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Friday, December 29, 2006

Conservative Politics coming up......but for now more Geek fun

Check out the latest trailers for the upcoming year. Transformers (the live action version) finally reaches theaters for a July 4th, 2007 release and stay tuned for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, also slated for a summer debut. Next year promises to be a nerd/geek fest of catastrophic proportions. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hey a Samurai can wear a natural.....Can't He?

I hate it when I'm late on the scene regarding the next big thing. In the past I've been known to have blinders on when it came to certain aspects of pop culture. At one time I collected exclusively DC and Marvel graphic novels while feigning disinterest in books from independent companies. I actually missed out on the Milestone Comics era (a now defunct Black/minority based comic company during the 90s comic boom) because of this single-mindedness. It's akin to the 1980s phenomenon of wearing only acceptable sneakers and not skips (unknown brand athletic shoes). Nowadays, of course, it's one big free for all within the popular culture game-no rules apply. So, although I'm slowly breaking out of this funk for missing certain trends, I was however, a Johnny Come Lately regarding Sam Jackson's latest effort, Afro-Samurai. Samurai, originally started out as a Japanese manga story created by Okazaki Takashi, a graphic designer who funded the comic out of his own pocket. Here is Wikipedia's synopsis of the Afro Samurai storyline:

The TV anime series will be set in a "futuristic, yet feudal Japan," and star a black samurai named Afro. The story will follow Afro as he tries to avenge his father's murder. On the dark path of the swordsman, it is said that the one who becomes No.1 will rule the world. But the only rule in this world is that only the No. 2 is allowed to fight the No. 1. The No. 2, the Afro Samurai, travels the road looking for revenge on those who murdered his father in front of him when he was just a boy. The focus of his attentions is No. 1, a three-armed gunman who is the lord of the dark swordsman's road. Silent assassins lurk in the shadows, trying to get rid of No. 2, the only man allowed to fight No. 1. Can No. 2 achieve his aim?

Suffice it to say, I am definitely going to be looking for Mr. Jackson's latest celluloid effort-it's scheduled to air on cable's Spike TV on December 31st. Check your local listing. Click the links below for more information:

Afro Samurai Comic Takes Hollywood by Storm

Spike TV-Afro Samurai

Official Afro Samurai site

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Graphic Novel Watch.....

An interesting trend has developed in the last five or so years, where the comic book a.k.a graphic novel, has become the last bastion for Hollywood originality-a place which has been bereft of a good idea for decades. Case in point, I just so happened to take a look at the latest issue of of the comic book catalog, Previews, and low and behold, I came across a fascinating new comic (from Boom Studios) scheduled for a March 07' release, entitled Hunter's Moon. Moon, which was written by Ray screenwriter, James L. White, appears to incorporate elements of Deliverance, Ransom and Lost except it has an African-American protagonist. Here is the novel's premise acccording to Previews:

The story is of a man who finds out that his black heritage may work against him in a small mostly white logging community. There doesn’t seem to be any outpouring of volunteers who want to help him get his son back from kidnappers who communicate only through cell phone. Lincoln "Linc" Greer is about to learn new meaning from the expression, “You ain’t from around here, are ya?”

This five part series appears to be the comic to watch out for the first quarter of the new year. Could a movie be far behind? For more info check the links below:

Ray Celebrity Comes To Comics

Hunter's Moon#1

Next entry...Sam Jackson's highly anticipated anime effort, Afro Samurai, sure to be a cool discussion.

Monday, December 25, 2006

More on the loss of Soul Brother No.1.....

First off, talking about James Brown's death is a very difficult thing. I was always most proud of the fact that Mr. Brown was a former resident of my hometown of Saint Albans, Queens. The Godfather's house (which still stands today) was the only one that actually possessed a moat. I believe those who are real music aficionados know that on many levels, there is an assumption that our music heroes will always remain alive for our immediate enjoyment. And as expected, no more than 24 hours after the legend's death, I remain disheartened, angry and disappointed. Some of the local NY radio stations(those of course geared toward the older R&B/Soul demographic) are playing Mr. Brown's classics, but the hip hop stations appear to be aloof in this regard thus far. Why wouldn't a hip hop station take a break from the programmed routine, and play Brown's music out of respect and reverence-music that was so instrumental in the very development of the genre?

