Saturday, January 26, 2008




When I look at Barack Obama, I not only wonder why every Black person in America isn't supporting him, but why they aren't jumping up and down with glee at the opportunity. I've had many people tell me--both Black and White--that I'm just supporting Obama because he's Black. True, I am supporting Obama because he's Black, but not ONLY because he's Black. I'm supporting Barack Obama because in spite of being blessed with Black skin, and all the disadvantages that entails, this brother has managed to rise head and shoulders above the very best this society has to offer. That not only empowers him, but it also allows Black youth to embrace their Blackness with a lot more genuine pride. It allows them say, and more importantly, think, "Yes, I'm Black, and you're damn right I am somebody! I'm the product of a great and resilient people. That's very important for young people, because as the Bible points out, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."

So, no, I don't support Obama just because he's Black–I support him because he's Black, on top of all his other fine qualities. Both Jesse and Sharpton are also Black, and I didn't support either of them. But this is different. When Barack Obama stepped upon the world stage, I could feel a change in the air, like something important had just happened, or a significant presence had just entered the room. I felt like, for the briefest moment the world stood still, then I looked up to see a lone figure standing on the horizon.

And I wasn't alone--White folks across this land also felt it. When the change started to take hold, I noticed that in places that would have met Martin with attack dogs and fire hoses, White people were jumping up and down, smiling and singing--some of them with tears in their eyes--straining just to touch this young Black man. That's when I knew it was happening--I knew a change was coming eventually, but not like this.

He came fast, and out of nowhere like a thief in the night–far from the Messiah, but like a man who knew his time had come. Then, like in that Phil Collins song, I could feel it comin' in the air, oh Lord! It was clear there was something different going on here--something that's been in the cards every since that first slave looked to the sky and said, "Please help us, dear Lord."

Now, I not a religious fanatic, so I'm not about to sit here and preach you a sermon. But I am spiritual, and I'm telling you, Obama's arrival is not an accident. I don't know why, but some things are just meant to be–and if you look at them in hindsight, you can see it! When you look back on Martin and Malcolm, it's clear they were meant to be. I don't know why, but some men are just put on Earth to fulfil a plan. You can laugh at me if you want to, but I'm telling you, Obama is one of those people.

Think about it. This brother is the complete opposite of everything nasty that racists have ever said about Black people. They said that we were ignorant, nasty, lazy, and didn't have any class--then this brother pops up out of nowhere. If God had handpicked somebody to show that everything racists said about Black people was a lie, we couldn't have done any better than Barack Obama. He's such a clean-cut brother that Senator Joe Biden got himself in trouble for commenting on it. His intellect and academic credentials are beyond dispute–Hillary went to Yale Law School and then got out and couldn't pass the bar; but Obama was the very first Black president and editor of the Harvard Law Review. When he becomes president, he'll easily be one of the smartest presidents in the history of this country. Think about what that's going to do to the argument of those who want to say that Black people are intellectually inferior–and more importantly, think about what it's going to do for the self-esteem of Black children all over this country, all over the world.

So looking at Obama is like looking into a crystal ball–he's a perfect reflection of everything the future holds for us as a people. Even his personal heritage is a perfect metaphor for the African American people as a whole–he's the product of a marriage between Africa and America. That's what we are.

Barack Obama is the walking, breathing, personification of who we are as a people. He represents the future of Black people as a whole. Many brothers like to refer back to antiquity to cite the past greatness of our people as something for us to hold on to, but while I recognize and appreciate our great contribution to the past, I'm convinced that it is the future that will define our true greatness.

As African Americans, we are a brand new culture that's in the infancy of our development as a people. We're a people who were conceived in pain, born into struggle, and baptized in adversity. But adversity is experience, and experience is the source of knowledge, so we are uniquely suited to create a new, better, and more compassionate world. Thus, our history lies before us, and I'm convinced, that history will someday reflect that Barack Obama was the first step in our emergence as a people.

