Monthly Archives: April 2011

Niggas.

I’m not big on censorship.  I use the word instead of “the N word” because linguistic cowardice gets no play here.  So, get your grown panties on and come on in.  

A few weeks ago, I was listening to the Russ Parr Morning Show during a discussion about gentrification.  As always, the topic got reduced to a black and white issue — the former being “the problem,” and white being “what’s right.”  You see, gentrification is defined broadly as a socio-cultural, and economic reconfiguration of sorts.   In DC, it means the streets that were once off limits to the casual pedestrian due to the high likelihood that one might get fucked up in some meaningful way are now inhabited by suburban imports who’s culture is supposed to be markedly different from that which preceded it.  At its most basic level, gentrification in DC is characterized by an increasingly vanilla “chocolate city.”

To that end, the blackness displaced as a result of the influx of white people with superior economic prospects is often too closely associated with “the element”, or the niggas — that woulda got you fucked up in the first place.  Thus, to many, gentrification reads positively as an absorption of yuppie mobility — yoga and condos, dog-walking parks and shit, and exile of niggas and nigga happenings.

Pump your brakes though, kids.  For Lesson1 :  nigga-ness is NOT synonymous with Blackness, or Black people, or Black interests.  And for Lesson 2, lest I leave you confused:  Yes.  Black people use the term indiscriminately in referring to themselves and others.  This is probably because, at the end of every day, “nigga” is merely a word — a word which, like many others, can have multiple meanings.   Cats can safely refer to a nigga as both friend and foe.  Do use context clues to figure out where you stand.  However, if guns and scowls and “mutha fuckas” are used in conjunction with the term, you might betta run, my nigga.

See what I did there?

***

On Russ’s show that day, one of his callers opined that “Black people don’t even like living next to Black people.”  That woman meant well; she was so proud of her lil comment.  But she was wrong in a couple different ways.  Most notably in asserting that even Black people don’t like living among their kind.  Without knowing it, Ms. Ma’am had indirectly indicted other folks f0r not wanting to live next to “us” either.  I suspect what she meant though, was that nobody likes living next to niggas — obviously, in this case, we (she and I) are considering the unsavory nigga.  The nigga that’s definitely not your friend.  Black, blind, rich or poor.  Nobody likes intermingling with cats long bereft of good sense.

And these folks can and are anybody.  They are everybody.  The nigga exists in multiracial neighborhoods, in every income bracket, and in every region of every state.  And although nigganess shows up in different concentrations in different people, the nigga usually is responsible for the shit your elitist ass considers improper, crass, and classless.  They leave their trash in the trash room as opposed to throwing  it down the trash chute.  They smoke cigarettes in elevators, they fit like 12 people into Corollas and drive recklessly as fuck both to and fro.  Their obnoxious vehicle appendage of choice may be a subwoofer, knockin ‘Big Meech’ down your boulevard, or a Flowmaster muffler attached to a Jeep Wrangler, attached to 50 inch wheels, adorned with the muddiest mud flaps money can buy.  Casting done-with Marlborough Lights and Bud Lite cans on dirt roads and shit.

Yes, the nigga most certainly lives among us.  You may move where streets are scenic and tree-lined instead of trash-strewn, but soon enough they’ll find you.  They are a resourceful bunch.  Niggas lurk about, looking for shit to get into, to fuck up.  They have accepted that shit don’t mean shit outside of their purview.  The nigga will fight you because you looked at her when she wasn’t expecting you to.  Additionally, the nigga is usually proud of his ridiculous exploits.  He will steal the rims off your ride with you in it. Trust that the nigga doesn’t give much of a fuck about much.  He will rob you for six bucks and some tic-tacs that fell out of the container, got warm in your pocket, and got lint all on ’em.    They are also a trifling bunch.  Be careful around niggas.

And be careful in assigning blanket identities to the nigga because no place is immune.  He is everywhere, Wall Street too.  The nigga on the “rough” side of the tracks may jack you for your Jordans, but the niggas that run Goldman Sachs, the niggas like Bernie Madoff and them, will jack you for your future — without so much as a stocking cap and a water pistol.

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fourtwenty


the inclination had such noble intention.  according to The Source (not the magazine, a la Matrix — The Source is the contemporary home of all useful and trivial information alike.  it may be more familiar to you as Wikipedia), some bammas in san rafael, california used to meet up daily at 4:20 p.m. around a statue on their school’s campus to — get this — “search for an abandoned cannibus plant they had learned about.”

if that aint some high shit to set out to do.

after time, it dawned on these cats that they probably wouldn’t find said abandoned cannibus plant.  so 4:20 simply became the official time of the afternoon-day cypher.

this is precisely the problem with marijuana.  cats get distracted; they lose focus.  marijuana is most definitely the gateway drug to various disjointed musings and activities.  it turns strangers into homies, and makes gibberish seem genius.  we musn’t get ourselves caught up in this revelry, as the smoker’s agenda is a stifling one.  it is as hazy as the atmosphere in their basements, where they stuff towels under their doors, discriminating against god’s good, clean, and pure air.

their mission, however, is quite clear.  they want dispensaries next to every starbucks on every block.  they want to “hotbox” in public, and experience heightened senses of awareness for mundane things.  they intend to fuel the obesity pandemic, with their muchie cravings, their fucking sweet and salty.  they just gotta have sweet and salty.  what about those who want salt and vinegar chips just because, huh?  might’nt they like to chase their chips with ben & jerry’s americone dream, too?  if the smoker’s agenda is met with any shred of legitimacy, rest assured there’ll be nothing sweet or salty left for regular folks to enjoy.

