, but truthfully, the marriage of someone else has nothing to do with me or anyone other than the couple getting married. Many of the conservative leaning groups that stand against marriage for gay couples often believe that the government should not intervene in matters of family—they think the government is too big. Well with this matter, I agree. The government should not intervene in whom one should love—get out of that couples bedroom. The government should however, assure that the same protections and securities available for straight Americans are available for every American.
Marriage is about committed couples who want to make a lifelong promise to take care of and be responsible for each other. I have been married to my wife for nine years. When I met her I knew I wanted to marry her, I am sure she most likely liked what she heard when I started laying down this game on her; she may disagree with that but I know the truth! I imagine gay and lesbian couples meet and fall in love just as Lori and I did. A phone call leads to a date; which leads to building bonds of love and respect for one another; which leads to creating dreams, goals, and plans. There is not much difference in the “love-process” for me and my wife as there is for most couples (granted, there are arranged marriages, forced marriages, and a wealth of other marriage scenarios to consider but for the most part in America we meet, like, love, and live—and for the most part, in that order). While I know there are over-arching benefits of marriage (from a legal standpoint), marriage really isn’t solely about the tangible benefits of being married, we generally don’t consider ‘can I get health insurance’ as one of the major factors of who we marry; I said generally we don’t. If you believe that the person you love (or loved—assuming you’ve actually loved before) should have every right to be your spouse, what is different about that notion for anyone/everyone else who is a responsible and willing adult (taking in consideration that some states allow the marriage of teens as young as 14 with parental consistent, within this editorial I am solely talking about sound-mind, age-of-majority adults).
The essence of marriage is love but according to the Government Accounting Office from report in 2004 there are over 1,300 benefits, rights, or privileges from which legally recognized married couples can utilize offered from the Federal Government (1,358 to be exact). Sure, love is a great reason to marry—and I personally think it should be the sole reason to marry but with marriage comes responsibility. That responsibility often includes taking care of a spouse when they are sick, leaving various securities for a spouse upon the death of another. Because of laws like the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), many couples will never receive social security protections of a deceased loved one; gay couples encounter a cluster of judicial hurdles if they marry someone from another country-even when the state recognizes their marriage; and lowering the tax burden of a gay couple is out of the question all due to DOMA. These protections and securities, protections and securities that most of us take for granted, are not available to couples who love one another but share the same gender. I still support the notion that marriage is about love but love doesn’t grant the numerous benefits that gay and lesbian couples cannot take part. Straight couples and gay couples want to care for their mates, straight couples and gay couples want to provide the best healthcare for their mates, straight couples and gay couples want their spouses to be free of worry or financial burden if one dies. The same securities and legal protections that marriage gives to me and my wife should be the same securities and legal protections that my gay, lesbian, and transgender friends receive.
I know the arguments, none of which seem rational to me; we all know the argument: “religious believes”, “gays chose that lifestyle”, “they can get gay-to-straight counseling”—the arguments range from bizarre to just plan illogical.
Here is the deal: What does the marriage of anyone have to do with me? In a word---nothing.

-Kenny Rodgers

'American' Dreamin': The Convolution Is Being Televised

While riding today, I noticed a couple of young ladies, both wearing white outfits characterized by very short shorts and slim fitting tops, displaying their shoulders and back. They were crossing Getwell Ave. at it’s intersection at Quince Road. Neither of the young women were older than 15 years I deduced. Not far down the street, a couple of men had made the young women the focus of their attention as they completely turned their heads while leaving a local BBQ shack and crossing the streets themselves. When the young women recognized they would have to pass the two men, they crossed back onto the side they’d just departed from, giggling to themselves.

This scene troubled me as it served as a microcosm to what has been ailing me for the past few sunsets. Our culture of sex, one of immediate all encompassing gratification and blatant physical, verbal, and thus mental expression, has begun to subjugate our better selves. This control is becoming more evident in virtually every facet of American life. An increasingly larger number of Americans are rebelling against globally accepted social norms to adopt a more ‘liberal’ agenda of inclusion and limitlessness. Everyone from your so-called thug to your young under esteemed middle school girl to your graduate yuppie and self anointed intellect and family representative has subscribed to the idea of ‘people can’t help who they love’ in some form or another. Because of our über sexual nature, this physical desire is often confused for love and it is often exhibited through lustful self-indulgence.

