Monday, July 31, 2006

L.A. CRAIG’S LIST M4M AD FROM LAST WEEK (typos included)

I'll blow anybody who has Air conditioning
________________________________________
Reply to: XXX
Date: 2006-07-22, 4:49PM PDT


its too hot, seriously. I will blow, suck off whatever, if you just let me sit in front of the air conditioner, i'll blow your buddies. whatever. too hot. im dying here.


• this is in or around Pasadena
no -- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?” – Gandhi

Legend, Pure and Simple


      The great Willi Ninja, legend in Ball culture and one of the best and most influential icons of vogueing (Janet Jackson straight ripped off many of his signature moves for her “Alright” video) is best known to the masses (for lack of a better term) as one of the stars of Paris is Burning. But he was the subject of countless emails and blogs this past week as word went out that he was on his deathbed in a New York hospital, about to lose his battle with AIDS. But the great thing about queens is that they don’t go out without a fight. By the end of the week, Willi’s friend Emmanuel Xavier (spoken-word champion, actor and activist – and himself the victim of an especially brutal gay-bashing not that long ago) posted the following on his Myspace page:
    WILLI NINJA ALIVE AND WELL
    Willi Ninja asked that this message be blogged and forwarded throughout cyberspace to dispel any unfortunate rumors about his passing.

    Though he can only see silhouettes at this time and there is a possibility he may not be able to walk again, he is in very good spirits.

    He has been moved to his own room with air conditioning and has been granted unlimited visitation rights. His many House children, friends and loved ones have been keeping him company, taking very good care of him, providing him with pedicures and massages and treating him like the true diva he is. Though he has already been in the hospital for three weeks, it is uncertain at this time how much longer he will have to remain hospitalized.

    The Godfather of Vogue will hopefully make it through yet another battle. However, please keep Willi and his family in your thoughts and prayers. On a personal note, I would like to thank everyone who sent their love and positive energy his way. He means so much to so many people and it is beautiful to see how much he is truly loved.


“The Final Solution” by Pamela Sneed

Last night in your arms
Touching your tongue to mine
I forgot
Lesbianism is an illness
Caused by a deficiency of good dick
Which might mean this love
Lingering on my lips is a disease
According to our parents
In their individual states
Who chant daily with the moral majority on channel 5
For our exile from society

In your arms I couldn’t see
The man behind us screaming
I was unnatural
His behavior was unnatural
So I crossed the street
Afraid he’d give me some good dick
And I’d be found in an alley
With my vagina ripped open
And my panties stuffed
In my mouth

This morning as I dreamt
Of you last night
A well-known newspaper
In the Black community
Printed a letter saying
We should be made to wear
Stars on our clothes
Be forced into ghetto camps
And if our perversion
Is still not cured
There will be a final solution.
    –      from Sneed’s 1998 collection of poetry, Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom than Slavery

Staceyann Chin’s speech/poem at Gay Games VII

Being queer has no bearing on race
or class
or creed

             my white publicist said
true love is never affected by color
or country
or the carnal need for cash


I curb the flashes of me crashing across the table
to knock his blond skin
from Manhattan
to Montego Bay to witness
the bloody beatings of beautiful brown boys
accused of the homosexual crime of buggery

             amidst the new fangled fallacies
of sexual and racial freedom for all
these under-informed
self-congratulating
pseudo-intellectual utterances
reflect how apolitical the left has become

I dont know why
but the term lesbian just seems so
             confrontational to me
why cant you people just say you date
             other people?


