Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Acting White: Motown Mayoral Text-Sex Mess

When my teenage daughter racked up an outrageous text-messaging bill, before we had our 'talk' about it, I did a little math. I figured that each text message was at least a minute of time to consider, enter, and send. I wanted to know just how much time she spent with her on-line posse, versus hitting the books.

Now if Detroit's married-with-children Mayor Kilpatrick sent/received 14,000 titillating messages with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty, on their city-sponsored phones, this comes out to 29 8-hour days (one month) of text-romancing between the two. And all this tantalizing back-and-forth occurring in a city with a desperate need for full-time, fully engaged, leadership. Very sad, yes.

So what should happen to these two dip-sticks? First off, each should be docked a month’s pay for wasting taxpayer money. The mayor should be censured by the city council for a flagrant dereliction of his sworn duty. Ms. Beatty should be reassigned to some other city job, like the motor pool, where she will not be a daily distraction, and can practice truly earning her pay (in part) in some other position than those particular to her boss and that shall not be named.

As for the perjury charge and the time it carries - like I tell my kids, anyone can make mistakes, but it takes a real fool to lie under oath. And these lies were part of behavior that cost the city $9 million in payout to wrongly dismissed employees, privy to the mayor's dalliance. Jail time would definitely not be out of line.

In the mean-time, the voting public can deliver its full judicial ‘opinion’ to his-honor, come the next election, should it occur before sentencing.

James C. Collier


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Monday, January 28, 2008

Caroline and Toni Deliver One-Two Punch to Hillary

In general, I have never been too much for symbolism. But it does have its place when we start talking about how we move millions of people from whatever dime they are on, to some other hopefully better dime. In the case of the upcoming election, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are that far from their respective opponents in offering promises they will not be able to keep, so the election falls to foreground symbols and hopefulness.

Today, two notable women, Caroline Kennedy and Toni Morrison (pictured), turned some serious symbolic heat on Senator Clinton. Caroline, easily the classiest of the Kennedy’s, did what only she can do, compared Barack to the image of her father – an airbrushed image for certain, but still an arrow with some wood behind it. Morrison, who errantly anointed Bill the ‘first black president’, revoked his title with a level of articulation we damn-well should expect from an award-winning writer.

To top it off, Senator Ted slipped in behind niece Kennedy and added his own emphasis, after scolding 'Bubba' on his down and dirty race-card antics. Now Ted has his own issues, but the question of where to stand on this one was easy, once Caroline began her move to the basket.

Now tomorrow is a new day, and the grounds around Hopeville hold many underestimating, over-confident, stopped-dead in their tracks, Clinton-foes. But, as my young son would say, today was ‘sweeeeeeeeet’, nonetheless.

James C. Collier


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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Acting White: Obama Takes S. Carolina – So What Does It Mean?

It remains to be seen if Obama can beat Clinton, in the sprint to the White House. The only people who may know are the 80%, or so, black voters in S. Carolina and they are not talking.

I say they know because they either voted for Barack because they have studied his ‘platform’ and believe, along with many whites, that he can best lead this country - or more realistically, they turned out in record numbers simply because he is black, and not merely pretending to sleep with a fake black ex-president spouse (who shall not be named).

These elections are a great window into the state of race in America, where proud moments reflecting advancement are rare. My fear, with all my studies, is that while black voters, dreaming of a ‘first’, motivate themselves to the polls, the analog to this is whites remembering to vote their color (gender too), once they are within the privacy of the ballot booth.

If my skepticism is correct, Obama and his true supporters are in for a rough ride as the race/gender-cards go flying out of the Clinton campaign. But be clear, all of America will share equally in whatever morass this country continues to spiral towards, due to our intractable ‘with all due speed (meaning s-l-o-w)’ behavior around advancing the content of character, ahead of skin color.

I hope that I am wrong.

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Acting White: Tiger Says "Lynch" Issue Is Closed

I like Tiger Woods, not because I know the man or play golf, but because he picked up where Lee Elder left off – showing the world something it did not quite realize, that it was possible for a black man (an Asian too) to play golf as well or better than whites. I do not know what Woods calls himself these days, and do not really care, because long ago he became just Tiger, and ceased being someone that anyone, except his parents, could fully claim. As a sportsman, he is an enigma, an unexplained phenomenon, regardless of and beyond race. I view Muhammad Ali in the same vein.

