Friday Night Music: The Wild Night Variations

I worked retail filling in for a friend this week. Classic rock radio was played; some of it is pretty good, some of it cringeworthy. I hereby confess that I’m burnt out on Brown Eyed Girl  and think they  should change Van Morrison tunes and play Wild Night. Big hit, great tune. Here are 3 versions including John Mellencamp’s wonderful 1994 cover version.

First, the original 1971 single:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bskWG5vzhjU

Continue reading

Smells Like School Spirit

My friend Cait graduated from Florida State and remains a fanatical, crazed, die-hard Seminole fan. She even does the tomahawk chop and I’m glad she does because I mock her relentlessly about it. Anyone surprised? I thought not. People line up to be mocked by me, I’m the poor man’s Rickles or a less rotund Fat Jack E. Leonard. That’s why they call me Shecky.

Now where the hell was I? Oh yeah, Cait posted a link to a company that’s offering University related scent, cologne,  fragrance, or whatever the hell you want to call it. She, of course, posted about the Florida State one, but I’m an LSU grad so here’s the Tigerlicious icon:

Masik University Of LSU

Continue reading

Ice, Ice, Dummy: Important L.A. Times Columnist Tells Us What Isn’t Important Enough For Us

With the advent of social media, things that were once localized efforts can become a national event in a hurry. This is especially true when good deeds or charitable works come into play, such as the #biebsmeetaly campaign I wrote about several years ago. People all over the globe rallied so that one 19-year-old cancer victim from McFarland, Wisconsin could meet the Biebs.

With the need to write more and more frequently, columnists often run out of ideas upon which they can speak coherently and authoritatively. In most of those cases, columnists who run out of ideas usually like to “zig” while everyone else “zags.” This leads to the “I’m not saying… but I’m just saying…” columns that put these writers on the less-popular side of everything from police brutality to women are too pretty to get tattoos.

When these two things intersect, you get columns like Michael Hiltzik’s look at the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Dumb, meet ass.

Hiltzik argues that not only is the challenge a bad idea, because it invariably brings attention to people who DIDN’T donate money to help combat this degenerative illness, but the illness isn’t really worth as much as other fine devastating illnesses.

 

Let’s stipulate that ALS is a devastating condition for those who have it. It’s almost invariably fatal, with most victims living two to five years after symptoms first appear, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers are still struggling to understand it.

But ALS is also a rare disease, which is defined by the federal Rare Diseases Act of 2002 as one affecting fewer than 200,000 patients nationwide. The CDC estimates the prevalence of ALS in the U.S. at any one time at about 12,000 persons. The ALS Association says 30,000, but hasn’t responded to my inquiry about the discrepancy.

 

First, glad you’re on board with the whole “this disease is bad” thing. I’m sure the people suffering with ALS are glad they have your blessing for the “devastating” nature of their condition.

Second and more importantly, look at your own math. If people live only two to five years after discovering they have ALS, it’s no wonder it’s a “rare” disease. You can’t live long enough to keep building that “base” of sufferers to help push that number up to something you find more socially acceptable and worthy of your support.

Third, here’s a thought.

And then Hiltzik’s band played on…

Stunt philanthropy like the ice bucket challenge doesn’t accommodate such distinctions and comparisons–it just feeds whatever charity hits on a catchy device and treats all causes as essentially equivalent, distinguished only by their momentary claim on public attention. The result is that “the most successful charities will be those that are best at soliciting funds, not those that are best at making the world a better place,” as the British philanthropic organizer William MacAskill puts it.

 

This is called “marketing” and it’s something that all organizations do. Public relations practitioners, advertising executives and marketing organizations all seek to distinguish their causes, products and organizations from all the others. When they manage to hit on a “catchy device” that does this, it’s called being successful. Even more, despite your best attempt to make your point sound noble by quoting a British philanthropic organizer, his hating on the ice-bucket challenge isn’t purely altruistic either.

His group, “Giving What We Can,” is a group seeking donations (despite their “we don’t want your money” claim) that it will then donate to the “most effective charities” in hopes of doing some good. I’m not going to bash his group, but I will say when a Ford sales guy starts knocking a Chevy, I’m a little more suspicious of his motives.

 

One concern of philanthropy experts is that high-profile fundraising campaigns like this might cannibalize other donations–those inclined to donate $100 to charity this summer, or this year, will judge that they’ve met their social obligations by spending the money on ALS. (See this piece by MacAskill for an explanation.)