All of us who are sitting here today, are blessed to be living at this moment in time. We are a witness to history. We're living in a time that history will someday record as the defining moment of our legacy as a people. And someday, maybe hundreds of years from now, young Black people will be able to look back on our contribution to that history and say, I now stand firm:

I Now stand firm. My dedication to the power of knowledge is the platform upon which my podium rests. I stand firm, strong, and now free--free of anger, free of self-delusion, free of the folly of empty vanity, and free of the pernicious bane of meaningless pride without substance.

I now stand free to look upon the eyes of other men, reflecting dignity over sorrow, and accomplishment over pain; I stand with a burning passion, fueled by the very flame that forged ancestral shackles, with a deep sense of pride, and a pride that flows deep.

I now stand erect! The steel that once degraded my father, that chained him in bondage to this bitter Earth, now reinforce my character, making me more, rather than less; and the blood and sweat that once drenched his brow, and oozed from the yoke around his neck, now rage with resolve and a sense of purpose, and trembles with passion, within my burning breast.

I now stand as a new being–-neither simply African, nor simply American, but a hybrid forced to transcend the sum of my parts; no longer simply African, since being torn away from the African motherland to suffer and toil in the fields of America, and more than simply American, after being forced to be more than simply American, Just to survive within the bowels of this prosperous land.

Thus, I stand now armed—-armed with the wisdom of deprivation, the courage of my conviction, and a deep conviction of my courage; and fortified–with the confidence of a survivor, the empowerment of knowledge, and a ravishing hunger for greatness.

I now stand the product of love, struggle, and sacrifice; a witness to man's inhumanity to man, and a monument to the hopes and dreams of a million slaves. I stand embraced by my creator, as God now smiles upon my people.

Yes, I Now Stand Firm--Firm, Black, and Free.

That's why I support Obama.

Eric L. Wattree

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Thursday, January 24, 2008





Why is it that we have to pay Ben Bernanke millions of dollars to bring in a truckload of Ph.D.s just to tell us that we're hurtin'? And even then he won't give us a definitive answer - "Ah, Well, it's beginning to look like we just might be edging, or, tiptoeing, as it were, towards the outer fringes of an exceedingly mild recession - a teeny-weeny one I assure you - but we can't be absolutely certain of that at this time." Who is he trying to lie to - certainly not the American public - people are outside the hall throwing rocks at the police so they can go to jail in time for lunch.

All these so-called "experts" have to do is glance up from their spreadsheets at the people selling apples outside their window to know we're in a recession. And why are they looking so shocked - what did they expect when gas rivals the price of pumping Chavis Regal in our tanks? (Actually, I wish it was Chavis Regal - I have to get drunk just to get up the nerve to fill my tank). But they say a downturn in the economy is a fertile opportunity for innovation - and they're right. If I had two dollars to rub together I'd open up a gas station with slot machines as gas pumps and make a killing. My customers could drop five dollars in the pump and if they got three cherries they'd get a free tank of gas. Remember, you heard it here first.

But seriously, have you ever wondered why all of these so-called experts, with all their advanced degrees are always nine months to a year behind the people when it comes to seeing the obvious? We spent hundreds of billions of dollars and lost countless lives invading Iraq when even Willie the wino predicted Saddam didn't have weapons of mass destruction. And do you remember when I told you about a year ago that trying to sell Gucci bags in a homeless shelter was a ridiculous fiscal policy? Well, now the economy is saying I was right and the experts were wrong - again.

The only reason I'm not banging on Harvard's door to demand an honorary degree is because it didn't take a rocket scientist to predict this downturn. Bush's fiscal policy is not so much a policy as it is a scam - and they know it. Using my Gucci bag analogy, what sense does it make to continue to give Gucci a tax break to make handbags to sell in a homeless? The homeless can't afford to buy them. Even Gucci knows that it doesn't make sense, so why should he use that money to hire more people to make handbags that he can't sell? So he's not going to take that money to retool - he's going to either buy himself a Ferarri, or pocket that money as profit. The only way to get Gucci to hire more people to make more handbags is to give the tax breaks to the people in the homeless shelter so they'll have money to spend on Gucci's bags. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to see that - but of course, I'd never accuse our president of being a lowly brain surgeon.

