Sunday, September 30, 2007

dat boy crazy

this ain't the first time i hopped on the computer to blog about kanye west immediately after seeing him go off the script on live television.

this time, he was performing on saturday night live, and flubbed one of the lines about halfway through the song. no problem. what'd he do? instead of faking it until the end of the verse, then going to the chorus and hopping back into the lyrics, he freestyled his way to the end of the set - actually, not the end of the set, 'cause he cut that short, too. plus, he turned around and lied about planning to mess up and freestyle, 'cause, well, it's what came to mind. LOL! say what you want about him, but i'm a fan. no, he might not be the best at everything, hands down, and no, he's not the best at freestyling (KRS-One could kill kanye in a battle in his sleep), but the brother's got a spark about him. his album is selling well, everybody knows his name, but he's still hongry. it's endearing. i'm happy for him.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

face forward

I am not rejoicing that Mychal Bell made bail. Not because I'm not happy for him - I am, but because I know this is not the end. He is still facing serious charges. He still has that matter of his prior juvenile offenses to live down. The other five defendants are all in the same boat - facing serious charges that stem from their actions on the day they made the decision to jump Justin Barker. They are still in the process of becoming men, and I'm hoping that in the midst of all these events, they are reevaluating their decision making skills.

I was not, and am still not of the opinion that these young men should be "freed." I wore black for solidarity with the protesters and called attention to my position on the matter because I believed that their charges were excessive and racist in the absence of similar charges for white teens who were also involved in assaults in Jena, La - for example, the whites whose actions Justin Barker bragged about before the Jena Six decided to whup his ass.

Which brings me to this point: for actions, there are consequences. I cannot demand that white teens be held accountable for their assaults on black students and simultaneously hold the Jena Six blameless for what they've done. The solution is not to let the black kids go free like the white kids were allowed to do. The solution is to hold every kid, regardless of their color, responsible for their choices and actions. Haul those white kids into court, too.

I wish the Jena Six well - fair charges, fair hearings, and fair sentences. I also wish that the prosecutor and law enforcement in Jena bring the white teens to justice, and that they find and punish the arsonist who burned the school down.

If this country wants people to respect and follow the law, then the enforcement of the law should be just and evenly applied.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I don't like Bill O'Reilly. I've never liked Bill O'Reilly. I disagree with his politics. I hate his show. I hate his network. He annoys me. Never, have I ever thought that I would do anything that could even be mistaken for defending him, but here goes...

Scenario: Bill O'Reilly is on the radio, having a discussion with Juan Williams. In the course of their conversation, O'Reilly brings up the time he went out to eat with Al Sharpton. They went to the now seemingly ubiquitous Sylvia's in Harlem, a black-owned restaurant. Apparently, some comments he made during this discussion are making a lot of people angry. Headlines read as follows: "Bill O'Reilly racist comments," "O'Reilly: Sylvia's just like a suburban white restaurant," "Is Bill O'Reilly's Comment on Race an 'Imus Moment' ."

What was offensive? Well, he said that he "couldn't get over" how eating at Sylvia's was like eating anywhere else. He also said, "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-F'er, I want some more iced tea.' " That sounds a lot to me like one of those patronizing, "That [insert black person here] is so articulate [or clean, or polite, or insert-anti-black-stereotypical-adjective-here]." So I can see why folks are upset. But before I decided to let this guy affect my blood pressure, I figured I'd do a little digging to find the statements in their original context, since I noticed that hardly any of the articles commenting on the fallout have provided any context whatsoever.

Check this out. The relevant parts of the transcript are about halfway down the page, after the bullet points, beginning with, "From the September 19 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor:"

Once I read the transcript, I realized that several of his statements had been taken out of context. In fact, even the site I've linked to has put the most commonly cited text in boldface text, as if to say that the context for the statements was irrelevant. It appears to me that O'Reilly was trying to say that his visit to Sylvia's was an example of why stereotypes are stupid. Of course, in keeping with his pompous, arrogant character, he said it with words like, "I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference," and "...[T]he people up there are tremendously respectful. They all watch [my show] The Factor." Unfortunately for him, his politics and his history of making statements that indict black culture make it painfully difficult to consider that perhaps he meant well by his statements, but in fairness, I think this is one of the times when O'Reilly was not at his worst.

