BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
OUR HISTORY LIES BEFORE US
While I'm in total agreement with both his premise and analysis, I think it's important to take this issue one step farther. We need to explore why so many of us feel the need to exaggerate our history in the first place. We also need to understand how this game we find ourselves involved in distracts us from the bigger picture.
The importance of cultural history is that it contributes to the collective self-esteem of a people. It brings cohesion by giving the members of a given group something in common to rally around as their own. A culture, much like an individual, is so much in need of a feeling of self-esteem that it invariably manufactures its own history, which often bears little or no resemblance to reality. For those very reasons, therefore, much of history is a lie. In fact, history itself has been defined as "A lie agreed upon."
A concrete example of that process at work can be seen by looking back at the Viet Nam War. Having never lost a war at that time, upon entering the Viet Nam War the United States had already geared up for manufacturing a history to justify its presence in Viet Nam, much like we're struggling with today in Iraq. The U.S. Finally came up with what was called "The Domino Theory". According to this theory, the North Vietnamese were merely fronting for Communist China, and if the United States allowed South Viet Nam to fall to the North Vietnamese, people in that part of the world would be slaughtered, and all the rest of the countries in the area would fall like "dominoes" to Chinese communism.
If the United States had won the Viet Nam war that lie would have become an official part of world history. Young children all over the world would have read it as gospel for eons. But since the United States didn't win, this would-be "historical fact" has been left without a home, and now, twenty-five years later, the lie stands as a glaring example of how nations manufacture lies to justify their conduct.
The United States is not unique in fabricating history, however. All nations and all cultures do it. If Germany had won WWII the history of that war would have been written from an entirely different perspective; if Great Britain had won The Revolutionary War, the esteemed forefathers of the United States would have been remembered as a group similar to the way the United States currently view The Black Panther Party, or Cinque and the Symbionese Liberation Army.
An example of this principle at work on a cultural level can be found in the white culture's touting of Benny Goodman as "The King of Swing", or Elvis Presley as "The King of Rock n Roll." We know that's not true today, but as time passes, and there's no one left to attest to the inaccuracy of such claims, eventually it'll become a "historical fact"-- or factoid (something repeated so often that it is seen as a fact).
So it is clear that the history game is just that--a game. But it's a game that black Americans should only play quite sparingly if at all, since due to the unique position of the African American in legitimate modern history, we come to this game with a decided disadvantage.
The African American culture is a relatively new culture, thus, our history is verifiable. Therefore, African Americans don't have the machinery in place to effectively promote the hype necessary to fully participate in the history game. But since, in any event, the game only serves to divert our attention from what is really important--getting on with the business of building true viability as a people--black participation in the game is nothing more than an exercise in me-too-ism.
But it seems that whenever I hear a discussion on Black pride, someone always brings up the issue of Egypt, and whether or not Cleopatra was Black. Black people have got to understand that the issue is not important–in fact, it's academic. While it is always good to stay in touch with one's roots, the fact is, the African American culture has long since ceased being purely African--even though the continent of Africa will always define the core of our being--and any connection that we may, or may not have had with Egypt and/or Cleopatra is remote at best, at least, in a strictly cultural sense. It's as though we're going around, hat in hand, desperately searching for a piece of history to call our own. We shouldn't place ourselves in that position–it's undignified, pathetic, and wholly unnecessary.
We must begin to understand that we are a new culture. We ceased being Africans when it became necessary to adapt to the fields and ghettos of America. Neither are we simply Americans--we became something more than simply Americans when it became necessary to become more than simple Americans for our very survival. We are a brand new culture--a culture conceived in pain, delivered into turmoil, baptized in deprivation, and weaned on injustice. And since adversity is experience, and experience translates into knowledge, we don't have a thing to be ashamed of. The uniquely pointed adversity that we have experienced makes us more, rather than less. Thus, we are a culture that is only now in the infancy of its development. For that reason, we cannot hope to compete, lie-for-lie, with ancient cultures relative to history, since our history is only now being written. But for that very same reason, we don't have to try to compete.
