M. Night, say it isn’t so!

I don’t post much about TV stuff because I don’t watch a lot of TV. But when I do, because my tastes have always been eclectic and a little weird, I tend to watch weird eclectic stuff. Thus was born my love of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It’s a children’s cartoon. Yeah, I know. But I fell passionately in love with this show, because it’s frankly some of the most original fantasy I’ve seen in a very long time. Like most good children’s shows, it’s made an effort to appeal to adults as well, through complex subject matter and multi-layered jokes — to great and successful effect. I watched the finale episode at a party with 20 other twenty- and thirtysomething adults, all of whom were literally holding their breath and cheering at various points. Yeah. Over a kids’ cartoon. It’s that good. Go rent/buy it and see for yourself.

But let me be blunt: one of the things that hooked me about this show was that it was set in an all-Asian world. And it wasn’t fucked up. OK, let me clarify. You know how usually, when there’s an Asian character in an American TV show, he (or more frequently she) ends up as the martial arts master, the (white) hero’s submissive love interest, the dragon lady vamp, or the magical elderly person dishing out nonsensical proverbs and occasionally a can of whoopass? The thing is, all of these stereotypes are present in Avatar to some degree. But because the whole world is Asian, they’re lost in a sea of non-stereotypical, non-exoticized, perfectly normal human beings. How amazing is that? Not only that, but Avatar actually depicts different Asian ethnicities. Though this is a fantasy world, there are clear allusions to the Inuit, Koreans, Mongols, Tibetans, several flavors of southeast Asian, various Indians, and more. The Chinese- and Japanese-analogues of the story actually come in several varieties (Earth Kingdom and Fire Kingdom, Kyoshi warriors, etc.). Better still, while there are lots of martial artists in the show, the vast majority of people in this world wouldn’t know a punch from Hawaiian Punch. Just like most people anywhere. I know, huh? Good shit.

Given all this, I wasn’t surprised that M. Night Shyamalan, twist-director extraordinaire, was drawn to the material in order to make a live-action film. I was actually excited about his direction when I heard. I don’t like all his movies, but at least he’s not some no-name music video director. So it sounds like he’s chosen his cast for the film.

Continue reading

Black Is The New Doctor

This may all come to nothing, but it’s being widely reported that Patterson Joseph has been asked to play the lead in Doctor Who and he’s either thinking hard or has accepted the role.

For those of you who don’t know Doctor Who, it’s an iconic British SF show where the main character, The Doctor, has an unusual reaction to being killed.  Instead of dying, his body regenerates and he gets a new face, body, and personality.  This conceit was invented way back when the guy who first played the Doctor said he didn’t want to, anymore, but the show was doing so well that they didn’t want to end it, so they wrote an in-story explanation for the actor change and now there have been 10 guys in this role.

Further in case you didn’t know: Patterson Joseph is black.  And the Doctor has always been played by white guys.

Yes, I hear the wank coming for us, too.  There’s already been a bit.

But this is a pretty awesome turn of events.  Joseph is a good actor, from what I’ve seen, and quite handsome, which doesn’t hurt.  And the role of the Doctor is, as I mentioned, iconic, and a very big deal.  Doctor Who isn’t just a very famous SF show.  In England particularly, but in Western countries all over, the show transcends genre and is regarded as an integral part of childhood TV viewing.  This role is one that actors dream of playing.  It’s a chance to make some very influential TV.

I hope that the rumors don’t end up being unfounded, because it has the potential to be very awesome (or very crazy.  Doctor Who is not immune to icky race stuff).  Yes, the fandom will explode in stupid racism, but it may come out on the other end better and more enlightened.

And also: Black Doctor.

The state of PoC on TV: better or worse?

This makes me afraid. Very afraid. In concept it sounds good:

Percy Miller (formerly Master P) announces the launch of Better Black Television (BBTV) a family friendly network that will provide positive content for a black and brown culture that will appeal to all races with a goal to bring people of color a choice when turning on their television.

But… Master P’s running it. Master P. I mean, come on.

