Yo, the party's up the block. averytooley.com. I'm goin' that way. Need a ride?


Drawing the Line

Like Ambra, who breaks it down beautifully, I'm more of a pragmatic conservative than an ideological one. My politics is probably actually more like the way I play baseball: I field left but swing right. So when it comes to issues of race, I can almost always "feel" where the activist is coming from, to a certain degree. Somebody wants to argue for reparations or affirmative action or whatever, up to a point, they're not going to get any argument out of me, while somebody who would categorically deny either of those may provoke me to speak. When it comes to action, however, that historical perspective is a limiting factor. Samantha does a good job of illustrating that in The New Black Freedom Fighter. She writes,
This all strikes me as being totally ignorant of what black folk have achieved in this country DESPITE slavery and racism. When the white mobs got together to burn down black neighbourhoods they were not burning down shantytowns rife with crime, homelessness, illegitimacy, and broken families. They were burning down thriving businesses, well kept homes, churches, and displacing intact families. Why did the white mobs feel the need to carry on in this fashion? Because of the very fact that thriving black neighbourhoods existed. You can’t very well go around insisting that black folk can’t do nothin’ and are less than human with evidence to the contrary staring you right in the face now can you? So you go on crying about reparations, the negative legacy of slavery, how we got shafted, and everything else. As for me and my house, we will continue to strive for excellence in all that we do. We will not look for excuses to explain away our failures but we will learn from them and not repeat them. And we will continue to be inspired by those who came before us who refused to be stopped by the roadblocks placed in their paths.
This is pretty much where I draw the line and why I stand on the side I do. I can't really watch movies like Rosewood because they make me want to put on a black leather glove and start smacking people upside the head, but when I read about what happened in places like Rosewood or Black Wall Street in Tulsa, I'm reminded that those people were about getting it done. Forget about the governments refusal to grant them reparations, even though many of them had actually lived during physical slavery, the government was openly hostile to them and actively denying them justice. So what did they do? They got out there and did. I'm right with the activist on some things, but I step to the right when it comes to the solutions. The government is not going to do it; most things, the government couldln't do, even if the willingness was there. I mean, I can understand the thought process that says "since the government was complicit in doing things to the detriment of Blackfolk, the government should put forth the same effort in redressing those wrongs." For some folks, affirmative action and welfare (?!) represent that government redress. (Being that Blackfolk aren't the majority beneficiaries of either one of those, I don't see how that can be the case.) Whatever. Whether you think it's owed us or not, we ain't gettin' it. And this is not an ideological capitulation, it's just being pragmatic. Look, racism isn't going anywhere. Hate to say it, but that's just a part of our national fabric. And even at that, it's certainly not what it used to be, but as long as there is material gain to be had by using race as a factor in some decision-making process, racism and all those other -isms will remain. So if Black folks are supposed to wait for the last vestiges of racism, individual or structural, before we make a major move, we might as well quit now. Of course that's not the solution, and my activist friends know that too. It's the brothers and sisters with the PhD's that give the worst reports. What kills me is, they do one thing but say something else, dismissing their own accomplishments as atypical; "I've been more fortunate than the average Black person." Yeah, and you made some better decisions, too. Racism and the legacy of slavery and jim crow and whatever other historical events we'd like to point to can't explain away everything. My kids didn't not-know 12*12 because of some unseen link to their ancestors, they just didn't study. Instead of running off a list of why "the rest of us" can't, maybe it's time for us Black folks who have achieved something to focus more on why "we" did and try to break down the barriers between the two. Just a thought.

Movin' On Up

Come On Down! (c) Johnny Olsen, Rod Roddy, & Flavor Flav This will be my last day of using the blogger platform. As I mentioned last week...or whenever that was....*shrugs* I'm moving to my own spot. Stereo will still be there, looking quite different, but there will also be some other goodies and treats. Still debating whether I'm gonna sneak some hidden features in there, just to test the McGruff skills of certain readers, and for the novelty of having done it. Don't hurt yourself trying to look, because there may not even be anything back there. But knowing me, there will be hidden treasure troves (?) back in the cut somewhere. But there will be enough up front to keep everybody occupied. Soooo...enjoy this last day at the apartment and join me tomorrow at the housewarming in the new crib.


Couldn't Have Made This Up On My Best Day, pt. 5

Yeah...I miscounted last time AND screwed up my own made-up title. *shakes head* Anyway.... 'How To Be Rich, N**ga' Book Targeting Hip-Hop Entrepenuers Drops Today
Gerard Spinks’ self-published book "How To Be Rich, N**ga," was released to stores today. Spinks, cousin of boxing champs Michael, Leon Spinks and Cory Spinks, said he made millions of dollars as the owner of a technology consulting business, Spinks Technologies, based in Atlanta, Georgia. Spinks said "How To Be Rich," is a “ghetto survival guide” that targets the Hip-Hop community that details how to make more money and remain self-sufficient. "We have all seen that depending upon the U.S. Government for sustenance makes no sense and simply doesn't work,” Spinks said. “I know people who legitimately lost their jobs, needed unemployment benefits to live, and were denied a claim. Black people cannot depend upon anyone else for our rise up and college kids need to be equipped to deal with outsourcing and with a very bleak job creation outlook."
Everything he said is very true, but did he really have to add 'Nigga' to the title? Is it gonna be written in SBV? I'm gonna look for it while I'm at the book store today. If it looks worthwhile, I might even cop it. But dag, though.