The fact that we are a new culture doesn't mean that we are anything less than the older cultures, it simply means that our greatest contribution to man lies before us. We don't have to look back to antiquity to find a source of pride, all we have to do is study the life and times of our parents, our grandparents, and that generation of black people born between the turn of the century and WWII.
In less than 50 years, the Black people of that generation went from housekeepers and flunkies to the boardrooms of multinational corporations. In less than 50 years, they went from playing washboards and tin cans on the side of the road, to becoming some of the greatest musicians the world has ever known. In less than 50 years these people have gone from the defenseless and nameless victims of public lynchings, to laying a foundation, along with their White supporters (who must not be forgotten), that led directly to Barack Obama becoming the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth--and that is a chapter in history that is verifiable.
The most cursory glance demonstrates that there is something unusually unique about this new culture. While social scientists have postulated that all minority cultures must assimilate, dilute, and subordinate themselves to the dominant cultural soup, there is clear evidence that the African American culture has had a much greater impact on the dominant culture than is the reverse.
Members of the dominant cultural group under fifty years of age have more in common with the African-American culture in terms of attitudes, style, and personal taste, than they have with their own grandparents. Black music--Jazz, Blues, Rap, and, yes, Rock n Roll--is the predominate music, not only in the United States, but in the entire world. Every time a Rock group goes on stage, they sing a tribute to nameless slaves moanin' in the fields--and just to turn on a radio or television set anywhere in the Western world, is to pay a tribute to Duke, Bird, Miles, and Diz.
In addition, the United States of America has honored only four men in history by declaring the day of their birth a national day of celebration--Jesus Christ of Nazareth, widely accepted by many as the father of all mankind; President George Washington, the father of this nation; Christopher Columbus, the man credited with discovering the Americas (along with the native Americans who were already a part thereof); and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man whose forebears were brought to these shores in chains.
That says a lot about that humble black man—and it says just as much about his people. In spite of the fact that Dr. King began his life burdened by the inherent disadvantages of being blessed with black skin in a Jim Crow environment, his words, his intellect, and his deeds so inspired the heart and soul of humanity that America saw fit to set aside a day for this nation--this world--to thank God that he was allowed to walk among us. His was a soul with such strength that it served to lift the rest of mankind to a higher level of humanity. That's not only a testament to one black man's ability to pull himself from the dust of his humble beginnings, it's also a testament to the capacity of his people to meet the test of greatness--and that's a history that is verifiable.
So, we must take pride in our own personal journeys, and realize that in our own journey through life history is also being made. You don't have to be a world conqueror to have an impact on the history of mankind, you simply have to make decisions in your personal life that helps to enhance and move your people forward towards their appointment with destiny. And every time you face life's obstacles with courage and perseverance you meet that challenge. After all, you don't make decisions in a vacuum-- every decision that you make in life becomes a public decision. People are watching, your children are watching, and if you nurture your children properly, they will make the character of your decisions an indelible part of the public record.
Thus, the character that you reflect in your daily conduct carries the seed that your children will carry with them for generations. For that reason, I don't regret one moment of my youth that I spent stumblin' through Watts on whatever drug happened to be convenient. Those years were part of a personal journey that stands as a monument to who I am today. Of course, I related those struggles to my children as stumbling blocks to be avoided at all costs, but they were also related as examples of perseverance, and the determination to overcome the obstacles in my life, and by overcoming those setbacks, it allowed me to relate those experiences with just as much pride as the White culture relates the experiences of General Patton to their children. George fought his battles, and I fought mine, and as far as my children are concerned--as far as I'm concern--one was no less heroic than the other. Thus:
Neither scholar nor the head of state,
The most common of men seems to be my fate;
A life blistered with struggle and constant need,
As my legacy to man I bequeath my seed.
More fertile, more sturdy these ones than I,
This withered old vine left fallow and dry;
The nectar of their roots lie dormant still,
But through their fruit I'll be revealed.