Shake what you got in them jeans (them jeans)
Girl grab the wall, then shake it like a dog
Shake what you got in them jeans (them jeans)
Girl grab the wall, then shake it like a dog
Shake what you got in them jeans (oh yeah)
Girl grab the wall, then shake it like a dog
Shake what you got in them jeans (oh yeah)
From the front to the back, girl you know what I mean

From “Them Jeans”

…Hmm.

Anyway, this touched off a conversation between my cousin and myself about the state of television for PoC now versus 30 years ago. It seemed to both of us that there were more PoC on TV back when we were kids (in the 1970s, right after the Civil Rights movement) than there are now. They were not good depictions back then — one-dimensional, prone to early death, bizarrely good at martial arts — but they were depictions. These days it seems hard even to get that much. Blackarazzi noticed the change, too:

There was a time when diversity seemed to come naturally to prime time. The social consciousness of the ’70s spawned successful sitcoms like The Jeffersons, Good Times, and Sanford and Son; the ’80s brought living-in-harmony comedy Diff’rent Strokes and the ultimate breakthrough TV family on The Cosby Show. But a long fallow period (dominated by Cheers, Seinfeld, and Friends) followed until 1999, when the networks announced another particularly white fall lineup (The West Wing, Freaks and Geeks, Once and Again) — and minority groups revolted.

Thus prompting a brief resurgence in which we saw a few more brown faces appear. But that resurgence seems to have faded again.

Or has it? I’ll put the question to you folks, then. Are PoC on TV better off now than they were 30 years ago?

Save Heroes

I know many of you are fans of the show Heroes.  I also know that many of you are just as frustrated as I am about some of the show’s less desirable elements, such as the way they treat many of the characters of color. To that end, I created Save Heroes. To wit:

…if we, the fans, are going to hang in there for the long haul, continue watching Volume 2, and go on to watch Volume 3, then we need to know that Heroes‘ problems are going to be addressed. Because it’s not about just getting rid of troubling characters and ditching inconvenient plots, it’s about understanding why those characters were troubling and why those plots made the audience twitch. And beyond that, Mr. Kring needs to understand how issues of race and gender play into both aspects.

All of these issues have been explored, sometimes at length, in blogs and on message boards in fandom. But is Tim Kring seeing all of that? Probably not. Does he care what the fans think? Of course. Is he capable of change and growth? Obviously. Therefore we, as fans, have to find a way to make our voices heard.

We need to write a detailed critique of the plot, character, race and gender elements of Heroes. We need to have one place where the producers and writers of Heroes can come and find what fandom has to say on these issues.

That’s the purpose of this website. We don’t need to Save Heroes from cancellation or network misuse, we need to Save Heroes from itself. Because it’s not a lost cause. It’s still capable of being the amazing show it was in season one. No, it’s capable of being even better.

How can you help Save Heroes? Easy. Just give your opinion on the Plot and Characters or Race and Gender issues in the show. We’re inviting all fans to contribute to a collaborative document in which we provide constructive, respectful criticism of the current season. Whether you offer your original thoughts or point to existing posts on the Internet, all ideas are welcome. Once we have enough contributions to create a coherent document, we’ll put it together in total and digitally sign it.

I would love it if some of the folks who’ve been making insightful comments here would go contribute.

Inconceivable!!

Ever since the new TV season started I’ve been pretty pissed off at Heroes. I believe my exact words have been:

Dear Heroes,

KNOCK IT OFF WITH THE RACISM AND SEXISM ALREADY.

Bob!Beyond that, the writing/plotting itself hasn’t been the best. Everyone I know who watches has been grumbling in the same way.

Usually when this occurs, the fans have little recourse. We complain on blogs and to each other offline, but the show continues to suck and eventually becomes the ninth season of Stargate SG-1. However, something amazing happened recently. A show creator actually acknowledged the problems with his show and –Gasp!– vowed to fix them.

I know! It sounds like a total lie. But look:

‘Heroes’ Creator Apologizes to Fans

[...] Kring himself is keenly aware that Heroes is broken. Here’s his candid critique:

THE PACE IS TOO SLOW ”We assumed the audience wanted season 1 — a buildup of intrigue about these characters and the discovery of their powers. We taught [them] to expect a certain kind of storytelling. They wanted adrenaline. We made a mistake.”

