Monday, January 28, 2013

NAACP ousted local chapter president

This occurred in Lake City, Florida

NAACP ousted the Columbia County President and suspended her life membership because she filed a restraining order against a lady who tried to run her over in the parking lot. The lady who tried to run over the ousted branch president is now 2nd Vice President of the branch.

Friday, January 25, 2013

In N.A.A.C.P., Industry Gets Ally Against Soda Ban

[Is this all they can do, fight for some bull crap-while Blacks are making unhealthy food choices resulting in heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, and ultimately dying from these diseases?  I wonder how much N.A.A.C.P paid the lawyers to sue New York City over some 70mg of sugar soda pop?   Burn Baby Burn!]

As the American soft-drink industry argued its case in court on Wednesday against MayorMichael R. Bloomberg’s restrictions on sugary drink sizes, a prominent local group stood by its side: the New York chapter of the N.A.A.C.P.
  • The obesity rate for African-Americans in New York City is higher than the city average, and city health department officials say minority neighborhoods would be among the key beneficiaries of a rule that would limit the sale of super-size, calorie-laden beverages.
But the N.A.A.C.P. has close ties to big soft-drink companies, particularly Coca-Cola, whose longtime Atlanta law firm, King & Spalding, wrote the amicus brief filed by the civil rights group in support of a lawsuit aimed at blocking Mr. Bloomberg’s soda rules, which are set to take effect in March.
Coca-Cola has also donated tens of thousands of dollars to a health education program, Project HELP, developed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The brief describes that program, but not the financial contributions of the beverage company. The brief was filed jointly with another organization, the Hispanic Federation, whose former president, Lillian Rodríguez López, recently took a job at Coca-Cola.
The N.A.A.C.P.’s New York office referred questions to the American Beverage Association, the soft-drink industry’s lobbying group and the primary plaintiff in the suit against the city’s new soda rules. The association referred questions to Coca-Cola, which did not immediately respond.
At the hearing on Wednesday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, lawyers for the beverage industry argued that the Board of Health had overreached its authority by unilaterally ratifying the new rules. The city rejected that argument, saying the restrictions were well within the board’s purview to regulate public health matters.
There was no immediate ruling; Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr., who presided, did not comment. The beverage industry said it was requesting a stay of the soda restrictions while the case was being resolved.
While the industry has successfully fended off higher soda taxes and restrictions across the country, it has been increasingly under siege from public health officials concerned about the adverse effects of sugary drinks.
New York unveiled its soda plan in May, and other states and cities have since pursued similar measures. On Wednesday, Gov. Deval L. Patrick of Massachusetts proposed that soda no longer be exempt from the state’s sales tax; lawmakers in Hawaii and Nebraska have also recently proposed higher taxes on sales of sugary drinks.
In its brief, the N.A.A.C.P. conceded that obesity was a significant problem among blacks and Hispanics. But the group urged the city to create a more holistic program to attack the problem, including an increase in financing for physical education programs in public schools.
Mr. Bloomberg’s plan, the brief argued, would disproportionately hurt minority-owned small businesses, which faced competition from larger convenience stores like 7-Eleven that would be exempt from the soda restrictions because of a quirk in New York’s regulatory structure.
“At its worst, the ban arbitrarily discriminates against citizens and small-business owners in African-American and Hispanic communities,” the brief said.
The plan has also been ardently opposed by several members of the City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus.
The city’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas A. Farley, said Wednesday that he was “disappointed” the N.A.A.C.P. had opposed the plan. “African-Americans are suffering disproportionately in this crisis, and I don’t think the N.A.A.C.P. should be siding with the big soda companies,” he said. “They are attacking public health officials who are trying to respond to that crisis.”
According to the city, about 70 percent of black New Yorkers and 66 percent of Hispanic New Yorkers are obese or overweight, compared with 52 percent of white non-Hispanic residents, based on a 2011 survey. The problem is often worse in low-income communities.
Pinkney to Pinkney show
Every Sunday at 5pm Eastern Time
Burn Baby Burn
Burn all NAACP membership cards

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Dangers and Degradations of Daily Prison Life

