Category Archives: Editorial

When Your Cousin Embarrasses You in Front of Family

By S. Christopher Emerson

I’m starting to think W. Kamau Bell is kinda corny; or at least, not who I thought he would be.

Definitely that’s a subjective statement, and all in all, I’m rooting for the brotha. I ain’t mad at him, but I’m just seeing him and his rise a bit differently these days. The CNN “United Shades of America” star seems to be revealing that the cloth from which he’s cut is a bit blander than I thought.

And let me be clear here; we’re using Bell as an archetype here for Black folx who have spent a little too much time around wypipo.

Watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown,” which I JUST NOW found out was the last full episode the chef and traveler finished before his suicide, I was inspired to critique on this matter. I’ve been going through all of the episodes in Bourdain’s series (which I enjoy) on Netflix and watching the ones filmed on The Continent and then secondarily, other homelands of people of color. This episode was filmed in Kenya, with W. Kamau Bell joining him.

Now, considering the current sociopolitical environment, I’m careful about giving deference to wypipo, ESPECIALLY when Black folx are present. But… in the episode, it was apparent through post-production that Bourdain was FAR more comfortable and relatable to the Kenyan sistas and brothas and environs than Bell.

Now it’s not lost on me that the chef was a celebrated world traveler and had been to East Africa before; Bourdain knows how to navigate unfamiliar cultural situations- it’s literally, what he does.

But there is an authoritative connection with the people of Kenya, East Africa and the continent as a whole that I was expecting Bell to have that just wasn’t there. ‘Cuz- and I don’t give a damn what some self-“othering” Black folx say- no matter what city, what country, which side, or which cookout you get invited to, there are some intrinsically Black things that slap five across current sociopolitical boundaries. I’ve prepared an inexhaustive list below:

*The “What up, Sis/Bro” head nod
*The time-honored chest to chest “Black DapHug”
*The innate quickening of something incredibly and uncomfortably white going down which culminates in perfect eye contact with a simultaneously perceiving Black person, possibly across the room (where do you think “Sense8” got it from?)
*The “mTXC…” sound of Black people sucking our teeth which either signifies that some food was just extraordinarily satisfying or that a situation is about to get extraordinarily real

Nahmean?

I guess I was expecting something like… an instance in which Bourdain would try to introduce the comedian to a food, or to a local custom and Bell would just kinda look at him and say “It’s cool, Bro… I got this.” Then he’d shoot the quickening look to a group of very pleasant locals and bust out laughing uncontrollably. But that didn’t happen.

This big Black dude stuck out like a sore thumb. In Africa, y’all.

Making corny ass jokes… Asking corny ass questions… Making corny ass wypipo pop culture references… I could just feel the Kenyan brothas, in their own still very welcoming way, asking each other “Where they get THIS big Black mzungu from? Dude is strange, Bruh…” And this was no Ugly American culture gap. This was that same gap we feel when some new kid whose hair ain’t done shows up at your school from some private academy that Black parents have been warning yours about sending you to. And that new kid miraculously finds the weirdest, whitest clique to become a part of. Weird.

It got me wondering that maybe Bell thinks that since he looks like a “big, scary Black dude” to White people, his Black card is secure. And he seems like he IS aware of his Black card; he just hasn’t set up his direct deposit yet, so that mug is dry. It occurs to me that he spends most of his public time performing from a wyt centered perspective; possibly unintentionally, but because he’s surrounded by wypipo, he can’t help it.

Don’t get me wrong…There are times when I appreciate his self-deprecating brand of comedic writing and performance; I just have to be in the mood for it. It’s kinda like how many Black people used to watch “Cheers,” but we ain’t finna remember any of the lines; he probably does though. Bell’s persona and style make White people feel comfortable, of which he seems vaguely self-aware.

I was kinda embarrassed for US-born Black folx, feeling like Bell was SUPPOSED to be our ambassador, and he rolled into Nairobi with some khakis and boat shoes on, and he committed the faux pas of being more affable to wyt savior aid workers than his own people. Shit just left me feeling unfulfilled and disappointed; like fried chicken with no seasoning.

Weed Can Get You HIgh, But Can it Get You Allies?

By Free Radicalindex

Chances are, wherever they live, our children perhaps, but more than likely their children’s children will be able to smoke weed legally. Now I’m not advocating the practice. It can both positively and negatively impact your health.

That’s between you, your doctor, and your Creator.

Nonetheless, I do support its decriminalization. If anything, it is no more harmful than the gallons of coffee, tons of cigarettes, and volumes of unhealthy prescription drugs we take without fear of penalty. Weed, on the other hand, has been used to lock up generations of Black and Brown people at shamefully disproportionate rates when compared to Whites.

So I welcome the movement to make weed legal. Blow on brothers and sisters.

Yet at the same time I am weary. As an elder has told me, whenever you put the word “industry” behind anything it is subject to be ravaged by the ills of capitalism. In America, capitalism is often mixed with white supremacy to make a bitches brew that tastes like Black disadvantage.

This came in sharp focus this past week in the heartbreaking case of Dallas police officer Amber Guyger who barged in the home of Botham Jean before killing him. Guyger allegedly believed that it was her apartment though mounds of evidence has materialized that she had to either be stupid or perhaps high out of her mind to reach such a conclusion.

Speaking of such, in the investigation (if that’s what we want to call it), Dallas police executed a search warrant of Jean’s home that uncovered marijuana. Accusations that this is just part of a smear campaign were bolstered by the fact that news of the discovery occurred during Jean’s funeral when family and friends spoke volumes about his good character. Similarly, no warrant of for Guyger’s home had been revealed. Neither have details of her toxicology report.