And that, is verifiable.
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
Get on the Beam--Black Excellence And Maturity
Now that we have a Black president about to enter the White House, it's time for the Black community to do a serious assessment of where we go from here. How do we adapt to this new state of affairs? One of the reasons we're going to have a problem answering that question is that many of us don't really know who we are. We've been spending so much time fighting and protesting, that we haven't bothered to ask ourselves that very simple question in years. That isn't to say that many of us haven't studied Black history, and the kings and queens of antiquity, but while all of that is fine, it doesn't give us a hands-on feeling of who WE are as modern-day African Americans.
Most of what we think we know about ourselves comes from the very same sources and stereotypes that informs White Americans about who we are. The problem with that is we've allowed ourselves to buy into a negative stereotype of ourselves that in many cases, like in our inner-cities, we not only embraced as a romantically heroic image, but we have even set out to embellish upon it.
So, instead of benefitting from the luxury of defining ourselves, like every other culture in America, many Black people have quite literally embraced a form of gross ignorance regarding their own character. So it is imperative that we take the time to stop just long enough to consider who we really are. Then once we become cognizant of the truth, warts and all, we should address our issues, then teach our young people to embellish our assets..
An excellent example of who we actually are was reflected around the turn of the 20th Century, when you could find Black musicians sitting along the side of the road playing washboards, tubs, and anything they could put together that would make a sound. When people passed them by, including White musicians, they would simply smile, and sometimes even throw them a few pennies for the modest effort and industry that they displayed for even attempting to make real music with such crude instruments.
These simple music-makers were looked upon as "quaint". There was no hostility towards them at all, because they weren't a threat. After all, they were no threat to the White musicians, since they could never hope to get any real instruction in music. Most of them couldn't even read their names, so why should anyone ever worry about them learning to read music; and they had to struggle just to get through grade school, so what threat did they pose to White musicians who had access to the great music conservatories of the world?
Well, little did the world know that in the very near future, those simple little ragtag musicians with their makeshift instruments, would develop into some of the greatest musicians the world has ever known. They would contribute one of the most important and harmonically complex forms of music to the world in the history of all mankind. Few knew at the time that one day Universities, musicologists, and music conservatories all over the world would struggle to understand the complexity of their musical genius, and even fewer could have guessed that many of these "quaint" musicians would someday become world renowned, and synonymous with their respective instruments–Louis Armstrong, Jellyroll Morton, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane–just to mention a few.
As a point of irony, I began to typed "Duke" into Google, and the program completed my entry with a list that presented Duke Ellington before the Duke of Windsor. I'd say that says it all about the impact that the Black culture has had on this society, and the world.
But what we've got to recognize and address as a community is that creativity is not restricted to just music. The reason that the creative genius of Black people has been reflected more in music than in business, science, or technology is because it was an area where we didn't have to depend on the approval of others, and more importantly, we were rewarded in the community for its development. We've also got to recognize, as any scientist who studies cognition well knows, creativity is not stagnant–it has associative properties that allow it to be transferred from one endeavor to another. Thus, as Barack Obama is clearly demonstrating, Black people have much more to offer the world than a twelve bar blues.
So today the Black community is in a similar situation as those early musicians were in their day, but this time we have the advantage of not having to sit on the side of the road. We have a supportive Black man in the White House, an economic environment that's thirsting for innovation, creativity, and new ideas, and no one to hold us back. So all that's left for us to do now is to recognize it's a new day, shed all of the defensive excuses and bad habits that were a part of the old paradigm, and get to work.
And our very first task should be to reassess and rid ourselves of the negative cultural mores that we've developed over the past hundred years or so. That involves discarding, and refusing to reward or romanticize the image of the Black man as urban predator. That is the very root of our problem. How can we possibly expect to raise a well adjusted generation of young people when their being sired by idiots running around in unlaced tennis shoes, wearing baseball caps sideways, and whose most heartfelt ambition is to be looked up to as a successful gangster? It can't be done. So we've got to stop rewarding such behavior–and make that a community effort.