Gerardo's New Writ

The Dangers and Degradations of Daily Prison Life

We wait with a Latina woman and two of her kids until the prison guard at the entrance desk calls our number. We pass through the X-ray machine and get our wrists stamped. Then we sit and stare at a religious display in the show case – church-state separation?— where visitors wait before electronic door #1 gets opened from an indoor control system nearby.
When we enter the prison’s visiting room, a red headed prison guard stares at Saul’s trousers, then at his face and says “You can’t come in here, dressed like that.”
Huh? Saul sagely replies.
“Tan trousers and gray sweat shirts, forbidden. Inmates dress like that.”
A guard accompanies Saul back to the entrance building  and gives him directions to the nearest Target, the only store within miles, and just off the highway, he says, where he can buy a new pair of trousers.
Saul accomplishes his costume change, returns to the US Maximum Security Penitentiary in Victorville, California and joins a new waiting crowd of women and children, all black or Latino, waiting for an hour while the prisoners get counted.
Back through X-ray, the invisible stamp placed on Saul’s wrist gets read by a hand-held stamp reader and he re-entered the visitor’s room, embraces Gerardo and sits with him and Danny to discuss the legal case of the Five Cubans (Gerardo, Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino and Rene Gonzalez (on parole and restricted to south Florida), who infiltrated violent exile groups in Miami to stop the campaign of bombing Cuban hotels.  The FBI arrested the Five in 1998 and charged them with serious offenses, Gerardo with conspiracy to commit espionage and aiding and abetting murder.
An intimidated jury – the media photographed their license plates, thereby making them identifiable — convicted them and Judge Joan Lenard imposed very harsh sentences, later diminished by an appeals court, except for Gerardo’s two life sentences.
Gerardo describes the dangers of daily life in prison, like the routine fights between inmates, some resulting in death, where one inmate shanks the other; or an inmate stabbed a prison guard in the eye with a pen.
We scan the room, seeing prisoners benignly meeting and talking with family members, or playing cards with girl friends. Four guards watch diligently from an elevated perch.
We discuss with Gerardo the motion filed by Martin Garbus, his attorney, for his latest appeal. Garbus found documents about how “the government attempted to influence the trial by paying journalists  to write for the Miami Herald, and El Nuevo Herald, and put on local radio and TV materials that the government intended for use to influence the community and the jury to return a judgment of conviction against the defendants.”
The courts did not know about these efforts, nor did the defense counsel. The judge tried to insulate the jury from outside influences, but according to Garbus “neither she nor anyone else other than the government had any idea of the massive amounts of energy, money and time that was being used to influence this jury.
In the United States government is not allowed to pay money for what is called domestic propaganda. If the government wants to take a political position it’s absolutely entitled to do it. What they can’t do is hire somebody, not tell the American listening audience who that person is being paid by, and not tell the American listening audience that the person who is articulating a position is articulating a government position. That violates the law.” And, Garbus concluded, the propaganda paid for by the US government polluted public opinion. Ricardo Alarcon, Cuba’s Parliamentary President called this funding of propagandists during a trial a “conspiracy of the Government with the local Miami media to convict the accused beforehand and make a fair trial impossible. The substance of this conspiracy was using that media to unleash a propaganda campaign of unprecedented hatred and hostility. For that they employed a considerable number of “journalists” — in reality, undercover Government agents — who published articles and commentaries that were repeated day and night, producing a real storm of misinformation.”
Gerardo nibbles on chips we bought from the prison vending machines and reminds us that we won’t see middle class people “in here, those who can afford high paid lawyers.”
He hopes Garbus’ latest habeas corpus writ convinces an appeals court to declare the trial unjust and demand a new trial or acquittal.  But he cannot plan his life around it, or around getting early release from two life sentences. His wife, Adriana, cannot visit him because the US government denies her visa requests. She has recently been proposed as a delegate for Cuba’s Parliament.
Gerardo bears his deprivations with stoic discipline. He maintains his regime inside this unhealthy place, doing exercise, reading, answering letters and drawing cartoons. He watches the news and reads the NY Times, which, like all his mail, get opened and read by special prison censors.
Maybe President Obama might agree to Cuba’s proposal to exchange – independent humanitarian gestures – the Cuban 5 for Alan Gross, the contract agent who worked for AID and tried to set up non-trackable satellite systems inside Cuba as part of an effort to subvert its government. Gross was convicted and sentenced to 15 years by a Cuban court.
For a You tube video with Danny Glover and Peter Coyote taken from the trial transcript go to
Danny Glover is an activist and actor. 
Saul Landau’s FIDEL and WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP a available on dvd from

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Idol Smasher

Dec 30, 2012
Illustration by Mr. Fish
This is WELL worth the read.

