Cam Newton Meets Booker T: WWE Predicted Super Bowl 50 Thirteen Years Ago


“Triple H – he’s a champion you can be proud of. Do you want a thug for a champion?” – Jerry “The King” Lawler

“People like you don’t get to be World Champion. You’re not a champion – you’re an entertainer. Go ahead, do your little dance.” – Triple H

“….you can pick up our bags, put that chauffer’s hat on, drive that limousine, take our bags up to our rooms and do something you’re qualified for.” – “Nature Boy” Ric Flair

13 years ago, these men playing “characters” on television disparaged a future Hall of Famer as part of a racially charged WWE storyline. Booker T, the most decorated champion of the second largest wrestling promotion in the history of the industry, was set to face then (and ironically enough, current) World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H, at Wrestlemania XIX. In order to add some emotional charge, the decision was made to turn the Connecticut blue blood Triple H really bad by having him and his mentor, Ric Flair, use as many racist tropes as they could get away with. Reminiscent of 10 years prior with Ron Simmons (the first African-American heavyweight champion in professional wrestling history) and Harley Race (manager for Vader, then-WCW World Champion who would lose the title to Simmons), the barbs tossed at Booker T by not only Triple H and Flair but also Jerry Lawler on commentary were nearly constant for the weeks approaching Wrestlemania. Wrestlemania has commonly been referred to as the Super Bowl of wrestling, easily the biggest show of the year that sells out football stadiums worth of attendance annually and has millions watching globally.

This year, in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl 50, there was an intense amount of racially charged commentary leveled at 2015-2016 MVP Cam Newton. From him wearing a hoodie or a hat to how he celebrates his touchdowns and leads his teammates, he couldn’t be himself – a young Black man who openly embraces Black culture – without it being a subject of popular criticism. There was the mom who wrote an open letter that the endzone dancing Cam does is shameful. There are the comments about how Cam’s emotional behavior isn’t the right way to be a leader and certainly not a quarterback – the most important position on the team. Quarterbacks are supposed to be quiet leaders of men, intense but never too boisterous and certainly not classless. Most of the commentators were white, and once that “thug” word snuck up again after the Panthers won the NFC Title it was like the world re-wrote the storyline from over a decade ago in real life.

The World Championship to be decided between veteran champion Peyton Manning of football’s royal family and Cam – the athletic Black upstart with accolades from the small time who never forgot his roots. Peyton isn’t known for racist statements (unlike recently FIRED Riley “I’ll fight every nigger here bro” Cooper) so there’s no direct comparison for the competitors, but the masses can fit the role of Lawler, Triple H, and Flair. The masses uttered vile statements and worse towards Cam while placing a glass ceiling over his head and saying that his emotional conduct on the field (similar to Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady), flashy playing style (Broadway Joe anybody?), and his exuberance of fun while playing (“Brett Favre just looks like he’s having fun out there!”) are all contributing to his own downfall. Meanwhile, the elephant in the room is that he’s Black – big B, not little b. That means he likes being Black and embraces what Blackness looks like in the current era. It’s got a different style than before; it’s a little extra, it’s a bit more emotional, and it’s extremely unapologetic. It’s been dangerous to be unapologetically Black in recent years for many of us, but for Cam it translated into him being a representative of Black people everywhere – for Black people to be proud of and white racists to hiss at from behind their keyboards.

On Super Bowl Sunday, I took an informal poll of the friends at the gathering I held about who was rooting for the Panthers and who was rooting for the Broncos. We all were rooting for the Panthers, mostly on the back of Cam being Cam over seeing Peyton win one on the way out. They noticed, however, that the people they’d asked about the game were often white rooting for the Broncos and Black rooting for the Panthers. “That Cam, there’s something about him I just don’t like.” “Peyton plays the game the way it should be played.” These were the kinds of reasons given for why they rooted against the Panthers – it was that they had a Black (Big B, not little b) quarterback leading them as the face of the franchise and how he was doing things didn’t sit right with these white people. Never mind that Peyton Manning had his worst season since his rookie year and was benched; it was that he took the benching with grace and his disposition is a champion’s disposition. He appears unflappable at all times, the way that men are supposed to be – cold, cerebral, unemotional, effective. Cam represents a different kind of man and doesn’t have that traditionally white championship demeanor. His celebrations and emotional play remind me of Tiger Woods when he burst on the scene. That fist pump is iconic because he did it often and because golf was the ultimate in polite sports – celebrating like that was virtually unseen. Nobody could say shit to him though, because he was the best of a generation. The same may one day be said of Cam, but if 15-1 and a Super Bowl berth isn’t enough for people to get off of his back about enjoying the ride and being the same kind of player that got him to this stage then they might not be looking to be convinced. We should remember they’re calling Cam a thug and everything else even though he’s been a model citizen in the NFL and regularly displayed the kind of community commitment that a face of a NFL franchise should.