you know, i hear them all the time.  extolling the virtues of ganja, talkinbout how much it relieves their anxiety and shit.  how it “takes the edge off” their edgy days.   they say it keeps them from tellin a bitch to “go somewhere else with that office small talk” on a monday morning.  and, when you attempt to appeal to their senses of health and longevity, they say: “i mean, you ever met a cat who od’d on weed?”  and when you say, “yeah but i still don’t want nobody smashed up on my couch, eating all my doritos and shit,” they’ve already moved on.  they have wished four hundred and twenty times that you would stick the j in your mouth and shut the fuck up.  sober criticism blows highs, they say.  and you and I both know the smoker’s agenda aint got no love for furniture and dorito decorum…

i say to you, friends, on this April 20th of this year, resist the urge to strengthen the Smoker’s Agenda.  tell your stoner friends y’all can’t kick it no more, you have more important things to do.  you’ve decided to be a grown-up, and deal with your life like grown people do.  with a potent cocktail of bitterness, a bit of fear, a pinch of righteous indignation, a cup of blackberry merlot, and a few muscle relaxers left over from that “injury” you sustained that time doing that thing.  Yes, yes, point the finger at them and tell them you will not enable their habit a moment longer.  you will not go on “runs” with them to “score” a “nickel sack of dope”.  you will not stock your fridge anymore with sweet and salty, and sometimes savory goodies.  tell them:  you may puff, and you may puff, but you will not pass it to me!

and then you should be like, “…sike nah.  where the lighter at, g?”


Cheap and Fast, but Good?

Known also by traditional codes like “the market,” or “the free market”, capitalism at its core truly is not the demon it has created over the last several decades.  Capitalism in 2011 isn’t an anonymously controlled market, which booms and busts and self-corrects the way classical liberals envisioned it.  It isn’t characterized by laissez-faire economic theory, wherein small businesses in small towns compete to see  who can create the best Product X.

That’s because capitalism unregulated gives birth to a far more sinister reality — Corporatism and Corporatocracy.

What’s that?  It’s why the biggest banks and insurance companies were indeed “too big to fail” during the early months of the 2008/2009 recession.  By the logic of the free market, those companies fucked up.  They should have failed.  The prevailing concept of market economics dictates that business booms as long as the quality of the product remains, well, quality.  And who insures that?  Government does, by regulating the ways in which businesses seek profit.  However, the last 30 years or so has evoked a general mistrust of government, and more importantly, a blind worship of profit — by any means necessary.

I don’t begrudge globalization for teaching us that the universe doesn’t revolve around the United States.  But I absolutely fault corporate tycoons for outsourcing American prosperity in search of cheaper labor and higher profit.  I fault corporations like Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer,  for being stocked with roughly 70% of products made in China.  No shots to the Chinese, but quality hasn’t traditionally been their strong-suit, quantity has. Thus, quantity translates as more to sell; more to sell means more money to be made.  And those product recalls for toys and food and cribs and playpens, they don’t matter much.  As long as you can get them for cheap, right?

I fault Agribusiness for turning food into a business, and disassembling almost entirely our personal connection to it — our ability to know with certainty that the fruits and vegetables and meats we consume were harvested in earnest.  They were un-fucked with seeds that grew out of un-fucked with soil.  I want to be able to trust that the fried chicken wings I go weak in the knees for aren’t the size of turkey wings because they’ve been injected with growth hormones, and matured weeks or months faster as a result.   You wonder why your little girl is damn near a D cup at 7?  Check your chicken, mama.  In the quality triangle — fast, cheap, and good — you only get two of the three.  And there are consequences to choosing unwisely.  If you haven’t seen Food, Inc., rectify that immediately.  It should change the way you look at food, and the way you look at business.  Here’s a little to chew on, til you get your Netflix situation together.

Corporatism is unregulated capitalism’s obnoxious ass baby.  The operative phrase here is unregulated capitalism, because the former doesn’t simply appear out of thin air.  Corporatism is a political construct.  It is the end-game of a ideological perspective that has whole-heartedly succumbed to the notion that “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”  That is corporatocracy — business runs government, and so its purpose is to ensure the prosperity of  the profit — by any means necessary.  Or more directly, by ensuring that the officials elected to represent us in Congress, represent their moneyed interests instead.

Last year, the Supreme Court decided in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations could spend unlimited amounts of money to air campaign commercials in support or in opposition of political candidates.  The problem here is that the cash cache of corporations outweighs cash contributions from individuals by leaps and bounds.  Succinctly put, a Congress elected by corporations has no incentive to be accountable to you, the individual.  If an energy company pays a significant sum to elect representatives in the Gulf Coast states, and they happen to be averse to stiff regulations on, say, off-shore drilling, then local and national elected representatives in, say, Louisiana/Mississippi don’t get to posture politically when the Deep Water Horizon explodes in the Gulf, sending millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  And no one, not even the company drilling has any idea how to stop it.  This is what happens when the motive is purely profit, and regulation gets in profit’s way.  The video below is worth watching to the end if you really wanna know what corporatism and corporatocracy looks like outside of ideological debate.

To be sure I am an unabashed capitalist, because I believe in good, better, and best.  I’m not completing a PhD to be on equal footing intellectually or economically with cats whose ambitions failed to launch.  But as a student of history, I recognize that the concept of capitalism went awry when politicians deferred to private industry in the interest of expediency, and then looked away when fast and cheap birthed shitty results.  Pay attention.  Profit isn’t always the bottom line, especially if the bottom 90-something percent of Americans are suffering because of it.