And so it begins....the contempt, ignorance and disrespect of a legend. Inarguably, hip hop may not have reached the height of popular culture without James Brown's influence. I remember friends and colleagues jokingly (but truthfully) commenting during hip hop's infancy, how crucial it was for a hip hop song to require a James Brown break beat in order for it to be considered a true hit. If one were to listen closely, James Brown's presence can be heard and felt from hip hop's inception to the present. I would also submit that modern pop music, crossing a litany of genres, permeates with Jamesisms. Prince (who has to take the mantle at this point), Michael Jackson and any number of rock & rollers have emulated, if not out right stolen, James Brown's gift of showmanship as well as his unique brand of audience participation. Again, we have lost yet another bedrock in our musical tradition with very few heirs and musical future that is extremely bleak. We have already lost Luther, Lou(Rawls), Ray, Ruth Brown, Barry(White) and now James Brown- leaving the public with talentless refuse. I have never stopped playing Mr. Brown's music as my tastes are varied and ecclectic. You will be missed Mr. Brown-I'm betting heaven just got a little bit funkier. Do yourself a favor and click on the link below, it's a December 05' James Brown concert available for download via NPR's website.

James Brown in Concert

The Godfather dies on Christmas Day

Damn...I was hit with news that hit me like a kick to the gut. James Brown dies of pneumonia at the age of 73. I will elaborate more on one my musical idols in the next few hours.

Wiki's take on James Brown

God rest his soul: James Brown tunes out at 73

Happy Holidays from Afronerd!

Let it never be said that I hate hip hop....again, I remember what it was before the Minstrel Age. Take a look at the seminal rap group, The Funky Four (Plus One More) as they perform "It's the Joint," on Saturday Night Live. This 1981 appearance has been widely considered the first TV performance made by a rap group. Enjoy your eggnog as I shed a tear for a bygone era. Cheers!

P.S. Damn....this is an update. In the immortal words of James Brown, "hit me... two times." Here is another video that is yet another walk through memory lane. Although Grandmaster Flash's "The Message," is heavily lauded as being one of the first hip hop songs to use social commentary as its main text, The Fearless Four's, "Problems of the World Today," should be worthy of the number two position. What happened to rap's innocence? Mind you, this song was made during the height of the crack wars in New York City, and yet no minstrelsy....Things that make you go Hmmm.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ok It's Not on the level of Area 51 but still.........

Usually I'm not a conspiratorial thinker but I may have to rethink matters as it relates to the recent Miss USA controversy. Heck, I might implement a lobbying effort to have Rosie and The Donald's latest rap battle to be featured on BET's Beef series. My first reaction to the Miss USA rout was that it was a whole lot about nothing-another tumultuous post adolescent White female implosion (a la Lindsay, Britney, Paris or last year's runaway bride-pick one) for public consumption. One would have deduced that an alleged heavy dose of drinking, lesbianism and cocaine ingestion would have had Tara Conner (the Miss USA in question) dethroned and sent packing for her next vocation-playboy centerfold. Wrong, my dear Watson!

As our culture spirals ever downward, Trump who owns the rights to the Miss Universe/Miss USA pageants, decided to give our young Tara a second chance. Now, of course I heard many critics of color state that 1984's first Miss America of color, Vanessa Williams, (who was famously dethroned for nude photos taken before she was a contestant) was not given her mea culpa and was less than surreptitiously ousted. Although the Williams counterpoint may have some validity, I discounted comparisons because it was a different era and a different pageant. But now I may have to think differently regarding this issue.

