Friday, January 16, 2015

The Chloe Goins Cosby Accusation Is Awfully Convenient




As almost anyone who knows me will attest, I am not a Bill Cosby defender. I wrote a long post weeks ago explaining why I think the 77-year-old mega-star is guilty. But I've also acknowledged that not all the women may be telling the truth. Some may be pilers-on for whatever reason.

Piler-on: a person, for instance, who hears about a big, public bus accident, claims they were injured in the accident, but later it's discovered that the person wasn't actually on the bus. That's where I see the 24-year-old Chloe Goins. The bus wreck here is the rape and sexual assault accusations exploding against Cosby, and Goins, or maybe someone behind Goins, is trying to cash in. She's piling on. (I apologize Ms. Goins if I'm wrong about you, but I'm saying what I fee.)

Her accusation that Cosby drugged and possibly molested her at the Playboy Mansion when she was 18 feels off, and that it happened in 2008--on the cusp of probable statutes of limitations expiration--seems rather convenient.

Goins is not saying that Cosby raped her. I want to make that clear. So, she's not taking on the stigma of being a rape victim. She says she can't be sure what Cosby (allegedly) did to her but alleges that she woke up to find him masturbating while licking her toes. The timing of her allegation after so many others whose allegations are beyond prosecution flashes like a big red light in my head.

Again for emphasis, my distrust of her is strictly a gut feeling. She could be telling the absolute truth, and like many victims of sexual assault or molestation, she may not have come forward because she was afraid. Cosby is a powerful, older man after all, and she, just six years ago, was a naive girl at the Playboy Mansion possibly afraid no one would believe her for no other reason than she was at the Playboy Mansion. But of all the women who've come forward, she's the one who strikes me as someone who, after having read all the other accusations, had time to think and manufacture a similar testimony.

Also, of all the other women, Goins seems the most like someone who could turn her accusation into a bonanza. She's white, young, and attractive with that bleached blonde, starlet vibe. Or as Prince could have said to someone like her, "U got the look."  She may have more to gain with this accusation and with time before the cameras than she has to lose.

Interestingly, in an interview with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, her attorney, Spencer Kurvin, made a comment last night that indicates he's aware that Goins has a lot to gain. He seemed not to include his client when he spoke of the other women who had come forward with nothing to gain. However he did say that his client risks criminal prosecution for false reporting if it's shown that her story is not true and taking that risk, as well as enduring the emotional difficulty of making such an accusation, gives her credibility.

His comments aside, when I say Goins is attractive, I'm not talking strictly about physical attractiveness. I'm talking about her appearing to be a carefully crafted marketing package, a "commodity." In the picture to the left, as she stands before photographers outside the LAPD building, she has the style and composure of someone with a smoothly constructed public image to maintain.

She also seems like someone who would understand that no matter how her case turns out--Cosby guilty or not guilty--a book deal and celebrity status may be right around the corner.

No, I'm not saying she's a slut nor am I attempting to shame her for her past as Radar Online and others seem determined to do. I'm saying she impresses me in this moment as an opportunist.

Okay. So, take away my feminist card!

Can I be wrong here? Of course I can. Will I be sorry to learn from facts that her story is true? Yes, I will because that will mean she's been abused. If her story is true, then I feel truly sorry for her. No woman should have her body touched sexually without her permission.

And I even admit now that I may be biased against her because she has that stereotypical lean and hungry look for fame. But just as I've shared my opinion on Cosby, I'm sharing it on her accusation. Fishy, fishy, fishy. Cosby is probably guilty of molesting some other woman, but I doubt that he's guilty of molesting Goins. And I usually lean toward giving victims of alleged sexual assault the benefit of the doubt.

On another note, you'd think by now Cosby could have found the accuser with the shakiest story and offered her money to recant. A recanter would cast a shadow on all his accusers, appearing to confirm the suspicions of the Cosby faithful, even some of the Cosby wobbly. They are desperate for anything they can find to logically discredit accusers of America's Dad.

Some Cosby apologists have concocted intricate conspiracy theories about the allegations. (I stress allegations because Bill Cosby has not been charged with any crime.) I've heard everything from the women plotted together to get his money to the mainstream media planned the whole thing because they live to bring black men down. I've even heard that white supremacists have brainwashed black people who believe the women. Yep. I've heard such craziness. Somebody, please, please make it stop.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Beauty, Race, and the Death of Amede Ardoin

On Facebook, I have written briefly about the beautiful book of poetry, If you abandon me, comment je vas faire: An Amédé Ardoin Songbook, by former Louisiana poet laureate Darrell Bourque, but I have not said much about the man honored by the book, Amédé Ardoin.

