Former NBA great Charles Barkley is generating waves of controversy for his latest tirade. Barkley called out “unintelligent” black people for their criticism of successful black people, who label them as “acting white” and that they aren’t black enough.
It’s a fantasy, a hallucination brought on by four decades of reactionary, right-wing white paranoia. Notwithstanding the Afro-wigs, black leather jackets, clinched fists and cleverly coded lyrics, Beyonce was still Beyonce, blonde conk, jezebel act and all. Nobody was hurt, no race riots raged in the streets, and after a happy time watching the festivities and the game people gathered up their things and went home, unmolested. It was just another day in the history of the planet.
Meanwhile, in Ankara, in Damascus, Ukraine and other places, people are still being blown to bits. And ORDINARY Black lives still don’t matter to anyone else in the world, not even to ordinary Blacks.
Overall, I thought the entire spectacle to be rather sad. It was sad to see all those people squealing in delight over Coldplay and their sappy, kitschy sub-70s shit. (The Asian violinists, and the ass-clowns jumping around the lit-up stage did not help much, either.) Actually, it was all a supreme embarrassment. While the alt-right was shitting bricks over clenched fists and “black lives matter” (as if they don’t), the real controversy–concerning the obscene amounts of money that went into this colorful, overblown orgy of musical mediocrity–went unreported. Bruno Mars tried in vain to do what Michael Jackson did 25 years ago, forgetting that Michael was already an overproduced hack by 1991. Beyonce’s music was more robotic and soulless than most techno. Sadly, no boos were audible among the audience’s wild, enthusiastic screams.
However, Bruno and Coldplay’s mediocrities took a back-seat to Beyonce’s carefully choreographed spectacle. The self-righteous Right was outraged. A Southern sheriff, Robert Arnold of Tennessee, babbled somewhat incoherently about “senseless killing(s)” of “seven deputies” (of course, not a word about the outrageous number of cop killings and beatings of unarmed suspects these days, largely but not entirely black). Johnathan Thompson, another imbecile tied up in American Law Enforcement (specifically the National Sheriffs’ Association, yet another NSA, of which Mr. Thompson is the Executive Director), likened Beyonce’s performance to “yelling fire in a crowded theater.” “Art is one thing, but yelling fire in a crowded theater is an entirely different one,” he continued.
Mr. Thompson pretends to believe that the Super Bowl performance was “inciting bad behavior”–rhetoric which echoes the old anti-communist hysteria of the fifties and the anti-nigger hysteria of the post-Reconstruction period. According to the Washington Post:
He and others take issue with the imagery in the “Formation” video and Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance of the song.
The video opens with the singer standing atop a half-submerged New Orleans police cruiser, a recurring image throughout. Other related symbols periodically flash on screen: Sirens; a jacket that says “POLICE” on it; graffiti that reads “stop shooting us.”
At one point, a hooded boy dances in front of a line of riot gear-clad officers who later join him in raising their hands — an apparent allusion to Michael Brown, who some initially believed had his hands up to surrender when he was shot dead by a police officer. (That version of events was later challenged by federal authorities.)
At the end of the video, the police cruiser fully submerges in the water, taking Beyoncé with it.
In her Super Bowl show, Beyoncé and her back-up dancers wore costumes reminiscent of the Black Panther Party, whose members projected black empowerment and sometimes committed violent acts during the Civil Rights era. The dancers at one point formed an “X” with their bodies, a possible allusion to Malcolm X.
Many in the alt-right Establishment went ballistic–another sad, stupid case of much doodoo over nothing. Tomi Lahren, a blonde, right-wing bimbo incapable of thinking her way through a water closet, nevertheless gave her “final thoughts” on Beyonce’s half-time show. “What is the political message here?” she screeched in a rapid-fire nasal Valley-Girl whine. “What is it that they are trying to convey here? A salute to what? A group that used violence and intimidation to advance not racial equality but an overthrow of white domination?”