R-E-S-P-E-C-T My Sisters... - Misogyny In Hip-Hop, pt. 2

It takes a man to take a stand understand, it takes a woman to make a stronger man (as we both get strong) - Chuck and Flav Last time I talked a little bit about misogynistic lyrics in hip-hop. One thing I intended to do, and either was not clear on, or simply failed to accomplish, was to make some space between the use of the word "bitch" and misogyny. That is, using the same formula for misogyny that I use for racism, where misogyny = prejudice or malice + intent + action, I'm not sure where the "tell 'em why you mad" record would fall on a scale of real misogyny. Like I said, I think there's a good discussion to be had about whether words like bitch and ho should be used at all, but I'm not sure whether their use necessarily constitutes misogyny. Just needed to clean that up a little. Now. For Part 2, I want to focus on misogynistic images within hip-hop. One area where rap is unprecedented in its presentation of "misogynistic" content is in the images portrayed in its videos. Now I had MTV (or as Chuck D calls it, empty-v) back in the day. I saw the rock videos with the big-haired (among other things) Beckys jiggling around in their little strategically-ripped half shirts. It's another case where hip-hop didn't start it, but we have advanced(?) it far beyond where it was. Of course, my perspective on this aspect may be limited because I don't watch TV and I haven't watched a show of music videos in years. Rock videos may have a whole sub-genre of strip club videos like hip-hop. Even if they do, I'm not really worried about it. I'm talkin' about hip-hop. There was a time when the worst thing people could say about the images of women in hip-hop videos was that there were no dark-skinned women. Being a sucker for redbone jawns myself, I noticed, but I wasn't exactly bothered. In the real world, beautiful Black women come in all shades of the spectrum, so it wasn't that big of a deal to me. Besides, I didn't think that the rappers actually did the casting for their videos, so only so much condemnation could be leveled at them. (Although I will say that one of the weirdest video moments came in Rakim's Check The Technique, when Rakim, a 5 Percenter, was rapping with all these bikini'd-up white chicks undulating to the beat. I remember a letter to the editor of one of the hip-hop magazines of the time, maybe Rap Pages, where the writer was like, "I have a hard time believing that any of those women is named Mahogany or Starmecca.") I imagine that the same type of complaint could be raised regarding the scarcity of big jawns. Of course, the stuff that's going on in videos now would be just as bad if they were full of "full-figured" women. (Because I'm not with that using "full-figured" as a euphemism for fat. Full-figured should mean "having ample breasts and being callipygous. But that's just me, though) Nowadays, it has gotten to the point where rappers are making two videos for certain songs, a "clean" version…meaning that the censors will let it play in the daytime, and an "uncut" version. The uncut version is, for all intents and purposes, a porn video. I have seen the unedited, un-blurred, uncut version of Nelly's Tip Drill. Trust me, that joint ain't nothin' nice. Don't get me wrong, I like eye candy just like the next guy, but some representations just cross the line. I mean, I'm sure that there are some feminists who would argue that simply having women in the videos who serve no purpose except to drape themselves over the rappers (and their hype men) constitutes some level of exploitation. Could be, but I'm not so sure about that. Was Langston Hughes being misogynistic or exploitative when he wrote, "I don't mind dying—/ but I'd hate to die alone/ I want a dozen pretty women/ to holler, cry and moan."? If we think of a music video as a representation of (the director's vision of a) rapper's wished-for lifestyle, then maybe not. As always, there is much to discuss here. But that only goes to a certain extent. I mean, it's one thing for me to have a video where I walk by and all the chicks are looking at me like, "there he goes." It's another thing for me to have a video where the video hoes are nothing but warm receptacles. Now one thing to bear in mind is that it's nothing but a marketing ploy. Everybody knows that the easiest way to get men to do something is to bring women. That's the whole concept behind having Ladies Night at the club. "If we let women in free, we'll recoup on all the guys." I think I said before that I even used that approach when I was trying to get high school volunteers for an after-school class. I figured that if my colleagues and I got enough good-looking girls to work on the project, we'd get at least a handful of guys just because they'd be trying to talk to the girls. (You know it worked.) So for a rapper, one of the easiest ways to get some attention is to put out a video with nothing but half-naked women walking around. You know the guys are gonna watch, and if it goes the artist's way, they'll watch the video enough to listen to the song when it comes on the radio, which they hope will parlay into a CD purchase. Or if they can't have that, there's at least the expectation that if they push the envelope enough with the video, it will draw negative attention and get the artist's name out there. Either way, it's all about getting noticed and making sales. In that sense, I guess that the amount of actual malice is questionable, since my guess is that if showing a jar of speckled jellybeans translated to record sales, the day of the video ho would be over. Either that or there would be a bunch of half-naked women walking around with jars of speckled jellybeans… Anyway, in any discussion of misogyny, there's a whole heap of structuralism that has to be addressed. A true feminist critique of music videos in general and rap videos specifically would pay attention to the manner in which the relationships demonstrated in the videos reflected patriarchy within larger American culture, as well as within traditional Black culture, and the way those two have filtered down to hip-hop culture. There would also be some analysis of the manner in which Black women's bodies have been sexualized and disconnected from their personhood. All valid areas of discussion, but far beyond the scope of what I'm talking about. But I'll fiddle with that last one for a quick second. A couple months ago, I wrote a post on racism. Most of the comments dealt with the issue at the level I was writing about, but then one cat got on there talking about how the Black woman is lowest in terms of desirability or whatever. Something like that. I don't remember exactly, and it's not worth quoting exactly. What is important to note, however, is that people have been saying that for a long time, but even at that, there has also long been a fascination with Black women's sexuality. Saartje Baartman. If that name means nothing to you, hit google and the wikipedia, then come back and read this quote from Patricia Hill Collins, in The Sexual Politics of Black Womanhood.
[...]This objectification of African-American women parallels the portrayal of women in pornography as sex objects whose sexuality is available for men (McNall 1983). Exploiting Black women as breeders objectified them as less than human because only animals can be bred against their will. In contemporary pornography women are objectified through being portrayed as pieces of meat, as sexual animals awaiting conquest.
Read that and then watch Tip Drill. You tell me what's going on. But then to confound the whole feminist position are "artists" like Li'l Kim, Foxxxy Brown, and Trina, who flout traditional norms and aggressively flounce their sexuality. This presents a tension to the feminist who, on one hand argues that it is empowering to show women who are "in charge" of their sexuality, but at the same time recognize that the images portrayed by Kim, Foxy, Trina, et al are essentially the same ones that are put forth by male artists. They're not regulating their sexuality by choosing chastity, they're "owning" it by being being promiscuous. (Man, that's why I miss MC Lyte and Lauryn Hill somethin' fierce! They had it to-gether! They had intelligent lyrics and they knew how to display sex appeal without showing all their goodies. Of course, it didn't hurt that they were fine.) Almost like female versions of Whodini talking about, "I'm a ho, you know I'm a ho/How do you know because I tell you so." Some might argue that at the end of the day, it's still white men in suits (read: record companies) controlling the way Black women are portrayed, but that argument basically takes agency away from the both the artists and the consumers. You know, people can complain about misogynistic songs and videos all they want, but until the artists and record companies feel it in the pocket, nothing's gonna change. I thought it was great that the women at Spelman College declined Nelly's charity drive there earlier this year. But you know what? That's not enough. That was a big, well-publicized event, but that's not the type of thing that will effect any lasting change. As just about everybody who has any thoughts on this will quickly tell you, we still buy those records and rush out to the floor when they come on at the club. If we're really serious about change, we'll make our dollars reflect our ostensible beliefs. Trust me on this one, record companies are all about that bottom line. (Not that bottom line) If you remember back to the late 80's/early 90's, there was a proliferation of 5 Percenter groups out. If you know anything about 5% teachings, you know that that's antithetical to anything most of the people in decision-making positions at major record labels believe. But what? But it was selling. Then came NWA and the Gangsta era, which ushered in the days of "authentic" multi-platinum rap albums (Hammer moved major units, but he didn't force a paradigm shift, partially because he wasn't regardes as being "real.") If we reeeallly wanna see something different, then we'll have to sacrifice; might have to pass up on buying some catchy tunes, or might have to sit down on a song, even though the beat is bumping. Might hafta decide that we're not gonna buy records by alleged pedophiles or support organizations that allow them to be nominated for major awards (he ain't hip-hop, but I simply can't pass that up. Somebody (who actually listens to Kells) could probably write thick, healthy paper (did somebody say a paper with a Sofa?) on misogyny in R. Kelly's work...any undergrads out there?) Might mean actually raising our tastes from the lowest common denominator. Might mean not-supporting broadcast radio (which we know is in the pocket of the big 5 record companies, anyway). The question is, are we gonna actually do anything, or are we gonna support misogynistic music and then turn around and bitch about it? Of course, not all hip-hop is misogynistic or presents Black women in a bad light. Tupac has a couple songs, Dear Mama and Keep Your Head Up, that are worth mentioning. Public Enemy dropped Revolutionary Generation (14 years ago?!). Black Star has Brown Skin Lady, which I love. But I think my favorite gynocentric hip-hop song is 4 Women by Talib Kweli. It's actually a remake of Four Women, by Nina Simone. What's remarkable about it is that in the last two verses, Kweli actually raps as the women in his natural voice. That's major. He doesn't play them as characters, separating the women from himself, he takes on their voice and tells their stories as if they're his own. Because really, they are. Men and women aren't opposites, we're complements. We can't advance by stepping on and away from our sisters and mothers. Let's ride out with Kweli (verses in parentheses are Kweli rapping as Peaches.)
A daughter come up in Georgia, ripe and ready to plant seeds, Left the plantation when she saw a sign even thought she can't read It came from God and when life get hard she always speak to him, She'd rather kill her babies than let the master get to 'em, She on the run up north to get across that Mason-Dixon In church she learned how to be patient and keep wishin', The promise of eternal life after death for those that God bless She swears the next baby she'll have will breathe a free breath and get milk from a free breast, And love beeing alive, otherwise they'll have to give up being themselves to survive, Being maids, cleaning ladies, maybe teachers or college graduates, nurses, housewives, prostitutes, and drug addicts Some will grow to be old women, some will die before they born, They'll be mothers, and lovers who inspire and make songs, (But me, my skin is brown and my manner is tough,) (Like the love I give my babies when the rainbow's enuff,) (I'll kill the first muthafucka that mess with me, I never bluff) (I ain't got time to lie, my life has been much too rough,) (Still running with barefeet, I ain't got nothin' but my soul,) (Freedom is the ultimate goal, life and death is small on the whole, in many ways) (I'm awfully bitter these days 'cuz the only parents God gave me, they were slaves,) (And it crippled me, I got the destiny of a casualty,) (But I live through my babies and I change my reality) (Maybe one day I'll ride back to Georgia on a train,) (Folks 'round there call me Peaches, I guess that's my name.)
Maybe we should try to make sure we're as enthusiastic about praising the good as we are about condemning the negative.


Couldn't Make This Up On My Best Day, Pt. 6

Car-prowl suspect caught while napping inside Jeep A car-prowl suspect in Redmond was caught while napping early yesterday morning.
Police found the 23-year-old Kirkland man asleep in the passenger seat of a Jeep Cherokee outside an apartment complex at the 18100 block of Northeast 95th Street, said Redmond police spokeswoman Stacey Holland. The vehicle showed signs of forced entry, and the man was holding a screwdriver in one hand and a flashlight in the other. Holland said an officer on regular patrol around 3 a.m. came upon a Honda Accord in the middle of the road with the engine running. After noting signs of a break-in, the officer called for reinforcement and began looking for the suspect. The suspect was discovered in the nearby Jeep. The area where the man was caught has had a high number of car prowls lately, Holland said
I'da woke his ass up with a .38 (c) Robin Harris


Whas'nEVER I Play, It's Got To Be FUNKY - When A Bad Jawn Walks In

Today's list is a bunch of songs that I think would make good background music for a good-looking woman to walk in the door. In some cases, it's based on the title and/or words in the song, i.e. it would be really ironic if she walked in while this song was playing. In other cases, it's all about how her walk would interact with the track. Heartbeat - Tanaa Gardner Freak of the Week - Funkadelic Passing Me By - The Pharcyde Everybody Loves the Sunshine - Roy Ayers Weak At the Knees - Steve Arrington Smiling Billy Suite - Heath Brothers Let's Do It Again - Staples Singers You Haven't Done Nothin' - Stevie Wonder Stranglehold - Ted Nugent Electric Relaxation - A Tribe Called Quest Cardova - The Meters Climax - Ohio Players More Bounce To The Ounce - Zapp Joy - Isaac Hayes Star of the Story - Heatwave I Wanna Get Next To You - Rose Royce Be My Beach - Funkadelic


Lotsa Lovin'

Put out some rough stuff today. To cool it off for the night time, I thought I'd take it down a notch. This is something I saw the first day I started blogging. I did a cut and paste and put it into Word, so I don't know where I got it. It's hot, though. Check it out. Kids will be kids. Pure, innocent, naive.. That's what makes them lovable. Enjoy. A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year olds, "What does love mean?" The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think: "When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love." Rebecca - age 8 "When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth." Billy - age 4 "Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." Karl - age 5 "Love is what makes you smile when you're tired." Terri - age 4 "Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK." Danny - age 7 "Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss" Emily - age 8 "Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen," Bobby - age 7 (Wow!) "If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate," Nikka - age 6 "There are two kinds of love. Our love. God's love. But God makes both kinds of them." Jenny - age 8 "Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day." Noelle - age 7 "Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well." Tommy - age 6 "During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore," Cindy - age 8 "My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night." Clare - age 6 "Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken." Elaine-age 5 "Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford." Chris - age 7 "Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day." Mary Ann - age 4 "I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones." Lauren - age 4 "When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." Karen - age 7 "Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross." Mark - age 6 "You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget," Jessica - age 8 And the final one -- Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry."