Ishmael Reed has spent the last five decades smashing idols—idols of race, idols of capitalism, celebrity idols and the idols of national virtue and greatness. His essays, novels, poems, plays, songs and cartoons routinely shatter the delusions and myths of a nation stubbornly unwilling to confront its past or understand its present. He rips open a history that saw white Europeans exterminate one race and enslave another to create the nation’s prosperity, a past that includes the violent plundering of nations around the globe—Cuba, the Philippines, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan among them—to show us who we have become. He names the corrosive disease of empire. He excoriates what Alexis de Tocqueville called our “perpetual practice of self-applause.” He battles back against the sophisticated forms of propaganda—especially from Hollywood—that perpetuate patriotic fantasies and pander to the dark streams of paranoia, racism and fear that run like electric currents through white society.

Reed’s righteous fury is a heartening antidote to the squeamishness of liberals and the lunacy of the right wing. He says the editors of The New York Times and most other major media outlets “sound like they get their instructions from Julius Streicher [the Nazi propagandist] when it comes to blacks.” He calls the HBO series “The Wire” “a Neo-Nazi portrait of black people” and dismisses the movie “Precious” as a film that “makes D.W. Griffith look like a progressive.” 
“Lazy, no-good black people, who are welfare cheats, sitting around eating chicken, and having sex with their children, right out of the Lee Atwater-Paul Ryan playbook,” he said of the portrayals in “Precious” when I reached him by phone at his home in Oakland, Calif. “The wonderful novelist Diane Johnson was right when she said that ‘largely white’ audiences are thrilled by images of black people as dysfunctional. This has become a billion-dollar market which led critics to assert that Black Bogeyman movies sell better than sex, according to the critic C. Liegh McInnis. You even have a critic at The Root website, a post-racial ‘Talented Tenth’ hangout for ‘exceptional blacks,’ praising Quentin Tarantino’s latest sick exercise into racial porn, called ‘Django Unchained,’ ” which I critique at the Wall Street Journal site Speakeasy. This movie is being praised by the same critics who loved ‘The Color Purple’ and ‘Precious,’ probably because it revives Stanley Elkins’ discredited ‘Sambo Thesis.’ ”

Reed has no time for Black Bloc anarchists, whom he calls “alienated, spoiled middle-class white kids from the suburbs” as well as “vandals and thugs.” He calls the Oscar presentation “a white supremacist pageant.” He detests the Clintons, who he reminds us sold out the poor and the working class. Hillary, he says, makes “Eva Peron seem benign.” He predicts more tragedies like the recent Connecticut massacre, noting that many white Americans stockpile assault rifles because they are terrified of black people and that mass shootings in the United States almost always are carried out by estranged white men.

“ ‘The Turner Diaries,’ the book that inspired Timothy McVeigh to bomb the federal building in Oklahoma, and assaults by gunmen including one against the North Valley Jewish Community Center [in Granada Hills, Calif.,] in 1999, are very explicit,” he said not long after we were on a panel together at the Miami Book Festival. “The [novel] tells whites they need guns because if they give up their assault weapons blacks will kidnap white women and Jewish men will be their pimps. This fantasy, however absurd, at least addresses the deepest, unspoken fears of whites. The white power structure looks around at what is happening. It sees we are going down. It is terrified of an uprising by a coalition of whites, blacks, Asian-Americans and Hispanics that elected Obama—even though Obama with his pretty, multicultural face and elegant style and his spouse, who is more militant than he and who for that reason has been silenced, serve the empire. The only problem is that white crazies like [Michele] Bachmann and the others are so blinded by white supremacy that they won’t go along with the script. She [Rep. Bachmann] said that Obama was costing the taxpayers $250 million per day on his trip to India, a lie, when Obama’s taking over 100 CEOs along with him brought back billions in contracts.”

“The other part of the white public, the underclass and working class, has proven that they will go to any lengths to uphold white supremacy,” he said. “Even when they had no fight in the Civil War, owning no slave assets like the planters, they caused the deaths of 640,000 Americans in order to uphold white supremacy. Then, as now, parts of the white working class, who are anti-union and get drunk on the cheap moonshine of racism, are willing to exercise self-extinction in order to uphold white supremacy.”

“One part of the slavery deal was the patriarchal planter’s ownership of black women’s wombs,” he went on. “Now they [the powerful] are mandating this demand of all women. Yet, white women favored Romney by 14 points. They’re intimidated I think by their husbands, brothers, fathers and employers, which is why they scapegoat the [black] brothers for worldwide misogyny.