Booker T was unapologetically Black before we had any idea of that term. As a pro wrestler, he came into his own “raising the roof,” hollering “can you dig that sucka,” and using Black slang naturally in the mid-90s and early 2000s. His signature move was the Spinaroonie, a breakdancing predecessor to Cam’s Dab that he broke out when he was on a roll or to celebrate a win. During a live pre-match interview on Pay-Per-View, he got so into the interview he said, “Hulk Hogan! I’m coming for you, nigga!” Prior to Wrestlemania, he told his life story live on television in front of millions: youngest of 7, his Dad ran out on him, Mom died while he was a kid, he fell in with the wrong crowd and went to jail for armed robbery. Came out of jail and invested in himself, caught a break, and the rest is history. It’s a story all too familiar for many Blacks in some way shape or form, and his ability to use his entertainment and athleticism to win championships should be an example that you can be yourself and succeed with the right chance. For the entirety of his career, except for a brief stint as a King, he was an entertaining Black guy who wrestled as an entertaining Black guy. He was himself, evidenced by his last words to Triple H before the bell rang at Wrestlemania XIX, “Yo punk ass in trouble. Yo punk ass in TROUBLE.”

Some people think that smart wrestling logic would be that after all of these indignities suffered from Triple H and Flair, that Booker T would be the fan favorite underdog who deserved to win the World Heavyweight Title. In a well executed, technical match, Triple H (thanks to interference from Flair) retained the World Title at Wrestlemania. Booker hit all of his best offense but had too much to overcome in order to win, though the abrupt finish killed the match – Triple H hits his finishing move and after an extremely long time, pins our hero with one hand. Lawler continues to disparage Booker’s past in prison and claim that he just doesn’t measure up to Triple H throughout the match, with Jim Ross doing his best to salvage some respect for Booker T. The story ends up going that the hero suffers public racist humiliation and isn’t able to overcome it in the biggest match of his career. The whole reason the story takes the hero through so much hell is so that the hero has a redemptive victory, right?! This would have been possible down the road but there was never a rematch between Triple H and Booker T for the World Heavyweight Championship. Perhaps WWE was being refreshingly honest about America – the Black hero’s best hope might be to make it to the big show but if he doesn’t win, he won’t get anymore shots.


There wasn’t a storybook ending scripted for the for real life storyline, as the Panthers fell short in Super Bowl 50 much to the delight of the Cam haters. Bill Romanowski, a guy who spat in people’s faces while playing football against them, commented that Cam’s attitude isn’t championship worthy, “boy.” As though one of the dirtiest players in the game for a generation has room to make moral commentary since Romo was mostly a mad dog who had to be leashed. Cam’s inability to handle losing “well” enough or graciously enough mattered to a public who didn’t participate in the game. It matters more than Johnny Football apparently rupturing a woman’s eardrum. It matters more than when Peyton Manning, the same championship quality guy, stormed off the field without shaking hands after losing to Drew Brees in the Super Bowl. It all matters more because he’s Black.

Still, I wish that Cam scored in the Super Bowl JUST so he could dab on em. Just like I wish I’d gotten to see a Wrestlemania World Championship win for Booker T. I vividly remember watching Triple H berate Booker T with coded and explicit racist language and feeling personally insulted as a fan.  Booker T was a Black person who embraced Black culture willingly, much like myself, and to see the person I could vicariously live through experience such humiliation without the comeuppance did turn me away from watching wrestling for years. Although Booker T never received a rematch against Triple H, Cam has a rematch every season until he retires or the masses accept an unapologetically Black person (note the backlash Beyonce is receiving for her halftime show performance). Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid watching Cam’s rematches.

Bill Cosby Doesn’t Deserve Your Help

“If you can fuck up in Heaven, you can fuck up in Harlem.” – D.L. Hughley

Years ago, I wrote a piece about how folks who have wonderful legacies in one arena do terrible things and if it’s possible to separate their actions. Getting older has opened my eyes to how easy it is to believe a particular narrative that generally benefits certain people, and that it’s horrifyingly common.

Also horrifyingly common? Everybody who thinks Bill Cosby got a raw deal because he has a very good lawyer and because he’s Bill Cosby. If you don’t like that a bunch of people can publicly accuse you of doing something wrong, then you don’t like the First Amendment to some degree – and this isn’t the same as yelling fire in a crowded theater. If you’re nervous that you could be Bill Cosby, then you might want to be nervous about what harms you’ve done to people that you thought you could get away with. If you don’t like that a bunch of people can publicly accuse you of doing something wrong and that you could be arrested for it, then either watch Making a Murderer and How to Get Away With Murder and do better about wiping your prints and keeping your trail clear or pray the statute of limitations runs out. If you think Bill is being extorted, you might be right – and he might deserve it if he’s been sexually assaulting women.

If you think Bill couldn’t have done it for no other reason than he has too much to lose, then ask Darryl Strawberry why he did crack while playing for the Yankees, why Tiger Woods kept sleeping with Denny’s waitresses, why Marion Berry did crack with a prostitute in a hotel room, why Bill Clinton messed around with Monica Lewinsky, why didn’t Charlie Sheen use protection, why Kobe ended up messing with that woman in Colorado, why didn’t YOU take a cab home instead of driving drunk, and all sorts of other obviously answerable questions about people having too much to lose and still making costly decisions. Just because you weren’t caught drunk driving doesn’t mean you did the right thing – it means you got away with it.

If you think Bill was going to buy NBC and turn it into Negro Broadcasting Channel, you don’t have the slightest idea how much it costs to buy NBC Universal and that Bill Cosby, unless he’s masquerading as Warren Buffett, doesn’t have the money to buy a channel. Case in point – Oprah launched her own channel, and Cosby doesn’t have Oprah money.