The nation’s current state of confusion as it relates to how we will accept and handle homosexuality provides a lot of insight into this modern american phenomenon. Recently a bill was passed in New York, our third most populous state, allowing for same sex marriage. I have not seen to edict, but I assume that in order to do so the definition for the institution of marriage must have changed in order for this to be allowed. For as long as America has been a sovereign country, marriage has been defined and accepted as ‘a union between man and woman’. This clearly had to have changed.

In the great state of New York, men can now marry men and women can marry themselves as well. This will undoubtedly lead to more open homosexual and bisexual relationships for all to see and experience; But why? Some say it is because of the need to recognize what has been happening since the beginning of humanity, others say it is the natural evolution of humankind, while others will argue that the United States Constitution allows for the ‘pursuit of happiness’ for all citizens of this ‘great’ nation. I contend that we have allowed our primal desires to overrule our better judgement once again.

As a nation, we are going to have to decide who we are and what we will look like. We have been operating under the guise of the world’s ‘melting pot,’ but one year in America as a minority of any sort will dissipate those expectations. We are a nation of various groups and cultures bound together by our spirit of independence and personal freedom. Our fear of being repressive prevents us from adhering to strict sets of beliefs while our mandate to be tolerant strips one of their own standards enforced through childhood and familial traditions. We have to include. To not do so paints an individual as a hate monger or fear peddler, or even simply an imbecile. We have been bred to group think our issues, and while we seem to know this is not bringing us any closer, it does alleviate the burden of accountability and for many that is sufficient.

This current sexual identity crisis is stemmed in mass confusion and has been propagated with masterful execution. No matter what time of the day or night you turn on your television or radio you will find an ad or scene which is sexual in nature. It is how we sell virtually all of our music, and it is a part of every magazine on the shelf. It starts at toddlerhood as we are introduced to non gender specific creations or men who speak in tones much more like our mothers than our fathers. Our culture is currently so sexually charged and critically undisciplined that we are willing to stimulate our private parts with just about anything. We are having sex in open markets, with those of the same sex, as well as with other species of animal. Slowly, the restrictions which helped us define our humanity are being blurred and we become less human and more animalistic. We have lost our willingness to reason and logically define our needs and desires and in place we have decided that we are no more in control of these urges than baby is of its bladder. Somehow though, we tend to think that those who have sexual perversions or variances other that our own should be in complete control of theirs or we should be in control of them.

Many frown on a comparison between pedophilia and homosexuality or bestiality and homosexuality. I do not think they are vastly different. If you look at statistics, you will find that the vast majority of ‘sexual predators,’ or those who have sexual relationships with minors, are repeat offenders. Once arrested, convicted and punished, they eventually find themselves at a familiar crossroads questioning their love or lust for such a forbidden fruit. Many times they succumb to their need for satiation. Much like what I envision an telepathic encounter between two men must be as they make their final decisions to ravage one another.

America: I am not here to castigate anyone for their choice of lifestyle. I am simply asking pointed questions which I believe should be answered and understood before we go further into a room with no lights, walls, railings, or exits. As adults, we have a responsibility to the youth who look to us for answers to their many questions of life. We need to take on more accountability in how we respond. Let’s look deeply at how confusing it is for a child to understand the basic foundations of life when a man is dressed like and desires to be treated like a woman in the open forum. We all have sexual fantasies of some sort, but responsible individuals understand that those things are to be held closely and only acted out in private. Openly excessive displays of hetero-, homo- or bi-sexual lusts should be frown upon. Our children are being exposed to spirits far to complex for them to fully understand and because of the poor rate of full parental involvement, these spirits re-present themselves through the subconscious mind if firmer bases of reality and perspective are not held. We need to define who and what we are, and stop being so quick to change that for the sake of tranquility. Men are required in such times as these, and what we seem to have not taken notice of is the erosion of masculinity throughout our culture. The truth to the matter is the sexuality is something which varies from culture to culture and morphs throughout the time-space continuum. At some point or another virtually everything has been accepted and rejected. We are not inventing the wheel here. What it seems however is that much like the pre-teen, America; still in its immature stages of growth, is experiencing an identity crisis. Who we are, what we want, how we get it, and through which means are all still being developed as this nation shifts in influence between the majority and its many minorities. We must be careful though, the rest of the world is watching. Openly flaunting or displaying weakness is luxury we do not have.