Despite my conservative leanings, I have never been naive when it comes to passive racism and money being longtime bedfellows. One would be foolish to think that the Trumpster, allowed Conner to keep her title for explicitly altruistic reasons. More media scandal plus more future Miss USA viewership equals more money...plain and simple. But what I didn't know was that the runner-up, was the equally beauteous Tamiko Nash. Nash, who is African-American, appears to have gotten short changed in this scenario. Perhaps anyone who was the runner-up in this drama would have been royally screwed but my eyebrow raised nonetheless. What is the purpose of even having a runner-up if outlandish behavior and a breach of contract can be easily excused. Maybe fate will rest it's hand on Miss Nash and like fellow pageant queen, Williams, she might ultimately become successful and remembered. More on this story below:

Tara Conner Dethroned, Tamiko Nash Becomes Miss USA (Not)

Trump Gives Miss USA Tara Conner Second Chance

Friday, December 22, 2006

When Lyrics Go Beyond Fantasy......

It looks like this is a moment when I have to quote the Michael Corleone character from the third installment of The Godfather franchise-"Just when I thought that I was out they pull me back in." If you take a gander at the above snippet, it's from the MTV2 hip hop program, Fight Club. Instead of this contest being one where the contestants' verbal dexterity and alliterative ingenuity are tested, it has regressed into some updated and twisted form of the dozens. If anyone is familiar with the African-American mainstay known as the dozens, it is essentially an informal forum developed to trade barbs with an adversary. How these "snapping" (another term for the dozens) contests rarely ended up in fights defies the imagination-if one were to make comparisons with today's climate of dysfunctionalism. But in actuality, I decided to use this clip as segue tool for a far less innocuous and tragic story pertaining to the "lyrics versus violence" debate.

A Staten Island jury recently arrived at a guilty verdict against Ronell Wilson, 24, a reputed gang leader for the execution style killing of two undercover police officers. This is an inverted version of the Sean Bell shooting incident that fails to garner the attention of those that attend the Reverend Sharpton's School of Racial Polarization (no relation to Ice-T's Rap School). What makes this tale even more disturbed is that when Mr. Wilson was initially arrested, police found self-scribed and grammatically decimated rap lyrics detailing how he killed these officers. It is high time for the other side of these street tragedies to be told, if not analyzed. How long will it take for our clergy, politicians, educators and PARENTS to start to put "two and two" together regarding gangsta music propaganda and what it is clearly doing to our youth. Let's hope that Wilson isn't offered a record deal before he gets a lethal injection (sentencing is next month)-anything is possible in this dystopic melodrama. Oh and least I forget, Happy Holidays. For more on this story check the links below:

Prosecutors use rap lyrics to boost case

Guilty in Killing of 2 detectives

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sorry to beat a Dead Horse...........

I might be "beating a dead horse" like the title suggests, but it is a story that nevertheless deserves highlighting. I just finished perusing the January issue of Essence, which has a special investigative report entitled, "The Streets Are Watching." This report, written by Jeannine Amber, encapsulates the harrowing tale of a brave Baltimore resident, "Mia M." (I would suspect like an episode of Dragnet-names were changed to protect the innocent) who put her life at risk by being a witness to a shooting that occurred in her neighborhood. If anyone has been paying close attention to some of my recent entries, you might have noticed that I have emphasized the issue of how the criminal or street stereotype that some people of color adopt, can cloud legitimate claims of racism and/or police misconduct. This article further bolsters my position. Mia's neighborhood, like any number of inner city areas, forces decent, hard working and honorable Black folk to coexist with the dregs that make living in such an environment a hellish experience.