When I was a kid my grandfather use to tell me, "All I want from this whole damn nation is a pretty little wife and a good foundation." I didn't realize it at the time, but he was relating the key to life to me in that one little limerick–the foundation of happiness and success starts with a solid family.
So we need to start with our girls in order to get the attention of our young men. We've got to start teaching our young girls from birth that young men who assume the gangster image are bad news, and we've got to keep such images out of our homes. We must also create an environment where if BET wants to continue to enter our homes, its call sign will have to be changed to mean Black Excellence Television.
In addition, we've got to demand more responsibility from our other community institutions. We've got to demand of our churches, that if they expect to take collection money out of our community on Sunday, they'd better be prepared to put some kind of service back into the community during the week. Our churches should be serving as low-cost child care facilities for working mothers during the week. They could then employ unemployed mothers, and at the same time hold classes in child rearing. The message–"Don't just preach me a sermon, live me one."
And we should also encourage the promoters of these awards shows, like the NAACP Image Awards, to start places more emphasis on honoring young scholars, educators, and the people in the community who are helping to move Black people forward, instead of the same old celebrities all the time. That isn't to say that celebrities and entertainment shouldn't be involved in the shows, but they should be the "help", not the honorees. After all, if all our young people ever see the community honoring are singers, movies stars, and athletes, why should they aspire to be anything else?
So let us get on the BEAM, and start honoring Black Excellence And Maturity.
Eric L. Wattree
A moderate is one who embraces truth over ideology.
Posted by Eric Wattree at 1:32 PM
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
How to Use Fame to Step on Your Brother
One of the readers of last week’s column, “Why are Black People Killing Themselves?”, wrote me a very heartfelt response suggesting that I was being a little hard on Black people. Michele (with one ‘L’, as she likes to remind everyone), a 36 year old Black single mom, a Staff Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, and founder/creator of poeticworks.com, wrote the following:
“We are a community of thriving thinkers We accept responsibility for our actions and focus on community based projects, to ensure that posterity has something when it's their time to take the thrown. We love excelling in life, and independently and intuitively find ways to give instead of take, take, take. We promote and instill pride in our community each day when we walk down the street and give a gracious nod to the passerby. We are beautiful, but this is not to be taken as conceit, because we also realize that we are only one small speck in a beautiful world. This is what I see in our community.”
I fully agree with most of what Michele said, regarding MOST of our people. But we also have a dark and self-hating side that needs very much to be addressed. A prime example of which is reflected in a video that’s making the rounds on the internet, where Jamie Foxx goes out of his way to embarrass the struggling Black comedian, Doug Williams, during a roast for NFL player, Emmitt Smith. Even the name of the video indicates a lack of empathy for the underdog in many parts of a community that’s made up of underdogs–“Jamie Foxx Ruins A Not Funny Comedian.”
Next to the picture of the rotting remains of an infant wrapped in a baby blanket in Iraq, that video is one of the most blatant examples of arrogant inhumanity I have ever seen–not because of any special talent that Foxx displayed in carrying off his awful display, but because of his blatant disregard for his fellow man. I found it so unconscionably disgusting that I will never again support any project that either Jamie Foxx or Monique is connected with.
As master of ceremonies, right off the bat Foxx introduced the Williams as “A person who doesn’t know anything about Emmitt Smith, and you don’t know who the F**k he is. Give it up for Doug Williams.”
After that rousing introduction, Doug tried to make the best of the situation by admitting that he wasn’t a part of the clique, and that he was quite probably the “brokest” person there. He said, he was only there because he was trying get a deal.