-Mustafa A. Shakur

Thursday, June 30, 2011

'Til Sex Do Us Part

With the passing of the legislation in New York (and other places) it looks as if same-sex marriages becoming more common are on our horizon. I am not knowledgeable regarding the specifics of what this means legislatively going forward, whether this truly empowers this particular community or whether this accurately reflects where we are as a people. What I do believe is that I posses insight on is why this matter is such a “hot-button” topic on countless blogs, numerous forums, halls of congress, barber and beauty shops, and religious institutions around our nation; WE ARE OBSSESSED WITH SEX AND SEXUALITY!

Some may say the “issue” is not with a particular group’s sexuality but with the concept of marriage and the sanctity of the institution. I would respond to that premise with reference to what so many people from various communities see as the primary function of marriage – consensual and “consecrated” sexual activity. If we were to poll a target group and ask them why people get married, among many answers we would find the consistent response “to have sex.” Various biblical texts (where many of us have derived our conceptual understanding of marriage from) have been used to support the function of marriage as being PRIMARILY to conceive and bear children and we all know there is only ONE way this can take place; somebody (more like some bodies) has/have to have sex.

Therefore, my argument is that many people who are objecting to same-sex marriages are not necessarily in dispute for economic, social, or even psychological reasons but more so an indirect objection to homosexuality.

As a pastor, public theologian, and practicing faith believer, my stance towards homosexuality (although I believe it to be ultimately unimportant) is critical of it in practice because homosexuality violates the rule of complimentary. Under this theory, the function of any relationship between two entities ought to have the opportunity for full complementation. This implies that the entities are united to compliment each other and if there is no possibility of an element of the relationship being complimentary, the rule then becomes violated. Since homosexual relationships, independently, cannot procreate (there is no possibility) they thereby violate the rule. I say all of this while proclaiming an open and accepting position towards my homosexual brothers and sisters.

Truth is, it bothers me that my subsequent statements have to be prefaced by my underlying convictions, yet, in “hot-button” topics, there is too often a desire by some engaged in the discourse to label commentators and contributors based upon stereotypical biases. I believe the labeling of individuals and groups create mythical lines of demarcation that do not serve us well in public discourse and positive societal progression. I state this as a happily married, heterosexual, black-male pastor of the Christian religious tradition. The mere fact that I must make such a declaration informs one of the cultural biases deeply embedded in our discourse concerning homosexuality and homosexual marriages and unions. Too often objectors label those who advocate for inclusion of these minority groups into the fabric of society in a derogatory fashion.

Inclusion, however, may be mythical as well. Ultimately, I am unsure the issue is inclusion as much as it is exclusion. To presume that we can create or shape a society to be all-inclusive is rather vain (irrespective of what legislation is passed). What I believe we can do is be A LOT less exclusive (and SOME legislation serves this purpose).

Throughout our history, we have been a country that has endorsed the precepts of rich, white, protestant, heterosexual males while all but deliberately excluded all of the individuals that are “other.” In matters of same-sex marriage, again, the issue is around sexuality (homo vs. hetero) and whether or not the “other” or minority group out to be endorsed –by the dominant group – as equal.

If you still object to this as a foundational element of the broader issue of same-sex marriage being about more about sex/sexuality than it is marriage (as we understand it), consider this question: If two heterosexual males decided to marry for mutual economic advancement and knowingly planned to “cheat” with women because the purpose of their “wedlock” was purely economic and not sexual at all, would we object to them getting married (keep in mind how many marriages have cheating partners)? If so, why? Many of us have argued that the purpose of marriage (other than sex) is to provide economic stability for spouses. I am operating under the assumption that we do not collectively object to people making decisions to attempt to stabilize their financial futures. Therefore our fundamental objection is not to a violation of fiscal fortitude, but more so… we assume marriage couples are having sex! Most (if not all) of those in opposition to gay marriage are in opposition to the practice of homoSEXuality!