Cutting to the chase, in May of 2005, Mia witnessed a shootout between two men that appeared to be over a failed drug transaction. Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending on how one sees it) there were no fatalities, however one of the young men sustained a leg wound. The article, early on, described Mia as being the type that normally tries to maintain a low profile when it came to matters of a street nature. Unfortunately, her conscience got the best of her, as children were trapped between these two assailants. Being a mother herself, she imagined that one of her children could have easily been caught in the crossfire of this madness. Although hesitant, she did initially agree to cooperate with the police in the investigation of this incident. As soon as it became known throughout the "hood" that Mia was a witness, her life became a living nightmare. Young men and women threatened her (including her family)with bodily harm-nothing short of death. The "stop snitching" campaign was in full effect.

This again, is the atmosphere that the police have to deal with-a place the liberal intelligentsia fails to acknowledge. Here we have an entire neighborhood forced to maintain silence when an innocent could have been hurt(and many times the end result is a tragedy). We are not talking about individuals complicit in the committing of a crime and upholding a code amongst themselves. We are literally talking about the protection of innocent lives that can not be implemented because of thuggism. I repeat....how are the police to differentiate between real gangstas and wankstas, when both fit stereotypes and may possess criminal records? Time for some preventative medicine folks-try not to race to the finish line labeled STEREOTYPE, you might find yourself a winner in the long haul. And pray that you don't have to be put in the position to be a witness-you might be issued a death warrant. The January issue of Essence is now available at your local newsstand.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Shhh! Letting You Guys in on a Secret........Everybody's Black Now

Actually the statement, "Everybody's Black now," was exclaimed by my friend, "Mr. Starks" in the midst of a conversation that we had this morning. You guys will get to know Starks (named after Tony Stark, the alter-ego of his favorite fictional character, Iron Man) beyond being a commenter on the blog, as he will also be a cohost on my upcoming internet radio program. I have to thank Starks for informing me of a recent NY Newsday article, pertaining to how Long Island's middle class (non race specific this time) are risking foreclosure due to the uncertain future of our economy. In all fairness, I first heard the everybody's black (or the more explicit-everybody's a nigga) tagline soon after 9-11. It appears that between the shoddy economy and the looming threat of terrorism on US soil, both act as the great equalizer in America's racial divide. Essentially, the Newsday piece denotes how many once solidly middle class families (some making in excess of six figures) are just one paycheck from foreclosure and imminent homelessness. This is a scene highly familiar to people of color. Trust me when I say, that I sincerely try not to put a racial spin on every subject but this is unavoidable. Middle class White angst is something to behold. Perhaps individuals will start viewing race for what it truly is-a sociopolitical construct and not a biological ideal. Let's just hope that you don't lose your house before you come to this conclusion. For the article in question, click on the link below:

Roof caving in on some owners

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Pursuit of Happyness....(A Rebroadcast)

The entry below was originally submitted on May 27th and it seems fitting to revisit it as the movie opens this week. It appears to be a tour de force for Smith & Son-I would implore all to check out this film. We all deserve a break from the usual diet of minstrel fare. Enjoy!

I just happened to catch an updated interview of this gentleman's story while viewing last night's episode of 20/20. The above video is actually the first interview of Chris Gardner. The interview was so compelling, Will Smith saw this episode and was quickly prompted to make a movie detailing Gardner's rags to riches journey. The book and movie are entitled, The Pursuit of Happyness and this story is nothing short of miraculous. Essentially, Gardner starts out as a homeless single father who is able to work his way up to becoming a millionaire, owning his own institutional investment firm. Any brother who wears tailored suits, drives a ferrari and listens to Miles Davis is already a person of interest in my book (or blog). I'm definitely psyched about both the book and film and I will let the video speak for itself. I have to give accolades to Gardner for his choice in license plates.....(not MJ or not Michael Jordan). Check out the video and you will understand the reference. Excelsior!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hey! Batman and Superman aren't the only ones that can start a Justice League

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I can not submit the entry that I had initially intended, but I did want my readers to check out some like-minded Black Conservative blogs. It is time to show the world that the African American community is not just comprised of charlatan slick haired preachers, monosyllabic gangstas or impotent kowtowing liberal sycophants. Check out the list of free-thinkers below:





Booker Rising

The Dark Truth

Nat Turner's Revenge

Does Mr. Crouch read this Blog? or Maybe great minds think alike...