THE WORLD-SAVING STAKES SHOULD HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED SOONER [or perhaps scrapped altogether... --abw] The premonition of nuclear apocalypse created a larger context that unified every story line last season. Kring now sees that Volume 2 (the first 11 episodes of season 2) would have been better served if Peter’s vision of viral Armageddon had appeared in the season premiere rather than episode 7. ”We took too long to get to the big-picture story,” he says.

THE ROOKIES DIDN’T GREET THEMSELVES PROPERLY New Heroes Monica (Dana Davis), Maya (Dania Ramirez), and Alejandro (Shalim Ortiz) ”shouldn’t have been introduced in separate story lines that felt unattached to the show. The way we introduced Elle (Kristen Bell) — by weaving her in via Peter’s story line — is a more logical way to bring new characters into the show.” (That said, Kring says a few newbies won’t make it beyond this second volume, which wraps Dec. 3.)

HIRO WAS IN JAPAN WAY TOO LONG Hiro’s (Masi Oka) time-bending adventure in 17th-century Japan — where he mentored samurai hero Takezo Kensei (David Anders) — finally came to an end on Nov. 5. But Kring says it ”should have [lasted] three episodes. We didn’t give the audience enough story to justify the time we allotted it.”

YOUNG LOVE STINKS Kring regrets sticking Claire (Hayden Panettiere) with a super-dud boyfriend and forcing Hiro to moon over a cutesy princess. ”I’ve seen more convincing romances on TV,” he admits. ”In retrospect, I don’t think romance is a natural fit for us.”

There’s more at EW, go read.

He doesn’t touch on all of the problems — I see no mention of some of the icky race stuff. This gives me hope, though. I’ll hold out until Vol. 2 ends in December then eat some ginger, clean my palette, and go back to Heroes fresh and ready to be amazed again.

The Grass is Always Greener

Earlier this month, black British actor David Harewood published an essay in the Guardian lamenting the lack of media attention for the “Black BAFTAS” and the lack of black actors on British television.

…in Britain, TV and film producers and directors are still nervous about black actors in leading roles. Ask anyone in the street to name five American black actors and they can do it; but ask them to name five British counterparts and they will be stuck. That is not because the talent does not exist, but because we just don’t get that exposure here.

It is only when they go to the US that actors such as [Thandie] Newton and [Chiwetel] Ejiofor get the parts, and therefore the acclaim, they deserve. [...] black Britons seem to get better parts over there, even on the small screen.

Americans simply seem to be more comfortable with black actors in leading roles, and with the whole concept of “generic” parts in which race is not an issue. Dennis Haysbert and Morgan Freeman have both played the American president, while Haysbert is now the leader of a special operations unit in the new David Mamet drama The Unit.

I find it incredibly interesting to see the view of us from the outside. Considering the issues we have with representation, it was hard for me to imagine anyone looking at the roles for black actors with envy.

And as much as I want to say that Harewood has a skewed view, so do I. I watch some British TV, but most of the shows I watch are either produced by the same guy or written by a guy who works on projects with that producer. So even if I’m seeing a fair amount of PoC, I just may be in the hands of the half dozen people at the BBC who care about such things.

I have been very fortunate in my career in Britain, in that I have managed to play plenty of parts that were not conceived specifically for a black actor. I am not entirely alone in this – think of Freema Agyeman as Doctor Who’s sidekick Martha Jones, for example, or first Adrian Lester and now Ashley Walters in Hustle – but many of my peers have struggled in this respect. To get roles with authority and weight still seems to be extremely difficult. All too often, black actors are only seen fit to be secondary characters: “the best friend”, say, or “the good cop”. I think I have played more black policemen than there are black policemen. And these are not the kind of roles that get you noticed.

By contrast, when I was in America last year for the premiere of Blood Diamond, I was amazed at the variety and scope of some of the castings I was going into. Casting directors told me openly that no new American television series gets the green light without at least two or three leading ethnic minority roles. If nothing else, in that melting pot of a country it makes business sense to have a cast in which the audience can recognise itself.