“First it was hands up, don’t shoot.Then it was burning down buildings and looting drug stores, all the way to #OscarSoWhite. And now, even the Super Bowl halftime show has become a way to politicize and advance the notion that black lives matter more.”
Oh, really, Tomi? Why not just scrap all the breathlessly hyperbolic rhetoric and just call them niggers? It would save you a lot of energy, darling.
Of course, all this foolishness merely underscores an earlier point I have made, concerning thug rappers, and black entertainers in general: they are not a threat to the sensibilities of White Middle America. Even in the case of Beyonce the “threat” is entirely make-believe. Beyonce is the Music Establishment lodged in two big buttcheeks. There’s not much to her “song” melodically speaking; it’s just another pop-rap single that sounds remarkably like any other pop-rap single that has been churned out by the entertainment elite for the past 10 years. Lyrically speaking it isn’t much to talk about, either:
Y’all haters corny with that illuminati mess Paparazzi, catch my fly, and my cocky fresh I’m so reckless when I rock my Givenchy dress (stylin’) I’m so possessive so I rock his Roc necklaces My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils Earned all this money but they never take the country out me I got a hot sauce in my bag, swag
[Chorus: Beyoncé] I see it, I want it, I stunt, yellow-bone it I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it I twirl on them haters, albino alligators El Camino with the seat low, sippin’ Cuervo with no chaser Sometimes I go off (I go off), I go hard (I go hard) Get what’s mine (take what’s mine), I’m a star (I’m a star) Cause I slay (slay), I slay (hey), I slay (okay), I slay (okay) All day (okay), I slay (okay), I slay (okay), I slay (okay) We gon’ slay (slay), gon’ slay (okay), we slay (okay), I slay (okay) I slay (okay), okay (okay), I slay (okay), okay, okay, okay, okay Okay, okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay Prove to me you got some coordination, cause I slay Slay trick, or you get eliminated
[Verse: Beyoncé] When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay If he hit it right, I might take him on a flight on my chopper, cause I slay Drop him off at the mall, let him buy some J’s, let him shop up, cause I slay I might get your song played on the radio station, cause I slay I might get your song played on the radio station, cause I slay You just might be a black Bill Gates in the making, cause I slay I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making
To my ears it’s about as “incendiary” as the fucking Darktown Strutter’s Ball. Compared with James Brown’s “Say it Loud,” or The Impressions’ “We’re a Winner,” or most of Gil-Scott Heron’s albums, or Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddamn,” or Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane,” or Frank Zappa’s “Trouble Every Day” or Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” or the Isley Brother’s “Fight the Power” or Waller and Razaf’s “Black and Blue” or Randy Newman’s “Rednecks” or even, God forbid, “Darktown is Out Tonight” by Will Marion Cook, “Formation” is mild stuff indeed. If there is anything offensive about “Formation,” it’s the vulgar narcissism, and the shamelessly crass materialism underscoring its supposedly “militant” message. Even the repetitive use of the word “slay” is certainly not in reference to killing white cops.
And no, the Black Panthers were not trying to shoot innocent white girls down in the streets for kicks. Just ask Beverly Axelrod, if she’s still alive.*
But yes, darling, you are on drugs. Or totally insane.
Yet the song raised eyebrows among establishment folk for a reason. Here was one of their people, their negroes, admitting that–their obsessive materialism notwithstanding–they actually are proud of being black; that they actually do think (every now and then) about African American history, and dwell on the implications of that history; that they
have memories; that they did not, horror of horrors, forget about what happened in Katrina 11 years ago and, above all, they really are angry about unarmed blacks being gunned down in the streets by crazed cops. This last fact is among the most troubling to the weak stomachs of The American Establishment. This “black anger”–which, after all, is merely human anger–was not supposed to exist among the likes of somebody like Beyonce. The Beyonces of the world were supposed to be eternally “Happy” like Pharrell Williams supposedly is–happy, with hundreds of millions of dollars, Mc Mansions, Bentleys, helicopters and Gucci bags up the wing-wang.