If you think these women made a mistake going to a married man’s room alone, you’d better be saying Bill made an even bigger mistake being alone with a single woman while he’s married, which does allow him the opportunity to do something he shouldn’t and get away with it. If you think “innocent until proven guilty,” you have your faith in a broken system – and you don’t reserve that God’s eyeview of justice for so many cases where people believe the victim’s story without video evidence like the guy who was arrested for bleeding on a cop’s shoes after reportedly being beaten by them, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Akai Gurley, Sandra Bland or some other miscarriage of justice where victims are often not believed and made out to be liars who earned what was coming, why does Bill get your benefit of the doubt? If you think it’s troubling to see “America’s Dad” get put through the ringer but have zero belief that he did it, I wonder what you would’ve said if Daniel Holtzclaw’s victims waited 10 years before saying something and how much you would’ve believed them. But this is the DNA era – people need indisputable video evidence, DNA, defensive marks, a rape kit, a hospital report, and an angelic victim before they’ll believe a powerful man played a power move in one of the worst ways possible. Even then, we’ll find a reason to doubt a complainant because women lie (2-8% is the common stat on false rape reporting), people get over on folks (so they say), and rape is a real gray area in the world because of intoxication and consent (so they say).

You should be nervous if you think a former date you got drunk with and slept with might come back and say you raped her, and it’s an IGNANT thing to do to claim someone has raped you when you genuinely know it was a consensual affair. It’s just as IGNANT to deny someone’s rape claim, however, just because time passed. If that’s the case, Blacks should shut the fuck up about anything that happened over 20 years ago because of a statute of limitations, and there is NO SUCH THING AS A MORAL STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS. Just because one woman was lying about Cosby being in LA when he was apparently in New York doesn’t mean ALL OF THEM are lying until it’s proven they are (and that the crime didn’t happen), which comes from investigating the crime. I had a former cop friend once tell me, “I worked rape cases for 13 years. You’d be surprised what some of these women think is rape.” To be fair, he also said he thought each claim should be checked out, which is doing the due diligence rather than treating victims like criminals. I ain’t worked a rape case, and I know there can be ample amounts of he said/she said and could possibly imagine a scenario when one might think the sex was consensual but it really wasn’t (and even then, it’s basically impossible to imagine a scenario where this has happened without him having some indication that something isn’t right here). But let me put this out there – every young man I know has grabbed a woman’s ass in a club and because she didn’t say something or fight back violently some thought that she was OK with it and that it’s alright to do as a general practice. Some of these women might be OK with it, but for many they make a business decision to avoid conflict because if she tells him “Take your hand off my ass!” he might bust her in the head with a damn beer bottle or otherwise physically harm or intimidate her there and/or later; he might call her all sorts of names and try to make her a social outcast; or he might stalk her trying to grab on her when she’s dancing with someone else or some other insane event that’s happened to women in social situations. Look at how they’re talked to on Tinder, in DMs, and all sorts of other social media and comment sections (oh, and in real life) – are you really shocked that someone might just do something they shouldn’t to a woman and think it’s OK? If so, color yourself IGNANT and do better.

IGNANT Friday, Vol. 4, 1st Edition

IGNANT Friday has returned! This is the weekly roundup of the most ignant things I’ve seen or heard of, and since this is the first Friday of the first full week of the new year, I thought it might be good to round up some end of the year ignance and spotlight some beginning of the year ignance starting with…

Donald J. Trump is running for president and it’s not a hoax. When asked how he’s going to “make America great again,” he says he’ll hire good people to get the job done. When asked how he’s going to tackle the “immigration problem,” he says we’ll build a wall that borders Mexico (not Canada, though) even though Hispanics love him and that we’ll ban all Muslims from coming into a country that has freedom of religion. His supporters often chime that he’s outspoken and that this country needs more outspoken leadership (while insinuating that President Obama’s comments about guns, race, or anything else are out of place or distractions). Meanwhile, we’re headed towards Trump being on the Republican ticket. Because he will hire good people to do his job (sound business strategy) and forgot that people have to confirm nearly any choices he makes about the good people (politics as usual), a Trump presidency will leave this country up shit creek without a canoe, a paddle, or life jackets. President Trump = wading in shit creek.

I’m not done with the IGNANT shit on the Republican ticket though – the good Dr. Ben Carson, Black people’s favorite retired neurosurgeon, is losing support after being recognized as the voice of Eor from Winnie the Pooh. Seriously, he’s losing support because he’s not credible as a Presidential candidate. He never was a serious candidate, seeing as he has zero political experience or leadership, zero business experience or leadership, and his biggest claim to fame after being a retired Black neurosurgeon is that he’s a right wing Black man who confirms what white people would like to think about Blacks. To this point, many times I’ve criticized Ben for his lackluster and offensive politics, I’ve had a guy pop up and say that I don’t like Uncle Ben because he’s Black and that I’m a sellout because I don’t like his political rhetoric. Put my face next to the definition of a sellout if that’s the case, because I don’t like his political position and think he’s largely misguided. I was told I didn’t like Ben Carson because I don’t respect his rags-to-riches story and that he’s the American Dream. I can’t take away from his credentials or life experience and don’t intend to – I also don’t think he’s fit to be President of the United States because being rags-to-riches and being a former neurosurgeon doesn’t qualify him to run the country, nor do his views or his politics. He’s anti-affirmative action, which brings me to the next IGNANT piece of business…

