Don Lemon To Black Community: “F*ck With Me You Know I Got It”

I'd call him my nword but then it would turn into a thing. I hate things.

I’d call him my nword but then it would turn into a thing. I hate things. Plus he’s not really my nword.

“…it’s like these people have a racial commitment to crime…” ~ Danny Vinyard, American History X

That line always struck me as preposterously poetic, sinister, and eloquent at the same damn time. The sad part of it all is that while Danny Vinyard (played by Edward Norton) was a member of a white supremacist group and clearly prone to that line of thinking as a sort of party line when speaking of Black people, I wouldn’t be surprised if the standard, common, Joe Blow American doesn’t feel some type of familiarity with the sentiment involved. Perhaps its not stated so eloquently or as intentional, but more as a matter of function. It’s like the Chris Brown corollary: if chair is thrown from a window and Chris Brown is present, there is a better than 90 percent likelihood that Chris Brown either threw it or was involved with its flight.

Or put more simply, while I don’t know that I think most Americans (or people of the world for that matter) view Black people as rampant criminals, I will say that I’m sure there’s a significant portion of people that aren’t surprised at all when they see news stories involving black-on-black crime.

Which is why its so great that we have both Fox News Bill O’Reilly and CNN’s Don Lemon to help us figure out how to stop being such violent creatures and criminals. See, recently, Bill O’Reilly purported that African-Americans (nobody calls us Black in Prime Time) trend towards violence because of the breakdown of the African-American family. Don Lemon took it a step further with his five-point plan on how we could…get it together? Or stop being so violent? I’m not exactly sure what is to be achieved by his five points…but he had five points…perhaps Don Lemon is suuwoo. That’s a little gangland reference for those that don’t know. What? I’m Black. I’m crime prone.

By the way, I realize I’m late to the Don Lemon party. But upon seeing it I realized that well, if there’s something worth discussing its five-points to make you Black folks lives better. So let’s take a look at his points, mmkay?

5. Pull your pants up

4. Stop using the n-word

3. Stop littering

2. Graduate

1. No more unwed mothers

There were varying facts and figures that he used to support how exactly these five things were cornerstones of the degradation of the African-American community.

Now let’s be completely objective, if we can. On the surface, all of that is right. Or at least there’s nothing wrong with any of those points. On a purely surface level, the trend – ongoing for way longer than it should – of folks walking around visibly showing their draws…well I don’t get it either. I live in a Black neighborhood. I’ve seen more draws on a daily basis than the folks in Hong Kong making Fruit of the Looms. It’s truly stupefying. Mostly from a practical standpoint…it can’t be easy to walk like that. Nor can it be comfortable. I remember when sagging was popular….this ain’t even sagging, this is just downright walking with your pants around your knees. I’m just perplexed due to function. Given ALSO how tight pants are nowadays, its like dudes are walking around in cocoons…everybody’s just hopping nowadays. No Que.

Again, stop using the n-word, there’s a totally practical reason for this as well. Just like not littering (goooooooooo Earth…Captain Planet swag and sh*t). Graduate more? Who can’t get behind that? Even Kanye – one of the most notorious college dropouts in American history – named an album Graduation. That must count for something right? No unwed mothers…again, on its face, this makes pure and total sense. In social terms, its the ideal. A two-parent home clearly provides the most optimum opportunity for success – though its no the ONLY opportunity for success as so many of us can attest to.

But it is entirely possible to still be right and wrong simultaneously. None of those “solutions” would fix issues unique to the Black community. To keep it really real here’s how it actually works. If you graduate, you are probably more likely to get married…which means your dual income will allow you to live in a place where there ain’t much trash around which will likely have much less individuals using the nword OR sagging their pants. That’s just about moving to the a gated community.

Jokes aside, I feel like the biggest issue with points like this that aren’t wrong on the surface is that they don’t address any of the “why” of the situation to begin with. Granted, “why” can be a copout at times. I know. But think about it like this…if the goal is to eliminate violence (?) or change perception (which is not just Black folks fault mind you), will any of that sh*t truly make a difference? If I pull my pants up and stop using the nword, will I be looked at different? What if I put some sh*t in a trash can instead of on the ground – something that EVERYBODY hates seeing by the way, even folks in the hood get annoyed by the littering – and graduate a few times and don’t have a child out of wedlock…will that stop all the violence?

