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Monday, June 26, 2006

Workplace Romance

Is it ever cool to holla at a co-worker?

Here's the deal: there's this sista that I've been checking out for a couple months at work, watching how she carries herself, how she interacts with people, what makes her smile, just basicly checking her out - not a stalking, rabbit-in-the-pot kind of checking out, just discerning what she's about from a distance, and from what I see she seems like marriage material.

Here's the problem: we don't work in the same department, there's about 400 people on the floor, and there's next to no opportunity for us to interact for any business purpose. The only way for us to actually meet and get to know each other is for me to straight step to her.

Here's the question: is it cool to step to someone's cubicle and holla? Personally, especially as an introvert, I'm not even remotely comfortable with that. Factor in the possibility of sexual a harassment complaint and that seems like a no-go, but I don't see any other way of making something happen. I'm not big on putting my business out there, so to speak, but I'd like to know what you'd suggest, even if you've only stumbled over this site while researching slave escape routes. Am I making a federal case out of something minor? Do I just need to man-up and handle my business? Or would it actually be offensive to step to her like that?

Like Ross Perot, I'm all ears.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 10:24 PM :: (6) minds freed

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Word For The Week

I was presented with an interesting conundrum this week while watching the World Cup - should I root for the African team or the American team when the two teams played each other? It was a question of identity - as an African-American where does my first loyalty lie: Africa or America? If there is a division of interests then with which group of people do I cast my lot? When it comes down to brass tax who am I and why am I here?

It reminds me of the 1992 Vice Presidential debate where James Stockdale, Ross Perot’s running mate, opened the debate with the humorous quip, "Who am I? Why am I here?" It was humorous because he was not a politician, relatively unknown, and yet he was in the political spotlight. The question, however, is actually quite profound, and we need to ask ourselves, "Who are we? Why are we here?" This question drives philosophers to think and minstrels to sing – each inquiring about that one thing: "Who are we and why are we here?" Africans throughout the diaspora who are separated from the land of our ancestors have struggled to sing the Lord’s songs in a strange land, and we struggle for an identity, for collective self-esteem. We need to answer the question, "Who are we and why are we here." To answer that question we must look to God. David inquired of God, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained; What is man that you take thought of him, and the son of man that you care for him?" Who are we and why are we here?

The apostle Paul may have been the most conflicted Christian to walk the face of the planet in regards to competing interests. He was a Christian. He was a Jew. He was a Roman citizen. He was certainly conflicted when viewed by outsiders, but Paul made it clear who he was and why he was here. Although he was among the most pious of Jews - circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee thoroughly trained by Gamaliel; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless - he considered it all a heaping pile of fecal material compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, compared to the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. It isn't that Paul renounced his Roman citizenship - he had no problem invoking his citizenship to get a hearing before Caesar. It isn't that he renounced his Jewish heritage - he spends a few chapters detailing to the Gentiles how God has not forsaken the Jews. However, when the rubber hits the road, his loyalty and indeed his very identity is found in Jesus Christ. Paul made that point very clear: "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ."

Who am I?

On the question of identity I prioritize according to the permanence of the trait. I am a citizen of the United States of America - born and raised - but I could become a citizen of another country. There is nothing that compels me to be an American other than the fact that I was born here, love of country notwithstanding. I am a Black man, and no matter what else I do I will die a Black man. Even Michael Jackson, after all of his surgeries, even though many Blacks don't want to claim him, is still a Black man, Vitiligo and all. My ethnicity is irrevocable, so it takes priority over my nationality which is indeed mutable. However, my Christianity trumps all of that - if there is a conflict between the cause of Christ and interests of the United States of America then I will side with Jesus Christ every time. If there is a conflict between the cause of Christ and the interests of Black folk then I will side with Jesus Christ every time. If there is a conflict between the cause of Christ and my very family then I will side with Jesus Christ every time, for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his very soul?

Who am I?

I appreciate my American citizenship and I honor my African heritage, but I am a child of the King. I am a disciple of the Christ. I am a wild olive shoot that has been grafted in among the others and now shares in the nourishing sap from the olive root, the true vine, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God.

Who are you?

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants you to live and move and have your being in Him,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 11:00 AM :: (0) minds freed

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Saturday Comics

Makes Good Neighbors
Put Up Or Shut Up
G.O.Priorities
GTFOHWTBS
I Never Knew You
Comeuppance
Phat Chicks
Suicide Watch
China Syndrome
Political Reality
Dewey, Killum, & Howe
Duck And Cover
Cut And Run
Cut And Run II
Capitated Growth
Normalized Results
Phallic Defense
Godless Treason
Use The Foot, Luke
Mulligan For America

And my favorite for today: Banana Republicans


Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:05 AM :: (0) minds freed

Friday, June 23, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 10:12 PM :: (0) minds freed

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Walking The Walk

GHA 2-1 USA

There is a reason why the Ghana Black Stars were talking about their pending match with Brazil even though they had not yet beaten the United States - it was a foregone conclusion. Who concerns themselves with bulletinboard material when your opponent is the Detroit Lions? Who worries about motivating the opponent when you're playing the Kansas City Royals (without their pine tar). Who worries about giving the Golden State Warriors motivation? (can't jones on the Clippers any more) That is just how lightly esteemed the US soccer team is, and at the same time the Ghana Black stars are just that good. It's one thing when someone talks the talk but can't walk the walk, ala Roberto "No Mas" Duran or Donald "We'll be greeted as liberators" Rumsfeld, but the Black Stars backed up every word that they spoke. Keep in mind the fact that Ghana shut out a Czech Republic team that was pegged to challenge for the World Cup, so the US didn't exactly lose to a bunch of scrubs - they lost to a team that will give Brazil, the NY Yankees of World Cup soccer, all that they can handle Tuesday morning (10 AM EST).

