Viewing entries tagged

On The Champs Podcast We Talk Eric Garner, Implicit Bias, And Comedy

Left: Moshe Kasher. Right: Neal Brennan. Center: Some technology. 

Left: Moshe Kasher. Right: Neal Brennan. Center: Some technology. 

Wednesday was a long and hard day. The shock of no indictment from the Staten Island grand jury in the homicide of Eric Garner was weighing heavily on me. Having spent all day immersed in the story for discussion on TakePart Live that night, I was exhausted. So when Moshe Kasher reached out to invite me onto The Champs, I initially wasn't sure I'd have the energy to add 90 minutes of podcast talking at the end of the day.

I was wrong, and I'm so glad I joined. Moshe, Neal, and I went in. It was real and rough and somehow funny. One of my friends heard it on Facebook and said, "It's funny how The Champs is far and away the most important and interesting black podcast in the game right now."

This episode is definitely my most interesting and important podcast moment of 2014. Take a listen. Revel in the discomfort. Be relieved by the jokes. And then do something

A black man, white man, and brown woman walk into a bar and end racism

A Conversation On Race w/@soledad_obrien, @baratunde, @TannerColby

Last week, I was part of an event I've wanted to pull off for over a year: a multiracial conversation about race with author Tanner Colby (Some Of My Best Friends Are Black) and journalist Soledad O'Brien. In just over an hour we discussed our books, our differing childhoods, and our aligned beliefs about how to keep the country moving in a forwardly direction with regard to race and equity. There was plenty of wine and several hilarious as well as poignant moments. I recommend watching the entire video.

Togather is the platform we used to organize the event, and they came through like champs, hooking us up with the conveniently-located and sexily situated Subculture event space in downtown Manhattan (where my NoHo people at!?). They handled the ticket sales, green room snacks, and more. Tanner and I previewed the event on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show a few days before the event, and that discussion of interracial friendships drove a lot of listeners into the audience. 

You can order a two book bundle of How To Be Black and Some Of My Best Friends Are Black for a few more weeks, with proceeds benefitting Soledad's foundation. The funds help send girls of color to college and ensure their graduation  

Just got this long ass email about conspiracies, blackness and maybe MLK? I didn't read it

Seriously. I didn't read it. But it looked weird enough I thought, maybe someone with more time and patience than I have will indulge. So enjoy or I'm sorry. Not sure which is more appropriate.
And God said, Let us make man 
1. in our image
2. after our likeness and let man have dominion
- over the fish of the sea, 
-and over the fowl of the air, 
-and over the cattle, and over all the earth, 
-and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 
27 So God created man
 -in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 
28 And God blessed them,and God said unto them, 
-Be fruitful, 
-and multiply, 
-and replenish the earth, 
-and subdue it: 
-and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
"God is a spirit. Those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."  Jn 4; 24

Letter from a poor black kid. My response to the dumbest article ever at Forbes


I've created Yep.


Gene Marks' response:


I blame Jacquetta Szathmari. I was minding my business, not being offended by truly idiotic ideas, when I saw her facebook post and then blog post about this Forbes article by Gene Marks. I decided not to respond. Today, I broke my silence and posted a few tweets like this

and this

and this

But I thought that would be the end of it. Then I got a request from to write something about this nonsense, and so I thought about how I might take on this dumbshitteryTM (h/t, Elon James White). I opted to fight something that originally sounded like satire with satire. The full piece is over at CNN. Here's the setup

The following letter is a response from a hypothetical child to Gene Marks' article in Forbes, titled "If I Were A Poor Black Kid." While completely fabricated, the letter below has a stronger basis in reality than does Marks'. In his article, Marks, a business and technology contributor to Forbes, argues poorly that poor black children should use technology to improve their station in life. The article is terrible.

I was greeted in Amsterdam by Dutch people in black face. Find out why!

Yeah, this happened! It's part of an annual Christmas tradition known as Zwarte Piet (aka Black Pete), who is lind of like Santa's helper. More on Wikipedia. and Boom Chicago made this video

I'm going to be hosting a video chat on Vokle with some folks here in Amsterdam to talk about the tradition, Dutch reaction and just what the hell is going on!

Chat is over but you can see it above here or over at Vokle:

Guests will include

  • Kirsten Van Den Hul, UN Women's Representative for The Netherlands. Also badass poet and writer
  • Gregory Shapiro of Boom Chicago
  • Michael OT of Boom Chicago
  • me! of america! and black dudeness!


If you couldn't make it or just need to hear Tarik say the n-word a few more times, here's a link to the recording:


