Category Archives: Race

Color Blindness

I remember the first time Kick directly identified someone’s race. It wasn’t long ago. I’d waved to a neighbor through the window while we were having breakfast and she asked who I was waving at.

“Mr. M-, honey. He’s out in his yard.”

She turned, waved to him, and asked, “He’s a black man, right?”

“Right,” I said, trying to within three seconds identify if her intonation implied she thought this was a negative, something to be afraid of, something to mock, that would need to be corrected. It sounded neutral, a descriptive, the way she’d say the baby next door was a boy or Grandma has brown hair.

She’s been around families of any number of races and ethnic backgrounds since she was born, and while she’d noticed differences — that man is tall, that woman has curly hair — she’d never before asked if someone was black or Hispanic or Asian. We’ve read books about Rosa Parks and Ella Fitzgerald and Maya Angelou, about Frida Kahlo, and most recent children’s books include depictions of children of color, though fewer of them as protagonists than they should.

It’s not enough that she has a diverse environment and lives and learns with students of all races, when in our house we’re all so Caucasian as to be nearly transparent. There are still conversations to be had, about why Rosa Parks couldn’t sit at the front of the bus, or why people were mean to Maya Angelou, or what we are protesting next Saturday, or what someone down the street said to someone else.

White parents don’t get to be lazy about marking and honoring the differences between people, not when so many people use those differences to divide. Not when kids notice EVERYTHING, all the time, including how we talk about people of other races when we think they aren’t listening.

That morning, Kick was attacking her toaster waffle with gusto and I’m not sure was paying much attention to my subsequent explanation that Mr. M- has a skin color people call black even though it’s more of a dark brown, and we have a skin color people call white even though it’s more pink. By the time I got to the part about how skin color can be passed down in families sometimes but not always, she was off playing with My Little Ponies and I was basically lecturing to the cats. Race Conscious has good advice but it doesn’t always track with a 4-year-old’s attention span.

What talks do you remember having with your parents about race, and what did they tell you?

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: In The Still Of The Night

Contrasting Sounds by Wasilly Kandinsky.

It’s been an eventful week in New Orleans. The city celebrated its 300th anniversary and inaugurated our first woman mayor. I expressed my reservations about Mayor LaToya Cantrell on ye olde tweeter tube:

The slogans included “We are woke” and “We will be intentional.” I’m uncertain if that’s intentional grounding or an intentional walk. I dislike the latter baseball tactic as much as exclamation points. I still wish the new mayor well. Her propensity to mangle the language is good for the satire business, and there’s no business like giving a politician the business. I believe in taking care of business, every day, every way.

This week’s theme song, In The Still Of The Night, was written by Cole Porter in 1937 for the MGM movie musical, Rosalie. It was first sung by Nelson Eddy who was in a shit ton of hokey costume movie operettas with Jeanette MacDonald. I am not a fan of the duo but I am a die-hard Cole Porter fan as evinced by the frequent appearance of his work as Odds & Sods theme songs. I considered counting them but I’m feeling as lazy as the president* today. Where did all my executive time go?

We have two versions of the Porter classic for your entertainment. First, the elegant jazz-pop baritone Billy Eckstine aka the Voice of God.

Second, the Neville Brothers featuring some gorgeous sax playing by Charles Neville. He was an acquaintance of mine. Charles died recently at the age of 79. He was a lovely man with a kind word for everyone he met.

It’s time for a journey to Disambiguation City. Fred Parris wrote *his* In The Still Of The Night for his doo-wop group The Five Satins in 1956.

Yeah, I know, Boyz II Men also had a hit with the Parrisian song but I’m not going there. Instead, let’s jump to the break. Now where the hell did I put my parachute?

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You Could Just Ask

Jesus, my fellow white people:

You could just go up and ask, like hi there, you okay? (You could also know your neighbors, such that if you hear a weird noise or see an unfamiliar car you recognize the person behind it, but let’s take baby steps.) I know we’re all about to be raped and murdered by the slavering hordes at any moment, especially nice white ladies who answer to “the wife” at home, but is it completely radical to just speak to someone you don’t know?

Kick talks to every stranger she sees, including Thursday greeting two random high-school-ish boys walking down the street, who then dutifully admired the pile of dead grass she’d begun calling a “garden.” Every day I think to myself that we should start some kind of “stranger danger” talk, especially when she’s chatting up the train drunks, but every day I put it off. There’s so much more damage to be done from fear.

The state of police paranoia being what it is, calling the cops is not some kind of neutral act of precaution. Even if all you want is for someone to move along, if they’re drunk or yelly or just behaving strangely and you think they might need help, calling the cops is not the way to get it.

(Which is another problem, really, and one I’ve been trying to think through: If you can’t depend on the cops to handle a situation without wilding on someone who might be harmless, then you can’t really depend on the cops, can you?)

We white folks have steadily over the past 40 years taught ourselves that everyone who isn’t white is some kind of threat, and fed ourselves and our state this terrified weaponized idiocy until we can’t imagine someone can just exist around us. Be a person like we are. Say hi or respond to a question that maybe we should ask before dialing 911.

A.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: If He Hollers Let Him Go

The African-American writer Chester Himes is best known for his noirish crime fiction and books set in Harlem. If He Hollers Let Him Go was his first novel. It’s a racially charged story set in post-World War II Los Angeles.