Antonin Scalia’s par for the course commentary on Black students’ abilities to achieve were dreadfully inaccurate and served as grist for the mill for the same man who said, “If we want to stop discriminating on the basis of race then we have to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” though if I’ve paraphrased him someone please correct him so that he doesn’t keep saying these things. This is a problem with having lifetime positions like Supreme Court membership – nobody can be held accountable or removed unless he sexually assaults a child (and we have DNA, indisputable video evidence and a sworn confession) or some other heinous act, but he’s allowed to spout falsities without research that end up damning a constituency of this country as unable to learn quickly, like the backhanded slap that accompanied Brown v. Board leaving Black schools with a scarlet letter. I had a conversation once with a kid that summed up the bullshit behind the scenes of a “meritocracy” when he was mad that his Black friend got a scholarship to a great private college and he had to go to the local state school.

“I’ve got better grades than him, I’ve got better test scores than him.”

College admission processes do include more than tests and GPAs, maybe his recommendations spoke glowingly about him and he brings more to the table as a student than you do.

“I just think it should all be on merit.”

Then the other 5,000 white freshmen beat you a lot more than the 500 Black freshmen if it’s all on merit, and you didn’t have that spot taken from you – it wasn’t yours to begin with. Ultimately, the confusion had here is that Black people are supposed to go to HBCUs and if they try to attend a PWI, they’re taking a spot away from a white person who was already prequalified for the spot like the credit card offers we get in the mail. Just like the credit card might be prequalified, you still have to apply and someone might actually have a better application than you, even if you’re prequalified! More to the point, this plays on the problems many Blacks face on their PWI campuses such as….

The blacklash against #ConcernedStudent1950 and the Mizzou football team protest exemplifies the IGNANT shit Black people have to deal with on a regular basis when shouting down and confronting racism, both in its visceral and institutional forms. Protest won’t be perfect, neither will policies – but the goal of protesting is to ultimately be in a position to improve policies (legal or social) for people here and generations to come. There were plenty of Blacks who hated angering white people or disrupting the social order for fear of white vengeance once anti-Jim Crow and anti-discrimination actions were made, but they smile now happy that they don’t live in Sundown towns and that they can actually purchase property. Those same folks who are pissed will be happy when they can actually call out injustice without fear of backlash as opposed to training themselves to be mute for self-preservation. That said, plenty of Black students go to school fearful because they have to deal with people actually grading their work as though they’re slow, being talked to and treated negatively because they’re Black, and being dismissed when they see these things happen as though they’re crazy and making things up. Black students at PWIs forge the weapons needed to combat racism because they’re right there in the thick of the fight. Black students at HBCUs have psychological armor developed to deal with the status quo of racism and inequality. Both are needed. It’s IGNANT to suggest that Black students shouldn’t go to white schools because they’re not wanted because those same Black students might not feel comfortable in the normally conservative environments of HBCUs. You go where you feel comfortable being able to be educated, other things being equal. You don’t deserve to be mistreated either way….

Which reminds me that part of the backlash against Black student groups uniting with tangible demands to improve their campuses and eliminate some of the alienation and racist targeting that occurs was to see white students banding together to make white student unions that also produced a list of demands for their campus, largely calling on the demands Black students make (to lessen racism on campus and make campus more tolerable for everyone) to be ignored and to double down on the status quo because Black Lives Matter makes them nervous. They should be nervous – they’re the motherfuckers being referenced by everyone who says Black Lives Matter, and that population is being put on notice. Still, some of these demands read like a child’s hostage note that he gives to his parents so that they’ll do something to keep Bob from tearing the head off of his G.I. Joe action figure. These are educated people – so just remember, education isn’t the possession of knowledge, it’s the possession of some degree that purportedly means you learned some shit – so college/university is basically a racket with rising costs just so you can have a piece of paper that lets you spout off whatever you’d like to say without doing research (our lovely First Amendment).

Speaking of constitutional freedoms, there are grown men who took over a federal facility while armed (with a guy manning a watchtower) and have camped out because family and friends have been imprisoned for using federal lands they didn’t own. The governer of Oregon has said they should leave, but the largely (if not all) white “milita” hasn’t been approached by law enforcement and their media coverage has been vastly different and much less prejudicial compared to WEAPONLESS peaceful protesting. Apparently because they haven’t harmed anyone or anything, it’s better to “de-escalate” the situation. Tell that to the folks in Ferguson and Tamir Rice’s play gun. “Oh wait, but the QuikTrip-” means that de-escalation was probably the best way to go about it before the QT got torched rather than military escalation. Black folks without weapons recently were shuttled out of a city building in Minnesota when they were protesting the death of another young Black person. I’d say know your history but again, education is a racket, so the vast majority of people are woefully ignorant about how Black people have been treated by law enforcement and government – case in point, let me tell you a story. A friend’s mom works in rural middle America and was working one day in the office, relating to a co-worker how things might be tight for a moment financially. Her white co-worker asked her, “Well, don’t you get a check?” My friend’s mom looked puzzled, saying that she receives a paycheck from the same employer they both work for. Her co-worker looked puzzled back at her, asking her, “The government check that Black people get, what happened to that?” My friend’s mom quickly explained that, no, Black people don’t get a government check. She may have been confusing welfare with reparations but no Black people have received reparations for harms committed by the country and welfare doesn’t constitute reparations since the vast majority of recipients are white and it’s designed to help people who don’t have enough resources even though they’re working hard. But the story gets better! The co-worker called in another co-worker to inform her of the change in information – Black people don’t get a check! If you honestly thought Black people received reparations of some sort, you might be curious as to how Blacks haven’t bridged any wealth or income gap. But since that’s NOT TRUE, go ahead and entertain other reasons for why the gaps haven’t been closed. Also, constitutional rights aren’t absolute, particularly the First and Second Amendments – if you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater without there being a fire and you can’t own a bazooka, then what’s wrong with background checking your kid before selling a gun to him? All of these people who are claiming their rights are being trampled on and can’t answer how (including white student unions mentioned above) are beyond IGNANT.