Granted, I'm not an economist, but it seems to me that what we're dealing with here, are two economies. We have one economy that applies to the investor class, and another economy that applies to the labor class (labor, meaning anyone who depends on a job for a living, regardless of whether they're blue collar , or in management).

When the United States had a thriving industrial economy, one class complimented the other. Labor was well paid, so they were able to purchased goods. That allowed the companies that sold the goods to prosper to the benefit of the investor class. But now in a global market, in order to both remain competitive with countries that pay their workers just above slave wages, and also sustain their greed, the investor class have to squeeze every penny and concession out of the labor class to achieve their profit margin. So in essence, whenever Bush announces that the economy is thriving, he's not talking about the American economy as a whole - he's actually telling the investor class that he's successfully squeezing the American workers to the limit. You see, since we have a global market now, they no longer have to worry about the American worker making enough money to purchase their goods, they can sell them overseas. So now the American worker is no longer a partner, he's simply a field hand.

That dichotomy in our economics explains why our politicians can't seem to get a handle on illegal immigration. As I pointed out, in order for American business to compete in a world with countries that produce goods with workers who work for just above slave labor, America must respond in kind. That is the purpose of illegal immigration - it's being used to undermine the middle class in this country. Having a viable middle class has become cost prohibitive in this country.

We're being told that illegal immigrants are only being used to do the jobs that American workers don't want, but that's not true. Illegal workers are being used as electrical workers, in construction, as truck drivers, upholsters, mechanics, etc. - and in the process they're placing an undue strain on our healthcare and educational and systems, driving up the cost of housing, and having a negative impact on our entire social infrastructure.

Thus, we need to have a national referendum on how to address the illegal worker issue in this country. We need to take it out of the hands of the politicians, and follow the will of the American people. We've got to make up our minds what we want to do. If we're going to grant illegal immigrants immunity, then, let's do it. But if it's the general consensus of the American people to send them home, then we've got to become serious about that as well, by passing laws with teeth - laws that make it unattractive for illegal workers to come here in the first place -then follow those laws to the letter.

We've got to stop fooling around with this issue. The longer we straddle the fence, the more people we're going to have to deal with, and the more convinced they're going to become that they have a right to stay. If we sit on our hands until they start to think of the United States as home, we're going to have a revolution on our hands if we try to change course - and if you think we have a lot of illegal immigrants now, just wait until their children start having babies.

So if we truly want to stop illegal immigration, we have to stop playing games and trying to be politically correct. We have to start passing tough laws, and strictly enforcing those laws: Fines of twenty thousand dollars per offense for anyone who hire or house illegal immigrants, and the seizure of assets for any offense thereafter; a year in jail on first offense for anyone caught in the U.S. illegally, and a felony on any offense thereafter; make it impossible to enroll a child in school without proof of citizenship; withhold all social services, with the exception of emergency medical services, and then pass a law saying that any child born of an illegal parent is also illegal, even if that child is born within the United States. Laws such as those would take away any incentive for anyone to cross the border illegally. That would also contribute to our security as well, because then we can assume that anyone trying to cross into the United States illegally is doing it with malevolent intent.

That may sound strange coming from me, because anyone who read my writings regularly know that I've agonized over this issue for sometime and I've flip-flopped on it at least once before. In fact, about six months ago I wrote an article in support of illegal immigrants, indicating that they are the indigenous people of this land. But I have a policy of going wherever the facts lead, and while I desperately wanted to arrive at a rosy scenario regarding illegal immigration, the facts refused to cooperate and only portrayed an image of social devastation.

The consequences of having millions of people flooding across our borders into the U.S. will have a devastating impact on our children and grandchildren. Therefore, in my opinion, we should assist illegal immigrants in addressing their grievances with their own governments in the same way that the Black community has done in the United States. While my heart sincerely bleeds for the plight of illegal immigrants, I simply cannot give them priority over my own grandchildren - that would go beyond being compassionate, it would be stupid. It would also play right into the hands of globalists who are trying to corral labor in such a way that it undermines the American middle class.