I read it after reading an interview with Walter Mosley wherein he recommended the book. I kept waiting for Easy Rawlins to show up. He did not but it’s a good book even without Easy and Mouse.

If He Hollers Let Him Go was made into a movie in 1968.

Here’s the trailer:

The whole damn movie is available on the YouTube for now.

Saturday Odds & Sods: In The Mood

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

It’s crawfish season in New Orleans. I’m talking about eating, not catching them. I leave that to the experts. We went to our longtime boiled crawfish restaurant, Frankie & Johnny’s, with some friends from Richmond this week. Several of them were uncertain they’d like the mudbugs but they did. It may be hard work peeling them but it’s worth it. Mmm, berled crawfish.

We’re attending a benefit crawfish boil tomorrow. It’s in support of Team Gleason, a group dedicated to helping ALS patients and their families. It was founded by former Saints player Steve Gleason who has ALS but keeps on fighting the good fight. He’s a remarkable man and it’s a worthy cause. Plus, there’s crawfish and beer involved.

I’m in a swing mood this week so it’s time to break out some Glenn Miller. We have two versions for your musical amusement: Glenn Miller and his orchestra in the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade and the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s Gettin’ In The Mood with lyrics by Mike Himmelstein. The tune is the same. Oh yeah.

Now that I’ve got you Lindy Hopping, it’s time to jump to the break but try to do it on the beat.

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Why Is It Hard To Denounce Neo-Nazis?

It’s the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King in Memphis. Meanwhile the Tennessee lege is having a hard time passing something that *should* be an easy lift:

Twice this spring, lawmakers in the Tennessee Assembly have tried to promote resolutions condemning neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Both times those efforts have failed.

The second attempt was abandoned just this week, after a Republican lawmaker unsuccessfully tried to alter the motion’s language to make it more palatable to his caucus.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Rep. Ryan Williams’ resolution reworked one put forth by Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons, which died in mid-March after the three Republican members of a House subcommittee declined to offer motions to discuss it.

This smells like Trump’s “both sides” comments after Charlottesville. I rarely play the son of  a veteran whose brother was killed in action during World War II card, but there’s no time like the present. We went to war to fight the Nazis and passing a measure against their political descendants should be easy. Unless, that is, you’re a Republican who relies on white nationalist votes. Another reason to vote the fuckers out this fall.

The last word goes to John Legend:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Be Cruel

Two Flags by Jasper Johns.

I suspect you recognize the featured image. I’ve used it many times during government shutdowns; most notably in my epic America Held Hostage series in 2013. It’s nice to have some Jasper Johns flags about the virtual house to plug-in when the GOP next decides to shut the government down. If only they’d shut their fucking mouths…

Easter Sunday and April Fool’s Day coincide this year. I  expect more bunny related hoaxes than resurrection pranks. The pagan spring fertility thing is more palatable than what Easter means to believers. I’m not one but I like holidays to be straightforward. Now that I think of it, I’m surprised that the biblebangers have never banged on about a war on Easter. It’s bound to happen, they’re the whiniest people in the country. It’s probably why they like the Insult Comedian. It can’t be the hair.

This week’s theme song was written by Otis Blackwell in 1956. Don’t Be Cruel was originally the B-Side of Elvis’ Hound Dog 45 before becoming a hit in its own right. We have two versions of the Blackwell song for your listening pleasure. One from Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show, the other from Cheap Trick.

It’s time for Nick Lowe’s variation on the cruelty theme with Cruel To Be Kind on Live From Daryl’s House:

Now that we’ve declared our hostility to cruelty, let’s jump, jive, and wail to the break.

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The Red Stick Alton Sterling/Jeff Landry Blues

The news that Gret Stet Attorney General Jeff Landry declined to press charges against the Alton Sterling beatdown cops came as no surprise. The merits of the case had nothing to do with it even though Landry put on a show for the cameras.

Here’s my instant analysis:

Landry is a wildly ambitious politician with a gift for PR, not the law. He was elected to Congress in the Tea Party wave election of 2010 but lost his seat to redistricting. The only memorable moment of his tenure was when he waved a sign from the floor during a 2011 speech by President Obama:

Landry has spent his tenure as Attorney General picking fights with Governor John Bel Edwards even when his office didn’t have jurisdiction. He’s *that* kind of legal eagle. If he were in private practice, he’d volunteer to represent Trump for the headlines.

I’m glad that the Sterling family’s lawyers and advisers prepared them for this outcome: they expressed disappointment, not shock. This cake was baked long ago.

As to the Sterling case, there’s a chance the killer cops may get fired for violating departmental procedures. It’s not as satisfying as seeing them perp walking in orange jump suits, but it’s something.

As to Jeff Landry, if the wind is blowing in the right direction, he’ll challenge Edwards next year. But the Governor’s poll numbers are pretty good as of this writing, if that’s still the case Landry will run for re-election. He’d miss the cameras and attention that being AG brings his way. It’s all about politics, not the law.

I’ll give my friend Clancy DuBos the last word on Jeff Landry:

Earl Long used to scoff that if you wanted to hide something from then-Attorney General Jack Gremillion, put it in a law book. Today, Uncle Earl would surely say something similar about Louisiana AG Jeff Landry…

Lost Cause Festers Do Mardi Gras

Photograph via SPLC.