Speaking of educated people and purportedly learning some shit, the governor of Maine recently said that the heroin dealers with names like, “D-Money and Shifty,” they come up to Maine and deliver their heroin and half of them apparently impregnate young white girls, leaving a mess on everyone’s hands once D-Money and Co. have left town. Maine is 95% white, so he’s not terribly inaccurate about who’s being impregnated by heroin dealers. He’s since backtracked to make sure that it’s clear he meant “Maine women,” not white women, and that he doesn’t know if these are Black names or otherwise. I do know this – even the suggestion that Black drug dealers are impregnating white women is enough to rile people up and it plays on the same racist rhetoric and fear mongering that has been quite effective since Nixon’s Southern Strategy. What’s even more IGNANT than the damn governor coming out and naming some fake drug dealer names when discussing a heroin epidemic in his state (and apparently a mixed baby crisis)?

Daniel Holtzclaw. God won’t have mercy on your soul.

New Year’s Resolution for 2016: Have White People Slap Each Other

2016 has arrived and with it the promise of new opportunities to change and improve ourselves individually and collectively. Something that we could all work on is combating racism in all its nefarious forms. There are way too many examples of how racism functions currently and how it changes depending on who is on the receiving end of the racism (for example, I don’t have any concerns about being sexually assaulted by an overzealous, power mad and racially biased cop like Daniel Holtzclaw – but Black women do have that concern), but since this is our annual rebirth of the new year, why not imagine what life could be like if white people in America acted like a Romanian man did when a friend of mine visited Romania for the first time. She’s a Black woman in pharmacy school, but she was extremely surprised when there was heightened attention seemingly across the country because a Black person was there. They hadn’t seen many if any Blacks, and she was even interviewed on the news (presumably to help the city she was in see what a real life Black person looks and sounds like). While enjoying this newfound position as Black ambassador to Romania and having a couple of drinks with some locals, a semi-drunk guy ambled over to her and made a joke in poor taste (at best), saying that my friend is a descendant of Kunta Kinte and laughing drunkenly.

At this moment, she’s only got a handful of options – laugh it off awkwardly to avoid an international incident; tell the drunk man how he’s being offensive with his poor joke (especially if he wasn’t trying to be offensive); or set it off in the tavern and hope to slide out safely amidst the chaos. Turns out there was another option that she couldn’t choose but was chosen for her: a friend of the drunk man SLAPPED the drunk man and told him it was rude to say that to my friend. Flat out slapped him like Charlie Murphy and Rick James. The drunk man got slapped and corrected and then APOLOGIZED to my friend for his error. Had she slapped him, it could’ve set off a dangerous course of events for all involved. Because it was one of his own that challenged him to do better, his response was temperate and appropriate, though it’s still doubtful that he learned not to say that joke in general, just not in front of Black people.

Imagine a world where white people slap the shit out of each other when they see or hear one of their own making anti-Black racist statements or espousing false, damaging, racist beliefs about Black people and Black culture. Wouldn’t that be a grand place where socially damaging behaviors are corrected within the society as opposed to legal means? We can see it now….

At the family picnic:

Bob: Those fucking nigg…


Joe: Bob! Do better!

Bob (holding his face): You’re right, Joe. Sorry about that.

At the dinner table:

Sue: Daddy, a Black person was our substitute teacher.

Bob: Those fucking nigg…


Jill: Damnit Bob, can’t we go through one dinner without this?!

Bob (holding his face): Sorry, Jill. Didn’t mean it?

Sue: Daddy, you have work to do.

At the office:

Dale: Bob, have you seen Johnson? I thought he went on break over an hour ago but I can’t find him and have a project I need his help with.

Bob: You don’t need the help of a fucking nigg…


Johnson: Who the fuck you calling a nigger?

Dale: Wasn’t me, but I slapped him for his rudeness.

Bob (holding his face): Alright, I said it. I SAID IT! You happy now?

Johnson: I’d be happier if you didn’t need to keep getting slapped, the rest of the office has been slapfree for months now.

Dale: Gonna have to report you – you know the rules, if I had to slap you the boss finds out.

Bob: Dale, you don’t have to…seriously. You know the boss will fire me! I’ve learned my lesson! After 6 slaps over the past 2 months, I can’t take another hit to my record!

Johnson: You mean you can’t take another hit to your face. You know if the boss keeps you, you get vengeance slaps right?

Bob (still holding his face):……….

Dale: I’m going to ask the boss not to fire you but let him know I slapped you for your racism.

