Dave Chappelle’s Sticks & Stones is offensive…but so what?

So some critics–mostly incel members–passed around the one laptop that they all share, taking turns posting hit pieces for their respective online publications, regurgitating ad nauseam pretty much the same criticisms about Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special Sticks & Stones.

They said he was unfunny–a veteran edgelord punching down on low hanging fruit and doubling down on his hatred of the LGBTQ community and women.

There was also mention of his age and wealth, claiming that he’s out of touch and that the culture that once celebrated Chappelle’s Show for its fearlessness in pushing boundaries had evolved. That Chappelle’s writing had gotten stale, lazy and “only the worst white people” loved Sticks & Stones. And most importantly, he wasn’t being progressive.

I mean, it’s perfectly fine for critics to have an opinion. It’s to be expected because (and not to sound cliché) opinions are like assholes…

But it’s the assholes with opinions who are problematic. The wokescolds and SJWs who were somehow offended and tried to disguise their critique as journalism in order to attack Dave Chappelle as a person by calling him hateful, insensitive, and cruel.

Really?

I watched Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette (also on Netflix) because I’m a huge fan of comedy. But full disclosure, I did not find her particular brand of comedy funny. And, no, it’s not because she’s a lesbian comic. There are lesbian comics who I find hilarious like Sarah Silverman. It’s just that I don’t think being a lesbian is all that funny which was the whole point of Gadsby’s show.

And I get it. Being a lesbian navigating through a heteronormative world that does not fully accept your existence can be dangerous.

So was I offended because I didn’t laugh at the few jokes Hannah Gadsby told? Of course not. Do I believe she was mocking Anthony Bourdain’s suicide, trivializing the trauma suffered by victims of child molestation, or that she was being sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, and racist?

I don’t know.

I don’t know Hannah Gadsby personally but I would say probably not. And neither was Dave Chappelle.

My point is that Sticks & Stones is not for people who foolishly believe stand-up literally means that all comics are required to champion their causes, be sensitive to their pain, tell their truths, be politically correct–tailoring a brand of comedy to fit their individual sensibilities.

Is that even comedy?

Look, comedy is neither the cause nor cure for society’s many ills. Comedy should not be taken seriously. And, again, not to sound cliché but comedy helps us to laugh at people who are sensitive and easily offended because we know they’re not going to laugh at themselves.

And if you can’t laugh at yourself then I guess the rest of us will.

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Until Next Time

Patrick Crusius

I stopped watching the news on Saturday once the number of fatalities had been confirmed.

Twenty.

Twenty lives senselessly taken with such casual cruelty. Lives deemed by a lone white gunman as having no value.

And I felt compelled to write and post something, anything as a blogger who had actually been out shopping on El Paso’s westside with my mother and sister, while a gunman was using bullets to pass judgment on innocent Walmart shoppers on the east side of town.

But I wanted to go deeper than the newfound grief that unites us all in this tragic moment, beyond offering well worn sentiments of “thoughts and prayers” as these horrific events have become all too commonplace for America to boast of any kind of greatness.

Past or present.

That debating gun rights versus gun control has not prevented white men from carrying out the deadliest mass killings in American history. And that unarmed black men will still be treated as the greater threat to public safety in this country.

Security heightened. Purses gripped tighter. Police called…

Because it’s a fact that America was founded on the violence of white supremacist. White man violence is the official form of violence preferred by our American system of justice. And it continues to be endlessly celebrated in Hollywood beginning with DW Griffith’s racist feature film Birth Of A Nation (1915).

(*side note* For more information on white supremacy and white man violence please read American History and the near eradication of Indigenous populations, American slavery, or just look to the man who currently sits in the Oval Office and ask yourself how he got there.)

And in MAGA-land, Patrick Crusius–the “alleged” gunman–who is believed to have written a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto was able to equip himself with an assault rifle, travel over 600 miles to go on a killing spree targeting Latinx people in order to defend against some perceived threat to white supremacy.

So the conversation then becomes an issue of gun violence (and for some unknown reason black on black crime in Chicago) but not really about the toxic ideology of white supremacy. (Though President Trump has condemned white supremacy. But whatever.) And that’s because white supremacy and white privilege go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.