In the past, Carnival has united New Orleans. The first season after Katrina and the Federal Flood was both memorable and moving. Some outsiders criticized us for throwing a massive street party after a disaster but it’s what we do in the Crescent City. In 2018, divisiveness is in the air, driven by our old “pals” the Lost Causers.

A guy named Charles Marsala and his group Save NOLA Heritage (not to be confused with the tasty veal dish) are selling the “Forever Lee Circle” beads you see at the top of the post. They’ve set up a Facebook page to help hawk their divisive wares and mock their critics. Hawk-n-mock sounds vaguely Trumpian.  Since the only thing the Insult Comedian and I have in common is a fondness for nicknaming people, this Lost Causer will hereinafter be called Spoiled Veal Marsala.

Marsala spoke to WWL-TV the other day:

Marsala is a part of Save Nola Heritage, a group that wants to educate and demand more transparency from the city about what it does with public art, such as monuments.

“We spent the money from the bead sales, we put banners on the monument itself. Robert E. Lee’s birthday was about two weeks ago,” he said.

Marsala said the beads are not meant to be racist in any way. He wants them to serve as a reminder that Lee Circle still needs attention.

Spoiled Veal Marsala’s group is NOT about transparency. It’s about nostalgia for the Confederacy, Jim Crow, slavery, and white supremacy. Instead of banners, they should adorn the empty pedestals with nooses to “honor” the lynchings that used to be depressingly common in the Deep South.

Carnival throws in New Orleans have been traditionally non-commercial and relatively apolitical. Some parading krewes have already asked their members not to throw any of the Lee Circle Forever beads. I suspect they’ll turn up when some of the more retrograde krewes roll: I omit the names to protect the guilty.

Another weird feature of the Forever Lee Circle Facebook page is a cartoon of the three deposed statue dudes, Davis, Beauregard, and Lee, riding a float. They’re throwing books labelled history. I though the Lost Causers were about saving their view of history, not throwing it away.

It’s a pity that they don’t depict Jeff Davis in drag.

It’s no coincidence that Southern Lost Cause Festers have risen again with a white nationalist talking terlet in the White House. The Trumpers have signaled that bigotry, intolerance, and hatred are back in fashion. There are “good people on both sides,” according to the president*. Wrong again, Donny, baby. There’s the right side and the all-white side.

I said this about our Spank-a-Mole box earlier today:

Spank-a-Mole is a game of endurance wherein you beat the mole into submission. That’s what the anti-Trump resistance has to do: keep spanking the ugly orange mole.

That goes double for such enduring pests as racism, xenophobia, sexism, and religious bigotry. They have to beaten into submission. Every time we think we have the hate moles on the run, they pop up again. People of good will hoped that the election of our first black president would be the death knell of overt racism in the country. Our optimism was premature: haters keep popping up.

I’ve been pleased by the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the beads as well as to a fundraiser held at the Mid City Lane Rock ‘n’ Bowl to raise money for local Lost Cause Festers. I hope touring acts will avoid playing that venue as its owner is an ardent Trumper and supporter of Save NOLA Heritage. Just say no to bigots.

The last word goes to John Boutte with his interpretation of Neil Young’s Southern Man:

 

Quote Of The Day: Radical MLK Edition

The MSM portrays Martin Luther King as a Civil Rights teddy bear when, in fact, he was a tough-minded man. He *was* pragmatic and believed in non-violent action BUT he was a more radical and polarizing figure in his day than the man from the “I have a dream” speech. He would not have accomplished so much if he hadn’t been a bad ass.

There are many good radical MLK quotes out there. This one fits our era quite well:

“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn. The reality of substantial investment to assist Negroes into the twentieth century, adjusting to Negro neighbors and genuine school integration, is still a nightmare for all too many white Americans…These are the deepest causes for contemporary abrasions between the races. Loose and easy language about equality, resonant resolutions about brotherhood fall pleasantly on the ear, but for the Negro there is a credibility gap he cannot overlook. He remembers that with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that the Negro has come far enough. Each step forward accents an ever-present tendency to backlash.”

— Where Do We Go From Here1967

In 2018, we’re experiencing a backlash to the election of our first black president even if the Current Occupant maintains that he’s “the least racist person you’ll ever meet.”

Yeah, right.

Shithead Says Shithole

Today on President’s* say the darndest things:

President Donald Trump on Thursday asked lawmakers why the United States allows people to immigrate “from shithole countries” like Haiti and African countries, the Washington Post reported.

The Washington Post reported, citing two unnamed sources briefed on Trump’s meeting with lawmakers, that Trump asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

According to the report, Trump made the remark in reference to Haiti and African countries, and then suggested the United States should allow more immigrants from countries like Norway instead. Trump met with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Wednesday.

The MSM is having the vapors right now over having to say shithole. That’s half the fun of this latest flow of rascist diarrhea from the Insult Comedian. We already knew that he hates people of color and thinks African is full of cannibals like in cheesy old B-movies. All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.

Past potty-mouthed presidents had the good sense not to curse in big meetings, and their staffs were loyal and did not leak stories wherein presidents used what the failing NYT would call “off-color language.” We didn’t know what a foul mouth Tricky Dick had until the White House Tapes were full of expletives deleted to my unexpurgated delight. Truman and LBJ were known to swear like sailors too. It’s not the language, it’s the unvarnished bigotry.