Bob: Dale, just have him fire me. The vengeance slaps that Justin got give me nightmares.

Johnson: Nah, nah patna! You’re not getting away that easily. Tell the boss that Johnson, the guy Bob got slapped over, has no problems with him staying on provided he’s qualified for vengeance slaps.

2 weeks later at the office:

Johnson: Bob, how’s it going?


Johnson: No response? You don’t feel like talking much today?


Johnson: Those vengeance slaps were a motherfucker, weren’t they?


Johnson: Ah, the sweet sound of silent racism.

(Bob gets up and walks out the room).

I know this isn’t the reality of 2016, 2017, 2040, or 2100 (but wouldn’t this be an incredible Black Mirror episode?). But the idea of self-correction is what many people of color are calling for when they tell people to go do their research. Go self-correct rather than living obtusely thinking that because it’s not illegal to be racist you haven’t done something wrong or that Black people are whining when they claim racism manifests in a host of different ways. If Black people had to slap white people every time they overstepped the racist line (and white folks have been habitual linesteppers) our collective arms would have fallen off by now. To be sure, Blacks and many white people have been offering verbal slaps (and some physical ones) for a long time now in the face of this problem, but Black folks’ arms are tired (and like Killer Mike recently said, white folks seem to be rather hard-headed regarding these issues) so now it’s time to make the call for all white allies and supporters of ending anti-Black racism to do something brave that’ll help everyone out:

Slap your buddies, family members and colleagues when they cross that line. If you don’t know what it takes to cross that line, stop and make sure you’re not the habitual linestepper referenced earlier. If you do, then get that equality pimp hand strong and put it to good use. The world can’t wait on you not to slap someone.

Happy New Year, folks.

All Lives Matter Doesn’t Make Sense

Picture this scenario – Anytown, U.S.A., which has a small population of Black and Brown people who generally try to live by the same rules and regulations that everyone else around them abides by. These are folks who go to work, pay their taxes, try their best with parenting, and even participate in their community. By and large, these are people any community would be lucky to have.

Black and Brown community members are regularly harassed and dismissed (simultaneously!), however, by the white people around them. The same people who are solidly doing their jobs and being good citizens remain in constant fear that some event will befall them that ends their life prospects, their economic future, or their lives themselves for no other reason than being Black or Brown. Some of it is because there are stereotypes associated with being a person of color, such as being historically made out to be a threat or a menace. Some of it is because of pure, irrational racism that drives home unfounded (and normally proven to be untrue) assumptions and beliefs about people of color ranging from them being international terrorists associated with Al-Qaeda to being domestic terrorists associated with the Crips. These Black and Brown folks have become accustomed with this manner of living, with a regular worry that something needlessly oppressive will occur and that they will have no recourse to avenge any wrongs or injustices.

Over time, there was a buildup of these injustices and no reckoning. Black and Brown people (and even some white ones) noticed the pattern of injustice, who it continued to follow and negatively effect, and the policies enacted to maintain and protect oppressive institutions. Rather than remain resigned in their collective disappointment of their local government and community, they decided to engage the public at-large via massive demonstrations and a media campaign to re-educate the masses regarding the plight of Black and Brown people. The best method of quickly explaining that mantle, they decided, was to scream out with all of their souls, “Black Lives Matter!” They were met with a heavy police presence despite the largely peaceful protesting (an oxymoron in itself), something considered appropriate since there were a lot of Black and Brown people who were (justifiably) angry at the continued oppressive state they lived under. Quite frankly, when Black people get mad, white people get nervous.

One way they responded to the nervousness was to claim that “All Lives Matter” in defiance of “Black Lives Matter.” Fortunately, in Anytown, U.S.A., bad things can happen to anybody, and a young white woman met her unfortunate demise in Anytown as a result of police misconduct – she was gunned down needlessly while unarmed and not resisting or posing any danger. One might expect that there would be a response, since she was a victim of injustice. Perhaps a march down Main Street shouting, “All Lives Matter,” holding signs with pictures of her. But in Anytown, U.S.A., there was no march down Main Street. There were no signs with this young woman’s picture on it. There was a news report and a quiet firing of the officer, with rumors of a civil suit emerging in the aftermath. Anytown continued with business as usual, unconcerned with lives mattering as justice has been done (to some degree).

Business as usual in Anytown included regular dismissal and hostility towards homeless people and the poor. It included dismissals of women’s claims of sexual abuse. It, of course, included regular discussions behind closed doors regarding the problems of Black culture and ways to capitalize off of it. But this young woman’s death ended up a quiet nonstory in Anytown, a simple reminder that All Lives Matter only when people yell out Black Lives Matter.

At a recent Democratic Presidential debate, a fan question came in that asked, “Do Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter?” The candidates responded, some saying the former, others the latter. Nobody stopped to address the elephant in the room – doesn’t this question sound like it has to be one or the other, not both? Is it impossible for Black lives to matter…precisely because all lives matter? Better yet, doesn’t all lives matter sound trivially true and practically false? Let me explain what I mean.

All lives matters seems to be obviously true. Everybody matters. Everybody’s special. Everybody’s got a place in the world, right? That really all hinges on what we mean by “matters.” What it means to matter can go a number of different ways based on what kind of criteria it takes for a life to matter, and what kind of mattering is being discussed. Here are a few examples of ways you could matter: to your family, to God, to your community, including your country, with respect to rights, and with respect to justice. This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but should give a pretty good example of the many ways we all could matter in some respect. Some of these collapse upon each other, since rights are usually conferred or protected by governments – so if you matter to your country, the protection of your rights matters as well, being one of the ways a country can show that someone matters to it.

