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Rep. Steve King & the Dehumanization of Others

Steve King and the Dehumanization of Others

Yesterday Congressman Steve King told constituents that the U.S. should only choose the best immigrants to accept into the nation the way one chooses “the pick of the litter”.

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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Education, Government, Philosophy, Politics

 

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Gravity Night on Thread Radio: Is College Still Worth It?

Hey thREADERS,

We had a great show tonight on the topic of college and its value. We also had some thought-provoking input from our audience. If you missed it, you can listen to it by clicking the play button below. If you listened live, you can listen to “The AfterShow”, which featured TheKingsLaw, ChadStanton, and yours truly towards the end. Thank you for your continued support, and be sure to hang with the Threaders next Monday at 10pm Central.

-23

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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Education, Thread Radio

 

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Fifteen Friday Fancies

“Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn’t let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is you did everything you could. There wasn’t one more thing you could’ve done. Can you live in that moment as best you can, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, with joy in your heart? If you can do that gentlemen – you’re perfect!”

Today is obviously not Thursday. However, it is Friday and I’ve got fifteen fancies for the thREADERS. Let’s move…

Perhaps the biggest news of the week is President Obama’s announcement of his support for same-sex marriage (1). In the, what, 36 hours since the interview, I have seen so many vituperative remarks on Facebook and Twitter. People have just been spewing all sorts of ignorance, and it really is sad. On top of all of that, many of these people call themselves Christians. Now, I pride myself in not getting too political with my weekly columns. I’m not here to tell people how they should feel or hurl my beliefs and opinions on them. I value people’s opinions; I merely express mine here. With that said, it saddens me that this topic seems to bring the worst out of some people. Whether you agree with gay marriage or disagree with gay marriage, to me, the underlying issue is human rights. I have come a long way as far as my feelings toward this issue because of my desire to be open-minded and progressive. It’s not my place to stand in the way of people who want to be happy and have the rights afforded to their heterosexual counterparts. You can quote Bible verses and tell me what “thus said the Lord” all day, but I also believe in tolerance, acceptance, and love. Like I have said several times here in the past, we need to do a better job of taking care of each other. We’ll talk about this more Monday night on our radio show.

Graduation

It’s graduation (2) season. Around this time every year, I am reminded of this because of the flurry of graduations I find myself attending. Along with the congratulations and well-wishes, the rude reminder of the economic state (3) taps me on the shoulder. Every April/May/June, a new article or study comes out with depressing news for recent graduates. This year is no different. One in two college grads can’t find work. Ugh…when will my generation catch a break? Maybe we won’t. Perhaps, college is no longer the guaranteed answer. The education system churns out more graduates than the economic system can keep up with. The Thread has decided to team up with PootKat Radio to investigate this issue with a special radio show (4) Tuesday night. Is college still worth it?

Sports

Last week, I talked about the Brooklyn Nets’ new logo and what I thought of it. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one. Phil Mushnick of the New York Post (5) wrote an editorial that suggested that the Nets be renamed the “New York N—–s (6).” What’s worse is that this man has been defending his racist remarks. He has said,

“I’m never comfortable using that word [ni—-r]. That’s the way I was raised. Shame on my parents,” a sarcastic Mushnick writes. “The ONE time I spelled it out – for accuracy – I was widely condemned as a racist. So either way, I’m a bigot. I know what’s in my heart and my head, the way I was raised, and the way I raised my kids. But you’ve painted me a racist. Good work, James. And good work, if you can get it.”

There’s more…

“Such obvious, wishful and ignorant mischaracterizations of what I write are common. I don’t call black men the N-word; I don’t regard young women as bitches and whores; I don’t glorify the use of assault weapons and drugs. Jay-Z, on the other hand…..Is he the only NBA owner allowed to call black men N—–s?”