As to the Norwegian  comments.  (ICYMI, I’m half-Norwegian: my darling mother was one of them very white white people.) Has Trump ever had Norwegian food? Lutefisk and Pickled Herring should be banned from the country. Ack. Barf.

I think it’s time to have a cuisine test: only immigrants from countries with good food can be admitted. It’s one way to keep Nigel Farage from immigrating.

It’s just another day in Trumpworld where Shitheads say shit like shithole everyday.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Come Rain Or Come Shine

Amerind Landscape by Roy Lichtenstein.

I started this zany, madcap weekly feature in the spring of 2015. I have a lot of fun putting it together and riffing on the segments every week. It’s become a cult favorite among our readers. If you enjoy Saturday Odds & Sods, please donate to First Draft to help keep the doors to this virtual gin joint open. If you don’t like gin, pick your poison as long as it’s not vodka…

That concludes this brief commercial announcement. It’s time to return to our regularly scheduled programming.

It’s full-tilt fall in New Orleans after summer lingered far too long for my taste. We’ve had highs in the low to mid 70s for most of the last week. That means that many New Orleanians are OB’d: Over-bundled. People are so desperate to wear last year’s Christmas sweater that they’re overdressing for these mild days. So it goes.

The big news hyper-locally is that pesky, annoying twerp Seth Bloom has finally conceded in the District B city council race. The satirist in me will miss mocking him, but the citizen in me is relieved that his steady, experienced opponent, Jay Banks will represent me on the council. I will miss having Seth to kick around so I might as well re-post this:

Arrividerci, Sethy. You can go back to annoying people in your daily life. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass as you exit the local political stage. If you re-enter the arena, the feud will resume. Who among us doesn’t like a feud fight?

A brief return to the weather. It was the driest November in recorded history in New Orleans. How’s that for a lead-in to the theme song? Come Rain or Come Shine is the third Arlen-Mercer song I’ve used as the Odds & Sods theme song. I guess I like Harold and Johnny: the nice Jewish boy from Buffalo and the Southern scamp from Savannah. The song was written for the movie musical St. Louis Woman and first published in 1946.

We have three versions for your enjoyment. First, a swinging version arranged by Billy May for Ella Fitzgerald’s Harold Arlen Songbook, which is a seriously underrated entry in the songbook series. Next up, Lady Day with a mid-tempo version from her Music For Torching album. Finally, a 21st Century version from Eric Clapton and BB King.

Now that we’ve risen and shined or something like that, let’s jump to the break.

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The Ugliest American

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Donald Trump is the worst person ever to live in the White House. He proved it again on Monday with the whole Navajo code talkers-Pocahontas mishigas. It’s not the worst thing he’s said since becoming president* but it’s the perfect distillation of who he is. It’s the context that makes this uniquely awful.

Asterisk-free presidents love ceremonial occasions where they act as head of state. It’s a chance for them to soar above controversy and conflict. The act of appearing non-political benefits them politically. If we had the British system of government, I would never have wanted Ronald Reagan as prime minister but he would have made a helluva constitutional monarch. Nobody did ceremonial occasions as well as the man who played the Gipper. It was one reason for the personal popularity that saw him through the ups and downs of his presidency.

Barack Obama was the second best American head of state of my lifetime. He loved mingling with non-politicians from celebrities to the hoi polloi. Some of the most memorable moments at the Obama White House involved the president interacting with children. Kids love the man, which should have led to his political opponents saying: I don’t like his policies but he’s a helluva nice guy. He was the first president of color so that didn’t happen. Instead, they posted pictures of him as a witch doctor on social media. We all know who those creeps voted for.

The White House ceremony honoring the Navajo code talkers was the perfect chance to act presidential. One might even call it a no-brainer; unfortunately, this president* is a no-brainer himself so he blew it by attacking a political opponent. If he had honored the code talkers for their grit, wit, and valor, the ceremony would have been about them. Instead, he made it about him by saying this:

“I just want to thank you because you’re very, very special people,” Trump said to the group. “You were here long before any of us were here — although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas. But you know what? I like you. Because you are special.”

The tone is, of course, patronizing. He addressed these elderly veterans as if they were simple-minded fools. I guess the Insult Comedian was projecting again.

Context is everything. This was not an occasion to bring one’s political vendettas to the table, er, podium. Calling Senator/Professor Warren Pocahontas is, in this context, a racist slur as well as typically mean-spirited. Trump’s apologists denied it was a racist insult but the best response came in this  statement from John Norwood of the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes:

There are some who ignored the response from Indian Country and defended Mr. Trump, both then and now, with the excuse that the name “Pocahontas” is not a racial slur. When honorably referencing the actual historic figure, this indeed is true. However, the name becomes a derogatory racial reference when used as an insult. American Indian names, whether they be historic or contemporary, are not meant to be used as insults.  To do so is to reduce them to racial slurs.