This is part of the problem with race relations in today's society. We don't know how to talk to each other about race relations without mis-speaking and being mis-interpreted at every turn. Mind you, I have no sympathy for O'Reilly here. I'm not concerned about his welfare in the aftermath of his fumble. Trust me, he's already said plenty already for intelligent people to be upset about, and I bet next month he'll say something else stupid that will legitimately piss me off. I'm concerned about the rest of us, and how we've got radio and newspapers hopping all over misinterpreted comments being taken out of context - and people are reading it and eating it up without pausing to question the story - getting hyped, expending energy. 'Cause folks are all so ready to go on the next crusade against racism.

Family: rather than fill folks' in-boxes over some simple comments, a better way to fight racism is to fight for the people affected by it. Read to the kids. Network with minorities. Each one teach one. Go to PTA meetings. Start snitching. Invest in minority start-up businesses. Mentor a child. Be there for your families. We don't have time to be worried about people like Bill O'Reilly and what he has to say about soul food. We have a generation of children to hoist on our shoulders.

Friday, September 21, 2007

After Jena 6

I noticed, in my unscientific visual survey of what black folks were wearing, that people in the downtown white collar jobs were more likely to wear black than the blue collar folks in the neighborhoods. Could it be that the first group of folks were more likely to listen to the radio talk shows, read black bloggers, and pass e-mail forwards? Anecdotally, I know a lot of blue collar folks that don't do at least two out of three of these things, and those were the primary ways we spread the word about yesterday's protest and "dress code." Or could it be, as a friend of mine suggested, that people in the hood are too worried about their own problems to be bothered with concern about the Jena 6. Black boys get railroaded in the court system, discriminated against, and shot regularly enough in the hood that some folks may wonder why Jena is anymore special than Camden or North Philly.

In fact, in a discussion I listened to last night, I heard a woman say something to that effect - we have a lot going on right here at home to deal with, so what about Jena, La.? Can we take care of Philly first? My thoughts are that concern doesn't have to be mutually exclusive - one can care about what's going on up the street and still show concern for what's going on down south. One can also pitch in to help out with local and national matters. Caring about the Jena 6 doesn't mean you no longer care about your little cousin.

I did some internet surfing to see what folks - blacks and others - had to say about the incident. So many people seemed misinformed, or under-informed about the mission. It seems a lot of people think that blacks just wanted the Jena 6 freed because they're black and they were provoked. Not so. The problem was that they were excessively charged, and that no whites faced any sentence remotely close to what the blacks are facing, despite the fact that a black student was intimidated with a firearm and later jumped by whites. The district attorney was lenient with the whites and heavy-handed with the blacks. That's the problem. These young men didn't get mad about some nooses and then decide to jump the first white kid they saw. Too many people have formed opinions without understanding the context of the situation. It was very disappointing to see. Wikipedia is free.

Another comment I heard a few times was that, "I'm tired of black people rallying around causes because it's the trendy thing to do. So I didn't wear black today." Or, "Wearing black isn't going to change anything, so I didn't see the point." To the first comment, I say that it's not just black people who rally around a cause-of-the-moment and then lose intensity - that may be an American, or maybe even a human societal flaw. Let's not malign black people any more than others, shall we? But I understand and agree that if you really want change, you can't limit your efforts to one Day of Atonement (the Million Man March was supposed to start a movement in several communities, not end after the buses came back home), or one month of solidarity (mainstream media wanted to believe race and class divisions were healed after 9/11 just because everyone was emotional after the country's loss). Thing is, showing solidarity on one day doesn't mean that you can't keep things going the next day. That doesn't mean continuing to wear black today. That means continuing to draw attention to the issues that matter, regardless of the clothes you wear. Your actions are up to you, and if you want change, you can be that one person to keep it on the minds of the people around you.

Regarding black not changing anything, I've said in my last post that clothes won't get the Jena 6 a fair trial. But that didn't make wearing black irrelevant. Some may disagree, but some battles are won and lost in the psyche. That's why shows of solidarity have such important in this, our symbolic culture. I was excited to see black folks wearing black - to me, it meant that people had heard about an important cause, and what's more, they supported the fact that something was being done about it. They wanted to bring awareness of the issues. They believed in the power of collective effort. All psychological, but all very relevant and affirming to those like myself who choose to believe that despite popular belief, people, especially black Americans, are not all apathetic, lazy, and complacent. I am too young to know how black folks felt when watching our two Olympians on the podium raise their black gloved fists during the national anthem. But I bet it got people hyped. I know I was hyped yesterday, and so were others all over the country.