Let’s assume that in matters of justice in the United States, all lives matter. Then Black lives have to matter in terms of acquiring justice when confronted by something unjust, such as voter suppression tactics (which intimidate Blacks from using one major application of being a citizen and participating in the democratic process), a mass incarceration program that is directed towards Blacks (which, again, limits their ability to vote among other rights), and institutional racism that prevents many Blacks from accessing the resources and opportunities needed to flourish. There’s no way to slice it – if all lives matter in terms of justice, then Black lives (which HAVE to be a subset of all lives) matter with regards to the injustices that have happened and rectifying the injustices that have occurred. This claim doesn’t hold up if you have a different view of what All Lives Matter means.

Giving a charitable read of the All Lives Matter argument, I’ve come up with something like this:
1) Everybody deserves justice.
2) By focusing on the perceived plight of Blacks, it ignores that everybody deserves justice.
3) By focusing on the perceived plight of Blacks, it ignores that everyone is the same – color and race don’t matter in terms of justice.
4) Since everyone deserves justice and color and race don’t matter, Black Lives Matter doesn’t make sense.
Conclusion: All Lives Matter, not Black Lives Matter.

If this is the view, then Black Lives Matter doesn’t work at all for a number of reasons, chief among them its divisiveness in a country that is beyond color and race politics. This assumes that this is a country beyond race, which seems to be patently false. The call to be beyond race is often made by those who would stand to benefit from the end of race because it ends any form of historical guilt or those who think they will benefit from the end of race because it ends any form of contemporary discrimination. But if All Lives Matter, even from this particular stance, why hasn’t there been any marches for the dead white woman? Because from this particular viewpoint, there isn’t any systemic problem of police violence, it was one bad agent who happened to be a police officer. This is how any issue such as racism or sexism is viewed – one bad actor who may be in a position of authority.

Crucially, All Lives Matter is a position of critique and, in and of itself, critique isn’t a bad thing. It’s necessary to refine crude ideas into diamonds that our culture live by. Critique done with the purpose of undermining a status quo shaking position, however, doesn’t serve to strengthen our culture…unless you believe strongly that the status quo is effective. As many say, America is the greatest country on Earth, which assumes that because you’re the “best” that you’re not above improvement or that you don’t have to improve until the competition improves. LeBron developed a three, after all.

Here’s another problem with saying All Lives Matter – do mosquitos lives matter? Or the cow and pig that we ate today, do their lives matter? Plants are alive – do their lives matter? It strikes me that if their lives matter, they matter only relationally to ours. Plants should be afforded independent lives as long as their existence is needed or if we can turn them into paper. Bees’ lives matter only because of their relative importance to pollination and creating honey. All lives on this planet don’t matter, even if we said strictly human lives, as there would be much more concern for global politics and deplorable living conditions. All lives certainly still don’t matter if we say humans in the US, as the local homeless person you step over does not matter in terms of their justice claims. These latter two problems can be viewed without a racial lens, which prompts the question: do All Lives Matter or Some Lives Matter?

Without a question, some lives matter. It’s much less illegal to say you’ll kill me rather than saying you’ll kill the mayor of whatever city you reside in because political figures matter more to the community than Joe Schmo’s like me. Rich people’s lives, presumably because of their necessary existence for the success of the capitalist market, matter more than poor people’s lives, who suck on the teat of the rich for their existence according to some. A less abrasive example would be your interest in justice for your loved one or friend if he or she were a victim of an injustice compared to your interest in a stranger across the country being a victim of injustice. Some lives hold more perceived value than others; our decisions regarding who deserves justice are informed by their perceived value to us, our community, or our culture. Assuming this, hollering Black Lives Matter actually makes sense as a program to change the negative perceived value of Black lives. Hollering All Lives Matter is more like yelling, “The world is flat,” something that seems trivially true and yet actually false.

Writing Retirement is Over

I stopped writing for nearly 2 years. It wasn’t for lack of ideas, as the world made plenty of clumsy maneuvers, decisions, and responses well worth commenting on. It wasn’t entirely due to lack of desire – writing has and will always be my creative outlet for self-expression, but the increased connection between writing as a creative force and also my primary means for generating work affected my desire to produce work. Every time I would begin to pen anything, the questions of “who should I cite from to bolster my position,” “does this look right and is addressing or sidestepping critiques,” and “how many pictures do I need to introduce to capture the people” among many others simply slogged my mental excitement to produce. Before, I was producing simply to produce – perhaps that’s my working wheelhouse. The best I could hope for was someone reading my work, thinking about it, and moving on with their day. That’s still the best I can hope for, but a new worst was introduced – the possibility that someone could use my words against me in some arena. Which meant however I produced, it’d better be the kind of production that won’t cost me while staying true to my desire to produce meaningful content about the various philosophical life problems the world presents me, you, and plenty of people we all know. Quite frankly, there’s a lot of bullshit in the air and it was my hope to get people to at least begin to recognize the odor.

