Mass Shootings… I’m Confused

The Oregon shooter was a British, IRA-supporting, biracial, neo-Nazi, anti-theist, self-proclaimed conservative Republican… Color me confused.

And this obviously mentally ill person was allowed to purchase three handguns and an AR-15. There have been 45 school shootings this year. Texas Legislature recently voted to allow guns on campus (idiots) and other Teapublican law makers don’t even want to talk about gun control.

Again, color me confused.

Undercover Sistah Day on Suits

On Wednesday night, two of my guilty pleasures came together… well, three, actually. Suits + Pretty Little Liars + two of my favorite undercover sistahs, Meghan Markle and Troian Bellisario.

Claire and Rachel face off (Getty Images)



picture courtesy of Getty Images

I know I’ve mentioned many times how I enjoy being the “Biracial Whisperer.” PLL‘s Troian Bellisario and Suit‘s Meghan Markle are two of my favorite examples of biracial incognegroes — beautiful biracial women (each has a black mother and white father—like my girls; Troian’s mom is actress Deborah Pratt) who many people are shocked to find out are black [though at least Suits has helped uncover that mystery by revealing in season 3 that Rachel Zane, Meghan Markle’s character, is biracial].

In a Yahoo Entertainment interview this week about Claire’s return to Suits, the interviewer mentions to Troian how much she and Meghan look alike, which adds an interesting layer to the story that Rachel and Claire have dated the same man [“Mike Ross,” Claire’s ex and Rachel Zane’s current fiancé on the show, who is played by Patrick J. Adams, Troian’s fiancé in real life. Wrap your mind around that one]. They kind of do. Observe:

Meghan Markle on Suits (Getty Images)


Troian Bellisario


It was both awesome and weird seeing these two share screen time together. I was still riding off the high of the Pretty Little Liars summer finale [OMG, was that crazy, or what???], and in waltzes Claire / Spencer / Troian. Wild! Although I would love to see more of them together hanging out, becoming BFFs, braiding each other’s hair, whatever), I won’t hold my breath, seeing how Troian’s a little busy running from some new A every season.

The State of Missouri Got What It Wanted. All I Got Was a Case of the Sadz.

It took three and a half million minutes last night for the DA to slip in the words “no bill” somewhere. I’m still not even 100% sure where. He bullshit through a plethora of explanations of why this is a purely rational result, even though a no bill, particularly where there is so much conflicting evidence, happens less than .001% of the time. The State backfired into the decision it wanted all along. And they forced us to eat it. I, as a black woman in this country with brothers and cousins and friends and sons of friends—all of whom were just given proof that their lives don’t matter—am just depressed and scared. And angry. I’m so very angry about how this was conducted.

The State called a state of emergency two weeks prior, loaded up the army gear, and then announced at 2 pm they weren’t giving the results until 9 pm. They WANTED riots. They wanted to be able to say, “See? Black people are just animals who cannot be reasoned with. We gave them 45 minutes of explanation.”

And all the while they will ignore that the city basically poked and prodded to get this result. They will ignore people’s frustrations, because the very reasons he gave for the no bill (all that conflicting evidence) is the same reason MOST grand juries decide there needs to be a trial. They will ignore the fact that in a town that is more than 60% black, this grand jury was somehow magically 75% white and that the number of white people on the grand jury just *happened* to be the same number you needed to get a no bill. They will ignore the fact that the grand jury listened to Darren Wilson for *hours* (an unprecedented move) including his testimony that “it [Mike Brown] looked like the devil—you read that correctly, “it.” They will ignore the fact that the looters are not *in any way* associated with the protesters and that the protestors have been holding classes and seminars and handing out flyers for *weeks* on how to peacefully assemble. But, most importantly, they will ignore the fact that this is *so* much bigger than Michael Brown. This is about the pain and anger we feel that time and time again, black people, black men especially, are being hunted down like dogs because we merely look scary to white people who can’t process their own internal prejudices and white privilege and refuse to (because they assert it’s *our* fault for “making everything about race”). This is about the fact that every black mother around this country is holding her son so very tight right now, knowing that even her five or six year old could be shot at any moment, with no repercussions for his killer. Because, you know, a water gun in the hand of a black kid “could be real,” but a water gun in the hand of a white kid is so obviously fake, because kids (white kids) wouldn’t dare shoot anyone. 
And meanwhile, I have to deal with white people, even some in my own family, telling me that I need to be more empathetic to how they feel, because they live in St. Louis and might have to keep their kids home… on Thanksgiving week, when the schools were closed anyway. Gee, sorry if I can’t process sadness over your few days on inconvenience when my entire life as a black woman in the his country with black men in my life I love dearly, is one big goddamn inconvenience. No feels given. 