When we wrestle with the notion of sexuality, we are in a taboo area. I do not attempt to project that I have all of the answers to how we address this reality but I am willing to dialogue about it in religious and academic institutions (and other public spaced) in an attempt to address some of the forces at work that shed light on the broader issue. Objecting to individuals’ sexual practices boarders on desiring control of other people’s bodies. To control other people’s body is one of the most dehumanizing acts of oppression. This is what slave masters often did to control and psychologically abuse their slaves. In lieu of oppression being mentioned, I feel led to offer up ideas that could lead us towards liberation. I subscribe to the school of thought that liberation has a spiritual foundation. Since many of us express our spirituality in religious terms, I would like to highlight some comments regarding the religious conditioning many of us have been prescribing to for countless years.

Elaine Graham, in her article If the Church says 'No', does God say 'Yes!? — Theological Reflection on Sexuality in a Consumer Culture, suggests, “Sexuality is inescapably linked to the dynamics of wider human behavior…” Authors not limited to Randall Bailey, Audre Lorde, Bell Hooks, Kelly Brown-Douglas and others have all asserted that in most instances, both consciously and subconsciously (especially for minorities), our sexuality is an expression of our oppression. This is to say; that people’s bodies are usually objects to be conquered by an oppressor and therefore whoever has his/her body entered into or penetrated is somehow the lesser of two beings. This type of sexual dynamic reinforces stereotypes of male dominance of females but also male dominance of other males. When sexuality is expressed in ways that are symptomatic of domination and conquest, those sexual expressions and the support of them by the majority culture tilts people towards manifestations of exclusion. Those who are sexuality dominated are considered to be the lesser beings in society and excluded from the rights, privileges and other benefits “normal” citizens enjoy by default.

But what we have failed to realize is that sexual expression is one of many elements of conquest by any dominant hegemonic force which is why many oppressed peoples are sexually abused and raped by their oppressor. If sexual conquest was called into question, we would all have to do self-reflective critiques on how our sexual orientations privilege or exclude us from the broader culture. Then, we could see if other people who have different sexual practices are somehow deemed unworthy to receive these same privileges and why or why not.

In conclusion, I am by no means arguing for a standard-less society. What I am suggesting is that when viewed in the broader context of oppression and liberation, the standards are in need of review on a case-by-case basis. We should be entitled to “marital privileges?” We ought to do all we can to ensure that people are not discriminated against because they have different practices, beliefs, and convictions than we do. Speaking of standards, where do we draw the lines of the discrimination if we are endorsing exclusion? If we are all members of the human race, then society ought not (intentionally) exclude any of us. Sexuality, and how we choose to express, it should not be what parts us… not even death should do us part.

-Rev. Earle J. Fisher

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Civil Rights Movement: The Sequel or 'To Be Continued'

On April 3, 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King rendered his now famous “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” sermon in Memphis, TN, beautifully crafting and articulating his support of the sanitation workers in the city of the blues. In the early part of this masterful sermon, Dr. King continued to develop his understanding of the interconnectedness of national and international struggles. To be sure, in the early part of his involvement in human rights movement, Dr. King had a specific focus on national issues while examining international figures for influence and guidance. It was when he positioned himself against the Johnson administration concerning the Vietnam War that he began to appreciate and comprehend the very real connections of struggles in the domestic and global sphere. As he put it, Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee -- the cry is always the same: "We want to be free."

For Dr. King, it did not mean that there were not serious and real disparate political contexts whence national and international movements emerge. Nevertheless, they were all connected by the universally malleable yet durable thread of struggle. Certainly his accurate and, indeed, prescient sermon resonates with us still, especially as we closely follow the revolutions in North Africa, the Middle East, and even the United States.
There are striking distinctions between the revolutions and uprisings in these geographical and political hotspots; the political circumstances that necessitated these movements are real; the moral and social sentiments are honest and serious. The formations of these respective movements are unique, and each need to be carefully examined. Yet, the simultaneity of these movements does speak to a larger issue concerning the power relations between the people and their governments. Specifically, they reveal in very clear terms the disastrous nature of global capitalism and the kinds of politics that spawn from it.