Then in spite of the way he was introduced, he began to win over the crowd by telling jokes about some of the celebrities in attendance. But Foxx couldn’t allow that, so he began to interrupt the brother’s routine as “YOUR CONSCIENCE.” Every time Williams would say a word, or begin to tell a joke, Foxx would break in as William’s conscience, saying things like, “We’re here for Emmitt Smith–do you have any jokes for him tonight?” and “I’m your conscience. Man, it sure is getting hot in here. Am I fu**king up? Maybe I should just say something nice about Emmitt and wrap it up.” Now, instead of the celebrities laughing at his jokes, Williams becomes the joke--and in the background you can Monique telling Jamie, “Get ‘em, Dawg.”
But the remarks that got to me, and I thought were most telling regarding these so-called celebrities’ frame of mind was at the point when Foxx began to say things like, “I wish I were in a movie with Jamie. Maybe I should tell them how Black people have to struggle. Yeah, that’ll get ‘em on my side.” And all the while, the Black celebrities in the room are falling out laughing.
At that point, those people weren’t just laughing at Williams–they’re laughing at the Black condition, and struggles of poor Black people in general. While watching their gross arrogance, I couldn’t help being reminded of the very same kind of behavior during the Roman Empire, when the aristocrats would take pleasure in watching the Christians being fed to the lions.
They were having great fun at the embarrassment and expense of one strugglingBlack–who was already feeling nervous and out of place–and who probably had to spend the entire day getting up all of the courage he could muster just to attend this affair in the first place. Then you have all of these Black, so-called “stars” pulling out all the stops to drag him down, and falling out laughing at the audacity of his thinking that he could show up and pull himself up to where they are. As I watched I was thinking, that could have been me, or my brother, or son. It was simply unforgivable.
I also began to think of another time as I sat there watching this public lynching. My mind drifted back to a time when we really had pride in the Black community–a time when what I was witnessing never could have happened. If Jamie Foxx had pulled something like that in the sixties, his career would have instantly come to a screeching end. It would have immediately been seen for what it was–the ignorant behavior of an arrogant brat with no sense of community, and who’s fame had completely gone to what passes for his head.
So again, while I agree with much of what Michele said about the importance of always reminding the community of its beauty, it is also important to face reality, and aggressively address that which is ugly about ourselves.
Efficient thought requires that we first, see life as it is, and only then, as we would have it. So while we should definitely teach our children that they are beautiful, we must also instruct them what they need to do to enhance that beauty. If my kid is out dealing drugs and verbally abusing his girlfriend, neither he, nor the community benefits from my telling him his behavior is beautiful, and he's just a victim of society.
I don't care how badly society has treated you, what you do with your life, and how you treat others, is your decision and not society’s. Yet, we have too many people in our community who are willing to give our young people a pass by telling them that they’re beautiful, and their bad behavior is society's fault. That message is killing us as a people.
We should motivate our children by assuring them--through the way that we treat them, not just with words-- that they are beautiful and exceptional people. Then we should help them to develop their skills and talents to reinforce that belief (because it’s hard to have pride when you can’t do anything). We should also make them aware of the fact that there is a segment of the population that don’t perceive them as the beautiful and talented people that we know them to be, then instruct them in how to deal with the possible adversity attendant that situation.
When my son was a youngster, I pointed out to him that he shouldn’t be surprised if at some point in his life some racist pointed at him and told his son, “See that guy over there–he’s a ni**er.” I advised him that getting mad and acting a fool would just prove the man’s point. I taught him that the best, and only way, to protect himself from such an occurrence was to look, and carry himself in such a way that the little boy would look at him, then look back and assess his dad, and say, “Daddy, I want to be a ni**er when I grow up. That’s the way you overcome adversity.
So the bottom line is, talk is cheap. While we can repeat millions of times that we’re Black and we’re proud, it won’t mean a thing until we can root out the kind of ignorance that Jamie Foxx and friends displayed above–and the world will knows it. Because in the final analysis, we’re not judged by what we say–we’re judged by what we do.
And beyond the judgement of other people, if you have a persistent headache and refuse to address the issue by insisting that you’re Black, beautiful, and in excellent health, eventually you could die of a brain tumor. Because, while positive messaging is a wonderful thing, some things in life require aggressive action, to be rooted out.
