Monday, February 25, 2008

My Thoughts On The State of The Black Union

I was truly inspired Saturday at the State of the Black Union. The even itself was cool because I am a big fan of Cornell West and Michael Eric Dyson. Plus, I got to see Dick Gregory act totally ghetto in front of all those intellectuals. That was great.

I think there could be more ideas exchanged during the event if the format was different. The way the event is setup lends itself to many applause grabbing lines. After awhile it seemed like everyone was trying to out do the other person for an ovation. I would have given everybody two minutes to answer and kept it moving. I didn’t hear too many reasonable solutions come up. It’s funny that I watch this thing every year on television and never picked up on this until I was actually there. I love W.E.B Dubois but that was a hard stretch making him the theme of a 2008 discussion on race. They could use a few radical cats mixed in there just to shake the panel up a bit.

Out of all the speakers I saw, Donna Brazile, Michael Steele and Nicole Lee from Trans Africa impressed me the most. Dr. Akbar is the person I want to have a one on one conversation with.

Our local leadership was on full display. Mayor Ray Nagin is crazy. Did he know he was on national television? Why was Cynthia Willard Lewis standing up and applauding comments about people struggling when she votes against struggling people all the time on the city council? Cleo Fields being up there made it hard to take the whole thing seriously. Me and my boy kept wondering if they checked his pockets for cash. It's a wonder I still vote. We should have let Pastor Jones, Ms. Harrison and Ms. Woodard represent the city.

Barak Obama’s nomination dominated the whole conversation. I actually have some new respect for Hillary Clinton for putting herself in front of that hostile crowd especially after they had been worked up into a frenzy. The most amazing thing about the whole Obama phenomenon is how the new school black agenda and the old school civil rights crowd have all come together for the audacity of hope. You need serious game to bring these two groups together. That tells me in the end they are all fighting for the same thing to begin with. If they can keep that understanding after the election is over and listen to one another we might get something done.

Here is what inspired me. I was sitting in the middle of the auditorium on the third level and got a good view of the entire crowd. There were elderly people. There were scores of college kids. There were men and women with their kids. There were church groups and youth groups. There were serious men and serious women. There were even some white brothers and sisters. (That must be why the local media didn’t cover it much. We are not supposed to support one another.) A large majority of these people were from the city and the Gulf Coast. When I first came back to see the city in October of 2005, the hood was so empty that me and my friend stood in the middle of St. Bernard and Broad St. and there was not a car or person in sight except for a Red Cross truck handing out water. If someone would have told me that day that in two years time we would have enough people here to host anything let alone fill an auditorium I would have thought they were crazy. It felt good to see that. I know everybody who wants to be home isn’t here and I know not everyone who should have been taking care of has been. Saturday afternoon was a moment to give ourselves a pat on the back and say we have probably come back further along than we should have with the way things have happened. For that display alone the day was great to me.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sitting On My Porch Part VI

I am writing this edition drinking a long island tea and waiting for the Suns/Lakers game to come on. Please add drive through daiquiri shops as reason number 343 why I don’t want to leave the city. I am not ashamed to say that I am a Shaq apologist. Even if he plays ten minutes and runs out of breath I will only harp on his one dunk. I like how the analyst talk about Shaq not being able to run like he works in a coal mine or something. If Shaq came to a pick up game he would not only dominate, we would all be scared of him. Anyone who has negative words about Shaq, Iverson, Kobe, Donovan Mcnabb, Chris Paul, Drew Brees or Stephen A. Smith is no longer allowed to read this blog. There is an open invitation to talk about Tony Romo, Tracy McGrady, or any Atlanta Falcons except for Warrick Dunn. Why does the media like to keep black male beef going? Didn’t Shaq and Kobe kill that two years ago?

They have started tearing down the C.J. Peete and the St. Bernard housing projects. I feel safer already. All this time I thought lack of quality education and disenfranchisement was the reason for the amount of crime in the city. It turns out that living in a brick building instead of a new wood one with light colored paint was the reason. Way to go City Council! If we tear down every brick building in the city we can have a utopia.