Ghana midfielder Michael Essien said, "We did our best today. We did it for Ghana and the whole of Africa so they should keep cheering us." I believe that Africans throughout the diaspora will continue cheering for the Ghana Black Stars - I know that I will.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 5:57 PM :: (2) minds freed

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Talking The Talk

The U.S. press has its panties in a wad over the Ghana Black Stars looking past the match with America, but let's get real - The American team played it's absolute best game in tying Italy and it probably won't repeat that performance again, especially considering that the lone American goal in that match was scored by the Italians...

Nobody takes American soccer seriously - why should anyone expect Ghana to be any different? I am African American - who will I be rooting for tomorrow at 10 AM (while taking a 2-hour lunch)? African comes before American any way you slice it.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 5:23 PM :: (0) minds freed

Monday, June 19, 2006

Just Say No

The other day I was minding my own business when I encountered an article about the Republicans pushing a Constitutional Amendment banning desecration of the flag. My counter-will raised up, as it is wont to do, and I decided to embark upon my own little treasonous protest to this madness - I would metaphorically burn a flag by watching the World Cup match between the U.S. and Italy and root for the Italians.

Here's the problem: I like soccer now.

Futbol.

It reminds me of the insidious nature of drugs, how one hit of the wrong stuff at the wrong time can kill you - ask the friends and family of Len Bias. I've seen bits of futbol matches played as I was surfing channels and never did it capture my interest, but this time I was actually focused on the game. This time I had a rooting interest in the outcome of the game. This time I was vested in futbol, and futbol took over. Futbol told me to look for a pick-up game on campus. Futbol told me to lose about 40 pounds so I could actually play with the Koreans and Africans on campus. Futbol told me to be ready to school my son in the sport whenever he shows up on the scene (first things first - need a wife, obviously). Futbol went from some silly thing that the rest of the world obsessed over to becoming my own obsession.

Futbol hasn't replaced football as my drug of choice, but it's making a strong bid at #2.

This is why you don't mess with drugs - second-hand, contact highs are worlds apart from when you take that deep drag on your own, when you run that white line yourself, when you send that toxin running through your own veins and the visions of purple haze are all your own. Futbol is a relatively innocuous addiction. Crack kills.

Just say no.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 5:38 PM :: (2) minds freed

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Saturday Comics

Turd Blossom
Goal!
One Letter Off
Hot Air
Objective Reality
Relative Truth
U-S-A!
Operation Sisyphus
Simian-Copulating Insane
Depraved Desecration
Unsightly Oversight
Root Cause
Gallows Humor
True Terrorism
Exit Strategy
Supplicants

And my favorite for today: Uncivil War

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 6:04 AM :: (0) minds freed

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Being A Black Man: A Terrifying Threat

There are significant differences between the way that Blacks interact and the way that Whites interact, but none is more significant than the difference in our buffers. For many Whites an idea is nothing more than an idea - something to be contemplated, studied, and understood - but for Blacks ideas quickly lead to actions. If you see a couple White girls yelling at each other then it is a good idea to let them get it out of their system so they can go back to normal relations. However, if you see a couple sisters yelling at each other it would be a good idea to break it up while you still can, because stuff's probably about to jump off. If White men have a problem with pornography then Black men have a problem with adultery. We have very little buffer between our thoughts and our actions - if the thought comes to mind then we'll immediately jump to it. This is why Whites are often petrified of the idea of conflict with Blacks - they presume that it will inevitibly become violent.

Being a Black man means living life as a terrifying threat to the people in power.

Naturally, this is a broad generalization in both directions - there are plenty of Whites with no fear of conflict, least of all with Blacks, and there are Blacks with buffer for days (pensive, introspective types like myself) - but as far as generalizations go there's a lot of truth in it. Some of this is due to the caricature that has been promoted as the Black Man and some of it is indeed based on fact. Some of it, however, is nothing more than in our own head.

My Doolie (freshman) year at the Air Force Academy I was assigned to the boxing team for my squadron. I wasn't exactly enthralled by the idea but I wasn't exactly given a choice either. My first bout was against this pasty White kid from someplace where cow-tipping was the official past time. I looked at him and thought to myself, "You know, this might not be so bad after all - I get to come down to the gym and beat the hell out of White guys. I'm a young brother from Detroit - they don't know nothing about this. Yeah, let's do this!" What they neglected to tell me was that farm boy was the reigning Academy Wing Open champion from the previous year in the weight class. That was the longest 3 minutes of my life - farm boy beat me from Duluth to Boise. Wasn't he supposed to be afraid of a young brother from Detroit?

Apparently not.

So while it is true that a lot of Whites are afraid of Black Men on GP, don't get it twisted - that doesn't apply to all Whites. Trust me.

But what does apply to all Black men is the fact that we have to deal with the overcompensation of the majority. Everyone needs a source of pride, something wherein they can say that they are better than other people, and if they cannot find it within themselves then they will try to put others down in order to lift themselves up. Martin Luther King Jr. summed it up perfectly:
The other day I was saying, I always try to do a little converting when I'm in jail. And when we were in jail in Birmingham the other day, the white wardens and all enjoyed coming around the cell to talk about the race problem. And they were showing us where we were so wrong demonstrating. And they were showing us where segregation was so right. And they were showing us where intermarriage was so wrong. So I would get to preaching, and we would get to talking—calmly, because they wanted to talk about it. And then we got down one day to the point—that was the second or third day—to talk about where they lived, and how much they were earning. And when those brothers told me what they were earning, I said, "Now, you know what? You ought to be marching with us. You're just as poor as Negroes." And I said, "You are put in the position of supporting your oppressor, because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor white people. And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being white, and the drum major instinct of thinking that you are somebody big because you are white. And you're so poor you can't send your children to school. You ought to be out here marching with every one of us every time we have a march."