But we shouldn't take our anger out on the illegal immigrant - they're only pawns in this scenario. We should reserve our anger for the corporatists who are pushing those pawns. We should press our government to pressure Mexico and other countries of origin to address the plight of their poor. That should be one of our top national priorities, and we shouldn't elect any politician who isn't committed to that initiative, and vote out any politician who waffles on it. We must also direct our anger, our dollars, and our votes, against any corporation, and all politicians, who allow conditions to exist that force people to leave their home in order to feed their families. We must pin these politicians down, and let them know that we know what's going on, and if they don't fix it, we're going to see to it that they lose their jobs long before we lose ours.

We must also take immediate steps to see to it that American corporations don't think they can follow Dick Cheney's Halliburton to Dubai, and then think they're going to sell their goods or services in the United States. We need a worker's Bill of Rights that says if you want to ship your jobs overseas, you can sell your goods over there as well. If you're an American company, you must be headquartered in America, pay your fair share of taxes in America, and use American workers. If you're not willing to do that, we'll find someone who is.

Of course, many are going to call us protectionists--but as Miles Davis said, so what.

Eric L. Wattree

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Friday, January 18, 2008




Let us not get so caught up in the 2008 campaign that we forget about the war. Nothing should distract us from what's going on in Iraq, because between one primary to the next, children are dying, and families are being destroyed--forever.
It's scary how easily the American people can be manipulated to the point that they find the death of entire families a hoot; How we can sit in front of the TV set with chilli dogs and fries and cheer on the death of others like we're watching the Super Bowl. And it's a tribute to psychosis how America can unleash mass destruction in "an attempt to prevent mass destruction," in the name of God.

Can't you see that many of those "terrorists" are children just like your own? You didn't really think the U.S. Could unleash destruction like we saw and not kill children did you? Rumsfeld said, "Well, [shit] happens." But shit doesn't just happen--you allowed it to happen. You made it happen. You cheered it on! Consider that as the children bleed and you're admiring the beauty of "Shock and Awe."

Think about your own children as "collateral damage." Think about them screaming in horror while you're helplessly watching their limbs being blown off. Think about them desperately reaching out to you for comfort as life slowly drains from their tiny bodies. Think about foreign boots kicking down your front door, then strangers walking through your home systematically killing every man, woman and child. Picture the last sight that you ever see on this Earth is of your sweet little six year old daughter with her brains spilling from her tiny little head. Think about that picture, America--then ask yourself, who's really

the terrorist?
Where has America gone? Who's left to standup for justice and humanity? You say, God Bless America? You'd have to be a fool to think God is gonna bless America after what we've done--for choosing Standard Oil over Justice, and Exxon over God himself. In God we trust? How dare you blame this atrocity on God! It is in Bush you trust:

You trust Bush that God has entrusted you to blow off Iraqi arms and wrap them around you to enable them to embrace your benevolence. And you trust Bush that you must lovingly pluck out Iraqi eyes to enable them to see the wisdom of viewing the world through your own. And you trust Bush that in the name of all that is good you must slaughter their children in a desperate attempt to provide them with a better future. You also trust Bush that you must rape their land and steal their wealth in order to allow them to choose the government of their choosing-- (so long as they choose the government that Bush chooses for them to choose). And you trust Bush that you do all this in the name of American charity.

You also trust Bush that God will bless America--but this Ain't America. America is the land of the free, and home of the brave, the land of just souls who freed their slaves. No, this is not America, this is Bushland–the land of small pox infected blankets; the land of public lynchings and church–place bombings; the land of imprisoned Japanese-Americans, and corporate murderers.

Yeah, God Bless Bushland! The land of the free and home of the slave; the land of My Lai, and Calley's mass grave. And you trust that God will bless Bushland?

Well trust this–You are blind, my friend.

Eric L. Wattree

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008




Hillary managed to pull her carcass out of the fire in the New Hampshire Primary. But her 39 to 36 percent victory over Senator Obama seems rather shallow when you consider that she was seen as the presumptive Commander-in-Chief in waiting just prior to the Iowa caucuses. In just a few short weeks Hillary has gone from the anointed one to a woman who was, literally, brought to tears over concern for her political career—and those very tears points out an issue that begs to be examined.