I would like to thank Jefferson Parish for proving this area is 40 years behind in race relations.
I think it's funny how some people get so upset when accused of playing the race card but stuff like this comes up. Here is an idea, since all the schools in question are public, how about if we make a pledge for all of them to receive equal funding and resources. That way a parent won't feel the need to send their kids 10 miles away just for computer access and new books. It won't matter where any kid of any color goes. We can call the plan No Child Left Behind. Wait........nevermind.

This question may seem out of place where I have it but how many black women from New Orleans are nicknamed Keedy, Teedy or Deedy? I have two in my family and know three more. Is there a local historian who can tell me when this tradition started? My nanny is 60 and that’s her nickname so I know it’s at least that old. I think I just created the next PBS special for Black History Month. African American Nicknames: From Pookie to Teedy.

This city has to be the only place your social agenda can swing far left to far right in a one block radius. You can literally be on one corner, see a homeless guy and think to yourself “I need to get out and give that guy my jacket and money for a meal. Katrina really did him in” ; then go to the next corner see another guy and roll down your window to yell out “get up and go to work you lazy bastard”. That sounds harsh but it really is that bad. Somedays I drive up Claiborne Avenue and get depressed. Other days I want to find out where the hell all those extra tents come from.

I have been working out lately and it’s a weird feeling when your body starts to come back to you after years of abuse. I can tell you this. If your body would hurt as much getting out of shape as it does getting back in shape no one would ever gain weight. Exercise is biology's sick joke on the people who like to eat.

Have you seen the video of the young sister in Texas dunking the basketball?
If I see her on the playground where I am playing I am catching a charlie horse. No teenage girl is going to embarrass me.

They also played one of those Before the Dinosaurs shows where they show all the pre-historic creatures. I am all into science and everything but some of that stuff is crazy. How do they know that a group of giant scorpions chased a school of walking fish into a pool of desert water. I wonder if someone is going to find my bones a million years from now and can tell what I did. If they do my name will be Clifferous Crowndrinkerous. I challenge anyone that reads this to come up with their own name.

The last few weeks recent events in the country have made me a little confused about how I view the state of the country. When a wave of optimism takes over it makes you wonder to yourself if you are missing something. Today I took the long way home. I went through Central city then mid city. I went through the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Ward. Then I hit Gentilly, the Ninth Ward and finally New Orleans East. I realized that not only is my opinion justified, I might have been too nice.

The video below is dedicated to me because it’s my favorite hip hop song of all time.

Sheer Stupidity

Recovery schools say they're owed millions

08:58 PM CST on Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Recovery School District says it is owed about $67 million from tax money and insurance proceeds from the New Orleans school board and that without payment; it may be forced to layoff teachers and increase class size.

The revelation was made as the RSD presented its first budget to the State of Louisiana.

The problem is that the New Orleans school board says it is owed $72 million from the RSD for money it fronted for school repairs and employee benefits.

The State Department of Education is trying to step in by getting an auditor to help settle the dispute.

Each side believes that they are on the wrong side of the ledger sheet.

“We actually believe that we don’t owe them that money, but they may owe us a great deal,” said Orleans school board member Jimmy Fahrenholtz. “It’s a dispute that needs to be resolved.”

Unless it is resolved to get the RSD more money, its superintendent says it will have to cut back.

“I’m going to have to start increasing class size, cut after school programs and summer school programs,” bemoaned Paul Vallas.

I would make a comment but I don't know what to say. This is why my parents are in Memphis right now.

Monday, February 18, 2008

One More All Star Piece

This story wasn't posted on their website this morning but I read it this afternoon and I thought this was an excellent article about the city.

All Stars In The Hood

By all accounts the All Star Weekend was a good success for the city. We almost made it through the entire weekend without anyone getting shot. I won’t claim that incident for the city. One shooting is pretty standard for functions with a majority of young black people. That’s a sad but true statement. I wasn’t worried about chaos in the streets because crowd control during events is the NOPD’s specialty. The All Star game wraps a two month stretch of good events for the city including the BCS Championship, the Sugar Bowl and Mardi Gras. Now, we have to figure out a way to generate the same positive energy ourselves for the rest of the year. It makes no sense that the only time we tend to feel good about the city is when we have a large group of visitors.