This guy still has a job. Mushnick is stirring up a hornet’s nest, and I would advise him to stop. His logic is extremely flawed and has no place in any publication. To suggest something so absurd, demeaning, and disrespectful is disconcerting. To base such a reasoning on Jay-Z (7) is asinine. I’ve had countless discussions, read several books, and attended several forums concerning the N-word. However you feel about the word and its use, the fact is that it’s not going anywhere. The problem with Mushnick is that he assumes that Jay-Z is the figurehead of the black mass public. If he has a problem with Jay-Z lyrics, I think he should take that up with Jay-Z. He should not implant such a ridiculous notion like calling a basketball team a derogatory name.

In other news, the “geek chic” (8) has been displayed in full force these past few months. I found this article describing many NBA players’ adoption of the new style of looking professional, looking “dorktastic”, and challenging stereotypes. Players like Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James are now rocking glasses as accessories, skinny ties, vests, and shirt buttoned all the way up. I must say that it is a welcome site. I’ve even bought into the style. I honestly hope that stereotypes concerning black athletes are being rewritten.

Speaking of the NBA, these injuries (9) are beginning to pile up. We’ve seen several star players go down at an alarming rate this season/post-season. David Stern (10) contended that the number of injuries is no different this season than any other a few weeks ago, but he seems to be backing away from those sentiments now. I think we’re seeing the ramifications of a shortened season over a shortened amount of time with no training camp. I’m interested to see where things go from here and what kind of changes we see made.

In more disturbing NBA news, Chris “Birdman” Andersen (11) is under investigation by an internet child pornography unit. I realize that Anderson has had his issues with drugs and whatnot, but this is a completely different animal. I’ve watched enough To Catch a Predator episodes to know that this is serious if they’re searching his home and removing computer hardware. I don’t want to speculate too much, but this situation sounds disgustingly bad.

Music

Justin Bieber (12) is a part of Floyd Mayweather’s “Money Team.” Can we talk about this? I used to hate on Bieber all the time for being another singer for the teeniebops, but this young man is doing things. He’s part of Mayweather’s entourage, carrying his belts, and looking faded in the process. Then, I stumbled upon his new “Boyfriend” video. I talked about this song on Twitter a few weeks ago, and it is dope. Seriously, Justin Timberlake needs to return to music because Bieber is taking his style spot.

Chris Brown (13) and Rihanna (14) are at it again. I know, I know. I’m sick of them, too. Brown released a song that uses Kanye’s “Theraflu” beat, and he references his “old b—-.” Rihanna took exception to this and unfollowed him on Twitter. He returned the favor. Anyway, here’s the song if you care to listen.

Mother’s Day

Finally, I’d like to acknowledge and thank all of the mothers out there. This is your weekend, and I wish all of you a very happy Mother’s Day! Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Here are my favorite “Mom” songs:

5. “Mother” by Pink Floyd
4. “Blueprint (Momma Loves Me” by Jay-Z
3. “A Song for Mama” by Boyz II Men
2. “Dear Mama” by Tupac
1. “Hey Mama” by Kanye West

-23

 

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I Wish A N*gga Would (Tell Me Black Studies Isn’t Good Enough)

We do it for the culture…

“What we do, how well we do it… does it even matter?”

From the very moment I heard that question presented to Cuba Gooding Jr.’s character in the Red Tails movie preview released so many months ago, it resonated with me. Clearly, perseverance through struggle and critical perception and assessment of that “perseverance” are nothing new for African-Americans. To echo the sentiment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the concept of “second-class citizenship,” of being good but not quite good enough in America, isn’t new for Blacks, either. African-Americans continue to work hard and apply themselves to being the best they possibly can be in spite of the circumstances.

But that “good but not quite good enough” specter is ever looming over Black Americans in the form of “privilege” – the concept that minimizes and plays upon the downplay of one group to more highly elevate another. It is this idea of privilege that serves as the immediate counterargument to the “post-racial America” that many people legitimately – if a little foolishly – believe was instituted once Barack Hussein Obama was elected president back in November 2008. Most recently, we find privilege emerging in the field of academia.