It’s difficult to become something you’re not. Rather than sticking to my guns, I left the shootout completely. The landscape has changed in these two years – the usefulness of the Internet has exploded, the uses for blogs have themselves changed, and my views themselves have taken shifts. What I did wonder is what’s the purpose of using my voice in this landscape with little, if any hope that these aren’t wasted words in cyberspace? Others who are more astute, more experienced, and more worldly seemed to have everything covered, at least as well as I could. They all possess a particular quality, one that I used to have and have recently gotten back:

Fuck It.

It’s a great mantra to go by in many respects, particularly when considering my hesitations and false starts for writing. It doesn’t matter if it’s read by 1 or 1,000. It damn sure doesn’t matter if these words get held against me – being honest is something I’m known for and the same folks were going to have a problem with something I said at some point. If anything, it’s time to be brave enough to regain my “Fuck It” and return to my roots as a writer. I’m a philosopher by nature – I’m not apologizing for it, either. For many of you, I’m the (only) philosopher you know. More than likely the (only) Black philosopher you know. What kind of world is this where the Black philosopher you know doesn’t participate in the conversation? It’s not a world we’re inhabiting any longer.

On Mr. Philosopher: The Ignant Intellectual, expect to see fictional stories that expose weaknesses in our conceptual understanding of issues like race, property, gender, class, power, and more. Expect to see short pieces that describe the beauty and vitality of things like the Movement and why there are a host of unfortunate misconceptions about the world as it is. Expect longer pieces that explain the logic behind the shit that doesn’t make sense if we’re not able to put ourselves in their position. Above all, expect me to be me. Profanity, crude examples, some sophisticated vocabulary, conceptual analysis, thought experiments and engaging with things from my unique perspective just about sums up how I operate in the world. What had been lacking is the same creative outlet I’d used since I was 3 with the same confidence that my 3 year old self had. We can’t afford me to pull punches when my colleagues’ voices are reverberating bravely amidst the smog of insufferable ignorance. Over 2 decades in the game, perhaps I needed a brief retirement. Let’s hope I’m more Bulls Jordan than Wizards Jordan post-retirement.

2013 Ended Crazy – Rob Ford (IGNANT Friday Special)

Picture me rollin’?

Tom Ford.  Mayor of Toronto.  And crack user, cokehead, prostitute aficionado, and all around decent guy who has some demons in the public eye and can’t seem to get out of his own way.  The press conferences alone have been worth the price of admission, and when he publicly denied offering to eat an aide’s pussy (verbatim), he truly became the next guy in line of politicians who have besmirched themselves while parading in public office.  He even bowled over a lady, saying he was trying to get to his brother.  So rather than provide any sort of commentary about the mayor who can’t get out of his own way, I’m just going to post a couple of videos of what happens when you roll on some Rob Ford.  Before the videos, one quick comment on these wild ass politicians as of late – who the hell was their campaign coordinators?  Those people deserve some raises, as these elected officials are out of pocket with their behavior as public servants so much so that it must have taken a fantastically designed campaign to pull the wool over the masses’ eyes.  Seriously, mayors of cities are operating as though they won’t be caught up because they’re the mayor of a cosmopolitan, world-important city.  It’s like everybody thinks they can get elected, do crazy shit, and then get re-elected on the strength of their moral principles.  Tom Ford is wild as hell.  Mayor of San Diego was out here fondling everybody in his office.  What the world else is coming next?

My cousin said this to me once about his weed use and the likelihood of getting caught up in a situation:

“Dude, when they got Bill Clinton, the President of the United States, for getting some head in the oval office, that was when I knew that no matter what precautions I take, I’m still probably going to get caught.”

These mayors ain’t Bill Clinton.  So if he could get caught up in the relatively low-tech age of the late 90’s, don’t you think it’s even more likely that you’ll get caught up in the tech age?  Every email, text, tweet, Facebook message, phone call, blog post, interview, statement, question – everything you do gets recorded in the public domain as part of the public record but you honestly, truly, in your heart of hearts thought that the side chick would be quiet (with relatively little incentive for her to stay quiet)?  You thought the drug use would be kept quiet?  That’s highly IGNANT.

More importantly, I don’t really care about personal proclivities insofar as it’s your job to govern – if you want to cheat on your wife and run the city fairly, you can do that as they aren’t mutually exclusive[1].  But being on crack/cocaine and running a city fairly does seem like a tall order.  Crackheads aren’t known for their leadership skills, though they’re mighty adept at acquisition.  They tend to lack a certain diplomacy, much like Dave Chappelle reminded us.

The best part of this?  He refuses to step down, so the city council just took away certain mayoral powers he has.  I’m not sure I would move to Toronto, the budget might get done in on a booze-filled, coke-fueled binge.

With all that said, if someone told me I could pop a Molly or be Rob Ford for a weekend, I’ll be Rob Ford (White privilege!  Rejoice!)….on Molly.

[1] So in one sense, it’s not mutually exclusive – you can be a complete bastard towards your family and still be an effective leader of government.  This, however, could be disputed if, as a woman (or person who has been cheated on), unfairness could be distributed through public condoning of infidelities and/or additional measures that ignore the positions that a victim of infidelity could have insofar as it relates to political processes or legal processes.  It might be harder to trust a known infidel, but one could also argue that if the mistrust is due to whatever personal issues the infidel may have and not due to a prior governance record, then that mistrust has been misplaced.