I’m just truly done. 

Originally posted on Blogger (http:/

Yet Another Moral Outrage

I had some other things planned for today’s post… some lighter, fluffier, hopefully little-bit-funny things… then I found out about Judge G. Todd Baugh in Montana, and all those plans went out the window.
On Monday, Judge Baugh sentenced a pedophile… a then-49-year old teacher who two years ago raped his 14-year old student… who from the pressures brought on her by both the “relationship” and the trial killed herself in January of this year… to a month. I guess, to be more accurate, I should say that he sentenced this stain on humanity to 15 years, but then decided to give him time served for the one day the d-bag actually spent in jail and reduced the entirety of the sentence to 31 days. I’m not making this up.
What could have possibly made the judge believe that 31 days is a sufficient punishment for a teacher betraying the trust of a young girl in his care, grooming her to be a sexual partner, violating her, and then dragging this thing out until she could no longer take the emotional pressure [the sentencing was prolonged while this jerkwad underwent a three-year treatment program… which it turns out he wasn’t really attending, and during that time he was supposed to be in treatment, he continued to—in violation of the terms of the program—have contact with minors and entered into a sexual relationship, resulting in him eventually getting kicked out of the program]? Well, because the child was much “older than her chronological age” and was “as much in control of the situation” as her 49-year old rapist-teacher with respect to the relationship. ‘Scuse me??? She was a child. And this child was in this man’s care. He was supposed to be someone she could trust. And he violated her. She was not in control. She was 14. I don’t care how sexually experienced she was or was not or how much makeup she wore, he was still the adult here, he was still in a position of power, and he knew he shouldn’t be touching a 14-year old girl. Period.
The “judge” was also persuaded by the rapist’s pleas for leniency, because he was going to be “branded as a sex offender” for the rest of his life and has had his life ruined by the “scarlet letter of the Internet.” No, buddy, your life was ruined because you raped a child. You had a choice to make here which would have prevented you from being “branded as a sex offender” and having your life ruined—that choice was to not rape a child. But you did, and under normal circumstances, with a normal judge, you should have been required to pay the consequences.
All of this slut-shaming of the victim while feeling sorry for the perpetrator eerily reminded me of CNN’s coverage of the Steubenville rapists, wherein Candy Crowley, Poppy Harlow, and others harped on and on about how the guilty verdict and maximum fine would affect the poor rapists and showed not one minute of concern for the girl the “two young men” had raped. Poppy was practically on the verge of tears talking about how it was “incredibly difficult” to watch “as these two young men—who had such promising futures, star football players and very good students—literally watched as they believed their life [sic] fell apart.” Seriously. She said that. And it went on and on. Contributor Paul Callan weighed in on what such a verdict meant for these 16-year olds who were crying in court and how they would be punished for the rest of their lives: “There’s always that moment of just… Lives are destroyed. But in terms of what happens now, the most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders. That label is now placed on them by Ohio law. That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”
Yes. That happened. That was said. Are you outraged? If you aren’t, you should be.
These boys (like this teacher) will be “haunted” by the “label” of sex offender for their entire lives, because they made a conscious decision to become sex offenders. Sure, when each of these three men decided to pursue the act of raping a teenage girl, it never occurred to them that a consequence might some day be that they would be registered sex offenders… but it should have. Honestly, I would hope that the act of having sexual intercourse with someone too drunk, too unconscious, or too young to legally, knowingly, or rationally give consent should be enough of a deterrent to this kind of behavior; but for those fools who are somehow not motivated by morality and a conscience like the rest of us, I would hope that the legal system doing its job would be enough of a deterrent. For those who persist, then I’m happy we have the legal system there as a backup. At least it worked in the case of the Steubenville Rapists [I hope]. But this teacher? Where’s his motivation to stop?
“Judge” Baugh said he believed the Teacher-Rapist wasn’t a likely repeat offender. He had no basis for this really. I mean, the man couldn’t even successfully comply with a three-year treatment program after being caught raping one of his students! So now we’re just supposed to trust that he—after being given the lightest of slaps on the wrist—is supposed to prevent himself from diddling with young girls in the future? Not likely. And, I’m sure if someone was motivated to poke around a bit more, they would find that he’s poked around with a lot more students than this one.
If you’re curious of Judge Baugh has had anything to say since the backlash for his sentencing started, you’re in luck. Turns out he totally had something to say on Tuesday:

I think that people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape … It was horrible enough as it is just given her age, but it wasn’t this forcible beat-up rape.