 

The only expert he quotes is the aforementioned MacAskill, who we’ve dealt with already. Even more, this only argues about those INCLINED to donate as opposed to others who might NOT have been inclined to donate. Sure, if my charitable giving is limited, I’m only giving X dollars to one group and whoever gets it wins. First, that’s where this whole “marketing” thing comes in. Second, many more people don’t give than do give when it comes to charity. Thus, if they’re getting stoked to pony up, that’s additional cash. The cannibalism argument could be made about anything. If I buy Diet Coke, I’m not buying Diet Pepsi. If I take my kid to the Brewers game, I’m not taking her to the zoo. If I serve on the board of one group, I don’t serve on the board of another group. Calling it “cannibalism” sounds a lot scarier than “making choices.”

 

So, sure. You want to contribute to the fight against ALS, great. But if you’re doing it just because you saw or heard about Bill Gates, Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake or Ethel Kennedy dumping ice water on their head, maybe you should give a bit more thought to where you donate your money.

 

OK, thanks, Dad.

“You can do whatever you want do, BUT…” Could we be a little more patronizing?

Newsflash for Mr. Hiltzik: Despite your job at the L.A. Times and a wonderful mustache that just screams “I am obviously an authority on everything,” you don’t get to pick and choose what people think is important for the moment. If people want to donate or not donate, that’s their choice, regardless of how they decided to get there. Calling people out for not choosing what you deem to be the most “noble” of causes just smacks of arrogance. It’s also a great way to freeze altruism by making people question themselves for no good reason.

Donate to help feed kids in Africa? Don’t do that! We have hungry kids here!

Donate to cancer research? Don’t do that! AIDS is a deadlier disease with no cure!

Donate to an animal rescue operation? Don’t do that! We have homeless kids all over the place! Why should animals be treated better than humans?

This can become exhausting and most people will just say, “To hell with it” and go back to watching Dr. Phil.

So here’s the deal: I’m calling you out.

I challenge you to admit you were an overstepping blowhard, who just had some space to fill on the Internet. I challenge you to at least acknowledge that this was not your finest journalism hour and that in the future, if you don’t have something worth saying, you’ll write a story about a dog named “Pooch” that barks at trees or something. Say you’ll do ANYTHING instead of doing the “anti-trend” bit that makes you sound like a grumpy bastard yelling at kids to get off his lawn.

If you do this within 48 hours (double the ice-bucket challenge time), I will go all ice-bucket for whatever charity you want. Pick the most noble and worthy thing you can think of. I don’t even care if I believe in it personally or if it offends my sensibilities as a journalist or a human being.

Ice plus $50, coming right up. I’ll also donate the $10 or whatever the going “dunkage” rate is to the ALS charity folks for being good at their job.

Post your response here, tweet it, whatever. Readers can call this guy out as well:

@hiltzikm

or

 

The ball is in your court. The ice is waiting in my bucket.

The Biden Defense?

Hint: it has nothing to do with aviator shades, commuter trains, Robert Bork, or Neil Kinnock:

A prosecutor said he plans to dismiss a firearms charge against the Washington state man who said he just “did what Joe Biden told me to do” when he fired a shotgun to scare off what he thought were car burglars, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik said that Jeffrey C. Barton will instead face a charge of obstructing a police officer. A trial for Barton is scheduled for October.

Barton has acknowledged that he fired the gun in July 2013 to deter three men he thought were breaking into cars in Vancouver, Wash. His unorthodox defense came from the vice president’s comments on firearms during a 2013 town hall, when Biden told a questioner that he’d advised his wife, Jill, to “fire two blasts outside” from a double-barrel shotgun if she sensed any trouble at the family home.

I hope he didn’t hit any birds when he shot into the air; at least I hope that’s where he fired.

Notice that the guy still faces other charges. I don’t think Joey the Shark ever advised interfering with the police.

This gives a whole new meaning to the term shark week. Yeah, I know, it’s over but it’s always snark week here at First Draft.

That is all.

Friday Catblogging: Table Boy

Oscar has a new spot this summer. He, too, has summertime ennui. It’s called being a cat:

Oscar Table Boy

What’s To Be Done After

Let’s start here: 

A 2012 report from University of Missouri–St. Louis criminologist David Klinger found that, from 2008 to 2011, St. Louis police officers fired their weapons 98 times. “Any comparison across cities right now is still missing the lion’s share of circumstances in which people are shot by the police,” Klinger saidto the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “There are only a smattering of cities that report their officer-involved shootings, and when compared against them, St. Louis is on the high end.” The data on police violence is incomplete, as there is no federal effort to pull together information on unjustified homicides.