Eric L. Wattree
Posted by Eric Wattree at 6:42 AM
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
Why Are Black People Killing Themselves?
For all who might have missed it, I'd like to call attention to Larry Aubry's excellent article, "Black on Black Violence: Part Pained Indifference," that appeared in the Dec. 4 edition of the Los Angeles Sentinel. In his insightful article Aubry discusses the Black community's tendency to simply stand by as a small segment of the community embarks upon a course of Black annihilation. He very correctly points out that "Black-on-Black violence is a manifestation of race-based poverty, frustration and self-hate, spawned and nurtured by official neglect and the complicit indifference of Blacks themselves." In other words, our children are dying as a direct result of the apathy attendant to a lack of self-respect.
But wait a minute, how can that be? Aren't we the people who claim to be "Black and proud?"
Yes, we're the very ones--but that's nothing but lip service. Due to centuries of having to survive on vapors and dreams, we've become specialists in embracing style over substance, and delusion over reality. Thus, we've been coming up with slogans, nursery rhymes, and completely meaningless axioms for years, in an attempt to compensate for our lack of action–it's a cognitive device designed to hold on to our self-esteem.
But the national joke is this--we're the only ones who take the farce seriously. Everyone else in the world know our dred locs, swagger, and raised fists for exactly what they are–an attempt to create an image of who we would like to be, rather than who we, in fact, are. Everyone knows that if we were truly the proud people that we represent ourselves to be, we'd die before we'd allow what's going on in our community. So the fact is, we're not only killing ourselves, but we're looking like fools in the process.
You see, all the swagger notwithstanding, it doesn't take much insight for the world to recognize that a truly proud people would never allow themselves to be so totally overwhelmed by circumstance. What kind of pride would allow one's children to be abandoned, under-educated, drugged, and killed in the street with impunity? And what kind of pride would allow us to watch our daughters be seduced by a lifestyle that degrades, disrespect, and abuses them, then have us idolize and enrich the very people who brought that lifestyle into our homes? So, Black pride? I don't think so. What we're dealing with in the Black community isn't even remotely related to pride, it's more like cultural malfeasance–and if we allow it to continue, we're not going to survive.
The Black community has simply got to face the reality of our shortcomings, then take the time to reassess our cultural mores. We've got to recognize that if we truly want our children to take pride in who they are, we must begin to embrace knowledge, and make the pursuit of excellence a cultural priority. If we're waiting for our young people to obtain a thirst for knowledge through osmosis, we can forget it. The love of knowledge must be bred into them–and that will never happen as long as we continue to reward materialism over character. So if we ever truly want to become the proud people that we profess ourselves to be, we're going to have to set aside our worship of materialism as a primary value, and begin to impress the importance of knowledge, character, and dignity upon our youth.
We've got to help our young people to see that the heroes in our community aren't the ones driving around in flashy cars, and wearing fancy clothes--the community's true heroes are standing at bus stops in work clothes trying to feed their families. They also have to understand that having a good jump shot is only means to an end, and not an end in itself. And our young men have got to be raised to recognize that manhood is not about having the courage to rob and steal, but having the courage to face a bill collector, and life is not about being tough enough to beat a man to death, but being loving enough to raise a little girl. As long as we're failing to relate those values, we'll never be able to take pride in our community.
But one of the reasons we can't coalesce around these kind of values is that we have competing interests in the community. Most responsible Black people whose interests lie directly within the community understand the importance of eradicating drugs and violence from our midst, getting young men off our corners, and urging deadbeat dads to support their kids. But these values are in direct conflict with the interests of those Blacks who'd rather remain mad at the White man than see the Black community prosper.
It would be counterproductive from their point of view to simply sit back and allowed the Black community to change its ways and begin to prosper, that might indicate that it could have been done before, and demonstrate that the Black condition might not have been totally the White man's fault after all, and they simply can't allow that. They have too much invested in the White man's guilt.
