Root post from yesterday
Mr. Cali, Cali, Cali Man…
Interesting piece on THE BEAST this morning regarding President Obama’s curt dismissal of marijuana legalization:
Why not, Mr. President? Is our current strategy appreciably better?
Legalizing marijuana, besides being a boon for the economy, would make for more clearly delineated lines of legal and illegal. Wouldn’t this place more pressure on those who attempt to traffick more illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin, etc? Wouldn’t this step make it somewhat easier on law enforcement? Maybe the dirty little secret here is like Chris Rock said: We won’t legalize it because we’d get killed by the importers (considering how we’re getting pwn’d in the car manufacture game in just this fashion, this fear is reasonable enough.)
What’s the difference between marijuana and alcohol? Both are technically poisonous to the body if consumed regularly, but only one is said to be a “gateway drug.” Is it possible that marijuana leads to harder illicit drugs because it’s in league with illicit drugs in the first place? In my experience, I’ve found that where you can find marijuana you can probably find lots of illegal things. To think that marijuana’s intrinsic properties open the door of ill-repute is far-fetched. I can’t see it doing so any more than alcohol does. In fact, I’m willing to bet alcohol kills more people per year than marijuana. But alcohol is legal, so related deaths are acceptable in that they allow us to maintain our tenuous moral high ground.
Rather than scare tactics, information and regulation would promote responsible marijuana use in society, just as it has with alcohol consumption. Sure; there would be those who abused the privilege, but they can’t be allowed to speak for the group anymore than alcoholics speak for whether or not alcohol should be legal. If Prohibition showed us anything it’s that it’s probably better to monitor and tax rather than wag the finger while the citizenry finds furtive means to get what they want, creating multiple criminal enterprises in the process.
Legalize it, tax it, and inform properly on it and the peculiar institution of marijuana in America will take care of itself.
Some stuff I posted yesterday on The Root
Word, Dallas PD? Word?
Don’t get caught slippin’. That’s the lesson for anyone who wants to put forth any malarkey about a post-racial nation. If you haven’t heard by now, NFLer Ryan Moats and his wife were pulled over while rushing to the hospital to see her dying mother.
Before you fly off the handle, try to put yourself in the Dallas cop’s shoes: Person flying through a red light gives some excuse about a “dying” relative? How many times a day does he hear that?
There could be a plausible explanation for the officer’s actions. But then, that plausible explanation comes up against the video.
A woman comes out of her car in a hospital parking lot. Tired of trying to reason with the officer, she turns her back on an officer with a loaded gun while a relative ushers her inside. A black man gets out of the car and as he realizes the tension of the situation, tries his best to defuse it. But the police officer did not care to listen anyway.
While watching, I couldn’t help but think “Lord, please don’t let none of these people get shot.” Now I didn’t just walk out of the tobacco fields, but this is the sort of thing that’s befuddling, that makes me scared of the men and women who are supposed to serve and protect us. Isn’t one of their skills supposed to be the ability to assess a situation? What felon would pull into a hospital parking lot and then risk emerging from the car to explain that a relative inside was at death’s door?
Couldn’t an officer of the law deduce the veracity of the situation and proceed from there?
Note to law enforcement: Upon giving someone the benefit of the doubt, if you found out they lied, you can still arrest them. And we dare wonder why a “stop snitchin’” culture exists.
Police State of Emergency
Given my recent reaction to police (mis)conduct in the Ryan Moats incident, I found that I enjoyed Ross Douthat’s ‘Conservatives, Crime Policy and the Black Vote’ piece for THE ATLANTIC, particularly his thoughts on prison reform as an example of a shift in policy without a compromise of belief. He states:
Neither in this article nor his post on prison reform detail his thoughts on this increased police presence, so I can’t fully speak to their strengths and weaknesses, but I do wonder what Douthat would consider an un-clumsy implementation of a heightened police presence. Does a good plan–assuming of course his or any plan can be qualified thusly–enacted by inadequate personnel prove it to be clumsy?
Considering the current relationship between law enforcement and a good deal of the Black collective, it would seem that such a plan would require a police force dominated by ideal candidates: well-adjusted officers able to withstand the rigors of the job and receiving the support and resources necessary to maintain a level of professional excellence–a level often achieved only within the private sector, with sometimes horrifying consequences. How can such an ideal situation come to pass given the reality in which many public servants toil–a reality that involves thankless tasks coupled with the regard, or lack thereof, given to individuals in those positions? For Douthat’s reform to be even remotely possible, the perception of service would have to change drastically (an effort to which the president committed further this week). In many ways, teachers and police officers are the same boat, except their chances for physical injury vary by the day and only one can reasonably escape punishment for retaliation to injury. And it is those realities, dynamics and pressures that attract a particular kind of personality; some upright and others much less than that (often characterized by those dudes from high school whom you raise your eyebrows at when you hear they are police officers.)
In the America we live in, Douthat’s plan, however loosely described, gives me cause to pause; its margin for error is razor-thin. It would most likely suffer from varying degrees of clumsiness, which, Douthat admits, would spell danger for both protector and protected.
Here’s a random gathering of songs that are moving me today
Listen, I’m not the most religious guy in the world and, more often than not, going to church is something that I would categorize as a chore (religious/theological discussions are another matter entirely). But there’s something about those ‘Songs 4 Worship’, stadiums-full-of-(white)-people-hands-in-air-eyes-closed songs. They get me fired up on the spiritual level. I mean, whether you think it’s mumbo jumbo or not, how can you be mad after hearing a song like this?
Maybe I seem like the carpetbagger come to defend Southern rap this week, but I just feel this song is also timely. And while I’m not one to miss an opportunity to put my shoe in Kanye, his verse on this is uber-real in its unapologetic, raw and sometimes ugly expression of one’s feelings. Mainly, it’s a human condition struggle:
I feel like there’s still niggas that owe me checks
I feel like there’s still bitches that owe me sex
I feel like these butt nigga don’t know these stress…
I listen to this when I’m grinding and act like “grinding” does not entail coming up with clever headlines for a website that caters largely to the Black intelligentsia and is not exactly tantamount to “flippin’ birds.”
Because I have to believe we’re not doomed.
Feel free to leap. But leapin’ ain’t free. In this digital age in which people have access to a forum that allows them to not only speak but be heard–a forum which yours truly included frequently exploits–there’s this sense that one can get on the soap box and talk that shit without reprisal. I learned in my time at the YDN that that is simply not the case, and while I know not everyone will agree with what I say and indeed might take exception to it, I also know that said critiques are not the final word in a matter. Commenters and spectators seem to think they, behind usernames or otherwise, get the last word on the matter. Not so. Below is a response to “Woman Snitched on Oakland Cop Killer; Cam’Ron Prepares Diss Track,” a headline I wrote yesterday for The Root:
I find it offensive that, in listing a San Francisco Chronicle story for Tuesday’s Headlines, someone at the Root would use the word “snitched” to characterize the actions of the woman who helped police find the Oakland Cop Killer suspect. Let’s be clear- “snitch” is the Root’s characterization, not the San Francisco Chronicle’s. SFC’s headline was “Woman says she pointed police to Oakland killer”. Snitch is a derogatory term which carries an implication that helping the police is inherently wrong. In fact, the woman involved acted in the interests of justice for the slain officers and making her community safer. To quote the woman herself: “We’ve got to remove the word ‘snitch’ from our vocabulary,”
Shame on the Root for perpetuating a belief that helping the police find a suspect is always wrong. The Root should apologize and immediately change their description in the Tuesday Headlines section.
Word? Shame? Apologize? Immediately? How about an in-kind response?
