Same deal as last night. Maybe a bit more analysis.


There’s going to be some more stuff in this close to midnight hour. But I’ve got a project I’m working on. I think I’ll come back to this….thanks for coming by.


Everett was slinging when I was growing up in and around the city. (There really is no good way to do these types of interviews.)  

Dyson deals with the skin tone thing I’ve been seeing the whole show. I wonder whether we’ve been set up for this? Whether the editor has been playing this up…placing certain interviews in the show and leaving others on the cutting room floor. 



I saw this last night. If you control for everything external (except skin shade), and you get different outcomes, then where does the outcome emanate from? must be differences in character right? has to be the individual choices right? the strength of individual stories is that it provides weight and heft to statistical analysis. But the problem here is that you can’t scale those individual stories up. Meaning that if John John is failing because he’s a knucklehead we can’t say that the reason black men fail is because we tend to be knuckleheads. 

Big ups to Detroit! (had to get that in there…)



Quick pitch–Stare in the Darkness: Rap, Hip-hop and Black Politics. Coming soon.

Romantic story about rap. Rap was a voice for the disenfranchised. Becomes corrupted. Yes. But it’s been deeply patriarchal for more than a minute. 

There’s been an explosion of hip-hop pedagogy. We’ve probably underestimated the power of hip-hop here SIGNIFICANTLY. 

Segue to Dyson. Who blames the division within hip-hop squarely on white executives.

So that’s what Lupe Fiasco sounds like. Simmons argues that MCs are the voice, STILL, of the ghettoes. Nope. They are A voice.

Concluding? Back to the twin study. Mike Dyson and his (darker skinned) older brother. In the joint for murder. I’ve seen this part before. Again, choices choices choices. 


Now this is an area that I have a great deal of expertise in. The reason I have harped so much on the responsibility meme tossed around by Obama is because the responsibility idea is attached to these negative images of black men and women, and this in turn leads to calls for much more social control. Understand that this IS big government. Conservatives don’t want smaller government as much as they want government to do less of what they dislike and more of what they do–which in this case means a bigger social control apparatus. More resources to keep folks in jail. 


He’s taken an interesting journey. Talk about curmudgeon. 

Jonathan Phillips is affecting an accent that makes him appear much less…connected to black people than perhaps he is. I talked to him last year…and he’s decidedly conservative. But his voice is less nasal. Just saying.

Spike blames the media for helping to promote images of rappers and ballers to black america. Again the role modeling right? Again I understand this. The attitudinal research points to this. But there is much more to it THAN this.  



I’ve got to say for the record that the last time someone told me I was “trying to be white” was a bit after high school when a kid I went to high school with ran into me at the movies. “You WAS always trying to be white.” I laughed at/with him and moved on. 

Malcolm. Ironic.

All I know are “successful” black men and women who were “typically” black at Michigan. Malcolm’s experience at Maryland is something I am familiar with–there were men and women at Michigan who didn’t hang out with black people for whatever reason. But there’s a blithe connection being made here between success and eschewing blackness that I can’t quite roll with. Blackness now has a cache particularly in the advertising world that extends globally. The series of questions that Soledad can ask about THESE circumstances would be much more interesting than the ones she asks about an outlier like Malcolm. What types of blackness are commodified? It would’ve been interesting to talk to an MC here.

Next up. Spike.



Here we go. Starting out with a birthday party where the father is absent. Brandon has two children he isn’t taking responsibility for. Brandon walks in late. (What’s Brandon’s skin shade? You guessed it.) And we’ve got the setup. Why does he not take care of his children? Generational curse. Four generations deep. His grandfather (?) has ten children that he didn’t take care of. Amazing.

Ron Mincy is the social scientist bringing up the rear here–Roland Fryer doesn’t deal with this either. For Mincy we’ve given women the ability to raise children without men, and the structural issues don’t help.  

One of Brandon’s “baby mamas” is now pregnant with twins from another man.

Quick cut to another ’68 graduate (Kenneth Talley) who is doing the right thing. Why? Role models. Again. He had a middle class family with a father, not like those who probably aren’t fathers because they didn’t HAVE fathers. 

It’s actually Talley that I’m interested in and families like them. We don’t know enough about him. Not necessarily what separates him from the hardcore and damaged. But what connects him. Not in some crass genetic sense. 

Next up? Being black in corporate America. Yet another light-skinned success story. And my boy just hipped me to the fact that this one doesn’t “sound black” either.


“Things that are stereotypically black.” I sense a Roland Fryer moment. Yep. He’s got a piece of research (hasn’t been published…and that’s important) that seeks to prove that “acting white” is a real phenomenon rather than something madeup in our collective heads….

