Alt-right still mad that Black Panther movie isn’t all-White

black panther movie racism

File under #Trifling.

HuffPost reports that the alt-right — in the form of a group named Down with Disney — plans to destroy Marvel Black superhero movie Black Panther’s Rotten Tomatoes critics score, possibly through the bots used by the same group to attack The Last Jedi film.

While we’re only talking about a movie based on a fictional character and an afro-centric band of actors — produced in an entertainment capital known for its damn-near-all-White flicks — it appears that a disappointing segment of White Americans isn’t taking the news of Black Panther’s February 16 release very well.

black panther movie white backlash

Meanwhile, much of Black America views the movie as a time for celebration, if not progress. Please, no response is needed about the latter — I get it.

The spirit admonishes me to rap in responsibly indefinite terms, but we’ve seen this backdrop before — and its following scene.

I’m surprised but thankful that Black Panther’s only facing bots.

Remain on point while you celebrate on the 16th …

song currently stuck in my head: “the inflated tear” – rahsaan roland kirk

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Trump’s mental state, Bernie Sanders and the souls of Black folks

donald trump mental health stability

Here’s a statistic from last week’s Quinnipiac poll (pdf here) about President Donald Trump’s mental stability that didn’t make the mainstream media landing pages: 70 percent of surveyed African American voters have a favorable opinion of 2016 presidential candidate and current U.S. Senator, Bernie Sanders.

The poll also showed a flash hypothetical read for 2020: 68 percent of Black folks would vote for Sanders in a presidential race.

(Laughing) Must be all that derivative socialist talk about breaking up the too-big-to-fail banks, reducing the country’s income inequality problem, dismantling the ever-expanding private prison industry, providing an alternative to financially-oppressive college education schemes and creating a healthcare program most Americans could actually afford — almost all of which speaks to African descendants’ spiritually-embedded sense of their motherland’s ancient communalism practices.

Or, BLAME THE RUSSIANS since some segments of The Resistance have a hard time believing in the possibility of Darkies reaching an independent conclusion about the way neither major political party has done a good job of taking care of the real economy for the past three decades.

When looking at the entire surveyed population, Sanders’ favorable/unfavorable measure was 48-38 percent. Democrats: 76-11 percent; White voters: 43-45 percent.

White voters don’t seem willing to #feeltheburn in the next presidential election: only 33 percent of those surveyed are inclined to vote for him.

These polling numbers underscore the strange relationship between African Americans and the Democratic Party: repulsed by Republicans, Black voters have been repeatedly handed a better-than-nothing deal by the blue party — a partnership of neglect and biennial woos studded with fear-soaked premonitions about allowing the other party take over Washington.

I’ve never posted a deeper meditation of Sanders on this blog but I should. While far from being a perfect candidate, his (un)popularity among certain voting segments is symptomatic of the Democratic Party’s continuing crisis of salvation. Some of you have been following my posts long enough to know that salvation has been a recurring theme of mine for over a year.

I think the media covered how Black voters have the strongest opinion of all concerning Trump’s mental stability — 71 percent don’t think he’s wrapped too tight, versus 43 percent among Whites — so I’ll only ask: isn’t the race divide over that survey question alone worth a hearty beer discussion … ?

Hillary Clinton is curiously absent from the survey — especially since Oprah Winfrey, Kirsten Gillibrand and Joe Biden were mentioned and gauged as potential Trump matchups.

Then again, we shouldn’t be surprised by that …

[Kambui’s note: this piece was written a while ago, but a couple of distractions delayed it from being published. Two words — “last week’s” — were used to update the post’s timing … ]

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Sunday Smack: what about Harriet Tubman’s pussyhat?

Harriet Tubman statue harlem pussy hat pink

Is this pink pussyhat on top of Harlem’s Harriet Tubman statue a symptom of the famed New York City neighborhood’s gentrification from black and brown to white?

Or is it a visual turn of phrase for how this year’s Women’s March on the first anniversary of President Donald Trump’s tenure in office — and more generally, the (White) feminist movement in America — gaslight the history and current struggle for Black women’s rights?

