Monday, December 29, 2008

Barack the Magic Negro

Big furor over a video making the rounds, Barack the Magic Negro, a parody of Puff the Magic Dragon.  The tune satirically takes makes the case from the point of view of Reverend Al Sharpton that Barack Obama is an "acceptable Black man" compared to himself.

Though the piece was initially distrubuted as part of what was thought to be a joke by some dinosaur Republicans down South, it's actually based on an essay about Obama in the LA Times almost two years ago.

The story by David Ehrenstein paints the President-Elect and then underdog candidate in the archetype of what's referred to as "the magical negro,"  which Wikipedia describes as a "mystical stock character in fiction who, by use of special insight or powers, helps the white protagonist get out of trouble." Indeed as Ehrenstein points out Obama as a real life "magical Negro" is "there to assuage white "guilt" (i.e., the minimal discomfort they feel) over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history, while replacing stereotypes of a dangerous, highly sexualized black man with a benign figure for whom interracial sexual congress holds no interest."  Certainly Whites can feel comfortable voting for Obama over previous candidates such as Shartpon or Reverend Jesse Jackson who have darker skin and unlike Obama's cosmpolitan upbringing had a more typical African American upbrining in "the hood" scare Whites, regardless of their degree of simpicato with their politics and can't bring themselves to vote for them.

This is a tough pill to swallow but Barack the Magic Negro -  even if it was unintentional on the creator's part  - brings up these uncomfortable realities about race relations.  That even in a post-racial word many Whites are indeed drawn to the "magic negro" that they can warm to and hope erases any innate bias they may still have.

The good news is that as society becomes even more diverse old stereotypes will fall away and distinctions will blur.  And to a degree, the election of Barack Obama helps to that end helping to erase the racism of some whom opposed him and the guilt of some of who supported him.

By the way Ehrenstein isn't thrilled with Barack Obama these days, primarily over his selection of Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at Obama's inauguration.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gavin and His SUV

Zuma Dogg caught Gavin Newsom driving his state-of-the art SUV and parking in a fire lane in Malibu this past summer.  Now the San Francisco Mayor is taking heat back home for the SUV use and for having what appears to be an excessive use of security personnel.  KGO television takes the Mayor to task and even quotes the Dogg in their report.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Black Women Marrying More White Men

This report details a sharp increase in the number of Black women who are marrying White men.

It's an interesting concept because it was about 60 years ago that the final miscegenation laws were overturned.

It reminds me of the current debate over same-sex marriage. Many of the arguments made against interracial marriage are similar those being made today by the supporters of California's Proposition 8 which would overturn a recent court decision allowing same-sex marriage.

I think about how interracial marriage was once similarly taboo in society. If things hadn't changed my brother wouldn't have married a beautiful Black woman with whom he has had two great kids.

Perhaps someday we'll look back on the opposition to same-sex marriage the same way.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Audacity of Non-Conformity

In 1984, at the age of 20, my first time being old enough to cast a ballot in a Presidential election, I found myself mostly alone supporting Walter Mondale against Ronald Reagan.

Most of my friends were on board with The Gipper and had one hell of a rally for him at Pierce College 24 years ago.

Still, I fought on as a member of "Youth for Mondale" running sound trucks in Spanish in East LA, painting signs for Mondale's appearance in Pershing Square the afternoon before election day and helping to arrange an appearance by Gerarldine Ferraro at Valley College.

But all the cool kids were for Ronnie and all the hot girls liked the cool kids who were bucking for the GOP. On the other hand I was teamed up with soon to be aging hippies, feminists with facial hair and members of the chess club hoping we could elect Jimmy Carter's VP as President.
Election night I did get to "celebrate" in the Mondale suite at the Biltmore Hotel and before heading down to the main celebrations in the hotel ballrooms I called into my answering machine at home to check the messages (no cell phones or voice mail back then of course) and heard a message from my two Republican roommates saying "Sorry about that Mike! We're here with the girls at the Century Plaza and having a great time."

Flash forward nearly a quarter century with middle age set in and well into a personal political transformation expressing support for the Republican ticket, including a woman only eight months older than I.

Yet all the cool kids are once again on the other side, supporting the historic and hip candidacy of Barack Obama. Though I know many GOP supporters, given where I live, the business I'm in and the circles I travel in, I'm nearly audaciously alone. The hotties for the most part are Democrats too.

This time, for the most part, with far more going on in my life than in 1984, I only have time to fight the fight digitally, suffering the slings and arrows of the Democrats with keyboards. I've lost a few friends because of this election but most of us are mature enough to agree to disagree.

Soon it will be over and life will go on. But nonetheless despite the current state of my political awareness I continue to find myself mired in non-conformity.

And I like that just fine.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

10 Reasons to Date a Lesbian

I found this gem on Craig's List.

After over 10 years of exclusively dating women, I am done. The pendulum is definitely swinging in the other direction. Although I have to admit that dating girls was a lot of fun, especially during my college days, the prospects are just not that bright headed into my 30’s. Fortunately, in the meantime, a lot of you guys have finally grown up and become considerably more interesting as dating material.

You may also be wondering why you would want to even try dating a lesbian. I mean really, from a guy’s perspective, what’s the attraction, right?

So here is my list –


1. I don’t hate men. This is because, unlike most straight women, I don’t have an ex-boyfriend or an ex-husband who has cheated or otherwise done me wrong. Instead, the men I’ve chosen to spend time with have always been my friends. We’ve drunk beer together, gone camping, and talked about girls. I only have good things to say about the guys I know.

2. I’ve never been a gold digger. At no time in my life have I been under the impression that Prince Charming would show up and take care of everything. Instead, I’ve developed my independence and learned how to do things for myself. I would still love for you to take me to dinner on occasion, but I don’t need you to support me.

3. I don’t mind getting dirty. I can go camping, hiking and fishing without worrying about my nails.

4. I’m still feminine. I may not coat my face with tons of makeup, but if you think all lesbians are butch, you have a lesson coming to you. For the record, I’m tall, blonde, fit, athletic, attractive, and look great in tall boots and a short skirt.

5. I don’t call myself bisexual. Bi chicks have a reputation for cheating on their husbands and being incapable of sustaining meaningful relationships with women. It may be a generalization, but I’ve met enough of them to know that I don’t ever want to date one or to be called one. It’s just not my style.

6. You never have to wonder if I slept with that other guy. I didn’t.

7. I’m also not dragging around some other guy’s kids.

8. I don’t play games. Honest. Having only dated women, I never learned how to manipulate a guy.

9. I’m more interesting than most of the girls you’ll meet in PB. I’m smarter than them too.

10. You’ve secretly always wanted to be with a lesbian but never thought you’d have a chance.

At this point, you are probably wondering what the down side might be… here it is.


1. I may not be attracted to you. It’s true. Then again, how many dates have you been on with straight women who lacked the necessary chemistry too? The only way to find out is to try, right?

2. I am an unabashed feminist. If I cook for you, you might have to do dishes.

3. I don’t know all the moves. In fact, I’m pretty clueless when it comes to guys, whether it be flirting over drinks or lights out in the bedroom. As they say though, practice makes perfect.

So what do you think? Still interested? If you are, let’s give this a try.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Monkey Business

Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh have trained monkeys to control robotic arms with their brain waves. Could they perhaps teach monkeys to run the City?