Again I say nothing
tongue and courage tied with fear
I am at once livid
ashamed and paralyzed
by the neo-conservatism
breeding malicious amongst us

Gay
Lesbian
Bisexual
Transgender
Ally
Questioning
Two spirit
Non-gender conforming every year we add a new letter
our community is happily expanding beyond the scope
of the dream stonewall sparked within us

yet everyday
I become more afraid to say black
or lesbian
or woman everyday
under the pretense of unity I swallow something I should have said
about the epidemic of AIDS in Africa
or the violence against teenage-girls in East New York
or the mortality rate of young boys on the south-side of Chicago

even in friendly conversation
I get the bell hooks-ian urge
to kill mother-fuckers who say stupid shit to me
all day
bitter branches of things I cannot say out loud
sprout deviant from my neck

fuck you-you-fucking-racist-sexist-turd
fuck you for wanting to talk about homophobia
while you exploit the desperation of undocumented immigrants
to clean your hallways
bathe your children and cook your dinner
for less than you and I spend on our tax deductible lunch!


I want to scream
all oppression is connected you dick

at the heart of every radical action in history
stood the dykes who were feminists
the anti-racists who were gay rights activists
the men who believed being vulnerable
could only make our community stronger

as the violence against us increases
where are the LGBT centers in those neighborhoods
where assaults occur most frequently?
as the tide of the Supreme Court changes
where are the LGBT marches
to support a womans right to an abortion?
what say we about health insurance
for those who can least afford it?

HIV/AIDS was once a reason for gay white men to act up
now your indifference spells the death
of straight black women
and imprisoned Latino boys
apparently
if the tragedy does not immediately impact you
you dont give a fuck

offer a social ladder to those of us inclined to climb
and watch the bottom of a movement fall out
a revolution once pregnant with expectation
flounders
without direction the privileged and the plundered
grow listless
apathetic and individualistic no one knows
where to vote
or what to vote for anymore

the faces that represent us
have begun to look like the ones who used to burn crosses
and beat bulldaggers and fuck faggots up the ass
with loaded guns

the companies that sponsor our events
do not honor the way we live or love
or dance or pray
our life partnerships are deemed domestic
and the term marriage is reserved
for those unions sanctioned by a church controlled state

for all the landmarks we celebrate
we are still niggers
and faggots
and minstrel references
for jokes created on the funny pages of a heterosexual world

the horizons are changing
to keep pace with technology and policy alike
the LGBT manifesto has evolved into a corporate agenda
and outside that agenda
a woman is beaten every 12 seconds
every two minutes
a girl is raped somewhere in America

and while we stand here well-dressed and rejoicing
in India
in China
in South America a small child cuts the cloth
to construct you a new shirt
a new shoe
an old lifestyle held upright
by the engineered hunger and misuse of impoverished lives

gather round ye fags, dykes
trannies and all those in between
we are not simply at a political crossroad
we are buried knee deep in the quagmire
of a battle for our humanity

the powers that have always been
have already come for the Jew
the communist
and the trade unionist
the time to act is now!
Now! while there are still ways we can fight
Now! because the rights we have are still so very few
Now! because it is the right thing to do
Now! before you open the door to find
they have finally come
for you

And one day…

      The fingers that are wagged and the lips that are curled in sneering contempt will all be forced to deal with the sadness and depression that plague Black folk in America. In the meantime, we keep falling, taking ourselves out because _________________…

      From the blog of Keith Boykin:

          You could not miss him. A tall, handsome black man walking down Castro Street in San Francisco. He was easily recognizable. His name was Rickey Williams. Rickey helped to host me during a book tour stop last year in San Francisco, and he helped to organize an event in the Castro at a place called Magnet.
          Rickey was an African American community intervention coordinator for Stop AIDS, a San Francisco-based service organization. He was obviously very familiar with the services available to people in the community because he helped to connect people to those same services. But sadly, tragically, ironically -- however you want to say it -- Rickey was not able to help himself. Last Monday, Rickey committed suicide. He jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and plunged 220 feet to his death. He was 28 years old.