By the way, the pussyhat incident really happened …

song currently stuck in my head: “don’t cost you nothing (12-inch disco mix)” – ashford and simpson

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Jeff Sessions’ weed hustle

Jeff sessions marijuana

Even my non-weed-smoking perspective was left foggy by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole memo, enabling states to restore a high priority to law enforcement actions against marijuana sales and use.

And then it only took a few seconds to dehaze his strategy. I spent way more time gathering artifacts to support this piece than actually writing it.

The US government’s study of Behavioral Health Trends in the United States [pdf] has a chart that tells me half of I need to infer from Sessions’ weed intrigue: it’s the most popular “illicit” drug in America. Chart is below.

illegal drug use breakdown

The other half came from reading the government’s more detailed 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, [huge pdf] where it became clear that the “past-month” drug use category with the greatest Black-and-White racial gap is marijuana — respectively 11.1 and 9 percent of the US population 12 years and older.

You see the game by now, right?

Relatively speaking, there’s no law-and-order opportunity in the Trixon style (my post for this reference mysteriously disappeared, but I found this video tonight) for meth, opioids, hallucinogens, stimulants, tranquilizers and sedatives since the race gap then swings in the opposite direction.

Okay, crack also has a notable gap — 0.5 vs. 1 percent, but no official is even remotely thinking about legalizing a drug like that.

Assuming Prison, Inc. is still on the lookout for raw material inventory acquisitions — i.e., people to fill prison cells — the marijuana channel is the most lucrative bet.

And in true neo-Confederate style, Sessions will allow the states to figure out how to enforce the federal government’s renewed directive to pursue weed possession as a crime.

The rest of this story is predictable …

song currently stuck in my head: “the hebrews 425 a.d.” – gail laughton

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An album (or two) in my head 0066

album review harriet tubman and here lies man

I listened to Harriet Tubman’s latest album again — it’s crazy Deep Space Blackout, where the all-so-dope trio sees our Colson Whitehead and raises it with an ion thruster. Spaceways, Inc. is smiling all the way from Saturn. I’ve also been getting my sway on with a dancefloor-friendly release of vintage Metal, blended into Afrobeat.

harriet tubman araminta album

Harriet Tubman
Araminta
Sunnyside Records
2017

I’ve always felt — with no intended disrespect to the beloved protest hymns in current rotation — that a reimagined freedom soundtrack is due.

So listening to Araminta multiple times had me wondering if Harriet Tubman’s been harboring similar thoughts.

Blacknuss to the future was all but assured with the power trio of bassist Melvin Gibbs, drummer JT Lewis and guitarist Brandon Ross leading the journey, but the addition of award-winning trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith accomplishes something I didn’t think was possible: the music is more powerful and nuanced than ever.

Araminta connects the diasporic styles of Rock, Blues, Jazz, Dub and Electronica, sharing the stories of struggle that need to be told — and without compromise. 

Through adventurous sonic prose, the band screams, visualizes and whispers “freedom” all at once, from the blistering improvisational interplay to the tracks’ titles. Shoot, the album title came from the birth name of arguably the most famous antebellum freedom fighter in history.

Araminta’s brilliance also comes from the way it shuns the common, transactional view of history in favor of drawing a time continuum of events and icons like Selma, Chester Himes, Nina Simone, the band’s namesake, slavery and even former President Barack Obama, all the while launching their dense musical approach from the dual foundations of Blues and Free Jazz.

Electronic invocations of Hendrix, Miles, Chicago Blues and the band’s own explosive style flow through each other to assemble a single fist in salute to ancestors, the living, and seed who may someday yearn to be free.

While this isn’t a formal album review and I don’t officially publish best-of-the-year posts, I’ll still say that Harriet Tubman turned in one of the best releases of 2017.

here lies man album review

Here Lies Man
s/t
RidingEasy Records
2017

Let’s start by dealing with the risk bands flirt with they infuse any form of West African music with other styles: creating corny-azz gimmicks.

