Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tea Party Discharges Weapon Into Own Foot

And the weapon was....the Chris McDaniels campaign.

Is is just me, or does last night's squeaker appear to have been tipped just enough to go over the edge by all the loud complaining and railing by the Tea Party camp about "watching" for Democrats crossing over to vote for Cochran, and their threatening (and yes, that was the tone) to send Poll Watchers to cut off any Democrats they could "see"?

From where I sit, it looked a lot like the Tea Party played Pogo and said "We have met the enemy... and he is us". After the massive amounts of money spent by filthy-rich industrialist elitists (most born with that silver spoon in their mouths and intent on keeping it there) and the influx of populist outside rabble-rousers (bankrolled by the above-mentioned filthy rich) like Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum and even the pitiful Chuck Woolery (of long-past Gong Show infamy), they still couldn't pull if off because the face behind the mask began to show through at the end.

Black folks were pretty easy to spot at the polls, and for some reason resented having someone watch for them and threaten to confront them as they tried to vote.  I don't think the significance of this year being the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer has escaped anyone's attention, except maybe the Tea Party faithful, and there could be a reason for that.  I'll leave you to decide.

Cochran supporters got a little complacent last time, but even the numbers of Thad's supporters who didn't turn out last time were not enough to help him over the TP enthusiasm hump or the he's-too-old-and-too-DC hump, and he made the smart move and called for reinforcements. I wonder if the establishment Republican party has the sense to pay heed and actually invite and welcome minorities into their party (and not just make polite but weak noises in that direction)? Looks like they might have a little gratitude for the people who saved their bacon in the primary, if not the general election (which is still well in the clouds, aka in the air).

Ah, the joys of a Mississippi summer (during election season)!

Update June 26, 2014:  Signs of paying heed from the GOP.  At last, a reasoned and reasonable response.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Stonekettle Station: Absolutely Nothing

Awesome blog, awesome blogger.  Better said than I could have done, with a background of experiences I've never had. the most SOMETHING in a blog entitled "Absolutely Nothing"

I have a simple question, (his version of the same question is better and much more nuanced), but mine is simply - if Brits are all over Tony Blair, why are Americans not all over Bush/Cheney et al? Every bit of the profanity he put in this blog post is well-placed and well-deserved; I probably would have thought some of it and kept it to myself, but I'm glad he didn't.

Stonekettle Station: Absolutely Nothing: Tragically, all we’ve fought for in Iraq, all that 4,500 American lives were shed to gain, is on the cusp, potentially, of vanishing. - Mit...

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Poem Honoring Chokwe Lumumba

“Free the Land Man (For Chokwe Lumumba)”
by C. Liegh McInnis

Just like a river that knows where it’s going,
your feet have kept you like the Wise Men
headed for the North star.
There was no fat cat with pockets full enough.
There was no pot hole deep enough.
There was no curve, bend, or speed bump in the road
to keep you from arriving at your destination.
You are a steamroller grinding angry asphalt into smooth street,
making rough roads ready for revolution to ride to town.
You are the cement foundation upon which we build our freedom house.
You are the forest of fruit from which we may find
nourishment from the fangs of poverty.
You are the fortified fortress that protects us from the vandals of industry.
You are the ocean of hope in which we swim to safety.
A Detroit demolition man destroying the dragons of self-hate so
that self-determination can fertilize the community into a bouquet of spring flowers.

Better than Superman,
you be Free-the-Land Man.
Able to leap skyscrapers of injustice in a single bound
and slam dunk the lies about us through the hoop of truth.
Able to slay slimy Judges with a lightning rod of litigation
Faster than a speeding bullet,
you erased the “t” from can’t, making us a city of can.
And stronger than a locomotive,
you broke through the barriers
that have kept us herded like cattle,
unshackling our dreams from the dungeon of Dixicrats
A liberation lawyer willing to lumberjack the liars
who attempt to lay waste to the lives of rainbow children.
More than a mouthpiece for a moment,
You welded words into stainless steel
to slash the noose of oppression from the wretched of the earth.
Even when bad times became storm clouds blocking the sun,
you were a lighthouse leading people to the land of liberty.
Whether it’s planting proper seeds into your sons
so that they can sprout into life-giving trees,
or being an architect for your daughter
giving her the blueprint of properly engineered manhood,
you are a brick wall that protects all families
from the wolves, thieves, and pimps
that lurk like fungus in the pit of the night.