There are many in Indian Country who have given various perspectives on Senator Warren’s claim of an American Indian ancestor. There are many non-tribal Americans who make similar claims of indigenous ancestry. Sometimes it is a matter of documented genealogical fact and sometimes it’s merely a matter of family lore. Such private claims, when not used to claim the legal protections or benefits of the citizens of American Indian Nations, cause little or no harm to tribal people. However, degrading an American Indian name or historic tribal reference by using it as an insult is making a racial slur, whether knowingly or unknowingly. The right to determine if it is a slur belongs to those who have been insulted, not the one who made the insult.

I suspect that Pocahontas is the only name of a Native American female that Trump knows. It has lodged in that pea-brain of his as the perfect way to insult Professor/Senator Warren. It is more revealing of Trump’s nature than anything else: he’s a bully and a coward but we already knew that. As his own secretary of state said, “He’s a fucking moron.”

I was also struck by the staging of the event. The podium was placed in front of a portrait of General/President Andrew Jackson who is well-known for his extreme animus against Native peoples. It’s as if the Tuskegee airmen were honored in front of a portrait of John C. Calhoun. This may well be one of the few Trump flaps that was premeditated as a way to pander to the worst of the MAGA maggots out there. The soundbite sounded written, which means it could be the handiwork of Stephen Miller.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ response to this mess was to defend her president* and lie like a poorly woven rug. She may have gone to the loom once too often as it were. This tweet from a certain internet smart ass sums it up rather well:

The White House is the people’s house. That’s why we call sitting presidents the Current Occupant. It’s not just a place for those who voted for the Current Occupant, it’s a place where *all* Americans should feel welcome regardless of their politics. Hospitality is almost sacred in the Greek community so I was raised to treat my guests like they’re honorees at a ceremonial occasion. I’ve wanted to throw people out of my house but have never done so. I do, however, want to throw Trump and his tacky crew out of the people’s house.

I originally planned to call this post That’s Why I Call Him The Insult Comedian hence the meme. I woke up this morning thinking of the book The Ugly American hence the final title. Being an Ugly American should be a “bad thing” as the Insult Comedian would surely interject at this point. It was fashionable during the first Bush-Cheney term but began to slowly fade after Rummy was shitcanned. Ugliness is back in vogue and it’s being whipped up in what Mencken called the “sahara of the bozart” and elsewhere in the boondocks by the Ugliest American of all. The barbarians are not at the gate, they’re in the White House.

Who Teaches

A while back I asked some family members and white childhood friends who they remember as the first person of authority — a person whose opinions they were expected to respect even if they didn’t agree — who wasn’t white, in their lives.

Very few remembered anyone at all.

I grew up in a fairly segregated town and went to Catholic schools. All my elementary school teachers were white. In high school I had one black teacher and one Hispanic teacher. In college (state school) I had two professors of color, though there were more professors of color teaching, mostly in ethnic studies courses, who I didn’t encounter. It wasn’t until 10 years ago that I had non-white, non-male bosses. Mr. A started working for a woman of color for the first time two years ago.

An under-covered aspect of the Obama freakout (and then the Clinton freakout afterward) was the idea that a lot of white people living segregated lives — the only black people they ever saw were on TV, probably playing football — had to confront the idea of a black person having authority over them. Blah blah, I know, the president works for us, but there was a huge swell of rage at “having” to listen to a black man. They’d never “had” to do that before, and damn if it didn’t piss them off.

Segregation of AUTHORITY matters as much as segregation of housing, jobs, amenities and everything else. It matters tremendously to children of color: 

Gershenson, Hart, Lindsay, and Papageorge demonstrate that if a black male student has at least one black teacher in the third, fourth, or fifth grade, he is significantly less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to aspire to attend a four-year college (as proxied by taking a college entrance exam). They find that these effects are especially pronounced for economically disadvantaged black male students. For instance, they find that a disadvantaged black male’s exposure to at least one black teacher in elementary school reduces his probability of dropping out of high school by nearly 40 percent. This estimated effect is not just statistically significant, but also highly educationally relevant.

We are long overdue for so many corrections in this country, and this is the last one coming for myself and my fellow white folk: That people who don’t look like us have something to teach us, and that we should shut up and learn.

A.

NOLA Politics: I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You

The rascal in question is the New Orleans mayoral run-off election, which will be held this Saturday. It’s been a nasty, dispiriting race with both sides flinging shit like zoo chimps. Primary  frontrunner LaToya Cantrell has held and expanded her lead despite the city credit card misuse allegation that I went into in detail at the Bayou Brief.  The issue was subsequently diffused by the release of credit card records of other councilmembers showing that Cantrell’s use was on the high-end but not an outlier.

One reason for Cantrell’s expanding lead is the abysmal campaign run by her opponent, Desiree Charbonnet. Team Charbonnet has flooded the city with flop sweat this week. They keep throwing shit up against the wall and very little has stuck. They even falsely claimed that re-elected Councilmembers Jason Williams and Jared Brossett endorsed their effort. I know lying is in fashion but this was a clumsy and easily refutable lie.  It’s the internet age, y’all. These things spread faster than they did 20 years ago.