Oh…. I get it! Not one of those “legitimate rapes”? Well, I guess we can’t be upset then, can we? Cuz, ya know, it’s not like those rapes where you don’t get beaten up at knifepoint actually count, right? Enjoy your re-election efforts this year, Braugh. Should be an interesting political season in Billings.
As for the rest of society, those possibly capable of learning, when are we going to learn to stop feeling sorry for the perpetrators and stop blaming the victims? When someone gets carjacked, you never hear, “Well, what did you expect driving around in a nice car like that on the open road where anyone could see you? You’re just asking to get it taken from you at gunpoint.” When a company is hit by embezzlement, no one argues, “C’mon now! It just had all that money sitting in its bank accounts! What did the company expect an employee would do??” But there are certain types of situations—those usually involving the already powerless (like rape, sexual orientation-based hate crimes, or racial/gender discrimination) where it’s perfectly normal to hear the victim getting blamed rather than holding the perpetrators accountable for their actions, even by people who are themselves similarly situated as the victims. We have seen it in Poppy Harlow and Candy Crowley sympathizing with the rapists over the rape victim. We saw it when Don Lemon blamed blacks for racial discrimination perpetrated against them. We hear it when a transgendered person or a gay person who is thought of by (those with issues) as “too flamboyant” is killed or beaten.
Perhaps its because we’ve let the powerful dictate the treatment of the powerless for so long that the powerless have started to believe the propaganda? I’m not sure. But I do know it’s time we put an end to this. Victimization is rarely (if ever) the victim’s fault.

People Will Apparently Believe Anything (Odd Baby Names)

I was listening to a replay of an earlier episode of Lance Bass’s Dirty Pop the other day, and Lance and his co-hosts were talking about the Tennessee judge who changed a child’s name from “Messiah” to “Martin.” This topic lead into a discussion of weird baby names people have heard, and several people called in with some whoppers. And when I mean whoppers, I mean these were outright lies.

What is it about you teachers and nurses (the biggest offenders) that you apparently think your job isn’t interest enough on its own that you have to make up names of students? I’m not saying teachers and nurses don’t have interesting jobs. In fact, most of the teachers and nurses I know have much better war stories (assuming any of them are true) than pretty much any other profession I’ve met. But either you people are so greedy that you want to have a lock on “In addition to all the crazy stories I can tell you about my day, let me tell you this name I heard!” or you for some reason think that the rest of the world finds your job so boring that you’re just making up stuff. Either that, or you’re pathological liars. I dunno. But nearly everyone of these obviously fake “baby names” that are easily debunked by anyone who wants to spend 10 seconds on Google come from a nurse, a teacher, or a person who heard the name from a nurse or teacher. Heck, even my own mother used to make up these, “There’s a child at my school named [insert name that’s never appeared in the U.S. birth records ever]. Her mom is so uneducated she didn’t know what it meant!”

So what were the baby names (and how they were pronounced) reported by teachers, nurses, and friends of teachers/nurses to the Dirty Pop crew? Shithead (shah-threed), La-a (lah-dash-ah), twins named Lemonjello and Orangejello (lu-mon-jah-lo and oh-ron-jah-lo), Placenta (play-ceen-tah), and Meconium (mek-oh-nam). Seriously?! Not only have everybody and their grandmothers heard these urban legend child names before, but Snopes has debunked Every. Single. One. Of. Them. The only name missing from this “common urban legend” list was Female (fem-uh-lee; rhymes with “Emily”).

There were a couple of reported names that were probably real, like Dick Wiener (Richard Wiener is easy to believe. Not to mention, there was once a mayor in Indiana named Harry Baals, and the “First Lady” of my home state of Texas was named Ima Hogg). And there was at least one name that I completely called bullshit on, which turns out is actually real… because people suck [that name, in case you were wondering is Abcde (ab-sa-duh), which, while apparently a real name, is claimed to belong to someone actually known to the reporter more often than the vital records would support. That’s just lazy, people! (and stupid)].