You Know I Spell Girl With A 'B' - Misogyny In Hip-Hop, Pt. 1

"They get mad when I put it in perspective but let's see if my knowledge is effective" - Ice Cube Misogyny is one of those words like "racism" that has a nebulous, broadly understood meaning, but is much more slippery when it comes time to actually grab it. There are lots of things we can agree are misogynistic, but are they really, or is it just some behavior that takes a misogynistic form but holds no content? Take using the word "bitch" for instance. For most people, that's a pretty good indicator of some misogynistic tendencies. (And if you keep wondering why I keep writing 'misogynist,' it's just because it has a 'y.') But does it really mean anything? Ice Cube, to use a prominent example, penned the song, "A Bitch Iz A Bitch," dropping the gem,
A bitch iz a bitch So if I'm poor or rich I talk in the exact same pitch Now the title 'bitch' don't apply to all women But all women have a little bitch in 'em It's like a disease that plagues their character Takin' the women of America And it starts with the letter 'B' It makes a girl like that think she better than me See, some get mad and some just bear it But yo, if the shoe fits, wear it. It makes 'em go deaf in the ear, that's why When you say hi, she won't say hi Are you the kind that think you're too damn fly? Bitch, eat shit and die. Ice Cube comin' at you at a crazy pitch. (why?) I think a bitch iz a bitch.
And don't worry, we'll get into the actual words in a minute, but first I need to set up some boundaries. Now, according to some people, the above verse represents views that are hateful to women. Only thing is, Ice Cube's manager was a Black woman. On "When Will They Shoot," he rapped, "A Black woman is my manager, not in the kitchen/ so could you please stop bitchin'." What's more, on Amerikkka's Most Wanted, he has a skit towards the end that's dedicated to "the pretty young ladies who wouldn't give us no play before the album" which is a collage of rappers saying the word "bitch." (And also the first place I heard my catchphrase of 10th grade, "Back up off my tip for the simple fact you on it like a gnat on a dawgs dick…" If I had been a senior that year, I probably would've tried to make that my yearbook quote.) But here's the wrinkle: after all that bitch-calling, there's a voice saying, "Wha'chu say about my mother, man?" Like I said, easy to see but hard to catch. To bring it even closer to home, I've said before that while I was in high school I, like Cube, "spelled girl with a 'B'. At the same time, like Posdnuos, I "never played a sister," so what's the deal? Did the use of the word bitch constitute some real misogynistic feelings, or did it was it just a linguistic feature that some could argue took a misogynistic form? Like I said, just trying to sketch out the boundaries before I start painting. Now, on the real, Ice Cube's verse in "A Bitch Iz A Bitch" is probably fairly lightweight as far as misogynistic expression in hip-hop goes. He says the word "bitch" but that's about it. I don't even necessarily disagree with him that the title doesn't apply to all women, but all women have a little bit in em. (Some of us just know how to bring it out, I guess.) Either way, there's much worse out there. There are several questions that stem from this: • Where does this misogyny come from? Does it originate in hip-hop? • Is it confined to rappers' words, or does it extend to their actions? • To what extent is misogyny in hip-hop reflective of the larger culture? • Do female MCs challenge these roles/norms, or do they support them? I think I wanna start with the third question. Let's work from general to specific. My general perception is that hip-hop, even at its hedonistic, materialistic, vulgar worst, is actually reflective of America. It's not about what we claim to be, or what we wish we were, it's about what we are. We like sex, drugs, guns, and money. Not each and every one of us, of course, but between those three, all 50 states are covered. (Note, I just said 'sex' not 'fornication' or 'adultery', so you're in there too.) Hip-hop is all-American like Allen Iverson is all-American, but just like AI, many Americans are too myopic to see how accurate the reflection really is. See this article, which really expounds on this point. (I may hafta write about AI pretty soon myself. All this AI hate is starting to get to me. Seriously.) So I don't think it's right to point out the misogyny that exists in hip-hop without acknowledging that it doesn't originate there. Whatever your definition of misogyny is, whether you use the hardcore feminist definition, or something decidedly less, my bet is that people were thinking, talking, and behaving that way before 1979. Maybe not, but probably so. As bell hooks writes,
The sexist, misogynist, patriarchal ways of thinking and behaving that are glorified in gangsta rap are a reflection of the prevailing values in our society, values created and sustained by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. As the crudest and most brutal expression of sexism, misogynistic attitudes tend to be portrayed by the dominant culture as an expression of male deviance. In reality they are part of a sexist continuum, necessary for the maintenance of patriarchal social order. While patriarchy and sexism continue to be the political and cultural norm in our society, feminist movement has created a climate where crude expressions of male domination are called into question, especially if they are made by men in power. It is useful to think of misogyny as a field that must be labored in and maintained both to sustain patriarchy but also to serve as an ideological anti-feminist backlash. And what better group to labor on this "plantation" than young black men
(yeah, you didn't think you'd be gettin' no bell hooks, did you?) Now I ain't gon' hold you, I don't really subscribe to all that talk about patriarchy and sexism and whatnot. I'll probably take some time and do some writing on gender at some point (promises, promises) but for now, suffice it to say that biological determinism is beyond suspect to me, but the idea that gender is solely a social construct doesn't exactly pass muster either. Either way, it didn't start with the "refrigerated gangstas." It didn't even start with Funkadelic, who had the jam, "No Head, No Backstage Pass", or Muddy Waters, the original "Hoochie Coochie Man." So again, when we talk about this, it's fine to recognie that there is misogyny in hip-hop, but let's not act like it started there, or even that it's more prevalent in hip-hop than it is on other elements of our culture. Now within hip-hop, I'd say that misogyny is displayed in two ways: lyrics and images. Lyrically, there are a couple different forms. There's the fussin-cuz-I'm-mad, "Bitches Ain't Shit" type record, the attempt at defining, "Bitch Iz A Bitch"/"Bitches and Sistas" record, and the pimp record. Of the three, I'd say that the pimp record is probably the most purely misogynistic. The first two, while some things are probably better left unsaid, represent fairly common occurrences. The women in those stories are usually portrayed as gold diggers or hoes (but not actual prostitutes, since they ho for free.) I don't know too many dudes (read: none) who can listen to one of those songs and honestly say they've never felt what the rapper's expressing. There may be some out there, but I haven't met them. The pimp record is something altogether different. Now, I guess I hafta specify that not all pimp records deal with real pimping. Some cats who talk that pimp stuff really mean getting-all-the-girls. But like my friend told me, "It ain't pimpin' unless you gettin' paid." That's the case on Jay-Z's 'Big Pimpin'," where' his lines really belong in a gold digger record,
Just because you got good head, I'ma break bread so you can be livin it up? Shit I.. parts with nothin, y'all be frontin Me give my heart to a woman? Not for nothin, never happen I'll be forever mackin Heart cold as assassins I got no passion I got no patience And I hate waitin.. Ho get yo' ass in
That's not real pimping because his interest in the girl is primarily sexual. He's not trying to get paid off her, he's just not trying to giver her any of his money. Contrast that with 50 Cent on P.I.M.P.
Now shorty, she in the club, she dancing for dollars She got a thing for that Gucci, that Fendi, that Prada That BCBG, Burberry, Dolce and Gabana She feed them foolish fantasies, they pay her cause they wanna I spit a little G man, and my game got her A hour later, have that ass up in the Ramada Them trick niggas in her ear saying they think about her I got the bitch by the bar trying to get a drink up out her She like my style, she like my smile, she like the way I talk She from the country, think she like me cause I'm from New York I ain't that nigga trying to holla cause I want some head I'm that nigga trying to holla cause I want some bread I could care less how she perform when she in the bed Bitch hit that track, catch a date, and come and pay the kid Look baby this is simple, you can't see You fucking with me, you fucking with a P-I-M-P
Now that's pimping. At any rate, hip-hop is loaded with records that describe that gold-digger/ho stereotype. I could probably throw the "chickenhead" in there as a sort of generally dumb road who's easy to trick into performing sexual favors. Now, I can say from personal experience that gold-digers, hoes, and chickenheads do, in fact, exist. But it's not a question of whether or not there's any veracity to what the rappers are saying, it's a question of the accuracy. Dres of the Black Sheep once wrote, "I talk about a ho/ because a ho I know/ and if you knew the honeys too/ then I guess too you would talk so." Only thing is, all women aren't hoes. If you listen to the "definition" records, the rappers even make sure to point out this fact, and delineate the difference between a "bitch" and a "sister" or a "queen" or a "lady." In little ditty on Jeru tha Damaja's "Da Bitchez," Michael Eric Dyson writes, "Of course the main problem is that it's still a man—relying on the tried and true practice of surveillance and the male privilege of definition—who wants to determine for a woman what kind of female she should be." For Dyson, there's some a degree of misogyny, or at least patriarchy, implicit in the attempt by any man to define any woman's role. Like I said before, I ain't buyin' all that. But that's another discussion for another day. As far as the definition records go, I'll just say that I think we've reached the saturation point. We already know there are some women who could be described as "bitches" or "hoochies" or "hoes" or "gold-diggers" or "chickenheads." There's a juicy discussion to be had on whether those terms should be used at all, but I'm not gonna do that here. (This joint is gonna be long enough as it is.) Just let it suffice to say that those chicks have gotten enough shine. It's about time for more songs like Black Star's "Brown Skin Lady," Tupac's "Dear Mama," and Goodie Mob's "Guess Who." To be honest, I've got ambivalent feelings about definition records, though. As long as somebody is writing from his heart based on his experience, this type of thing will come out. Again, it's possible that those types of records shouldn't actually be recorded, or released for public consumption, but there will always be somebody-done-somebody-wrong records, and the definition record is just a subset of that. Pimp records, on the other hand…that's dead. I can easily dialogue on the reasons why pimps and pimping have entered the lexicon, and I can say exactly what elements are being spoken to and what's not. As a matter of fact, I did. And on the real, pimping may never die. That don't mean we need to keep making records about it. I said before that it's time for a new paradigm, and that applies to hip-hop too. The days of Goldie, Iceberg Slim, and Willie Dynamite are over. (Although I reserve the right to use the name Willie Dynamite at any point for any reason.) Not saying that pimping still doesn't go on, but there weren't that many pimps in the first place, and there are certainly fewer now than there were then. Yet, because people idolize pimps and project some fantastic, lavish lifestyle onto them, we keep hearing these same old stories. Only problem is, if they came out with positive stories, I'm not sure people would buy it. For part 2…the images.