Check out the latest nugget of wisdom from my spiritual uncle, Stanley Crouch. You think I'm hard on hiphop? Mr. Crouch gives absolutely no validity to the music, as he is an avid Jazz buff. I must confess that I am also an avid Jazz aficionado, but I do like hiphop music (when it honors its traditional tenets-more on hiphop rules at a later date) despite what my detractors may think. Click on Mr. Crouch's article below:

To move up, kids must stop being slaves to fashion

P.S. Check out this link from a Gawker article that purports to chastise Crouch for the selfsame aforementioned piece. I have received identical complaints. Truly amazing. Unfortunately, I can not address this phenomenon now but I think I will tackle it for my next entry.

Crotchety Stanley Crouch Keeps On Keepin' On

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

And Now...Time for the Classics

If you were to implement a google search of this blog, using phrases such as "afronerd.com" or simply "afronerd,” undoubtedly you will retrieve both positive and negative responses. It is something that truly boggles the mind but does not deter my spirit. You just can't please everybody. A common complaint against the blog is my alleged daily assault against hip hop. This is partially true, however it is against a specific type of hip hop. Many fans of hip hop-ok, to be specific, commercial hip hop are extremely delusional about the messages that the genre is currently spewing. It's akin to an addict that insists on imbibing the drug of his/her choice despite its ill effects. If one were to read my blog closely, I am a big hiphop fan, it's just that I tend to listen to classic hiphop. I think "classic" or "legendary" are far more respectful adjectives than "old-school,” which tends to make people highly dismissive of the genre. I also gravitate toward the contemporary conscious (whether it encompasses the alternative and underground formats) end of the music that rarely gets the amount of attention or airplay that the minstrel and gangsta genres receive. This leads me to the above clip. It is a snippet from Ralph Mcdaniel's local cable show, entitled The Bridge. Those who are familiar with Daniels or Uncle Ralph as he is affectionately called, may remember him from the seminal NY hip hop show, Video Music Box.

The Bridge essentially highlights classic hiphop moments where the viewer can learn the roots of the music. It truly saddens me how innocent(as well as creative and socially relevant) the music was back then and what it was like before the corporate formula was put in place, making it the bastardized version that we all bear witness to today. The above snippet, in particular, showcases a record release/tribute to the late, great and talented hiphop performer and producer, James Yancey better known as J Dilla. Dilla succumbed to a long battle with lupus at the young age of 32 earlier this year. Not only was Dilla's music unusual but also the circumstances of his death. He didn't die in the usual way-in a hail of bullets that has become a sick punchline for many in the rap community nowadays. His production was highly recognizable-jazz infused, and murky beats that artists such as D'angelo, Mos Def, Common, The Roots and a whole host of other performers utilized. My belated condolences to J Dilla and classic hiphop...perhaps both will return someday. For more info regarding J Dilla and The Bridge, click on the links below:

Wiki's information on J Dilla

The Bridge

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Next on the menu?......Garth Ennis' The Boys

I've been meaning to talk about Garth Ennis' The Boys for quite sometime now. Ennis' Boys, is slowly encroaching upon my number two spot in great adult themed graphic novels(number one reserved for the Squadron Supreme series). If anyone is familiar with Ennis' prior Preacher work(which has recently been greenlighted for an ongoing HBO series) he has a definite sardonic albeit violent streak. Just as the public has been introduced to Heroes and the Squadron, now we have The Boys, who are essentially a CIA sanctioned covert group used to control the power hungry (and abusive) superhero community. The story is definitely set in the real world, except that super powered beings exist in a matter of fact tone with full public support and adoration. Behind the scenes, the heroes are masochistic narcissists who although they save lives, have also killed and treated innocents as incidental casualties. This is where the Boys come in. Think of Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs cast hired by the government to provide a check and balance dynamic to the out of control, morally ambivalent hero community. The reader will also notice a tongue and cheek homage to the British actor and writer Simon Pegg (of Shaun of the Dead fame) who resembles one of the main characters, Wee Hughie. If you ever get a free moment and wish to stray away from the usual superhero fare, check out this great comic from the DC/Wildstorm family.

