Monday, December 8, 2008

The Comment Section Got Me Close to the Edge

Before I go on this tirade I just want to send a shout out to E at We Could Be Famous. He addresses city issues without ignoring the racial component where it's valid and no one is disrespected. I wish more black people would visit his site and engage in the discussion. E, I would make you an honorary Ninth Ward legend but I already gave that title to Brad Pitt and I can only give out one a year.

Lately I have been having some blogger conflict. There are many blogs about New Orleans but not many written by black people. The reality of it is that whatever popularity this page is due largely in part to the number of white people that choose to read me. I don’t have a problem with that because the color of the people who read what I have to say can’t change how I see the world. I like it because there is not enough time giving to really understand issues of black New Orleans. I don’t write trying to appease a certain group of people. Nothing in our current circumstances is simple as a black side and a white side of things. To break everything down to those terms on narrows the scope of any real solution. Take crime for instance. Everyone agrees that they want an end to crime and the thugs need to be locked away but not acknowledging the conditions of the schools and the type of education those thugs received before they became thugs will only leave the door open for the same problem to keep happening over and over. That’s the kind of issue I try to address from all angles. I am not bragging but I think I am pretty good at it.

Sometimes however things happen that make me think I should be a little more militant. Saturday I went looking for election results online. I found an article titled “Joseph Cao defeats William Jefferson”. I clicked on the article to read it and the comments section sent me into a state of anger. There was all these comments about the Chocolate City people will always vote for the black man no matter how crooked or how Africans were inferior or incompetent and how we were too stupid and should be tested to vote. That’s just a sample. The first thing I felt was offended. Then I just got mad and wanted to start an online ruckus so bad that the website might have been shut down forever and the FBI would have traced my IP address. They were making comments on a story that said Jefferson had already lost. That means whoever these folks are making the comments didn’t even read what the hell they were commenting on. They logged in specifically to make negative comments about black people. What should have been a moment where we all were looking ahead to a change turned into a few moments where I actually thought I should have voted for Jefferson myself out of spite. Whenever folks say things like this are the reason why they vote strictly along racial lines I try to tell them to look pass it but there’s only so much you can take before you get paranoid and circle the wagons to protect yourself. There's a fine line from when personal feelings about one politician turn into sweeping comments about everyone that looks like him.

I don't care how much money Bill Jefferson had in his freezer or how bad anyone thinks Ray Nagin is. When the critique becomes an attack on his genetic make up as a black man then the line is crossed and it doesn't matter what you are trying to say at that point. Since these people think they are so intellectual superior they should be able to make their arguments a lot better than I do. After all, I am just a black guy from the Lower Ninth Ward, a neighborhood so poor and pitiful it's not even worth rebuilding. These genetically superior anonymous comment makers should be able to make quick work of a cat like me in an open forum. What the hell are they hiding for? The other thing is that no one in charge on any of these message boards does anything to stop it. America has that freedom of speech thing so I guess it’s all good. I decided I will keep writing and being the anti stereotype of everything they say. Calling them a bunch of names will make me feel good for a split second but in the morning I will pass all those abandoned schools and empty houses and get knocked back into the big picture. If there is one thing I have learned in life it’s that you can’t spend much time on the ignorant.

I have a message for anyone this applied to that happens to wander to this page. My name is Clifton Joseph Harris III. I live in New Orleans East. My email address is If you truly believe the things you say send me an email and make yourself known. I will be happy to debate you and show you how a black dude from the Lower Ninth Ward can crush you with my mind and not my fist (Unless you hit me first then it’s on. Clancy DuBos told me he would come get me out of jail for anything but DWI. I promise to be sober when I defend myself). I was just playing but don’t let the jokes fool you. I am mentally sharp and battle tested. I’m not ashamed of who I am and what I have to say. What about you?

This happens to be about a local website but this kind of thing happens everywhere from CNN, ESPN to YouTube. It shouldn't be that much of an emotional challenge for a black man to surf the internet.
In my opinion, this country has not progressed as much as we think.


Anonymous said...

As usual, Cliff, you nailed it. And yes, I would do whatever I could to get you out of jail ... but I hope you never put me to that test! Don't hold your breath waiting for the anonymous, ignorant cowards to show themselves. They are what they are.

mominem said...

Cliff, you're right as usual.

BUT, Speaking sense to stupidity is not a winning proposition.

Mark Folse said...

Wading into the NOLA.Com discussion threads is not for the faint of heart but you are right, it's not just a local problem. These people are everywhere. I don't think anyone one on NOLA.Com strikes me as "intellectually superior".

Clifton said...

That was only written for affect Mr. DuBos. That is one call you won't have to worry about.

vjm said...

Thank you for your post about those comments - they make me SO ANGRY. I try not to read them and then I get sucked in and all hot headed about how ignorant and racist those posts are AND they get to hide in anonyminity. And yes, I am a 40 year old white woman with two kids, live Uptown and work at a local university (but not as an academic). I became a fan of your blog when you were guest blogging at "Best of New Orleans Blog." WHEN is the admin of going to get some ethics and hire an administrator/moderator!!!!
Cliff, keep writing the real thing, there are many of us who really want to engage in the conversation.

E said...

I'll take that award next year no problem, Cliff. Thanks so much. I also think more people should come join our intelligent discussions.

And I sometimes think people could be a little bit more militant, too. At the very least, militancy implies political engagement, you know?

Anonymous said...

Gotta love cyberthugging. On days where I'm feeling ornery, I make it a point NOT to read comments, because once you go past ten comments (and this is on something non-inflammatory, like, say Doritos), you find yourself amidst a host of angry shenanigans. "Cool Ranch is the better Dorito!! I'll kill you!!"

When you deal with something as inflammatory as race and politics -between the people who believe that they are on the "right" side of things, and those who believe that in 2008, it is simply a figure of one's imagination - you're in for a doozy. I have a checklist of things I KNOW I will see:

* Random reference to an imaginary woman whose name ends in "-iqua" or "-isha" waiting on government assistance

This is all because there are people who STILL need to believe that we are monkeys, and that we are ghetto, and that we are waiting on handouts. And I would be remiss in leaving out the segment of self hating black people who like to perpetuate this by considering themselves the exception to this "rule."

I won't blog out your comments section, but I think/hope you get my point.

Anonymous said...

It would be wise for The Times-Picayune to find a different content provider.

Not only are the comments despicable, but it's clear that, and it's parent company, Advance Internet, don't have an advance on anything. They're slow to provide better resources, and they have abysmal content and navigation design savvy.

To have tied its future to is going to be a big mistake for The Times-Picayune over the long haul.

E said...

It's already a huge mistake for the Times-Picayune. They should try to buy themselves out of that contract right now. They're falling so far behind the rest of the industry...

Leigh C. said...

There's something to be said for the services of an actual MODERATOR at sites like, where the weight of an established mainstream newspaper is the only thing that gives it any legitimacy. The sheer idiocy and hate large numbers of the commenters spew brings any news value the online versions of the articles might have down into the gutter in a fast and furious manner. Forget the National Enquirer or the defunct Weekly World News...just wade into the muck of the comments at!

Or, we could all just live up to the scary propaganda most mainstream media outlets are putting out there about blogs killing the newspapers in this country and ACTUALLY go about stomping those suckers flat.

Anonymous said...'ve started the revolution black man, I knew you would.