In this image released by HBO, host Bill Maher, left, appears with actor-rapper Ice Cube during a broadcast of "Real Time with Bill Maher," on Friday, June 9, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Janet Van Ham/HBO via AP) ORG XMIT: NYET663

After “niggergate” last week, Bill Maher did little on his show this past Friday to convince me that he learned anything. I saw Maher, a political commentator, try to hide under the shield of comedy and throw himself on the altar of, “I made one mistake.” Maher never wrestled with the simple truth that white supremacy and indifference to black suffering are the American norm and that is what brought about this whole thing.

It matters. The world is not a dangerous place for black people because the Klan patrols the streets of our cities. The world is dangerous because although black suffering exists, from the White House to the trailer parks of America, there are too few human responses of compassion. Policymakers have shown the ability to respond to white opioid users in their suffering and they should. Yet black people suffering with addiction are met with law and order. Indifference is dangerous.

I never see (non-Jewish) comedians dare try or get away with Holocaust jokes. I haven’t seen anyone bold enough to joke about 9/11. Yet slavery, somehow, is a subject for white liberals to joke about. How, Sway? It is understood that the suffering of 9/11 and the Holocaust are no laughing matters but Maher was quite comfortable invoking references of house slaves in his attempt at humor last week. The use of the n-word was an obvious offense but the reference to slavery in the most casual and irreverent manner is, on its own, deeply offensive. How is it that the death of millions during the Middle Passage, the raping of women and children, the decimation of families and untold horror over centuries are laughing matters? Only when those who suffer are black.

As I watched this week’s show, it was clear that Maher doesn’t think he, like most Americans, suffers from some deeper condition. Maher continued to insist on this week’s show that he made one mistake, one bad joke and that not rooted in any racist sentiment. I’m sure most members of Congress and state legislatures honestly believe they hold no racial animus either but their indifference to black suffering still yields policies that often have a disparate, if not targeted impact on black communities. From the War on Drugs to the disparities in funding HBCUs receive, many lawmakers who think themselves well intentioned do actual harm to black people. Maher seems unable to connect his actions to this larger machinery of white supremacy and that is unfortunate. That Maher is a liberal, one of the “good guys,” is frightening.

Symone Sanders and Michael Eric Dyson made the point on this week’s Real Time show that slaves in the house were also subject to terror. Still, the message that slavery along with the n-word are off limits was not pressed. Further, Dyson challenged his friend (Maher) to see how his actions as a “good guy” speak to the danger in the world that exists but did not press the matter, choosing rather to highlight some mythical record Maher has fighting for black liberation. Perhaps Dyson did not want to eternally wound a friend or perhaps he sensed Maher’s unwillingness to do more than navigate the bad PR from last week. Who knows? I only know Maher seemed agitated when his guests tried to delve into the matter, repeatedly throwing up his wonderful liberal credentials.

Maher blew it. It is clear he simply wanted the matter to be over, the storm to pass. Maher probably believes in his heart that he is truly one of the good guys and that any energy spent correcting his “one mistake” or other white liberals is better spent on the really bad people in the world. Then again, if my roommate showed signs that he was capable of harming me, I’d probably pay more attention to him than the “n-word” down the block.

 

In this photo provided by HBO, Bill Maher hosts the season premiere of "Real Time with Bill Maher" Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/HBO, Janet Van Ham)

Over the weekend Bill Maher got into some trouble for saying the “N-word” on his weekly HBO show. I’ve written on the n-word rules before and I see no need to rehash them here. Point blank: white folks must get over their innate desire to own everything, including the black experience. It’s that simple. If white folks can understand why straight men can’t use the word “faggot” and why non-Jewish people can’t joke about the Holocaust, certainly they can understand why, under no circumstances, they can’t say nigger, nigga, my nig, my nigga, my niggas, nigs, nigguh, niggah, niggaz, nigz or any other derivative of the word. This is not hard and I will not have my intelligence insulted by pretending to give the subject much thought. The end.

freedom logo

How many paper towels did you use this month? How many of those paper towels created jobs for black people? If we want different results, we have to take different actions. Once again, Freedom Paper Company is a black owned firm that produces paper products, including paper towels. If you care about ending black unemployment, it’s time to do your part and make the switch.