Many of these people also have a professional stake in seeing the Black community remain stagnant and disaffected. Many make a lucrative living through protesting the Black community's pain. You know the ones I'm talking about–some of our so-called "civil rights leaders", politicians, and even a few professionals who benefit directly from our support, or indirectly by riding the coattails of the disaffected Black populous to gain professional advantage.
What makes this situation particularly unconscionable is the fact that while these people will criticize any attempt to speak out against negative conditions in the community as "blaming the victim," they've moved their own families out of the community, thus, effectively shielding them from the dangers that failing to address the community's issues would bring into their own lives.
We never hear a word from these people about the work that we to improve our community, but mark my word, as soon as Barack Obama takes the oath of office you're going to hear them screaming at the top of their lungs that if Barack was truly a Black man, he'd swing the doors of the treasury open to the Black community. They know damn well he can't do that, but they need something to protest to justify their existence. You see, with these people, it's not about actually improving the Black community, it's about giving themselves a reason for being. I call them, "Protest, Inc."
So while racism has undoubtedly had an horrific impact on the Black community, these voracious leeches within our number have been just as perniciously destructive to our way of life. So we must always keep in mind that while these very same people have been protesting and complaining for the past forty years (every since Martin Luther King was killed), they haven't brought one constructive thing into the community in all that time. Think about it. The Black community is essentially in the same condition that MLK left us in 1968.
But of course, Protest, Inc. is going to claim that it is only due to their selfless efforts that Barack Obama's presidency was made possible. But that's also a lie. Barack Obama is not president because of these people–he's president in spite of them.
Eric L. Wattree
The problem with ideologues of every stripe is they tend to give ideology priority over thought.
Posted by Eric Wattree at 8:58 AM
Thursday, December 04, 2008
BENEATH THE SPIN ERIC L. WATTREE
The Art of Global Politics (in B Flat)
The problem with many on the left who are already criticizing Barack Obama's cabinet appointments is that they're neither as smart nor as creative as he is. As Barack so deftly pointed out in his interview with Barbara Walters--regardless to who he appoints to his cabinet, he's the president, and he will set policy.
Think about it. Who better to draw down the troops than a hawk? Obama is a student of history. He realizes that it took Nixon to approach the Chinese, had a liberal president attempted it the conservatives would have staged a march on Washington to call him a Communist. The same is true in other areas. It took a Southerner, President Lyndon Johnson, to broach the subject of civil rights effectively, just as it took Reagan to approach the Soviet Union.
President-Elect Obama is looking for talent, experience, and brains–he'll handle the direction of national policy. One of the major criticisms against him during the election was that he lacked experience. He assured America that he would use good, sound judgment to offset any shortcomings that he might have in that area, and that's exactly what he's doing.
How is he going to find experience in the Democratic Party without drawing from the Clinton administration? And further, by appointing Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we also get Bill. Thus, when that phone rings at 3:00 a.m. In the morning, it'll be answered by a very formidable President Obama, who will undoubtedly be firmly in control. But in essence, there'll be two presidents on the line, along with an extremely no-nonsense Secretary of State–and our enemies will know that.
Americans will have two challenges to adapt to with a President Barack Obama. They'll not only have to get use to a Black face in the White House, but also a Black way of thinking. I know it's not politically correct to acknowledge that there are differences between us, but the fact is, there are. While no one group is any better than another, we tend to excel in different areas of knowledge. I call it sociological niches. It is true that Jews tend to excel as merchants and in business; it is true that Asians tend to excel in math; and it is undeniably true that Blacks tend to excel in creativity. Let me make it clear, however, that my position is not that these talents are innate in any way, but rather, due to cultural focus--or what a given culture view as important to their way of life.
What makes this point so significant is that Obama has already started to demonstrate to America, and the Black community, that the creativity that the Black community has nurtured over the centuries, has distributive properties. In other words, that very same creativity that goes into making a Charlie Parker, an Aretha Franklin, or a Ray Charles, is just as effective in excelling in other disciplines far beyond the scope of music.