I had no idea San Quentin was so packed….

Chris is a San Quentin inmate, who says that if he’d had positive role models he wouldn’t be in the joint. Nothing like those individual stories right? Even Ellis Cose who starts out talking about structural issues, ends up going back to role models and psychological messages. “Education is not really a black thing.” And this is why Chris is in San Quentin. “It took me to come to prison to see somebody going to school and say ‘that’s what I want to do.'”

Next up the biggie.

Where are the fathers?


Who the hell is this poet?



Another black boy (Braylon) having to live with poor choices. A black kid really. He doesn’t only have his own choices to live with, but the way the bit is played, he’s living with the choices of his grandfather too…who was a pimp, player, hustler AND one of the Little Rock class of ’68. Choices again.


The assistant D.A. One of only two black district attorneys in the county. He’s putting heads to bed each and every day. Part of the system. 

Cut to Los Angeles and D.L. Hughley. Didn’t know he used to bang. They use him as the black male voice of reason to talk about the “real” black experience with the police. Now here I put it in quotes because this is another example where a bit more nuance is required.

(What does “inherently sometimes unfair” mean?)

(Have they shown a dark skinned black man who isn’t dealing with hard times?) 



Back to Butch. I’m just noticing now there is one difference–Butch is lighter skinned than Kenneth is. His bio reads like that of a race man. Starts a construction company, makes a career move to teach kids. And is now living the Huxtable life. Three successful black sons…but here’s where the race man and Huxtable thing gets flipped. He was criticized for “raising his kids white.” And now each of them is involved with a white woman, while the Warrens live in a 6,000 square foot home in a tony white suburb.  

It ends with yet another social experiment. Warren’s middle son ends up shooting someone in what appears to be a drug dispute, while his older brother is the DA.

This is basically the racial twin study. What’s the implication? 


Kenneth is one of those statistics. He’s a pastor, so he’s gotten his life together, but at the same time he has no relationship with his daughter (who herself has two young children). (An African dialect? Not a language?) 

Another social scientist….a woman who studied the racial differences in employment opportunities. Interesting research but we know where it’s going right? “Being black in America is the equivalent of having a felony conviction.” Now that’s a quote. 

Next we meet Corey. Has all the skills necessary to be employed. Not necessarily well employed, but employed. Gets an interview…then promptly gets the runaround–which we know because CNN places a camera on him and we see him getting played. Because he’s got a wife and two daughters, he’s got to hustle. I saw The Pursuit of Happiness…against my will. What Will Smith was hustling for in that movie? This is what Corey is hustling for here. 

He’s an excellent example for me of someone who hasn’t quite done everything right, but given where he is, he’s doing SOMETHING. And it’s hard to see how he’s going to get ahead. The best thing he can do is somehow get stable. No mobility here.



Roland doesn’t really study crack use, though he’s familiar with the dynamics because his family was in the game. So he does nothing more here at first than serve up expert filler. The heft is left to Joseph Phillips (prominent black actor and conservative). His line is easy–black men in jail for drug crimes should be there. 

Back to Kenneth’s personal story. Again because of his choices (his CHOICES) he’s dealing with a hard ass life. He gets out of the joint as soon as the crack epidemic hits. Given that he’s already used coke and heroin what else? Yessir. Crack. “The greatest high I’ve ever felt. Better than sex.” 



Choices choices choices. Because Kenneth the pastor was angry at the world, he decided to go to the military. While in the military he got addicted to cocaine, heroin, whatever he could. When he came back? Turned to a life of crime. By the time she gets to the prison stats, we’re mired in Kenneth’s individual story. And Kenneth of course takes responsibility for it, blaming his crime on his own anger against racism.

Here comes Roland Fryer. 



Starting out with Little Rock…and then moving into a neat social experiment of sorts. Take two black men from the same place. One ends up an associate superintendent, one ends up a pastor, but only after being addicted to crack and having to fight that battle. Uses the charged memory of King’s assassination as a place marker. Differentiating the time before that moment, where blacks looked as if they were going forward (ever forward), and the time after. By taking two men from the same place, and then charting the different spaces they live in NOW they are able to in effect hold everything else constant. I think I know where this is going but I’m going to hold off a bit. 



Barkley is an excellent sports commentator…now. He’s got a good groove going with Ernie and Kenny, and has moved from the buffoon to a humorous but insightful curmudgeon. But he comes out of the gate throwing out stats that are off (there aren’t more black men in the joint than in college), terms that are off (there is no black on black crime…there is only crime, and given segregation I’m not sure what else we would expect), and analysis that is off (self-esteem isn’t our central problem, and the line in the sand language conjures up images of war. war against who?). 

excellent start. yeah right.