Maybe I’m completely full of shit, but I suspect those hundreds of millions in the hands of the Carters (and others like them) was hush money to keep these elite “shines” from
thinking too much–thinking, that is, about their identity, about their history, about what it is to be human. I know that sounds strange in conjunction with American pop singers, since none of them appear to be even remotely human in the eyes of thinking people. However, they are human beings, unbelievable as it sounds. They really are not just marionettes on strings that dance to our auto-tune. They may be be “happy” darkies in the eyes of the world but they are not that happy.”Treade a worme on the tayle, and it must turne agayne,” wrote John Heywood in 1546.
And as the world turns, many of these black, brown and red worms–most far poorer than the Carters or the Cosbys or the Obamas, most buried deep in the ground since 1546 and before–have begun to turn their rubbery necks upward and see just who it is that keeps them submerged. And they do not like it, they are not “happy” about it. They aren’t supposed to be “happy” having a cop’s boot on their necks.
Of course, the same can be said about every single oppressed group of people all over the world, including my own.
Now, if only African Americans with brains can revolt against our own increasingly nazified police forces, and that neo-plantation monkey culture (aka “urban culture” or “unhip hop”) and the uber-wealthy white demons that spawn all this trash: the 1% Oligarchy that thinks Negro entertainment should not only entertain clueless middle-class white people all over the world, but psychologically prepare young black kids for a lifetime of slavery–inside supermax plantations. The new plantations are worse than the old, of course: on the old plantations the slave, however shackled, was as close to nature as one could get. In the new supermax gulag/plantations the slave is as far away from nature as one can get. One can call it “progress” in a very sick way.
This is a revision of an old article that was originally posted in 2010 on Open Salon, which is now defunct.
At the time I wrote this article–around 2009 or so–I feared that my assessment of Egypt, a country I had lived in briefly at the end of 1987 and early 88 and visited again between 1990 and 1994, was too harsh. Maybe my recollections had been tainted by my disgust over Egyptian racism. Like most visibly black people who have visited that country, I have fond memories of tangling with Caironians (or Cairenes), many of whom were darker than me, yet despised me all the same for being insufficiently light enough for them to kiss my ass. “Soudani” was the word I recalled being used at the time; I don’t remember being called “abid”–I guess I wasn’t so dark to be considered a slave by their myopic eyes. (Then again, I was virtually indistinguishable from a very large number of young Egyptian men.) And them good ole Transit Thugs (aka Cairo’s notorious Transit Police, which they proclaimed themselves to be with crude-looking armbands in both English and Arabic), who loved to hang out every night on street corners and back alleys, beneath bridges and the entrance to metros and in doorways, bayonets drawn (and usually with the sheaths removed), cheap AK-47s at the ready to shoot down whomever they felt like; the unbelievable filthiness of streets such as Clot Bey and Sharkas el-Wastany, easily the dirtiest and most decrepit streets I have seen anywhere in the world.
My reason for being in Egypt? Simple. I was trying to make it to Bangkok, by way of Bombay, Madras and Penang, on the money I was to save teaching English! Of course, it sounds silly. I was only 20 years old and was completing my first novel, Life of Death, which would go on to be a smashing failure in the years to come.
In the fall of 1987, I lived in Cairo, largely on Emad-el-Dine Street and Ramsis Street, in the Hotel Claridge and the Fondouk Monte-Carlo. I hated the city with a passion.
Naively, I assumed I could obtain a teaching job simply because I spoke good, proper English. Little did I realize that these jobs almost always went to Caucasians. (Coincidentally a Mexican-American woman had attempted to do as I did a few years later, with identical results.) I was eaten alive by mosquitoes in a series of charming hotel rooms in Cairo before I was down to my last hundred dollars; by sheer luck I managed to find the very basic yet very friendly and cheap Monte-Carlo, which offered me a bed for two Egyptian pounds a night. (At the time, that was 90 cents.)