Hanging with the Boys: Ten Questions for Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson

Wikipedia's take on The Boys

Oh Come On......You Knew it was Bound to Happen

Boy, isn't the internet grand? Check out the above Seinfeld clip, soon to be released as a Lost Episode feature. Who would have guessed? I'm joking, of course. Check it out.

Rock School?.......What a Cool Idea

I was just channel surfing when I happened to take a glimpse at one my favorite films from last year, School of Rock, starring Jack Black. I purchased the DVD quite some time ago, but periodically look at the film because it does represent one of those "feel good" movies that one can get into ever so often. This film also prompted me to ponder about the real School of Rock or the more aptly named Paul Green School of Rock Music located in Philadelphia, PA. As many readers of this blog can attest to, I'm not a big fan of the current music scene. My dissatisfaction has very little to do with a longing for the days of master musicianship but more with looking for something new and superior to that bygone era. I have said this many times but if we come from a musical tradition that includes Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Miles, Stevie, Jimi and Prince-where are the new stars that have created something that goes beyond the aforementioned artists? The above snippet is from the 1998 documentary entitled Rock Schoolwhich showcases the school/mentoring program created by Mr. Green. Coincidently, Green's manic, excitable and eccentric personality does appear eerily similar to the Jack Black character in the feature film.

According to wikipedia, there has been a controversy brewing over the film versus the actual school. Can anyone say intellectual property? Or better yet, lawsuit? Well, anyway, thanks to Green he has franchised his program and there are satellite schools located in many cities all over the US. Now here is my racialization moment-where are the Black/Brown versions of this sorely needed program? Fortunately, there are pockets of Jazz and Classical mentoring programs all over this country but I just wish that we all placed more emphasis on these type of programs in communities of color. I have to applaud Green's efforts in the marketing of such a school because I would assume that he started to notice that kids were just not being exposed to the musicianship that the classic rock genre engenders. I would also come to a similar conclusion as it relates to how Blues, Soul and Jazz are not being introduced to minority youth as well. I, for one, would have loved if a school like this existed when I was a kid. Is there even such a thing as a high school band anymore? I know that one of the things that gave rise to hiphop culture was the cutting back of funding for inner city school music programs dating back to the mid 70s. Again cheers to Mr. Green for developing an interesting and innovative teaching device. Rock On! For more info on Rock School, other similar programs and the dilemma of keeping kids interested in extracurricular cultural activities, click on the links below:

  • Paul Green School of Rock Music

  • Set Them Free

  • Michigan State Unviversity-School of Music

  • Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra
  • Sunday, December 03, 2006

    Being a Black Contrarian or No Wiggle Room! (No Relation to Romper Room) An Addendum

    Thinking against the grain can be an arduous, unpopular but at the least necessary endeavor. It is essentially what a Black contrarian does-go left when everyone else chooses to go right. To be more accurate, in my case going right(center) when the group goes left(the above picture can be misleading). Do yourself a favor, scroll down to my previous Queens police shooting entry and click on the "trackback" link. It will lead you to the latest posting by Dr. Lester Spence who is at the helm of a blog, entitled Blacksmythe. It appears that he has taken me to task on my view of the Queens case or more specifically, the subject of policing in minority communities. For the record, I encourage reasoned debate, therefore I will attempt to briefly answer his charges.

    To paraphrase Spence, it was his contention that my policing stance may have some validity, if one were to ignore the overall protective purpose of the police. Spence also proposed that I failed to address the history of the police as it relates to communities of color. In addition, he posited that hip hop culture, because of it being a recent phenomenon(relative to historical relevance)would be an atypical ingredient in the police brutality cauldron. I am fully aware of the general history of the police. Thinking back to my Hampton U criminal justice courses, the subject of the police (before Sting and Andy Summers) remains forever emblazoned in my mind.