As I mentioned above, we've already seen many characteristics of the Black community at work during the election, and ironically, they contributed greatly to Obama being elected. One example, is Obama's ability to remain cool under fire. That comes directly from the fact that part of being Black in the country has made it necessary for Black people to become comfortable in dealing with adversity. Adversity is no stranger to us. That explains why during height of the Great Depression when many on Wall Street were jumping out of windows, the Black community was in the midst of the Harlem Renaissance. It was better than business as usual–we never had better time. "Depression, what depression? I was broke before it started–now I got company." While it was like the end of the world for White people when they couldn't pay their rent, Black people would just throw a "rent party."
What brought this to mind is the fact that the current economic downturn has had a serious impact on me personally. My son and daughter are so worried about me that they're about to have a nervous breakdown. They're calling me and e-mailing me everyday. I think what makes them so nervous is that I seem to be so laid-back about it, and they can't understand it. But the fact is, they see adversity through the eyes of White folks, because they've never known it–my late wife and I managed to shield them from it. But I've been there before, so I know the importance keeping a clear head while I work to resolve the issue.
That's the kind of thinking that we saw in Obama during the campaign. When the economic crisis first broke, McCain was suspending his campaign, running to Washington, making contradictory statements, and generally, flopping around like a chicken with his head cut off. That's what caused him to lose the campaign. On the other hand, Obama remained calm and began to gather and consult the very experts in economics that we not see in his cabinet. He made sure that he had some idea of what he was talking about before he made a statement. And he also had the foresight to start quietly building his cabinet.
So what we have in Obama is a man who's fully acquainted with adversity-- and there is nothing more impressive than a person who's been dragged through the pits of Hell, as I'm sure that he has, and then come out the other side as a well rounded and highly educated individual. He had to obtain a Ph.D. in problem solving and perseverance on the fly, even before his higher education began. Then when you add the creativity, that is a trademark of the Black community, you're left with a very formidable individual indeed.
So Obama's critics on the left need to get use to a new way of thinking. Because again, I predict both America, and the Black community, is about to get a lesson in the many varied uses of creativity. The world didn't call Ray Charles a genius for nothing–and just like Ray, Barack Obama's thinking two bars ahead of the band.
"So what we about to do now, ladies and gentlemen, is Geo-Global Politics–In B Flat."
"Uh, count it off, Fathead."
Eric L. Wattree
Posted by Eric Wattree at 8:22 AM
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree
Every newspaper, every nook,
I see blatant bullshit wherever I look.
pro and con,
Man deceiving man,
like human pawns.
Bullshit our children
whenever we can
On the role of government,
and the sojourn of man;
We bullshit the people
regarding their lot,
While failing to address
the conservative plot.
And now I hear even Santa's a myth,
So even my mother was touched by his kiss.
My threshold for Bullshit is extremely low,
I sense him wherever he hides;
While Langston Hughes has known his rivers,
I've known Bullshit in every disguise.
Known bullshit lovers of innocent women,
Who fades with a piece a ass,
I've known bullshit preachers who loved the Lord,
But not nearly as much as your cash;
I've known bullshit politicians,
who "Just want to help"
Right up til they get your vote,
Then after reciting their bullshit oath
can't wait to start cuttin' your throat.
Bullshit's' a stalker, who seems to haunt me;
I see him wherever I go--
On the street, in the store,
In the eyes of my lover,
Though I try to deny that it's so.
I used to
Simply shut my eyes,
so I wouldn't see him no more,
But my ears betrayed me and--
Knock, Knock, Knock--
"It's Bullshit. Open the door!"
I came up with a plan to take a stand, and
Confront Bullshit wherever he hides;
Like the terrorist he is, you must weed him out,
By confronting him where he resides.
That shit will be shit because shit is shit's nature,
So it's really not Bullshit's fault;
It's the fault of society for embracing ignorance,
For the enemy of Bullshit is thought.