In North Africa, beginning with Tusinia and Egypt, the world witness the popular removal of US backed dictators, demonstrating that the US’s long tradition of supporting anti-democratic rulers will face serious opposition down the road. Focusing primarily on Egypt, the movement was led primarily by the youth - thoroughly yet surreptitiously planned. This segment, which constitutes most of the Egyptian population, responded to police and internal security service crackdowns, abductions, the suppression of free speech, and torture. The labor movement in Egypt has, for at least a decade, engaged in small level protests, defiantly expressing its discontent regarding wages and benefits. Therefore, it is important to note that the popular revolution in Egypt did not emerge from the sky - instead, it was the culmination of decades long resistance to the US backed dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. But outside of Mubarak, it was also a revolution against the invidious International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) policies in Egypt. In an interesting yet “ill timed” move, the IMF, weeks before the popular uprisings in Egypt and Libya, praised both countries for the “reforms” they were implementing. Unfortunately, these so-called reforms did not take effect in any meaningful way to the masses. The great disconnect between institutions of unfettered and invisible capital to the people is striking. More to the point, it is being challenge in larger scale movements. Such popular, democratic, and unified resistance continue to emerge in parts of Gaza and the West Bank, challenging the crippling apartheid policies of Israel, policies that violate international law from United Nations Resolution 242 to countless votes by the General Assembly. Uprisings are continuing to be reported in Yemen; and despite the sheer brutality of Gaddafi’s regime in Libya - thousands have been reported dead, and countless others face daily torture - the popular movements have ceased the western portion of the country, as well as locations surrounding Tripoli. With a few exceptions, and considering the political contexts, these protests have been peaceful, evincing how nonviolence in the face of pernicious acts of state terrorism and violence can be an effective method of retaliation.

The attack against unadulterated capitalism finds firms grounding when examining the developments in the United States. Much of the resistance taking place in the US is by a collection of workers, teachers, students, and others to stop the brutal crackdown on unions. In the media, this crackdown has been framed as an attack on “collective bargaining” but it is more than this: when unions cannot collectively bargain for wages, proper working conditions, leave, and so on, they are effectively eviscerated, immediately becoming voiceless. In Ohio, SB 5 is soon up for a vote, and dirty, unjust tactics are being used by Republican leaders to make sure the bill passes without meaningful opposition from legislatures on both the Democratic and Republican sides. While this is taking place, Wisconsin workers mobilized for a twenty straight day to put an end to Governor Scott Walker’s draconian proposal to eliminate collective bargaining. Similar pieces of legislation are being presented in Indiana, Tennessee, and Florida, all in the specious name of austerity. Indeed, college students are not outside of the attack on public institutions and public sector workers. For the first time in the history of the University of California system’s history, the students will pay more money than the state will allocate. In 2009, students, professors, and workers rallied outside of the administration building to protest an increase in tuition by 32%. Lastly, the House of Representatives this past week has voted to reduce funding for Pell Grants, potentially placing the hopes and aspirations of college students in financial limbo.

These measures and acts by both Democrats and Republicans are clearly drawing the battle lines. The analytical framework against these measures of unregulated, run amok capitalism cannot be the rich vs. the poor. It is and has always been workers versus capitalists, with various and varying gradations. This is not to suggest that the poor are not being slaughtered by the wealthy - there is much truth to this claim. However, those who are rich (not wealthy) cannot be blamed for the structural dynamics of capitalism that establish obvious bifurcations between the wealthy, the capitalists, the middle class, the working class, and the poor. Moreover, such a false dichotomy (e.g. the poor vs. the rich) does not provide us with a strong basis to launch a fight against those who control both the wealth and the means of production within and without the US. The anti-union and anti-student legislations in the aforementioned states are not specific attacks against the poor. They are attacks against workers, students, and the middle class, attempting to relegate these communities into the abyss of the poor.

It is important to note that the majority of Americans supported the overthrown of Hosni Mubarak; now the majority of Americans, despite the right wing propaganda apparatus, support the workers in Wisconsin. The support of workers’ rights has been a constant for decades; it has only come more pronounced when the lines have been more clearly drawn. Moreover, the billionaire Koch brothers have openly funded anti-union measures and candidates such as Gov. Walker. And President Obama, although verbally supporting the workers in Wisconsin, backed away from a campaign pledge of physically standing next to workers if or when their rights were compromised by legislations being proposed in these moments. Yet, these precious and critical moments are not about the Obama administration or the Koch brothers. Instead, they are about ordinary people doing what they have always done when facing internal threats - they resist. Gone now are the arguments of Americans being apathetic, lazy, and careless. How far these movements will go are largely up to us. Much is at stake, and losing ground now may prove to be disastrous to any semblance of democracy in the near future.

Emahunn Raheem Ali Campbell

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

American Ministers: Preachers or Pimps?