Another endorsement (real this time) reflects Chabonnet’s futile attempt to win over white conservative voters:

It’s a shitty picture but it makes the point. Here’s how I described Charbonnet’s honky quest in a Bayou Brief column that focuses on her political relationship with the white, conservative District Attorney Leon Canizarro aka Canny: 

Canny’s heavy-handed intervention has confirmed Cantrell supporters’ opinion that Charbonnet is a terrible person who is guilty, if of nothing else, of being a machine politician. I think that Charbonnet’s attempt to woo white conservative voters is doomed to fail. The Charbonnet brand means “corruption” to people in Lakeview and the Garden District. They didn’t support her in the primary and they’re unlikely to do so in the run-off.

And Steve Scalise represents suburban Metry and parts of the Northshore. His support means even less than Canny’s. Canny is at least a New Orleanian.

What Team Charbonnet refuses to understand is that there are fewer white conservative voters than before Katrina. It’s a top-heavy campaign as described by Deep Blog who blames the mess on one of Charbonnet’s campaign consultants:

It’s all on Bill Schultz. He always uses a cannon when the situation calls for a cap gun. Can’t help himself. And Bunny & Ike. Her campaign literally had more money than they knew how to spend intelligently. So they proceeded to spend it very unintelligently on consultants. All chiefs, yet no one really in charge.

They’ve been running a pre-Katrina campaign in a digital world. It’s one of the main reasons they’re about to lose. Bigly. I originally thought there would be a 10 point spread but it looks as if it will be Cantrell by 15 to 20 points. It’s the worst run New Orleans mayoral campaign since the one Dollar Bill Jefferson ran in 2002 for Richard Pennington. I go into more detail in another Bayou Brief column.

One thing that I hope will never change are the scurrilous flyers that are mailed out in the last two weeks of every citywide election campaign. This year PACs have done the candidates dirty work. For more details on that point and much more, check out this week’s Gambit cover story by Clancy DuBos.

I’d like to thank my friend Alex McKenzie for the flyer photos that follow. I may owe him some pho for the photos.

First off is a downright vicious anti-Charbonnet flyer. I didn’t get this one and I’m annoyed by the omission, y’all. It seems like bias against my racially mixed 13th Ward neighborhood or some such shit.

Team Charbonnet has its own PAC attack dogs. I got the next flyer. I guess they realized that I’m “just another white boy with the disco blues.” As far as I know, Fee Waybill isn’t on the ballot Saturday. End of Tubes references. Here’s an edited version of the anti-Cantrell flyer:

Straight Out Of Compton? There you have it, ladies and germs: supporters of an African-American candidate have sent out a blatantly racist attack flyer.

This flyer could only appeal to a racist white Trump voter whose family has been here for generations and hates all transplants. That’s a shrinking part of electorate. Trump only got 15% of the vote in Orleans Parish and those people all hate the Charbonnets. This was money wasted but at least I got a blog post out of it.

I remain a clothes pin Cantrell voter. I’m hoping she will modify her position on short term rentals but she’s likely to win big and feel she has a mandate. Humility has not been a strong suit of her candidacy.

I am thrilled the election will be over soon. We can all wash the mud off our clothes and celebrate Thanksgiving without any political ads polluting the air waves.

Let’s circle back to the post title. I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You aka You Rascal You was written by Sam Thread in 1929. It’s associated with the greatest person ever born in New Orleans: Louis Armstrong. I’ll give Satchmo the last word as we dance on the grave of the 2017 mayoral election:

Guns Are About Fear and Fear Is About Race

Someone pointed me at this thread and I can’t believe I missed it amongst the steaming piles of garbage flying around last year: 

After accounting for all explanatory variables, logistic regressions found that for each 1 point increase in symbolic racism there was a 50% increase in the odds of having a gun at home. After also accounting for having a gun in the home, there was still a 28% increase in support for permits to carry concealed handguns, for each one point increase in symbolic racism. The relationship between symbolic racism and opposition to banning handguns in the home (OR1.27 CI 1.03,1.58) was reduced to non-significant after accounting for having a gun in the home (OR1.17 CI.94,1.46), which likely represents self-interest in retaining property (guns).

Why does everything have to be about race, I can hear you asking, and BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS ABOUT RACE. People don’t fear Chicago because it’s full of guns, they fear Chicago because it’s full of guns in the hands of young black and Hispanic men.

I can’t tell you the number of people who think I’m about to be raped and murdered every time I step out my door because my neighborhood is like 60-40, black-white, and that’s a signifier of violence. Never mind I live in Mayberry, the presence of non-white people is presumed to be a threat to white people. Which I can tell you until the cows come home is bullshit, but there’s a whole media-gun-industrial-complex devoted to making people askeered of the terrible brown threat coming for your white women.

Which is why I keep harping on the media disparity. Right now we’re having lots of hearings and all kinds of angst about Facebook and Google and Twitter bots and if they’re really Russians and all of that is fine but none of it matters if every podiatrist’s office in the Midwest is blaring Fox News and a CNN panel of five Republicans is debating which Democrat is the biggest pussy.

Fix that or all our worries about Bernie vs. Hillary vs. Keith vs. Tom vs. Whoever The Fuck don’t matter.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Lover Of The Bayou

Photograph by CC Lockwood.

Fall has fallen. We finally had a week of temptingly temperate temperatures. Unfortunately, it’s oak pollen season, which means I’ve been wheezier than Weezer or Isabel Sanford who played Louise (Weezy) Jefferson on the electronic teevee machine back in the day. Where have you gone George Jefferson? Achoo.