Here is one positive thing for you. Kermit Ruffins, Trombone Shorty, and The Rebirth blew the soul out of that arena last night. The cool part is that if you live here you can go any night of the week and see a performance just like that. It was good they didn’t use a zydeco band like they always do. They should have gotten Fire Ya Ya and his drummer to march around the arena during timeouts. I am sure he would have scared some tourists but that would have been pretty entertaining to watch Marv Albert trying to explain that.

My only wish now is that the next time we host something on a national scale; everyone can come in their best clothes and have a good time without the need for all the volunteering. I like the days of service but that also means that there are still hundreds of things that need to be done. I think it would be nice for the media to come down and take a ride around some of those neighborhoods to show how well they are doing as opposed to what hasn’t been done. Sooner or later the story needs to be how things have turned around and improved.

Should I be thankful or sorry that I didn’t see any national stories about that colony of homeless people under the Claiborne overpass?

Here is a good column for Scoop Jackson at ESPN2 about the playground situation. He should have added that one of the reasons the playgrounds are still messed up is because some of them were trailer parks after the storm. We had to protect those golf courses.

Here’s a real conversation I had with my cousin during the slam dunk contest.

Him: What’s up with Dwight Howard?

Me: What do you mean?

Him: He’s always smiling and showing his teeth.

Me: Well, he’s young, rich, has a good family, no trouble, tall, athletic, handsome, lives in warm weather, and he’s about to win the slam dunk contest. Wouldn’t you be smiling?

Him: Oh Yeah……………I need another drink.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I try to show people the differences in America regarding race without making it a personal thing. Racial problems in the country have more to do with the system than individual people. Let’s take this Roger Clemens hearing for example. Here is a guy that is claiming he’s never been around illegal drugs and that his former trainer is lying on him. This same trainer gave shots to his former teammates including one of this best friends Andy Pettitte. The trainer in question also had the opportunity to shoot Roger Clemen’s wife in the booty with a needle full of growth hormones. All that is true but this guy would risk going to jail just to lie on Roger Clemons.

Here’s where the racism part comes in.

If Barry Bonds had the balls to sit in front of Congress and lie with a straight face like that, they would have put him in cuffs and taken him to jail right from the hearing.

There should be a website where citizens can fill out a claim form for return of all the tax dollars that are wasted on shit like this.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Last Word On Obama Until It's Over

Before I post this let me say that I reserve the right to post something else if it's so big that it changes the race. Right now the writing is on the wall....

Barak Obama is closer to being the president than any man of color has ever been. Tonight my be the death blow to Hillary Clinton. I wasn’t going say anything else about it. The wave of momentum is just too great. I knew it was over Saturday morning when the lady at the car wash asked me if I had went and voted for Obama before I started washing my truck. Who am I to kill the dream? I don’t want to kill it. I’m voting for Obama since Jon Edwards dropped out. I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t take the time to tell the truth about what’s really happening here. After we finish dancing in the streets celebrating his nomination, we need to tell the truth about what’s going on. I hope I don’t get the Tavis Smiley treatment. It’s okay if I do.

  • There is no mistake about it to me. Barak Obama’s campaign is no longer a revolution for change. He is running so far to the left and has so many endorsements from the establishment of the Democratic party, he is now the establishment of the party. He had to take that position from Hillary in order to keep the money flowing to win. With the large percentages of black voters casting ballots for Obama, we have now married the Democratic party for at least the next four years. That’s right, the same party that’s been taking you for granted since the Civil Rights Bill was passed. Now Obama has to win because if he doesn’t we are screwed. We better hope that all the white men that chose the brother over the woman also hate McCain because it will be rough.