Tiger now lives in a bottle. Of course, his bottle includes multi-million dollar contracts, palatial homes, yachts, and paparazzi, but it is a bottle nonetheless. Everything he does, or does not do, has exaggerated meaning. Even so, that meaning, good and bad, is going to nearly always go beyond what the man inside the enigma ever imagined, as this is his life. And let us not forget that professional golfers and their business (the men at least) have the well-earned reputation of immature behavior. And this is why I think he tries to keep a low profile.

He is reserved in the face of stupid remarks because they are a daily staple to his existence, from the sea of gallery faces he has no choice but to ignore. With certainty, he has come to realize that his words can do far more damage to others than theirs to him. Perhaps his most looming daily chore is producing measured responses that do not unduly ‘erase’ other people’s lives, or harm his own. With a single utterance he can be judge, jury, and executioner. Who wants that?

Now the ‘lynch’ comment aimed at Tiger by the moronic golf announcer undoubtedly struck blacks like a dagger. And maybe the culprit got off with too light a punishment as well. But, I do not think it is best for Tiger, or the people who claim him, to force a role for which he is unsuited, at least today. Golfing skill is not an apprenticeship for any kind of leadership I know of.

Tiger has always answered challenges, the way his father taught him, by kicking ass on the course. He allows nothing to distract him, specifically words, and this is his secret, whether it suits us or not. The world can take care of itself, as I have seen, and perhaps we should grant him the reward, or at least the understanding, as the protégé of Woods Sr., of staying focused and fighting his battles with club in hand.

James C. Collier


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Monday, January 21, 2008

The Great American Debater/Gangster

Denzel Washington has talent that draws you to whatever he does. I recently saw The Great Debaters, which he directed as well. I declined an invitation to see American Gangster, for similar reasons. I still remember the haunting feeling that lingered with me for days after I watch him as a corrupt cop in Training Day, for which he won an Oscar. He is too good sometimes.

I was surprised, but not really, to see that Gangster was a box office hit, as was Training Day, while Debaters, has been a financial disappointment, some would say flop. Its financial woes follows similar historically significant films about blacks, like Rosewood and Ali, whose big name stars still delivered empty seats. I am left to wonder why blacks, as disproportionate moviegoers, fail to patronize uplifting films about themselves.

With the continuing complaints in the black community about Hollywood’s negative depiction of blacks, you would think that the group would turn out in droves to support Mr. Washington and Oprah Winfrey, one of the Debaters producers. But no such luck. Even movies like Akeelah and the Bee, about a black spelling bee champion, become financial successes largely on their crossover appeal to white audiences.

The question for blacks to mull over is why movies like these have to be philanthropic adventures, instead of solid draws to blacks. Black audiences need these sorts of stories in the worst way, yet they fail to support them. How easy or difficult will it now be for Washington to direct another film, minus foul language, bullet-ridden bodies, and booty-calls up the ying-yang.

I have nothing against American Gangster and its ilk, but blacks really need to step up and support black film makers who fight to make films that depict the group accurately and positively. Lacking this support, the group has no one to blame when our young people choose to emulate criminals and bottom-feeders. My kids can see Debaters as many times as they want and I will buy it on video as well, because for every big name star who has to beg the patronage of their own people, hundreds of unknown black filmmakers, with inspiring stories to tell, never get heard at all.

James C. Collier


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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Acting White: The Race Card And Politics in America - Part II

While the Democratic candidates for president play the race contest of who is the most inclusive or who has done the most to further race relations, the Republicans are gearing up for a very different game of race politics. If the future is anything like the past, the GOP slate will be slinging barbs of who can be entrusted to uphold the traditional battle lines, including race.

On the eve of the Republican primary in S. Carolina, John McCain is hearing familiar footsteps of his alleged illegitimate black daughter. It seems that in 2000, Bush supporters effectively used this accusation against him, and now that familiar slander has been dusted off and toss onto the bandwagon. Of course McCain’s strategy is not to tell these bigots to go to hell, but rather to ‘explain’ that the child in question is his adopted daughter who just happens to be darker than mom and dad due to being a Bangladeshi orphan of Mother Theresa.