No. Part of the problem is the abject poverty may folks live in along with the laws and policies that have intentionally segregated this country for years. If you read transportation policy and understand city planning and redlining you see how cities were constructed to maximize segregation. I don’t care who you are, when a motherf*cker builds a HIGHWAY through your community specifically to separate the haves and the have nots (more a class issue) self-esteem issues are going to exist. It’s almost as dumb as not allowing a person with daddy issues – man or woman – the space to overcome the self-esteem issues they may or may not have. When sh*t is f*cked up, people are affected by it. Period. The problem is, the way you’re affected then resonates with another set of people who have the ability to more or less control some of the outcomes that are desired. Not a copout, just an acknowledgement that tellling Black people to get their sh*t together over a trash can and some sagging pants isn’t even a bandaid, its short sighted as hell.

Coming from Don Lemon it almost seems extra irritating. I’m not sure why this is, but it doesn’t feel genuine. His little anecdotes about living in Harlem now and the things he sees and how he never saw that before? I’m pretty sure he didn’t live in my neighborhood in Atlanta. Things he’s complaining about were par the course. NY…be offended. NYC is dirty. Period. The whole damn city. It ain’t Philly dirty…but its dirty.

Is he really arguing that if you just pick up trash in Harlem that everything’s gonna be alright. No Vinnie. Which remarkably, IS WHAT TREACH SAID! *rimshot*

I realize Don Lemon has caught a lot of flack, and probably mostly from folks in the Black community. I’m also sure he’s got a lot of support from that same Black community and much head nodding and agreement from a bunch of folks who treat Blackness as a pathology and not just a race. Ultimately, that’s what this comes down to…a white person litters…he’s littering and he’s a douche.

If a Black man does it, he’s predisposed to littering and is going to blame it on slavery. Black people are walking, talking pathologies. Pathology is the new stereotype.

This has gotten long, and yes that’s what she said. But what are your opinions about Don Lemon’s “No Talking Points” segment?

Agree? Disagree? Why or why not?



Significant Moments in Black History That Never Really Happened

You know why this cat never got work again? Because this n*gga SHOT RICKY!!!!!

You know why Lloyd Avery’s career never really took off? Because this n*gga SHOT RICKY!!!!!

Once upon a time not long ago, when people wore pajamas and lived life slow, we got freed. At last. In order to get to that point, a lot of very important people and occurrences had to happen. It’s the reason we celebrate Black History Month here in America. Without that month, we’d forget half of the accomplishments of great Black people like Tiger Woods and Robin Thicke.

Wait. What?


Well because we tend to be a jovial, communicative, and emotive people, those events hold near and dear places in our hearts. Deuce. But because we care so damn much about our peoples, those events aren’t just limited to the Dr. Martin Luther Tha King, Malcolm X’s and Beyonces, traffic lights, spinners, and beatings by police officers…they extend to things that actually didn’t happen but matter a whole heap anyway. We got heart.

Is there a heart in the house tonight? Stand up.

So here are a few things extremely significant moments in Black history that never actually happened in real life. Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiike…


Yo, you can go into nearly any Black home in America or gang outpost and yell out the name Ricky and everybody will know exactly what you’re talking about. Chauncey shot him dead in the alley when Ricky zigged when he should have zagged. Actually he didn’t zig or zag which is likely why he got hit in the leg before he got hit in the back with the sawed off shotgun (hand on the pump). When Ricky died, then his mama opened up the SAT test scores to reveal that Ricky had gotten the 700 score he needed to receive a football scholarship and make it up out the hood and go to college like Trey and Brandy were going to do, the hopes and dreams of the hood all song cried. That sh*t hurt. It still hurts. Ricky been dead for 22 years now. Doughboy too. MJ gone. Our nword dead too. Just saying, that was a significant moment in Black history is all I’m saying.

2. Stringer Bell’s death

Notice a theme here? Maybe its the way he died. Maybe its because of all of the people on The Wire who died, he’s the one who deserved his death the most. But that was a pivotal moment in Black history if only because Stringer was the quintessential prototype of who most educated ninjas want to be and who most women seem to be in love with. Idris hasn’t managed to shake the Stringer ethos and why would he want to. He’s tried to. Lord has he tried. Not quite as poignant a death as Ricky, but when String got shot, I heard Black women’s vagina’s scream from my third floor window. Too much? Possibly. Hi, my name is…Panama Jackson.