We can end black unemployment, as I’ve discussed previously. The key is simply identifying one product or service each month that you already use and finding a black owned company to fill that need permanently. I don’t know anyone who doespaper towels not use paper towels. You spill some water: paper towel. You drop an egg on the floor: paper towel. You want to wipe off the countertop: paper towel. You get the point. We already buy paper towels and we will continue to. Why not switch to a great product that gets us closer to our goals as a people?

Would you like to stretch your dollar? Buy the Freedom Super Jumbo Roll. One case should last an entire year. While most competitors sell 78 sheets per roll, the Super Jumbo Roll has 210. You could pay .022 center per sheet but with Freedom Paper, your cost is .013 cents per sheet. Click here to make a purchase now. Freedom is the company name and the promise.

 

 

lavar ball

The modern-day Uncle Tom doesn’t necessarily vote conservative. Tommy in 2017 has reinvented himself as a Lavar Ball hater. Rather than take massa’s crumbs in the form of a shoe endorsement deal, the Ball family opted for true ownership and decided to build their own shoe brand, the Big Baller Brand (Triple B). Rather than say “hell yeah!” the fraternity of Phi-Tom-Phi is determined to tear down Triple B. I suppose it’s more comfortable to stay in the house than do the work to liberate yourself. While I do not expect many Uncle Toms to join our pursuit of black power, I do ask that they keep quiet as we leave the plantation.

Lavar Ball is trying to teach us a lesson. You may not love his delivery but I urge you to stop fighting the messenger and listen to the actual message. What has always been isn’t necessarily better than what could be. Athletes have, for generations, fought to capitalize more on the economic value which they create. LeBron James is better compensated than Magic Johnson was during his playing days for that reason. Still, star athletes have yet to fully capitalize on the value of their brands, allowing Nike and others to reap the benefits and that is the point: why shouldn’t they reap more from their value? More importantly, in a league that is majority-black, why do NBA players consistently benefit less from their brands than their branders? We as consumers are part of the problem.

Branding is everything. A product or service sells, in large part, due to the strength of its brand. Is Tide empirically better than True detergent? No but you trust the brand, having never done an actual scientific experiment to validate its claims. One product will actually make a huge impact on black unemployment and the other clearly does not, that much we know. Still, far too many black people are comfortable on the Tide plantation, consequences be damned. The brand only maintains its strength because we decide to give our strength to uphold it. In the same way, if we decide to pay $200 for a pair of shoes it’s worth $200. There is no law of nature behind it, simply our consent. In a world where black people live in a constant state of rage, it is beyond comprehension that we continue to give our consent to everything that maintains the status quo. That is what Lavar Ball is challenging.

Are you an “Uncle Tom” because you choose not to buy Triple B products? Not at all. There are any number of reasons as to why someone would or would not buy the millions of products offered to them. What determines your level of internal Tom is the approach taken as a consumer. Do you approach Triple B looking for a reason to support or seeking reasons not to? That is the critical question. This discussion is much larger than Lavar Ball. Whether the topic is banking black or buying laundry detergent from a black owned company, your approach is everything. The modern-day Uncle Tom will always seek reasons not to empower their own community and by doing so, continues to support their oppression. Ask yourself, how much Tom is in you?

 

**No one can oppress you unless you give them the money to do so**

gtown

If Michael Jordan scored ten points in a game during his prime, we’d be disappointed. If his teammate Dennis Rodman scored ten, we’d be impressed. The difference is expectations. We expected so little of Rodman, as we do white people on issues of race. Georgetown University is now an anomaly and trailblazer in academia, after the school recently apologized for its role in slavery. The University renamed two buildings after slaves and will now give preference in admissions to descendants of the 272 slaves the school sold in 1838 to settle its debts. It pains me to criticize the university in any way –sincerely– because their actions are lightyears ahead of other institutions. But that just shows how little white folks have to do in order to impress us.