Overwhelmingly, though, these names were clearly and lazily made up. Just the fact that Snopes has two articles on them, and I’ve heard no less than a dozen comedy routines using a number of these names is proof positive that people need to find new material. If you’re going to make things up, at least be original! Though, really, I would prefer people just didn’t make these things up. There are enough people in the world with unbelievably horrible names because of their parents’ stupidity, that you really shouldn’t even need to make up names. Not to mention, as the Snopes writer points out, many of these names have their origins in racism. Even if these urban legends aren’t thought of as racist in today’s times, they are, at best, classist. Personally, I don’t find it particularly amusing to make fun of people because they are poor and have low education.

Now, a note about Messiah:
Look, it’s no secret that I loathe kr8v names. But that judge was way over the line. In addition to the complete overstepping of her bounds [the only issue before her was the baby’s last name, not his first], her reasoning for the name change really bothers me. “There’s only one Messiah” smacks the legal system stepping its bounds into religion. Since the government shall establish no religion, and there’s only one religion that believes there has been the one Messiah, it sure looks like that judge was establishing a religion in violation of the First Amendment. I don’t foresee this withstanding appeal. I’m not a fan of naming a kid Messiah, but that wasn’t this judge’s call to make.

(Heidi Wigdahl / Associated Press)
Sorry, little guy. Whatever your name is, you sure are cute.


It’s the End of ‘New Jersey’ as We Know It… And I Feel Fine

Rumors are starting to swirl that with the increased likelihood of Teresa Giudice and hubby Joe being jail-bound that Bravo is going to cancel The Real Housewives of New Jersey. As someone who has watched this show (and often blogged about it) since the very first episode, I’m perfectly okay with that.

For anyone who has been under a rock (or, like many of my dead to mefriends who don’t watch the show), here’s the two-cent summary: Teresa and Joe have been indicted in federal court on Monday on 39–count ’em, 39 counts of fraud. So what did these losers reality stars allegedly do? Exaggerating income while applying for loans before landing their RHONJ gig, committing bankruptcy fraud by deflating their incomes and failing to disclose assets after the show had aired, failing to file five years of tax returns, and lying on some of the tax returns that they actually did file.
Now, to anyone who’s watched the show before, none of this should be a surprise. At the begining of the second season, we all witnessed Teresa paying for more than $100,000 worth of furniture in cash. WHO has that much cash lying around, and who uses it to pay for general goods and services? (Generally) people with shit to hide, that’s who. Also, as a (then-)bankruptcy attorney, I was pretty insulted that the Giuidices would be stupid enough to fail to disclose major assets on their bankruptcy petition… that anyone with cable television could easily see. I mean, it wasn’t really a big surprise when the Chapter 7 trustee was able to pinpoint a number of assets (including, hello, her salary from the Bravo TV show!!!). The Giudices avoided prosecution (they thought) by dismissing the bankruptcy case. Well, y’all, you thought wrong.
Here are the Giudices entering the federal courthouse on Tuesday:
They mad, y’all.
Apparently, on the way in, Joe pushed a couple of cameramen and yelled at them (against the audible advice of his attorney). And after the hearing, his mother cussed out a few reporters, while his dad flipped the papparazi the bird. These people are seriously klassy, y’all.
The industry rumor is that Bravo wants nothing to do with it. Actually, the unofficial official statement is that Bravo only wants to show happy situations, like marriages, births, friendships, etc. But anyone who’s ever watched (or, heck, even heard of) reality TV knows this is not REMOTELY true. If I had to guess (and, apparently, I do), Bravo just doesn’t want to deal with the mounting liability that is the Giudice family. This isn’t the first time the Giudices have had legal trouble and faced possible jail time—Joe has had legal troubles aplenty; however, this is the first of their legal troubles where Teresa also faces jail time. Also, this is certainly the most serious of their offenses. Not only could they be facing up to 50 years imprisonment each, but Joe (who I did not know until this week isn’t an American citizen) could face deportation back to Italy. This goes way beyond DUIs and bar fights. They messed with the Feds!
So following the whole “Bravo is done with the Giudices” insider scoop, the speculation then follows that Bravo may cancel RHONJ altogether. When you think about it, this completely makes sense. There is nothing remotely interesting (and I use “interesting” relatively here) going on that doesn’t involve Teresa. No one cares about Melissa’s singing (ha ha) career except for the fact that it causes so much angst in Teresa. Jacqueline is sort of (but not really) interesting in that she’s apparently losing her mind… But why is she losing her mind? Because of Teresa. Caroline is (sort of) (sometimes) interesting to watch mother henning; but these days, with her kids out of the house, the person she seems to mother hen the most is Teresa. This show is so boringTeresa-centric that it would be absolutely impossible to have a show with Teresa gone unless they scrapped the entire current cast and started somewhere fresh. And it stands to reason that if they started with a new cast, they would have to get out of Franklin Lakes, because everybody there seems to be in everyone else’s business. What would be the point of having a new cast if the same people kept popping up every episode. And, I don’t know about you, but I have no interest in watching the limited amount of Kim G they show now, let alone a whole Kim G-centered show.
Lezbehonest for a moment, though, shall we? RHONJ is really two seasons past “should have been cancelled.” While the whole “let’s have a Housewives where virtually every castmate is related or damn-near related to the others” was cute for a couple of seasons, it got really old really fast. I don’t like dealing with my own family drama. There is nothing cute and compelling about watching the same 30 years of baggage play itself out for two years. Bravo should have scrapped this cess pool a long time ago and just moved the hell on.
There are plenty of Housewives franchises left to fill the void. Heck, I would even welcome Bravo picking up another city, so long as they didn’t repeat that disaster that was DC. In fact, Andy Cohen, if you’re listening, might I suggest (oft-rumored locale) Dallas? If you don’t know what kind of crazy Housewives potential you might find there, I would ask you to watch repeats of your own show Most Eligible Dallas, and then I would ask you to cross networks and see that delicious trainwreck of Big Rich. There is so much botox, big hair, big money, and big crazy to be found in the northern region of my messed upfair state. Just do it already, Bravo. Do. It.