Couldn't Have Made This Up On My Best Day, Pt. 4

Need more space, you should move. (c) Robin Harris
A man who found his flat in the city of Metz too small, knocked it into his neighbour's flat and moved in. When the man's neighbour returned from work he found the 28-year-old cooking dinner in his kitchen. The owner tried to convince the intruder to return to his own apartment, but the man refused, and police were called. The man insisted to officers the enlarged flat was his. He also told them he was a pharaoh who lived in the labyrinth of a pyramid. The man has been taken for psychological evaluation, says the gva.be website.
What more can I say? (c) Shawn Carter

Go Team USA!

Okay. I'm tired of the incessant crapping on the USA Basketball team. I know I had some disparaging remarks before, but enough is enough. Since when is it American to root against Americans in the Olympics? Jason Whitlock has an answer. Keep this up, y'all gon' make me tell you why people really hate Allen Iverson. And trust me, I'm the last person you want to get started when it comes to AI.

Flagged Off

La Shawn had the hot conversation jumping yesterday when she wrote abou an artist's plan to lynch the confederate battle flag at the Republican National Convention. In the comments, there was a roiling discussion on whether the cbf is improperly associated with the Republican party, since most of the people flying it in its hateful heyday were hardcore Democrats. Now, that's historically accurate, but I don't think any of us seriously believes that the Dixiecrats of yesteryear would belong to the same party as Jesse and Al without a major paradigm shift. I wrote about my feelings on the cbf earlier this year, but I think I want to expound a little bit. Basically, the cbf belongs in the same category as Saddam's flag and the Nazi flag, among others, as the representative of an opposing force that was crushed by the American Army. Period. I would be willing to bet big money that no cbf apologist would fix his lips to say "Iraqi citizens who were loyal to Saddam have the right to fly his flag if they want." What's the difference? Moreover, we're not talking about one of the other flags used in the confederacy, we're talking about the confederate battle flag. The one they flew as they were fighting to maintain slavery. (And I know, the "War Between the States was not about slavery, it was about States Rights." Wrong. I may break down the reasons why at some point when I really talk about why DC is the beginning of Down South and express my dismay at the fixation some people have on the Civil War, but that's not my point here.) And I know, I know, "it's not about believing in what they were fighting for, it's about recognizing their bravery in fighting for what they believed in." But that's just stupid. What they were fighting for is wrong, and whatever bravery they displayed is sullied because they were being brave in an unjust cause. Put it like this: when you see a Palestinian throwing rocks at a tank, you don't think about how brave he is, even though I'd say that it takes a certain amount of bravery (and foolishness) to go against an armored vehicle with some hand-sized stones. That ain't no adulterating woman. Ain't no stoning a tank. But because most of us side with Israel in that conflict, we see more foolishness than bravery in the Palestinian's actions and condemn him because he's fighting for the wrong thing. The other argument I hear cbf apologists make has something to do with some nebulous Southern heritage. Now, I'll be right up front and tell you that I love it Down South. Ever since undergrad, I have been planning to move down there at some point, and not to Atlanta. I'm talking about back in the cut Down South. But let me tell you, nothing that I appreciate about the South is represented by the cbf. That's a piece of the history of the South, but that's not its heritage. I wouldn't care if my great-great granddaddy owned a plantation and worked his way up to general in the confederate army, I would still refuse to capitalize confederate and I would still say that no matter how brave he was, he was pure-d wrong. That would be a part of my family's history, but that don't make it my heritage; my legacy would not be that of a slave-owning Black man unless I chose to embrace that. But okay, let's switch the focus off the past and look at the present. What does that flag represent that's worth arguing about in 2004? To my friends who are cbf apologists, I ask this question: if you came to my spot and saw the flag of the Black Panther Party, would you make some assumptions about my ideology what I think about white people? What about if I commemorated Huey P. Newton and H. "Rap" Brown's (still the best nickname ever) birthdays and talked about what great men they were? After all, the Panthers did some good things like feeding children before they went to school. Is that what you remember about the Panthers, though? Could be, but I doubt it. But just to take it up a notch, let's say that there was an organization that not only voiced rhetorical opposition to whites, but actually had the power in the community to systematically subvert justice away from them; they could drag a man outside in front of his family and kill him, and even though everybody in town knew who did it, nobody would be penalized. And then let's say that I flew their flag and posted their emblems. You wouldn't even come to my virtual home, let alone want to associate with me in person. But just to sew it up, here's the logic: "The klan flew/flies the confederate battle flag...I despise everything they represent....let me fly the same flag as they do." Come on, now. We can do better than that. Look, people can do what they want with their private property. If somebody wants to fly the cbf, that's his prerogative. I'll even admit that flying the cbf or being an apologist for it doesn't necessarily mean a person is a klan sympathizer. But why play in that gray area in the first place? Because just like it's his right to fly that flag, it's my right to keep a suspicious eye on him and to keep my hand on the nearest (decimal point-named) implement.


The Almighty Gangsta MCs

Thinking about Miller's celebration of the 50th anniversary or rock 'n roll made me think of something: Rapper's Delight came out 25 years ago. Now it should go without saying that Rapper's Delight did not mark the beginning of hip-hop, but it was the first rap record to achieve major sales. As such, I don't think it's entirely out of line to say that it's the beginning of rap as a commercial genre. In the intervening quarter century, hip-hop has undergone a couple major paradigm shifts and several other smaller adjustments. I tried to do a general overview in my posts on the hip-hop generation gap, 1 and 2. Neither of those was completely exhaustive. There are lots more factors to be accounted for and reconed with in order to paint a completely accurate picture. However, suffice it to say that nobody involved in making Rapper's Delight could have possibly imagined that hip-hop would be the global behemoth that it has become. For the longest time, rap was condemned as a fad. Nay-sayers predicted its demise every year for the first 10 years. It's still here and stronger than ever. How strong is it? It's gone from being a passing fad to carrying the blame for the ills of society. How's that for a passing hoax? In his poem, "The Domino Theory (Snoop Dogg Rules The World)", Kenneth Carroll puts the game in the proper perspective:
[...] snoop dogg started the transatlantic slave trade doc dre was captain of a slave ship & easy motherfuckin e led the south to secede it is all so clear let the pundits come forth let the congressional hearings begin we have found the enemy & they are dressed in chinos & plaid shirts & county blues gangsta rap did it tupac was responsible for jim crow it was ice cube not gov. Wallace that tried to deny us equal rights it was som forty oz drinking jheri curl wearing indo smoking low riding conspirators that pulled off watergate will someone call NOW gangsta rappers, screaming bitch, ho, skeeze defeated the equal rights amendments will someone call c delores tucker tell her we have found the enemy recording on death row records backed by a funky ass george clinton groove it wasn't capitalism, racism, sexism, homophobia hell naw it was ice-t & ice cube & just ice & all them refrigerated gangsta niggas that screwed up america spice 1 imported all the cocaine to america, elect ollie north! it was the south central cartel that traded for guns in nicaragua before he died eazy e bashed in nancy kerrigans knee killed nicole simpson & ronald goldman & caused the peso to plummet let the pundits come forth call jesse jackson gangsta rappers are threatening affirmative action call dick gregory gangsta rap causes obesity & malnutrition call ralph nader gangsta rappers invented the corvair, the chevette, & the pinto [...] (c) Kenneth Carroll
Not bad for 25 years, huh? Only thing is, that poem is 10 years old. Gangsta rap had accomplished all that in just 15 years. Since then, we have uncovered 50 Cent's role in Three Mile Island, Eminem's spreading of the smallpox virus to the Indian population, and Jay-Z's connection to Al Qaeda. The Blueprint did drop on 9/11/01. Hmmm.... Of course, the gangsta/hustler paradigm of hip-hop is problematic and I'm gonna fully explore that in the coming week. (I don't know exactly what I'm gonna do for day 1 of averytooley.com, but it's gonna be hot. At least, that's what I'm hoping.) Either later on today or tomorrow, I'm gonna try to get at misogyny in hip-hop. But for right now, just reflect on those lines. Did gangsta rap really do it? And if it didn't, why do we try to lay the blame at its feet?


"You Better Sing The Song Like I Told You To..."