My Take on the New Yorker Joint w/ Brian Lehrer Show Audio

cross-posted to Jack & Jill Politics My people, it has been a while. Apparently a brotha cannot take a vacation without major ish going down! Jesse Jackson is crazy. Tony Snow is dead. Phil Gramm let slip McCain's true economic idiocy. And the New Yorker has generated more comments on Jack and Jill Politics than any other post. The first media request I got upon my return was to join fellow (black) comic Jordan Carlos (known for playing the role of Colbert's black friend and writing this Washington Post op ed about the lack of black comedy writers) on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show yesterday. I had been so cut off from media and cell phones that I missed the initial heat and played catch up late into the night reading over 300 comments here and articles elsewhere across the web. Here's the audio of our appearance. It's about 30 minutes, and former New Yorker cartoonist Art Spiegelman joined midway through. I have mixed feelings on the cover, but I basically come down in defense of it. You should listen to the entire show to hear the range of opinion, including my full explanation of my own, but here are the highlights. I don't believe the cartoonist or editors of the New Yorker are out to get the Obamas. Their intention, to satirize the conspiracy theories about the Obamas by combining all in one, seems clear to me even though it is not clear to all. We should, however, distinguish between what PowerLine might mean by the same image vs. The New Yorker. Satire does not have to be funny to be effective. Many criticisms I've read say "That didn't make me laugh." If you're looking for a "joke," this certainly isn't it. But if you're looking for a provocative piece of art that shines a light on something previously below the surface, this is that. Satire is hard and could always be clearer after the fact. Universal acceptance of any piece of art (and I'm sticking to "art" rather than "comedy" or "humor" intentionally) means the piece probably isn't saying much. I'm generally defensive of the artist, being one myself and having had my own satire royally misinterpreted. Years ago, I posted what I thought was an objectively funny piece about the Rapture over on dKos under the title "A Final Solution For The Religious Right." (the point was all the crazy right wing evangelicals getting beamed up by Jesus was a good thing cause they would leave us alone). Most people didn't get it and focused on the "final solution" in the headline and ripped me for making a joke "about the Holocaust." I later updated the headline to "A Final Solution For the Religious Right, But Not In A Holocaust-y Way." Similarly, the idea that this magazine cover could/should have been framed in a Karl Rovian thought bubble might have made it clearer to some, but the essential nature of the piece would be the same. I don't think this cover gives any addional "permission" to the Right. Much of the criticism focused on the hypothetical abuse of the image by the right wing. Given the poisoned environment around race and Obama's politics specifically, I understand this concern, but I would just say that I don't think Fox News needs any help from the New Yorker in the offensiveness department. We've talked about this before in terms of political positioning. The Right is going to attack Obama on patriotism regardless of how he votes or speaks or acts, so he might as well do the principled thing. So goes the argument. A similar logic applies here. Those who already believe every one of those images will see what they already believe. This cover doesn't turn new people against Obama, and the editors There is a challenge of knowing who the audience is. So much of the criticism I've read says "Well I get it, but they won't." I made this point in the show after Jordan said the New Yorker needs to "know its audience." That's a nice idea whose time has past. In the age of the Internet and low-analysis cable news, every public expression can reach every person nearly instantly. There is no "audience" because the audience is everyone. Dave Chappelle found this out when he saw some white people laughing at black people through his show rather than at the absurd jokes he was making. He decided to end the show because his real audience was getting things not meant for his intended audience. Obama and Bill Clinton found this out when Mayhill Fowler aired their semi-private statements for all the world to see. This is a tough reality for anyone expressing an idea in public, whether a magazine, comedian or politician. I understand and think the criticism is valid, however. I'm not saying that people upset by the cover are wrong or "don't get it." I've learned from my own past experience and from this campaign just how deeply frustration over an image or statement can run. Beyond the Obamas, there are those who abuse the idea of art/comedy/free speech as a cover for their own racism and hate. The white comic who uses the N word because he just wants to but excuses it as an act of artistic defiance is not the same as the artist trying to make a poignant social point. Michael Richards is not Bill Hicks. Many of us are worn down by the ignorance spewed on a regular basis about the Obamas. We've seen official debates in which his love for America is questioned. We've seen a simple cultural expression (the pound) foolishly referred to as terrorism. We've seen the contradictory fears of his Muslimness promoted at the same time as his membership in a crazy America-hating Christian church. We've seen Michelle Obama villified for things she never even said about "whitey." We will see more. When Malia and Sasha get cornrows, this country will lose its ever-lovin mind and ask, "Are the Obama children gang bangers??" In this environment, any expression that seems to add to the incessantly rising tide of stupidity and distraction will be greated with skepticism and frustration and anger. I get that, and so I don't flippantly dismiss those of you/us who are enraged. But I hope we can also see the value and acknowledge the intention behind this work and not just focus on the hypothetical interpretation and abuse by "others." I hope we can distinguish between friends and true enemies. I hope we can see the good that may yet come of this incident. The controversy and conversation is a very good thing for the real problem: the hard-to-combat whisper campaign around the Obama's patriotism. It's hard to fight rumors. Directly denying them often validates the position of those who believe in them. John Kerry will never be a war hero again to many folks. He'll be an elite, out of touch, self-aggrandizing windsurfer for the rest of his days. If the world of artists can overexpose these rumors, by the time we get to November, it really will be played out and hack. The fact that the "terrorist fist jab" is ridiculed in almost every pop-cultural outlet is a good thing. It won't change the mind of those who actually believe Obama is a terrorist, but nothing will ever satisfy that minority. They are lost to reason and should not be used as a basis for judgment. So what if Fox uses this magazine cover!. They are beyond redemption and don't really need to. They could just darken Obama's skin, broaden his nose and thicken his lips as their own track record shows them capable of such acts. The person sitting on the fence, however, will see that such beliefs are being ridiculed en masse by the popular culture and may dismiss them as they should. The fact that many in the country have been talking about this cover is ultimately a good thing (even if you think the cover itself was bad) because it brings into the light the shady theories and lets us show them for the foolishness they are.