3. Dwayne Wayne breaking up Whitley’s wedding…and then marrying her

I can’t lie, I’ve often been amazed at how many women love Dwayne Wayne. I always viewed him as goofy as sh*t but somewhere along the way, he became “the man”. Either way, none of us wanted Whitley to marry Byron Douglass III even though that made total sense. So in that wedding episode when you could tell Whitley was losing it and then Dwayne hit her with the “baby PLEAAAAASE…” (that was possibly the most sincere beg in the history of begging – Keith Sweat gave it a 10 and a thumbs up) everybody jumped up and got excited. And I was like…13 at the time? Even I wanted their love to prevail. And it wasn’t real. Which might explain why the show lasted only one more season.

4. THE Fresh Prince Episode

You know which one I’m talking about. The one where Will Smith became WILL SMITH.

I can sum it up in 6 words and keep it moving before I start crying…

“Why he don’t want me, man?”

Man, it still hurts. And it wasn’t real. Will knows his daddy. I never looked at Ben Vereen the same again. She looked like Ben Vereen…b*tch don’t call here anymore.

5. The moment where Martin started to suck

Two words: Shaquille Sunflower

That boy was never the same after that. AND IT NEVER EVEN REALLY HAPPENED but the community took Martin sucking as likely the true beginning of the end of hip-hop. Wait…what? Exactly. This one might be a stretch. But that’s what she said. So we’re even.

That’s 5 significant moments in Black history that actually never really happened in real life that had an impact on the community. What else you got?

Can you think of any moments that occurred in some fictional environ that impacted our community at large?

Talk to me.


Everybody’s Gotta Be Somebody To Black Folks

I ain't saying its not a real title. But if a ninja told you he was a penguinologist, would you believe him?

I ain’t saying its not a real title. But if a ninja told you he was a penguinologist, would you believe him?

First off, this isn’t Champ. It’s Panama. The other guy. Champ tossed back too many Shirley Temples and bottles of O’Douls after his non-pr0n “Digital Penetration” panel at SXSW and ended up hungover. So, you’ve got me today. Suck it up.

Be that as it may, I came across something interesting today. And it got me going in circles….around we go. I came across a notice for a 3-year church anniversary for a pastor in the DC area. The 3-year anniversary announcement was being sent out on behalf of the pastor…

…and his First Gentleman of the church. I found it interesting that this pastor was married to a man despite being a pastor of a church in a denomination that is steadfastly anti-gay. But what jumped out to me most was that…well, we really love us some titles in the Black community. And I wonder if other communities are as hung up on titles and status indicators? Mostly because I actually have no effin’ clue.

Like, the whole concept of the church “first lady” (or gentleman in this case), do white churches even do that? I was told and thought everybody was just “Sister” like, go ask Sister Gertrude. But it doesn’t even end there. Black folks we just love titles. If we start an LLC where there is literally one employee, we can’t just be the owner. Naw. We’re the owner, founder, CEO, COO, CFO, HNIC, and ABC123. I know people – seriously, I literally know more than one person – who list their degrees on their voicemail greeting. I wish I was joking, but I’m not. Those titles mean something to them.

And me too. When I hear and see those titles I generally want to kick squirrels and light lemurs on fire. Mostly because I don’t get too caught up in titles. Or do I? I don’t even know anymore. I’m a The Black so I’m sure that deep down I care but my rebellious natures keeps me from caring. Hell, if I was a pastor, I’d attempt to eschew that whole “First Lady” stuff since in my mind, there is only one actual First Lady. Right now her last name is Obama.

Being as I live in Washington, DC, aka The Bougie Pretentious Ninja Capital of The World, I see the “I’m a somebody” status indicators a hundred, thousand, trillion. Folks who make $18,000/year still manage to curry some sort of favor and influence by virtue of who they are in such and such’s office or where they went to school with such and such. Everybody has a title and everybody without one is trying to become somebody with one. Everybody needs to know somebody so that they can be somebody by osmosis. Not that there’s anything wrong with this lifestyle, and I’m fairly sure that’s common across upper echelon societies of the world.