Too many bands fail to respect the clave in these instances …

Put another way, how in the hell can you breed offspring with their Mutha and not appear ridiculous?

And I think this is one of the reasons why Here Lies Man works well — the 70s Metal guitar and Psychedelic haze the group brings to global African Roots music comes from a place of respect.

The result is an audio chemistry experiment where you’re listening to the difference between compounds, mixtures or something much worse than the latter.

Africa hasn’t created distant daughters and sons, y’know.

Here Lies Man completely gets the idea that an over-the-top effort is not required to sound genuine or achieve organic fusion.

They simply respect the clave.

The songs — where I’ll admit their riffs are stretched to the limit at times — are meant for dance floors. The furious rhythm section sees to that. Keyboard phrasing supports Afrobeat integrity, while Marcos Garcia (Antibalas) turns in some interesting vocal work. The underlying Funk remains a constant.

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While Mueller has the keys, he can make a drive-by investigation of Team Trump and that Malaysian fund scandal

jared kushner and yousef al otaiba

In addition to playing the role of World War III’s firestarter in his idiotically dangerous take on creating peace in the Middle East, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been on my radar for an additional reason: his name keeps appearing near alleged financial scoundrels in reports I’ve been reading since last summer.

This is why I’ve been hinting on various channels that while the whole Team-Trump-and-Russia election collusion accusations are hard to prove — assuming an adjacent and coherent fact concerning the whole matter exists at all — there may be stronger case to be made for obstruction of justice or money laundering.

My focus on the latter charge began with the whole idea of real estate and finance — two businesses the Trump family is deeply engaged in — being historically fertile grounds for washing money.

Like I mentioned months ago, it simply makes sense for special prosecutor Robert Mueller — whose open charter includes investigating the collusion charges — to make a drive-by investigation of an unrelated matter, and possibly strike gold.

We all know that stranger drive-bys have happened

In addition to all the reported financial transactions Kushner tried to execute with practically the same countries he has politically engaged in the Middle East peace process, there was an interesting article I read this past summer in the Malaysia Chronicle, which has since been deleted. All that remains is the headline:

JARED KUSHNER THE REASON WHY TRUMP IS LETTING NAJIB OFF THE 1MDB HOOK? SWISS BANK SURRENDERS DOCUMENTS LINKING UAE ENVOY, A CLOSE FRIEND OF TRUMP’S SON IN LAW, TO JHO LOW TO 1MDB INVESTIGATORS.

1MDB, or 1Malaysia Development Berhad, is a Malaysia-based sovereign investment fund that has been quite an esoteric topic among many American media consumers. That will or should change.

Here’s the abridged voodoo about the scandal: investigators from at least six governments, including the United States, suspect 1MDB stole and laundered approximately $4 billion of the Malaysian public’s money through shell companies and fake accounts across the globe to fund the luxurious lifestyles of 1MDB executives and possibly Malaysian government officials — including the fund’s founder, Prime Minister Najib Razak. Reports say that Razak received about $1 billion in wired funds through the scheme.

In addition to founding 1MDB, Razak chaired the fund’s board of advisors before stepping down. He continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Think of 1MDB as Malaysia’s Watergate.

The deleted Malaysia Chronicle piece mentioned that a Swiss-based private bank handed over 900 pages of documents that financially link United Arab Emirates ambassador to Malaysia and Silicon Valley investor, Yousef Al Otaiba, to Jho Low, a 1MDB principal.

Otaiba — considered one of the most well-connected Ambassadors in Washington — and Kushner are close friends, well as collaborators in the ongoing Middle East peace exercise. According to Politico, the two speak by phone weekly.

Any financial relationship Otaiba (allegedly) has with 1MDB would be politically toxic, and possibly criminal.

President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch described the 1MDB scandal as “astonishing greed.” She announced a civil suit during the summer of 2016 which seeks to forfeit over $1 billion in laundered money supposedly used by the fund to acquire US assets.

President Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions called 1MDB “kleptocracy at its worst,” and filed a suit this past June, seeking an additional $540 million.

But … three strange events happened.

