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Jeanie Boulet

Jeanie Boulet was the character that Gloria Reuben played from 1995 to 1999 on “ER”, a hospital show. She made a guest appearance in 2008. She was one of the first long-running characters on US television to be HIV positive.

Job description: Boulet was a physician’s assistant at County General Hospital’s emergency room (ER), somewhere in Chicago.

Risk factors: In 1996 she tested positive for HIV. It causes AIDS, an incurable disease, but as of 2008 she was still AIDS-free. Boulet got HIV from her unfaithful husband Al. Long-term partners were the number one cause of HIV among Black women. And straight Black women like Boulet were the main women getting HIV then. So that part was not unrealistic.

Beauty: What was unrealistic is that Boulet was then one of the most beautiful women in North America, at least according to this blog, one unlikely to be married to a construction worker named Al or be working at a hospital somewhere in Chicago. More likely she would be in New York or Los Angeles trying to become an actress, model or singer. And instead of working at an ER she might be, say, working on Stage 11 at Warner Brothers.

More than just a pretty face: She was so beautiful I could watch her with the sound off. That they gave her actual words to say, even her own storyline (an optional feature for Black characters) was icing on the cake.

Acting: Vulture in 2008 put it well:

“No one suffers like Jeanie Boulet, and last night’s episode was a welcome throwback to the days when it seemed like every episode forced Jeanie to process some piece of world-shattering news. There’s always been great pleasure in Reuben’s beautiful, open face in moments like that; she played those scenes to the hilt, creating in us a great sympathy for her character that’s eclipsed how we’ve felt about any subsequent TV character other than maybe Buffy. We couldn’t stand to watch her suffer so, but we couldn’t stop watching her suffer, and we died a little with every hurt the producers hit her with.”

John McWhorter, on the other hand, dismisses her, along with Denise Huxtable of “The Cosby Show” and Lilly Harper of “I’ll Fly Away” (two other favourites of mine) as “low-key, dreamy black women” who appeal to those who do not like the Mammy stereotype. Like that is a bad thing.

Not a stereotype: Jeanie Boulet was not “sassy”, she did not speak in Mock Ebonics, she was not a Black Best Friend, she was not fat, ugly and asexual, neither was she sexy in a trashy way, she did not live on welfare with five children and no long-term partner, she was not a man in a dress, she was not a stripper.

Noble But Boring Middle-Class Negro? This is the Hollywood stereotype she falls closest to. She was spared that fate by having moral complexity and a (tragic) love life. And she did not wink out of existence when there was no White people to see her.

– Abagond, 2018.

Source: Google Images, Tumblr, Vulture (2008), “Authentically Black” (2003) by John McWhorter.

See also:

575

Taylor Michael Wilson

Wilson, October 22nd 2017. (Furnas County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Taylor Michael Wilson (c. 1991- ) is a White man in the US who has been – brace yourself – charged with terrorism. He is even in jail. But it does not seem to be getting much news coverage. When I googled it, CNN was listed first and then – Teen Vogue.

On October 22nd 2017 at two in the morning the California Zephyr, an Amtrak train with about 175 people travelling from California to Chicago, suddenly lurched to a stop – in Nebraska in the middle of nowhere. The lights went out and the emergency lights came on.

The crew looked for who pulled the emergency brake and found Wilson in the rear locomotive sitting in the engineer’s seat “playing with the controls.” He was talking kind of crazy. Even though he had a gun and tried to reach for it, they were able to subdue him.

Wilson:

“I’m the conductor, bitch!”

The police from the nearest town arrived an hour later. When they searched him they felt something in his left pocket. They asked him what it was. He said, “My dick.” It was a speedloader filled with bullets. They also got the .38-calibre handgun it went with.

In his backpack:

  • three loaded speedloaders,
  • box of .38 ammunition,
  • hammer,
  • fixed blade knife,
  • tin snips,
  • scissors,
  • tape measure,
  • respirator-style mask.

He also had business cards from:

  • the National Socialist Movement,
  • William Davidson of the Covenant Nation Church in Oneonta, Alabama.

The National Socialist Movement (NSM), according to the ADL, is the largest neo-Nazi group in the US. It calls itself “the shock troops for the white race.” With the rise of Trump and his White nationalist talking points, they think they got a shot at the big time.

William Davidson is better known as Bill Riccio, a suspected paedophile and an infamous neo-Nazi even among neo-Nazis. He used to run the White Aryan Resistance.