Full article:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The NAACP is no longer relevant

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Rev. Edward Pinkney at a protest in Benton Harbor, MI. Photo/Brett Jelinek 
ByRev.  Edward Pinkney
The NAACP is doing very little to organize and help the African American community. They are living in the past and reaping the benefits of our ancestors. Our ancestors have been betrayed by a group of greedy, dishonest, members of the African American middle class. The majority of them are concerned about material things and fronting for the status quo.

Too many African Americans have been forced out of the NAACP, ignored by the NAACP, expelled from the NAACP and labeled by mainstream media because they work to achieve the NAACP goals. The NAACP is not operating in good faith. The NAACP is robbing the Black community. The NAACP is misrepresenting the Black community.

We demand Corporate America and other institutions stop giving the money to the NAACP with the intent of helping African Americans. We demand the NAACP publish the names of institutions and the amount of money received from corporations during the past two decades.

We demand corporations in all states publish the amount of money given to the NAACP at the local, state, regional and national levels.

We demand the NAACP stop putting money before members and African Americans.

Now is the time to change the rules of the game to ensure that African Americans understand how the NAACP operates.

NAACP lost influence by allowing corporate dollars to control them. The NAACP no longer supports the communities.


  In Benton Harbor, Whirlpool purchased the NAACP. Corporations all over the country are  buying out the NAACP. The NAACP is selling you out. I am calling for a boycott of the NAACP and for all members to burn their membership cards.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Benton Harbor’s Emergency Financial Manager Should Be Terminated

Protest against the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) and Whirlpool Corporation’s takeover of prime lakefront property in Benton Harbor, MI. Photo/
Protest against the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) and Whirlpool Corporation’s takeover of prime lakefront property in Benton Harbor, MI. Photo/
Editor’s Note:  The following is excerpted from a statement by Marcus Muhammad, Commissioner-at-Large, Benton Harbor, MI.
Since Mr. Joseph Harris arrived in Benton Harbor, the city operating deficit, list of unpayable and pension plan deficits have increased significantly. Elected leaders, citizens and stakeholders are all getting less information than they ever received from the Finance Department.
The information that has been received has proven to be largely false and/or inaccurate. Several lawsuits and unpaid vendors have now surfaced. The staff morale is at an all time low. Staff competency and training is nearly non-existent. Relationships with neighboring municipalities and corporate leaders have been severely strained. Public procurement and new hires processes in city government under Mr. Harris’ leadership have consistently violated state and federal regulation. Mr. Harris has manipulated public procurements and hiring by lowering standards and qualifications to justify his personal preference and selections.
If the officials in Lansing truly have Benton Harbor’s best interest at heart, then they must remove Joe Harris immediately for negligence, false statements, Federal and State procurement violations, increasing the budget deficit, failure to act on correcting the pension deficits and default in duty.
There are ten reasons why Joseph Harris should be fired. (1) Failure to prepare and/or train local elected leaders to competently manage Benton Harbor. (2) Fiscal failures. (3) Political liability and antagonism. (4) Failure to collaborate with elected leaders regarding the Community Benefits Package (CBP) grant funding. (5) The Closing of 200 Paw Paw (Carl Brown Economic Development Center) (6) Negligent management of NSP grant funding. ( 7) Wasteful spending. (8) Gross fiduciary negligence. (9) City sued due to non-payment. (10) Inaccurate and deceitful communications.
Benton Harbor should return to the power of democratic self-rule, just as free people the world over experience government. Benton Harbor has had enough of a government imposed grossly incompetent dictator.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Book: The Battle of Benton Harbor

"The Battle of Benton Harbor: The People Versus the Corporations in America's Rust Belt"discusses the victories and next steps in the struggle against the corporations in Benton Harbor, MI. A battle has been won, and this should be celebrated, but there is still a war going on. Will America have prosperity and democracy, or live in poverty under the heel of open corporate power? Will the American people move to take over the corporations before they take over society? This booklet holds lessons for everyone fighting for a just America. 

To order:

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Lincoln "is a national industry involving hundreds of millions of dollars a year . .