First — President Trump invited Prime Minister Razak to visit the White House. A puzzling move, given how much life the 1MDB scandal still has globally — especially in Malaysia — and the civil proceedings initiated by the US.

Second — during their their September 12 joint press conference, the two leaders never referenced the 1MDB scandal or the Justice Department’s lawsuit.

Third — weeks after claiming the additional $540 million against 1MDB, The Justice Department suspended their lawsuit(!)

Okay, the official statement is that the Justice Department is suspending the lawsuit to avoid interfering the criminal investigation underway. They also mentioned how the criminal investigation will “take time.”

I’m no special prosecutor, but I smell game.

Why would the Justice Department suddenly suspend a civil lawsuit, only weeks after adding more than a half billion dollars to their claim?

If Mueller isn’t sniffing around 1MDB, he should. It’s worth a shot.

The longshot is he’ll find financial ties between Kushner and Otaiba. The latter’s already been linked to 1MDB, and Kushner’s no virgin to dirty money suspicions.

But there may be a bigger catch.

The strange case of Prime Minister Razak smacks of textbook obstruction of justice behavior or worse — several levels higher.

Or perhaps Mueller will ignore 1MDB altogether out of confidence that he has something even bigger in the pot to cook …

song currently stuck in my head: “undisco kidd (gay marvine edit)” – funkadelic

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Searching for Russia conspiracies everywhere — including Malta

Daphne Caruana Galizia

Here’s yet another hastily-written anti-Russia piece, presumably from THE RESISTANCE, for the sake of stoking neocon wet dreams of a new Russia boogeyman.

Ultimately, there’s plenty of money to be made in fear …

Political Dig recently published a story about the assassination of Malta investigative journalist and Panama Papers exposé contributor Daphne Caruana Galizia, but with a curious focus.

Of all the individuals. And [fake] companies the Panama Papers exposed for curious — if not shady — financial maneuvers, PoliticalDig made no general mention of who these people or corporate are, but managed to make one specific, you know, dig:

… including a revelation that Ivanka Trump helped her father [Donald Trump’s] Panama hotel venture with the help of an alleged international fraudster with ties to Russian money launderers.

It’s probably a good time for me recite my usual disclosure when I write anything about President Donald Trump and Trumpland.

I don’t believe Trump has the intellectual curiosity or mental stability required to be Commander in Chief …

But I also know a Let’s Feed Into Cold War 2.0 game when I see one.

The PoliticalDig writer seemed to leave out how the Panama Papers connected two Malta government officials in Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s administration, Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, with opening bank accounts across the globe through secret companies.

Galizia received frequent death threats as a result of the searing posts in her blog Running Commentary, where she detailed accusations of corruption within Muscat’s administration and the oligarchs supposedly connected to him.

After Galizia’s death, her children publicly demanded that Muscat resign for deliberately failing to protect the popular journalist from the hostile environment that surrounded her.

Members of Malta’s Parliament also want Muscat to resign, based on suspicions raised by the Panama Papers’ findings.

A not-so-trivial number of Malta locals suspect a connection between the Muscat allegations and Galizia’s murder.

But somehow, PoliticalDig goes straight for the “Big Bad Russia” angle.

Who knows, perhaps Russians with dirty money and Trump connections had some role in detonating the car bomb that killed Galizia. Arrests have been made; time will tell.

But the knee-jerk reaction of connecting Russia to every bad event in the world — and without thoughtful consideration of any evidence — is getting old.

And the larger risk THE RESISTANCE can potentially face with these “Russia is everywhere” stories is outrage numbness, if you feel what i’m saying …

song currently stuck in my head: “you don’t love me” – willie cobbs

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West and Coates should look East

cornel west ta nehisi coates

Can we not acknowledge that there are deep disagreements among us with our very lives and destinies at stake?

— Dr. Cornel West in Ta-Nehisi Coates is the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle, Guardian, Dec. 17, 2017

Quoting Dr. Cornel West’s words seemed to be a good initial approach as I partially unpack his hit on Ta-Nehisi Coates in yesterday’s Guardian news site.