Both NSM and Riccio are believed to have been at the Charlottesville riot. So was Wilson says his cousin.

Wilson’s cousin is also his roommate, in St Charles, Missouri, 21 minutes from Ferguson. He says Wilson started acting strange last June when he joined an “‘alt right’ neo-Nazi group” he found online. In August he travelled to Charlottesville with a home-made shield and a bulletproof vest. And most likely a gun too: he has a conceal permit and carries a gun everywhere.

Killing Black people: His cousin says Wilson is “serious about killing Black people.” In April 2016 he pointed a gun at a Black woman on Interstate 70. He was not charged with a crime.

On Wilson’s mobile phone the FBI found:

  • “100 Deadly Skills”,
  • “The Anarchists Cookbook”,
  • “Poor Man’s James Bond”, volume 5, by Kurt Saxon,
  • “The Ranger Handbook”,
  • “The Ultimate Sniper” by John L. Plaster.

The sort of stuff terrorists read.

Behind his refrigerator in a hidden compartment:

  • a bulletproof vest,
  • a hand-made shield,
  • over a 1,000 rounds of ammunition,
  • ammunition reloading supplies,
  • gunpowder,
  • a pressure plate (probably for setting off a bomb),
  • white supremacy documents and paperwork.

They also found 15 guns, two of them possibly illegal.

– Abagond, 2018.

Source: mainly Google Images, NPRHeavy, and SPLC.

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542

#MLKalsoSaid

The Google Doodle for January 15th 2018, for Martin Luther King Day in the US.

#MLKalsoSaid (2015- ) is a hashtag on Twitter where people quote Martin Luther King, Jr to show that he said more than just that one thing that White people love to quote:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Some of what has been tweeted under #MLKalsoSaid:

“But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society.”

“A riot is the language of the unheard,”

“A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth.”

“All of us are on trial in this troubled hour.”

“America is going to hell if we don’t use her vast resources to end poverty and make it possible for all God’s children to have the basic necessities of life.”

“I am sorry to have to say that the vast majority of white Americans are racists, either consciously or unconsciously.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

“It is cruel jest to tell a bootless man that he ought to lift himself up by his own bootstraps”

“No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

“One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

“Our Summers of riots are caused by winters of delay.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Poverty is one of the most urgent items on the agenda of modern life.”

“The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism.”

“The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.”

“The white man does not abide by the law… His police forces are the ultimate mockery of law.”

“There aren’t enough white persons in our country who are willing to cherish democratic principles over privilege.”

“Three hundred years of humiliation, abuse and deprivation cannot be expected to find voice in a whisper.”

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar.”

“We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”

“We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together.”

For more, see #MLKalsoSaid on Twitter.

– Abagond, 2018.

See also:

577

Toni Braxton: Deadwood

Remarks:

Not her best song, but it is what is ringing in my head of late. Must be the cello 😉 In 2017 it reached #34 on the US R&B chart.

See also:

Lyrics:

Cant believe that I’m home all alone
Doesn’t stop me from wanting to see you
Why the hell won’t you pick up the phone?
Hello?
Don’t know which way is up anymore
No excuses and nothing to cling to
Oh you’re shaking me right to the core

Just wanna let you know
I won’t let this one go
You got me down, but I ain’t out
Think you got me good
Left me like some deadwood
I may be down, but I’ll turn it round

All my friends say that “I told you so”
They ain’t making me feel any better
Buttons up and it’s on with the show
Got me aching inside of my skin
No excuses and nothing to cling to
You will pay for the state that I’m in

Just wanna let you know
I won’t let this one go
You got me down, but I ain’t out
Think you got me good
Left me like some deadwood
I may be down, but I’ll turn it round

But you gon’ see wiser me
And I won’t break down easily

Just wanna let you know
I won’t let this one go
You got me down, but I ain’t out
Think you got me good
Left me like some deadwood
I may be down, but I’ll turn it round

Just wanna let you know
I won’t let this one go
You got me down, but I ain’t out
Think you got me good
Left me like some deadwood
I may be down, but I’ll turn it round

Don’t you go
Don’t you go
[?]

Source: A-Z Lyrics.

“shithole countries”

New York Daily News, January 12th 2018.

“Shithole countries” is what the US president calls countries of Black and Brown people.

On January 11th 2018 President Trump said:

“Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries … We should have more people from Norway.”

and:

“Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”

“Shithole” is a vulgar term for anus.

Trump reportedly believes all Haitians have AIDS and that most if not all Nigerians live in huts.

