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Donald, I support the First Amendment, I support your right of freedom of speech and expression. Go for it, bud. It is this country, the country that you have so much disdain for, that allows you to speak your mind, that protects your right to be a whiny, indulgent, attention-seeking crybaby. It also protects my right to shred you for it.

Donald, if this country disgusts you so much, leave! I guarantee there are thousands and thousands of people around the world that would glady take your spot. Because those who do not live under this flag are banging down the door to get in, not get out. Remember that.

Is our country perfect? No. But what have you done to make it better? What is your contribution? Talking like a fool? What is selfish is you, buddy. And what is your message to White kids, to White people? That their biggest contribution to justice and self-fulfillment is to go around with a chip on their shoulder like a victim?

And Donald, I would like to see some evidence that Mexican immigrants are rapists. It is a pretty strong claim. And what about the oppression of White people? It’s funny, through that fifty-odd year career of yours, you choose to start complaining now? What has changed to make you so resentful of your country? White unemployment is half of that for Latinos, or the homicide rate, or the dropout rate, or the percentage of White communities on food stamps?

Well, we have had White presidents for over 200 years. Maybe they failed you. We have had over 100 White Supreme Court justices. Maybe they failed you too. Or the Republicans, your saviours, who run this country into the ground.

Where does the buck stop? When will those in the White community take a step back and take some responsi-damn-ability for the problems of the White community? Because it seems to me, blaming people of colour for all your problems might make you the racist.

But Donald, you do not care about any of that. You want to make a political statement. But here’s the deal, Donald. I have loved ones overseas right now who fight for your right to bitch and moan about your perceived oppression, while you make billions of dollars, living the American dream. So show a little respect.

You know, maybe you should find a country that works better for you. Try, it won’t happen.

Note: For those who did not catch it, these are the words of Tomi Lahren and Donald Trump about Colin Kaepernick, changed up to apply to Trump himself. 

Remarks: Righteous anger from White Americans, from the Boston Tea Party to Donald Trump, is read as – righteous anger. But when it comes from Black Americans it is sometimes read through a White paternalistic lens as ingratitude: “How dare you after all we have done for you!” The Ungrateful Darky thing.

– Abagond, 2016.

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Trevor Noah

trevor-noah-03Trevor Noah (1984- ), a stand-up comedian, is well-known in his native South Africa but was unknown in the US till he became the host of the “The Daily Show” (1996- ) on Comedy Central. He took over from Jon Stewart a year ago, on September 28th 2015.

Jon Stewart would be a hard act for anyone to follow, even for Jon Stewart himself in 1999 when he started on “The Daily Show”. Most of the show’s writers have stayed on, but now they were writing for a man with a different style of humour and, unlike most of them, was not White American.

The White default is something he notices about the US:

“I remember the first time someone said, ‘Oh, that episode had a lot of black jokes in it.’ And I said, ‘What are black jokes? What does that mean? Was I doing white jokes in the other episode? Cause no one ever came to me and said that.'”

Noah sees humour as universal. He says that as someone who has done stand-up comedy on at least four continents. And as someone who sees the “export-grade racism” of South Africa as merely a purer form of a condition common to much of the world. People are more South African than they think.

Race: His take on race is informed not just by being from South Africa but also by being mixed-race – under apartheid! During the first ten years of his life, South Africa was still under apartheid, which did not allow the races to mix. His Black (Xhosa) mother was thrown in jail several times for being with his White (Swiss German) father. His father could not walk down the street with him. Even his mother would let go of his hand when the police appeared. “I was born a crime,” he says.

So while he is not (yet) as funny as Jon Stewart, his understanding of race is far more profound, his jokes about it less cringeworthy and are not an afterthought. At that level, no other late-night comic currently on US television comes even close.

Issues: Once it became known he would take the place of Stewart, the minions of Gawker combed through his tweets. They found not-nice jokes about Jews and fat women.

Comedy Central, he says, has never stood in his way in doing the kind of comedy he wants. If anything, it seems they think he does not go far enough.