One of the Chief Captains of the Justice League of Super Negroes—
more amazing than Spiderman, you be Anansi the word weaver
spinning webs to stop the wicked from stampeding our sanity,
more fantastic than the four,
our shining Dark Knight of Democracy
freeing the land from monstrous mercantile Magnetos.
When my mild mannered mayor removed his suit there was
MXG on his chest and instead of a Batsignal
when we needed him we simply shined NAPO in the sky
but the feet-washer that he was kept him Assembled among the People
our own Afro-American Robin Hood
who was more Daring than those Mississippi Devils
Now that your spirit finally became too big for your body,
you are a pulsar that will forever illuminate our path to justice.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Uncensored Eudora Welty

            The Clarion Liar…err…the Clarion Ledger (my bad—old habits die hard.) has printed the uncensored version of Eudora Welty’s “Where Is the Voice Coming From?,” which is Welty’s reaction to the assassination of Medgar Evers, and y’all can read it at the Clarion Ledger.  I’ve been aware of both versions of Welty’s “Where Is the Voice Coming From?” for years.  It’s a good story, but not my favorite by Welty.  My favorite Welty story is “A Worn Path.”  However, “Where Is the Voice Coming From?” excellently captures the rage and neurosis of Byron De La Beckwith, but I have always felt that the story also makes Beckwith’s actions too singular or individual.  So, on the one hand “Where Is the Voice Coming From?” is another example of Welty’s brilliance with language.  (“Why I Live at the PO” is another story that showcases her wonderful use of the vernacular.)  Yet, by focusing so much on Beckwith’s singular or individual rage, Welty seems to pardon institutional racism.  Ultimately, even the title of the story, “Where Is the Voice Coming From?” has an air of what James Baldwin called “selective naiveté” in that it almost completely makes Beckwith’s attack a singular or individual act rather than showing Beckwith’s action as a symbol of the legal and institutionalized racism that gripped Mississippi, the South, and America.  We know that Beckwith’s actions were coordinated, to a degree, with help from information gathered by the White Citizens Council and the Sovereignty Commission and that Beckwith understood, because of the manner that white supremacy permeated every aspect of Mississippi, that there was no jury in 1963 that would convict him.  So while I like the story for Welty’s ability to expose the raw rage and neurosis of Beckwith, especially through her wonderful troping of his language, I’ve always felt that the story also seems to shift the responsibility of the crimes against African Americans from the states and nation to individual loose cannons, which was not the case, unless we agree that the vast majority of white Southerners and white Americans were a collection of loose Jim Crow cannons.  Of course others have countered that Welty is making Beckwith an allegorical figure for the raging flame of Mississippi racism, and while I don’t see/read him being presented entirely that way, I give her credit for being willing to have the conversation in 1963.  And what’s even more ironic or hypocritical is that the New Yorker—the bastion of white liberalism—forced her to change the names of places and people so as not to offend and enflame white southern and white American sensibilities.  Once, again, the truth of white supremacy, even in poetic or fictionalized form, is deemed too radical or too militant to publish.  That’s…just…funny…  If you have never read either version, here is a chance, and feel free to tell me what you think.  Take care.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Brief Review of Brad Paisley’s “Accidental Racist” (featuring LL Cool J)