  • Since the key to winning is white voters, please don’t get upset when Barak Obama won’t show up at events like the State of the Black Union or answers questions geared towards the African American agenda. It’s obvious we are going to vote for him anyway so he doesn’t have to speak on those things. I am all for a candidate that wants to run for everybody. I love the idea of a true united country. However, there are two Americas like John Edwards said and we happen to be mostly in the poorer one. It’s a good thing for Obama that most black people with a little money don’t want to be reminded that their cousin’s don’t have any. A candidate of any color running for president should be able to speak on the disparity and a black man isn’t being racist if he questions that. How we are we going to be united if everything isn’t even? If this was two white people running we would be ready to shut down any campaign that took these issues for granted. Now we don't care anymore and that's disheartening.

  • If this election was a game Oprah Winfrey would have to be the MVP. Why? Because she told white and black people that Obama was safe to vote for. There is no one with the appeal Oprah has. White people love her and she’s everything most black people hope to be. She’s rich, she isn’t judged by her color, and she rarely acknowledges the “element”in the community. Most black people outside of Illinois never heard of Barak Obama. Half of them still don't know anything about him now. Oprah told them and white America he was a safe black man approved by her and he ran with it. I’m not sure what position he could give her but it needs to be something good.

I am voting for Barak Obama because he is the best candidate left for me. I am also voting for him because of the historical significance. That bothers me somewhat because I am long past voting for inspiration. I have been living in a city ran by black people my whole life and it hasn’t been a paradise. I can only imagine if this national thing goes wrong. I just need this thing to work if it happens. If nothing changes then I’m going to be heartbroken.

I'm Going To The State of The Black Union

I am registered to attend the State of the Black Union in New Orleans, Louisiana. I would like to invite anyone to read this to attend. I will be there with my Covenant book and my post Katrina attitude.

You can register by clicking on this line.

Hope to see you there.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sitting On My Porch Part V

I am back from my Mardi Gras and family visit hiatus. This years coconut count from Zulu stands at 7. That’s a new record for me. The power of a four year old sitting on your shoulders cannot be measured when it comes to catching parade throws. I have to say that I enjoyed this carnival season more than I have in the last few years. It would have been perfect if not for the rainstorms and the occasional senseless violence on the parade route. Which leads me to my next point.

New Orleans is hosting the All Star game next week. That’s usually a weekend where the best and worst of the hood comes together to party and get in trouble. I am begging all the cats who tore up Las Vegas last year and scared people to the point they were worried about having the game here. Please, leave the foolishness at home. I will give you two good reasons. The first reason is that New Orleans can ill afford any extra national publicity for something bad happening especially if it was caused by someone who doesn’t live here. Somehow all of those stories end up being our fault. The second thing is that there are a lot of young men in New Orleans who will bust a cap. They won’t care who you came here with or where you are from. They are not easily impressed by that kind of thing. Don’t get yourself hurt. Come on down, meet some pretty girls and have a good time.

I am not saying I totally believe in the whole global warming phenomenon yet. I will say that when it’s the first week in February, and we are running the air conditioner, girls are wearing booty shorts at the parades and I am starting to see male mosquitoes something isn’t quite right. There was a report a few weeks ago that said global warming would slow down hurricane activity. I am so confused.

African American Lives on PBS
should be shown in every inner city school. It’s the best program I have watched in a long time. The lesson to be learned from this program is that you can't beat the feeling of knowing where you come from. It's empowering. My only wish is that somehow we could do this kind of thing on a large scale. Maybe Barak can try to fund this when he becomes president. This program has inspired me to make an attempt to find out my own lineage. I think I have a good idea of where to start. I just need to get pass the obstacle of not having all the information Katrina took and not having a PBS budget to travel to all of these small towns. Maybe Dr. Gates will read this and hook me up.

I am not voting for him but I will give him credit. Mike Huckabee is a great politician. What he is doing with no money and mainstream support is remarkable. His campaign is what Obama’s was supposed to be. I have one more Obama posting to make and after that I will no longer say anything about the man because I don’t want the hate mail.

It was cool enjoying the holiday with my parents and my crazy brother (when he wasn’t running the streets). I was glad they could make it down to the city. In light of that I am dedicating the song below to my brother Walter. He may be the only dredlock wearing, mixtape making, Newport smoking, Lower Ninth Ward representing young cat who digs the saxophone and music like Cannonball Adderley. I love you and miss you but don’t move back to New Orleans yet.