Which, I think, is a real fear for a lot of white Americans. Losing their white privilege.

Because Patrick Crusius in their minds is John Wayne playing the lead role in an old John Ford western defending an all-white wagon train against a “savage” Indian attack. Patrick Crusius is America unapologetically celebrating its brutally violent and bloody history and the blatant hypocrisy of its racist founding fathers year after year. And Crusius himself is a racist piece of shit who came to the city where I live to unleash his deadly hatred on a race of people because they are not white.

But, worst of all, Patrick Crusius is not alone.

So, until next time.

(*UPDATE* The death toll has now risen to 22. This blog post will continue to be updated as needed.)

Feeling A Little Lost

I just turned the big Five-O on last Saturday and it sucked because I feel I’m nowhere near I think a man my age should be in life. And I’m tired. I’m tired of having to take the high road. I’m tired of having to rise above my circumstances. I’m tired of feeling that as a black man living in America that I have to work twice as hard to be half as good. I’m tired of getting knocked down. I’m tired of having to get up. And I don’t believe the things that haven’t killed me have somehow made me stronger. If anything they’ve made me resentful, bitter, and distrustful of people. But I’m just venting because I don’t know if I have the strength to start all over again. To start from the bottom. It’s not that I think it’s hopeless. That I can’t start over. I just think it’s pointless.

#MitchBetterHaveMyMoney

Senate House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

I thought the trending hashtag #MitchBetterHaveMyMoney was really cool. So I decided to write about it as a pretty badass, and black AF response to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition to reparations.

But his opposition is not surprising.

In fact, white opposition to African American advancement is to be expected. It’s day one, an unwritten rule established during the founding of this nation for the preservation of its white supremacist culture.

Apparently, Mitch McConnell is a descendant of slave owners, who likens himself to former President Barack Obama as both a fellow descendant of slave owners and opponent of reparations.

So what exactly am I Mitchin’ about since the ancestors of the first African American POTUS owned slaves?

Because I suspect that Mitch McConnell said out loud what most white Americans think. That the descendants of African slaves do not deserve reparations “for something that happened 150 years ago”. And that there is no one “currently living” who can be held accountable for slavery.

And for that the Senate Majority Leader needs to be Mitch-slapped.

I mean, he did admit that slavery was America’s “original sin” and something about the Civil War, Barack Obama becoming president, blah…blah…blah…insomnia cured.

But it’s one thing to oppose reparations in the form of a huge cash, one-time payment, cutting checks on an individual basis of what could very well be perceived as hush money. And in 2004 Barack Obama noted that paying reparations “would be an excuse for some to say we’ve paid our debt”, thus ending the quest for racial equality and disregarding other urgent matters concerning African Americans.

And it’s quite another for an old white man to attempt to shut down the very conversation this country needs to be having over a crucial issue that will greatly impact the future of race relations in America.

But it’s what white men do in this country, especially when it comes to improving the lives of its most oppressed citizenry. They try to control the narrative by whining that slavery happened so long ago. That it’s impossible to know who should receive reparations.

Or that slavery was a global enterprise, as if to justify legalizing the dehumanization and forced bondage of an entire race of people in the hopes that us uppity niggers will STFU!

Now I realize that several states have apologized to African Americans in recent years for participating in chattel slavery. But it’s just lip service, an apology that rings hollow. Because simply saying “sorry” disregards the fact that free slave labor is responsible for most of the generational wealth first accumulated by slave owners in America.

Generational wealth provided the heirs of slave owners with greater opportunities to pursue the American Dream and to keep that dream as white and unseasoned as possible.

Wealth, by the way, that was not created by pulling up bootstraps and generated through hard work. Because most of the wealth in this country is inherited.

And even after the Civil War some slave owners were given reparations–compensation for the slaves that were emancipated.

But as award winning author, Ta-Nehisi Coates correctly observed during his inspirational testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee in support of reparations that it “is impossible to imagine America without the inheritance of slavery”.

Meaning, as the descendants and heirs of the servant class who labored without pay for centuries we are also entitled to the generational wealth and opportunities that have been denied us for so long.

I’m not saying reparations has to necessarily come in the form of monetary compensation. Though, forgiving my student loan debt would be a good start.

Just sayin’.