by C. Liegh McInnis

Brad Paisley’s song “Accidental Racist” is some of the most racist/hypocritical crap I’ve ever heard.  I guess he doesn’t realize that being a proud “Rebel son” is being proud of the history of racism.  “The red flag on my chest is like an elephant…”  Yes, it is.  It says that you support what was done in the name of that flag, especially since the Confederate Flag has only ever represented white supremacy.  So, what about that is there to be proud?  Is Paisley actually writing a song to justify the racism of the South and his racist tendencies?  Now, Paisley does say, “I’m proud of where I’m from but not of everything we’ve done,” but follows that with the lame, patronizing line, “It ain’t like you and me can rewrite history.”  So, African people should just “get over it” and ignore that Paisley’s pride in the Confederate Flag symbolizes his pride of the Confederate agenda?  With lyrics like these, I don’t know if Paisley is myopic, hypocritical, schizophrenic, or he just thinks that African people are stupid.  In either case, it is interesting that Paisley is trying to rewrite or re-spin history in the same way of former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s assertion of the White Citizens Council as a strictly non-violent, economic entity.  Really?  Well, if you believe either Paisley’s or Barbour’s historical notions of Southern history, I’ve got some oil-rich land in my backyard I’d like to sell to you.

“Our generation didn’t start this nation.  We’ll still picking up the pieces, walking over eggshells, fighting over yesterday.  Caught between southern pride and southern blame.”  Allow me to remind Paisley of one of his white ancestors, William Faulkner, who stated that “The past is never dead; it’s not even past.”  And to that, I’ll add a quote from the film Magnolia (1999):  “We might be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us.”  In short, Paisley’s lyrics cause him to appear like a whiny racist who wants to celebrate the good ole boy days of when African people were three-fifths of a person while being miffed that African Americans are offended that he would find such joy in the Confederate past.  Yet probably the most subtle but powerfully racist line is “They called it Reconstruction, but we’re still sifting through the rubble after a hundred and fifty years.”  What makes this line so powerfully racist is that Reconstruction has long been the flashpoint for white southern anger that they have used as an example that African Americans do not have leadership qualities when in fact it was southern white militia groups that slaughtered thousands of African Americans to end Reconstruction, which, by the way, created America’s public school system, allowing poor whites to be educated.  So, if America is still sifting through the rubble, it is rubble created by white terror.  But, of course, Paisley never mentions that in his song of southern pride.

Now, LL Cool J’s rap is pretty well-crafted.  However, the one flaw in Cool J’s rap is that he makes the mistake of falling into the trap or allowing Paisley to frame the conversation so that Cool J states “If you don’t judge my doo rag, I won’t judge your red flag.”  The problem with Cool J’s analogy is that the doo rag began as an instrument for hair care a hundred years before it became a symbol of gang activity whereas the Confederate Flag has never symbolized anything but racial oppression.  So, again, to be proud of the Confederate Flag is to be proud of racial oppression because that is all the flag has ever symbolized.  A doo rag, on the other hand, may represent gang activity, but it also may represent the self-hatred of permed hair or just tacky taste.  Then, slipping into the ridiculous, Cool J states “If you don’t judge my gold chains, I’ll forgive the iron chains?”  What the hell?  We are now equating the vanity of adornment with the enslavement of an entire race?  I don’t think that this is Cool J’s goal, but this is what happens when one has a discourse on somebody else’s terms.