A review of the film, Lincoln

The Legend of Lincoln Unchained
While Django Unchained is stirring controversy, Steven Spielberg's movie Lincoln, has unchained the Legend of Lincoln to new mythic heights, without due challenge. Just as organizations like the NAACP denounced conservative-revisionist textbooks in Texas in 2010, they should denounce liberal-bent historical accounts that either ignorantly or deliberately fail to concede that "Abraham Lincoln did the right thing for the wrong reasons." Or as Lerone Bennett aptly conveyed in the title of his book, Lincoln was in effect - Forced Into Glory.
            Nevertheless, the fictions of Lincoln enrich the commercial and moral value of Americana more than the facts of Lincoln. As Bennett writes, Lincoln "is a national industry involving hundreds of millions of dollars a year . . . and the thousands of people who profit materially and the millions who profit psychologically and culturally are not going to stop."
So what really happened with Lincoln and the Civil War? Considering the racism that abounds today, it's inconceivable that 3 million Whites would fight gung-ho and 600,000 would unselfishly die for a "Black cause" way-back 150 years ago. And if Lincolnfactually wrote the Emancipation Proclamation to genuinely "free Africans" after 2 and a half centuries, its contents would seemingly be more etched into African-American minds. But if you ask around, it would be a near-miracle to find anyone (Black academics and leaders included) who can even paraphrase any portion of it, much less clarify its contents. Isn't that strange?
An unlikely but well-accredited vetting source of the Legend of Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation is President Obama himself, who will take his second Oath of Office 150 years to the date.  As a senator in a 2005 Time interview he remarked: "I cannot swallow whole the view of Lincoln as 'The Great Emancipator' . . . I am fully aware of his limited views on race. Anyone who actually reads the Emancipation Proclamation knows it was more a 'Military Document' than a clarion call for justice. Scholars tell us too thatLincoln wasn't immune from political considerations and that his temperament could be indecisive and morose."
Neither due justice nor the ambiguousness of the real Lincoln can be condensed here, but his "racism" or "limited views on race" as Obama diplomatically cites, is evidenced in a 1858 speech when he candidly said he was not "in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races . . . and I just as much as any other man am in favor of the superior position assigned to the white race."
Examples of his "crudity" or not being "immune from political considerations" as Obama intimates, is found in his letter to New York Tribune editor, Horace Greely in August 1862 stating: "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union."
The following month, the real Lincoln proposed a shrewd Preliminary Proclamationto emancipate Africans in Confederate areas. The caveat though was that Confederate states could retain slavery, providing they complied to return to the Union by January 1, 1863. However, should the war have ended beforehand, the deal would be rescinded and Confederates would lose both the war and slavery.
In terms of the Emancipation Proclamation being a "military document," Obama is corroborating Lincoln's strategy to employ the document as a war measure to disrupt the South's stability and slave-economy ($4 billion in human capital alone in 1860's dollars) and offset the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (which federally mandated that fugitive Africans be returned or abettors faced treason). It only "theoretically" freed Africans in Confederate states where he lacked enforcement.
Lastly, the moral notion that Lincoln waged the Civil War "to end slavery" is negated by his swift removal of General John Fremont for "freeing Africans" in Missouri in 1861, expressing: "We didn't go into the war to put down slavery, but to put the flag back . . . for I never should have had votes enough to send me here if the people had supposed I should try to use my power to upset slavery."
In this microwave society with 10-second attention spans, fictional characters like Django are short-lived. But here to stay is the Legend of Lincoln, who like many of his predecessors was gigantic in ambition but miniature in morality. Obama was diplomatic, but the open masquerading of Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation that he insinuates, reflects a need for concerned Black people and institutions to converge and confront such distortions and profiteering that are unchained at our historical and ancestral expense.

Ezrah Aharone is an adjunct associate professor at DelawareStateUniversity, and author of two acclaimed political books: Sovereign Evolution: Manifest Destiny from Civil Rights to Sovereign Rights (2009) and Pawned Sovereignty: Sharpened Black Perspectives on Americanization, Africa, War and Reparations (2003). He can be reached

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Homelessness Grows In Benton Harbor

In the land of Whirlpool Corp., the planet's largest multi-national appliance manufacturer, people starve in the cold.

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The community protests the opening of the Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course on public parkland in Benton Harbor, MI.
Photo/Brett Jelinek
By Rev. Edward Pinkney

BENTON HARBOR, MI—COGIC Village, a low-income apartment complex in Benton Harbor, Michigan is driving more and more residents out of the community into homelessness--or out of the town altogether. In addition, Black employees were fired, and apartment residents have been subject to racist slurs by the management company.