I agree the serious use of the word ‘snitch’ needs to be removed from our collective vocabulary, but the use here was intended to be a satirical commentary on the absurdity of its use–a satire which was clarified by the reference to a Cam’ron diss track.
As I’m sure you’re aware, Cam’ron is not recording a diss response to this woman’s good deed; indeed, the use of snitch was more linked to him and his ridiculous statements made during his interview with Anderson Cooper, an interview I’m sure you’ve seen. Sorry if that was not clear.
Now, I’m not someone who will not offer an apologia when appropriate. When I gave Kanye an unwarranted ethering based on misinformation, I corrected myself. When I did some grossly poor reportage on Oakland’s murder rate, I took myself to task and when I had some mixed-up facts within my own piece on Robert Downey Jr., I asked The Root to post a clarification. However sensitive I am to criticism–and I am–I will take my lumps. What I won’t stand for is people getting their fifteen minutes of polemical fame without regard to fact or content. It’s not that this person disagreed; it’s that they’re approach was so salty it was obvious they just wanted to get mad about something, not unlike this Tammy Bruce character who called Michelle Obama ‘trash.‘ I mind that opinion much less than the fact that she admittedly didn’t have any frame of reference for the context from which the First Lady was speaking. Unacceptable.
When I write these headlines, there’s a formula that depends heavily on
- The temperature of the people or my blatant bias
- The use of semicolons
That mix is important. Satire is the angle at which I approach the news. Why? Because I think you can chuckle while making a point and that’s the hook for coming to The Buzz section of The Root for news. Otherwise, what makes us different from any other site that posts news? So I revise headlines for the purpose of commentary–either a commentary of peoples’ sentiments or my particular point of view. I get one headline a piece to make my point, so I have to make it count. And the gravitas is found not in the satire, but rather in the headlines in which I provide no commentary. Some things should just be left alone. These two elements–satire and temperature–depend heavily on the use of semicolon. The two clauses, though independent, are always, always, always related to one another. In the above instance, ‘snitch’ relates to ‘Cam’ron’ and his absurd loyalty to the “Stop Snitchin’” ethos to which he so strongly adheres. Without regarding the headline in its entirety, the satire is completely lost. Now you don’t have to to think that my headline was a knee-slapper, but you should recognize the satirical nature of the statement. Or, to put it more plainly, before you step up on the soapbox, you should read it and ask, “Hm. Do I fully understand the entirety of this headline? What the hell does Cam’ron have to do with any part of the first clause?” Had I merely written “Oakland Woman Snitches on Cop Killer” that would be a different story entirely. Entirely. But I didn’t.
Perhaps I should have spelled that second clause out more with a link to
the Anderson Cooper interview, but that would have made the headline not satirical, but rather, some lame-ass attempt at being witty, which I don’t care for in the least. Peace to John H.