Don Lemon and the False-Causation Problem

As you may have already heard, CNN newsman Don Lemon caused quite an uproar in the black community this week when he went on the air to say that he not only agreed with Bill O’Reilly’s racist, repugnant views on what’s wrong, he thinks Papa Bear O’Reilly didn’t go far enough. Saywhatnow?

There are so many things wrong with Lemon’s position. Sooo many things. First, let me make it clear from the outset that I’m not saying that any criticism of the black community is 100% unwarranted or unfounded. What I AM saying is that this criticism is wrong. Lemon’s basic problem boils down to the fact that he doesn’t seem to fully grasp the issues of cause and effect.
So what did Don Lemon actually say?:
[playing clip]
BILL O’REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African- American family. 


LEMON: He’s got a point. In fact, he’s got more than a point. Bill?

O’REILLY: Raised without much structure, young black men often reject education and gravitate towards the street culture, drugs, hustling, gangs. Nobody forces them to do that, again, it is a personal decision.

LEMON: He is right about that, too. But in my estimation, he doesn’t go far enough. Because black people, if you really want to fix the problem, here’s just five things that you should think about doing. Here’s number five, and if this doesn’t apply to you, if you’re not doing this, then it doesn’t apply to you, I’m not talking to you.

Here’s number five. Pull up your pants. Some people, a lot of them black, gave me flak for saying that recently on “The Wendy Williams Show.”

If you’re sagging, I mean — I think it’s your self-esteem that is sagging and who you are as a person it’s sagging. Young people need to be taught respect and there are rules.

LEMON: Sagging pants, whether Justin Bieber or No-name Derek around the way, walking around with your ass and your underwear showing is not OK. In fact, it comes from prison when they take away belts from the prisoners so that they can’t make a weapon. And then it evolved into which role a prisoner would have during male-on-male prison sex. The one with the really low pants is the submissive one. You get my point?

Number four now is the n-word. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY-Z, RAPPER: For our generation what we did was we took the word and we took the power out of that word.

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN/ACTOR: We took this word, and we made it into poetry.


LEMON: I understand poetic license, but consider this: I hosted a special on the n-word, suggesting that black people stop using it and that entertainers stop deluding yourselves or themselves and others that you’re somehow taking the word back.

By promoting the use of that word when it’s not germane to the conversation, have you ever considered that you may be just perpetuating the stereotype the master intended acting like a nigger?

A lot of African-Americans took offense to that, too. I wonder if I gave the right advice, I really did. But confirmation came the very next day on my way home when I exited the subway in 125th Street in Harlem. This little kid in a school uniform no older than seven years old, he was crying his eyes out as he walked down the sidewalk with his mother.

I’m going to be honest here, she turned to me, and she said “I’m sick of you. You act like an old ass man, stop all that crying, nigger.” Is that taking the word back? Think about that.