Now that's a fact. That the poor white has been put into this position, where through blindness and prejudice, he is forced to support his oppressors. And the only thing he has going for him is the false feeling that he’s superior because his skin is white—and can't hardly eat and make his ends meet week in and week out.
The same thing applies today, even if less overtly than in the year that I was born, the year that King was killed. Through blindness and classical conditioning Whites have been programmed/encouraged/influenced to think of Blacks as inferior, uncivilized and threatening, and all too often Black men have to overcome those preconceived notions. What's worst is when they realize that we are not a threat to their person and they can see us for who we are then we become a true threat to them - we're just as smart and we know the game. That's when a Black Man becomes a nigger, because that's when the Black man becomes a truly terrifying threat - a competent competitor for all that the White Man has. This is how the Agile Acrobat becomes a Tangible Target and then has to fight for his very existence.

Been there.

Done that.

Got the pink slip to show for it.

Sometimes I fell like Darkwing Duck - "I am the terror that flaps in the night. I am the scourge that pecks at your nightmares. I am the itch that you cannot reach. I am the fingernail that scrapes the blackboard of your soul." Sometimes I feel like nothing more than a guy with an overwrought sense of persecution. Somteimes I feel like nobody is reading this anyway since nobody seems to care to comment so I could say just about anything and it wouldn't matter. Sometimes I feel like no matter how much I try to understand it all, no matter how much I try to fix it all, no matter how much I try to wrap my mind around all that it means to be a Black Man, we're still screwed.

What? Me? Bipolar?

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!

Nah.

Just frustrated that it has to be like this, that America is so jacked up, that everywhere else is even more jacked up. Living in America as a Black Man means living as a terrifying threat, most of all to ourselves.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:00 AM :: (0) minds freed

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Being A Black Man: A Colored Caricature

A brief thought today on the nature of being a Black man - being a Black Man means embodying a colored caricature. Do a quick word association - what comes to mind when someone says "White man?" What comes to mind when someone says "Asian man?" What comes to mind when someone "Native American woman?" Those may provoke some responses but we have not been conditioned to respond to those stimuli as we have been conditioned to respond to the phrase "Black man." Every day - and I do mean virtually every day - you will hear on the local news, at some point, "The suspect is a Black man..." "The suspect is a Black man..." "The suspect is a Black man..." That image has been burned into the psyche of the American public such that a Black man in a Brooks Brothers suit and Kenneth Coles can walk by a White woman and she will instinctively clutch her purse.

That was me. Sunday. Coming from church.

This threatening image is even fostered by the Washington Post's own exploitation exploration of what it means to be a Black man. For the first week of the series, the opening screen looked like this:


I do understand that Chuck Brown, being the creator of Go-Go music, is significant to Black culture. However, inasmuch as a picture is worth a thousand words - and this being the image that is first displayed, illustrating what being a Black man is about - this reinforces previous conditioning that often induces a fear for one's safety in the majority population. They might as well have opened with this picture:


The effect is the same. I suppose it would have been too much to ask them to open the series with a picture of a Black father, his wife and his children. Of course not - that has nothing to do with being a Black man, that's just some caricature that Bill Cosby invnted for NBC a few years ago. Right? Tell me, who is keeping it real and who is existing as someone else's caricature of what they perceive a Colored Black man to be - a lower simian whose only productive purpose on this planet is to keep the masses entertained?

Yeayah!

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:00 AM :: (0) minds freed

Monday, June 12, 2006

Being A Black Man: An Agile Acrobat

Continuing in our existential exploration of Black Manhood I would suggest that in addition to being a tangible target the Black Man in America is of necessity an agile acrobat.

Say what?

As DP mentioned earlier, there is a paradoxical duality to the existence of Black Men in America that often tests the thresholds of a brother's sanity. We are at once celebrated and castigated, emancipated yet castrated. We have an internal drive for success but an external locus of control. We are free to pursue our dreams yet the object of those dreams is often an image that has been crafted by those who would keep us chained to the cave looking at our own shadows. We have to sow this into our psyche without becoming psychotic. This is why the Black man is angry. This is why the Black man will often act a fool. This is why every Black man can chant along with DMX, "Y'all gon' make me lose my mind! Up in here! Up in here!"

What's it going to take for folk to get The Message?

Being a Black man means that you have to balance being an intimidating presence and an irrelevant person. They see us, they fear us, and they discount anything that we have to say. We are intellectually irrelevant to the society at large, but we are physically intimidating to those same potatoes. People try to control that which they fear, and if they connot control it then they try to destroy it, just like King Kong - the ultimate Mandingo. Being a Black man means that we have to balance our actual independence with the projected perception that we are under control. Being a Black man means that I have had to dumb down around White coworkers in order to avoid being a threat, because they would have all ganged up on a (n-word) if he showed himself to be too smart - nobody likes a smart (n-word). Yet at the same time I can't play it too dumb where I become the stereotypical dumb-a (n-word).

An agile acrobat.

Understand, I only dumbed down when talking to these people casually. In meetings and especially at my workstation it's on, but not to the extent that it seems like I am trying to make them look ignorant - just enough to make my mark and to get things done better than anyone else. It's the super-negro principle - you have to be heads and shoulders above your White peers in order to be considered their peer. However, if you start leaping over buildings in a single bound then they'll gang up on your behind faster than a slew of speeding bullets. Being a Black man means that you have to find that balance and hold it - even as the sands are shifting beneath your shoes you have to be the most agile of acrobats, especially when dealing with Black Man Kryptonite.

Just ask Kobe.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:00 AM :: (0) minds freed

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Word For The Week

The Washington Post has launched a year-long series on Being A Black Man that seeks to explore what it means to be a Black Man in the United States of America. On one level it is commendable that they would engage in such a discussion - they don't have to take an interest in the affairs of Black Men - but on another level, the level where I live on a daily basis, it is much akin to a pack of wolves exploring what it means to be a sheep. Inevitably, their answer is going to have something to do with mutton. I object to Whites defining what it means to be a Black Man. I have serious problems with Whites framing the questions that try to discern what it means to be a Black Man. I categorically reject the idea that Whites have any say in what it means to be a Black Man, much like Americans would and should reject the Chinese or the Russians or the French having any say in what it means to be an American. If I have said it once I have said it a million times - Black folk have got to do for self. We have to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves - it is the essence of the second principle of Kwanzaa: Kujichagulia (pronounced Koo-jee-choc-ah-LEE-ah).

Why?

Because the Black Man in America is a tangible target. The United States of America has been described as a melting pot but that description is erroneous - it's more like a soup, and ideally it should be a stew. In a stew the meat is flavored by the carrots, the carrots are flavored by the potatoes, the potatoes are flavored by the beef, all the while the beef never loses its essential beefiness, the carrots are still carrots, and the potatoes are still potatoes. They have the broth in common, and that broth blends their flavors into a tasty mixture, but it does not destroy the essential nature of the components of the stew.

That doesn't sit well with a lot of potatoes.

Many potatoes believe that America is a chowder, that it is all about the potatoes, the main ingredient in a chowder. They expect the other ingredients to walk like a potato, talk like a potato, think like a potato, and eventually look like a potato. They expect the other ingredients to speak the preferred language of these specific potatoes (as opposed to those Iberian potatoes). They expect the other ingredients to conform to the social norms of potatoes, to affirm potato values, and to submit to potato supremacy, and since the potatoes own all of the means of production and reign supreme over everything within the bowl their expectations rule. That's all well and good if you're an Irish potato or a German potato or Italian potato - within a generation you can lose your accent and give up your previous culture to become functionally identical with an Idaho potato. The same is true if you are a Chilean or Argentinean potato.

However, if you're Angus steak then there is no way that you will ever become a potato, no matter how hard you try. You can give up your culture, you can sell out your people, you can buck dance, skin and grin, but at the end of the day you're still not a potato - you're beef - and in a chowder that makes you a tangible target. Everything in a chowder is white and creamy, soft to the palate and relatively homogenous. Beef doesn't fit that paradigm - it may be in the chowder but the chowder never penetrates it, never transforms it, never changes it from its essential beefiness.

Beef stands out in a crowded chowder, and that which stands out makes for an easy target.

It is much like the title character in the 6th chapter of the book of Daniel. Daniel was minding his own business when the king of Persia put him in charge of 120 municipalities. Daniel wasn't bothering anyone when the king of Persia prepared to elevate him to Prime Minister over all of the kingdom. Daniel didn't have a cross word to say about or to anyone, but because Daniel was one of those people, one of those foreigners, one of those funny-talking immigrants from some back-water country, the Persians and the Medes - the potatoes of Persia - were not about to submit to the leadership of such a man.

Daniel was a tangible target.

The various governors and constables of Persia conspired to bring false charges against Daniel, looking into his every action, spying his every word and deed. It is much like a Black man walking into a department store and discovering "extra" attention being paid to him - I experience that on the regular - just to see Mrs. Potatohead walking out the front door with an arm-load of unpaid merchandise. Surely, Daniel could relate to being a Black Man in America, for Daniel was a tangible target. Living as a tangible target means that we have to have everything in perfect order or we have to deal with inquiries about what's wrong with the Black man. Living as a tangible target means that we can't just be ourselves but we have to speak on behalf of all Black men, answering the question, "What does it mean to be a Black Man?" Living as a tangible target means that if I screw up then all Black men are screw ups, if I fail then all Black men are failures, but if I succeed then I'm the exception according to potato perception. Surely Daniel knew what it meant to be a tangible target.

The Susa bureaucrats couldn't find anything wrong with Daniel's work - Daniel dotted every "i" and crossed every "t" - so they had to find another way to get rid of that Daniel. They knew that Daniel was faithful to God, that Daniel would not waver from serving the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so they got the king to sign a temporary ban on praying to anyone other than the king - knowing that Daniel would not conform. There are many traps that have been set for Black men - some physical, some mental, all spiritual - but in all things, we who are tangible targets must persevere and walk in all that God has called us to be, in spite of the traps, in spite of being targeted, in spite of what other people think, wish or desire of us. We can not submit to the pressure of the struggle, we have to overcome it and press through it.

Daniel's fidelity to God got him thrown into the lion's den, a form of capital punishment in 5th Century BC Persia. But Daniel was not injured by the lions - God turned the daunting predators into Daniel's pillows for the night - and Daniel escaped the trap that was set by his enemies and reluctantly sealed by his friend, the king. Now we are not promised to always get a Daniel-esque deliverance - there were a whole lot of Christians who encountered lions in Rome's coliseum and became part of a feline value meal - but we are called to persevere through times of trouble, even those of us who are tangible targets, and know that God is with us and that God will be glorified through us. Daniel's problems were not without purpose - after witnessing Daniel's miraculous deliverance the king of Persia became a believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, such that the king decreed that all within Persia should worship God.

But the story doesn't end there.

Here's the part that I like, the part with which I take comfort - those who set the trap for Daniel were themselves thrown into the lion's den and immediately devoured, them and their entire households. It is said many ways but the principle is the same - as you do unto others it shall be done unto you. Payback's Ann Coulter. Many people reject the concept of vengeance, the concept of retribution, but it is as Biblical a concept as love - as surely as we are called to love everyone God will also bring retribution upon the unrepentant. The same verse that commands us not to take revenge ourselves also says to leave room for God's own wrath: "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord." When it comes to the American chowder I, as a tangible target traversing this trail of tears, long for Amos' pronouncement to come to fruition:
"I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel? You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god - which you made for yourselves. Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus," says the LORD, whose name is God Almighty.
Let justice roll.

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants you to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 11:00 AM :: (1) minds freed

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Saturday Comics

Hedonism...
...In Lower Lifeforms
Forgot His Towel
THY Will Be Done
Weapons of Mass Distraction
Dysfunctionally Irrelevant
PITA
Paradise Lost
Renewable Energy
Outsourced
Case For Impeachment
Democratic Republic of Iraq
Mission Accomplished
Truth-Telling
Demonic Gouging
Changing The Subject
An Inconvenient Truth
Screech Monkey
Self-Inflicted
Yes
Vietnam Redux
Death Before Dishonor
Big Pimpin'


And my favorite for today: Booty Call

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 9:45 AM :: (2) minds freed

Friday, June 09, 2006

Extreme Makeover: Blog Edition

Well, I figured the place could use a little sprucing up so I did some cleaning and rearranged the furnature. I just finished tweaking a few things - like the font size of the main posts and the ability to link articles in the post title - but overall I think it's a bit of an improvement.

If you have any ideas for making this site better then like Ross Perot, I'm all ears.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 9:45 PM :: (2) minds freed

Support The Crook - It's Important

Anyone who has a passing familiarity with Louisiana politics knows that politicians down 'round there have a reputation for circumventing, bending, and/or flagrantly flouting the law. One of the more infamous of these politicians was Edwin Washington Edwards, a man who is known to the rest of America as the one who defeated David Duke in 1991 to become Louisiana's governor. Many of the bayou's denizens justified holding their noses and supporting Edwards with the slogan, "Vote for the Crook. It's Important."

It is in this mode of thinking that I want to encourage Black folk to support Representative William Jefferson, or more specifically, I want to encourage Black folk to support the Congressional Black Caucus as it pertains to Rep. Jefferson. The naked truth is that Black folks' alliance with and allegiance to the Democratic Party has been producing diminishing returns over the last several decades, such that the Democrats essentially take us for granted and only come by with a speech and a smile during the October GOTV push. Here in Louisville, our Republican Congresscritter brought back more grant money to the Black community in her first term than the previous Democrat had done in the entire 20 years that he was in Congress. Don't get it twisted - I'm still doing everything that I can to return her to the private sector that Republicans like her idolize - but I'm just saying, we need to slap the donkey right good to get their attention.

We have before us a golden opportunity: there's a perfect storm brewing that could allow the Democrats to take back both Houses of Congress. The Senate is a longshot, to be sure, but it is conceivable. The House is definitely in play, and this is where the Congressional Black Caucus can make a play to increase their power in Congress and, of course, our power by extension. Say what you will about politicians - and most of it is true - but most of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus represent our interests fairly accurately, and increasing their power is in the best interests of Black folks.

What does this have to do with Representative Jefferson?

The DCCC, along with Nancy Pelosi, intend on running the 2006 campaign based on Republican corruption - it is, after all, ubiquitous. The easy counter-argument for the GOP would be to point to Representative Jefferson and claim that the Democrats are just as corrupt (which, of course, is about as logical as arguing that a golden shower is just as bad as Hurricane Katrina), so Pelosi and friends want to get rid of Jefferson as quickly as possible to eliminate that Republican counter. The problem, of course, is that there's about 250 years of precedent about how you handle a representative under investigation, and none of it comes into play until a representative is formally charged and/or indicted. Representative Jefferson has not been charged, therefore Pelosi had to prevail upon the good graces of Representative Jefferson to help the party out by making himself scarce. Representative Jefferson essentially told Pelosi where to go and how to get there, and there's little that Pelosi can do about it without violating a ton of precedent and potentially angering a whole lot of Black folk who will surely assert that a Black Congressman is getting singled out simply because he's Black (which, of course, is about as logical as arguing that Marion Berry was singled out simply because he's Black).

This is where we come in.

What we need to do is to phone, email, text-message - however you get down - contact every member of the Congressional Black Caucus and let them know that we support them in this power play. It is especially important to contact Representative Melvin Watt - (202) 225-1510 - the Chairman of the CBC and let him know that Black folk support him and the CBC, that we're willing to go to the mat if the CBC needs to go there. It may come to a point where Black folk have to sit out the 2006 election - Democrats never win without a significant Black turnout, and if we refuse to show up because they snubbed the CBC then that will certainly teach the donkey a vital lesson. The credible threat of such a turn of events should strengthen the CBC's hand to get the concessions that they desire out of Pelosi, and as the rank & file in this power play we have to be prepared to do our part if called upon.

Politics is a contact sport, it's often a nasty business, and sometimes it takes a crooked stick to hit a straight lick. Right now, unsavory as it may seem to some, we need to support the (alleged) crook - it's important.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 5:55 PM :: (0) minds freed

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Death Of A Salesman

The death of al Zarqawi is functionally irrelevant - he has merely assisted the indigenous opposition to the American occupation of the Iraqi's homeland, and as such his death simply means that someone else will take advantage of the opportunity that presents itself with the Iraqis continually resisting America's occupation of their home. The root problem isn't some "terrorist" or terrorist network; the root problem is our occupation of someone else's home.

Put another way, it's kind of like a rapist hoping that his victim will begin to approve of him once the guy who was trying to help her has been killed. Never mind the gun to the back of her head, her face in the pavement, or the throbbing member invading her person, a "terrorist" was killed - certainly she'll come around and begin to approve of being raped.

Certainly not.

Besides, look at the domestic political landscape - the GOP tried to whip up their base with "immigration reform" and ended up wedging their own party. Then they tried that lame attempt at a Constitutional Amendment to whip up their party and lost the vote outright, 49-48. Understand the signifigance of this - on a matter that the GOP said was the moral imperative they couldn't even get a majority of the Senate to agree, even though the GOP holds a comfortable majority of the Senate. There is no way that they were going to let that show of weakness make its way through a couple news cycles so it was time to change the subject - dramatically - hence Zarqawi's head on the metaphorical pike.

Where's Osama bin Forgotten?

I'm sure that they'll find his head on a pike somewhere around October 2008 - Mission Accomplished and all that.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 7:00 AM :: (0) minds freed

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Mulligan

I wish I had something worthwhile to say today, but the truth is that I'm still fighting off a sinus infection and my phone decided to give itself a swirlie this morning at work. I'm sick and unexpectedly out a couple hundred bucks (no, I didn't have the insurance) so I suppose I'm just not in much of a writing groove right about now. Plus, in upgrading Firefox I lost my SpellBound spell checker, so I'm really not a happy camper right about now.

Then too, I have no idea if anyone's actually reading anything that I write anyway.

If you are actually reading this then a word of encouragement in the comments would be greatly appreciated - let me know that someone intentionally drops by here from time to time. Most of what I see from the Site Meter looks like folks Googling slavery and stumbling across my mindless musings. Enough of my blather for now - peace, love and hair grease.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 7:30 PM :: (0) minds freed

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Demonic Pandering

D-Day.

06/06/06

The Omen (re)opens today. Talking heads on network news are joking about the antichrist. Hood rats are bumping Three Six Mafia. Everybody has some demonic tie-in today, but is anyone paying attention to the demonic actions of the Republican Party?

The GOP is truly insidious in how they go about politicking - whipping up support from their base on social issues and then, once they win, abandoning those issues to cater to their corporate and plutocratic masters. George Bush's administration is more than willing to spend political capital on gutting Social Security and eliminating the inheritance tax, but when it comes to issues that matter to his base, the cultural conservatives, he has a photo op and pays lip service to a Constitutional Amendment that has about as much chance of passing as Alan Keys winning the presidency. I have said it before and I will say it again, perverse people often pimp the pious in order to pursue their own personal plans. I do not doubt the sincerity of the intentions of many on the Religious Right, but they, like Black folk, have wholly aligned themselves with one party - both for good reasons - and that leaves you wide-open to being treated like one of Xzibit's hoopties.

It's hard out here on a pimp.

The truth of the matter is that the people who should be angry about this are the cultural conservatives, yet nary a word is spoken against their masters. The people who should be outraged are the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells, but not a peep is heard from their chicken lips. You would think that Al Mohler and Joel Olstein would be up in arms about being sold a bill of goods by Bush and his cabal, but not so much as a mumbling word is heard about this apparent treachery. It reminds me of that scene in Hustle & Flow when Djay was trying to hustle a professional-grade mic from a pawn shop owner who couldn't keep his eyes off of Nola. Djay took Nola aside and told her to be "friendly" with the shop owner and to come out with the mic that he needed. When Nola tried to object, saying that she was tired to turning tricks, Djay looked her square in the eyes and said, "Get that mic."

The midterm elections are coming up and you can rest assured that the cultural conservatives - the Religious Right - will once again get that mic for daddy.
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries."
That's some demonic pandering.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 6:06 PM :: (0) minds freed

Monday, June 05, 2006

Paradise Lost

"The establishment of our new government seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting human happiness by reasonable compact in civil Society."
- George Washington

What is America? What does it mean to be an American? Is America nothing more than an aggregation of assistants for the aristocracy? Does it mean nothing more than being grist for the economic mill? Are we merely servants of the owners of the means of production? Consumers of the crap that is created by colossal corporations? What is America? What does it mean to be an American?

Once upon a time people looked to America as the Land Of Opportunity™ - the place where anyone could come and make a life for themselves, where rags-to-riches was a very real possibility if a man (or woman) was to apply him/herself and go for it. Once upon a time America was a place of unlimited natural resources and unlimited social mobility – the son of a pauper could become a captain of industry if he worked hard enough and caught a couple breaks. Once upon a time America was a beacon of light, beckoning to the world:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

That day is no more. Every bit of America has been developed into housing or it is owned by corporate conglomerates – America’s resources are no longer unlimited. Likewise, the upward mobility that once was is now stagnating, glass ceilings are becoming concrete, and America’s aristocracy is about as entrenched as the British noble houses. American government is no longer of, by, and for the people – it is of, by, and for the corporations, and those corporations are owned by the aristocracy. How soon we forget history - government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master, and it is wielded by America's aristocracy.

The America of yore is dead.