But what form reparations should take definitely needs to be taken seriously.

As for Mitch McConnell. He needs to sit his Mitch-ass down somewhere and heed the immortal words of Lord M’Baku of the Jabari tribe after he shut down the colonizer Everett Ross, “You cannot talk!”

How a Grand Jury in Alabama Smoked Crack and Decided to Indict Marshae Jones only for the DA to Decide not to Prosecute Her

Marshae Jones. (Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, via AP)

Okay, so let me explain.

I was asked by my good friend, Alexis Chateau, if I’d heard about the Alabama woman who was indicted by a grand jury on a manslaughter charge in the shooting death of her unborn child.

Alexis wanted me to share my thoughts.

Well…it just so happens that I do live on planet earth and I also have internet access. Plus, the state of Alabama has recently gained the national spotlight and earned the wrath of celebrities and pro-choice activists alike, as Alabama’s governor signed into law possibly the most restrictive anti-abortion bill in the history of ever.

How about restrictive gun laws, you say? Not so much.

But in late December of last year, two black women were involved in a deadly altercation that on the surface appears to be a clear case of manslaughter. Allegedly, Marshae Jones who was five months with child brought dat smoke to Ebony Jemison in a Dollar General parking lot. Some ongoing drama over the baby’s daddy ensued where friends on both sides participated in what was described as a brawl. Jemison pulls out a gun, fires, wounding Jones but killing her unborn child.

Initially, Ebony Jemison was charged with manslaughter but a grand jury has since dismissed the charge and indicted Marshae Jones instead.

So, what are my thoughts?

I’m still trying to make sense of the grand jury’s decision to indict Marshae Jones in her own daughter’s death. And the only way I can do that is to imagine the grand jury smoking an inordinate amount of crack all day long. Crack or maybe they were taking Ambien or a combination of both. I don’t know. Because I can’t imagine people with even a shred of human decency doing something so thoughtless, insensitive, and cruel as victim blaming.

Which is exactly what they did.

I mean, we can wag our fingers and lecture Marshae Jones all we want about her ill-advised decision to confront Ebony Jemison in the first place. But is it not uncommon for a pregnant woman to feel insecure due to body and hormonal changes? Is it possible that Jones perceived Jemison as a threat and in her own way may have felt she was protecting her unborn child from any outside interest in the baby’s father with all three being employed at the same company?

Not according to the indictment.

I guess a manslaughter charge in Alabama reads differently for black women. Because Marshae Jones initiated a fight with Ebony Jemison then Jones is solely responsible for Jemison pulling out a gun, shooting and killing her unborn child in utero.

A grand jury believes Ebony Jemison acted in self defense even though Jemison herself speaking to BuzzFeed admitted that Jones was pulling her hair when she fired the fatal shot. Jemison said it was a warning shot. And owning a gun in Alabama is not a criminal offense, per say, but I’m pretty sure shooting and wounding an unarmed woman while causing the death of her unborn child because of hair pulling is. Or at least it should be.

Thankfully, lawyers representing Marshae Jones have filed a motion to dismiss the bogus manslaughter charge. And the Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney, Lynneice Washington, has decided not to prosecute.

But the damage is already done.

Because an Alabama grand jury chose to indict Marshae Jones in the shooting death of her own daughter, it sends an unfortunate message that black women are not deserving of justice. That in its blind pursuit of personhood rights for the unborn Alabama failed to see Marshae Jones as human. Disregarding that she was also shot. The grand jury failed to see her as a grieving mother who lost her unborn child in a most unexpected and tragic way. That she will have to carry the traumatic memory of that fatal event for the rest of her life.

Though what is most memorable is that there’s a crack house in Alabama where a grand jury for some sadistic reason or another decided to hold Marshae Jones accountable for her unborn daughter–Marlaysia Jones’ death.

Next thing you know, Alabama will give parental rights to rapists.

Linda Fairstein needs to GTFOHWTBS!

Linda Fairstein  | AP Photo/ Scribner/Sigrid Estrada

After watching Ava DuVernay’s limited streaming series When They See Us on Netflix, I must admit my blood was boiling. I. Was. Pissed. I was pissed at the NYPD and law enforcement in general. I was pissed at our so-called system of justice. I was pissed at the media. But I was mostly pissed at Linda Fairstein, portrayed with such convincing, single-minded tenacity by Felicity Huffman. A performance that speaks not only to America’s racist history of lynch mob, tiki-torch injustice but to the present “stand your ground” killing of unarmed African Americans at high rates by police.