    The modern concept of the police in the US, started out invariably as private, independent security forces at the dawn of the Industrial Age with the intent to protect property and wealth. This is a far cry from the paramilitary organizations that we see today (although one could argue about their mantra for protecting the assets of the elite). I have never intimated that police misconduct and brutality do not exist, nor am I naive regarding their racist history (mob lynching with police collusion, Bull Connor's water hoses and police dogs, etc). But what if you take away the victimization standard that many left wing pundits use when discussing these issues? A standard that seems to absolve the proposed subordinate group of any personal responsibility for their condition.

    In addition, Hip Hop at a minimum, is a 30-year-old phenomenon-the last decade(and a half) dedicated to a propagandized Black thuggish aesthetic. Commercial hip hop in my estimation, has engrained in White America's consciousness (the police, notwithstanding) that Black youth, hip hop culture and crime are endemic and intertwined. Malcolm Gladwell's bestseller, Blink comes to mind (I'll expound on that another day). Ultimately, I'm not a fan of wiggle room. Wiggle room is the gray area that street culture has created when attempting to substantiate cases that should be of obvious racial injustice. The recent Howard Beach attack was an example of the wiggle.

    In a nutshell, a White hip hop youth attacks his Black counterpart with a bat while calling his victim a nigger (or nigga, you know the routine). The attacker actually had a defense because of hip hop’s alleged transcendent use of the n-word. As alluded to in my prior entry, too many Black youth, thanks to this present day propaganda are embracing stereotypical dress and behavior. Many are not criminals but wearing the costume of the criminal caste should not be considered desirable.

    Take a look at the excerpt (below) from an infamous Dave Chappelle stand-up routine. He talks about how women protest being objectified based on what they're wearing(excuse the expletives):

    "The girl says, 'Wait a minute! Just because I'm dressed this way does not make me a whore!' Which is true. Gentlemen, that is true. Just because they dress a certain way doesn't mean they are a certain way. Don't ever forget it. But ladies, you must understand that is fucking confusing! It just is. Now that would be like me, Dave Chappelle the comedian, walking down the street in a cop uniform. Somebody might run up on me, saying, 'Oh, thank God. Officer, help us! Come on. They're over here. Help us!' 'OHH!! Just because I'm dressed this way does not make me a police officer!' All right, ladies, fine. You are not a whore. But you are wearing a whore's uniform."

    In homage to Mr. Chappelle's act-"All right, young brothers, fine. You are not a thug. But you are wearing a thug's uniform."

    For more salt on the wound check out a fellow blogger's (The Thoughts of an Educated Young African American Male) up close and personal take on the police profiling issue:

  • Understanding Racial Profiling
  • Saturday, December 02, 2006

    What does this Man have to do with a Queens Police Brutality Case?

    The quick answer to my title question is-"nothing." The long answer is....everything. The gentleman pictured above is Hiram Johnson, a notable senator of California from 1917 to 1945. During his first year as senator, he was noted for making the statement: "the first casualty when war comes, is truth," pertaining to America's entry into the first World War. Who would have guessed that Senator Johnson's remarks would prove to be as prophetic today as they were almost 90 years ago. Unfortunately, I think Johnson's quote also applies to the handling of a Queens(N.Y.) police shooting that resulted in the death of a future groom on the eve of his wedding day. The groom, Sean Bell, 23, was killed on the 26th of November in a hail of bullets after leaving a bachelor party, which was being held at a Queens strip club. Bell, along with two friends while in a vehicle, were shot at in excess of 50 times by New York City police. The circumstances before and after this tragedy is extremely murky. According to the latest reports, an altercation may have occurred in the club with the groom (including his entourage) and some Guyanese patrons. It has also been claimed that someone in Bell's party may (or may not) have made reference to possessing a gun. While this is allegedly transpiring, undercover authorities have been surveilling the club in question(Club Kalua, left) in hopes of gathering enough evidence to shut it down for drug and prostitution charges.