I can't knock that. If anything, I want to support that. Which is why when I thought, "Wearing black is a waste of time," yesterday, I thought better of it and wore as much black as I could. Every little bit helps. And we should use what energy we can retain from yesterday's momentum to keep that optimistic effort for change going. Never mind past fits and starts, past unbroken promises, past failures. Our job is to learn from the past, not limit ourselves by bitter memories of it.

Again, I ask, what are we going to do today? Even better, what am I going to do today?

I wrote this blog to inspire you to give serious thought to this question. Let's try to ask it of ourselves, and find an answer, every day.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

what are you wearing today?

Today I am wearing a set of black slacks with blue pinstripes, and a black sweater showing my shirt's blue collar and cuffs. I wanted to wear all black, but I didn't have solid black to rock. But I got as close as I could, since today is a special day.

Today, black folks from all over the country are wearing black clothes, on purpose, together. It's a show of solidarity with the people who took off work, scraped some money together, got hotel rooms, printed flyers, made signs, and dedicated their time today to go to Jena, Louisiana, to protest the judicial system there. The district attorney there is in the process of prosecuting six black teenagers for jumping a white teenager in the aftermath of some racially-based fighting between whites and blacks in that town. The sentences these young men are facing are harsh. The background of the cases has led many to believe that the prosecution is unjustly excessive and racially based. Although the public outcry has not been as prominent in the news as say, Britney Spears' performance at the VMA awards, the rivalry between 50 Cent and Kanye West for sales, or OJ Simpson's latest arrest, somehow black people have spread the news. I heard about it via e-mail. Then a MySpace forward. Then the black internet blogs and message boards. All this before I heard any inkling of it in the mainstream television or print media. I hear that Michael Baisden was talking about it on his nationally syndicated afternoon radio show, and so was Tom Joyner in the morning. I knew about wearing black today because my best friend sent me a text message and because the DJ on the "Whispers in the Dark" radio program mentioned it before a commercial break.

I don't know what's going to happen to these young men. I hope they get a fair trial and sentencing. Merely wearing black en masse will not save these young men from unfair prosecution. Action will. May God grant the protesters safe passage during their trip, and the voice to make a change. But I do know, from seeing black people up and down Market Street wearing black this morning, that today we have proven ourselves capable of communicating effectively and acting with a joint purpose. I'm not going so far as to say that all is well among all black Americans. What I will say is that it is inspiring to see that we have the ability to communicate as well as we have on this matter. If we can do this, what more can we do given the many resources we have to communicate with each other? Imagine if, instead of stopping this massive grapevine after today, we decided to generate a list of companies to support in favor of their rivals who, let's say, have no minorities in their boardrooms but heavily target minorities for their profit? Imagine if we used this power to talk about the realities of how AIDS is coming hard for black women, affecting our families at an alarming rate? Imagine if we rebuilt New Orleans, improved child literacy, supported HBCUs, mobilized mentors for at-risk teens? Can you imagine what we could do if we acted collectively?

We don't have to imagine. What are you wearing today?

What will you - what will WE - do tomorrow?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


when i first started to attend open mics about 4 or 5 years ago, i was in love with the whole scene. i was constantly in an environment where i was a minority during the day, and being with other black folks on those nights was a refreshing thing. an avid bookworm, i love words. an avid music lover, i love songs. open mics provided me with both.

it wasn't long before i realized that certain themes were used often in the poetry i was hearing - affirmations of culture, political frustration, the fallout of economic warfare - all things that merit discussion, expression, and reflection. as time went on, i noticed that there were certain things that we folks in the audience were expected to know about. i don't have time to get into all of it, but i'll just focus on one for now: the "willie lynch mentality." i had never heard of willie lynch before attending poetry venues. afraid to show my ignorance of something that i apparently should have known about, i looked him up on the internet. my search told me that willie lynch was a caribbean slaveholder whose slave-handling tactics of mental divide-and-conquer warfare are at the root of division between africans in america today.

i'll be honest: i wasn't very impressed with his speech. i'm naturally skeptical of such things, but i let it go at that. all the things in the letter were things i'd heard others expound upon when trying to explain the current cultural and economic state of black folks. i already knew those tactics had been used. i'd learned about them in my reading before ever having read about willie lynch. the difference here is that instead of talking about the divisive tactics as something that was generally done by slaveowners during slavery, the individual willie lynch now stood out as a figure to whom these tactics could be attributed. additionally, this is a name we've never heard in school. surely this must be some information kept from us for centuries, so that we would never know we were being systematically divided all this time. that way we would be ignorant of our plight and too disorganized, too disjointed, too inept to band together and resist the mental warfare being thrust upon us - suddenly the shadow of conspiracy looms. we've been hoodwinked! we've been bamboozled!