Georgetown University owes its existence to plantations the Jesuits operated –in the name of Jesus, I’m sure– to finance operations and the 272 slaves sold in 1838 to settle the school’s debts at that time. There is no way to erase these offenses. The hope is for some meaningful form of repair toward the untold damage done and that is not what Georgetown has offered. Renaming buildings does not repair the damage done. Giving preference in admissions is cute but the children and grandchildren of Georgetown alumni already receive that perk. Indeed, to receive in 2017 what those who (largely) benefitted from the system of slavery have received for generations is not a radical effort at repair. Still, the most important lesson in this ordeal has largely been overlooked.

Georgetown fails to understand that slavery was a system, not an individual circumstance. That system impacted all black people and their descendants, not just the 272 sold in 1838. Georgetown could only benefit from the sale of those 272 slaves because it participated in a system that made all black people subject to a similar fate. To solely acknowledge the harm done to the descendants of those 272 slaves is tantamount to planting an atomic bomb in one home and refusing to acknowledge the damage done to the entire city which that bomb decimated. It is to deny benefiting from the other slaves that worked the Jesuit plantations that financed the school and the system of slavery as a whole. The life outcomes of the 273rd slave cannot be divorced from the 272 acknowledged by the University.

Even the best known attempts at reparations in the American context are laughable, at best. This is merely the latest chapter in a larger story. But Georgetown is at least pursuing some substantive efforts toward atonement and that makes the institution rare. I want to praise them and perhaps should, but I am conflicted. If I criticize the University, well-meaning whites will undoubtedly be frustrated. They will think, understandably, that any attempt at repair –rare as it may be– is not rewarded but scorned. So why bother? If I praise the University, however, I signal that such paltry efforts at repair satisfy the requirements of true justice. That is one hell of a quandary to live in and yet one more burden black people are asked to carry.

Ultimately we must come to accept, as a nation, that the legacy of slavery is far more dramatic than we have acknowledged. Many have just now begun to understand that academia is yet another staple of American greatness that owes its existence also to slavery. We fail to grasp how deeply our banking, manufacturing and various other sectors are rooted in slavery. More troubling, we fail to discern how damaging its impact was for people of color, even to the present day. Our view is further distorted when we consider the tremendous progress black people have made in this country. It is because we fail to discern the true depth of it all that we struggle to approach repair in a meaningful way. For the sake of survival, black people cannot wait for others to understand. Black power requires committed action, even when others refuse to render justice.

freedom paper

You can literally create a job for someone by wiping your ass. No, seriously. Based in Maryland, the Freedom Paper Company is a black owned firm that produces paper products, including “bathroom tissue.” The founder of the company is serious about creating great products and more importantly, creating a black presence in industrial production. I have met with him personally and heard his passion for business and communal uplift. That is why I dropped my old tissue brand. Now with every wipe, I am doing my part to end black unemployment.

We can end black unemployment, as I’ve discussed previously. The key is simply identifying one product or service each month that you already use and finding a black owned company to fill that need permanently. This month consider switching your freedom paperbathroom tissue brand. Not only is Freedom Paper offering a product that has an amazing impact socially, it is also a game-changer environmentally. Their bathroom tissue is made from 100% recycled paper — 100%. As someone who cares deeply about the environment and what condition we leave this planet in for future generations, this distinction is invaluable. I can think of very few other purchases which will move us toward ending black unemployment by promoting sustainability. I have no intentions of going back.