If Hillary's tears were genuine (and that's a big IF), we need to ask ourselves whether or not she has the emotional strength to handle the job of President of the United States. If she breaks down into tears under the stress of simply running for the job, what can we expect from her under the awesome responsibility of actually doing the job? Some may say that's a cheap shot that's only being leveled at her because she's a woman, but actually, it's a sword that cuts both ways. If Barack Obama would have broken down under similar circumstances, his candidacy would have been over. So when we're discussing the most powerful job in the world, we can't think in terms of whether the candidate is a man or a woman, we must look at their character, strength, and stability alone—and that's exactly what my question seeks to address.

The fact is, we know very little about Hillary Clinton, other than she's married to Bill. She projects the image of a strong and independent woman, but how independent is she? Truly independent women are indeed something to behold, because they rely solely on their own resources under tremendous odds. No old boys club for them–it's just one women against the world. But Hillary seems to fall short in that regard–she tends to have no problem at all with embracing her husband's accomplishments as her own. With all of her talk about experience, for example—it's not her experience, it's her husband's. The only experience she has is that she slept next to power for eight years. If you take that experience away, Obama is more experienced, hands down. Hillary's claim of vast experience is completely analogous to if Mamie Eisenhower suggested that she was qualified to take over as commander of the allied command simply because she was married to General Eisenhower.

Of course, I'm being facetious--but only slightly. Because the point is, just as Mamie Eisenhower would be basing her claim on her marital status, Hillary Clinton actually seems to consider the office of the president community property. One can see it in her irrational anger towards Senator Obama. She seems to look upon the senator as a young interloper seeking to take away something that is rightfully hers. That's why she can't resist attacking him every chance she gets. Even when she became "tearful", she just couldn't resist implying that Barack didn't know what he was doing: "Some of us know what we will do day one, and other's haven't thought it through." How does she know what Obama has "thought through", and what makes her such an expert on the presidency—other than she slept with one?"

While Hillary tearfully claimed that her primary reason for wanting to become president was so she could bring change, and move the country in a different direction, her combative, calculating , and mean-spirited behavior clearly belies such altruistic motives. Everything she's done since she made that statement embraces the old-style approach to politics. Rather than emphasizing what she has to offer that would make her the best choice for president, she's chosen to use the old, Rovian, attack-dog style of campaigning in an attempt to undermine Obama's appeal–and history shows that appeal is a president's most valuable asset.

She campaigned in South Carolina with Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, in order to appeal to the Black voters, for example. Then Johnson immediately went on stage to attack

Senator Obama, and serve Hillary's purpose well–or did he? Hillary showed very poor judgement in using Johnson, and judgement is another important presidential quality. One would think that if Hillary truly had the best interest of the Black community at heart, she wouldn't have even wanted to appear on the same stage with Johnson. While, granted, Johnson is a highly successful Black entrepreneur, he's also responsible for spreading more pernicious dysfunction and cultural degradation among more Black youth than any Black man who's ever lived. This man's thoughtless greed has contributed directly to the destruction of life, and the functional viability of, literally, millions of Black kids. If Hillary didn't know that, she's out of touch with the Black experience; if she did, she simply didn't care.

It was the height of irony that she would send Johnson on stage to criticize Senator Obama. The senator has spent his entire adult life trying to create a better life for the people in the Black community. On the other hand, what has Johnson done? After building the perfect tool to educate Black youth and introduce them to a better way of life, what did he do with it? He made a fortune by spreading a culture of gangster rap–with its glorification of murder, disrespect for women, saggin' pants, and the perpetuation of a dysfunctional vocabulary that all but ensures that countless young Black people will never be able to get through a job interview. Then Hillary brings this man up to criticize Obama?! If you call that love for the Black community, that's a love I can do without.