Carolyn, a now homeless, former resident of COGIC Village says: “If you have never been homeless,
it is tough to describe that first night sleeping on the street. The fear and disillusionment are paralyzing.
I was previously employed. Whirlpool Corporation started outsourcing all the manufacturing jobs. I lost
my job, home and car. I lost everything. Whirlpool makes life miserable for Benton Harbor’s poor.
Now that Whirlpool has built its office complex downtown, we can’t stay under the bridge where I sleep
with other homeless people. We are harassed constantly by Benton Harbor police who are promoting
Whirlpool’s agenda. I even was cited for sleeping on the sidewalk. It is a hard life. I moved into COGIC
Village Apartments. It was a living Hell, worse than living on the street. Kim Hunt, the apartment
building manager, fired all of the Black employees and hired her family and friends. Kim, a white
female, was brought in by President Rod Littlepage of Eagle Point Management to chase all the Blacks
out of the COGIC Village Apartments. Kim calls Black ladies “niggers” and “Black bitches.” If
someone stands up to her, she has them evicted. She has had many residents evicted. They are now
homeless. I would rather live in an abandoned building in the winter without heat, than live in
COGIC Village Apartments. I am again homeless.”

Whirlpool, the giant global corporation that rules the town of Benton Harbor is behind this inhuman
situation. Benton Harbor, once a thriving industrial town, has an unemployment rate of over 65
percent. The jobs left years ago. About 90% of the population now lives below the poverty line.
As the industrial base was desimated, Whirlpool and other big money interests launched a
“redevelopment” plan. That plan is to turn this lakefront town into a vacation land for the rich. What is
happening at COGIC Village is part of this plan to force the poor out and to bring the rich in.

The community is taking matters into their own hands. In October, people protested the mistreatment of
residents of COGIC Village. The demand was for management to remove Kim Hunt from her job and for
Manager Rod Littlepage to sit down with the group. This is an important step in defense of the poor and
against corporate power.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Django: ...the underlying message was... that Blacks in slavery were fools and cowards

A review of the new Hollywood film, Django
...Throughout the rest of the film, this is Tarantino method: begin with a serious treatment, suck the audience in,  and then, he hits you—Bang!–with a punch line that catches you off guard.  The problem with the ethnic joke is that the joke is always on the black man, who, has no recourse to respond.

Tarantino's "Django: Unchained"

Hollywood’s Nigger Joke


I had little dog, his name was Dash
I’d ruther be a nigger than be white trash
–African American saying
In order for a joke to work, Mary Douglas, the eminent British anthropologist, wrote that one had to have a social context for it to operate in. “We must ask what are the social conditions for a joke to be both perceived and permitted,” she asked in her wonderful little essay, “Jokes.”
“My hypothesis,” she writes“is that a joke is seen and allowed when it offers a symbolic pattern of a social pattern occurring at the same time.”
With Django: Unchained, the symbolic pattern–I’d call it historical context–is Hollywood itself. “If there is no joke in the social structure,” Mrs Douglas observed, “no other joke can appear.”  In Hollywood, there are lots of jokes in the system!
The social pattern that allows Quentin Tarantino’s “Nigger joke” to work is set in the South, two years before the Civil War, but my point is that this is only a pretext for Hollywood itself.
Some critics, like Betsy Sharkey in the Times, think this film is a masterpiece. Sharkey calls it,   “the most articulate, intriguing, provoking, appalling, hilarious, exhilarating, scathing and downright entertaining film yet.”
African American critic Wesley Morris hated it. He called it “unrelenting tastelessness — [...] exclamatory kitsch — on a subject as loaded, gruesome, and dishonorable as American slavery.”
Ishmael Reed, the novelist, pointed out how the Weinstein Company promoted an advertising campaign to get a black audience by promoting  Jamie Foxx as the star. In fact, Foxx is only one of the stars, along with Christoph Waltz and  Leonardo DiCaprio. As Reed points out, Foxx spends most of his time looking at Mr.Waltz and then looking at Mr. DiCaprio, with a puzzled look on his face, as if to say, What’s dese white folks, talkin ‘bout?
My aim in his essay is to examine the way in which the symbolic system is a reflection of the social system. “What are the social conditions for a joke to be both perceived and permitted,” Mrs Douglass wrote in that little essay, “Jokes.”
What are the social conditions that would permit Django to be the big howling, empty nigger joke that it is?

To continue reading:

Cecil Brown, screenwriter and writer, is a visiting scholar in the English Department at U C Berkeley. is the author of I, Stagolee: a NovelStagolee Shot Billy and The Life and Loves of Mr. Jiveass NiggerBrown directed the film “The Two-Fer” (produced by Ishmael Reed). He can be reached at: