Dec 25, 2008

Real Recognize Real 2.0

Miles Davis' original liner notes for A Tribute to Jack Johnson (1971)

Real Recognize Real

Trevor von Eeden's graphic novel, The Original Johnson, renders the great boxing champion and original "nigga you love to hate," Jack Johnson in vivid illustrated detail. Johnson, the prototype for the modern black athlete, was a figure who was so far ahead of his time that we're just now starting to catch up. Jack Johnson was a pugilistic superstar who kicked white men's asses, openly dated white women, drove elaborate cars, was clean as the board of health, and talked "cash shit" while doing of all this. He was such a threat to the rule of white supremacy that Congress banned the screening of his fight films. Johnson's rebellious "don't give a fuck" demeanor stands out as especially brazen during a time period when the lynching of black people was at an all time high. Talk about a rebel without a pause. The opening line of van Eeden's graphic novel says it best, "The First psychologically Free blackman in AmericanHistory."

Jack Johnson has been the subject of the stage play and film The Great White Hope, both starring James Earl Jones, as well as the classic Miles Davis album A Tribute to Jack Johnson. Johnson was also the inspiration for the Ken Burns documentary Unforgivable Blackness. Von Eeden's graphic novel adds to this most important of legacies with The Original Johnson.

Jack Johnson was real long before fools were talking about keeping it real. He was his own man at a time when being your own black man was a crime of the highest order. His defiant spirit and larger-than-life swag lives with us to this day.

Dec 15, 2008

College Football's Race Problem

Buffalo's Turner Gill just got dissed!

The NCAA has long dragged their feet on the issue of diversifying the head coaching ranks in college football. In light of Auburn University's recent hire of former Iowa State coach Gene Chizik, the injustice inherent to the appallingly low number of African American head coaches in the sport is that much more pronounced. Chizik won a whopping total of 5 games in two seasons at Iowa State. That's right, 5 games. He lost 19 during this same span, yet he lands one of the top jobs in college football? Even if there was no obvious racial inequity in this hire, it still does not make much sense to hire someone with such a terrible record. But when you consider that Buffalo's Turner Gill was one of the people competing for the same job, and that Gill just defeated previously unbeaten Ball State to win the MAC conference title, this adds insult to injury.

There are only 4 African American head coaches in D1 college football now. This is a shame. The NCAA should be embarrassed. Considering the role that colleges and universities are supposed to play in promoting diversity in this society, such a statistic is quite troubling; not to mention that the NCAA always seems to find time to come up with another arcane rule for some insignificant infraction on the part of a young player. The hypocrisy here is ridiculous. What's really important, making sure that the member institutions are proactive in promoting diversity or penalizing some kid for the relative crumbs that may fall his way due to a corrupt system that he didn't create in the first place?

Charles Barkely is right. Gill was denied the job due to his race and because he is married to a white woman, something that still troubles the good old boys at Auburn it seems. This is another example like that of Ty Willingham from a few years ago, who was fired after three years at Notre Dame, while the so-called genius Charlie Weis remains on the job in spite of his obvious failings. Not that I'm a Willingham fan, but fair is fair.

The NCAA needs to step up and do something about the racism in their ranks. Though the NFL had to be threatened with litigation before taking action, the implementation of the Rooney Rule has clearly made a difference in the number of black coaches who now hold head coaching jobs. The NCAA needs their own version of this rule or else college football will continue to look like the old boys network that it is! This was never cool, but in the age of Obama, it is especially problematic!

Dec 14, 2008

It's Gotta Be the Shoes!

And now the award for being the first President to have not one, but two shoes thrown at him by an Iraqi reporter goes to none other than the departing Mr. Four-Trey! (Please ignore the audio commentary)

Dec 12, 2008

The Jesse Jackson Jr. Pop Quiz

Jesse Jackson Jr. has denied allegations involving a "pay-to-play" scandal as asserted by disgraced Governor Rod Blagojevich over the Senate seat vacated when Barack Obama won the presidency.

After viewing this, I thought that a pop quiz would be in order.


Which of the quotes below best describes Jesse Jackson's Jr.'s performance at this recent press conference?

a)"thou doth protest too much"
b)"the apple don't fall far from the tree"
c)"stuntin' like my Daddy"
d)"the bitch set me up"
e) all of the above

Dec 10, 2008

Of the Times

While the jury is still out on Common's new joint Universal Mind Control, his recent point about hip hop changing now that Obama is President-elect is indeed an interesting thought. How will the new Commander-in-Chief influence the direction of a genre that most everyone agrees is not at it's most creative moment right now?