On the other hand, let us look at Obama's background. After high school Obama moved to Los Angeles and attended Occidental College for two years. Thereafter he transferred to Columbia University in New York. He majored in political science and specialized in international relations, receiving his B.A. in 1983. Thereafter he worked for Business International Corporation, and later, the New York Public Interest Research Group. After moving to Chicago he became a community organizer–he worked with low-income residents in Chicago's Roseland community and the Altgeld Gardens public housing project. He went on to Harvard in 1988, and in 1990 became the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review in 104 years. After obtaing his law degree, magna cum laude, in 1991, he returned to Chicago to direct a voter registration drive. He then became an associate attorney in the law firm of Miner, Barnhil l & Galland, representing community organizers, doing discrimination and voter rights claims. He then went on to become a lecturer of constitutional law at the University of Chicago.

In 1996 Barack was elected to the Illinois State Senate where he represented the 13th District on the south-side of Chicago. While a state senator he worked with both Democrats and Republicans to draft successful legislation on ethics, health care reform, tax credits for low-income workers, welfare reform, subsidies for child care, a law monitoring racial profiling, and led the passage of legislation requiring the videotaping of homicide interrogations. Yet, he still managed to win the endorsement of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police. 1

But while I'd be less than honest to contend that Hillary hasn't demonstrated some compassion for the plight of the average American, her tendency to discount Obama's experience, competence, and qualifications to be president is grossly disingenuous, and the Johnson affair clearly demonstrates that her judgement under fire is highly suspect. What is also clear is that Obama's preparation for the highest office far exceeds her own. After all, while she, and her healthcare plan, was being soundly trounced by her Republican opponents, Republicans were working with Barack in Illinois to get his passed. And while she was giving tea parties in the White House to help the poor, Barack was in the trenches, and public housing projects, directly involved in the struggle. So while both senators have challenged the opposition to "bring it on", Barack was on the ground, while Hillary, was on the phone.

Eric L. Wattree

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008



I can feel the quiet hum of greatness, in the air. Can you feel it, America—that roaring silence that befalls the land just prior to a significant event; the way the birds fall silent and a gentle breeze rustles the leaves just as a lone figure appears on the horizon?

“I wouldn't be running for president today without the women in my life . . .” My grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who raised me, while rejecting the bigotry that might have torn other families apart . . . my mother, Ann Dunham, "the kindest, most generous spirit I have ever known," who died of ovarian cancer while she was in the "prime of her life," acquainting me with "what it's like to see a loved one suffer because of a broken health care system"-- between jobs when diagnosed, and uncertain of her health care coverage. And my wife, Michelle--"balancing her role as a mother with her responsibilities at work."

It sounds like Obama is pullin’ out all the stops, and if he pulls it off in Iowa, then New Hampshire, it’s no longer a race—it’s a strut down Broadway, confetti and all.

This is an exciting moment in our history, and we’re extremely fortunate to be alive to witness it. It’s a moment in American history where the wisdom, integrity, and honorable itent of this nation’s forefathers has allowed them to, literally, reached back from the grave before the entire world, to rescue this nation from tyranny, on the very eve of its destruction.

Can you feel it, America? I can literally, feel, the strength of this young man’s greatness . . . in the air.

Remember, you heard it here, first.