Hmm…. I wonder if maybe Harewood isn’t being a bit lied to. Just looking at the new SF television shows on this season (which I had to watch for an article… which is going up tomorrow!) I saw a LOT of white people in lead/recurring roles–Journeyman, Moonlight, Chuck, Flash Gordon, Reaper–and the two shows that include CoC in their recurring slots are still helmed by white people–Bionic Woman, Pushing Daisies.

Without events such as Screen Nation, much of the work done by black British people in film and television would go unnoticed. Do awards like these ghettoise black actors, or somehow relegate them? Of course not. If I win a prize on Monday evening, I will accept it with just as much pride as if I had been given a Bafta or an Oscar.

Good question. It looks like Britain is suffering from the same kind of problems regarding race and representation that our media has. But perhaps from different angles and for different reasons. Though I was really pleased with the representations I saw in, say, Doctor Who, others see that show and its spinoff as problematic. There’s still a lot of work to do.

Fortunately, folks like Harewood are paying attention and speaking out. But he’s an actor, not someone who creates shows for the BBC. Those are the people who need to be paying attention.

Oh wait:

Neil Gaiman has said he will soon make fantasy television shows for the BBC.
[...]
“I’ve been in talks with the BBC for about two years about doing an original fantasy series for them, which I keep putting off because my plate is so full.

“I think it’s time to clear some plate for them.
[...]
One option he is looking at is a television version of his novel Anansi Boys which has just been made for radio by BBC World Service.

“I thought this would be so cool if we could do it as four 42-minute episodes for the BBC or even ITV,” he explained. “I don’t think anybody has actually done a drama, the cast of which was almost completely black, in which the point of it was not that the cast was completely black.”

Emphasis mine.

Maybe Gaiman will be a good influence on the BBC. And then he can come back over here and be a good influence on us.

Oh wait:

When Anansi Boys first came out, we got a number of very big [Hollywood] directors going after it and all of them basically ended up saying the same thing, which was they had real problems with a story as black people as leads in a fantasy movie. [...] It’s one of those strange moments when you go “I don’t know if it’s racist or if it’s just stupid…”

Sigh.

Dear Black People: Stop Embarrassing Me

Though this website is mostly a people of color positive zone, every now and then I feel the need to vent a bit about my own people. It generally happens when I want black people to stop freaking embarrassing me!

First up, hip hop artist Plies. Yes, his name is Plies. It’s embarrassing enough to have a grown-ass man running around calling himself Plies, but he supposedly waxed poetical with Vibe magazine on why he chose such a moniker:

Vibe: “Plies is an interesting name for a rapper, how did you get that nickname?”

Plies: “Plies is a tool, You can use it to put the squeeze on things, like I’m doing to these niggas in the rap game. I got the squeeze on them real tight, they feeling the pressure, or you can use it to pull things out. I pull out all the bullshit and keep the real you feel me?

It also a word you can use in terms of things goin’ on in yo life, ya dig. You may hear something I say and say that it plies to me.”

Vibe: “I’ve heard of a tool called a Pliers and the term applies.”

Plies: “You know what I’m trying to say my nigga, just buy my album, I’m from the South my nigga, we don’t learn no grammer. My Album out August 7, 2007, cop three copies each, it’s Christmas in July fo’ real, ya dig?

[Source]

Yeah……

Now, I say he ‘supposedly’ said this to Vibe because there is some doubt that this snippet is from a real interview. I’ve only been able to find it on message boards and blogs with no attribution link. It was supposedly on Vibe.com but isn’t there now. I’ve seen some other recent interviews with this ‘Plies’ person, so I don’t have a lot of trouble seeing this as real. But, it may not be.

If it is: PLIES, stop FUCKING embarrassing me! That is some straight ignant shit, yo! Plies is a tool, You can use it to put the squeeze on things — gah!

If it’s fake, I suspect a white conspiracy ;)

This second item, however, is not a product of the white conspiracy.