Paisley ends by stating “I’m a son of the new South, and I just want to make things right.”  And in the background Cool J affirms, “The past is the past baby.”  While the conversation between Paisley and Cool J obviously falls well short of the conversation between James Baldwin and Margaret Mead’s Rap on Race (1973), I am inclined to give Paisley and Cool J some credit for engaging in the discourse.  No matter how much I think Paisley is trying to rewrite or re-spin history, there can be no progress if people are not free to be honest about how they perceive history and what they feel.  And, I’m sure that the “post-racial America” Negroes will want to canonize both Paisley and Cool J for their efforts.  I, on the other hand, am happy that Paisley tells me that he is proud of Confederate history so that I can be sure to avoid him and his Rebel desires to make me think that Gone with the Wind should be mandatory viewing for accurate Southern knowledge.  Yet, when Cool J asserts “…let bygones be bygones,” he seems not to realize that there can be no real forgiveness and reconciliation as long as we refuse to tell the truth.  Furthermore, just when I was ready to give Cool J a pass, he ends with “RIP to Robert E. Lee, and I’ve got to thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me.”  He can’t be that damn ignorant of history.  We can debate the notion of whether or not Lincoln was a racist who asserted that the African race is inferior to whites and whether or not the “Emancipation Proclamation” was meant to free the slaves or was a military strategy to cripple the South economically by removing its free labor, but please don’t write to debate me on those two topics if your only source is Spielberg’s Lincoln.  Nevertheless, there can be no debate that Robert E. Lee was one of the most racist men America has ever produced, and Cool J is giving him a “shout out.”  Really?  That CSI money must be some really good money because I just refuse to believe that Cool J is that historically inept.  So, for now, I’ll give this song a “D+” for effort and an “F” for truth.  I actually want to give it a grade of “C,” just for having the conversation, but it is so historically flawed that I can’t.

*C. Liegh McInnis is the author of seven books and the publisher/editor of Black Magnolias Literary Journal.  He can be contacted through his website,

Comment from editor:
Actually, I think both of them may be just  about that ignorant of history, as I think a majority of folks may still be.  We were taught lies in school and most people accept the lies, although his thing about still picking up the pieces out of the rubble is something I'd like to think refers to the sorrow the southern people have put themselves thru by refusing to see the truth, accept it, right it and get past it (although I'm sure it's not). Coming to terms with something shameful is more liberating than trying to bury it - you can't really put yourself past it until you face it or it's a little worm gnawing away inside, making a person defensive (as Mr. Paisley obviously is). I feel a little reluctant sorrow for him, and for LL Cool J for different reasons. 

The white southern fight against truth has harmed us all, black and white, in ways many people have not yet realized or thought through.  In trying to fight against black folks having the same rights whites have, white folks have done themselves and the generations after them unbelievable harm and they don't even know it - they think they're fighting black folks, but they're really fighting themselves and their own futures as well.

It's hard for me to believe that I once accepted most of the bulls*t, but I know that I did, which gives me the opinion that anyone who hasn't actively read and researched source history, particularly the Civil War era, is probably as ignorant of it as they sound.  

 I have a confession, I never read the articles of secession before I got on the internet and started being jumped by those damned neo-confederates. I have to give them props for forcing me to go to the sources to see if they knew what they were talking about (not) instead of relying on the garbage I was taught in American History in Tennessee, where I grew up (and God only knows what they were teaching my generation down here in Mississippi). I don't know when (or if) they've quit that and where, much less the things we were taught by our parents, who really BELIEVED.  I truly thought that there were other important issues to the Civil War that impacted on it, even though I had gotten far enough away from the lies to say that it had to be mostly slavery. Duh, the Mississippi articles of secession make it clear over and over and over that slavery was the only real and important issue  and anyone who doesn't believe me can easily look those articles up online and see for themselves straight from the ancestral horse's mouth.  

I still bought at least some of the revisionist reconstruction history until about 15years ago when I read  Litwack's "Been in the Storm So Long", which relies on and quotes verbatim source material from the era. I'm still amazed that my eyes had been sewn so neatly shut by the faux history I learned at school and at home. Paisley and Cool J probably neither realize what reconstruction was really like and who was REALLY left picking up the pieces out of the rubble (what small pieces they were allowed to pick up) when they weren't part of the dead and buried rubble. Never underestimate the power of mis-education.

The truth just has to be  brought forth time and again until more people pay attention and realize how little they really know about our past or the impact it has on their present and their future lives.  People are beginning to wake up here and there, due to people like you who continue to persevere.

--C.W. Roberson