Alexandria was much more to my liking. I found Alexandria to be infinitely friendlier, easy-going, cosmopolitan, languid, suggestive of a sensuality which, upon closer scrutiny, either no longer existed or just perhaps, never did. I learned the long, hard way that whatever Alexandria appeared to be in my Durrell-infested imagination, it was not a “wine-press of love.” It was not Havana, let alone Salvador de Bahia. Hell, it wasn’t even Athens.
Cairo was worse. It was, and remains, an overcrowded, surly, sectarian, materialistic, hopelessly anti-intellectual (primarily for outsiders who don’t know where to go to find people to talk to, of course), sexually repressed, bigoted, feces- and syringe-ridden cesspool. Ever see the video clips on YouTube showing a day’s walk through the streets of Cairo? Well, that is exactly how I remembered it, only slightly worse–or maybe slightly better? I can’t tell. In my recollection a film of greyish-brown dirt coated the entire city, from the airport to the tenements to the minarets to the palm trees and, finally, the people–myself included. There was an all-pervasive, lingering stench that hit your nose once you landed in Cairo International Airport (CIA, indeed) and did not leave until you departed Egypt. The stink is still there.
After 1994, the allure of Egypt and the so-called “Orient” had faded. I was never a good Orientalist; I was too cynical, too inclined to see things as they were and not the way other people had wished to see them. I could no longer close my eyes to the sheer wretchedness of Egypt, and the Mediterranean in general: the cultural, intellectual and sexual barrenness, the suffocating uber-conservatism, the sub-Neanderthal machismo, the obsessive white-worship, the subtly snide Negrophobia and hatred of darkness (which undoubtedly extended to South and Southeast Asians, primarily Filipinos), and a host of other nice things that, today in the 2010s, appear to have overwhelmed the entire region. For instance, it is difficult to imagine that the cute hotel I once stayed in during my first evening in Aleppo is now just a pile of dust; that most of the people I met there, as well as in Damascus and Latakia, are either dead, injured or in exile. But this is exactly what has happened.
In Egypt, the ruin appears to be internal rather than external. The country at times looks like a distorted cross between Ceaucescu’s Romania and Apartheid South Africa, with a touch of Bush’s Texas thrown in. The poor Egyptian people, then as now, appeared to be scared of everything: their minds, their bodies, their very souls. Egypt has degenerated into a primitive place, a savage monstrosity, a barbarian empire at the edge of Africa—something straight out of the minds of Edgar Rice Burroughs and the creators of Danger Island. It was not just the extraordinary evil of the Mubarak regime nor the current psychosis of the Sisi regime, but the even more extraordinary acquiescence of the Egyptian people in the face of this monstrous evil (much of which is paid for by U.S. tax dollars, to the tune of 3 billion per year). The outright moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Egyptian leadership has trickled down and infected literally every class of Egyptian to the tiny urban professional middle class to the mass of fellaheen in the villages along the Nile. This country has become, quite literally, a cancer unto itself.
Quite unbelievable to many outsiders—given their actually being in and of Africa–is their anti-black racism. In recent years, this racism, which was always quite bad, has reached pathological proportions, owing to the immigration of large numbers of Sudanese refugees to the country. Sudan has, in effect, become Egypt’s Mexico, South Sudan being its El Salvador. In proportion to the waves of anti-Mexican and anti-Salvadoran feeling sweeping the U.S., one now sees a hysterical Negrophobia, infesting the minds of the average Egyptian on the street. It also seems oddly concomitant to the even more hysterical anti-Arab hate festering in the minds of Israeli Jews, particularly settlers on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Movies–with one or two exceptions–showing Sudanese as hookers and drug dealers and boabs look suspiciously like racist American movies of earlier decades. Of course it would be too easy for an Egyptian to explain his way out by blaming this racism on America; Egyptian Negrophobia predates the very existence of the USA, and certainly the existence of Israel.