I think there are clear differences in the way many African descendants view the struggle for equality and justice.

And unlike some of you, I don’t necessarily have a problem with that.

My opinion is born from university days, when my dormitory director — an avuncular older Black woman with full-time spine of steel — concerned herself with one main goal: help to grow the leadership potential in the young predominantly Black men who resided in the dorm.

I was the dormitory president, which meant I interacted with the director — let’s call her Mama Kay for the moment — for extended periods on a near-daily basis.

My social views back then were far to the left of hers, and she made sure I knew that every time we spoke.

Her only concern was to develop strong Black men in the dorm.

Protests? “No agitation,” she said.

Colonialism in Africa? “Not my interest right now.”

Interesting response. But I’ll keep moving.

Malcolm and Martin? “Martin, and don’t bring up the other one’s name.”

While we exchanged our different points of view, her drumbeat of “Developing strong Black men in this dorm” remained steady.

How could I argue with that point?

Mama Kay and I found a way to work past our differences and help to create an environment that supported young Black men, myself included, in their journey towards leadership.

Through programs and other initiatives, we also created an environment that helped the dorm residents to explore broad viewpoints across the African Diaspora and beyond, which included inviting one of the university’s most left-leaning history professors to discuss world issues in the dorm lounge — a night where young and fiery spirits argued among themselves hours after the professor left.

My point is that opposing points of view are going to exist among African descendants, but that doesn’t mean unity can’t exist to address common goals.

I don’t recall Coates being very vocal about how President Barack Obama turned a sovereign African nation into a jihadist cesspool and did nothing after immediately learning that ethnic cleansing took place in the same country. History now shows that the “bomb to protect” citizens justification for bombing Libya was a fairytale. And then there’s that Syria problem. Plus, contrary to what Coates may think, there’s a wide gap in the world views of President Obama and Malcolm X.

But I also don’t recall Dr. West disowning his buddy Tavis Smiley for taking impoverishment loot from a bank with a reputation for predatory lending, among the institution’s other crimes against the poor. In my opinion, West should’ve cut off Minister Louis Farrakhan a long time ago — for the most obvious reasons, if you know what I mean.

I could write over a dozen posts that picks apart either Coates, Dr. West, or the people they’ve been drawn to.

But instead, I hope the two cats can unite around some common struggles. Lawd knows we have plenty …

song currently stuck in my head: “cause of it all” – howlin’ wolf

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Reimagining Black Alabama and Doug Jones’ odyssey

alabama black belt poverty

Now that the Alabama Senate election is over …

(Laughing) Well, for most of y’all

I can share some updated thoughts while weaving in Doug Jones’ upset victory over Roy Moore.

My thoughts haven’t changed, mind you.

And Lawd knows I still think the correct candidate won.

I simply did something quite deliberate in my pre-election post that isn’t typical of me: made a contrarian viewpoint without pitching a tent and spending some time to explain it.

Now is the time to dig deeper.

Let’s start with the “Black vote in Alabama put Jones in office” meme.

I’ll always give the head nod to any news about Black folks exercising the same rights the ancestors fought and established.

But all the exit polling I’ve seen for nearly ten years tells me that Black Alabama consistently shows up to vote for Democrats — IN HIGH PERCENTAGES. Here’s a 2008 snapshot example from CNN:

Alabama black voters 2008

During that same near-10-year period, there has been no change in the Black Alabama voting population as a share of the State’s voting electorate.

Black Alabama was a critical part of enabling Jones’ win but they simply did what they’ve always done: show up and vote Democrat in the 90-plus percentage range.

The big change occurred among a sufficient number of White Alabama voters, typically loyal Republicans, who voted for Jones out of an understandable disgust for the Republican Moore.

So why is the mainstream media big-upping the Alabama Black vote — hinting at a unique 2017 behavior — without telling the blatant lie that we’re weren’t just witnessing business as usual?

Not sure. I can only speculate that White Liberals are attempting to gaslight Black voters as a way to encourage the latter’s engagement in the 2018 and 2020 elections.

Mind you that African American voters across the country weren’t as excited about voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and it showed (or not!) in their voting participation.