at last now i understood what the poets were saying when they talked about willie lynch. the references to the willie lynch mentality made sense - they were referring to divisiveness among black people when they dropped his name. "willie lynch" is now a convenient term to encapsulate this concept - an abbreviation, if you will.

problem is, willie lynch is not a historical figure - he was not a man who lived and breathed and singlehandedly determined the plight of africans in america. the speech in which he outlined a program for white racial domination never happened. of course, we'd never know it, the way his speech is circulated on the internet and alluded to ad nauseum by even the most well-meaning of poets. black scholars have done the research and taken the time to discredit the myth of his existence and speech, based on linguistic and historical research, and i'm glad that they have, since i'd always been suspicious of the myth, but never had the ammunition to discredit it.

please don't misunderstand me: i know that africans were stripped of culture, language and custom, bred, beaten, separated, and intimidated in order to lose identity, unity, and the urge for freedom. this is not a myth. this is something we need to understand about our ancestors. at times we need to talk about this, and it does affect us even today. one of the ways it affects us, however, is that we go searching for meaning in things that have no authenticity. contrary to what we may have heard, kwanzaa is not an african holiday - it was created for african americans who want to pay homage to african culture. "picnic" originates from the french, and does not mean "pick-a-nigger." black men received their right to vote in the 19th century with the 15th amendment to the constitution, not in the 20th century with the voting rights act. black women's suffrage followed in the 19th amendment. and folks, listen to me close: there existed no man named willie lynch, mastermind of black submission and division.

some find that debating whether or not this speech existed is a distraction. should it matter if the man wasn't real, when we know that the tactics were real? yes, it should, and this is why: part of our problem is that many of us don't know our history in the first place. when you don't know the truth, someone can tell you anything, and in your ignorance, you will believe. we once believed that in africa we were savages that swung like monkeys from trees. we know better now - that we came from civilizations with order, governments, kingdoms, knowledge, and customs. knowledge of the truth makes all the difference. we must accept nothing less than the truth. here, the truth is that willie lynch is a modern-day, fabricated symbol and not a historical figure. asking people to make that distinction is no more a distraction than perpetuating the myth.

family, please stop getting your history from e-mail forwards, rap lyrics and open mics. please stop listening to your play cousin who just came out of jail wearing a kufi, just because he said he read a lot while he was locked up. stop spreading information until you've checked its integrity. don't be a pedestrian thinker. if you want to know who we are, get cozy with carter g. woodson. take a class at the community college. shoot, even hit up wikipedia. but always question. always try to verify.

a note to all my brothers and sisters who write poetry and lyrics - i love you. but if you're going to name-drop willie lynch, please, PLEASE, explain what you mean by that to the people who are listening to your words. and in your explanation, can you somehow include the fact that he's a symbol of reality, and not intrinsically real? we must take our weighty responsibility as griots seriously. the ancestors are watching and the children are listening.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


September 11, 2006

click here for one of Cathy's favorite groups

Catherine Lisa LoGuidice and I have precious little in common. She was born nine years before me and lived several states away. I've never met her. Perhaps on one of her adventures, chasing down some hard rock star or heading out to defy death on a mountain biking trip, she wound up on a road trip, and maybe she passed me in a car on I-95 once and neither one of us knew it. I've come to believe that it's a smaller world than we think this is, and the Pisces within me likes to believe that the connection between me and Catherine is on purpose.

A big part of Catherine's life was love - she had the time and heart for lots of it. She loved her two god-daughters, and friends and family members. She had even found the kind of love that people pray and wish for in a fiancee, an old friend she'd known since high school. She was planning to get married to Erick Elberth, and all of her friends and family celebrated with her at a bridal shower. She was a beloved daughter to Catherine Masak and Carmelo LoGuidice, sister to Lucy and Michael, and an aunt to many. A part-time veterinary assistant, Catherine loved animals, too. One thing that she definitely shared with me was a love of reading - Anne Rice was one of her favorites! I can imagine her four cats finding other things to do while she got all wrapped up in some intriguing story packed with horror and suspense.