Nigerians returning to their huts.

The New York Times said Trump’s remarks were:

“the latest example of his penchant for racially tinged remarks denigrating immigrants”

The Daily Stormer, a racially-tinged neo-Nazi website:

“This is encouraging and refreshing, as it indicates Trump is more or less on the same page as us with regards to race and immigration.”

Twitter user Educating Liberals (@Education4Libs) said:

“Trump just has the balls to verbalize what all of us think.”

Mia Love was the only elected Republican, so far as I know, who immediately condemned Trump:

“This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation … The president must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned.”

She noted that his remarks were:

“unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values.”

Her parents come from Haiti.

Stephen Colbert on late-night television:

“Sir, they’re not [bleep] countries. For one, Donald Trump isn’t their president.”

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

The United Nations called Trump’s words “racist”. But they do not seem to be well-informed: they also called them “shocking”.

Trump, 2015.

Memory lane: Donald Trump, on the very first day of his campaign for president, said:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

White people in the US voted for Trump by a landslide. Not just the working class, not just rednecks who frequent bars, not just racist uncles, but across the board: rich and poor, well-educated and ill-educated, aunts, uncles and cousin Joeys. They chose him as their leader with their eyes wide open. The same goes for Republicans in Congress who continue to kiss up to him, and for Fox News which continues to lie for him.

Immigration: Trump’s comments make crystal clear that his concern for immigration has little to do with “making America safe” or anything like that, and has everything to do with racism. It is a dog-whistle issue just like “law and order” and “terrorism”. It dresses itself up as some Serious National Issue but it is just raw racial bigotry.

People from those “shithole countries” built the US for little or nothing – and gave their lives to defend it. How many soldiers buried at Arlington came from “shithole countries”? Colin Powell’s parents came from a “shithole country” – and while he was fighting in Vietnam, Trump was where? Fighting chlamydia.

– Abagond, 2018.

See also:

590

Egypt: a brief history

Egypt, circa -1400.

Here is my quick overview of the history of Egypt. It is very much a work in progress.

Note that the farther back you go in time, the more uncertain dates become.

Roman numerals show when the ancient dynasties of Egypt started. I follow the dates in “The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Egypt” (1996).

  • -4000s: Nagada I culture, rivets
  • -3900s:
  • -3800s:
  • -3700s:
  • -3600s:
  • -3500s: Nagada II culture, plywood, sail
  • -3400s:
  • -3300s:
  • -3200s: hieroglyphics
  • -3100s:
  • -3000s: paper (papyrus), oven, flail, candle wick
  • -2900s: Dynasty I, Narmer, Memphis is the capital, Horus
  • -2800s: dam, chair, book, page numbers, 365-day calendar
  • -2700s: II
  • -2600s: Old Kingdom, III, Imhotep, Step Pyramid, Re-Horus, divine kingship
  • -2500s: IV, Great Pyramid of Giza, Sphinx, clear glass
  • -2400s: V, obelisks
  • -2300s: VI
  • -2200s:
  • -2100s: First Intermediate Period, VII, VIII, IX-X
  • -2000s: Middle Kingdom, XI, Thebes is the capital, bronze, alphabet, mechanical lock, saw
  • -1900s: XII, Amun, Sinuhe, Nubia colonized
  • -1800s: Sesostris, Kahun
  • -1700s: Second Intermediate Period, XIII
  • -1600s: XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, Hyksos rule, chariots, bronze weapons, composite bow
  • -1500s: New Kingdom, XVIII, Amen-Re, helmet, armour,  clock (water, sun), scissors
  • -1400s: Thebes the world’s largest city, Hatshepsut, Tiye, Karnak, Cleopatra’s Needles, Valley of the Kings, Deir el-Medina, rudder
  • -1300s: Akhenaton, Nefertiti, Amarna, King Tut, Aten, Yahweh
  • -1200s: XIX, Ramses II, Jews, Jewish Exodus?
  • -1100s: XX, Sea Peoples, Pi-Ramses the world’s largest city, papyrus exports
  • -1000s: Third Intermediate Period, XXI, Smendes, Tanis
  • -900s: Libyan rule, XXII
  • -800s: XXIII
  • -700s: XXIV, XXV (Nubian rule)
  • -600s: XXVI, Assyrian invasion, Psamtek I, Red Sea canal
  • -500s: Late Period (Persian rule), Cambyses, AramaicXXVII
  • -400s: XXVIII, Herodotus
  • -300s: XXIX, XXX, XXXI, Ptolemaic (Greek) rule, Alexandria, Greek
  • -200s: Serapis, Euclid, Manetho, Library of Alexandria, Lighthouse of Alexandria, Eratosthenes.
  • -100s: Rosetta Stone, Alexandria the world’s largest city, Sosigenes
  • -000s: Roman rule, Roman Egypt, Cleopatra, Diodorus, Strabo, Philo
  • +000s: Coptic Christianity
  • +100s: Ptolemy, latitude and longitudeGospel of Peter
  • +200s: Origen, Plotinus
  • +300s: St Antony, St Catherine, Arianism, Athanasius, the New Testament as we know it, Egeria, Serapeum closed, the last hieroglyphics written
  • +400s: Hypatia dragged from her carriage by Christians, Council of Chalcedon declares Coptic Christianity heretical
  • +500s: Justinian, last temple of Isis closed
  • +600s: Arab rule, Islam, Arabic
  • +700s:
  • +800s: Bernard the Wise
  • +900s: Fatimid Caliphate, Chinese paper arrives
  • +1000s:
  • +1100s: Ayyubids, Ben Jonah of Tudela
  • +1200s: Mamluks, Abd el-Latif
  • +1300s: Ibn Batuta
  • +1400s:
  • +1500s: Ottoman rule
  • +1600s:
  • +1700s: Napoleon invades. Rosetta Stone is found.
  • +1800s: cotton exports, Suez Canal, British rule.
  • +1900s: King Tut’s tomb found, Aswan Dam (end of annual flooding), Nasser, US vassal state, Sadat, Mubarak
  • +2000s: Arab Spring, Sisi