It was only by way of a chance “retweet” on twitter, that I stumbled onto Tressie McMillan Cottom’s guest article for racialicious, “The Inferiority of Blackness as a Subject.” In 1,420 words, McMillan Cottom calls out esteemed academic journal The Chronicle for Higher Education and, more specifically, a blog entry from Naomi Schaefer-Riley in The Chronicle entitled “The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations.” In much the same way that Schaefer-Riley’s blog critiqued and dismissed the dissertations she saw cited by Black doctoral studies, so does McMillan Cottom respectfully respond to and dismiss Schaefer Riley’s assertions, primarily because Schaefer-Riley critiques the dissertations based upon their titles and not the subject matter that makes up each dissertation. As McMillan Cottom so eloquently states, these Black doctoral students are “deliberately assaulted… for not being invisible.”

It’s intriguing that Naomi Schaefer Riley would contribute the newest chapter to the argument surrounding Black studies and its “place” in the academic arena, in the process driving the point home as to what REALLY lies at the center of this argument – privilege. Tressie McMillan Cottom touches upon this when she writes that Schaefer Riley is all but condescending to “three young scholars who have the audacity to treat the black subject as a human subject worthy of interrogation.” As a lowly undergraduate student myself, perhaps I am unqualified to speak upon this matter. But I do have many friends, colleagues, and associates who are Black students in doctoral programs, many of whom have embarked upon dissertations that touch upon or directly engage issues that affect African-Americans. And I am certain they, too, would treat Schaefer Riley’s criticism as, to put it plainly, “hating.”

I’m not talking about “hate” as in rooted in racism; but rather, “hate” as a completely subjective assessment of something with no sound basis other than dismissing something just to say it’s worthy of dismissal. McMillan Cottom sees this, as well, effectively highlighting that Schaefer Riley “does not even afford [the three doctoral students] the respect of critiquing their actual scholarship. That is beneath her. She attacks the very veracity of their right to choose what scholarship they will do.”

But let’s delve a little deeper here. Why DOESN’T Schaefer Riley “critique their actual scholarship?” The answer is simple – because Naomi Schaefer Riley doesn’t believe Black studies is scholarship worthy of critique. It would be easy to play “what if” and to imagine if the tone and approach of Schaefer Riley’s blog might be different had these three Black students been putting forth dissertations for their, say, Executive Doctorates in Higher Education. It is easy to assume that, perhaps then, Schaefer Riley would have given these students a fair assessment of their work and, additionally, an appropriate acknowledgment of their progress and pioneering achievement thus far (which was what the original article that stemmed this debate, was about in the first place).

Rather than wonder about what could have been, it is important to remain focused on and challenge the actual facts. The actual facts are that doctoral programs are not easy to get into, and by far, all but a challenge to remain and excel in; that, since doctoral programs operate by a process of acceptance to a prestigious program and adoption of a rigorous academic commitment and platform, that one must be amongst the best or working towards becoming the best to be a doctoral student; and that, while in the process of being a doctoral student, one can expect to be critiqued and vetted, it is not an unfair expectation to assume that you are still worthy of respect and dignity as a student throughout the entire process.

Apparently, none of these facts apply when it comes to the field of Black studies. It may be true that doctoral students in Black studies will still have the same “Ph.D.” initials listed after their name upon graduation. And it is likely true that students in doctoral programs for Black studies devote just as much time, blood, sweat, and tears as their peers in other areas of the academic arena, to assembling adequate research worthy of a dissertation that can be effectively defended. But privilege demands that Black studies be regarded at a lower level than all other academic fields, simply because issues that affect African-Americans can’t possibly affect people from other backgrounds, nor can non-Blacks possibly relate to those same issues. Privilege demands that those in positions of power can tell students in Black studies that their work is “left-wing victimization claptrap” and that “This may matter to you, but it doesn’t matter to me, therefore it doesn’t matter at all.”