In an attempt to get back in the swing of things, I’m going to present some thoughts/musings that danced by recently:
- I sort-of-begrudgingly-but-not- really love Soulja Boy’s “Turn My Swag On” for the reasons that I detailed here a few days ago. If you think about it, it’s the perfect recession song. Nothing spectacular–indeed, it’s right in line with the run of the mill coonery that makes many of us cringe–but it also has a certain “Eye of the Tiger” quality; not nearly as iconic, but definitely a nice pick-me-up when your swag needs a bit of revitalizing. Lots of people hate on Soulja Boy–yours truly included–but the other day, while turning my swag on, I was given cause to pause. Why? Because, despite my being completely outdone by some of his antics, I had to consider a few facts: He’s about to turn 19 and has been something of a public figure since about age 16 due in large part to that fine line he dances between bubble gum rap star and and race regressing minstrel. Is what he does problematic in the larger sense? My Blackademic sensibility is crying for me to start a harangue right about now. But calling off those dogs for a moment and trying to be somewhat reasonable, I have to ask myself this: What the hell am I going to accept from him in the way of cogent insight? It’s not to say teenagers have nothing to say, but I find his shtick, while unappealing for long periods of time, to be utterly more acceptable than the people who are ten years his senior and make essentially the same music. He’s 18. Despite the fact that I was at an elite university at age 18, my concerns outside the academic/intellectual realm revolved around trying to bust nuts, hanging out with my boys–where the discussion often came to the busting of nuts–and generally acting a fool as if I hadn’t a care in the world–which at the time I pretty much didn’t. So outside of having (probably) achieved more academically than Soulja Boy at the similar age, our casual converse and waking hours were fairly similar. Sure, you could argue that my more sobering thoughts set me apart from him, but I’d argue that we’re not fully aware of his personal thoughts, thoughts people don’t pay him to share. Not to mention those sobering thoughts didn’t necessarily make me any more of a role model at the time (and I certainly wasn’t in nearly the same spotlight). He gets paid to be a foolish 18 year old. At his age, what else is do I expect him to talk about outside the realm of partying, trying to bust nuts and being generally foolish because he has the means to do so? Will Smith was cleaner, but not a whole heck of a lot different. Granted, you could bring about the Nasir Jones Corollary considering he was 18 when Illmatic dropped but it’s unfair to hold one of the all-time greats as the rap mean (and just wrong to utter Nas and Soulja Boy in the same sentence). So soldier on Soulja Boy. I, for the most part, will not be listening and will probably in fact be cringing, but for the time being, I’m just not that mad atcha.
- Nigga is a word I use with frequency though I probably shouldn’t. I’m one of those people who feels an odd fraternal bond when I toss it about with people who can toss it back at me. I suppose I have a macabrely romantic sense of the word, using it in the sense that August Wilson used it; using it in the Southern Black-to-Black tradition with which I am familiar. Watching TV recently, I’ve begun considering retiring the word from my verbiage. It’s getting too hard to distinguish my macabre romanticism from these knuckleheads–mostly Black, some Hispanic–who seem hell-bent on using it in a less-than-collegial “ya nigga, wassup Fort Apache, Stand up! Niggas can get got in the Flatlands nigga!” way that I not only identify with but makes me recoil at hearing the word. Suddenly, nigga seems not like a warm greeting among people who know each other like that, but rather an ugly weapon meant to demean and incite fear. As it was originally intended.
- Common looks like August Wilson and I’m wondering why no one has pointed this out before.
- At some point, I’m gonna have to have someone sit with me and decipher Reggae lyrics. I know these cats are usually say some ill political shit–or something violently homophobic–and it bothers me that I really can’t distinguish between the two.
- Grown men with corn rows = Fail
A nice passage that I just felt like sharing:
“ The original Uncle Tom—Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom—was a character who chose death at the hand of his notorious owner, Simon Legree, rather than reveal the whereabouts of runaway slaves.” –Randall Kennedy
Now they call me The Buzz. I would attempt to get self-righteous, but that doesn’t pay nearly as well as twittering and writing clever headlines. Speaking of which, here’s all the updated info you’ll need to get right with the work I’m doing.
Facebook nom de guerre: Root Buzzworthy
I hope to have a longer form piece posted soon. The motivation comes and goes. Such is life I guess.
Kids and Cadets:
As some of you know, I am now working over at http://www.theroot.com as The Buzz. Being Le Buzz has taken time away from being able to display some of my signature long-windedness. Add to that a recent case of the dropsy–it’s not actually the dropsy, but it sounded good right there for some reason–and I am doing a poor job of juggling. Posting here every day is currently just not feasible, mainly because by day’s end I don’t feel terribly inclined to listen to myself type out my long-windedness. While I certainly don’t think this circumstance will bring about the death of the site, a change must be brought about and I need to think about how I can manage both interweb responsibilities, one which pays me something and the other not quite as much. Spending that much time in front of a computer is just…crappy and while I’m no cowboy, there’s a point at which being plugged in is just depressing.