I have always wondered whether preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or the ‘gospel’ or philosophy of any deity for that matter, was a social calling of humanity or a profession-- which reaps massively grotesque amounts of financial benefits. I am not sure, but I do believe some ministers tend to get into the business as a means to create a self-worth and societal relevance that they could not acquire within the normal realm of social standing and hierarchical positioning.

The older I get, the more I realize that the preacher’s preaching is not necessary for one to live a ‘good’ life or to be smiled upon by God, or whatever name one calls their Creator and Higher Power. I come from a family with a history of males who have made a comfortable existence through the discipline of Christian Theology (i.e. Baptist, Lutheran), but I have yet to comprehend the notion of being ‘called’ by God to preach this Gospel. I believe ministering and preaching is a chosen field of occupation, a profession if you will. Living in the South, where ministers are as prevalent as maggots in a wet garbage can, I can hardly differentiate a preacher from a pimp. From their usage of smooth, if not slick, sounding words of manipulation to their chosen attire of peacock-colored suits to their jewelry to the vehicles they navigate through the city streets, a preacher is synonymous with a pimp in my book. Sure, a pimp manipulates the bodies of women by selling the sex of a particular whore for profit, but doesn’t a preacher do the same by sending members of his congregation or flock out into the workforce for five or more days a week only to bring their tithes back to the preacher’s church or ‘God’s storehouse’ so that the church can maintain their utilities and general maintenance? And in most churches, the head minister/preacher, or pastor, draws a salary that, in some cases, mirrors that of a Chief Executive Officer of a Fortune 500 company.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘minister’ as “one officiating or assisting the officiant in church worship” or “a clergyman especially of the Protestant communion.” ‘Pimp’, as defined by Merriam-Webster is defined as “a man who solicits clients for a prostitute.” Now, by no means am I equating God to a ‘Lady of the Night’, but who are ministers soliciting parishioners for—God or themselves? Now, if the job, for lack of a better term, is for the preacher to preach the Word of God as a means to bring lost and wicked souls to salvation, then why is it that the preacher or minister, be they male or female, take a salary? Why do these ministers not live meagerly like the revered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or even Jesus the Christ for that matter? I thought, from my Judeo-Christian upbringing, that the goal of Man is to be more Christ-like? If so, would Jesus be riding clean in a high-end vehicle or dressing like a GQ model (although tackily with the fluorescent suits) or going around preaching for funds by being paid to preach at another pastor’s church? Why is monetary reciprocity always on the voucher submitted by ministers of the Gospel?

Well, maybe because the Bible tells us so; I Timothy 5:17-18 “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” 18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” Basically, doing God’s work is the equivalent of doing our secular jobs. Need more scriptural evidence? 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 says, “13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.”

Even Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke 10:7-8 (and Matthew 10:10) suggested that the worker of his Father be given a stipend or payment for their duties; “7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. 8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.” Now, Jesus said to eat, not gorge, and some of these so-called ‘prosperity preachers’ or ‘poverty pimps’ we call men of God who claimed to have been ‘called’ to preach are gorging the communities, that are often times economically depraved and disadvantaged, of the little wealth they may have in hopes of being saved from their conditions. Not through Christ’s salvation, but through the preacher’s duplicitous rhetoric emitted weekly from the pimpin’ pulpit.

The American Preaching Pimp dates back to the 1930s when tent preaching became a huge draw for the desolate and displaced families and workers trying to recover and find some comfort in the word of God during the Great Depression. The tent preachers, who traversed from town to town, made their living by garnering donations from the crowds that attended their outdoor concerts (oops, I meant sermons). We can even go further back than the tent preaching and trace the popularized and celebrity version of our ministers to S. Parkes Cadman who was one of the first preachers to be broadcast on radio in 1923, and was eventually given a weekly radio spot on NBC radio and reportedly had a listening audience of over 5 million Americans (it goes without saying that donations were accepted). Though radio made celebrities out of preachers, the advent of the television in the 1950s and the popularization of the television in the homes of our average U.S. citizens in the 1960s would make little gods out of the American Minister.