Well, I think first of all, we should be mandating that cops keep track of how many times they shoot someone to death. The next step of course would be to get them to shoot people to death less often but let’s be generous. Baby steps. Find out how many people they shoot to death now.

As of 2010, 42 years after Congress passed the Fair Housing Act, greater St. Louis was one of the most segregated areas in the United States. And segregation comes with a familiar set of problems. Middle-class neighborhoods—and thus middle-class services—are few and far between, with most wealth concentrated in the farther, whiter reaches of the county.

Politicians love to promote racial healing and equality by holding come-together sessions in churches and eating dinner with leaders from various communities and whatnot. You know what they don’t like doing? Talking about building inspections and street-sweeping schedules.

But when you think about a “ghetto,” what do you think about? Boarded up houses, vacant storefronts, cracked sidewalks, gutters that haven’t been cleaned in months and Cheeto wrappers clogging up the sewer drains. You think of trash-strewn lots with rusted fences and graffiti on train platforms.

You know what keeps that stuff in check? Code enforcement. Requiring landlords to maintain property standards. Crackdowns on absentee ownership of apartment buildings and violations of occupancy limits.

That kind of investment is hard  and it is expensive and it is boring and nobody wants to talk about it because it doesn’t come with a photo-op of smiling children learning to crochet or whatever, but it does more to improve the reputation of a community than a thousand listening sessions.

Double the number of building inspections in a city and people will start to understand that that city cares about how they live.

Moreover, as New School professor (and former St. Louis politician) Jeff Smith explained for the New York Times, overwhelmingly white labor organizations and other groups run effective get-out-the-vote operations, which bring thousands of voters to low-turnout elections and ensure white dominance in local political bodies. It also helps that area municipal elections are held in the spring, on off years, a Progressive-era election reform that dramatically lowers turnout. In the 2012 presidential elections, turnout for Ferguson blacks was 54 percent. The next year, in municipal elections, turnout had dropped to 6 percent.

Voter registration drives have already started and need boosting and money. It would behoove the national party not currently quoting George Wallace to take what it normally blows on lunch and send it to the chapter office nearest Ferguson. Possibly some interns as well.

Next.

Soon enough, demonstrators will be chanting the name of another young black man killed by another agent of the state charged with containing blacks, not protecting them.

Which is a harder nut to crack, since “keep them over there” is practically our national motto.

A.

Thursday Night Music: Hot Hot Hot

Here’s David Johansen of the New York Dolls in character as the ultimate lounge lizard, Buster Poindexter:

Summertime Ennui

It’s been the hottest week of the year in New Orleans. People are sweaty, tempers are short, and people with guns are putting them to use. There was a brief freak out over an itty bitty eenie weenie system in the Atlantic by those who enjoy freaking out during Hurricane season. I do not.

In short, between the heat and the drumbeat of horrendous news, I have not felt like writing as much as usual. Of course, every time I say something like that I become a prolific motherfucker, so we shall see.

There is, however, one piece of good news. The two American do-gooders who were flown home suffering from Ebola have been released from the hospital. That should ease the freak out ever so slightly, at least I hope so. Yo, Donald Trump zip it and STFU. You feel me, dickweed?

I’ll close with a message cautioning you against ennui:

front

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Too Many Cooks

This week we have the rare chance to see a scan of the front *and* back covers of a crime fiction classic.

Stout-TMC-3

 

Maybe 9/11 DID Change Some Things….

From Album 5

Well…I guess it’s a change of sorts when police officers now OPENLY admit their rule of thumb is “do-exactly-as-I-say-if-you-don’t-want-to-get-hurt”…but I can’t help thinking that after a decade or so into give war a chance about the only thing we can show for it is…more of the same, both at home and abroad…with the added “bonus” that it’s kind of a new normal…

Which history’s shown doesn’t always end so well…

Here Be Dragons

This is what the world is like, under its skin: 

We avoid the structure. We avoid the system. We avoid the sort of continued neglect of poor people of color all across this country. And then, obviously, the police don’t live in the community with the people. The police don’t know the people. The Kerner Commission noticed this in 1968, that part of the problem was the police did not have a real relationship with the community, a trusting relationship with the community. The black community tends to be overpoliced and unprotected.