Her life seemed full. Her taste in music - on the edge. Her taste in stories - on the edge. Her sky diving and mountain biking - on the edge. This woman, of tattooes, intricate Halloween costumes, and horror movies wasn't one-sided, though. Her brother Michael knew that she loved Thoreau so much that she once travelled to his famous retreat, Walden Pond. She also took up Tai Chi, an ancient art characterized by its graceful and gentle movements that inspire health and inner peace.

What's crazy is that you could walk past Cathy, as her friends and family called her, on a crowded street - bump into her maybe - and never know all of the wonderfully interesting stuff about the woman you were bumping into.

When the planes hit those towers on September 11, 2001, I was in bed, getting ready to wake up and go to class across town. Catherine was at work. She was an assistant bond trader for a firm called Cantor Fitzgerald. As a nation, we were all shaken and confused while the tragedy was happening, but I can't imagine how Cathy and her family felt in particular on that morning.

She died that day, five years ago, at the age of thirty. She was on the 105th floor in the first tower, and it's pretty likely that she just wasn't able to get to a safe place. Like many of us, she hadn't thought much about the World Trade Center attack in 1993 since it happened. Her job was at the World Trade Center, so that's where she stayed for the several years to follow.

When she was memorialized, donations to the ASPCA were requested instead of flowers, honoring her animal-loving spirit. After her death, and the deaths of 2,995 others, I mourned, wearing black for two days and crying for many more, shocked and deeply moved by the television images of people wandering the area near the towers with signs seeking their missing loved ones. At the time, and even now, I am just a fellow American with no direct connection to the tragedy. But I suspect that Cathy's family felt the impact of the tragedy much more intensely, and I suspect that today, and every day, they remember Cathy's life more lovingly than I ever could. They, and the other 2,995 families of the deceased and missing, have my most reverent sympathy.

I hope that those who knew Cathy can get joy from their memories of what they loved most about her, and that if they are able to learn anything from the way she lived her life, that they'll honor her memory by doing so. (9/11/07 - This is updated to add that her loved ones think of her always and often. You may read their words to Cathy at the link, which is below this message.)

May her spirit rest in peace.

Thanks to and for information on Cathy that served as the source of this tribute.

Monday, September 10, 2007


ok, i'll finally expound at length on this situation with black people wanting to boycott vh1 because they have supposedly rejected a show featuring intelligent black women who are willing to date interracially. it's been going around on the internet for some time now. the logic here is that vh1 is racist because they're more than willing to show "flavor of love" and "charm school," which feature black women behaving badly, but they've supposedly said that "viewers are more interested in seeing black women in a ghetto role," so showing educated black women isn't something they want to do.

i can't help but think that if vh1 had actually decided to do the show they've purportedly rejected, then folks would be up in arms about this proposed show about black women dating non-black men, because people are tired of that whole black men and women can't get along stereotype. i can hear it now, "oh, so when you finally do put good black women on your network, they only get the spotlight if they choose white men over black men?" if it ain't one thing, it's another.

do i think vh1's position is righteous? certainly not. but i understand it. they're selling what sells. and something makes me question why vh1 wasn't boycotted when flavor of love and charm school got started. is it only in comparison to a show about educated black women that people can realize how tacky, trifling, and bad-for-our-collective-image their already existing shows are? vh1 is in the business of airing fluff. they've found their niche, and they're sticking to it. there is no requirement to balance out their programming when there are fi'tyleven other channels in folks' cable packages. i figure they're thinking, "you wanna see positive images? turn to a pbs documentary on the civil rights movement, or watch the autobiography of miss jane pittman or whatever they're showing on tvone now."

i don't expect fairness or balance or righteousness from vh1- why should i? we couldn't even get that from bob johnson. this market isn't driven by that. it's driven by who can grab the most eyes for those advertisements. that's why bob johnson is a rich man. i can't stand what he did with his network, but i can't knock his understanding of his business. he didn't make a network for us. he made a network for companies who wanted to advertise to us. vh1 is doing the same - grabbing attention, not changing the world or catering to our higher sensibilities.

cooning sells.

if we don't like that, then we should stop buying products from all the advertisers who sponsor cooning on all of tv and radio - not just vh1. we should stop celebrating people who make it a point to act a fool in the public eye, like karrine steffans, flavor flav, and 50 cent among others, just because they're black. folks become transfixed on every single train wreck aired on tv and radio and then have the nerve to cry foul when the media wants to capitalize on the (merited) perception that people like to watch foolishness? it's not them, it's us. americans, black and white and purple, patronize minstrel shows.

don't hate the playa, CHANGE the game.

note: i don't watch flavor of love or charm school, i don't own one 50 cent album, i don't watch bet, and i've not read ms. steffans' tawdry tales.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

is there a "we"?