From Fulton Sheen to Billy Graham to Oral Roberts to Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker to Creflo Dollar (what a name) to T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen, it is difficult to separate the salaries, and sometimes the opulence—particularly T.D. Jakes and his private jet, of these Holy Men from their ‘calling’ to preach the Gospel. Yes, many of these ministers, pastors, and preachers mentioned have done much for the communities in which their congregations reside and have probably saved countless souls from moral decay and an eternity of playing Marco Polo in the Lake of Fire, but why must they live better than the average parishioner?

I would bet a dollar to your dime that in most of these mega-churches (churches with an average weekly attendance of at least 2000 people) in the United States of America the pastor is one of the wealthiest, if not the wealthiest, individual there (and there are politicians, CEOs, CFOs, professional athletes, entertainers, doctors, lawyers, and Indian Chiefs who are members of their church, and they all give their tithes!). There are 50 mega churches in Tennessee, the state in which I reside, alone and ten of those are either in Memphis or the surrounding suburban cities that many consider a part of the Memphis-metro ‘area.’ The list is as follows: Christ United Methodist, New Salem Missionary Baptist, Mississippi Blvd. Christian Church, New Direction Christian Church, Temple of Deliverance, Pentecostal Tabernacle-COGIC, St. Stephens Baptist, Mt. Vernon Baptist, Central Church (Collierville), Germantown Baptist (Germantown), Bellevue Baptist (Cordova), and Hope Presbyterian (Cordova). This is interesting and alarming information for a city whose poverty level is 67.2% greater than the national average and has an average household income of $41000 per year (per the 2009/2010 census).

I guess the question is “What are these ministers peddling?” Do we really need a preacher to guide us to God? Is he or she a better discerner of the biblical texts than we are? I’ve even heard of a mega-church in Memphis that offers an automatic pay plan for their monthly tithes. Since when are our tithes a bill or the Church a creditor? How can we really know that the churches we attend are adequately allocating our monies to the people and places that need those monies the most? I think I can give my time and money in my own way and honor my God? You don’t have to fool or scare me into thinking that I must tithe to a specific ‘Church’ on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis (depending upon how often I get my direct deposit from my ‘secular’ or ‘worldly’ job) in order to gain favor and receive blessings from God. Don’t pimp me, pastor? I’m not naïve, and I’m not a whore.
                                                                                                   -Gee Joyner

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Obama Is Not 'Your Nigga'


First of all, the first ‘Black’ President of the United States is not a full-blooded Negroid. Sure, for the most part, no Black American residing in the United States is one hundred percent of African descent, yet he is a first generation mulatto, for lack of a better word. If we are to subscribe to the notion that the race of the child always follows that of the mother, as was the case during the Antebellum days of U.S. slavery per the 1662 Virginia miscegenation law passed by the Virginia colonial assembly (matrilineage)-- also "one drop rules" were applied differently in different states; in Mississippi, black if 1/32nd African American; in Louisiana, black if 1/64th, then Barack Obama is really a ‘white’ man. The aforementioned, in and of itself, puts the public and closeted racists at ease, even if only minimal.

Now, I imagine, and even know, the readers of this article will be offended by my use of the word ‘nigga,’ but I’ll offer a few hundred words of explanatory rhetoric in hopes of it serving as a disclaimer for my colloquial use of the term so that no set of eyes will confuse my usage of ‘nigga’ with the inflammatory epithet ‘nigger.’

There is a profound difference in the use of the term ‘nigger’ and ‘nigga’ and can be pejorative or endearing depending on the ethnicity of the person who is utilizing the term(s) and the inflection within the speaker’s voice. In no way am I trying to dehumanize or connote the President of the United States with being a socially, intellectually, and physically inferior being. I am merely using the term nigga as I would use it when referring to any descendant of the Sub-Saharan area of the continent of Africa who shares, hurts, and rejoices in the struggles and triumphs associated with the Black American’s sojourn through North American, and more specifically, United States’ History. While the origins of the term nigger (derived from the Spanish noun negro meaning black or dark or the Latin adjective niger) are commonly associated in modern history with the Spanish and Portuguese use of the word to describe a person of a darker skin hue, and having no derogatory connotations but was merely a descriptor of persons from Africa, who happened to be first enslaved by the Spanish and Portuguese, the term became derogatory once the American hierarchical system heaped gross caricatures and negatively stereotypical behavior to the nigger. Thus, nigger and any variations of the word (i.e. nigga, nig, nigglet,) have been deemed vulgar and inappropriate at best.

