A Note on DNC Protesters…and Activists In General!

Today I came across this video report, from the American News Project, about police intimidation of protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this week. This video, we’ve seen a million times since the infamous Seattle WTO protests of 1999, of mostly white protesters, exercising their “Constitutional right” to assembly and protest, and being righteously indignant if they’re impeded from that glorious goal. I stopped going to these kinds of anti-globalization/anti-war protests several years ago because of everything you’re going to witness when watching this video, but can ultimately be summed up in three words: WHITE LIBERAL ENTITLEMENT.

First of all the video opens with a quote from the First Amendment to the US Constitution which reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Note to protesters: Congress, in this case, did not make any law. You are dealing with the police. They kick ass and ask questions later. Your Constitutional rights can always be violated, and you can sue to get them back, only after the fact. But being white, you don’t often have to deal with the daily stop and frisks, arrests, detainments. So I guess thinking that you have rights in the first place that the police are supposed to respect ahead of time is a case of white entitlement. To the contrary, an older Black woman activist said to me in New Orleans years ago, “Why do we do these ‘know your rights’ trainings when we know you don’t have any?”

Everything else here flows from there.

Hordes of white people shrieking “Who’s streets? Our streets?” Well, we know. These same white hipsters/activists have priced Black and Latino people out of many neighborhoods across the US. I am well aware they are “your streets.” In a different context, say, Harlem, the policing increases ten-fold, to protect you from me. That protest slogan, which I have heard comes from the Gay Liberation Front (which was not without its race issues) post-Stonewall, has long outlived its usefulness, because of the dynamic witnessed in this video. White people do own the streets. The police getting in your face to protect the property/image of the State is not new or shocking.

Peep the woman in the red shirt shouting to the police THIS IS AMERICA!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? My question is, What does she think America is? What does she think the police are for? This, to me, IS America. Period. This is not some aberration, or some recent (i.e. post 9-11) devolution of a once free state (the two terms are almost an oxymoron).

The two white men explaining that “they’re not protesters,” and yet they got hemmed in by the cops for two hours just the same. I wish the time I was nearly thrown to the ground by some kind of private security (I believe was Blackwater) goons in New Orleans I could have had that excuse. I was just Black and that was all they needed to know to assume I was trying to rob the mostly non-black friends I was trailing behind slowly on a bicycle. When you’re white, you assume that you have a personhood separate and distinct from your race. I’ve never made that assumption–or I’ve never been allowed to.

And to the point about racial profiling, peep the people with the scarves pulled above their faces. I know that is in part to protect one’s self against the use of tear-gas and mace, but it is also to protect one’s identity. Let me tell you, if my Black ass walked around any street in America with a scarf pulled above my face, I’d be assumed to be robbing some shit and be shot to the ground, no questions aked. Once again, the assumption that you have an “identity” to be protected from policing and surveillance, versus knowing that you are constantly policed and surveilled because of your racial/gendered body.

For all of this white liberal outrage about their right to protest being denied, they cut a 6 minute video piece (from what was probably several hours of footage), and got ALL UP IN the face of these police officers without an act of retaliation or violence.

I think that the protest hopping Left really gets off on these huge displays police intimidation and violence enacted because of protesting. They’re mostly content with other forms of police violence, and these displays seem to make them feel oppressed and gives them a relevance they seem to relish!

Oh yeah, watch this bullshit.

Bloods Kill Member for Being Gay

No Words.

Tropic Thunder: The Joke’s On Who?

So last week when Tropic Thunder opened there was a controversy over Robert Downey Jr.’s use of the word “retard” in the script (and I think some really disgusting mockery of people with disabilities in the film).  The film’s opening night was met with about 200 protesters at the premiere. This did not stop the film from grossing over $25 million it’s opening weekend.

While I support the  critique of the way people with disabilities are treated in American comedy and the way so much of our language is infused with references of disability and usually as a joke(retard, lame, riding the short bus, etc.)

But what’s interesting about this film is that there is seemingly no lack of discussion or outrage at the racial blackface and portrayal of Asians (i.e. Vietnamese) in this movie. Here’s the trailer:

Though I have not seen the movie, the synopsis from IMDB pretty much tells me exactly everything I need to know. So the film, written by Ben Stiller, is about a group of Hollywood actors (and one rapper-turned-actor) making a Vietnam War flick, which they will do on location in the jungles of Vietnam.