It’s the week after the primary election and the Mayoral  run-off campaign is mostly bubbling under the surface. There was some horrible news involving third-place finisher Michael Bagneris. His daughter, Mia, was hit by a drunk driver while exiting her car after attending her father’s election eve soiree. Since New Orleans is the world’s largest small town, we have several friends in common. Her injuries were severe but it appears that she’ll make it. It’s going to be a long recovery. Best wishes to the Bagneris family. Drunk drivers are the worst.

This week’s theme song was written by Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy. It has an interesting history. I’ll let the Wikpedia entry for the Byrds album (Untitled) fill you in:

For most of 1969, The Byrds’ leader and guitarist, Roger McGuinn, had been developing a country rock stage production of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt with former psychologist and Broadway impresario Jacques Levy.[16] The musical was to be titled Gene Tryp, an anagram of the title of Ibsen’s play, and would loosely follow the storyline of Peer Gynt with some modifications to transpose the action from Norway to south-west America during the mid-19th century.[5] The musical was intended as a prelude to even loftier plans of McGuinn’s to produce a science-fiction film, tentatively titled Ecology 70 and starring former Byrd Gram Parsons (no relation to Gene) and ex-member of The Mamas & the PapasMichelle Phillips, as a pair of intergalactic flower children.[12] Ultimately, Gene Tryp was abandoned and a handful of the songs that McGuinn and Levy had written for the project would instead see release on (Untitled) and its follow-up, Byrdmaniax.[4]

I told you it was a long story. We have two versions for your enjoyment, the original live Byrds version and a cover by Mudcrutch, which was Tom Petty’s original band brought back to life in 2008. Holy reanimation, Batman.

That concludes our trip to the bayou or does it? You’ll find out after we jump to the break.

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Heckuva Job, Trumpy

I rarely write the  next day on the same topic as Athenae. It has to be important. It is: Puerto Rico is drowning and the current administration* is throwing it a life-preserver weighted down with conditions. That’s not how our government should treat American citizens. I’m not even certain that Trump knew Puerto Ricans are Americans before Hurricane Maria decimated that beautiful island. If it’s not about him, it doesn’t matter.

I guess Fox News is running stories about Puerto Rico. That could explain why the president* interrupted his #takeaknee diversion with some stray commentary on Puerto Rico’s plight. In his pea brain, if it’s important it must be tweeted about:

This coming from a man who stiffs contractors and declares bankruptcy as often as some people change their socks.  Also, Texas and Florida are not “doing great.” A friend of mine volunteered in Port Arthur, Texas last weekend and they still need help.

The Insult Comedian spoke more positively later Monday about helping Puerto Rico, but with this bozo the initial, off-the-cuff reaction is what matters. He only pretended to give a shit after being subjected to withering criticism. The proof is in the administration’s* refusal to waive provisions in the Jones Act that are interfering with the relief effort:

The Trump administration on Tuesday denied a request from several members of Congress to waive shipping restrictions to help get gasoline and other supplies to Puerto Rico as the island recovers from Hurricane Maria.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) declined the request to waive the Jones Act, which limits shipping between coasts to U.S.-flagged vessels, according to Reuters. DHS waived the act following hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which hit the mainland U.S.

The agency has in the past waived the rule to allow cheaper and more readily-available foreign vessels to supply goods to devastated areas. But DHS said Tuesday that waiving the act for Puerto Rico would not help the U.S. island territory due to damaged ports preventing ships from docking.

 “The limitation is going to be port capacity to offload and transit, not vessel availability,” a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection told Reuters.

In a letter to the department on Tuesday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) urgedDHS to rethink the decision, citing the agency’s willingness to waive the Jones Act for relief efforts in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“The Department of Homeland Security has been given the ability to waive the Jones Act to accommodate national security concerns, and has done so twice in the last month,” McCain wrote. “These emergency waivers have been valuable to speed up recovery efforts in the impacted regions. However, I am very concerned by the Department’s decision not to waive the Jones Act for current relief efforts in Puerto Rico, which is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis following Hurricane Maria.”

The fact that John McCain is one of the members of Congress urging a waiver makes the more cynical among us (myself included) wonder if this is payback for his role in scuttling Graham-Cassidy. It’s doubtful that this decision went to the White House but some ambitious bureaucrat might be pandering to the Idiot in Chief. Let’s hope not. The waiver should be granted. Pronto.

Even if revenge is not involved in this decision, discrimination is since waivers were granted in Florida and Texas, both states with Republican governors. I guess Houston is lucky that Trump thinks it’s a town full of plucky white people instead of one of the most diverse cities in the country. As many have pointed out, one reason Puerto Rico is dying is that Trump doesn’t like “brown people.” That led me to point out something on the Insult Comedian’s favorite medium:

That’s right, folks, Puerto Rico is a white supremacist’s nightmare. It’s enough to give the average MAGA Maggot a migraine or Jeff Sessions a seizure. The late great Roberto Clemente would tell them to STFU and roll up their sleeves to help his people; make that our people. As New Orleans writer Edward Branley said on the book of Zucker:

My post-Katrina/Federal Flood PTSD has not been far from the surface of late. Watching the events in Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands reminds me of the dilatory response of the Bush administration as New Orleans flooded. Dr. A and I were in exile in Bossier City and Dallas during the worst parts of the disaster and I recall being approached in the parking lot of an upscale mall in Plano, Texas where we went to use the internet because the cousin with whom we were staying has mildly Luddite tendencies. We were hailed by a man wearing a classic Dallas power outfit: an expensive suit, Stetson, and hand-made cowboy boots. Initially, I thought he was a wingnut prepared to dance on my city’s watery grave. Instead, he said in a thick Texas accent, “I see from looking at your car that y’all are from New Orleans. I bet you’re pissed at that pissant president for fucking you over.”