Western tropes I tried to avoid:

  • Spotlight History: Egypt pretty much disappears from Western accounts of history after the death of Cleopatra.
  • Non-Western cultures as timeless: Ancient Egypt is seen as all the same even though it went on for 3,000 years.
  • Archaeological lens: the history of Ancient Egypt, when it is told, is often told in terms of Westerners and their discoveries. Some of that seeps into the above timeline.

– Abagond, +2018.

See also:

542

 

Jodi Benson: Part of Your World

Remarks:

To round out Mermaid Appreciation Week, not appreciated by some, here is a song from the Disney film “The Little Mermaid” (1989), their sanitized version of the Hans Christian Andersen tale.

The song never charted: Disney did not release it as a single and was surprised by its success. In fact, they almost cut it from the film itself, but test audiences liked it.

It was sung by Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel, the lead character. Howard Ashman wrote the words and Alan Menken composed the music. Menken has appeared in this space before as the composer of “Colors of the Wind”, a song from another Disney film, “Pocahontas” (1995).

Benson, Ashman, and Menken all come from the world of Broadway musicals. In that world this sort of song is known as an “I Want” song, the song where the lead character tells the audience what is going through her head, why she is unhappy, what she wants to accomplish. Disney did not understand the need for such a song when they made “The Little Mermaid”, but now they are standard, especially in their princess films.

It seems that this song resonated more strongly with gay and transgender children than with others. Ashman, the songwriter, was himself openly gay. And it has been argued that Hans Christian Andersen was himself trans. Whether Andersen was or not, the story itself is structurally trans: the lead character wants to become a real girl!

See also:

Lyrics:

Look at this stuff. Isn’t it neat?
Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?
Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl,
the girl who has everything?

Look at this trove, treasures untold
How many wonders can one cavern hold?
Looking around here, you’d think
Sure, she’s got everything

I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty
I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore
You want thing-a-mabobs? I’ve got twenty
But who cares? No big deal. I want more!

I wanna be where the people are
I wanna see, wanna see ’em dancin’
Walkin’ around on those…
What do you call ’em? Oh, feet

Flippin’ your fins you don’t get too far
Legs are required for jumpin’, dancin’
Strolling along down the…
What’s that word again? Street

Up where they walk
Up where they run
Up where they stay all day in the sun
Wanderin’ free,
wish I could be
part of that world

What would I give
if I could live
outta these waters?
What would I pay
to spend a day
warm on the sand?

Betcha on land
they understand
Bet they don’t reprimand their daughters
Bright young women,
sick of swimmin’
Ready to stand

And I’m ready to know what the people know
Ask ’em my questions and get some answers
What’s a fire and why does it…
What’s the word? Burn?

When’s it my turn?
Wouldn’t I love,
love to explore that shore up above?
Out of the sea,
wish I could be
part of that world

Source: FANDOM, Wikipedia.

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