This is what people see every day, and our pampered national press pretends to be shocked because this is AMERICA:

“Gun raised, gun raised and pointed,” a protestor shouts out, alerting others as the officer approaches closer.

“My hands are up,” another protestor says.

“I will fucking kill you, get back!” the officer shouts.

Another protestor asks for the officer to identify himself.

“What’s your name, sir?” he asks.

“Go fuck yourself,” the officer replies.

People who’ve never explored a city and its inner suburbs, who have no concept of the force fear exerts on economics (and economics exerts on fear), are surprised by what has happened in Ferguson. People who never venture from their homes, who talk about “good” and “bad” parts of town, who think they can identify either one by the quality of the gas stations and the color of those filling up their cars, they’re surprised that America is like this.

That the cops are angry and put-upon and deeply stupid, and think of those they’re sworn to protect as “fucking animals.” That they’d shoot first because hey, it’s not like it actually matters, the life of the person in front of them. That they’d treat anyone asking them questions about it with what contempt scrapes off the bottoms of its shoes.

The shock and horror is beneath us. This is the world we’ve created. This is the country we live in.

Poor neighborhoods, working class suburbs, enclaves of mostly minority citizens mostly just getting by. There are these places we’ve decided to forget about. The places our media has decided to forget about. They’re talked about with the outsider as the default. Here’s an app to avoid these places. Here’s the line you don’t dare cross. “You,” the audience, being presumed to be outside the barrier. In the safe zone, as if anywhere is safe.

People don’t live in these places, according to our story. People don’t have to worry about living there. You have to worry about going there. Accidentally, as if you erred in navigation, and wandered off the map.

These places don’t exist, except for blank spaces, where be dragons.

I spent several months working in a town not unlike Ferguson a few years back. I got lost my first day there, and panicked when I rolled through a stop sign, only to sigh in relief when I remembered: This place had no police force, so nobody was worried about my traffic violations. I spent weeks in the schools there, and I’ll never forget the face of the 8-year-old who told me that he knew that people in other towns thought he and his classmates were stupid.

Eight years old. He already knew the score.

Thus we can have the narrative that Rudy Giuliani fixed New York City, and Richard Daley saved Chicago, by rousting panhandlers and putting up wrought iron in the tourist districts where the buses stop. Thus we have the story that goes, “… but this is such a nice community” when someone rich and white gets killed, and “… what did they expect, living there?” when the victim is poor and black.

Our garbage is picked up and our potholes are filled and we drive through the other places, if we have to, with our doors locked, shaking our heads at the litter and cracks in the sidewalk, and then putting them out of our heads.

These are the places we don’t think about until they explode.

A.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Pretzel Logic

I’ve largely steered clear of photographic album covers thus far. Most of them feature rather pedestrian pictures of a band trying to look wicked awesome and are of dubious artistic merit. Raeanne Rubenstein‘s Pretzel Logic cover is an exception to that rule. My favorite bit is the sign whereon pretzel is misspelled. It’s an apt visualization of Becker and Fagen’s mordant and sardonic wit. They were snarky before the word existed.

Musically, Pretzel Logic saw Becker and Fagen drop their original band mates in favor of working with killer session musicians. They were predominantly a studio band until reuniting in the mid-1990’s The title track is perhaps my favorite Steely Dan numbah.

steely-dan-pretzel-logic-big

Continue reading

Feed Ferguson

While I’ve been following the events of Ferguson as closely as I can from three states away, I haven’t felt like my white ass has had a lot to add on the subject.

Clearly I’m speaking up today, but I’ll still just keep this short and to the point:

As the world watches the events unfolding in Ferguson, many people have thought “how can I help?”. As a public school teacher, my first thought is always about the children involved in any tragic situation like this. When I found out school had been canceled for several days as a result of the civil unrest, I immediately became worried for the students in households with food instability. Many children in the US eat their only meals of the day, breakfast and lunch, at school. With school out, kids are undoubtedly going hungry.

ALL OF THIS MONEY WILL GO TO FEED KIDS IN FERGUSON. A dollar or a hundred dollars, it doesn’t matter. You will be helping to put food in the mouth of a child who needs it. Regardless of your opinion on the civil unrest in Ferguson, there is no need for innocent children to go hungry because of it.

There’s only a day left in the fundly campaign, which started with a goal of $20K and as of this writing is over $125K. These kids aren’t going to be starting class until next Monday at the earliest. Let’s make sure they’re not going hungry in the meantime.

(Additionally, if you’re in the St. Louis area and want to volunteer, contact the Food Bank directly.)