It is easy to diminish the hard work, the scholastic potential, and the diligence that Black graduate students must adopt to succeed in academia on some scholarly journal’s webpage. But I wonder if Naomi Schaefer Riley would be as quick to tell Black doctoral students in person, what she really meant: that being a Black Ph. D student is good, but not good enough.

Somewhere in California, Dr. Nathan Hare, the founder of Black studies, is no doubt sitting in his rocking chair thinking, “I wish a nigga would.”

 

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Welcome to the Real World, 5 Things Graduates Should Know

Now is that time of year where undergraduates after years and years of study reach one of their goals of earning a Bachelor’s degree. It’s a beautiful time filled with promise, dread, and uncertainty.

1. Experience is vital if you’re going directly into the work world especially if you’re a liberal arts major. After years of study where you imagined it automatically paying off with a salary gig upon completion this can be a bit of a shock. Luckily whether you’ve had a job or not you’ve got experience. Those parties you threw was event planning, social media marketing, and community building voila.

2. You will never ever find yourself in such an easy position to meet someone of the opposite sex. Unless you’re going to grad school you won’t be studying, eating, sitting, and partying next to a ton of single men or women again. Once you go to work you’re limited to co-workers, folks you meet going out, and whoever you run into on the street. It’s not the same.

3. No one cares about your ideas. No seriously. You’ve been told your ideas are awesome. College encourages critical thinking and challenging authority. In reality authority hates being challenged. Don’t get me wrong speak your mind it’s the only way to get ahead but cover your butt while you’re doing it and quit being so proud of yourself about it.

4. Everything costs money. At school you could go to the gym, get a t-shirt, and some pizza all for the freezy. You have no idea how awesome that is until you’re pulling out your wallet whenever you turn around. Heck even your dates are free, “hey you want to study/kick it” is an absolutely beautiful date concept that has just left your hands as you crossed that stage.

5. Go to Grad School, no seriously. If you don’t have a job right now start studying for the GRE and save yourself while you can.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Education, Social Life

 

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How Race Interacts with Justice

How Race Interacts with Justice

Salon has an excellent interview with American law scholar Kenneth Mack on the way race and the law intersect and define each other. Here’s a quote on civil rights lawyers and their personal experience in the black community at the time.

“What did you learn about the relationship between race and the law by writing it?

By looking at the civil rights struggle through the lives of black civil rights lawyers we learn about the contested nature of racial identity, even in an era where segregation was supposed to make race into something fixed, not fluid.”

I think this speaks to how we think of race as an unchanging dynamic today even though it’s been in fluctuation since the concept was created. Also it works to disabuse people of the notion that there was an overwhelming consensus in the Civil Rights Era as it’s been properly defined when our heroes of yesteryear had many of the intra-community pressures and differences that people still hold today. The interview is great and I’d recommend folks to go read the whole thing.

The color-blind scales of justice?

x-posted @ theybc

– C.S.

 

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Joe Walsh, Barack Obama, and Affirmative Action

Joe Walsh, Barack Obama, and Affirmative Action

Here is the argument against “affirmative action” in perfect form. Opponents of affirmative action argue that the accomplishments of African Americans are questioned if there is the possibility of affirmative action is present. Even in cases that see institutions simply acknowledge race as a factor among many, without quotas or a point system, people cry foul as if they just can’t trust a black achievement unless they’re double-sure that no one ever looked upon them more favorably. Here we see this dynamic even when an African-American succeeds on a national platform where the application process is determined by the votes of millions of Americans. Even in this most transparent of hiring processes the achievement is tainted merely by the presence of melanin in the skin of the victor. In Rep. Walsh’s mind the possibility that President Obama earned his title in the same manner that 43 presidents before him did is untrue. President Obama got a “leg up” from the American electorate as a whole because he was a black person. What would a black person have to do in Rep. Joe Walsh‘s world in order to be “legitimate” success? If Barack Obama winning a national election where he was scrutinized by the media and voters and won the approval of (much) more than half isn’t an earned success then what possibly could be?

x-posted @ theybc

 

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