[that’s racist] Getting Too Familiar

On Friday, I was commenting on a friend’s post of a Wale track featuring Rick Ross, from the DMV artist’s new album, Ambition. I noticed that the track played, with better rhymes, like Jay-Z and Kanye West’s ‘Niggas in Paris’. A track name that I had noticed from the get go, and I knew would present at least mild awkwardness later in life, mostly because- I love it.

Jay-Z and Kanye West:

I certainly hope that I didn’t offend with writing the actual title out. But it got me thinking if I was being too familiar….. So now I’m blogging about it?

Is it too familiar to wonder out loud? (Though you may ask yourself seriously why are you on this blog?) Is this a basis of internalized white guilt and/or anti-black racism? The issue certainly isn’t new-

Non-black confusion can sometimes be confusing and almost amusing in its obtuseness: 

It’s sobering to realize that there’s a lot of seriousness that we are still in the midst of though: 

In my case, we have a song named ‘Niggas in Paris’. Is the motivation from West and Jay specifically to make the rest of us feel at best, lame and too familiar, at worst, incredibly awkward and guilty? I remember that this was a controversy around Nas’ album that went on to be untitled. It’s one thing to try to omit the word when you recite lyrics back to yourself in your car, but really? ‘N-words in Paris’ doesn’t sound like you’re a more understanding person.

Louis C.K.: 

I’m not going to blame the artists, and don’t want to sound like I am, rather than thank them for a good track, but there are obviously some related concerns.

I remember days in undergrad having conversations with South Asians about not calling each other ‘nigga,’ when our black friends weren’t around. Or not referring to black people as ‘kalus’ (black, in Hindi). Yes, perhaps we’ve gotten over the fact that ‘black’ is within the realm of PC, but there’s a reason (hint: it’s derogatory) that you just switched to Hindi.

Yet, for me, and many non-black progressives, I have a different backstop to be mindful of. We do have a shared humanity, and human experience, and it is positive to relate to others, and remove barriers. But don’t pretend like you can join every family. Referring to my last post, there was legitimacy when Congressman Clay said that Steve Cohen would have to change his skin color to join the Congressional Black Caucus. It was the rest of his rationale that I took exception with. We don’t share all experiences. Regardless of how many black friends you have.

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

[that’s racist?] ‘needs and concerns’

I noticed that my most commented-on post was on race, and hip-hop outfit Das Racist. Interestingly enough, Das Racist has just released a new album is coming to town again- they keep coming up on this blog!

In same said post, I included this link to a list of black members of Congress, and was reading today about the Congressional Black Caucus. I was interested to read that Representative Steve Cohen from Tennessee, who represents Memphis and some surrounding area, requested joining the Congressional Black Caucus. Steve Cohen is not black, but a white and Jewish man.

Cohen withdrew his request to join the caucus after he was informed that it would remain exclusively black. I get it. Not so weird, but then I read the reason why:

Quite simply, Rep. Cohen will have to accept what the rest of the country will have to accept – there has been an unofficial Congressional White Caucus for over 200 years, and now it’s our turn to say who can join ‘the club.’ He does not, and cannot, meet the membership criteria, unless he can change his skin color. Primarily, we are concerned with the needs and concerns of the black population, and we will not allow white America to infringe on those objectives.

~official statement from Representative William Lacy Clay Jr.

This is interesting. Steve Cohen represents a district that is 60% black. He was elected with nearly 90% of the vote. And herein lies my problem.

Cohen’s race apparently negates the fact that he represents a majority black district, and that it’s his job to address the needs and concerns of the black population. (Note: he was re-elected in 2010). His joining the CBC would only help him understand how to do this better, no? I can only imagine that working more closely with people like John Lewis and Elijah Cummings would provide greater understanding, rather then less.

This statement seems to, troublingly, reflect that the idea that exclusively black membership of the CBC is more important than the stated ‘needs and concerns’ of a real black district and its voters (and the one in which Dr. King was assassinated no less).

It was additionally sad to read that while running for Congress, Cohen was accused of ties to the Klan (attacked for being white) and for including sexual orientation in a piece of hate crime legislation.

It makes me wonder how much whiter Barack Obama needed to be (raised by his white mother and white grandparents) before he would have been ruled ineligible to join as the only Senate member of the CBC?

Posted in Political | 1 Comment

[rebellion] Decoding Bank Talk

Every now and then I’ll catch, out of the corner of my eye, the peach of a Financial Times lying around. It was Professor Elliot Posner‘s class on the financial crisis that showed me the value of this paper, and that taught me about leaders like Justice Louis Brandeis.

Here’s the front page:


When anyone powerful labels something ‘anti-US’, red flags should be waving. Dimon’s language proceeds with a basic assumption- what’s good for large US banks (large US banks’ profits) is the US public interest. As opposed to strengthening international banking standards?

Anybody with a pulse might take pause at this idea.

Dimond’s interview in FT comes in the same day that a British commission (Vickers) has recommended a ‘radical proposal’- to divide commercial and investment banking. Something that the US did for about 50 years under the Glass-Steagall Act?

In the Vickers story:

fuck you

This is a big question?

I think it’s time to elect and appoint folks who get these questions. Rich Cordray should be confirmed as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Board, and Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren should be (re)elected to the Senate.

Here are smarter people than me talking about the same thing:

Mike Konczal

Matt Yglesias

Felix Salmon

Yves Smith

Posted in Economic, Political | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cheated at Camp Nou

Pic of the Match, from Getty Images

I had predicted 3-2, Arsenal through on away goals, I was pretty close. I did not predict Massimo Busacca. Barça allow goals late in matches. Goals from Robin van Persie and Andrei Arshavin came in the last fifteen minutes at the Emirates. Our striker’s dubious red card came in the 56th. That’s three minutes after an own goal put us on the score sheet, and allowed us some momentum. Barça were still almost exposed by a legless 10-man squad in the end. Bless you, Arshavin and Wilshire. Damn your first touch, Bendtner.

Notably, Eric Abidal’s throat-grabbing on van Persie understandably irritated the striker, so much so that he lashed out at Alves, and got his first yellow. Anything for Abidal? Nope.

In all fairness, Messi’s goal at the Emirates was wrongly disallowed. Justice? It’s certainly hard to believe that. Deserved? Perhaps- we didn’t put one shot on frame. Yet if it were just and deserved, having seen Arsenal sides simply beaten in recent years, I would just admit that we lost away to the best team in the world. I’ll keep my post’s title.

Are Chelsea fans laughing at me yet? Inter fans?

UPDATE (in response to a good comment):

So I generally agree that they didn’t match the level of play. Wenger does too. But you have to look at how Arsenal carried out their win at the Emirates. A total second half performance after weathering the passing storm that is Barça. I would say that the first half at the Emirates was much worse (like I said, should have yielded two Barça goals) versus the first half at Camp Nou (which if not for a stupid backheel from Fabregas, we escape unscathed).

Starting around the 50th minute: the run from Nasri to win the corner (upon which we got the own goal), the subsequent passing in the next three minutes, and ultimately the final pass that RvP received- which nearly set him free on goal (narrowly offside)- are good evidence of progress we were making.

Late in the game, upon Andrei Arshavin’s introduction, we actually got the ball into their half. Nicklas Bendtner’s first touch (from a great Wilshire ball) let him down, otherwise we may have been through on the scoreline I predicted.

We were given no opportunity to win in our style- defense and counter. It’s the only way to beat Barça, also evidenced by the USA beating Spain (essentially the same team) in the Confederations Cup in South Africa in 2009.

Posted in Sports | Tagged | 3 Comments

[thank you] three-day birthday weekend (with links!!!)

I had a conversation this weekend about ‘Obamacare’, or the Affordable Care Act. You know, the one that insures 30 million people against the costs of injury and disease, and protects healthcare consumers from rescission by insurance companies in the case of “pre-existing conditions” (the definition of which has seemed to broaden at the same rate of the American waistline). Among its benefits, it protects female healthcare consumers (our mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, and nieces) from having to pay 3 times the rates of men for care. How novel.

My conversational counterpart was upset that he had to, as a taxpayer, “pay 900 billion dollars to ensure 30 million people”, referring to the cost of the bill over the course of the next decade, as scored by the Congressional Budget Office. Of course, he must have realized that he wasn’t paying that cool $900 billion. But to play along, he conveniently didn’t mention how he has also been subsidized, as the analogy would go, to the tune of $2.5 trillion over that amount of time.

That’s the size of the federal tax expenditure with which we subsidize employer-provided health insurance plans. (Not to mention that the Affordable Care Act begins to address the cost issues of our health system and reduces the size of the deficit). Seems like somebody wasn’t counting his full costs and benefits…

In the spirit of counting my blessings, I’d like to thank all those responsible for such an amazing birthday week (I’ve been mad spoiled):

from Arsenal.com

-Arsenal for delivering a mid-week performance of beauty against mighty Barça

-Radiohead for dropping a new album

Black Cat for having Fred Armisen this upcoming Friday, as well as future concerts of the Royal Bangs and Tame Impala for a total of less than $60

-The gifts of a subscription to the New Yorker, some much-needed kitchen knives, farm-fresh produce, and recipe book

-The Arlington Animal Welfare League for introducing me to newest family member arriving in the coming week

-Mostly though, it’s the incredible food, drink, conversation, and fun, facilitated by wonderful visits and wishes from friends via text, voicemail, phone, Facebook, and email.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Posted in Economic, Friends, Health + Education, Music, Sports | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

[and we’re back…] Eat your heart out

from Pitchfork

Birthday Radiohead surprise. What more could I ask for?

Sorry for being off the grid lately, the protests in Cairo did not really motivate me to write. Rather, they turned me to Al Jazeera’s live coverage from Cairo and action alerts from folks like SaveTheInternet.com and Free Press to get pressure on getting Egyptian internet back online. It’s pretty amazing stuff we’ve seen the last three weeks. Thought I’d start light though, there’s a lot to catch up on.

You should check out:

One of the hardest hitting singles that I’ve ever heard. Not necessarily going for the creative range when it comes to the beat and sounds, but lyrically- out of the park.

One of my favorite albums from 2010. Props to SP for the first listen.

Also, in review, this was really good:

And then this happened:

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bless you, Mick McCarthy

League play is all about shared self-interest. I never fancied myself a Wolves fan as much as today. Also in the news, Arsenal 4 goals good enough to draw against rampant Diaby, Dowd.

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