As for the on-going confederate flag flap, McCain has tried to avoid being road-kill this time around. In 2000, he was against the ‘symbol-of-hate’ flag but blinked in a moment of intestinal weakness. His Arizona background failed to warn him that southerners hate wishy-washy bigots as mush as staunch negra-lovers. So this year he is following the worn footsteps of SC’s governor in saying the flag should be in the background. Maybe he’s sure this time around.

Moving along, McCain has declared that the president should be a Christian, that tax cuts for the rich are good, that he was not a favored POW of the Vietnamese, and his wife is not a drug addict. More dirt, but with power washer in hand, he is expecting all this ugliness to come and get blasted clean.

And some Republicans wonder why blacks are so easily mesmerized and held captive by the Dems.

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Acting White: The Race Card And Politics in America

Now that Hillary knows that Obama is real competition for the White House we should expect to see some fancy race-card playing. Fancy because it’s no longer status quo white men selling messages from the same demographic perspective. And despite assurance from all sides to bypass racial politics, race as a foremost issue in this country will not be denied its place in determining, in part, who leads.

Many people find the role of race in politics disturbing, but why shouldn’t race have a role? Everyday, in every nook and corner of our lives, race ‘colors’ our positions and behavior. If you think you are past the race game, just picture you son or daughter, sister or brother, in an intimate relationship with someone from another race. If that thought does not conjure up a bunch more thoughts on what they and you can expect, good and bad, then you are not being honest.

What’s new is that no longer are we narrowly wondering if the white male candidates will truly include the rest of us in 'their' American show. We can also wonder if its payback time, or if we can be rightly served by other than a good-ole boy, with a good-ole (hopefully) heart. It does not hurt that Bush, the younger, has laid a perfect table for change and trying someone new.

But before we get to the point of laying the race card truly to rest, we must be able to look at race for what it is, a superficial indication of real differences. Not of real genetic difference that drives us to wall ourselves from each other, but rather of real social differences that show all the pathways human history has taken over the last 10,000 years. Some of those differences represent advances that we should embrace, while others reflect social retreat best discarded, but always remembering that it is difference that is the competitive pulp of what advances humankind as a whole.

So as politicians play the race cards from closer to the top of the deck, perhaps there is a positive that people will get more sophisticated about the issues of race and what is really good for them. We know that pretending to deny race cards dealt from the bottom of the deck is currently getting us nowhere fast.

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Acting White: Kenyan Riots Meet American Racism – Part II

Let’s suppose that it is the 2004 presidential election and Al Gore is not white, but rather he is black and challenging history to become the first of his kind to hold the highest office. Let’s also recall that the actual election was, at its conclusion, shrouded in accusations of fraud and manipulation, with people on all sides very wedgied-out.

As it was, once actual anomalies were revealed, a time-out was called, an investigation was put in place, and a remedy identified and pursued, representing due process under this country’s laws. Now this does not mean that a just result was achieved, but rather only that an orderly, controlled set of events delivered the population to an outcome that they were willing to accept, most notably the white Mr. Gore himself.

Now had Mr. Gore been black, let’s consider what might have happened, informed by Newark, Detroit, Miami, and Rodney King’s LA. With the black Mr. Gore pleading for calm (or maybe not) black people may have very well reacted consistently with the past and their Nairobi brethren and ‘burn this m-f down’. Undoubtedly, they would have started this disobedience from the inside out, in their own neighborhoods, and mixing in many personal-scores-in-wait of being settled. The police, National Guard, and US military would have worked to contain this uprising, with the end result being many black fatalities and burned out black communities, along with a bunch of very scared white folks.

Now part one of this thread attempted to describe blogger Goldberg as a racist for proposing that blacks, this election, will riot if Mr. Obama is defeated, presumably by fair means. I stand by my declaration. However, I propose that where we should be concerned is if blacks perceive defeat of Obama by illegal means. The promise of due process to urban America, as in Kenya, is less effective at holding back people, where their subscription to the rule of law is less developed, and further antagonized by unequal protection.