Jared has a thought-provoking post on his reaction to seeing an argument between a man and a woman that had abusive overtones. He writes,
What I saw this morning has been bugging me all day, really, which is why I'm writing about it. Makes me want to go beat the devil outta that guy...and hold the door open for his girl. I know, I know...violence begetting violence, etc. You know what, though? Some people need a beatin'. A guy who'll abuse his spouse is definitely in that category, if you ask me.
I'm with him in principle, but I will think twice before I step into any domestic situation. I know of too many situations where the "hero" winds up catching it from the "damsel." My "little brother," who's a police officer tells me that when he goes to a call for a domestic situation, he lays it out for the woman as soon as he walks in the door: "If you hit me or my partner, you will be wearing these cuffs and you will be going to jail." He has to say that because there's a decent likelihood that she'll try to do something. And it's not even so much about thinking that the woman is being ungrateful, it's a simple matter of personal safety. Fortunately, I didn't grow up in that type of environment, but my grandmother was a hairdresser. I grew up getting all the low-down. For whatever reason, some people are just at home in that type of situation. As strange as it seems to me, there are some people who think that physical abuse is proof of affection. Or something. And I know there are other circumstances that have to do with it, like financial dependency and having grown up in households where abuse is prevalent that confound the situation. It's bad all the way around. What's just as bad but seems worse in some ways is the scene when it's the woman who's beating the man. Mary Mitchell had an article about it a few weeks ago, but apparently I can't link to it any more. But suffice it to say that I feel bad for guys who are in that position. Obviously they're conscientious enough to keep from hitting a woman, but that woman takes his non-physicality as a sign of weakness. Just throwing this out there to see if anybody bites: 1. Would you/ have you ever intervened in a domestic situation involving strangers? 2. Would you be more or less likely to do so if the woman were beating the man? 3. What, in your opinion, should a man do when he is being physically accosted by a woman?


Somebody needs to break this down for me.
August 24, 2004 -- LAURA Bush delivered a diss to Sean "P. Diddy" Combs by refusing to appear alongside the hip-hop heavyweight at last night's grand opening of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, sources said. Combs was supposed to join the first lady, actress Angela Bassett, U2 frontman Bono, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, Sen. Mike DeWine, Black Entertainment Television CEO Bob Johnson and other dignitaries at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, but Bush's office nixed the photo-op with Combs. "Her reps made it very clear to Freedom Center that they would not have Laura Bush appearing in the same photo-op as P. Diddy," tattled our source.
Now let me get this straight: there were supposed to be several people in the picture and she refused to take the picture because of Puffy P. Diddy? I could see it if they were supposed to take a picture together, but as a part of a large group? Come on. What's that all about, really?

Miller Time?

I'm not gonna get all deep on this situation with the Miller Brewing Company's lack of foresight in recognizing Black musicians in their 50th Anniversary of Rock & Roll campaign. For a minute, I was thinking I was gonna go to town on this whole thing, but I'ma pull back for a couple reasons. 1. I'm not mad that they're not putting a Black man's face on a beer can. The fact that there would be no rock 'n roll without Black folks notwithstanding, I'm cool with not seeing a brother's face on a container of alcohol. If we could cut down on the number of brothers lookin' at the can in the first place... 2. It seems ludicrous on its face, but there has to be some science behind this move. It's hard for me to believe that this marketing campaign went through the entire chain and nobody realized that there weren't any Black artists being honored. At best, I'm thinking that they meant rock specifically as a genre and therefore didn't think of Black folks, although that in itself is a major misconception... I just hope they don't try to rectify the situation by putting pictures of rappers on 40 oz bottles.

Politics, Man!

I've probably said 100 times that I don't do politics. There are too many things in this world that I enjoy and too much that I really care about for me to hitch myself to a party. That doesn't mean I won't express political thoughts, but even then, my intent is to to frame issues as challenges to be worked on, not ideas to volleyed. Don't know if I always succeed, but that's my goal, at least. I like to talk politics at the concrete level, where ideology takes on much less significance. Having said all that, I know some people who loooove to talk politics. If you're at my crib, then I know you've been around the corner to La Shawn's. If you haven't been already, then you need to check out the rest of the members of the Conservative Brotherhood, too. There are some sharp political minds in there. They got that. I bring all that up because I got wind of this editorial by Robert Oliver, Save The Drama For Your Mama, the other day and it's definitely worth reading. It separates the truth from the rhetoric with regards to the Democratic Party's claims of historic inclusiveness. When pressed, I can do politics, and if I did it would probably look something like this piece, but since there are people who actually talking Republican v. Democrat, I'll leave it to them. But here's a quote from the article that had me rolling on the floor laughing. And Bill Clinton (who was sued while Governor of Arkansas for violating the 1965 Voting Rights Act and signed into law "Confederate Flag Day") is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame? If Clinton was our first Black president, wasn’t he an Uncle Tom and an Oreo cookie? Now that's funny.

Hip-Hop and Politics

Hip-hop hating conservatives are gonna have to step to the rear because looking at recent statements and events, we got a chance. A couple months ago, I did a point-by-point breakdown the platform of Russell Simmons' Hip Hop Summit Action Network. I'm not wild on the polemics, so I just kinda pointed out some areas where the agenda could stand some refining from being a nebulous idea to an actionable achievable plan. I ain't gonna lie, though, in my own mind, I was quietly convinced that the HHSAN was just as much a front door for the Democratic party as the NAACP. I was wrong, though. Watch this:
In addition to the registrations, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network honored Maryland’s Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich and Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, also a Republican, for their work on the drug laws in Maryland and their efforts to improve businesses in the African-American community.
Now, to be fair, I seem to recall the NAACP giving Condoleeza Rice an Image Award two or three years ago, but I don't know how much weight that carries now. I'm not so sure Dr. Rice would have been welcome at the NAACP Convention a couple months ago, but I can't say that the NAACP has shown utter contempt for Black conservatives...just a general dislike. Anyway, Russell Rush's organization is in its nascent stages of formation. It has no real victories and no real defeats with which to cement its ideological focus. If we stand to the side and do nothing, then it will shrinky-dink down to being a vehicle for one party over the other. It doesn't have to be that way, though. "The Democrats do not own Hip-Hop," Simmons said. Now I'll be the first one to tell you that not all of Rush's ideas are compatible with a conservative/moderate mindset (man,I hate labels) but we can't really hash those issues out as long as we stay away from the table. But it's not just Rush. LL Cool J performed at Clinton's first inauguration and he performed at the Democratic convention this year, and maybe at some other events in between. Here's what he had to say:
AllHipHop.com: Did you recently just go to the Democratic Convention in Boston? LL: I went to the convention, but I went to [perform at] the Rock to Vote concert. And what I said after I finished performing was, I’m not here to endorse any particular candidate. I said that if there is any candidate that is looking for my endorsement, we have to meet face to face and I need to know what their plans are and how they are going to affect my community, and then America as a whole, and then my community within America. I have to know what the plan is. I’m not going to lend my name and my credibility. I respect them of course. And I said it respectfully because you have to respect the people that are running for the leadership of our country because this is a great country. And I do love this country because it has given me a great opportunity. Regardless of what our ancestry is, ultimately we are all here because of our ancestry. So whether good or bad, at the end of the day we are here now and we need to take advantage of this opportunity of being Americans. At the same time, if I’m going to endorse somebody, I can’t just endorse him or her just by default. We have to sit down and talk. I have to see what’s going on, and how what you do affects the people I love. AllHipHop.com: Have you followed any of the candidates? LL: A lil’ much. I haven’t been stimulated to that point. When I hear someone talking about something other than what Bush has done wrong, then I can listen a lil’ better. But at this point I don’t know anything about what anyone is saying but what Bush did wrong. That doesn’t help me. There’s a whole focus on the problem but what’s the solution?
Now let's not jump the gun and give LL some kind of ideological label, but let's recognize the fact that there are some inroads to be made. I'm telling you, if we can emphasize the economic benefits of the conservative agenda, we're in there. I don't think there would ever be a conservative majority within hip-hop, but I think that we can have a significant presence. But for me, it's not even about some ideological version of Stratego, it's about doing something. If we're out there doing what we're supposed to be doing; the things we talk about and the things we know are right, the rest of that will follow.


Couldn't Have Made This Up On My Best Day, Pt. 3

It was a divinely beautiful Sunday morning, and double-murder suspect Lyndell Swinson thought he'd go to church. Unfortunately for Swinson, he picked the Mount Airy Church of God in Christ, where one of the ministers is also a Philadelphia police lieutenant. After yesterday's 11 a.m. service, Swinson, 26, left his pew and walked out onto the church steps and into the arms of a waiting SWAT team... It was unclear why Swinson chose the church on Ogontz Avenue, which has a congregation of more than 4,000 people; more than 1,000 typically attend Sunday services. He wore a red-and-white football jersey, baseball cap and jeans, and had shaved off his beard, cut his hair, and trimmed his eyebrows, police said. But check the clincher Philadelphia Police Lt. Norman Davenport had just finished preaching his first sermon - on dealing with difficult circumstances - when one of the deacons told him someone had recognized Swinson. What more can I say? (c) Shawn Carter

Funk For My Mother

This is a short list, but I it's a work in progress. These are not songs by gospel artists. These are songs by secular artists that have an overtly gospel message. No euphemism and double-entendre, where the "you" could be God or some chick, it's out there plain. Save Their Souls - Hamilton Bohannon Help Is On The Way - The Whatnauts Is Anybody Gonna Be Saved - The Ohio Players Told you it was short. But as I go through these 6100 songs on my mp3, I'm sure we'll uncover some more.


On 1 September 2004, we will be heading over to averytooley.com. We'll try to have the blog nice and categorized for easy viewing, as well as a few more goodies like some creative writing, and whatnot. I'm in the process of putting together the new design right now.