So a few empty praises from The Wizard to Black Alabama for displaying powers they’ve consistently displayed could encourage broader voter engagement down the road.

I also think we need to sober up a bit more about Jones’ win: he barely beat a Negro-slavery pining, suspected child raping, religious fundamentalist zealot last Tuesday.

Put another way, a Negro-slavery pining, suspected child raping, religious fundamentalist zealot almost beat Jones last Tuesday — and came within two percentage points of doing it.

Or, a large number of White Alabama voters put THEIR GOD before their morals and almost elected a Negro-slavery pining, suspected child raping, religious fundamentalist zealot last Tuesday — and came within two percentage points of doing it.

Emphasis placed on THEIR GOD because I don’t know of any God with a desire for Moore as a statewide official.

Alabama black belt residents

While much of Alabama’s Black Belt looks like an underdeveloped nation thousands of miles away with more than a third of them testing positive for a third-world disease, candidate Doug Jones’ campaign pitch remained generic, and with a dearth of messaging specific to Black Alabama’s challenges.

Jones’ has an interesting assignment for the next two years: figure out a way to help Black and White Alabama while appearing reelectable in 2020 — and without gaslighting either side …

song currently stuck in my head: “love is on the way” – kenny bobien & jose burgos

[Photo credit: Tom Waters Photography.]

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Losing Alabama — the choice between Doug Jones and Roy Moore

Who is Alabama Senate candidate Doug Jones?

Not sure if his supporters care to know much beyond the two most obvious things.

He’s not his Republican opponent, Roy Moore.

He convicted the [1963 Birmingham] church bombers.”

And there’s that ridiculous campaign piece designed to convince readers how Jones is sharp on the issues most important to Black folks, and is ready to lead. Or something.

People of color seem to often find themselves caught in this kind of game.

One where your team is playing a prevent defense while losing — and it’s not even halftime — prompting your field optics to forge an alternative vision for victory: limit the amount of future damage and keep the other team’s scoring to respectable blowout margins.

I don’t fail to see this as a remix of the 2016 presidential elections where Democrats’ messaging was built on the “Clinton isn’t Trump” premise.

But in fairness, Democrats haven’t been this close to winning an Alabama Senate seat in years, and no one has yet accused Jones of preying on teenage girls.

My problem is what I don’t see when I visit Doug Jones’ campaign website: ANYTHING.

There is a disturbingly scarce amount of specific mention regarding issues unique to Alabama. I saw one, perhaps, which dealt with healthcare.

His priorities, as he calls them, could have been lifted from any Senate campaign in the country.

It’s as if Jones never walked around his own state, or his handlers presented him with a tunnel for creative freedom when crafting a message.

So, I’m going to help this discussion along by presenting two specific Alabama problems.

Philip Alston, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, toured cities in Alabama last week and declared the living conditions in parts of the state’s Black Belt “very uncommon in the First World.”

Alabama’s majority-Black Lowndes County has been so severely relegated to developing-world poverty status that more than a third of its residents have been tested positive for the hookworm parasite.

Meanwhile, Doug Jones reaches out to Black Alabama with this campaign ad:

But it’s not like the evangelicals and poor White people of Alabama — the state that ranks number four among its peers in household poverty and hovers around the bottom decile in national education attainment — enjoy the luxury of choice in this Tuesday’s election. They’ve made accused child predator, Roy Moore, their choice for Senate.

I can’t even fake a surprised expression about Moore being mute on hookworms in Lowndes County, or not proposing a micro-Marshall Plan for Alabama’s Black Belt as a component to his broader Make America Great Again vision.

But Moore’s supporters have been coached to know that he isn’t Doug Jones and that the fate of the Republic rests on how many abortions can be limited, how many people can carry guns and how many times a metaphorical slave-chasing, suspected pedophile can publicly praise God before he can seem more credible than all of his accusers.

I can only hope that a higher moral force will guide the victor after Tuesday.

Otherwise, Alabama will continue to lose …

song currently stuck in my head: “dark” – nicole miglis

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