          There was hardly a word written about Rickey in the newspapers. The Golden Gate Bridge authorities don't like to bring attention to the fact that people kill themselves on the bridge, making it the world's leading location for suicide. They don't want to make the bridge a more attractive target for suicide attempts. But Rickey is dead. He did kill himself on that bridge, not because of the bridge, but on that bridge. The bridge was just a convenient and dramatic location to express himself.
          Rickey understood the tragedy of black men who were and are dying in our communities. Just last summer, after visiting New York for the Black Gay Research Summit and the annual Pride In The City weekend, he signed onto an open letter to black gay men asking them, us to do something, anything about the AIDS epidemic in our midst. Forty-six percent of black men who have sex with men in some cities may be HIV positive. But who gives a damn, the letter asked.
          Rickey was more than an activist. He was a human being with real life challenges and real life struggles. And friends say he suffered from depression. It seems we don't like to talk about the issue of mental health in our community, but maybe it's time that we do. Forget what the nationalists may have told you about the super human strength of the black people. As William Brennan once said, the pedestal quickly becomes a cage. The truth does not always fit into an inspiring 2-hour television drama or even a week long miniseries. The truth is complicated, complex, difficult, and sometimes embarrassing.


      Black people kill themselves too.
      Black men,


      black gay men,
      black bisexual men,
      black same-gender-loving men,
      black SGL men,


      black queer men,
      black down low men,
      black 'I just mess around' men,
      black questioning men,

      black married men who fuck around,
      black men with HIV, STDs and AIDS,
      black men who are HIV positive,
      black men who are HIV negative,

      black men who have sex with men,
      black MSMs,
      black openly gay men,
      black closeted men,

      black gay men who put the "black" in front of gay,
      gay black men who put the "gay" in front of black,
      Black gay men who capitalize the "B" and lowercase the g,
      and Gay black men who capitalize the "G" and lowercase the b.


          It doesn't matter what we call ourselves, we all need love. I know too many black men who are depressed and lonely, too many black men who have contemplated killing themselves, and too many black men who have actually attempted suicide. It's not easy being a black man. It's not easy being a black man who loves black men.
          Apparently it wasn't easy for Rickey either. You could not miss him. A tall, handsome black man walking down Castro Street in San Francisco. He was easily recognizable. His name was Rickey Williams.

2nd QUOTE OF THE WEEK

There was a time when you were not a slave,
remember that
Make an effort to remember,
or failing that,
invent. – Monique Wittig

Monday, July 17, 2006

My First Review

      Mark Anthony Neal, Associate Professor of African and African-American Studies at Duke University, wrote the following about my book Blood Beats Vol. 1, in a review on the website www.seeingblack.com

    “…Blood Beats sets the bar high for those for which cultural criticism – journalistic or otherwise – has been reduced to name dropping and ego-tripping…. [Hardy’s] work resides at the obvious (to some) intersections of Blackness, gender and sexuality, but to simply align his writing and style to the now clich├ęd province of intersectionality is to miss the point of the work. This is writing that is doing real labor—heavy lifting, if you will—on behalf of those folks—the artists, the audiences, and the activists—who are grappling with “new language in the effort to overthrow…everything.”

Read the rest of the review here.

Have Fun Again… Fight the Power


      I was always a huge Diana Ross fan but Detroit itself was kinda ambivalent toward the hometown girl made good. Their pride was tempered by the charges of “oreo” and “sellout” that reflexively trailed her name. But the year that she hooked up with Chic and produced her funkiest, blackest album, Detroit claimed her fiercely. The singles “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out” (especially the latter) were huge, of course, seeping out of apartment windows, blasting from car windows and replayed at every party. But the album tracks “Tenderness” and the sing-along, custom-made-for-summer “Have Fun Again” were just as popular, with everyone loving the fake-out fade-out of “Have Fun.” Fun-fun-fun-fun-fun-fun FUN… Have fun… One of the things I most loved about the album was bonding over it with my much older cousin Randy. Back before stretches in prison and jail became media-hyped and industry-glorified rites of passage, most black folk still lowered their voices when speaking of a family member who was in or had been in jail/prison. There was shame around it. Randy had been in and out of juvie and then jail for as long as I could remember. But he was out that summer: cheekbones high, smile wide, ‘fro flawless and his tight, cut-off-at-the-knees jeans driving all the girls wild for flashing his almost comically bowed but still sexy legs. Randy was – and is – the biggest sweetheart on the planet, just cursed with shitty luck and incredibly bad timing. Always caught up for petty or stupid shit. But still, prison had stamped him dangerous, mysterious, in my young eyes. I was intrigued by him but a little afraid of him. One day, dusk falling, just the two of us sitting on the front porch, “Have Fun Again” playing loudly on someone’s radio, Randy turned to me with a grin and said, “Your girl is bad. That’s good shit right there.” And he sang along. And it was.
      The rest of this essay on summer songs can be found here.