Talkin' Bout Talkin'-- Some More

I'm in a seminar for the next three days. May get to post, may not. So what we have for you today is some extra goodness. With all the talking about language that's been going on over the last couple days, I decided to sit down and have a chat with my "tag-team partner" in this endeavor, Ambra. here are the links to the "discussion" as it's taken place over the last week or so. me - 12 August - Stats Is High Ambra - 16 August - So You Say I Talk White me - Talkin' Black So what we have today is an edited transcript of an IM conversation we had on the topic of language and "talking white" and whatnot. So before you get to the goodness, here's a couple things you need to know. Ambra is the one speaking standard English. I'm the other one. I'm big on idioms and shortcuts. Here's the breakdown: Yahmeen = you know what I mean y/m = yahmeen jawn = can hold the place of any noun, most frequently refers to a woman, however it could be anything. Watch the context carefully. iono= I don't know. Avery: so the other day, you was talkin bout you talk white, right? then I started breakin it down into regional differences, as well as racial. yahmeen, so you think sometimes them two get confounded? like I had a reader point out that within MS, black folk and white folk got different vocabs, cadences, and whatever, so within that specific area, i could be said to be talkin "white" even though if i went up to illadelph soundin like 'an one of em, they'd say i sounded anything but white. Ambra: Right. So yes I do think that there are regional distinctions that are separate Avery: but then race can also layer on top'a that. cuz you got the traditional new yawk accent, right...the BK jawn. Ambra: Yes and that's thick Avery: but even wit a white cat and a black cat from BK, you gon' hear the new yawk jawn, but you still more'n likely gon be able to tell who's who. Ambra: Okay you're pullin' strong Gully talk right now Ambra: But I think for me the distinctions are more with words and phrases and less with accents Avery: yeah, vocab's a big part of it too...but y/m, wit hip-hop takin over like it has, the lines are blurry. Ambra: The lines are blurry how? Avery: cuz hip-hop give "black" speech, which for you means mostly vocab and idioms, a wider audience and it's appropriated on more levels. Avery: Zack be tryin'a keep it real so he talk like Fiddy (50 Cent). Avery: cuz you know it's white cats that be usin nigga self-referentially. Ambra: That's a whole other phenomenon Ambra: But what about the Puerto Rican aspect of hip-hop's roots? Avery: what about it? Ambra: Umm, nevermind, just wondering if you thought there are ways their speech filtered itself into the genre or if hip-hop is 100% driven by black culture Avery: naw, the latino brothers and sisters definitely made some contributions and done been integrated, y/m. Avery: hip-hop, at least the MC'in portion is still mostly driven by colored folk cuz look, there's only a certain type of hip-hop speech that's gonna get mainstreamed, anyway. Avery: i done heard white cats call themselves nigga, but i ain't never hear no 5%-type talk where they callin each other 'god' Ambra: This is true Avery: or 'wise intelligent' or whatever. Ambra: Yeah now you're gettin' deep...but back to the topic Avery: so yahmeen, it's all a matter of proximity. Ambra: Expound Avery: so aiight, if craig done lived his whole life around molly and zack 'nem, that's what he gon sound like cuz that's what he always hear. Avery: ain't no affectated element to his speech, y/m, that's just him. Ambra: but see I somewhat disagree because I think there are often built-in differences in vocal range by ethnicity Avery: Nope. Ambra: You're just gonna say "nope" and leave it at that eh? Avery: naw... Avery: i'm sayin', let me adopt li'l young lou or whatever...i bet that joker sound just like me. Ambra: perhaps Avery: not the specific vocal range, but inflection and diction...guaranteed. Ambra: I absolutely believe that children/people/etc. easily adapt to the style of speech they're immersed in Avery: sho nuff. and they can pick up what they wanna pick up, too. Ambra: what I'm saying is, I believe that there can be certain inherent vocal differences based on cultural background. Ambra: this is what I was getting at in my last post Ambra: hmmm...okay the only example I can think of is not really related but hear me out... Ambra: Samoans...I'm just going to put it out there....they're big people. They're not overweight, but they are not built according to the traditional image of the bodily frame our society projects Avery: yeah... Ambra: To put it plainly, 'round my neck of the woods, we'd call it "big-boned", or if you really wanna get real, "big-boneded". Vocally, they often sound different too. I have a hard time thinking this is just based on atmosphere.... Avery: do they still be speakin they native language or just english? Ambra: English, well, both, but mostly English...so I'm still working on this theory, but I believe God really has created different races of people for specific purposes.. Ambra: This is rather politically incorrect to say I know, but it only makes sense Ambra: I use the Samoans as an example because some of the differences are so blatant. I know there was/is/will be a greater purpose for why He created them to look and sound they way they do. Okay so that was rather scattered, but I'm hoping you kinda catch where I'm going. In some of my travels I've come across black people of varying backgrounds. It AMAZES me that no matter what country, there is still that tinge on the vocal chords that resonates in me that they actually sound black.....even with british accents Avery: sorta...but not always. look at'cha boy Keyes. if you heard him before you saw him, it'a be over when you came around the corner. Ambra: Right, I call him out as an exception Avery: but it's a whole lotta them. Ambra: And there are lots of exceptions (said simultaneously) Avery: yahmeen. Ambra: That's why I've never made it a blanket statement. I say "often" you can tell, but not always Avery: but what i'm tal'n bout is, they ain't really exceptions. Real deal is you can't really separate language from other interactions. Ambra: okay then, 50/50 Ambra: Can't separate language from other interactions? Explicate Avery: cuz like at Parablemania last week or the week fore last or some'n, Jeremy was tal'n bout Black folk in Nova Scotia and how they ain't have NO trace of nigro speech, but they a self-contained community and been that for a long time. Ambra: Define Negro speech Avery: sbv...or for you, the "black" sound in the voice. Avery: however you wanna take it, y/m. Avery: they sound like white canadians, i'm sayin'. Avery: can't distinguish em from around the corner. Ambra: NOOO Avery: yeahhh. Ambra: see this is what I'm saying...SBV and the black sound in the voice are not one in the same in my opinion Avery: i get that. that's why i said however you wanna define it. No matter what criteria you use, you can't tell the differnce. Ambra: But often I can. Avery: aiight, holmes. Ambra: I'm not saying it's a straight shot. But I do think it's worth consideration. I find it hard to believe that if voice is not affected by the body you're born into. Avery: peep game: Ambra: Your eye color is, hair grade is, why not voice? Ambra: (peeping) Avery: when a baby is born, it babbles in all the sounds the human voice make. Avery: so you know it's certain sounds that's made in the chinese language that native english speakers can't hardly make Ambra: yes. Avery: but if you take young tyrone, before he learn to talk, when he still babblin, and send him over to shanghai or whatever, then when he start talkin, he gon make them exact sounds. Ambra: (you and assigning these names...it's hilarious by the way, this conversation has been politically incorrect for about 25 stanzas now.) Avery: and then when come over here, his english pronunciation is gon' be dictated by the fact that his throat muscles is used to constrictin themselves in certain fashions and not others Ambra: I'll give you that.....but Avery: so when he get around craig and smokey 'nem, he gon sound chinese. Avery: same thing wit my li'l rainbow tribe. Ambra: Males and females have different sounding voices. Avery: right, but that's a matter of pitch and frequency. Ambra: are you sure that's it? Avery: R Kelly can't sound like Marvin Gaye under NO circumstances, y/m. Ambra: And Jaleel White can't sound like Barry White Avery: zackly. Avery: but they both black. Ambra: But they both have deeper voices than I do Avery: right... Avery: which is a matter of frequency. they got longer vocal chords. Ambra: soooo then, it's not just a matter of pitch and frequency, and what determines who gets born with longer vocal chords? Avery: how? the frequency of the vibration of the vocal chords is what determine the "depth" of the voice, holmes. Ambra: I'm not as dumb as I may be letting on....holmes Avery: naw, hardheaded...look at it like this: Ambra: so frequency and vibration of vocal chords comes via the stork? Avery: riiiight... Ambra: wrong Avery: how don't they? Joker born w/ that. Ambra: Exactly Avery: but a racial "sound" ain't based on frequency. Avery: watch this: Ambra: Are you going to turn on a television or something? Avery: when them british "soul" singers make a record, they take black mannerisms and stylizations. Avery: e'ry once in a while, one of 'em do it so good you can't really tell. like lisa stansfield back in the day. Ambra: Oh brother Avery: but sooooon as the record go off and don cornelius get to interviewin' em, you know what the deal is. Avery: and f'real-f'real, it ain't even gotta be soundin black necessarily, they just sound american. Avery: when the needle come off, they sound british as they did in the first place. Ambra: I agree with all of the above Avery: that's somethin' you learn how to do. Ambra: So you don't believe that under any circumstances a person's vocal intonation is determined in the womb? Avery: nope. Avery: they hear they mama talkin that way, but until they start tryin'a talk, they don't drop the unused sounds. That's howcome you supposed to expose your kids to as many languages as possible as early as possible. Ambra: So if I'm a male, and I am raised purely around females, I will have a female-sounding voice? Avery: they don't know NOT to use they voices in certain ways. Avery: nope. a woofer can't be a tweeter no matter what you do to it. Ambra: translate please (for the other sane people who may read this) Avery: ...well, as long as it's not surgically altered. woofer=bass part of the speaker. tweeter=treble. Ambra: duh. Avery: the woofer is bigger cuz it carries waves on a longer frequency. Ambra: So then you admit there is an aspect of vocal intonation that is determined in the womb. Avery: nope. that ain't intonation. Ambra: Okay, then let's pick a different word. I'm not liking that one either Avery: put it like this: i'm bout to make up a number. Avery: say my voice is 970 khz. Avery: that don't change. Avery: whether i call my mother's sister "aint" "awnt" or "ant" depend on who i grow up around. Ambra: Errrrrr Avery: yuuup. cuz if you hada growed up in ms'sippi, you'd be talkin bout aint janie just like er'body else down there. Avery: what's an accent? Ambra: Yes, the above is agreed. What I'm saying is that if your 970 khz voice is formed in the womb (well, actually way prior to then if you want to get theological about it), and clearly it is based on being male or female, but why couldn't race play a factor in that just as it does with all our other features? Avery: nope. Ambra: "What's an accent?" Save that convo for another time Avery: cuz race ain't really what we think it is. Ambra: Of course it's not, which is what I'm getting at. Avery: we categorize people based on a certain set of phenotypical traits, but it could be a whole other bunch of things. Ambra: It's entirely socially constructed, in fact I think there are more distinctions between "Earthsuits" as I like to call them then we give credence to Avery: iono...we like .2% different or some'n. Ambra: This is because it's politically incorrect to say such things like certain races of people may be more physically inclined in certain areas Ambra: But why not? Ambra: This earth is huge and God created different groups of people for distinct purposes Ambra: Black Africans are dark for a reason Ambra: Samoans are big for a reason Avery: yeah, cuz they be in the sun. Avery: and high yellow is high yellow cuz they got some white in 'em. Ambra: White people don't get as easily cold as we do Ambra: I mean these are all things that are DIRECTLY related to ethnic origin. Avery: maybe not, iono. i be the first one gettin cold. Ambra: Don't argue me on this one...I've read numerous studies..HA Ambra: In which case, you're really a white man Ambra: Ah HA! I knew it. Avery: sorta, but i bet a white person born in africa get cold before a black jawn born in seattle. Avery: why? cuz that's what they used to. Ambra: Remember, there are no black people in Seattle Avery: yeah...cept sir mix-a-lot, the sonics, and the seahawks. Ambra: But the point I'm making is all evidence proves that the lighter persuasion didn't originate in Africa. Okay, well actually that's a slippery slope...but again, the Garden of Eden is not what we're talking about here, but you see what I'm gettin' at Avery: everybody from africa. awwwwlll y'allll. (c) Tre Styles. Avery: yeah, but i'm thankin that on the real, it ain't that much science to it. it's all a matter of variety. Ambra: Whatever you say Avery. You're the man. Avery: God coulda made it so every man was 6', 175 wit 7% body fat. Ambra: I'm just opinin' here. Ambra: Stretchin' the mental capacity Avery: so anyway, he could'a made it so e'ry woman looked like Halle. Avery: that ain't how it went, tho. Ambra: It really does us no good to speeculate on how God coulda made people. Point is, he didn't...so why did he do what He did Avery: hypothetically speakin, yes-- i can see the argument that different peoples may have developed different talents/abilities. Ambra: I shall spend the rest of my life on that particular quest for knowledge...such is the process of Him restoring humanity back to Himself Avery: i read some stuff on this before. Ambra: I'm sure you have So that's where I'll cut it off for now, although the actual conversation went on longer. Please don't hesitate to weigh in. There may be some actual hard research out of this eventually. In the meanwhile, enjoy.