Smile and charm: He seems to float by on smile and charm rather than going in for the kill. But, to be fair, he seems intent on educating White people, many of whom would be frightened by Black outrage, however Stewartesque.

Soweto: Noah was brought up by his mother and grandmother in Soweto, the world-famous Black township of Johannesburg. His mother tongue is Xhosa, he was educated in English, and can speak at least some Afrikaans, Zulu, German, Tsonga and Tswana.

– Abagond, 2016.

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Alfred Olango

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Alfred Olango (1986?-2016), a cook at Hooters, fled to the US from Gulu, Uganda, where Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army used to spread terror – only to be shot dead by US police in the parking lot of a suburban shopping centre. That was yesterday, September 27th 2016, in El Cajon, California, a suburb of San Diego. He was unarmed.

At about one in the afternoon, he was not acting like himself. He was apparently walking in traffic. His sister called police:

“I called three times for them to come help me. Nobody came; they said it’s not priority.”

After 50 minutes they arrive. She tells them he is unarmed. They gun him down in front of her.

She was screaming:

“I called for help, I didn’t call for you guys to kill him! Oh my God, you killed my brother!”

and wailing:

“Why couldn’t you guys Tase him? Why, why, why, why? Why couldn’t you Tase him? I told them he’s sick.”

When police get a call like his sister’s, a 5150, the policy is to bring the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) to prevent just this sort of thing. They did not.

The police, instead, by their own account, gave him commands. When he failed to follow those commands, they drew their guns on him. When he in turn drew an “object” on them – they fired. They recovered the “object”. They say it was not a gun, but will not say what it was. Why not?

Seizure: More than one witness said he was having a seizure. The police say they saw no sign of that. Instead they called his behaviour “erratic”. Even now, the police are not sure whether Olango was having a mental health crisis of some kind.

Video: The El Cajon police do not wear body cameras. The ACLU received reports that after the shooting the police took people’s mobile phones, which is against the law. The police deny that and say they have only one mobile phone, given to them willingly. Either way, they are apparently now in possession of all video of the shooting. They say the video backs their story, yet will make public only one still picture from it, one that fits their story:

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Eyewitnesses give a different account. For example:

“I see a man, I see a black man surrounded by officers with their guns out … black man with his hands up … he’s jerking, he’s confused, he runs this way. As soon as he runs this way, they discharge boom, boom, boom … five shots.”

One witness said the police did not even give any orders:

“I didn’t hear any command ‘Halt,’ ‘Stop’ or ‘I’ll shoot,’ I didn’t hear any command or yelling. I didn’t hear the man say anything. Next thing I see, ‘Pow, pow, pow, pow, pow’ – five shots.”

Protests followed at the scene of the crime, later outside the police department and again this morning (pictured below).

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The killer cop has not been named or arrested.

– Abagond, 2016.

Sources: Heavy, The Root, New York Daily News, Al Jazeera, San Diego Reader.

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Clinton-Trump Debate I

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Last night, September 26th 2016, was the first of three debates between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. They are running for US president. So is Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party Jill Stein, but they are both polling under the 15% needed to take part.

It was the first time Clinton and Trump ever debated each other. Nearly 100 million people in the US watched on television – the largest audience either is likely to get before the election in November.

Debate points: Clinton clearly won on debate points. I thought Trump would be sharper and faster on his feet than he was. He let Clinton’s email scandal pretty much slide right on by without nailing her on it. It seemed he was playing defence most of the time, which is generally a sign of losing.

Job interview: If you see the debates as a sort of job interview, Clinton won at that level too: she seemed serious and ready to be president, while Trump seemed to be winging it.

Fact check: Unlike what Trump said:

  1. He did voice support for the Iraq War before it started.
  2. He did claim that climate change was a Chinese hoax.
  3. Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional and did not work “very well” in New York.
  4. NATO did not focus on terrorism because of his criticism.
  5. Clinton advisers did not press Birther stories hard.
  6. China is not totally powerful as it relates to North Korea.
  7. NAFTA was not a terrible trade deal, at least not for the US as a whole.
  8. The US did not “give away” $400 million to Iran. It was money the US owed to Iran.
  9. You would in fact find out more from his tax returns than from his financial disclosure to the Federal Election Commission.
  10. His father did not just give him a “very small loan” in 1975 – he gave or lent him at least another $73.5 million before he died in 1999.