Monday, July 10, 2006

JUST A CUPLA NEGROES SITTING AROUND TALKIN’

Here’s an excerpt from my very first interview in support of my book. .
It was done by activist/poet Steven Fullwood, Manuscript Librarian at the Schomburg Center For Research in Black Culture in New York. Fullwood’s questions are in bold
    Take us to your scribbling beginnings. Young Ernest, on a front porch somewhere, reading/thinking/being/writing.
    I’ve written ever since I first learned to write – poems, short stories, everything. As I said earlier, I actually started working as a journalist/critic while I was an undergrad at UCLA, where I was an English Lit major. So, I’ve been at this for over twenty years. It took me a long time to call myself a writer, which would infuriate my friends. If people asked what I did for a living, I’d say that I reviewed film and music. I wouldn’t say I was a writer. My friends thought I was insecure or not “claiming my shit.” But I’ve always made a distinction between being a critic and being a writer. I think people like [New York Times film critic] Manohla Dargis and [legendary Negro cultural critic] Greg Tate are both, but it’s a rare fusion. Criticism as you see it in most newspapers and magazines is definitely a lesser form of writing, as far as I’m concerned. And that’s cool. People need something to read while they’re eating their lunch in the middle of the day but don’t want to commit to anything too deep, or something to peruse while they’re taking a shit. And I don’t trip if other people put what I do in that category. But still, writing – to me – is a sacred calling. Er’body ain’t able.

The rest of the interview is here

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Those Lying Hips…

      This might well be one of my favorite music videos ever, though it bumps the original "star" version which was directed by one of my all time favorite music video directors, the great Sophie Muller. (The Palm Pictures DVD compilation Directors Label Series, having knighted Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Mark Romanek, Chris Cunnigham and a handful of other male music video directors, should really dismantle the boys club and give Ms. Muller her due.) The song/record itself peaked much too soon to be a candidate for song-of-the-summer status, but I admire it for overcoming three huge-ass handicaps:

  1. The prominent placement of an overly familiar sample.
  2. The fact that Shakira has already made this song before.
  3. Wyclef at his corniest.
      What’s so fantastic about the video is that it encapsulates the whole point and much of the beauty of pure pop music. Watching Shakira’s fans mimic her movements, absent self-consciousness but full of playfulness and joy, is to witness the power of pop – the way fans step into the outlines of their idols, accessing or freeing some aspect of themselves in the process. And I love that the belly-dancing, hip-swaying moves are replicated by men (some of whom are so on point it hurts) as well as women, and that like much great art, it collapses boundaries within individuals and between fans until we are all in a place beyond gender, sexual orientation and even race. While those fans/dancers who dazzle you with their technical proficiency might appear to be the stars of the clip, they’re not. It’s all about the slightly off-the-beat folks, the ones with a bit of belly and the jiggly thighs and the smiles that say, “I don’t care about nunna dem imperfections. For three minutes and thirty seconds, I am a star."

Say Cheese!