    To further add to the nebulous nature of the shooting, it has also been reported that undercover police stopped Bell's vehicle (possibly without identifying themselves, again open to speculation) and either Bell’s (the driver) alleged ramming of the police vehicle or the belief that his party was armed, caused police to open fire, killing Bell and injuring his passengers. In addition, it has been speculated by police that there may (or may not) have been a fourth person in Bell's car that escaped and was armed. Be that as it may, when the gun residue cleared, no gun(s) were found at the scene. So what you have here is an excellent premise to sell newspapers and foment long held tensions between law enforcement and the African-American community. An unarmed groom and father of two children being killed hours before his wedding is not only tragic but also makes good copy. The usual cast of characters has arrived-Sharpton, community activists, an angry Black citizenry and police/public officials trying to make sense of exactly what occurred.

    We can be sure that someone screwed up.....royally. But each police brutality case is different. My deepest desire is that the African-American community in the future becomes more proactive instead of being reactive when these cases occur. This reactive contention would entail there being some self-effacement by Black folk regarding these matters. Before I go any further, let me state for the record that I am deeply saddened that another young male of color is dead. And the photo of his 3 year old daughter crying and attempting to understand that her father is gone is horrific and will haunt me for a lifetime. But as this tragedy has played out thus far, the story oftentimes circumvents the truth. Here are some truths about the police:

    1) Policing is a stressful, difficult and dangerous job that no sane person wants to do.

    2) Police officers (some who are also persons of color) have been killed in the line of duty leaving families (like the victim's in this case) orphaned and widowed. The key difference is that Sharpton, to my knowledge has not shown up for cases like these.

    3) And of course, you do have reprehensible cases of police misconduct and corruption.

    Now here are some hard truths for the African-American and Latino communities:

    1) The police have to discern who has criminal intent in an atmosphere that idolizes rebel behavior thanks to commercial hip hop imagery. Gone are the days when the heroes and villains wore opposing color schemes. Now there are legions of Black and Brown youth, whose fashion sense and mannerisms mimic those comprised of the thug element. Many are not criminals but (a la 50 cent) how is one to tell the difference between a gangsta and a wanksta.

    2) Not only do you have a street culture that has risen to mythic proportions but also street ethics that manifest in "stop snitchin'" policies-the ghetto version of the Italian omerta. At one time snitching meant that if two or more parties were involved in a crime and one gets caught, that person would not "rat" his cohorts out. This ghetto omerta has morphed into just not providing any information if someone gets hurt or killed. The murderer of an innocent simply gets a pass. Just ask Busta Rhymes.

    3) And lastly, we have a youth culture that unfortunately fulfill the stereotypes that have been ascribed to them. In the Bell case, all three parties had numerous arrests for drug and weapon charges in the past. The media has been hampering on the amount of shots in this case. How many shots would have been appropriate? One. Ten. Fifteen? If these officers (who were mostly minorities-which diminishes the usual black/white dynamic) honestly thought that there was a legitimate threat, how many shots would make the public comfortable? Yes, these gentleman were unarmed but how would the officers have known this? Children with fake guns have been killed under similar circumstances....when the smoke clears, it's another tragic mistake. If these victims were profiled....guess what?.....they were correctly profiled. Did they deserve to get shot? No...but in this realm of street culture where signals can get crossed, tragedy is sure to lurk in the shadows. As you can see, I have a lot to say about this case and my next entry will be an addendum piece. For the latest developments pertaining to the Queens shooting (including a Stanley Crouch editorial) click on the links below:

  • Cops, demonstrators square off in Queens shooting protest

  • Queens Shooting: In Search for Fourth Man, Police Arrest Four and Anger Community

  • Stanley Crouch's editorial regarding the Queens Police Shooting