Did you know that The View now has two black co-hosts? They brought in Whoopi to replace Rosie, not Star Jones. They brought in Sherri Shepherd to replace Star. (No, I don’t know who Sherri Shepherd is, either.) Apparently, Sherri is a Christian. She says that she does not “believe in evolution, period.” As a follow up, Whoopi asked her if she believed the world was flat. Her answer? “I don’t know.”

*tires squeeling, cars crashing*

You don’t know?

“I’ve never thought about it,” she went on to say. “‘Is the world flat?’ has never been an important thing to me.”

See, this is the reason people make fun of Christians. This is the exact reason.

Sherri Shepherd, stop embarrassing me! I mean, come on. Is the world flat? is not a hard question to answer. And if you answer “I don’t know,” that says to me you don’t want to admit, on national television, that you really, deep down, think that it is. And if that is true, then you need to sail off the edge of it. Right now.

The whole conversation is here, if you can stomach it:

Check out the grin on Joy Behar’s face. She’s happy to have two black women going at it instead of one black woman going at her.

Maybe we should write a letter to these folks ala “Dear Black People” or stage an intervention.  Because, really, there is no need for this foolishness.

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ABW’s TV Corner: Fall TV – Want/Do Not Want

Fall is upon us.  That means new TV shows on the horizon and season premieres up the wazoo.  Ah, when I was a child this was the only thing that lifted my mood after having to return to the evil that was school.

Of course, it’s all different now.  Back then the summer was a time for reruns (you suck, reruns!) and movies of the week (more sucking!).  American television finally caught on tot he fact that some money could be made off of people desperate to watch something new in the warm months.  Suddenly the Season Schedule wasn’t so easy to predict; stuff might get started in January and run through August or there might be shows that come on only in the summer.  We’re never without some new TV these days.  And that’s fine with me.

Still, Fall is exciting.  Lots of new stuff to watch.

I’m excited about Heroes, even though that finale made me cry out in pain.  At least they finished the plot arc!  I really don’t care about the conclusion to the cliffhanger on CSI, but I’m glad it’s back.  Same for NUMB3RS.  I want to know what happens to Colby!!  I watched the first season of Dexter this summer and completely fell in love with it.  Can’t decide if I should watch it every week or wait until it’s all done and then watch.  Family Guy is back – I think Fox will never cancel this show, even if it continues to suck in many ways, for fear of making another huge mistake.  Sadly, I will watch it, even if it continues to suck in many ways, for the few moments of joy it brings me.

Of the new shows, Journeyman looks interesting, as does Pushing Daisies.   Reaper might be amusing or it might be stupid.  As I have yet to see a whiff of brown people in it, I may not even bother.  I want to watch Cane because Jimmy Smits still lives in my heart, despite Star Wars and that terrible production of Twelfth Night I saw him in.  Plus, you know, brown man as lead on television.  It must be worth something.  I never watched the old Bionic Woman, so it has no nostalgia value for me.  But Michelle Ryan is a good actress and excellent eye candy (if I can just stop mistaking her for Jennifer Garner).  Women’s Murder Club – all female lead cast, mysteries being solved, Angie Harmon?  YES.

What are you all looking forward to?  I declare Open Thread for talking about TV.  It’s the weekend, we can have a little fluff.

Media, Woe

Over on RaceWire, Jonathan Adams posted the casting call for Beyonce’s new AMEX commercial. It’s worth reproducing here in full:

Seeking, Principles:

[BEYONCE'S ASSISTANT ]
Female / Caucasian / 30-34
Real people types. Non commercial. She is smart, sharp
and efficient. Rate: Sag Scale

[ HAIR STYLIST ]
Male / Caucasian / 28-33 Stylish. Real people types. Rate: Sag Scale

[ MAKE-UP ARTIST ]
Female / Asian / 25-33 Hip. Real people types. Artsy. Rate: Sag Scale

[ MUSIC ENGINEER ]
Male / African Am, Caucasian / 30-33 Real people types. Non commercial types. Rate: Sag Scale