Now number three. Respect where you live. Start small by not dropping trash, littering in your own communities. I’ve lived in several predominantly white neighborhoods in my life, I rarely, if ever, witnessed people littering. I live in Harlem now, it’s an historically black neighborhood, every single day I see adults and children dropping their trash on the ground when a garbage can is just feet away. Just being honest here.

Number two, finish school. You want to break the cycle of poverty? Stop telling kids they’re acting white because they go to school or they speak proper English. A high school dropout makes on average $19,000 a year, a high school graduate makes $28,000 a year, a college graduate makes $51,000 a year. Over the course of a career, a college grad will make nearly $1 million more than a high school graduate. That’s a lot of money.

And number one, and probably the most important, just because you can have a baby, it doesn’t mean you should. Especially without planning for one or getting married first. More than 72 percent of children in the African-American community are born out of wedlock. That means absent fathers. And the studies show that lack of a male role model is an express train right to prison and the cycle continues. So, please, black folks, as I said if this doesn’t apply to you, I’m not talking to you. Pay attention to and think about what has been presented in recent history as acceptable behavior. Pay close attention to the hip-hop and rap culture that many of you embrace. A culture that glorifies everything I just mentioned, thug and reprehensible behavior, a culture that is making a lot of people rich, just not you. And it’s not going to. That said, though, the political right is not off the hook.

So some of that doesn’t sound so bad, right? I mean, who thinks neighborhoods full of litter or fatherless kids or dropping out of high school is a good thing? However, here’s my problem with what Don Lemon said: blame and causation. Welcome to my four-part analysis of what’s wrong with Don Lemon’s thinking. Grab a drink and get comfortable. This is going to be long.
Problem Number 1: Lemon/O’Reilly Appear to Believe That These Factors Are the Root Cause of Discrimination
Bill O’Reilly’s point was discussing why white people fear black men and why Trayvon Martin was shot (and, prsumably, why he served to die). Don Lemon’s point was, similarly, related to thoughts that had been plaguing him since the Zimmerman trial. Both men are essentially saying, “If black people weren’t like this, white people wouldn’t treat you differently or poorly.” BEEEEEEEP! Wrong!
Even assuming that all blacks were daddyless gangbanger high school dropouts with horrible grammar and poor sartorial choices, discrimination and oppression of blacks is not a modern American construct. Heck, it didn’t even begin just with slavery. If you don’t believe me, pick up your Bible or even just read Othello. Fear of dark-skinned men goes back a long way. This has nothing to do with clothes, family structure, language, or status, and everything to do with skin color. Jim Crow laws did not come into existence because of hip-hop culture (a creation of the 1980s).
Fine, let’s say you concede that discrimination against blacks has a long pervasive history around the globe, but you still posit for whatever reason that modern American racism against blacks has absolutely nothing to do with any holdovers from historical racism, and is purely a construct of the presentation of some modern blacks, that still leads to…
Problem Number 2: Lemon/O’Reilly Would Have You Believe That Discrimination Against Blacks Only Applies or Is Felt by Those Blacks Who Fit This “Profile” They Describe
I am an Ivy League-educated lawyer with a (tested) genius IQ. I wear suits or business-appropriate clothes during the work week and otherwise am appropriately dressed for the occasion (sorry, I wear yoga pants to The Little Gym and the grocery store; I didn’t realize my skin required me to be dressed to the Nines at all hours and in all situations). I don’t use the N-word, except in an academic sense, or maybe on the rare occasion when I say something like, “I’m tired of this House Nigger mentality perpetrated by people like Don Lemon.” [though, I suppose, that’s in an academic context as well]. My parents were married when I was born, and I’ve only ever been pregnant (and thus had children) while married. Heck, my husband is white. I speak English better than many people I know, regardless of color, and I have several grammar books on my bookshelves at home and work. I’m that chick who takes a red pen to Facebook. Most of my friends of any color are quite similar to me in these respects. In fact, most of my black friends in particular fit this mold. Yet, despite the fact that none of us fit any of this Lemon/O’Reilly profile, another thing we all have in common is that we’ve experienced discrimination and racism in our lifetimes–usually quite often.
Our “preferred” statuses has not prevented us from experiencing discrimination in the workplace, being followed or racially profiled while shopping, denied service, having women clutch their purses when we walk by [can’t tell you how much that especially pisses me off when the woman clutching her purse in my presence is carrying a purse much cheaper than mine], treated as hostile when speaking in a calm voice, handled aggressively by law enforcement etc. Having a “preferred” status doesn’t prevent racial gerrymandering and won’t prevent us from feeling the effects of the now-gutted Voting Rights Act. Most racial profiling and discrimination applies equally to “hoodrats” and Rhodes Scholars.
Even if you were to somehow argue that those of us who don’t fit, support, or even like this Lemon/O’Reilly profile must somehow answer for the crimes of our brethren, that gets us to…
Problem Number 3: Why Must Blacks Be Held to a Standard That No One Would Dare to Apply to Any Other Race or Group?
Just like any other social or racial group, there are many types of black people with varying backgrounds, beliefs, and opinions. Why are blacks the only group held to this crazy standard where every single apple from Macintosh to Fuji in this gigantic barrel must bear the rot of a few of the rotting Granny Smiths on the bottom?
I will give Don Lemon his statistic (verified by Poitifact as the ONLY fact he stated in his long monologue) that 72% of black children are born out of wedlock. However, this does not mean [and Politifact called Lemon’s conclusion a stretch] that this also correlates to 72% of black children having no male influence in their lives and/or no morals. But what about the 68% of Native American children born under the same circumstances? Minus some extreme racists, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone, Native American or otherwise, argue that Native American children deserve any discrimination they receive because most of their moms weren’t married to their dads when they were born. Heck, when’s the last time you’ve even heard of anyone racially profiling our tribal brothers and sisters?
Don Lemon also makes a huge stink about blacks glorifying hip-hop gangsta culture through dress and use of the N-word. But who is it that really glorifies gangsta culture? Suburban white kids. A May 2005 statistic from the Wall Street Journal stated that 60% of all hip-hop music was purchased by whites. A 2009 Times article regarding the decline in sales of hip-hop music interviewed industry insiders who opined that a huge part of the decline was attributable to the fact that the suburban whites who made up the majority of hip-hop consumers were “no longer fooled” by artists claiming street cred while flashing obvious signs of wealth.
Truly, for many white teens, black gangsta culture is the fantasy. However, for many (not all, and not even certainly most) black teens, the gangsta elements of hip-hop [which, by the way, one would have to be completely ignorant to argue is the entirety of hip-hop] are a reality.
Blaming Trayvon Martin’s clothes or taste in music for his death is absolutely ridiculous. My sister-in-law and I have had many conversations about this since the verdict. The sad reality, which we both realize, is that had Trayvon instead been my white nephew, dressed in the same outfit, displaying the same behaviors, he would still be alive. He never would have been profiled. He never would have been shot. And if, by chance, he had been shot (ha!), his taste in music or any behavioral issues never would have been on trial. My nephew, the victim, would not have been tested for the presence in marijuana in his system, nor would that or become the main focus of the MURDER trial of the man who killed him [while, ironically, the aggressive behaviors and legal problems–all related to aggression–of his accuser were ruled inadmissible]. Meanwhile, my hypothetical son–despite his biracial heritage and accomplished parents–would be exactly in the same position as Trayvon Martin. THIS is what President Obama meant when he said that he could have been Trayvon. And anyone who acts as though that statement isn’t true is living in a fantasy world. My family members and friends experience this every day, regardless of how they are dressed. Well, my black family members do anyway. My white family members have never been called “thugs” when wearing hoodies in the rain.