Unlike what Clinton said:

  1. Trump has paid income tax, in at least three years: 1975, 1976 and 1977.
  2. She did say TPP was the “gold standard” in trade deals, though that was before the deal was complete.

Race: In the wake of the grim events of Charlotte and Tulsa last week, they were asked how they would “heal the divide” of race. Clinton spoke of “systemic racism”, probably a first in presidential debates, while Trump’s catchphrases were “law and order” (a Nixonian racist dog whistle) and “stop and frisk” (unconstitutional). Trump bragged about having the endorsement of the police unions! Apparently he will “heal the divide” by putting salt in the wound.

Birtherism: When asked why he did not admit President Obama was a US citizen till this year, five years after Obama produced his long-form birth certificate, Trump made it seem like he was doing Obama and the country some kind of favour! He did not feel he had anything to apologize for. He seemed to be stuck in some kind of right-wing conspiranoid bubble.

Verdict: Trump is clueless and unprepared.

– Abagond, 2016.

Sources: NPR, PolitiFact, Syracuse.com.

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911

The US can end terrorism the same way it ended racism:

  1. Pass laws against terrorism and then say, “terrorism is dead.”
  2. Make terrorism a state of mind, not an act of terror. Since we cannot see into a man’s heart, that means anti-terrorist laws wind up applying only to those who say the wrong things, not to those who do the wrong things. The fight against terrorism, in other words, becomes a set of politically correct speech codes. Terrorist-sounding language becomes worse than acts of terrorism.
  3. Stop talking about terrorism! Condemn those who do. Tell them that they are keeping terrorism alive, that they are the true terrorists, that they are imagining terrorism, that they are part of a terrorist grievance industry.
  4. Get over it: If someone talks about 9/11, tell them to get over it and move on, to stop living in the past and playing the victim, to quit being so oversensitive. It is especially important to say this to those who lost family or friends because of 9/11. Oh, and be sure to tell them that no one in your family has ever been a terrorist.
  5. Say that terrorism is universal, part of the human condition. To those who bring up terrorism in the US, point out terrorism in other countries, like Iraq, Nigeria or India. Point to terrorism in other times. Shrug your shoulders and say, “It is part of man’s inhumanity to man.” Remember: terrorism is “universal” and yet “dead”!
  6. Downplay “perceived” acts of terrorism. Say that they are something else, like a mental health issue or a lone-wolf attack. Be sure to make it about the terrorist’s state of mind (“he feared for his life!”), which no one can know for sure, instead of, you know, the fact that he hurt and killed people.
  7. Blame the victim: Make the “innocent victims” seem not so innocent. Find out all the bad stuff you can about them or their family. Point out they were “no angels”. Make it seem like it was somehow their fault: “If only they had ….”
  8. Urge calm when an undeniable act of terrorism takes place. Warn against “a rush to judgement”, wait for all the facts to come in. Have the terrorists investigate themselves to determine those facts. Let a secret grand jury full of terrorist sympathizers review those facts to determine whether it was an act of terrorism. Call this “the process” since you cannot call it justice.
  9. Discredit protesters: Tell them that they are hypocrites, that if they truly cared they would protest against all violence, not just terrorism. If they say “American lives matter”, inform them that, “All lives matter”. If they do not stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner”, tell them they do not love their country, that if they do not like it in the US, they should leave. Be sure to be more upset about protesters than about terrorists.
  10. Have the Conversation: After all of this silencing and denying, say that we need to have “a conversation about terrorism.”

Disclaimer: This was parody.

Thanks to Michael Harriot of The Root for inspiring this post.

– Abagond, 2016.

