In Django Unchained, the “N-Word” occurs 109 times. Occurs? Is used? (Look at how awkward that statement is; it’s an active sentence about a word spoken, but without a speaker doing the action.) I twitch to imagine Tarantino saying the word himself. It just sounds wrong. It sounds like some clumsy white dude trying to sound cool while he hangs with his homies. When Samuel L. Jackson says it, it’s quite cool and melodious. As a director, Tarantino can say the “N-word” one hundred and nine times with whatever accent, register, or inflection he desires. With gusto, in fact. Fortunately, at least for my auditoryRead More →

Ever since Whoopi’s Direct From Broadway show aired on HBO many years ago, she’s held a special place in my heart. In the original HBO special, her character Fontaine, who is a junkie, goes to the Anne Frank house. This skit is a profound comment on race and humanity. I was excited to see Whoopi join The View, which is one of my favorite shows to watch when I’m not really watching TV.  I was terribly disappointed in her “rape rape” comment about Roman Polanski, for which she’s being skewered all over the net, and deservedly so. Still, she’s got an incredible talent for raisingRead More →

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is internally conflicted over gay rights and Proposition 8 according to the Empowering Spirits Foundation. Apparently the national SCLC leadership threatened to remove the Los Angeles chapter’s president (Rev. Eric P. Lee) because of his outspoken support of gay marriage. My first response was of course, SCLC…Southern…Christian. What should we expect? But it’s disheartening nonetheless. The tension between “blacks and gays” (a linguistic construction that perpetuates the invisibility of gay blacks, not to mention the complete absence of the L, B, and T part of GLBT or of any other non-white queer in this struggle) has been part of theRead More →

Recently I’ve been working a lot with the YWCA Dialogue on Race again. The dialogue process is invaluable, important, necessary, and problematic. On Intersectionality First off, the conversations about race with sympathetic people of all races in Louisiana are generally flat because they don’t broach essentialism, intersectionality, or identity politics. While racism in Louisiana feels much more entrenched and deep-seated than in some other places, the general understanding of racism here lacks recognition of crosscurrents and interactions. Of course, some might say, “what is there to understand?…racism is racism. The people who are suffering under the burden of racism already understand. They’re oppressed. They liveRead More →

Today Rupert Murdoch called Obama “dangerous” according to an article in the Huffington Post: “I think Barack Obama would describe himself as a pragmatic leftist but he’s not an extremist,” Murdoch said. “I think he sees himself as a president for change and that involves bigger government. He’s made no secret of that. I think that’s dangerous.” This statement reminded me of something I read in the YWCA Dialogue on Race reading packet. I first heard this phrase of “dangerous negro” in an article called “Struggle and Transformation: The Challenge of Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Vincent Harding, written in the mid-80s. Vincent Harding isRead More →

An email I sent to reporter Lynn Sweet in response to a post she made on Politics Daily on why Obama should appoint a woman to the Supreme Court: I’m writing to you about a phrasing that you wrote in the lead to your SCOTUS post. The lead to your article reads: “So a new Gallop poll shows “no clamor” for President Obama to select a woman or minority to the Supreme Court vacancy being created by the departure of Justice David Souter.” Your lead calls to mind an old book entitled _But Some Of Us Are Brave: All the Women Are White, All theRead More →

Whoopi and Elisabeth Hasselbeck got into it recently on The View over use of the N-word. You can see the video of the exchange on Us Magazine. Elisabeth, of course, cries, wearing her white guilt on her sleeve. She refuses to understand why it’s alright for black people to use ‘the n-word.’ Of course, she cites the movie Crash as her politically correct credentials. Whoopi makes two important points in response. First, she explains that when black people use ‘the N-word,’ they have taken it from the hands of white people who use it against them. She says, “This is a word that has meaningRead More →

At Jena High School, students of different races customarily seldom sat together. Black students traditionally sat on bleachers near the auditorium, while white students sat under a large shade tree, referred to as the “white tree,” in the center of the school courtyard.During a school assembly on August 31, 2006, a black male freshman student asked permission from the principal to sit in the shade of the “white tree.” The principal told the students they could “sit wherever they wanted.” The following morning, three nooses were discovered hanging from the tree. What follows below is a chronology of racial violence in Jena over the pastRead More →