Except we practice this in the lower echelon communities in the Black community. Ninjas with nothing but a dime and a nickel still outchea trying to claim to be somebody of note. Or at least that’s my perception. Or better yet, my interpretation, of the situation. Hell, why ELSE would a ninja have the audacity to not only be named the First Gentleman of a church, but be proud of such a moniker. No shots, as I don’t doubt the love and am happy for them. But there’s just something odd about that title. But its a title nonetheless. And it’s one that says, “I’m somebody around these parts. Recognize me; kids memorize me.”

Maybe that’s normal. I know as humans we all want recognition for what we do. So having folks know who we are matters. But is that only gained thru titular means?

Titular is totally not pr0n. But it should be.

And again, does this all go down in other communities at all class levels?? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Oh yeah, and I’m sure it’s all due to slavery. Mmhmm.




Is It Me or Has The Blackosphere Run Out Of Things To Talk About?

That's totally racism! She should leave him! Be strong sister. Beyonce teaches us this!

That’s totally racism! She should leave him! Be strong sister. Beyonce teaches us this!

This ain’t funny so don’t you dare laugh, but I think that Black thought has run out of ideas. And I’m not talking the rapper from the Roots crew. No, I’m talking the majority component of Black conversation starters and “influencers”. Yes, the Ebony’s and Essence’s and Clutch’s* and Madame Noires*, etc.

Basically, the places that Black folks congregate to discuss Black issues. VSB included though I’m going to give us a TOTALLY non-biased pass since we’re a two-man deep operation. But it seems like, actually, it IS like, there are four topics worthy of talking about in the pages of Blackness – relationships, race, pop culture, and self-empowerment.

I’ve perused all of the Black intelligentsia pages – and I realize thats probably a misnomer – and there’s very little to do with politics and health or anything that isn’t purely opinion based. This isn’t to say that I don’t think that Black folks don’t have opinions on politics or finances (Black Enterprise is one good source), but it does seem that we stay as far away as possible from those topics in some of the most popular sources for Black “material.”

Now, I’d be intentionally ignoring the elephant in the room if I didn’t point out that those sites are largely (actually totally) geared towards women and maybe the vast majority of women who might read those sites couldn’t give two f*cks with a soda on the side of a partridge in a pear tree about partisan politics, sequesters, or anything in the political realm that doesn’t include the words Michelle Obama.

It’s possible that I’m completely ignoring the impact that sites like The Root and Huff Post Black Voices have on the community at large. Either that or I only follow and pay attention to the wrong pubs, but it really does seem like no matter where I go I see the same ho the exact same ideas and posts written different ways are presented. When I visit some of my more enjoyable mainstream (read white) sites, they’re chock full of all types of topics. I mean you can read posts about the role mice play in the World Cup. Or how electricity totally f*cks up the game for ladybugs in Santo Domingo. I’m not even saying that all of the things I read are good, interesting, or worthy of reading. But there are a slew or random but fresh ideas on lots of fresh and random topics.

Maybe its just that in the Blackosphere, there aren’t a lot of larger sites dedicated to news and thought in the same way that a Daily Beast or Huff Post or Slate can be. Even on sites like The Root, it seems like all the posts bottleneck right back into the racial component. Which isn’t wrong per se. There’s nothing wrong with that. And it’s important to have the facilitators of such conversations making sure that those angles are always pursued. But we still can’t seem to get past the Big Four.

Of course, there’s always the side of the argument that shows that I’m not even close to being accurate. That there are sites out there tackling all of the important issues of the day and adding new and insightful ideas to Internet and catalog of Black thought. Which is possible, but really, I don’t think that’s the case. I’m starting to think that for the most part we like to talk about those things because its one area where our opinion is all that counts and it doesn’t require being overly informed on any topic. And if you’re attempting to appeal to the most people at one time, then broad simple topics is the bread and butter to keep folks coming back. Even here at VSB, that argument can be made.

Maybe, Black folks online really only have a few things to talk about. Or maybe those of us online creating the conversations don’t think the audiences care about anything else. Or maybe OJ didn’t do it but did it at the same damn time.

I don’t really know.

But I do have to wonder, have we run out of things to talk about in the Blackosphere?