But I digress… where are the white leaders calling for their suburban youth to stop glorifying hip-hop gangsta culture? Minus when the NRA tries to point fingers in other directions, where are the white leaders blaming music and clothing for the Aurora shooter? Oh wait… I forgot… whites don’t need “leaders” to speak for a community. They ARE the community. Something else that Lemon/O’Reilly seem to forget.
Statistically, most meth users are white men between the ages of 18 and 25, and in terms of percentage, the group holding the biggest percentage of meth users are Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. A November 7, 2011 Times article details research and statistics proving that, despite the higher incarceration rates for blacks, whites are more likely to abuse drugs. In fact, blacks were less likely than any group to develop substance abuse disorders. Yet, despite these statistics, Lemon/O’Reilly would have you believe that blacks and blacks alone are treated differently because of drugs [yes, I realize O’Reilly made this point, not Lemon; but since Lemon endorsed everything O’Reilly said and even argued he should have gone further, he has, by inference, also adopted this position].
Okay, well what about the drop-out rates for blacks? Well, a January 2013 study published by the Department of Education, focusing on the 2010-11 school year  showed that while whites and Asians graduated at a higher rate than blacks, Hispanics, and Natives, in most states (and overall nationally), the disparity in graduation (on time) rates was approximately 20%. The actual dropout rate is closer. Whites have a dropout rate of 2.3%, blacks 5.5%, Hispanics 5.0%, Asians 0.9%, and Natives 6.7%. Native American/American Eskimos have a higher dropout rate than blacks, and the Hispanic dropout rate is fairly close to that of blacks, yet I hear no one (who isn’t completely racist) making an argument in favor of sanctioned discrimination against those groups.
And why, Lemon/O’Reilly, must the 94.5% of blacks who do not drop out of school suffer discrimination because some white people (are entitled to?) assume that we are all in that 5.5%? And if this is somehow okay in your world, then why can we not similarly hold the 97.7% of whites accountable for the 2.3% who dropout?
Even if you don’t like the education statistic, let’s look at another circumstance where one might draw statistical (bigoted) assumptions about whites. White men are overwhelmingly (almost, but not quite, exclusively) more likely than any other group to be serial killers. Am I then allowed to treat every white man I meet as though he’s a potential serial killer [sorry, Pop Culture Dad! I’m sleeping with one eye open tonight!]? Oh, I’m not? Then why is it okay to treat every black man as a potential criminal, just because black men are more likely to be incarcerated?
Which leads us back to…
Problem Number 4: Causation, Causation, Causation
I’m not saying there aren’t problems within the black community that need to be addressed. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t encourage the best of our youth. What I am saying is that even if every point raised by Lemon/O’Reilly somehow magically *poof* disappeared tomorrow, discrimination against and racial profiling of blacks would not go away. Mainly, because these symptoms of a larger societal problem are by no means the cause. Neither Lemon nor O’Reilly has actually addressed the real changes we need.
Instead of focusing on the high school dropout rate or the lesser percentage of black students who graduate on time, why not focus on the disparity in the quality of public school education? Is anyone really surprised that less students graduate in an environment where there are more students per teacher, the books are old and outdated, and there are fewer computers to be found? Are we really blaming the victims for not operating well within a broken system? Oh… apparently we are.
Instead of focusing on teaching our sons and brothers that is is not okay for him to dress down EVER, even though it’s perfectly fine for all of his white friends, why don’t we instead focus on teaching white people not to judge young black boys by a different standard? Why view one boy as a physical threat when the only thing different about him is the color of his skin/coarseness of his hair?
Instead of deciding for our entire community whether and when it is appropriate to use the N-word [which, by the way, most of us do not], why not just make it clear from the outset that it is NOT up to anyone outside of the group to determine what labels people within a group choose to call each other in a non-hostile way? As a friend pointed out the other day, there are some friends she can call “bitch” like its their first name, and others who, maybe if you did that even once a month in the most loving way, would want to cut you. If you aren’t close enough to someone that you know where and when to draw certain lines with them, then perhaps you should maybe…. um… I don’t know… don’t call them anything without their permission? Don’t worry about what some black people decide to call themselves or each other. Just know that you can’t say it–just like I know there are some “reclaimed” words of groups of which I am not a member, which I would NEVER say without permission, and even then only to and around the person who gave me permission. Why do you need that word anyway? Do you not realize what is seriously wrong with a person who claims some sort of hurt at not being able use a derogatory name for a group to which s/he does not belong??
Similarly, why the hell is Don Lemon giving Bill O’Reilly to say anything about the black community? As Sherri Shepherd said today:
I don’t want to give Bill O’Reilly a license to say anything, because he’s never been a young black man growing up in the situations that a lot of them grow up in.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of whites (Bill O’Reilly especially) who refuse to have an honest look at their own behaviors, fears, and prejudices and deal with them in a meaningful way that does not involve blaming the victims. And there are far too many blacks like Don Lemon and Charles Barkley who are all too happy to give them that pass.
Here’s the problem, though: We can’t make any systematic changes without the majority/ruling class. Women’s rights didn’t happen simply because women wanted it. It happened because there were men who supported us. Slavery wasn’t abolished simply because blacks wanted to be free; it happened because there were whites who were also willing to fight for our right to freedom. We are in a new Civil Rights Era. People like Bill O’Reilly and Don Lemon can continue to be on the wrong side of history, or they can get off their asses and take a look at the REAL causes of discrimination and what needs to be done to fix it.
Black people can clean our own house, sure. But first, we need white people to clean theirs. We can’t be in this together, if the blame for centuries of prejudice falls on us alone.