      The Associated Press just ran this article on the extraordinary lengths black men must go to in order to ensure that we don’t scare white folk and others in the workplace, in the mall… while just minding our own damn business. Definitely worth a read, although it ain’t really new news.
      Here are some of my favorite responses to the article, lifted intact from the Okay Player site:
  1. niggas always gotta show they teeth. i hate codeswitching. i hate that i have to do it, and i hate that i do it so automatically. these days i actually check myself to make sure I’m not softening up too much. ion’t care if they scared any more. (sic)
  2. puts on blackface for Massa (sic)
  3. Blah I'm doing whatever I want… Whites can be so fucking pussy I swear. (sic)
  4. Damn we wear a lot of masks don't we. I need this [article] for a paper I’m writing. but yeah its crazy how this works. Many people discuss how black men act hard, but few talk about how we have to “play nice.” Up until high school, i never wanted to smile or be polite; but my pops was like you cant scare white folks away. Don’t be fake, but make them comfortable to get what you want.
    Honestly if it wasn’t for such an open attitude i wouldn't be working on my Ph.D now. But it is still fucked up, because when you do lash out--people are shocked. Its a coping strategy that shouldn’t be neccessary.
    Black men and women that shift their attitude shouldn’t have to engage in this game of impression management -- whether its fronting like you hard or that you enjoy Chip’s bigoted jokes.
    We start to forget who the real “us” is. (sic)
  5. Black people shouldn't bother... with the mask. It was once necessary, but now it’s just pointless. If you’re a 6’7” black man who’s a lawyer white folk gonna be intimadated, he’s a lawyer, he can totally use that to his advantage. White folks gonna think what they want to anyway so black folks should just be themselves.
  6. We don't have to prove anything to anyone but ourselves… black men have very few things to smile about.
  7. that article left a bad taste in my mouth… though it pointed out that it wasn’t fair, its overall tone was that of “suck it up, bend over and take it.” the idea that we should do things like wear suits all the time and cut our hair as short as possible just to make YT happy is repulsive. They had since the late 60’s to express themselves in work places, why not us? IMHO the biggest issue is that a lot of people seem to look at us as some type of immigrants to the U.S. (sadly a lot of US see is that way too) so we get these “how to survive manuals” instead of “fuck that, do you'”ones. in all honesty at this point and time it’s about time to change that slavery way of thinking that keeps us to a high school-ish insecurity level for the rest of our short fucking lives. (sic)
  8. who was this written by… a slave owner? softening his voice so he doesnt scare white people? the fuck outta here. (sic)

Revolution, Constitution… Bump it, Just Sing


      A few years ago, I attended a matinee of the play Having Our Say, the true-life story of the Delany Sisters, the celebrated black siblings who lived to be over 100 years old each and whose lives read like a road map of African American civil rights activism. From a hard-working, politically and socially conscious family whose collective love of black folk and deep determination to improve the lives of all black Americans was part of how their clan defined themselves, the sisters were fiery and outspoken, completely and utterly captivating. The play, as I recall, was largely just them recounting their personal and political lives – organizing and participating in protest marches, earning medical degrees against the barriers of racism and misogyny, sharing their views on men and marriage, tendering recollections of friendships and collaborations with a who’s-who of black America. It was both humbling and inspiring to hear their assorted struggles and triumphs (it was hard not to feel straight bitch-made when juxtaposing their everyday struggles with shit from the here and now), and it threw into cold relief both how far we’ve come as a nation and how very, very far we still have to go. (During the “present” time in which the play is set, George Bush Sr. is president and Dan Quayle is his veep; the sisters verbally eviscerated them both.)
      Sitting in the theater, in which the average age was about 700 and in which the average skin hue was Decidedly Pink (I was one of less than a half dozen colored faces in the sold-out crowd), I was struck by how the sisters youthful escapades and really radical politics were so enthusiastically applauded by the audience. And I couldn’t help but wonder: If it were the Delaney sisters in their youthful incarnations appearing onstage, would they be as rapturously received? Would their defiance of myriad so-called “norms,” their fierce race consciousness and biting critiques of the American caste system – would it all be met with whoops of approval and thunderous applause by the blue-hairs in the crowd?