Talk to me.


BET On Black?: Does BET Get A Fair Shake Nowadays?

A few weeks ago,  I got into an argument with a friend of mine who happens to work for what I once dubbed “The Evil Empire”. That company is BET. The argument was about the fact that I seemed to lack any sort of positive vibes towards BET. Basically upon mention of those three letters in order caused an impressive array of profanities that would leave a person afflicted with Tourrette’s in awe.

And I cuss real good.

Her point was that I was so prepared to dislike anything associated with BET that I wouldn’t even give the lineup of shows they had a chance. Perhaps – the plea went – if I were to give love a chance, I’d find that the programming was worth my time. Also, given how much I tend to b*tch and moan about Black programming, its possible I was doing a bigger disservice to the community by not only not supporting, but actively UNsupporting. I was like one of Aretha’s bras.

Can’t lie. That hurt a little. The bra parallel, not the lack of support comment. I mean, have you seen one of her boobs? Cleveland is hiding in there.

Moving on. While I could easily shoot down her latter argument using two words – Tyler Perry – I realized that I wasn’t even sure why I hated BET so much…anymore (the former arguments were very strong). Hell, I watch “The Game” even though I think the show has totally devolved into dramatic f*cktasticness. I attempted to watch “Let’s Stay Together” and “Reed Between The Lines”. I actually didn’t mind “Let’s Stay Together” that much, though now that I think about it, I can’t actually remember who was in it or what the show as about. “Reed Between The Lines” attempted to be a modern day Cosby Show, except with a blended family, etc. That show did little more than make me go back and realize how much edge “The Cosby Show” actually had. Cliff and Claire really didn’t take no sh*t.

Well, BET has decided to trot out two new shoes: “Real Househusbands of Hollywood” and “Second Generation Wayans”. So I figure, what the f*ck, I’ll give them a shot. Can’t hurt right and plus it’s 2013 and I’m trying to center my chi and meet this ninja Fung Sway. Or Schway. Somebody told me he stays in Cali. And in the spirit of positivity, let me maintain expectations.

Let me tell you something about expectations, they’re almost impossible to not have. I’ve watched the trailers for RHOH numerous times and you know what, them sh*ts were hilarious. You’ve got Kevin Hart in his prime and a slew of random arse hasbeen actors on a fake reality show, which to me means script. Yeah, there ain’t one on this show obviously. And this first episode left something to be desired. One thing I realized while watching this show was this: comedians need a script. Very few are just funny off the cuff for long periods of time unless they get on a roll.

See: Harvey, Steve. He can go for hours on one thing and get funnier and funnier. But that wouldn’t make for a television show.

“Second Generation Wayans” managed to be funnier than RHOH which, again expectations, surprised me. That didn’t make sense except…it had a script. I’ll tune in.

This was a long ass way of wondering two things: 1) are we giving BET a fair enough shake anymore? Hell, they snagged TJ Holmes for a weekly show that we must have somehow forgot existed because now its on once a week…right?? 2) Is BET doing a better job of bringing the type of programming we claim we want than we give it credit for?

I’m as guilty of making BET the culprit for all that’s wrong with Black America. But here’s something to think about. Melissa Harris-Perry’s show on MSNBC comes on every Saturday and Sunday from 10-noon. I love it. Actually, I just think I love her, but whatever, I’m tuning in. No seriously, I love her. Like looked her up to see if she was married type love her.

As Twitter is the best way to see what’s happening in Black America, it seems that many of the Ninjerati do indeed tune into her show on Saturday or Sunday mornings. On purpose. Which means we gave it a chance and I’m curious why b/c until her show aired, I’d never heard of her.

Would we have tuned in at all if it was on BET? Hell would we tune in NOW if it was on BET? I wonder. Actually, I don’t. The answer is no.

So again, I ask, does the perception of BET completely cloud our ability to even notice if BET is giving Black America some of what we have been clamoring for? Hell, even Nick Cannon in the promo for RHOH was like, “this show is on BET? F*ck that”. A joke and a funny one, but the point wasn’t lost.

Talk to me.

For the record, I do feel like we can get almost all of what we’re looking for on other stations nowadays. But that does beg the age-old question, what exactly are we looking for? Do we even know?

Mmm mmm mmm mmm.