The Republican Party is ensuring that America as we have known it is properly embalmed, ensuring that wealth remains in the hands of the descendants of those who created/earned/bootlegged/stole it by repealing the Estate Tax at a time when deficits are already more than $300 billion annually. Instead of libetine free speech we have free speech zones, as if they never read Washington's words: "If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." Moreover, The Republican Party is doing its best to ensure that the huddled masses yearning to breathe free breathe somewhere other than in America with their Immigration Reform legislation. They are slamming the golden door shut in the face of the wretched refuse, the homeless and tempest-tossed.

This is not the America that I read about in school. This is not the America that I was taught to respect in the Boy Scouts. This is not the America that we have proclaimed ourselves to be throughout the 20th and 21st Centuries. This is not America, it's the British Empire of yore. It's the Spanish Empire before it, and the Ottoman Empire before it, and the Holy Roman Empire before it, and Rome before it, on back to the Persians, Babylonians and Assyrians before them. Have we defeated the Evil Empire only to become the Evil Empire? Has America indeed become what the ayatollahs have called America – the Great Satan?

The Great Experiment has failed.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 5:30 PM :: (0) minds freed

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Word For The Week

There are some things in life that never change, and one of those things is that the bearer of bad tidings too often gets the blame. I am fascinated at how some people will get mad at the weather man when he says that it is going to rain - he didn't create low pressure system centered at the intersection of a warm mass of air and a cold mass of air (never thought I'd have a use for that God-forsaken Thermodynamics class in undergrad), yet the weather man often gets the blame for delivering the message. Had he failed to do his duty and people planned picnics and parades on that day which subsequently got rained-out then he truly would have been at fault, but in delivering the news - unpleasant as it may be to picnic planners, pleasing though it may be to home-owners with parched lawns - he did his duty.

So it is with the ministry of reconciliation that God has given to everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian - we have to tell people about the good news of Jesus Christ, but that good news includes the bad news of their current state outside of Christ. Many people today take the perspective of Evillene, singing, "Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News!" They have no problem with killing the messenger, keeping the messenger at an arm's length, or ostracizing the messenger when the message itself is intended to benefit those to whom the message is delivered. People act like they won't be affected by the content of the message if they just don't hear the message, so they gather around themselves people who will whisper sweet nothings in their ears, people who will affirm those things that they already believe, people who will go along to get along.

"It's a slam dunk."

"We'll be greeted as liberators."

"Mission Accomplished."

It comes as no surprise that people will seek out advisors and messengers that tell them what they want to hear, messengers who will tell them that which makes them feel good, but that which is good to them may not be good for them. It might make a patient feel good to hear it said that they don't have cancer, but if it's not true then they will soon find themselves in a world of hurt as the cancer becomes inoperable due to earlier inaction. It might make a client feel good to hear it said that they will not be charged for their crimes, but if it's not true then they will indeed come face-to-face with a judge and they will indeed have to answer for their crimes. It might make people feel good to hear it said that there is no God, to hear it said that if there is a God then He's the kinder, gentler, grandfatherly kind of god that would never say a disparaging word about you, let alone sit in judgement of you, but if it's not true then there's going to be a payday someday. The messenger simply says, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

Don't kill the messenger.

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants you to receive the message,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 11:00 AM :: (1) minds freed

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Saturday Comics

Return To Sender
Indecent Exposure
What 1st Amendment?
Me! Now!
Speck --> Log
Massacred Quagmire
Mai Lai
Tortured Logic
Hearts And Minds
West Side, Nigga!
Culprit In Chief
Naked Truth
Deep In The Heart Of Texas
Buyer's Remorse
Dearth Of Leadership
Pottery Barn Rule
GOPigs
1000 mg Prozac, Stat!
FU EU/UN
Exercise In Futility
Under His Belt

And my favorite for today is actually a rerun from several years ago, what with all the buzz about the Bush-Rice tryst the past couple days: Devil In A Blue Stained Dress



And from back in the day (jacked from The Humanity Critic):

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 2:00 AM :: (0) minds freed

Friday, June 02, 2006

And Civil Unions For All

Here we go again.

The Republicans can no longer unify their base with "The niggers are coming!" - at least, not overtly - and their attempt at motivating their base with "The spics are coming!" blew up in their face. What does that leave them? "The faggots are coming!"



And they have the audacity to ask me why I'm not a Republican.

As my boy Dave has pointed out on a few occasions, it is entirely the fault of the Republican Party that I am not a Republican. On social issues I'm actually right of most Republicans, and on foreign policy I'm an old-fashioned American isolationist - let folks o'er yonder take care of them folks o'er yonder, we've got enough problems right here that require our blood, sweat and tears. On economic and meta-political issues I'm a populist, a position that once was popular with Teddy Roosevelt's Trust-busting GOP. By all rights I ought to be a Republican, but the hatred that is perpetually expressed and nurtured by the Republican Party runs contrary to my belief system such that I can in no ways be associated with them.

Let me explain.

I believe homosexuality is an abomination before God, immoral in its essence and sinful in its substance. If the question is whether or not I support homosexual marriage then the obvious answer is "No" - I don't support homosexual anything as I will not endorse sinful lifestyles, be that homosexuality, adultery, theft, murder, lying, gluttony, etc. That said, as much as I oppose the "homosexual agenda" I all the more oppose those who would stir up hatred against homosexuals for two reasons. First, it's just plain wrong - ungodliness in service of noble ends sullies the results of those wicked means. Second, it is self-defeating when one understands the nature of the fight - by attacking homosexuals the Right keeps homosexuality in the public discourse, familiarizing people with homosexuality in a way similar to how prolonged and repeated exposure to violent images familiarizes and desensitizes people to violence. For these reasons alone the Republican folly in the Senate should be ceased immediately.

But there's more.