The film is supposed to be a spoof of how these blockbuster films get made, complete with archetypes of Hollywood actors. Robert Downey, Jr. plays the “artist/actor”–the Academy Award winning actor who is so dedicated to this film, he undergoes an operation to turn his skin brown, since the character he wants to play is written for a Black actor.  From the trailer, the scene with him practicing his “black” accent is right out of an old vaudville/minstrel act. Is this making fun of “actor’s actor” or is it making fun of how Black people supposedly talk–so convoluted and full of malapropisms that it is difficult even for the “actor’s actor” to mimick? What is really getting the laugh?

Furthermore, the actors get to the jungle, and think they’re shooting a film, only to find out that they are really at war with some guerrila Vietnamese  heroin growing/smuggling gang, who mistakes the actors for DEA agents. One actor is ultimately captured by the gang, of course called “The Dragons,” led by, according to the synopsis on IMDB, a “prepubescent” boy. The actor is later recognized by the gang as an actor, and is forced to act out one of his most famous films over and over. He even attracts a “son”, a young gang member who becomes infatuated with him. Is the joke on the actors, or Asians who are continually infantilized in white supremacist imagery–and yet at the same time, are threatening and can be prone to violence?

The last turn of events is with the rapper-turned-actor, who is shown early in the film (I think the opening scene to boot) promoting “Booty Sweat” energy drink and “Bust-A-Nut” candy bar, while performing his hit song, “I Love Tha’ Pussy”. After this overt performance of Black male hypersexuality, it is later revealed that he is gay. With the hip-hop persona as the backdrop, the “down-low” framework isn’t too far behind. Is homophobia and misogyny indicted in this portrayal, or are stereotypes about Black covert and overt sexuality reinforced as a punchline pretending to be satire?

There are other acts of violence that happen to the “The Dragons” as the “heros” escape them, make a movie, and ultimately win Academy Awards.

Many people will want to say well they “go after everybody” and I obviously “don’t get it.” But “going after everybody” doesn’t make it OK, and if it is satire, and it doesn’t push past the narratives enough to render them powerless, then it is actually just plain ole’ minstrelsy.

GMHC Launches New Campaign Targeting Fathers of Black Gay Men

Some people don’t dig social marketing campaigns, but I think that, when done well, they can be a good way to disrupt the many silences around our lives and put them into the public sphere for conversation. When it comes to homophobia and the consistent invisibility of Black queers in the Black community (though that is beginning to change slowly) having posters in subways or wheat-pasted, they can be good ways for us to disrupt the silence and be situated in the geography of the city.

This is the second of a series GMHC has been doing this year, and though I am less giddy about this one as I was the I LOVE MY BOO campaign, this one is damn cool too!

“Families are critically important to young men of color and this campaign builds on the strength and resiliency of those bonds,” stated Dr. Marjorie Hill, Chief Executive Officer of GMHC. “We recognize the complexities in the lives of young men of color who have sex with men. Thus, HIV prevention efforts should speak to the realities faced by these young men on a daily basis. We cannot simply deliver a message of “use condoms” or “be tested for HIV. It is imperative to address the myriad of underlying factors which contribute to the transmission of HIV, including homophobia, racism, poverty, isolation, stigma, poor body image, and inadequate access to health care.”

The Clintons Take Drama to Shakespearean Levels

How much like the Macbeths are the Clintons? Though they switch roles between Lady M and McB himself, the two seem to be hell-bent on remaining in power and will bring down the Democratic Party in the process if they must.

Note to the Left: Listen, I am not really a Democrat any more than I am a Republican, but this is a moment in history where I think we need to be strategic. If John McCain wins you’d just better pack and move–he’s about as centrist as he is psychologically stable. So for all of Obama’s flaws, I don’t feel like I can afford a McCain presidency. There’s not enough Pepto-Bismol in all the world to stomach the disaster that is going to be. But i digress.