      Undiluted nigger vigor, the flossing of backbone and race consciousness, is easily (though not always) celebrated when it’s filtered through bodies rendered safe through old age and illness. It can safely be lionized when the body has been so damaged as to have been basically neutered. (See: Muhammad Ali, whose incendiary political stands once made him a controversial pop figure but who is now a cuddly icon whose “fighting spirit” -- the hows and whys of why he once resonated so deeply, especially with black folk -- has been carefully circumscribed in the telling.) When firmly located in the past, when reduced to metaphor (especially for other people’s struggles) and stripped of flesh and blood potency, the unyielding Negro spine is a much beloved thing.
      I was reminded of my response to the play, Having Our Say, during a recent exchange of emails with LA-based writer and activist Ronnie Brown, whose hugely researched and informed, no-bullshit responses to contemporary issues affecting black folk have made him a welcome (in my eyes, anyway) presence on many a blog/website. After my May 6th blog on immigration effectively reconfigured a few relationships in my personal life, it was a balm to strike up a correspondence with Ronnie – and even more of a pleasure to watch him in action on other sites.
      The heat around the immigration issue is going to be around a very, very long time. It’s a contrived controversy, of course, designed by Karl Rove and carried out by his media flunkies to distract us from a host of issues and realities (including the fact that colored folk, especially poor colored folk around the globe, are all getting hosed and then pitted against one another). But the contrivance also exposes very real fears and fissures that already exist and which will plague us for years. And I don’t just mean the much noted “black & brown” tensions. What strikes me especially powerfully following the conversations, emails and blog editorials (and the comments they generate) that I’ve been immersed in for the past several weeks, is just how deeply ingrained anti-black sentiment is in this culture, how reflexively even so-called progressives and “color-blind” folk of many races and backgrounds dismiss and chastise black folk, with a blatant lack of interest in the larger historical / cultural / political contexts and conditions at work. With that in mind, my favorite email from Ronnie is one of the very first that he sent me. Here’s an excerpt (with his permission):
          I was moved to comment about the “illegal immigration” issue [on writer Jeff Chang’s blog] because I felt that the focus on the bigger historical picture was being neglected. [America’s] economic history is quite clear: If we can't get it made for free (slavery) then we’ll get it done for as cheap as possible... with human labor being the necessary “collateral damage.” As I said on Jeff Chang's blog, this immigration issue is a global phenomenon. This is the worker exploitation that made the New Deal necessary decades ago. But what really burns my butt is how Latino leadership conveniently appropriates the moral high ground of the civil rights movement while winking at the fact that the white power structure used [Latino] labor to kick unionized black labor to the curb. Now, I will never blame a hungry man who’s tryin’ to feed his family... Latino immigrants are pawns in a bigger game. But I do blame Latino and black leadership (acting in the rawest forms of self- interest) who refuse to confront the institutional system of economic exploitation that puts dispossessed communities in the gladiator ring to rend each other to pieces for the crumbs that fall from the robber baron's table.
          Black people are being made to feel like ungrateful sluggards because we see the obvious effects of being low-balled in the marketplace. We are being penalized for our history as fighters. We are labeled as "undesirable" employees, hard to work with, because we won't accept sub-par working conditions and being talked to any kind of way. It's like the rebellious slave having his foot cut off as an example to the rest. Latinos, in my estimation, have kissed the ring and “pledged allegiance” to the powers-that-be to be a docile, cooperative, non-threatening workforce in exchange for “amnesty”... a deal with the devil if you ask me.
                –Ronnie Brown (Italics, mine – EH.)