Eric L. Wattree

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Why are we flocking to the movies and spending our hard-earned money to support American Gangster? And why did Denzel Washington, a brother that has brought so much pride to our community, even agree to make such a movie? We could ask the same question about Training Day as well. Both of those movies, along with much of the fare that's regurgitated over BET, are not only primers for dysfunction among Black youth, but they also serve as lucrative commercials being broadcasted throughout the world advertising the gross stupidity of Black people. Then after we've received all of that negative publicity–publicity that would cost a corporation billions of dollars to purchase-- we don't understand why we can't get any respect, and why the police stop us whenever they see us anywhere near "civilized people."
It's hard to understand how a brother of Denzel's character could even be involved in a project that reflects so badly on the Black community. But after giving it careful thought, I think I've come up with an answer: Black people, including Denzel, have become so accepting of this kind of character assassination that it has become routine, so he never gave it a second thought. That is the very reason I had a problem with the campaign against use of the n-word. The Black community has been so brainwashed over the past 40 years that we've developed a mindset that is hyper-sensitive to the superficial, while the status quo is left carefully unmolested (the source of that brainwashing is grist for another time–at book length). While we're being distracted, and jumping up and down over the n-word, people are being paid zillions of dollars to produce commercials in the form of movies being broadcasted around the world that say, "Look at how these in**as live"–and we're supporting it! Come on, people, wake up!
While I generally defer to the sensibilities of brothers and sisters who have an aversion to the "n-word", it's not a happy concession ("N-word"--I feel silly even writing such a foolish euphemism). As a writer, words are simply tools to me, and every tool has its purpose. Like a mechanic, I select whatever tool is necessary to best express the concept I'm trying to get across, so I feel like I'm being robbed of a valuable tool of my trade–and for what? From my point of view, the word "nigga" represents any person, of any race, who takes pride in his stupidity. So as I see it, as long as we allow ourselves to get all worked up over a word, while at the same time, we all but ignore our kids killing kids in the street, grown men turning twelve year olds into whores, and half the community flocking to the movies, and PAYING, to watch commercials about our stupidity, the word "nigga" is being prolifically under-utilized.
The best way to avoid being called a nigga is to rise above the definition. You don't hear anyone calling Barack Obama, Colin Powell, or the late Johnnie Cochran a nigga. There's a reason for that. You see, any racist who would call any of these brothers a nigga is then faced with the task of demonstrating that he's superior to them, and very few people can meet that standard. If some racist pointed to Obama and told his son, "You see that guy over there–he's a nigga." His son would probably look at Obama, then look at his dad, and say, "Daddy, I think I want to be a nigga when I grow up."
So we need to shake off our brainwashing, and start focusing on the substantive issues in our community, because our behavior indicates that our most tenacious shackle is attached to our mind. We in the Black community need to ask ourselves a series of very simple questions, and answer them honestly. We need to ask ourselves, do we truly want to elevate our community out of its current condition, or not? Do we want to bring an end to the epidemic of kids killing kids in the street, or not? Do we want our community to become known for producing excellence, or not? If we're satisfied with producing misery, dysfunction, and crime, then fine—we're doing an excellent job of that. But if it's truly important to us to produce doctors, lawyers, scientists, and scholars, our current behavior indicates that we're either lying to ourselves, or living in a deep state of denial.
What we're doing to our children is comparable to holding a sirloin stake up before a starving man, then telling him to just say no. How can we expect our young people, many of whom have known nothing but deprivation all of their lives, to make the necessary sacrifices to become scholars, while we flock to the movies in droves to applaud a guy who literally soaked himself in riches by way of crime? Why should our young people waste their time in the pursuit of excellence, when they can fake it with the flamboyance of wealth derived from crime? After all, their mothers, who they sincerely want to impress, can't seem to tell the difference, and their fathers would be walking on air, because they're wearing their caps sideways themselves.
So our community is sending out a grossly inconsistent message. On the one hand, we become insulted when we get on an elevator and ladies pull their purses close, yet we wholeheartedly support our community being portrayed as a cesspool of crime to people all around the world; and while we say that we're Black and we're proud, instead of addressing those issues that allow people to call us niggas, we'd rather take the shortcut of trying to abolish the word–which makes us look even more ridiculous, since the more we say we hate it, the more useful the word becomes. And finally, with our starstruck attitude towards crime, criminals, and criminal behavior, how can we tell our young people to "just say no" to a fantasy that we can't resist ourselves? So we need to sit down and get our priorities together–and fast.
I want to end this tirade by pointing out that while I mentioned Denzel, it is not my intent to drop all of this in his lap. The brother has always been, and I'm sure he always will be, one of the bright spots in the Black community. But I hope he'll recognize in his future endeavors that he's got too much clout and believability to do movies like Training Day and American Gangster without having an impact on our community. He should be doing movies that lift up the community and inspire our young people to excellence, like Great Debaters, the other movie he did this year
In that movie he tells young Black students to "Do what you've got to do so you can do what you want to do." That's the message that young people need to hear. But it'll be interesting to see which one of the two movies will do best in the Black community. Unfortunately, my money is on American Gangster–and that's a damn shame.
Eric L. Wattree

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