Their anti-black racism is all the more ridiculous seeing that Egyptians themselves, in their physical makeup and temperament, are largely African or half- or quarter-African. Physically many of them resemble African-Americans, Afro-Cubans or Brazilians. Ridiculous, but, for those of us who are of the African diaspora, and familiar with the idiotic self-hatred that African-Americans face concerning hair, skin-color, etc., obnoxiously commonplace. This author has heard it all, not merely from racist Egyptians, but from equally racist Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Brazilians and, naturally, African-Americans. What person of color coming from a racially mixed family hasn’t heard this rubbish, whether they care to admit it or not?
In Egypt, the “tragic mulatto” mentality is virtually the national temperament. They are also the biggest, most slavishly subservient Uncle Toms, perhaps in the entire world, second only to Sudan (who are Uncle Toms to Egyptians). They show no shame in their obsequious worship of white skin and white blood, and when you listen to them they sound less like Arabs or Africans and more like retarded Ossis from Mahrzan or Hellersdorf, in East Berlin. The obscene rage and hate they inflict upon the Sudanese is really a collective outpouring of self-abnegation. They do to the Sudanese what they wish they could do not only to their own worthless, despicable government; their mass-murdering, rapist-closet-queen police; their lying, perverted, hypocritical religious leaders; their phony, shallow, posturing, know-nothing “intellectuals,” their wanna-be white-boy bourgeoisie, but also to themselves, for actually being alive and so, well—Egyptian. In the niggerness of the Sudanese, they see their own niggerness reflected back at them, their own hopelessness in their decades-long cause to whiten their skins and souls. All appearances to the contrary, honkification has failed miserably in Egypt, and they know it.
The lumpen-elite of a cursed nation shows its fat, stinking arse to the world
The Egyptian people have come to personify everything that is wrong with either Arabs or Africans. They are ashamed of their own history, one of the world’s oldest; they are both disgusted and ashamed at their own sexuality (hence their hysterical Puritanism, which makes major cities like Cairo and Alexandria look like England in the 1880s); their own physical appearance, which is closer to that of the black Africans they despise than the Arabs or Europeans they so pathetically worship. Their lives and souls are so ruled by hate, ignorance and stupidity that they have indeed become numb—in the way that Germans, before the advent of Hitler, became numb. It would not surprise this author if Egypt became the seat of a new, ugly, fascist empire, with a genocidal hostility towards anything and everything African, or even Arab: I was not surprised to find an Egyptian blogger one day bitterly ranting about how much he despised “dirty Arabs”.
But it would be even less of a surprise if what we know today as Egypt simply collapsed like a deck of cards, consumed by its own frustrations and hatreds, leaving itself wide open for invaders either from within or from without—something which has happened far too often in Egypt’s extremely long history.
In 2010, I referred to the late twat/caliph/pharaoh/HNIC Mubarak as a vampire but the term still applies to Sisi, the latest in a long line of pharaoh/vampires. HNIC is Head Nigger In Charge (or Head High Yaller Coon In Charge, to be more accurate).
In “Electronic Revolution,” whence Gilles Deleuze got his idea of the “control society,” William S. Burroughs writes about how we can scramble the control society grammatically (see Ubuweb for the essay in full):
The aim of this project is to build up a language in which certain falsifications inherit in all existing western languages will be made incapable of formulation. The follow-falsifications to be deleted from the proposed language. (“ER” 33)
Why? As he puts it elsewhere,
There are certain formulas, word-locks, which will lock up a whole civilisation for a thousand years. (The Job 49)
To unscramble control syntax, the DNA precode of the language virus,
delete the copula (is/are), i.e., disrupt fixed identities – YOU ARE WHAT YOU ARE NOT [Lacan]!
replace definite articles (the) with indefinite articles (a/an), i.e., avoid reification — THERE EXIST MULTIPLICITIES [Badiou]!