[ MUSIC PRODUCER #2 ]
Male / African Am / 35-38 /A little bit older than Producer #1. Real people types. Should look natural working on a track board. Rate: Sag Scale

[ MUSIC PRODUCER #1 ]
Male / African Am / 27-33 /Real people types. Believable. Should look natural working on a track board. Rate: Sag Scale

[ PHOTOGRAPHERS ASSISTANT #2 ]
Female / Caucasian / 20-25 /SHE is an Italian hip and stylish Rate: Sag Scale

[ PHOTOGRAPHERS ASSISTANT #1 ]
Male / Caucasian / 30-33 /HE is an Italian hip and stylish. Note: Photographer #1 a bit older. Rate: Sag Scale

[ ITALIAN PHOTOGRAPHER ]
Male / Caucasian / 40-45 /HE is Hip and edgy. MUST know how to handle a camera. 40-45. Rate: Sag Scale

[ JAPANESE PARENTS ]
Male or Female / Asian / 35-40 /Real Japanese type parents for record store scene. Rate: Sag Scale

[ JAPANESE FANS ]
Male or Female / Asian / 15-22 /Real Japanese kids. Cool looking. Record store scene. Rate: Sag Scale

[ (6) AUSTRIAN REPORTERS ]
Male or Female / Caucasian / 25-45 /Interesting faces. Real people not commercial. No models. AUSTRALIAN TYPES. Rate: Sag Scale

[ (6) GERMAN REPORTERS ]
Male or Female / Caucasian / 25-45 /Interesting faces. Real people not commercial looking. No Models. GERMAN TYPES. Rate: Sag Scale

Several people have noted that the only black folks allowed in are music producers. Adams comments: “I never really thought of photographers or reporters or music lovers as specific races or ethnicities but this commercial seemingly attempts to define these for me.”

Yes, yes it kinda does.

When attempting to discuss the ways in which television and/or advertising decision makers either keep people of color out of view or assign them to stereotypical roles, many try to argue that it’s not the show/commercial’s fault, maybe there just aren’t enough actors of color around! A cattle call is just that–anyone can show up. While that seems like it should be how things are, Should and Is do not always match up.

If we consumers had never seen this casting call and just watched the commercial, how would we have assumed each of the roles were chosen? Would we think that they just chose the best person who gave an audition for hair stylist or a makeup artist, regardless of race or gender? Possibly. It’s not always apparent that casting directors are often given such specific mandates. Those mandates go out to agents or casting papers or wherever as we see them here. If a black man wanted to audition for hair stylist he, well, couldn’t.

It’s nice to see that they are looking for a lot of different ethnicities for this commercial(s). It probably has to do with Beyonce’s crossover appeal (words that translate into ‘She’s a safe black/beige person’). But Adams asks the million dollar question: “There has to be room for race in Hollywood casting, but how should it be executed? This casting call limits people of color to stereotypical roles, but there are many more casting calls that do not even call for people of color.”

Yeah.

Stuff like this shows, yet again, that the problem is a top-down one. It’s not that there aren’t enough actors of color around and it’s not that they can’t be bothered to show up for casting calls. It’s that they aren’t being asked to show up. They aren’t being asked to show up because parts that aren’t written for a specific race often default to white. Non-specific parts default to white because the director and producers and executives aren’t actively involved in making sure that attitude isn’t prevalent. Which executives/producers/directors are involved in such attitude-changing practices? I’ll leave that for you to figure out.

9/11 Didn’t Change A Thing

This is the same post I wrote for 9/11 last year. This year I find I have not much more to say, so I’m reposting it.

There’s a 9/11 story that I heard once and never forgot. It’s anecdotal and may even be completely made up. I’m not sure. I can’t even remember the context in which I heard this story (I vaguely recall it being on television, but that might not be right) so I have no way of verifying it. While it may not be a true story, it reveals some truths about our society that people may find uncomfortable to address.

Here’s the story as I remember it:

On the early afternoon of 9/11 a white man happened to be going through Harlem (possibly trying to get home). I can’t recall if he was in a cab or walking on foot, but I suppose the latter makes more sense. Everywhere else in the city people were terrified and shocked, but in Harlem the black people were laughing, or at least unconcerned. The man asked a passing youth why the light attitude on the street. The young man said something like, “Now white people know what it’s like to be us. They are losing their minds.”