On the contrary, the world in which I was reared and reside in today utilizes nigga as a term of endearment, even a tool of empowerment in the sense that I, and many from the Hip-Hop culture, have deconstructed and reconstructed the American- English lexicon by redefining a vocabulary word, if you will, so that the word, in and of itself, is juxtaposed positively against the original intent. No longer is it a term that subjugates and subordinates individuals of the darker complexion, but it exclusively elevates and separates the Black American as being a member of a fraternal order that can only be infiltrated by one’s ethnic origins by the very usage of the term nigga. A good friend, a loyal companion, a brother or sister of the educational, social, political, and economical struggle that exists and flourishes in America, if one is Black, is considered to be a nigga or my nigga or your nigga. That brings us to the conundrum as to whether or not Barack Obama can be considered the American Niggas' nigga.

So, by now, everyone in the relevant world knows that the current President of the United States was born to a white mother and a Kenyan father and was raised by his maternal grandparents in the alien state of Hawaii. The fair-skinned, yet coarse-haired Barack attended one of the best Ivy League schools in America while admittedly, in his own words in his book Dreams from My Father, not being the best high school student and loafing during his Freshman and Sophomore years at Occidental College. The man literally and literarily knew he was a conflicted mulatto stating, "Junkie. Pothead. That's where I'd been headed; the final fatal role of the would-be black man. Except the highs hadn't been about that, me trying to prove what a down brother I was. Not by then, anyway. I got high for just the opposite effect, something that could push questions of who I was out of my mind. Something that could flatten out the landscape of my heart, blur the edges of my memory.” He obtained his undergraduate and law degrees from Columbia University and Harvard College respectively and persisted in slumming in Chicago by being a grassroots community organizer on his way to the Illinois Senate. Now, how many niggas, from my definition of a nigga earlier in this piece, have had such an experience?

How could our ‘Black’ President, reared by an elderly white couple in the multicultural environment of 1970s Hawaii, truly identify with the African-American, or American Nigga, experience. A few years as a grassroots organizer/community/political activist and political opportunist does not qualify one’s membership into the nigga club. He is no grizzled veteran of the uphill struggles and de-facto discrimination endured by the nigga without the Ivy League or mixed-race pedigree.

Interestingly enough, he married a legitimate Black woman which seems situationally ironic considering his upbringing, his mother’s parentage, and his frequent encounters with Anglo-Saxon females that were the majority of possible romantic candidates at the institutions of higher learning in which he was enrolled. Sure, the man plays basketball, yet he also enjoys golf. Sure, his wife’s family are niggas, for all practical purposes and outwardly appearance and physical attributes, yet his family, the one who reared him, are white. This, in and of itself, may be the reasoning behind him being chosen as President Elect in November 2008. He was far from threatening, he was far from a graduate of a state school or an HBCU. He didn’t have the dark skin that so threatens, for only reasons white Americans can explain, the American status quo.

Do niggas really identify with Barack Obama? I, for one, do not. Those ignorant of what it means to be a nigga may beg to differ because niggas voted for him. But niggas voted for him only because he ‘looked’ like a nigga. Niggas didn’t know who he was or where he came from. They heard him speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and enunciate his syllables and pronounce his words like he was an educated nigga and thought, “This nigga could be the President one day. Hell, I’d vote for him. He’s what I want my son to be like,” yet they didn’t dissect the nigga. They didn’t research the nigga. They didn’t interrogate the nigga. He may have the base and the soul in his voice that is so often associated with Black Cool, and the rhythmic walk of a nigga and the so-called and over-exaggerated pop culture swag of the American Nigga, yet his avoidance of the Black American struggle and the Black American agenda and public pronouncing of those struggles and inequalities lend me to believe that he is masquerading as a nigga like a man masquerading as a woman at a costume party. Maybe this is why he doesn’t address the unemployment rates of the nigga, and when he does it is always in terms of decreasing the entire country’s unemployment rate and thus, decreasing the unemployment rate of niggas in America. Obama even advocates for the civil and occupational equality of the nations lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender population on a more public platform than he does for niggas in America. So, we must ask ourselves, when is the President going to disrobe himself and end his Halloween celebration? We all wear a mask, the only difference between niggas and him is that due to his socioeconomic and hierarchical position in this country is that he can take his off. I can’t—Black don’t come off.

-Gee Joyner