I bet people in Puerto Rico are pissed at *this* pissant president* for fucking them over. Obviously, NFL protests are more important than suffering in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. #sarcasm. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

Our fate is your fate.

UPDATE: After days of lame excuses, the administration* has waived the Jones Act. It’s unclear if a player to be named later was part of the deal.

Saturday Odds & Sods: How About You?

Court of the Patriarchs by Ansel Adams.

We had another boil water advisory in New Orleans this week. I’ve gotten used to them by now and don’t freak out. I’m married to a microbiologist so we ignore the “don’t shower” bit. It’s okay to bathe as long as one doesn’t have wounds or open sores. Besides, I’m not about to be stinky because the Sewerage and Water Board can’t get its shit together. Fuck that shit.

Oscar Update. It looks as if doubling his head meds and changing his diet has done the trick. Knock on wood. He hasn’t marked in several days and doesn’t look and act  like a scaredy cat. His tail is in the air when he walks instead of drooping. Let’s hope it lasts. Knock on wood. I had forgotten about that live Bowie version. Make sure you click on that last link.

In other New Orleans news, I wrote a second column for the Bayou Brief about the Mayors race. The campaign is so dull and listless that I refer to the candidates as The B-List.

This week’s theme song is inspired by last week’s Gershwin brothers reverie. How so? The opening lyrics:

I like New York in June, how about you?

I like a Gershwin tune, how about you?

That works for me.

How About You? was written by Burton Lane and Ralph Freed for the 1941 MGM musical Babes on Broadway starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. We have two versions for your enjoyment. First, the Chairman of the Board with a Nelson Riddle arranged version from an album you’ll hear more about later. Second, Harry Nilsson did an album of standards with *another* Sinatra arranger, Gordon Jenkins. Harry’s version was featured in Python alum Terry Gilliam’s best film, The Fisher King.

Heh, heh, heh. We just saw Robin William’s furry butt, he said in his best Beavis and Butthead voice. On that supremely lowbrow note, lets jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: This Summer

Windmills on the Hill by Francoise Gilot.

Prologue/Forward: I wrote this post and timed it for publication before Hurricane Harvey made full landfall. It will be onshore as you read this. It’s gonna be a wet sumbitch. Best of luck to all my friends and readers in the impacted area whether you evacuated or hunkered down. Our thoughts are with you.

Enough sincere shit, it’s time for the main event:

The tropics are becoming more active as August nears an end. It’s unfortunate because the drainage system in New Orleans is still fucked up. I don’t usually get overly nervous when I hear about a new tropical system in the Caribbean, but this year is different. The odds of Adrastos World HQ flooding are slim. As to the rest of the city, that’s not the case. Hopefully, the City will get its shit together but competence is not a hallmark of government in the Crescent City. It’s time for an Adrastos nursery rhyme: Harvey stay away, don’t come again another day.

Have I complained about storm names this year? It’s high time.  The latest storm is Harvey, which is a funny name, not a scary one. Hurricane Harvey reminds me of Harvey the invisible rabbit, Harvey Korman, and this former major league baseball player, coach, and manager:

Admittedly, the chaw is a bit scary, but Harvey Kuenn was famous for being nice and for being the only batting champion traded for a home run champion, Rocky Colavito. Enough about the boys of summer since only Doc and I give a shit about Harvey Kuenn. I would, however, never knock the Rock…

Summer may be winding down where you live but September is often as hot as August in my sultry neck of the woods. We usually get a tease of fall weather but it rarely lasts long before the heat and humidity settle back in until October. That’s life in the Big Easy. Speaking of which, there’s a swell cover story in the Gambit Tabloid about post-Katrina life here: Is New Orleans worth it?  It’s, uh, worth a glance. It proves that old adage: the more things change the more they remain the same. So it goes.

Speaking of summer, it occurred to me this week that my favorite rock songwriting team, Difford and Tilbrook, have written a passel of tunes about summer. This week’s first theme song,  This Summer, begins with a classic line: “Brain engages mouth, mouth expresses thoughts.” That’s how it works in my experience.

I hope you noticed that the late Keith Wilkerson looks like Huntz Hall in this video. He’s the bloke in the blue ball cap. Not only was Keith was more likely to be an East Side Kid than a Bowery Boy, neither Difford nor Tillbrook resemble Leo Gorcey. End of obscure lowbrow comedy reference. I have a million of them…

Happy Days is a song of more recent vintage. It’s about getting out of London on holiday. As a non-resident, London is one of my favorite places to go on vacation. I would propose a house swap but who the hell wants to come to New Orleans in August?

Our final Squeezey ode to summer was one of the band’s first hits and evokes the beach on a warm summer day:

Now that we’ve gone behind the chalet and pulled mussels from the shell, it’s time to insert the break.

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