NOLA Notes: Magazine Bus Story

For the uninitiated, Magazine Street is one of the main drags of Uptown New Orleans. I live a block away and take the Magazine bus when I need to make like Petula Clark and go downtown.

Yesterday, I was riding the bus and a grizzled, bedraggled and downright drunk man rolled out of Ms. Mae’s bar and onto the bus at Napoleon Avenue. He’d been there all night and was clearly feeling no pain. He began flirting with a well-dressed and very pretty redhead who works in a boutique in the Quarter. He leaned forward and muttered something in her ear. She promptly slapped him and he said: “Thanks, baby.”

The driver asked the feisty redhead if she needed help. She did not. The bus rolled on without further incident. I was mystified but had a theory, which was confirmed.

This morning, I chatted up the aforementioned redhead and asked what the drunk had said to her. “He asked me to slap him to help him sober up for work. So I did.”

What a thoughtful young lady. That’s life in the big city. She-do-be.

Time for the obligatory bus song:

Your problems are nothing

Charlie, trying to be patient: 

If Obama’s speeches aren’t as dramatic as they used to be, this is why: the White House                   believes a presidential speech on a politically charged topic is as likely to make things worse as to make things better. It is as likely to infuriate conservatives as it is to inspire liberals.

[snip]

Weariness in a president is understandable. It’s the worst job in the world. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that I should never vote for anyone who campaigns for the office because they are either power-mad or insane. But weariness in a president can be dangerous. Vietnam — and the national upheaval it occasioned — nearly killed LBJ. Nixon was eaten alive by Watergate. Reagan was a symptomatic Alzheimer’s patient for most of his second term. Lincoln once said that he felt like “the tiredest man on earth.” But, even at the end of their respective ropes, LBJ got a gun-control law passed, and Nixon increased the minimum wage, and Reagan managed to work with Gorbachev, and Lincoln managed to win the Civil War. The president can say anything he wants now. He will never run for re-election again. His opponents are going to screech like ravens on meth no matter what he says. Weary or not, he should take a tip from Ron Johnson and walk his beat again tonight.

I’m out of patience. The fucking earth is caving in, and you can’t bestir yourself because, what, the angry race warrior thing again? The midterms? How this is going to LOOK? How about how it is? How about the dead kid lying in the street for hours, Mr. President? A politically charged topic? Are you kidding me with this bullshit?

This isn’t a politically charged topic. It’s a dead kid in the street. It’s a police force that really thought “bring it you fucking animals” was their FIRST BEST OPTION. It’s arresting reporters and tear-gassing protesters and fencing off a place where people were assembling and petitioning their government for a redress of grievances. It’s a culture that says black men are better off met with bullets first and questions later.

It’s not a politically charged topic. It’s fucking American lives.

This isn’t about inspiring liberals or inflaming conservatives. Those are just these abstract Beltway media whore … Fucking hell. At some point we all decided that nothing that is happening is real, that nothing we can do is going to affect anything, that Both Sides Do It, that it’s all just too hard, and that anyway what did you expect? At some point we stopped expecting our leaders to lead because fear of some asshole on TV saying something mean was taken as an actual excuse to suck, no matter what was really going on in the world.

There’s an American city burning down and there’s a country rotting from the inside out and somebody’s counseling the president that there’s no upside to showing up for work today? There’s no upside to, just for example, hopping in the giant plane he controls, getting his ass down to St. Louis, and convening a “fuck you summit” on the rights of protesters and reporters and the apparent need of local cops to pretend they’re Chuck Goddamn Norris? No upside?

How about he can look himself in the mirror for the rest of his life? How’s that for a goddamn upside? I swear to you all, there are things you do or you risk your immortal soul. There are things you do or you spend the rest of your life, you spend every waking hour, making up for not doing them, and it’s not about politically charged topics. It’s about you being able to live with your actions and stare down the barrel of them at three in the morning. You’re going to tell me the president is fucking tired now?

How tired will he be contemplating what he could have done, and didn’t?

And most importantly, how tired is Michael Brown’s mother right now?

Weariness in a president is only understandable, only permissible, on the understanding that if the president is weary that means many, many other people are wearier. And those are the people that have it rough. Those are the people who need championing. Those are the people whose voices need to be amplified and recognized. Those are the people whose upside need to be considered.

A.

blogger ethics panel: ferguson edition

CNN, you need to take a goddamn nap: 

The problem with “Josie’s” story, however, is that it closely resembles a Facebook post supposedly written by Darren Wilson, telling his side of the story. A CNN producer eventuallydebunked the post as fake.

With no scheduled press conferences with Ferguson police on Monday, and Wilson himself having gone AWOL, national media turned back to Loesch’s interview. To litigate Brown’s shooting in the court of public opinion, national outlets like CNN have started using “Josie’s” story to represent Wilson’s point of view.

“Source w/detailed knowledge of investigation into shooting tells CNN account of caller to KTFK matches account of Officer Darren Wilson,” CNN anchor Jake Tapper tweeted on Monday.

According to CNN host Don Lemon, “a source with detailed knowledge of the investigation … says that the account of a caller to St. Louis radio station KTFK matches the account of officer Darren Wilson as to what happened at the time of the shooting.”

So, ironically, CNN is now taking as fact an account that is essentially the same story it already debunked.

Yeah. Let’s take Dana “urinating on corpses is awesome” Loesch at her word here. Let’s listen to everything that woman puts on the air. Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket. Once upon a time I remember when our most pressing issue was controlling those unruly bloggers who spread false information “like wildfire on the Internet.”

Maybe we should have concentrated on the 24-Hour News Network Ethics Panel instead.

A.

We Need to Talk about what we keep talking about

Jesus tits: 

WSJ’s Riley: “We Need To Talk About Black Criminality.” Appearing on the August 17 edition of NBC’sMeet the PressThe Wall Street Journal‘s Jason Riley discussed the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson by saying: “Let’s not pretend that our morgues and cemeteries are full of young black men because cops are shooting them. The reality is that it’s because other black people are shooting them.” Riley went on to assert that “we need to talk about black criminality” because blacks make up “50 percent of homicide victims in this country, and 90 percent of those victims are killed by other black people.”

Yeah, and every time somebody tries to discuss the roots of poverty and violence that lead to young black men killing each other, y’all lose your goddamn minds.

A.

Arcane Phrase Of The Week: What Would Cagney Say?

MPW-64301

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All roads on this feature seem to lead to Jimmy Cagney. I vacillate between thinking of Cagney or  Bogart as my favorite male star of the Hollywood Golden Age. Both could sling slang with the best of them and both used this week’s phrase:

Make it snappy.

Usage: Get me a beer, barkeep, and make it snappy.

This phrase is less obscure than some of the others I’ve trotted out and I think it’s a real winner. So, make it snappy and use it already.

Organized Protest Zone

‘kay: 

Authorities are establishing an “organized protest zone” at Ferguson Road and West Florissant Avenue, St. Louis County police said. West Florissant was being closed to traffic. Authorities said the media would have access through road blocks.

Shortly after media were told of the “organized protest zone,” authorities began setting up concrete highway barriers at checkpoints near the protest zone.

We used to have one of those called the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, but that’s just crazy talk. Can’t let people go protesting everywhere. Can’t let anybody just stand on the street and talk. Can’t have that.

We need to corral everyone into a carefully controlled area in which they can express their opinions. In which they can voice their thoughts. In which they can be heard, but not too loudly, and seen, but not too prominently. In which they can feel like they’re doing something, and in fact do nothing at all.

This is, after all, the country in which the major political parties offer “free speech zones” at their national conventions. This is, after all, the country in which national media critique the clothing of the protesters while ignoring their words. This is the country of managed, created-for-tv displays, dueling press conferences, statements prepared in advance, questions e-mailed for pre-approval and canned response.

This is the country of giving you a little freedom, and making you feel lucky for that, so that you don’t ask for more. So that you don’t ask for what you’re owed. So that you don’t ask for what is inalienable, what is endowed by the Creator, what is your right.

A.

Black people don’t understand the system

STOP HELPING, WHITE PEOPLE: 

When asked why the pro-Wilson rally didn’t have many African-American attendees, John Newshaw, a retired St. Louis County police officer, said, “This sounds wrong, but I don’t think the black community understands the system. Again, there’s a process. They’re screaming about, why isn’t he [Wilson] arrested, why isn’t he in jail? Well, without the investigation being done, you can’t go and apply for a warrant.”

[snip]

“They’re going to keep pushing the envelope,” he said of demonstrators who’ve gotten violent during protests in Ferguson. “There’s no reason to stop. … It’s as simple as training your dog. If you don’t tell them stop biting, guess what, he’s going to continue to bite.”

Covering ourselves in glory, my race is, these days.

A.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,728 other followers