Summer Jams

It's August, the days are getting shorter, and the semester is about to start. Summer will be over soon. Buck Whylin' by Terminator X came on the ole MP3 player and it reminded me that Valley of the Jeep Beets was my album in the summer of '91. I listened to some others, but I literally wore the writing clean off that tape before the summer was out. That got me thinking: how far could I go back? I think I bought my first recorded music in 1987, so I'll start there. 1987 - Bigger And Deffer - LL Cool J 1988 - Benny Carter Meets Oscar Peterson - Benny Carter, feat. Oscar Peterson Quartet 1989 - It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back - Public Enemy 1990 - Fear of a Black Planet - Public Enemy 1991 - Valley of the Jeep Beets - Terminator X 1992 - The Low End Theory - A Tribe Called Quest 1993 - Slaughta House - Masta Ace 1994 - Street Level - The Beatnuts 1995 - Return To The 36 Chambers (The Dirty Version) - Ol' Dirty Bastard 1996 - Stakes Is High - De La Soul 1997 - Funky Good Time Anthology - The J.B.s 1998 - Here, My Dear - Marvin Gaye 1999 - Sons of Soul - Tony Toni Tone 2000 - At The Turn of the Century, disc 1 - Stevie Wonder 2001 - Purposeful Design - Fred Hammond In the spring of 2002, I bought a (then) brawny computer with CD burning capabilities, so I stopped listening to pre-recorded albums. I had ripped most of my CDs to the hard drive, so the concept of listening to a whole album kind of stopped right there. What follows are my top 3 jams, as evidenced by being burned to multiple discs. 2002 Scorpio - Dennis Coffey Ashley's Roach Clip - Soul Searchers Watch Out - De La soul 2003 Simon Says (Remix) - Pharoahe Monch A Touch of Jazz (Playin' Kinda Ruff pt 2) - Zapp Thought @ Work - The Roots 2004 Get Out of My Life Woman - Joe Williams He Can Hear Me Sing - Milton Brunson One Monkey Don't Stop No Show - Joe Tex

Reparations or Preparations?

Thanks to Alan Keyes, I've had the opportunity to sit down and think about reparations. Nothing too in-depth, still, because it's such a distant prospect that it doesn't warrant my immediate attention. That's like me worrying about what brand of shoe I'm gonna endorse when I'm running back kickoffs for the Eagles. Even before I stop to consider the likelihood of it happening (or the lack thereof), I think there are lots more pressing things to worry about. Even more, there's something we can do in the meanwhile. I don't think I'm against reparations in principle. I've seen lots of arguments, both pro and con. I'm not gonna rehearse them all here, and I'm not gonna borrow anybody else's points. I'll just say that labor deserves to be paid. Don't tell me about the Civil War, like that was payment, because the enslaved fought in that war, as well- on both sides. My great-great (great?) granddaddy can't pay his own reparation. And don't tell me about Affirmative Action, like that's supposed to fill the bill, because it's not like Jim Crow didn't happen. If anything, Affirmative Action was meant to redress racist actions in the 20th century, not the 19th. But whatever. Labor deserves payment. If it's not, then a debt is incurred. The debt remains until it's paid. I don't really see a whole lot of room for debate in that aspect. As a practical matter, it's something altogether different. Whenever I hear about reparations, the first thing I think of is the Reparatons Day skit on the Chappelle show. In Alan Keyes' formulation, there wouldn't be any money actually distributed, there would simply be no witholding of income tax. This way, General Motors and Phillip Morris (or whoever sells Newports) won't get all the money and there won't be 20,000 new record labels. (That skit is classic. I highly recommend it.) Again, I don't have a problem with the proposal in principle, but some questions remain. Principal among them being the matter of who would get the exemption. Last spring, Carol Channing came out and said that she had a Black relative, and there was no money at stake. I'm betting that for a 40 year tax exemption, people all over the country would be finding that one drop. But again, that's so far down the line (?) it's not even worth worrying about. The question the Chappelle Show toyed with is really something we can concern ourselves with right now. Yesterday, Booker Rising fixed the GDP of Black Americans at 728 billion. That's a lot of money, y'all. What are we doing with it? And I'm not really coming at it with some nationalistic bent, like all Black money should be spent in the Black community, although I definitely believe it should stick around a while before it leaves. For a lot of us, the money is gone as soon as we get it. There are many possible explanations; the truth is probably some combination of all of them. Certainly conspicuous consumerism plays a role, as does lack of home ownership, bad credit, which leads to higher interest on loans, and other, more general unwise spending decisions. That's a point we can start on right now. I remember a few months ago, Jabari Asim of the Washington Post pointed out that even though the income gap between middle class Blacks and whites is closing, the gap in wealth remains the same. Quoting researcher Thomas Shapiro, he says:
Income is the money people receive from our jobs or substitutes for jobs such as Social Security or unemployment," he said. "For most people it's a paycheck, which the majority of us use to reproduce our existence," i.e., buy basic necessities and keep a roof over our heads. "We use wealth as much more of a storehouse of assets rather than a stream," Shapiro said. Wealth typically takes the form of home equity plus savings accounts, stocks and bonds.
Wealth doesn't come quickly, cheaply, or easily. Given that the Black middle class is really just now achieving income parity, I don't know that it's reasonable to expect parity in wealth yet. However, this should be our focus. We know it's attainable. Not that I'm not planning to wear adidas if I ever make it to the Linc.

Ain't Havin' It, Either

6 People Beat Up Alleged Peeping Tom
NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio -- An alleged peeping Tom is in the intensive care unit after reportedly being assaulted with a tree branch, NewsChannel5 reported. Officials said Mario Russo, 44, was attacked after he was spotted outside a bedroom window wearing his pants around his ankles and watching a 5-year-old girl who was sleeping outside the Bunkeridge Apartments. Russo was reportedly hiding in bushes. Police said after he was discovered a group of six people, include the girl’s mother, aunt and their boyfriends attacked him and brutally beat him for more than an hour.
I'm ambivalent about this one. I've got a 5 year-old daughter, and I know if I caught some fool with his pants around his ankles watching her, there would be trouble. That's grounds for a two-piece with a biscuit. I don't have the patience to beat somebody for an hour. Once I've knocked him out, either I'm gonna call the police or I'm going to jail. If it were just the beating, I wouldn't have too much of a problem with this. However, they did more than beat him. They sodomized him with a tree branch. That's a little extra.