I have a couple of reasons for doubting that this story is true. First, it seems too much like the stories of “Arabs” celebrating American deaths in the streets in the Middle East. CNN even had video! Yet it was a huge lie. Second, though I feel the sentiment the young black man supposedly expressed is a legitimate one, I highly doubt everyone in Harlem was having that reaction at that time.

On the morning of 9/11 I was in my apartment in a neighbourhood of Manhattan called Inwood. It is the very last neighbourhood on the island. There was my street, two other streets, then water. I was as far away from the WTC as I could be while still being in Manhattan, yet I was scared out of my mind. I wasn’t thinking about race or politics or oppression, I was just thinking: “What if they’re not going to stop with downtown and skyscrapers? What if I have to get out of here? I don’t even have a car!”

While living in a neighbourhood that has no big companies, major financial institutions, or historical importance can be comforting, when something like that is happening less than 13 miles away, you wonder if you are safe. I felt that I was possibly in real physical danger that day, and there wasn’t much I could do about it except stay at home.

This is why I really doubt the reaction of people in Harlem. Yes, black folks are used to terrorism, but that doesn’t mean we’re immune to it. When a city shuts down because crazy people are flying planes at its buildings, that is not some shit to be laughing at.

That fictional young black man was right about one thing. For a little while, white people knew what it felt like to be us. Every black person doesn’t exist in a constant state of terror, but many of us do. Black people are the victims of race-based terrorism every day in the majority of America’s urban cities. Our society has so marginalized black people that many of us live in bad neighbourhoods where you might die from a stray bullet while walking to the grocery or chilling on your couch. Someone pumps loads of drugs into these neighbourhoods, someone underfunds the schools that serve these neighbourhoods, someone trains cops to treat black people like dangerous criminals based on nothing but skin color. Whoever these Someones are, they qualify as terrorists in my book.

Do you remember a couple of years ago when Will Smith was interviewed by a German newspaper and asked if 9/11 changed anything for him personally? Here was his answer:

No. Absolutely not. When you grow up black in America you have a completely different view of the world than white Americans. We blacks live with a constant feeling of unease. And whether you are wounded in an attack by a racist cop or in a terrorist attack, I’m sorry, it makes no difference.

The wingnuts nearly lost their minds over that one. I seem to remember people calling for boycotts of I, Robot (which Smith was promoting at the time) and saying the poor boy should be kicked out of the country.

The ‘innocent befuddlement’ displayed by certain white folks would be amusing if it weren’t so tragically sad.

It is interesting to note that, on a certain level, Smith is comparing American police officers, those charged with protecting society, with Islamic terrorists intent on destroying America and everything it stands for. Smith implies that racism is so rampant among America’s police that it is a threat equal in magnitude to black America as that of international terrorism. Instead of seeing 9/11 as a traumatic watershed event that contributed to uniting black and white America and healing racial tensions, Smith seems to believe that the terrorist attacks have had little impact on what he sees as the poor state of race relations in the USA.

Yes, Mr. Ray D., that’s exactly what he’s saying. And, he’s right. 9/11 hasn’t united white and black America in any meaningful way. But then, we can’t all live in a fantasy world where race relations only ‘seem’ to be in a poor state according to delusional actors out to make a buck in Europe.

This is just another way people have used the events of 9/11 to bolster their own crazy notions of how the world is. Not only is 9/11 proof that Islam is a religion of hate, but 9/11 brought all the white and black people together in harmony!

I’m sorry to say this, but No. Yes, people of all races died on that day, people of all races were scared as those events unfolded, people of all races worked to save lives, to clean the site, to help people find out what happened to their loved ones. But one event, even one such as 9/11, cannot erase the racial problems we have in this country. By saying that 9/11 somehow erased the black-white problem in America, people reveal themselves to be ignorant, blind, and dangerous.

Words often used to describe terrorists.

Yeah, I went there. That’s how angry I am.


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