For all the complaints about hip hop's commercialism, hedonism, and any other negative 'ism that people might want to attach to the culture, let us not forget that hip hop's celebration of all things material coincided with the prosperous economic times and stock market explosion of the 1990s. Rappers were not the only ones poppin' bottles and buying corporate jets in the 90s, it's just that those Wall Street rappers didn't celebrate their excesses in music videos for the world to see. My point is that hip hop is only a reflection of what's going on in the world around it.

As America flexed its economic muscle in the 90s, so did hip hop. When the stock market and the tech boom crashed, the Wall Street casino capitalists moved on to the housing market. This allowed them to prolong the inevitable, the same "inevitable" disaster that we are now living through.

When 43 came to power he trumpeted an "ownership society" and flexed a type of military muscle that was in keeping with the best of the hardcore gangsta rap tradition. The only thing is Four Trey wasn't rapping. No, George Bush had an army, better yet a navy, and he wasn't afraid to use them either. I always found it interesting that 50 Cent took over the charts in early 2003, around the same time that 43 was staging a preemptive war against a sovereign nation based on false pretense. For me Bush's arrival on the aircraft carrier wearing the flight suit, with the "Mission Accomplished" banner was not that different in tone and sentiment to Curtis Jackson's album cover for Get Rich or Die Tryin', where a bloated, steroid-induced sense of self seemed to define both figures. Thankfully neither 43 nor Curtis are relevant any more.

What I'm saying is that hip hop is no better or worst than the times. Songs and videos about excess, wealth and a general indifference to any and all is about as outdated as Cheney and Rumsfeld now. Obama promises a new day and if this new day does come to pass then rappers will in turn be forced to change with the times. Those who don't get the memo will be ass out, just like 43 in a little over a month from now.

Dec 8, 2008

Ruckus' Revenge

I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas. I don't think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation. Setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretations of a lot of the constitution.
Barack Obama

I see now that I will be spending a fair amount of my time in these coming years pointing out all the presidential playa hatin' that will be transpiring as the haters among us come to terms with the reality of the coming Obama administration. While it doesn't surprise me that there are still those with all sort of ill feelings towards the President-Elect, as evidenced by the actions of one Leo Donofrio, the hater who with nothing better to do it seems, pursued a court case arguing that Barack Obama is unqualified to be President of the Unites States because his Kenyan father was classified as a "British subject" at the time of Obama's birth in Hawaii. It does annoy me however that even after Supreme Court Justice David Souter and several lower courts rejected the case, that Justice Clarence Thomas, aka "Uncle Ruckus," decided to give the case a hearing. In spite of Thomas' support, the court again decided against hearing the case earlier today.

One would assume that Thomas is still pissed that the President-Elect said, without hesitation, that he would never have nominated Thomas to the court when asked about it at that unnecessary forum held at Rick Warren's Southern California mega-church during the campaign. Thomas' motivations are very transparent here. This is the Supreme Court of the United States, Sir, not Judge Mathis, or the court of petty, personal grudges, for that matter. Besides, even though you are the poster child for the unqualified minority who benefited from the affirmative action that you denied so many deserving others during your time running the EEOC for Reagan, Obama was right!

Stop hatin' Ruckus, such behavior is not becoming of a Supreme Court justice, however unqualified you might be for such a lofty perch even after all these years.

Dec 5, 2008


"Shoe program nigga! 23 hour lock down!"
Denzel Washington as Alonzo Harris in Training Day (2001)

Well the inevitable has finally come to pass. It was apparent not long after O.J. Simpson's infamous acquittal in 1995 that he was not going to be satisfied until he ended up back in the joint. He has finally come full circle. In what has to be one of the most frustratingly surreal chapters in American social and cultural history, the saga of one Orenthal James Simpson has now culminated in a felony conviction.

First Plaxico gets popped for shooting himself and now O.J. gets convicted for forcefully retrieving his own shit. What a week. Someone once told me that "the lord looks after babies and fools." Who looked after these two fools then? And here I thought that Damon Stoudamire was stupid for trying to go through an airport metal detector carrying weed wrapped in aluminum foil.

All I can say for O.J. is that this couldn't have happened to a more deserving person!