The Assertion

"N*****s destroy, Negroes assimilate, Black people build."

this is what led me to ask the question a few posts back about assimilation. i heard this sentence about two weeks ago, and it is still working my nerves. never mind for a moment the unnecessary use of the n-word (i've come to hate this "n-word" term as much as the word it unsuccessfully attempts to skirt, by the way), since i've already gone on that diatribe, and the debate will likely never die.

what's more troubling to me is the way this phrase is so divisive, as if we need any more division amongst us. all this finger pointing and "they" this and "they" that is so spinning-wheels-and-getting-no-damn-where. add that to the problem that none of these words are defined. two of them are fairly easy - destroy and build. the other words are not so simple. and based on context clues and personal anecdotes, even though i suspect that a black person hearing this sentence would know what the sentence means, they shouldn't just accept it word for word. instead, they should question.

De-constructing Semantics

now if i'd tried to get this same point across, i'd have said in the alternative that "ignorant, unappreciative people destroy," and that "progressive, positive people build." but that still leaves the middle part. this is where i really get puzzled. what is the difference between a "Negro" and a "black" person? and what (this is the really nitty-gritty gristle and marrow-in-the-bone of my problem here) is "assimilation," anyway? see, the speaker of this sentence is a brother i respect - i know he means well, and i see his point that we need to focus our attitudes and our actions on doing the best we can for our situation as a people. but this "Negroes assimilate" thing is where the whole thing gets derailed.

does assimilation mean moving out of the neighborhood to a place with bigger houses, less crime and better schools? does it mean speaking standard english? does it mean putting a relaxer in your hair? perhaps assimilation means playing golf on saturday with colleagues, or watching Friend.s reruns while baking chicken to eat with artichokes. maybe it means marrying a white person and having beige, amber-haired, hazel-eyed kids. it probably includes preferring E! to BET or Oprah magazine to Essence magazine. does assimilation mean purposely naming your daughter Katherine instead of Keesha? or purposely naming your son Matthew instead of Marquise? where do we draw the line? what is assimilation and what isn't? and if a Black person does "assimilate," what makes them a Negro instead of a Black person? for the record, some of the greatest Black figures of the 20th century were self-described Negroes, when Negro with a capital N was the most dignified way to refer to us Africans in America. have the past 40 years changed the meaning of Negro so much that it must become an insult? an assertion that someone has lost their Soul with a capital S? why are some of us always on the hunt to find words to malign each other?

Problems on Every Side

perhaps my friend's issue is that when people of color get involved in middle-class culture, and take on middle-class bills and obligations, they are less hungry for change in the neighborhoods they or their parents or grandparents left behind, where people who look like them still struggle without them, although they are probably best equipped with the education and funds to help make a difference. they are more worried about job security than agitating for change. they're less likely to tutor or clean up their old block or become a mentor, because they're busy hustling to pay mortgages and student loans (and keep up with the joneses). they're probably more likely to blame people left behind in the old neighborhood for not hustling like they or their parents or grandparents have done, both because it may relieve some of their guilt for turning away from the shells of the left behind neighborhoods and also because they do have a point about the "i'm a victim" mindset. black victims of racism and poverty have been helping themselves for centuries, and there is no reason in this post-Civil rights era to stop now. is this an assimilationist stance? to expect people to do what they can with what means they have? to expect such achievement of yourself and excel, like our ancestors fought to enable you to do?

part of "black people build"-ing (i assume the speaker categorizes himself in this group) is recognizing that change requires power, and power is not free. one thing middle-class black folks understand is how to put their time and effort into work that generates money. and in this country, money is power, and poor people get the shaft. poor people could learn this lesson from the Katherines and Matthews. and in turn, Katherine and Matthew could re-learn a thing or two about remembering where they came from from Keesha and Marquise, who pool their funds with their grandmother when that gap between this check and the next gets too long, or who watch their sister's baby after school when she starts her shift every afternoon so she won't have to spend light bill money on daycare.

Reality Check

certainly - point out destructive and selfish attitudes when it will help us adjust our focus to what is important. but there's no need for the name calling. no need for the division. we all have problems. too many of us from various economic places on the spectrum have our priorities jacked up. pointing fingers at "them" from whatever point of view you come from is a sure way to further alienate us from each other. how then, will we learn from each other or help each other, if we can't tolerate our differences, let alone appreciate them?