The time for a switch is now. We can promote hiring in our community and also promote environmental sustainability. What else is there to think about? You can go to the corner store to pick up a roll or two but to stretch your dollar further, it pays to buy in bulk. Click here to purchase your Freedom Paper bathroom tissue for the next couple of months for $20.00. Unless you actually eat toilet paper, the twenty-four rolls (500 sheets each) should last you as an individual a couple of months, at least. This one is pretty straightforward, there’s not much to think about. Make the switch and do your part to end black unemployment. Make the switch and help preserve our environment. Freedom Paper is more than a brand, it’s a promise.

affirmative-action-color-blind

At times it is difficult to discern just how much racism influences behavior but this is not one of them. It is completely obvious in this moment that some white folks just hate black people. Author Jeff Thomas released documents this past week from the University of Virginia showing the university’s fundraising office tracked applicants connected to large donors and advocated on their behalf to the admissions office. The practice is not new; it is a well known that from the Ivy League down money talks, with respect to admissions. But it is only when black students are granted admission to universities that white people file lawsuits and produce Supreme Court cases, even as less qualified white students routinely receive unmerited access. The people who file such lawsuits are not angry that someone may have taken their seat in class, it’s simply a hatred for black people that moves them.

Dr. King once said, “I am sorry to have to say that the vast majority of white Americans are racists, either consciously or unconsciously.” When Abigail Fisher was denied admission to the University of Texas Law School, she fought her case all the way to the Supreme Court. Fisher genuinely believed she was wronged because five black or Latino students with lower grades and scores were admitted to the school, although forty-two such white students were also admitted. For some reason, Abigail managed to only see those five. I wonder why. Whether conscious or unconscious, racism was the motivation. Abigail and her supporters only noticed the five students of color when, mathematically, the forty-two other students represented a greater hindrance to her admission and thus should have been the logical target of her anger. But racism does not allow for that. Conscious or unconscious, she was bothered by the darkness of the other students, not their grades.

If you are an applicant connected to a Harvard alum or donor, you are about five time more likely to gain admission to the University. The same is true at Princeton. Given the prestige and opportunities those elite schools confer, it is a wonder that there isn’t the same type of outrage from students who are denied admission due to the obvious unfairness of the process. The difference is simply color. If all of the “legacy” students who gained admission happened to be black, it is certain that the public outcry would be deafening. The same is true with these most recent revelations from UVA. While a few cries of unfairness are being raised, this will not become a “big deal” or end up in court, most likely. Although this is the norm around the country and generally known, the nation has accepted it. As long as the beneficiaries aren’t negroes, it’s all good.

When people scream and holler “unfair” because race is a consideration in admissions, they are in fact revealing their racist souls. They are not motivated by fairness. If they were, what is happening at UVA and essentially every other competitive university in this country would push them into the streets and the courts. But none of it ignites them, only color does. This is but one more example of how much we truly hate black people in this country.

LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 19:  Actor Bill Maher and Donald Trump attend the 56th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium September 19, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Donald Trump is anti-Muslim but more disturbing is the degree to which white liberals share his ideology. Rooted in white supremacy, it lives on the political left, trumpeted by thought leaders like Bill Maher. It views brown terrorists as especially scary and worthy of scrutiny but is incapable of treating whites in the same way. It cannot see that my (black) people still live in fear of white Christians, not ISIS. It extends white privilege to slavers and the Klan, insisting they were exceptional and not representative of Christianity yet regards every Muslim attacker as a perfect ambassador of Islam. It dismisses Timothy McVeigh and the IRA as ancient history while 9/11 dictates our national course daily. It fails to fully appreciate that although the Klan is not lynching black people today, Dylan Roof, police and James Harris Jackson are. White supremacy blocks conservatives and liberals from seeing the issue of terror clearly and we cannot afford blurred vision in this moment.