Just when I thought it was all over, signs seem to point to the fact that the Clintons may still be hoping to sabotage the Obama candicacy in hopes of a Hilary Clinton ticket in 2012.

In a “non-shock of the week” turn of events, The Atlantic Monthly’s September feature story proves that the Clinton Campaign worked really hard to drape themselves in the fabric of American flag-style patriotism, and paint Obama as foreign other who couldn’t be trusted (this scoop, combined with me picking up the last two brilliant issues at airports this summer means the mag has won itself a new subscriber in Kenyon Farrow!). Non-shock as it is, The Atlantic has published all the emails/memos on their site proving it (theatlantic.com/clinton), and the story is an interesting timeling of the inner workings of her campaign. Joshua Green writes:

Two things struck me right away. The first was that, outward appearances notwithstanding, the campaign prepared a clear strategy and did considerable planning. It sweated the large themes (Clinton’s late-in-the-game emergence as a blue-collar champion had been the idea all along) and the small details (campaign staffers in Portland, Oregon, kept tabs on Monica Lewinsky, who lived there, to avoid any surprise encounters). The second was the thought: Wow, it was even worse than I’d imagined! The anger and toxic obsessions overwhelmed even the most reserved Beltway wise men. Surprisingly, Clinton herself, when pressed, was her own shrewdest strategist, a role that had never been her strong suit in the White House. But her advisers couldn’t execute strategy; they routinely attacked and undermined each other, and Clinton never forced a resolution. Major decisions would be put off for weeks until suddenly she would erupt, driving her staff to panic and misfire.

But we thought since she lost, she’d concede to get a cushy job in the new administration (though not the VP slot) and leave well enough alone. Maureen Dowd, who undoubetdly despises the Hillary Clinton, wrote in her  column yesterday that Hillary and Bill are still planning to use their platforms as major speakers at the Democratic National Convention to set Hillary up as the nominee in 2012, and damage Obama’s chances against McCain now.

Hillary feels no guilt about encouraging her supporters to mess up Obama’s big moment, thus undermining his odds of beating John McCain and improving her odds of being the nominee in 2012.

She’s obviously relishing Hillaryworld’s plans to have multiple rallies in Denver, to take out TV and print ads and to hold up signs in the hall that read “Denounce Nobama’s Coronation.”

In a video of a closed California fund-raiser on July 31 that surfaced on YouTube, Hillary was clearly receptive to having her name put in nomination and a roll-call vote.

She said she thought it would be good for party unity if her gals felt “that their voices are heard.” But that’s disingenuous. Hillary was the one who raised the roll-call idea at the end of May with Democrats, who were urging her to face the math. She said she wanted it for Chelsea, oblivious to how such a vote would dim Obama’s star turn. Ever since she stepped aside in June, she’s been telling people privately that there might have to be “a catharsis” at the convention, signaling she wants a Clinton crescendo.

Bill continues to howl at the moon — and any reporters in the vicinity — about Obama; he’s starting to make King Lear look like Ryan Seacrest.

LOL!!! Further proving Dowd’s point, Bill Clinton had the fucking nerve to tell ABC News last week that Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC) had purposefully made him look like a racist and ruin Clinton’s Negro Pass in the Black Community–a fact which Clyburn categorically denies.

Clinton told ABC News last week that Clyburn “used to be” an old friend of his, but he “was not Hillary’s supporter. Never. Not ever. Not for a day.”

When told that Clyburn had said Clinton damaged his own credibility with the black community, Clinton responded, “That may be by the time he got through working on it, that was probably true.”

Though Clyburn usually operates with the utmost restraint, I think he should tell Bill:

Journalists Say The Darndest Things…

From AIDS2008.com.

I’m in the media center here at the International AIDS Conference. Listening to a couple US reporters sitting very close to me, banter about the conference and Mexico City in general, one woman, was talking about writing a “quirky condoms story” about condoms being given out with tequila shots somewhere in Mexico City.

Isn’t that so quaint?

In another attempt at humor I suppose, she says half-giggling, “Wouldn’t it be ironic if someone contracted HIV at the International AIDS Conference?”

And there is any wonder why the US reporting on the HIV epidemic is shallow at best, and damaging to the cause at worst?