The government - federal, state, or municipal - has no business in the marriage business in the first place, and limited-government Republicans should be the first ones to make this argument. Who lives with whom is not the business of the state. Who does whom and how is not the business of the state. What you choose to call the one or ones you love is not the business of the state, to affirm or to deny. The only interest that the state should have in the interpersonal relations between consenting citizens of the state is in the merging of personal property, which is all that a marriage certificate really is - two sole-proprietorships merging into one entity. As such, the nature of the proprietorships should have nothing to do with their merger, save any antitrust rules that may apply. Likewise, it should not matter to the state if three or more proprietorships choose to merge into a single entity. From the state's point of view it should be nothing more than a matter of assigning a tax identification number, not an issue of morality inasmuch as taxes are (relatively) amoral. Folks want to pool their resources? More power to them. What they do behind closed doors? Their business and their business alone - the state need not affirm or reject it because it in no ways pertains to the state.

Now if you ask me what I think or if you share your preferences with me then I'll certainly share with you my contempt for that lifestyle, but the state has no interest in your lifestyle or mine - it's not a matter of state.

What's more is that the state involving itself in marriage defies the Biblical norm. Neither the governments of the northern kingdom of Israel nor the southern kingdom of Judah was involved in the marriages of their citizens - marriage were purely the purview of the family. The unified kingdom of Israel was never involved in marriages - marriage was purely the purview of the family. Even in the pre-Saul Israelite theocracy the government, such as it was, was never involved in the marriage of its citizens - marriage was purely the purview of the family. So if the Biblical model of marriage - from "In the beginning" to "Amen" - is of marriage being purely the purview of the family, then how is it that those who claim to support family values and claim to believe in the Bible blatantly defy the Biblical norm by acceding to the secular practice of state-sponsored marriage?

I can not be party to that.

I will not be party to that.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 5:45 PM :: (3) minds freed

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tag, You're It

Taking a break from the serious stuff for a minute, I have been tagged by my boy DP (I'm the Best Man in his soon-coming wedding) so I am now tagging all of you who read this - you know the drill. Some of the questions have been modified from their original wording in order to minimize the impact on the more sensitive reader, while others have been omitted altogether. On the omitted questions I agree with Dave completely.
  1. If you could be doing what you really want to be doing for a living, what would it be?
    Full-time, vocational ministry. Here is an extract of a soon-coming book that I hope to publish on how a church ought to operate - The Church That Makes A Difference

  2. If you could slap the snot out of any famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?
    Adam. Ain't it obvious?

  3. What's the dumbest decision you've made in the past 5 years?
    Deciding to work full-time while trying to finish my MDiv. I'm still working on that MDiv...

  4. Give up one for a year: (good) sex or (good) music.
    This one is easy - the one I haven't had in several years...

  5. See Dave's response.

  6. So you've been invited to an all expense paid Bloggers' Ball in The Bahamas. You're sitting at the bar on the beach. Which blogger do you want to join you for hours of good convo?
    In a world-wide web of introverts I'm still fairly introverted so I'm not as familiar with everyone in Black Blogland, but Saga and I could probably talk .NET, XML and Java for a few hours.

  7. Which blogger would you most like to cuddle with on the beach? (and don't defer to your current signif other either. Infidelity won't count against you. Duh.)
    There is this writer in Maryland with whom I would definitely enjoy cuddling, but I don't think that she has a blog and I don't think that she comments on blogs so she probably doesn't count toward this question. Besides, she has made it abundantly clear that she has no intention of ever finding herself cuddled with me - not on a beach, not eating a peach, not here or there or anywhere. She would not, could not, in the dark; she would not, could not, on a lark. She will not get with me, 'tis true. Unrequited love, I rue.

  8. You're going on a 5 hour road trip...which 5 CDs do you bring?
    My musical tastes are a bit eclectic:










  9. Would you rather bury your children young or have your children bury you young?
    No parent deserving of their children's affection would ever want to bury them.

  10. What's your biggest insecurity?
    Personal value. There is no limit to what I can do, so when it comes to personal ability I am self confident to a fault, some would even say arrogant. However, when it comes to personal worth, well, that's another matter entirely.

  11. What's the first blog you read every day...or however often you read them?
    The Rude Pundit, daily. He lives up to his name - he's irascibly rude and his punditry is poignant, making prescient points on a daily basis. Besides, I have a wicked sense of humor in every sense of the word and the Rude One's work is my guilty indulgence.

  12. When's the last time you peed your pants?
    Kindergarten, I think. I really don't remember.

  13. Which was better, your first kiss or your first pay check?
    Seeing how I can't distinctly remember either (kiss was in elementary school, paycheck was in high school) I'll call it a push.

  14. Do you have kids? Want kids?
    None yet, but when I find her (motif shamelessly jacked from Dave) I'd like to see Oscar III and Willie Edward II. I'm scared of the thought of having a daughter because I know that I'd be the overbearing, overprotective dad that keeps a shotgun hanging over the mantle and points it out to any potential suitor/playa/Punk A kid who thinks he's about to deflower my daughter. Like I said, here's hoping for boys...

  15. See Dave's response

  16. Live the rest of your life without your eyebrows or your fingernails?
    86 the hair in a heartbeat.

  17. What makes you angry?
    Willful ignorance
    Depraved indifference
    Malicious intentions

  18. What makes you horny?
    A slight breeze...

  19. What makes you nervous?
    George W. Bush

  20. What makes you smile?
    Physical touch
    Quality time
    Acts of service
    Words of Affirmation from those who read my writing
So, what about you? Post your response in the comments or post on your blog and link to it here in the comments.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 6:15 PM :: (3) minds freed

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