And, unfortunately, the bodycount continues.

Linda Fairstein was a former New York City prosecutor and former head of Manhattan’s sex crimes unit. In 1989, she oversaw the prosecution, the wrongful convictions of five teenage boys–Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana Jr., Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam dubbed the Central Park Five–who confessed to the brutal rape of a white woman, an investment banker, Trisha Meili, among other charges.

Since the release of the critically acclaimed series on May 31, 2019, Linda Fairstein has attempted to clap back with an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal. Her guilty-until-proven-not-innocent opine of the now exonerated five reveals a pettiness that does nothing to support her claim that the series somehow “defames” her. She comes across as salty, butt-hurt, and overly critical–splitting hairs in what she believes to be inaccuracies in Queen Ava’s brilliant exposé–a powerful indictment of America’s criminal justice system.

But we as black people know all too well that that train is never late. The trolling by Linda Fairstein was expected especially after the backlash ignited by the most watched Netflix drama since its debut. Fairstein “stepped down” from her positions at two nonprofit organizations and as a member on the board of trustees at her alma mater–Vassar College. She was also dropped by her Hollywood literary agency, ICM, and her long time publisher, Dutton, because…well…karma is what it is.

Besides, Queen Ava is a filmmaker, an artist, and a black woman who definitely knows how to tell a story about racism and injustice in America. In her skillful retelling of the Central Park Jogger case, DuVernay manages to humanize the five falsely accused black and brown teenage boys. And supplies them with the very thing that they were denied on that fateful night on April 19, 1989–the presumption of innocence.

A legal concept Linda Fairstein is obviously not familiar with. It’s as if Fairstein doesn’t believe it’s possible that black and brown teenage boys can feel helpless, vulnerable, intimidated, much less coerced by law enforcement into confessing to a crime they didn’t commit. Which made me question her own humanity.

While the blame-stream media at the time led the way by assigning guilt in the press well before their trial began, a certain real-estate mogul by the name of Donald Trump took out full page attack ads–including the names, phone numbers, and addresses of the five Harlem youths–with a hefty price tag totaling $85,000 in some of New York’s major newspapers calling for their executions.

Donald J Trump is now the 45th POTUS. Yeah…just let that sink in for a minute.

But what really pisses me off about Linda Fairstein is that she will never be held legally accountable for her actions in a court of law.

But, whatever. This is America, afterall.

And a lot of what has happened to Linda Fairstein so far is performative outrage, social justice chic like white women wearing pink pussyhats showing faux solidarity with the #metoo movement who still voted for the self-professed pussy-grabber-in-chief. Which is how I know the system will not change in my lifetime.

Queen Ava said it best, “She [Fairstein] is part of a system that’s not broken, it was built to be this way.”

Remember, the South may have surrendered the Civil War but they were never really punished…or defeated.

A Working Title

Inside Edition published August 31, 2018 on YouTube

The epic fail of the South Pasadena Police Department
Or how to turn a routine welfare check into a homicide (must have badge and gun)
Or how to get away with killing a celebrity, nonblack, woman of color (must have badge and gun)
Or police killing a woman of color is not new (Decynthia Clements)
Or police killing a woman of color is not news (Decynthia Clements)
Or cops killing a celebrity, nonblack, woman of color has nothing to do with #blacklivesmatter
Or, if cops are willing to kill a celebrity, nonblack, woman of color how the HELL can black lives matter
Or a BB gun was recovered from the crime scene
Or Vanessa Marquez never recovered from the crime scene
Or Vanessa Marquez’s acting career spanned nearly three decades in movies and on TV
Or South Pasadena’s city manager said SPPD officers are the ones who “acted appropriately”
Or #alllivesmatter
Or #bluelivesmatter…more
Or #whitelivesmatter…most
Or BB guns don’t kill people
Or people with BB guns are killed by people with guns
Or Tamir Rice could not be reached for comment

Rest in Power Vanessa Marquez