Watch the June 29th Edition of Toure TV on MSNBC’s The Cycle.
Archive for June, 2012
With a heavy heart I read Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Atlantic magazine essay “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” I’ve heard the same laments from my wife, who runs a small fashion trend-forecasting agency and is a great, sensitive, thoughtful mother to our two children, who are 4 and 3. Like Slaughter, my wife was told by the previous generation that it’s possible to have it all — to have a fulfilling career and be present mothers — but as working parents they’ve realized it’s just not so.
I have all the respect in the world for the impossible challenges working moms face. The battle is not the same for men; it is not as tough. We don’t have both the maternal voice and the feminist voice in our heads telling us we should be at home nurturing our kids and also at work building fulfilling careers. But it’s nearly impossible for men to have it all too. Many men want fulfilling family lives. I want that even as I fulfill my familial role by providing. But most of the time I feel like I’m not involved enough in either my career or my kids’ lives. I usually feel as though my life is like a plate of food sitting in front of me, but there’s so much that the plate is overwhelmed, unable to hold it all, so it spills over onto the table.
Watch my throwback “Beyond Beef: Nas and Jay-Z” interview from BET (2006).
Watch me on MSNBC’s The Cycle Monday-Friday at 3pm EDT
Rodney King said the screams he heard in the background of a 911 call in the Trayvon Martin case reminded him of his own screams during the 1991 beating that was central to his life and to modern American history. That’s bizarrely fitting because for so many the two are linked by so much. King died on Sunday — he was found at the bottom of a pool at the home he shared with his fiancée — after years of being a walking symbol and finding it hard to live that way.
King was a symbol of many things. Primarily of police brutality. In 1991 he was savagely beaten by several LAPD officers after speeding and refusing to stop. He was on probation after serving a year in prison and was afraid of going back. He felt the familiar dread that all black men feel when we see the blue lights in our rearview. When King finally stopped and got out, he acted strangely — he blew a kiss to the helicopter above — and resisted arrest, striking an officer. They feared he was on PCP. He was not. He was tasered and hit with more than 60 baton blows and kicks that left him with 11 skull fractures, brain damage, and emotional and physical trauma. King was no angel — he had done time for a robbery with assault and was driving drunk — but the law is not here just to protect angels. A resulting commission would condemn the LAPD for its use of excessive force—something L.A. rappers had been talking about for years—and lead to the resignation of the
In another era not so long ago, the Miami Heat or the Oklahoma City Thunder might have become black America’s team. This is a phenomenon that arose from time to time when several aspects came together, like the sun and moon and earth in an eclipse. It would happen when a team had a significant black presence — such as one or several black players who many blacks respected or found unusually charismatic—and in some way were representative of black style, like Magic Johnson’s Lakers in the 1980s.
The team also had to have a sense of swagger and maybe an air of defiance and a flair to the way they played that somehow translated into an embodiment of blackness, or some sort of racial or political dimension that made the team seem to symbolize something beyond sports. And black America’s teams had to appear dominant — they were squads that were widely expected to win, never plucky underdogs. There’s no official acknowledgement of this honor and it’s not something a team can seek to create; they just grab a special place in the black collective mind.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to change New York’s laws to decriminalize marijuana. New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have rushed to agree. Cuomo’s proposed change is a repudiation of Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk program, which has arrested more than 400,000 people for marijuana crimes— more than were arrested by the three prior Mayors combined — while still not denting marijuana use or availability in New York. It seems that Bloomberg’s previous tactic was doing little besides creating unwilling clients for the prison-industrial complex.
Everyone who has been a teenager knows how prevalent marijuana is throughout America and how easy it is to acquire. If the police did stop-and-frisks of every white boy in almost any city or college, they would yield plenty of arrests for marijuana possession. But black men are targeted and stopped and frisked for the crime of being black in poor black neighborhoods, and those found with small bags of marijuana are sucked into the justice system and forever branded a criminal. This means they will struggle to find work, may not qualify for student-aid and likely stay in public housing. These men are virtually removed from society for a nonviolent offense that many Americans commit. They are failed by America.