Couldn't Have Made This Up On My Best Day, Pt. 2

Pimp and Ho Halloween costumes for kids. What more can I say? (c)Shawn Carter. (but I am kinda glad the models ain't Black.)

More On Dialect

The sneaker v. gym shoes v. tennis shoes situation developing in the Talking Black comments reminded me of a similar discussion up at Parablemania a couple months ago. He links the results of a dialect survey, showing a regional breakdown in different names for common items. I know it's the former English major in me, but this stuff is hot to death. Check it out.

Don King, Though?

I'm not big on politics and breaking down what the Democrats or Republicans are doing because I think that large-scale movements are necessary for overhauls in policy, but have very limited effect in the life of a given individual. Whether Bush or Kerry is elected in November, the kids I tutor will still need to shore up their basic skills (or get some in the first place), people that were hungry before the election will be hungry after the election, and so forth. And even if all the President's (new or incumbent) policies are enacted exactly as he is proposing them now, it's gonna take a while before it means anything to the average person on the street. Casey Lartigue expresses my ambivalence beautifully. He's talking about the difference that the new Superintendent of the DC School system will be able to make, but I think it applies to any bureaucratic entity.
I'm someone who is skeptical that public policy can do much to help a person advance in life. The best thing public policy can do, rather than trying to create jobs, is to remove barriers. We should be pleased that the schools are safe and that kids learn the basics, forget about higher expectations about what a superintendent can do. No child left behind? Sounds fine, but no child should be left behind on purpose. It sounds cruel to say it, but if you've worked with kids, you know that some are more motivated than others. The Board of Education of the 1980s may have been led by politically motivated misfits, but could a Board of Education led by altruistic geniuses do much to motivate the unmotivated to become motivated about book learnin'?
Having said that, I'm just a little dismayed by President Bush's embrace of Don King as a campaign spokesman. Don King, though? Seriously. Don King? Bush might as well call Snoop to see if he can link him up with Bishop Don Magic Juan. Don King, though? Man, if I was running for public office, I wouldn't want Don King telling people that I love babies and puppies, let alone trying to advocate my policies. I understand that the Republican party is trying to reach out to the Black community, but dag! If they think Don King is a figure with any type of credibility, they're more out of touch than I had imagined possible. Don King has name recognition, but that's about it. The opening paragraph from this article at Alternet pretty much sums him up:
Don King is a hustler who rose from the depths of a manslaughter conviction to the heights of boxing promotion by dint of a well-honed ability to play the angles. So, it's really no surprise that King has thrown his lot into the reelection campaign of George W. Bush; he's playing the angles.
Don King is a hustler, baby. If I had any game at all, I'd write him talking about I was his nephew. Even if he didn't believe me, I bet game would recognize game and he'd take me on anyway. Don't get me wrong, I'm not necessarily anti-Don King as a person. I mean, everybody knows he's dirty but nobody can prove it, so that has to count for something. He's right there with Al Sharpton as public figures that most people find contemptible but for whom I have a limited admiration. Say what you want about Don or Al, but the fact that you say anything about them at all means a lot. If there's one thing to learn from them, it's that cojones and game can take you as far as you want to go. All that notwithstanding, come on, y'all. I'm really not sweating the outcome of the election either way, but really, though...Don King? Whoever promoted this match needs to be in the soup line right behind the people responsible for Oreo Barbie.


Talkin' Black

Unlike Ambra, I have never been accused of talking "white." Never. When I was 14, I called a rental car place and the agent thought I was a woman, but that was about all the vocal mistaking I've ever had to deal with. To my knowledge, nobody has ever heard me speak and then turned around and been surprised when they saw me. And in my case, it's by choice. Ambra does a good job of separating the components of "talking white" into elements of linguistic strucure and vocal intonation. That's an important distinction to make. When I hear some knucklehead talking about standard English synonomously with talking white, I have to check him real quick. Those two are not the same. Now, right up front, I'll tell you that I don't use the phrase "proper English" or "talking proper" or any construction that suggests rightness or wrongness. Language, like water, is shaped by its container. What's right and wrong or good and bad depends almost solely on the context. When I wrote about cussin a couple months ago, I used the shoe analogy. Just like I can't wear sneakers (or gym shoes if you grew up in the Midwest like I did) when I go to the club on Saturday night, I can't jump out talkin any which-a-way in certain situations. It's just improper. At the same time, I can't rock my Stacy Adams wing-tips when I get ready to shoot some ball. That's just not the way it's done. Likewise, when I hafta do a presentation, there's a certain manner of speaking that I must appropriate in order for my ideas to be received. Same thing goes on the corner, though. Or if you remember Airplane, that brother would'a died if that old white chick hadn'a known how to talk Jive. So as far as I'm concerned, there is no such thing as proper English. The English language is a hodge-podge amalgam of countless sources. There is almost no universal consistency. (I have two homes with rodents, so I have houses with mice. What? House -> houses but mouse -> mice? And that's just the first one that popped into my head. Everybody who reads this and everybody they talk to can come up with at least 5 examples of their own.) I know the rules of English because I grew up speaking it, but that don't mean the rules make sense. If it's arbitrary, then there can no good or bad, only appropriate or inappropriate. Recognize. Vocal intonation, on the other hand, more closely approximates my concept of what talking white means, if it actaually has any meaning. Ambra uses the example of Alan Keyes as one of those brothers who would shock you to death if you heard him before you saw him. She's correct in saying that there is no genetic pronunciation. There is, however, regional dialect. You can take the word "region" however you want, because at every level there are some linguistic distinctions, whether you wanna talk about national, groups of states, individual states, counties, metropolitan areas, cities, neighborhoods, blocks, or households. People talk like the people who surround them. Period. As anybody who's studied linguistic formation in children can tell you, babies babble in all languages. That is, they make the sounds necessary to speak in any language. It's only as they are spoken to by their parents and the people around them that they repeat certain sounds and drop off the others, which gives them their native tongue. For a long time, I wanted to adopt an Asian child so he could grow up talking with the same rubber band tongue as me. In that respect, then, he might be said to be "talking Black," although he really wouldn't, because that would be his natural speech pattern. To say that someone is "talking [insert race]" insinuates a certain degree of performance; "he don't really talk like that, he just tryin'a front for those people." But when I said it's regional dialect, I meant more than just the way certain words sound. The other element of dialect is vocabulary. Vocabulary is a subject that's near and dear to my heart. I'm a word nerd. I read Zora Neale Hurston and Mark Twain with highlighters, so I can jump on hot expressions when I come across them. Now most Black folks are at best 3-4 generations from the South, so that Southern dialect is still a major influence. I think it was Hurston who described Southern speech as coming from the land and being particularly picturesque and thick with simile. I don't feel like getting up and finding the exact quote, but it's out there somewhere. And it's the truth. That, I think is one of the great limitations of that New York-Washington axis of Standard English. There's no real creativity in it, no room for delicious new variety of speech to tickle the tongue. I think that's partially why hip-hop has taken hold the way it has, because in addition to all the other elements, sometimes it's just nice to say things because they're fun to say or because it's a creative way to express a common thought. Nobody tried to holler at me when I brought it up before, but truth be told, talkin' fly part of what makes people think it's cool to be a pimp. You gotta have game to be a pimp; your verbal dexterity gotta be stronger than Bluto. And this is not to make some binary pair out of the issue, like black talk is creative while white talk is rigid and inflexible, because it doesn't break down along racial lines like that. However, there's a reason I liken Standard English to a Stacy Adams shoe while SBV (or just about any non-mainstream dialect, for that matter) is a sneaker. The latter is much more flexible and much, much more playful. That's why there aren't that many white cats who can do the dozens. My own use of language is informed by the fact I just like words. Some proper, some vulgar, some long and very literate-sounding, some monosyllabic grunts. I just like the way some words taste in my mouth. Once in a poetry class, I made, in haiku form, Doritos a metaphor for the word "motherfuker." Other people may not like the residue, but it just tastes good. Same thing goes for "callipygous," only callipygous has the added benefit of being an uncommon word for a very common thought, so I could be ribald and cerebral and speaking in code (talking sanskrit, one of my friends calls it) all at the same time. But even beyond regular words, I like to make up words when I just feel like it. In some post over the last couple months, I broke out "exorcistic," as in the exorcistic beating Jack Johnson laid on Jim Jeffries; he beat the devil out of him. So for a while I was talking about being exorcistically confused or whatever. Then I took it to the scatological next step, laxativistic. I don't care if it's not a "real" word, it gets my point across. Same thing with the seating chart. They're just words, there for us to play with and enjoy. Water's good for work, but it's also good for play. Same thing here. The idea of "talking white" is both understandable and utter nonsense at the same time. If I had grown up with a white family from suburban Chicago, I would sound like they do. If I had grown up with a white family from Biloxi, I would sound like they do, but I bet I'd only get 1/2 as many comments about sounding white. Based on this construction, I believe that "talking white" has as much to do with class line as racial lines. In other words, if you read Huckleberry Finn, it's clear that Huck and Jim don't talk the same. But neither of them sounds anything like the narrator in Tom Sawyer. Likewise, I know of students who take classes to scrub the Southern dialect from their tongues so they can sound more "white," if you will. It's not about race, it's about power. Northern Standard English acts as a gatekeeper. If I want access to certain levels of power or prestige, I must communicate in a certain way, using a certain pronunciation and certain idioms. It just be's that way sometimes.