On this past week’s episode of Real Time, former UK Parliament member Louise Mensch highlighted that Khalid Masoon, the London attacker, was born in Britain and the tragedy should not be exploited to fan anti-Muslim flames. Maher, predictably, insisted that Islam itself was the issue. When Maher’s guests pointed out that we do not attribute terror to Christians in the same way, Maher cited false equivalency. When Maher asked whether there were in fact Christian terror groups today and his guests furnished modern examples, Maher excused them as being in the past. The only terrorists of interest to Maher are the brown ones. Unwittingly, Maher provides intellectual cover to overt racists, those in the Trump camp. As a liberal, Maher’s fixation on Islamic terrorists and broad condemnation of Islam as a religion only serves to empower bigotry, not halt terror.

As a black man I have great difficulty following the logic of Maher and the bigots he empowers because history lives for the oppressed. When there is an unwillingness to treat white extremists with the same urgency as brown ones, there is pause. When there is a dismissiveness of crimes in the past, as though they are not still present in our memory, trust is broken. As a nation we never dealt with the issue of white terrorism in the past, especially when Christianity was a motivating force. In the present we are told it is inappropriate to discuss white terrorists groups like FEAR because they somehow do not represent the same kind of threat as Islamists do. It would seem as though the time is never right to discuss white terror and for those who have suffered at the hands of white terrorists, we are unable to engage in a genuine discussion on the topic until these scores are settled.

To be sure, Dylan Roof and James Harris Jackson do not belong to groups seeking nuclear weapons. Still, white terrorists have demonstrated the ability to kill en masse and yet the hysteria is just not there. Timothy McVeigh and the IRA did not explicitly attack in the name of God. Yet it is undeniable that the Klan and the many extremists who have attacked abortion clinics have drawn from holy texts but Christianity manages to escape broad condemnation as a violent faith that produces such terror. It should also be noted that extremists often have a cultural association with Islam, much in the same way Timothy McVeigh was raised Catholic but not particularly devout. While we tend not to stress the link to Christianity in such cases, Muslims are not extended the same privilege.

I have been a huge fan of Maher since childhood. It was my greatest joy as a teenager to stay up and watch Politically Incorrect and Real Time is still my weekly obsession! My aim is not to takedown Maher so much as to point out the flaw in our national reasoning, which white supremacy enables. Terror is a serious issue and as such, our lenses must not be flawed when we view it.

moonlight-19405x

It was not strange to work under white people ten years my senior when I was 18. Around 30, however, I was enraged that I routinely interviewed to work under people who were slightly younger –or the same age– and less credentialed. The moment you realize your graduate degree is no match for your boss’s B.A. in music, you begin to question how “post-racial” we are. Joi McMillon, a black woman, knew very well the rage that stems from seeing whites with less qualifications advance while she did not. She was told she lacked the right experience while her less qualified white peers were advancing. But Joi will not experience that rage again. She is a film editor who made history with her Oscars nomination for her work on Moonlight; a film based on the writing of two black men, directed by a black man with a black cast. The self determination of black people ended Joi’s frustration, not the benevolence of whites.

In a world where discrimination and disparities abound, it is critical that black people create our own opportunities and support those endeavors as a community. Joi was nominated for an academy award precisely because of such an endeavor. Sean Combs became a music mogul only because Uptown Records, a company founded by a black man, gave the young college dropout the opportunity to become a talent director. It is doubtful that Combs would have been given the same opportunity at another major label. In the same way, Moonlight is a work of black self determination which afforded McMillon the opportunity to finally move up from “first assistant editor” into the editor’s role. The quality of her work is obvious, for even the Academy had to give her a nod. McMillon never lacked talent but simply opportunity, in a white male-dominated film industry. Rather than waiting for acknowledgment from benevolent white people, the creators of Moonlight created an opportunity for Joi.