      Shortly after sending me this email, Brown and a self-professed politically and culturally informed poster on writer Oliver Wang’s site went back and forth for a minute over Brown’s assertion that undocumented Latino immigrants had been used in the early ‘80s to break the janitorial unions that were once overwhelmingly black (though whites were employed as well); after that workforce became pretty much all-Latino, the unions were brought back into existence. By that point, though, Negroes = Ass out. The other poster came kinda huffy until Brown provided this link and shut the convo down. A Latino reporter I know recently waved away this bit of history as old news that everybody knows, and deemed it irrelevant to current day attitudes and realities.
      But here’s the thing: This is not old news that everybody knows. Not by far. And even people who should know this stuff don’t, or they just happen to leave it out of the conversation. And it’s an incredibly important bit of context. Without it, Negroes are (conveniently) cast as whiners without cause. The fears of being cast to the bottom of the economic heap are waved away as paranoia or unjustified hysteria instead of being located in not-too-distant precedent. Imagine if the current crews of Latino workers that clean up hotels, corporate offices and assorted other businesses were displaced by a cheaper and more amenable group that was brought in to bust their union. The loss of cumulative income would be a huge blow to Latino communities; the collective memories of those communities affected would not soon forget how they were played, even if their anger and frustration stopped short of reaching the proper target. Mofos would not be happy. And they’d be even more pissed if the material shift were shrugged off as insignificant not only by the true power brokers involved, but also by the newly hired workers and their advocates as well.
      I don’t want to dwell too hard or long on this one episode and its fallout (though I still think many others don’t give it enough consideration, as both reality and metaphor), but I think this one example from the past illuminates how little regard there is for Negro reality and (on-going) struggle in the dynamics of this (and other) current struggle(s): It’s just niggers that were and are affected.
      We are a country of amnesiacs. (Thank you, Mr. Vidal.) History can go back no further than two weeks, or we have no recall or use for it. And so dots are not connected. But Negroes are connecting dots between past and present, and in doing so they’re pointing out the ever precarious state of those black folk who are working shitty jobs and struggling to survive on them. Quiet as it’s kept, all they want to do is work and feed their families too.
      The Washington Post just (July 1st) ran a piece detailing the turmoil within the security guard industry in Los Angeles. It’s an industry that is largely African American. It’s not unionized. According to the article, written by Sonya Geis:
       “The average pay for security guards in Los Angeles is $8.50 per hour with no benefits or paid leave, according to the SEIU. Once benefits are factored in, that's $6 an hour less than the average unionized janitor. Turnover is high. Many guards receive little training and often work more than one job to make ends meet.”


      There is a movement afoot to unionize the workers, but the guards have one great fear: That once they’re unionized, undocumented Latino workers will be brought in to replace them and break the union. History supports that fear. This leaves black workers stranded between the options of 1) staying in shitty jobs with no worker protections and with pathetic pay and 2) demanding better working conditions and risking being kicked to the curb. Click here to read the entire Post piece.
      It’s a fear-driven conundrum that works to pit brown against black, all for the dubious status of most-favored in a fucked up and intrinsically racist system.
      That said, Negroes have got to find a way to channel our inner Delany sisters, unafraid to be unpopular, demonized and misunderstood in the here & now by white, brown and anybody else, knowing that we have history and rightness on our side. (Hell, we’re going to be demonized and misrepresented anyway.) Negroes are repeatedly being cast foul, sans context and robbed of basic psychology, even as recent history has the very real possibility of repeating itself at our expense.
      And this isn’t about dogging undocumented Latino workers. Like Ronnie said above, there is (or should be) no beef with any man or woman simply trying to honestly take care of self and family. And we desperately need to form coalitions across racial and ethnic divides. More importantly, we all need to come up with a template other than what a black colleague of mine terms “power-over” politics. That’s the age old, hand-me-down notion that in order to be powerful, in order to be visible, you must have power over someone else. That notion is going to be the hardest brick to dislodge from our collective mindset. And I have no idea how that dislodging might happen. You're talking about re-wiring worldviews, values and perspectives. But our Negro past is our example – that we can resist and protest and agitate for a progressive vision that is rooted in black love, black self respect and a vision expansive enough to embrace many others. But we also have to hold fast to the knowledge that no matter how many multi-racial, multi-cultural coalitions we join or create, we have to do for self.