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Selena: Como la Flor

Remarks:

Before there was Selena Gomez there was her namesake, Selena, both from Texas. This is my favourite Selena song. In 1992, the year Selena Gomez was born, this song went to #6 on the US Latin charts.

Requiescat in pace.

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Lyrics:

Yo sé que tienes un nuevo amor
Sin embargo, te deseo lo mejor
Si en mí no encontraste felicidad
Tal vez alguien más te la dará

Como la flor, con tanto amor
Me diste tú, se marchitó
Me marcho hoy, yo sé perder
Pero, ¡Ay! Cómo me duele
¡Ay! Cómo me duele

Si vieras cómo duele perder tu amor
Con tu adiós te llevas mi corazón
No sé si pueda volver a amar
Porque te di todo el amor que pude dar

Como la flor, con tanto amor
Me diste tú, se marchitó
Me marcho hoy, yo sé perder
Pero, ¡Ay! Cómo me duele
¡Ay! Cómo me duele

Como la flor, con tanto amor
Me diste tú, se marchitó
Me marcho hoy, yo sé perder
Pero, ¡Ay! Cómo me duele
¡Ay! Cómo me duele

Source: musica.com.

NMAAHC

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Disclaimer: I have not been to the museum. This post is based on media hype in the Guardian, New Yorker and The Root that came out before the museum opened.

NMAAHC (2016-), the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, is the first national museum of Black history in the US. It opens today, Saturday September 24th 2016, a 101-year-old dream come true. It was opened by President Obama, the country’s first Black president.

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It is not the Smithsonian’s first Black museum: it has an African art museum and the Black-oriented Anacostia Community Museum.

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The metalwork matches that made by Black craftsmen in Charleston and New Orleans.

The building is brown while next door the Smithsonian’s (White) American history museum is white! NMAAHC looks like a modern art museum, not a Roman temple. The shape is based on the crown of an African queen, its angles matching those of the nearby Washington monument. David Adjaye, a British-Ghanaian architect, was the lead designer.

Lower floors: Because of height limits, half the building is underground. That is used to effect: when you take the elevator to the bottom, it counts the years backwards like a time machine: 2015 … 1776 … to the early 1400s. You soon find yourself in a slave ship! From there you work your way up through history to the ground floor, going through slavery, civil war, Emancipation, Jim Crow, the civil rights movement, the inauguration of President Obama, all the way to Black Lives Matter. Freedom is still a work in progress.

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The slave cabin that is now at the NMAAHC (and in better repair).

It is not a feel-good history: revolution is set next to counter-revolution, atrocity against protest. “It takes a nation of millions to hold us back.” You see the auction block – and shackles made for a child. You see a statue of Thomas Jefferson and his fine words, but behind him on the wall are the names of his slaves, one brick, one slave. Later you stand in a real slave cabin built in the 1840s: it feels like you are back in time. You see a Klan hood – and walk past the casket of Emmett Till.

The P-Funk Mothership

The P-Funk Mothership

Artefacts: NMAAHC has thousands of artefacts, everything from Nat Turner’s Bible to Michael Jackson’s fedora, from a Tuskegee airmen training plane to the P-Funk Mothership; from the dress Rosa Parks was sewing the day she got arrested, to the dress Michelle Obama wore the day she became First Lady.

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Food from the Sweet Home Cafe.

Upper floors: After travelling through history, you can sit in the Contemplative Court (or maybe eat at the Sweet Home Cafe) before moving on to the upper floors to see Black achievements in art, music, sports, science and politics, from Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves to Ben Carson’s lab coat to J Dilla’s MPC. You can see art from people like Kara Walker, Joshua Johnson, Robert Duncanson and Mae Weems.

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The view: After the art museum you get a wonderful view where you can see the White House and the memorials to Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.

President Obama is glad the museum is opening this weekend in the wake of Charlotte and Tulsa: maybe it will help the country to understand what it is going through.

Tickets are free but you might have to reserve online in advance.

Bits of broken stained glass from the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963.

Bits of broken stained glass from the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963.

– Abagond, 2016.

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