Moonlight’s excellence led to their infamously delayed Oscars award. That mixup was far less controversial than Jada Pinkett-Smith igniting the #OscarsSoWhite firestorm. While several have opined that Pinkett-Smith’s motives may not have been pure (oddly, Denzel failed to take home an Oscar this year and Jada raised no fuss), we should not discount what Jada actually said when she told the world, “Maybe it is time…we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways we see fit.” Also, “Begging for acknowledgement or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power.” Moonlight fulfills much of Jada’s sentiments. We should appreciate that the Academy (after some delay) awarded Moonlight best picture but only celebrating that misses the larger significance of the film. Moonlight gives us yet another model of what we should all be striving toward in every industry. In a world in which even black people with a college degree are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than our non-black peers, we need strong black institutions and creative ventures, brought about by our own self-determination.

There is only one thing that could have made Moonlight even more triumphant and that is if the movie was also financed by our community. By no fault of their own, the creators of the film had to seek financing from outside of our community and thankfully, they found it through A24, an Indie distributor. Still, we must continue striving to attain that next level of independence and power and that is to self finance our own ventures. As we support our own, that will happen. Joi had her day but now let us continue investing in our community to create opportunity for millions more. HopewellThought will continue our campaign each month to help get you started.

**No One Can Oppress You Unless You Give Them The Money To Do So**

georgewashington

Fuck George Washington and America for asking me to celebrate his birth. I do not apologize for my language nor the attack on my own country, for it attacked me first. Annually I am asked to pretend Washington is worthy of honor and each year I am insulted that the country has the testicular fortitude to make such an outlandish request. Am I to pretend Washington is not a phony, fake patriot and fraud? Should I simply act as if the man did not subject people to the terror of slavery? Am I supposed to ignore the fact that he not only pursued escaped slaves until his death but that he also used the power of government to fortify slavery? I will celebrate him when America asks the Jewish people to celebrate the good things the Nazi Party did.

Washington was no patriot. He was an opportunistic phony who withdrew his loyalty from England after the Crown began interfering with his money. Washington and other elites like Jefferson, Franklin and Patrick Henry, were heavily invested in lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. They were land speculators, essentially. After France withdrew from North America in 1763 the “Founding Fathers” hoped to cash in by selling or leasing western lands. Instead, the Crown decided that year to issue a Proclamation, effectively halting westward expansion into “Indian” territories. All land deals would now have to go through London– cutting land speculators out of the process — and from that point forward Washington and his friends decided they did not love the Crown so much. Washington then opposed the Stamp Act in 1765, the Townshend Acts of 1767 and in 1769, went as far as to help spearhead a boycott of British goods. He was mad. The fake patriot opposed the Crown at every turn, not for love of liberty but money.

Washington was an immoral man and despicable human being. While convenient to ignore, he terrorized people and held them captive from the time he inherited his first slaves at the age of 11 until his death. Washington used the brutal practices of owning people, separating families and subjecting them to all manner of terror to maintain his wealth. Washington was committed to his moral bankruptcy. After moving to Philadelphia– free territory at the time– he made sure to rotate his slaves back to Virginia regularly. This was done specifically to circumvent a state law stipulating that any slave living in the state more than six months would automatically be free. Washington also made sure to sign the nation’s first fugitive slave law, guaranteeing that any enslaved person who dared escape would have the weight of the United States government against them. Further, when a 22-year-old slave by the name of Ona Judge escaped from Washington’s home in Philadelphia, the first President of the United States relentlessly pursued her until his death. The man was committed.

There is no honor in Washington, nor any deed that would cause me to ignore his true character (or lack thereof.) While I find him loathsome, I am more troubled that my country would ask me to celebrate him. I descend from slaves and the nation asks me to overlook the terror he subjected my people to and celebrate him? Can anyone honestly fathom asking Jewish people to celebrate the social welfare programs that the Nazi Party administered or the Party’s role in helping Germany bounce back from economic depression? Would anyone take seriously the notion that we should celebrate the great and handsome actor that John Wilkes Booth was and simply overlook that he assassinated President Lincoln? If you answer no to both questions yet consider Washington’s birthday a legitimate celebration, you are saying that his deeds were not so bad. If you concede his deeds were bad but still wish to celebrate you are all the more dangerous: you know but just don’t care.

 

 

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