This seems like a perfect case for the ostensibly liberal marijuana legalization community to rally behind. According to the USA Today, the industry generates more than $8 billion in annual revenues and donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians. Just this past May, the Guardian reported that 200 industry leaders descended upon Washington to lobby political insiders.

Yet White pro-weed businessmen, lobbyists, and politicians have been deafeningly silent on Jean’s death. This is even more ironic when considering that the industry often cites the disproportionate rates of incarceration as a justification for to legalize the drug. Yet when presented with such a compelling case as Botham Jean, they have failed to put their money where their mouth his. I guess that’s reserved for blunts.

In any case, this presents another case of the precarious nature of White allyship, particularly when it is tied to large capital. Ultimately, whether fighting for justice for Botham Jean or an equitable post-legalization world, we are likely all we got. Other possibilities just may be smokescreens.

Nike Cosplays Social Justice Mask

By S. Christopher Emerson

Nike’s decision to sponsor embattled former quarterback and freedom fighter Colin Kaepernick has drawn myriad visceral reactions. Most come from conservatives for whom an un-protested national anthem and silence about police killings of Black people are priority. For that alone, the move is making my teeth whiter. 😁

But I’m not rushing to carry water for the global sports apparel juggernaut. As with most other things, it ain’t Black and wyt, “with me or against me” politics; because I’m clear that capitalism is flexible and shapeshifting. Welcome to Pimpin’ the Struggle 3.0.

We know Nike’s focus is selling sports gear. Most of us are aware that an outlet that large would not have made a move like this had it not calculated the risks and gains. The sports apparel company figured its future customer base would appreciate Kaep’s face more than its conservative Anglo step-goblins would hate it.

So now, selective whyt umbrage, cognitively dissonant about police killings, is turned toward a sports company it has gleefully supported for decades. Black Twitter is alight with images of whyt tears fueling the torching of Nike shoes; shoes, no doubt, bought with whyt money already. Wouldn’t it be nice if whypipo got this mad about the Blue Wall or Black people being murdered by cops?

Kaep fielded criticism for the better parts of two NFL seasons either by kneeling during the national anthem before his NFL games, or working unsuccessfully to get picked up on a team roster. After weighing the risk of losing the support of pseudo-patriotic fans against progressive social justice, all 32 teams chose false nationalism and money. Ostracized by the ‘Muhrica that has been stolen, whitewashed, gentrified and now celebrated, Kaep won the heart of the people and the colorful consciousness that America NEEDS, but does not yet deserve.

We now get reports that Nike was in the mix the whole time, silently supporting the former quarterback in his struggle to raise awareness for American injustices against Black folks. Supporting, yes, but silently.

The namesake of the Greek goddess of victory sponsors quite a few Black athletes, including Simone Biles, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, and has developed some attractive ad campaigns over the years. But that, in no way, fixes an image of Nike being at the forefront of progressive politics or squarely at the helm of the interests of people of color. Revenues were reported at $8.7Bn in the last quarter of 2017, while global Nike sweatshops build shoes and apparel for pennies on the dollar, and pay marginalized laborers the same.

Don’t get me wrong- It’s advantageous that a giant like Nike would take up Kaep’s image, employ lukewarm liberal messaging and distribute it to hearts and minds across the country. It’s politically intelligent for us to allow Nike to promote Kaep and his protest to advance the goals of people of color toward equitable civil and human rights and freedom. But as always, the time-honored threat of message co-opt looms ever large.

So while we savor this moment of publicity for Black safety and life, let’s be sure to challenge Nike to “Just Keep it One Hunned.” We’ll continue to remind the world of the Swoosh’s history of economic oppression and grasp on capitalism as a system of profit over provision worldwide. We will also maintain the integrity of the REAL message here- in these here stolen states, not yet united, Black people and other people of color deserve equitable consideration under the law, access to resources, and opportunities for human advancement.

As Baba J says, “Anything less is a concession.”

Black St. Louis Area Ousts Racist Prosecutor and Reject Union Bust

By S. Christopher Emerson

Good People (locally, nationally and internationally): I just wanted to let you know that all of your work, outrage and advocacy for progressive social change has resulted in a win tonight!

Bob McCulloch, the incumbent STL County Prosecutor in his 27th year of office who declined to indict Darren Wilson (the cop who murdered Mike Brown in Ferguson in 2015) and subsequently reignited the Ferguson Uprising HAS BEEN VOTED OUT OF OFFICE. Enjoy these hashtags and spread it around in your heart aches for Mike Brown and screams for justice- #RingtheBell #ByeBob

The victor? A 43 year old Black prosecutor named Wesley Bell, who has his issues, but stands to do a whole hell of a lot more for Black folx and other people of color and disenfranchised folx than the stunned outgoing prosecutor.

Bell-55%

McCulloch-45%

Over 90% of precincts reporting (KPLR Channel 11)

Just relish in the notion that, all over west and south STL county, racists are crying real salty mayonnaise tears.

And while we’re at it, let’s all acknowledge that Black folx came out to vote and delivered that win for unions last night, defeating Prop A.

So we’re gonna need unions to remember this and start welcoming in Black folx, especially for apprenticeships and leadership positions, instead them good ole’ boy politics history shows us that y’all play.

Right-to-Work got beat last night BECAUSE of Black folx, particularly in St. Louis and Kansas City. You’re welcome.

So tonight… Black folx were motivated on issues AND candidates and came out to vote in big numbers. Our votes made a difference. Our focused outrage, justified anger and protest have literally changed the political landscape. And we all had a hand in shifting the balance.

And now, accountability, the work and the struggle continue.