Release the hounds.

James C. Collier


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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Acting White: Kenyan Riots Meet American Racism

I read the Field Negro blog. The edge is definitely hard, but usually accompanied by a naked truth. Recently Mr. Field, as he calls himself, turned his spot on a blogger, Jonah Goldberg, who heavily implies that blacks will rampage if Obama is not elected. Now if Goldberg is not a racist I do not know who is, right? Well maybe, but let’s examine this a little.

In my empirical 50 years I have not experienced riots, except for blacks. I recall Newark, Detroit, Miami, and Los Angeles. Always for a reason, but riots in the streets nonetheless, that amounted to community bloodletting. As I read the NYT about the recent riots of Kenya, I wonder of a connection to burning, looting, and using the pictured Pres. Kibaki's election turmoil as an excuse to kill ‘within’.

History tells a broader story where whites have rioted too, but usually with the strategic goal of terrorizing others for control – killing ‘without’. Thirty-plus million poor whites in this country, to my knowledge, have yet to burn, loot, and kill in their own neighborhoods as a result of mistreatment. It is also inarguable that these whites have nothing frustrating in their lives. They are perennial ‘white trash’ in the minds and acts of their brothers, yet they predictably conspire their ill feelings against their tormentors in more, rather that less, discriminating ways. I believe their behavior is not due to superior intellect; rather it is an artifact of the leading edge of the rule of law.

In the Kenya riots, as in the US, scores are being settled within black communities unrelated to the issues that sparked the unrest. The body count in LA was by far black-on-black, related to drugs and crime. So while I think racism exist, I also believe that the rule of law does not fall far from the tree - in this case the African tree. The slave trade transport was not enough to skip this social evolution reality.

While we challenge the Goldberg’s of the world, and make no mistake, I believe he is a racist; we should also examine our fears and what they say. Barack Obama is no Rodney King, but the spark and behavior that becomes a self-annihilation is definitely out there hiding in black people and their challenged views of themselves, still.

James C. Collier

P.S. In deference to ‘the Field’, I compared the annual homicide rates of Philly, Nairobi, and London. London was the lowest at 2.5 per 100,000 residents, while Philly and its close cousin Nairobi came in at 30 and 60 per 100,000, respectively. BTW, the average in the US is 7 per 100,000. Food for thought.

See Part II of this blog...


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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Acting White: Whites More Likely To Get ER Narcotics (Than Blacks)

This AP news item made me think back to research on cross-race identification and how it might inform what is going on in hospitals, beyond conscious or unconscious racism in ER doctors. The knee-jerk explanation seems to be that white doctors suspect a higher level of patient misuse of pain drugs and therefore prescribe those drugs with greater reluctance and less frequency than with other races, particularly when it comes to white patients.

The reality, as researched (but not reported in the MSM), is that whites misuse prescription drugs at a significantly higher rate than blacks. So doctors are ignoring weighty empirical data in order to practice their concern for illicit use by blacks. Furthermore, they would seem to be substituting the more prevalent use of ‘street’ drugs among poor blacks, for less prevalent misuse of prescription drugs. Second, white doctors may be displaying a version of the studied problem that whites have identifying blacks during eyewitness testimony.

The problem of identification is one of ‘out-group’ versus ‘in-group’ identification. Same race identification is much more accurate (50% more) than is cross-race identification. It seems that when we identify in-group, we utilize ‘configuration’, rather than less accurate ‘features’, typical in out-group recognition. This is a form of the pejorative ‘they all look a-like’ racism in our history.

Empathetic bias along racial lines looks to follow the similar path as identification bias. White doctors simply ‘feel’ the pain of white patients more than blacks, largely due to their personal familiarity and alignment. The good news is that once we know of these issues, the bias can be mitigated through education and training. Black pain in the hands of white doctors, as well as that of others, needs supporting processes. This may also include addressing notions that poor people deserve a higher level of pain, due to nothing other than their poorness.

The better news is that it is these type of rational discussions and studies of race, including disparities, minus the rhetoric, that give us some hope of ever getting past the racial muck in which we are mired. Hopefully, everybody will keep their race cards in their pockets.

James C. Collier


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