Ardoin was a black man who is considered to be the father of Zydeco/Creole/Cajun music by many in Louisiana. At the very least, he was a singer/songwriter and "accordion virtuoso." Sometime around 1940, the story goes, Ardoin was assaulted by a group of angry white men and later died.

While playing at an event before a white crowd, the singer asked for a towel to wipe the sweat from his brow. A white woman handed him her handkerchief. This gesture angered some white men who may or may not have been from Louisiana, and they followed Ardoin home, beat him, and ran over him with a car or carriage, crushing his vocal cords.

Unable to sing again, he fell into a deep depression. He died in an asylum later and was buried in an unmarked grave. I can't help think but of Zora Neale Hurston now who died in a home for the indigent and was also buried in an unmarked grave until Alice Walker resurrected Hurston's legacy.

The video below tells more about this gifted man, Ardoin, whose life was brutally shortened.



You can listen Bourque's interview with Susan Larson on WWNO at this link and hear him read some of his work from his Ardoin chapbook and other collections. I love to hear him read and talk.

Profits from If You Abandon Me go toward creating a memorial of some sort for Ardoin.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Poems for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2015

It's that time of year again when educators, church leaders, and parents begin to look for short poems that may be recited at Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As usual, I am seeing a spike in the search for my two poems honoring Dr. King, "Remembering a Life" and "Marking Martin's Day."

One of the things that has given me joy as I get older is discovering that so many different people have used the poems--from elementary school and college students to ministers delivering sermons on that day. Sometimes the poems are recited and sometimes printed in school and church bulletins.

But lately my poem "Behind the Color Blind" seems to be used more often for recitations. I think that's partly because of its heavy use of end rhyme and a steady rhythm. While those poems were written a while ago, I'm glad people continue to appreciate them.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

'Selma' Director Ava DuVernay Talks with MHP About Women in the Civil Rights Movement (Video)


‘Selma’ director Ava DuVernay visits #nerdland Film director Ava DuVernay, nominated for a Golden Globe for the critically-acclaimed “Selma,” joined host Melissa Harris-Perry Sunday for an extensive interview. Watch the full conversation, on MHPshow.com.

Melissa Harris Perry played clips of her interview with Selma director Ava DuVernay on her MSNBC show earlier today. They discussed Martin Luther King Jr.'s infidelity and how DuVernay chose to explore it from Coretta Scott King's perspective, and the two talked about DuVernay's decision to focus on the women in the movement in her award-nominated film.

Later they discussed the LBJ controversy around the movie, which is an "unfortunate distraction," says DuVernay, from the importance of the film and what Civil Rights leaders accomplished. The film is not about President Lyndon B. Johnson, she declares. I agree.

From the perspective of ethics while crafting creative nonfiction, I can nitpick her decision to misrepresent LBJ as being against voting rights for African-Americans (and I have nitpicked it on Facebook before), but I also think that ultimately this is a minor issue in the shadow of the film's significance and DuVernay's vision.

So, I disagree with former Johnson aide Joseph A. Califano Jr.'s assertion that the film should be barred from awards and no one should see it. That's just petty, old white man pouting. Furthermore, he exaggerates greatly when he says the Selma campaign and the march across the bridge was LBJ's idea. I listened to the recording of the conversation between LBJ and MLK that Califano references, and while it's clear LBJ was not anti-voting rights, it's equally clear he was not the mind behind the Selma strategy.

I think Califano misinterprets King's relative silence as LBJ talks to him as that of an ignorant man being advised to take actions he has not already considered rather than simply a wise man letting the President of the United States of America talk. Plus, the Selma campaign was already underway before King's talk with LBJ on January 15, 1965.

DuVernay, who is up for a Golden Globe tonight, says her goal with Selma was to recreate the spirit of the movement. She was not trying to recreate history in detail.

Notice that I did not step to the "Well, look at Spielberg's Lincoln and that Frederick Douglass was left out completely" argument to support DuVernay's decision. MHP tugged on that one today, but for me, "tit for tat" arguments are usually emerge from small thoughts.

Apparently King is shown in an authentically human way, too, in the movie. We see him taking out the trash, joking about diets with friends, and loving music, say people who have seen the film already. So, I look forward to a more realistic portrayal of this great but humanly flawed man.

The best thing this movie can do is make the current and future generation of young people grasp the cost of freedom for African-Americans. Unfortunately, too many remain clueless about the past that created the present. DuVernay says that as she went around the country with the film she discovered deep ignorance about what happened in Selma. Some people thought the name "Selma" was the name the name of a character played by Oprah Winfrey.

I'd like to say I'm shocked, but in viewing the key words used when people are searching for my Martin Luther King Jr. poem, "Remembering a Life," I detect a great deal of ignorance about King himself. Some people think that King is someone who wrote a famous poem called "I Have a Dream." So, given that people remain ignorant of who Dr. King was despite the spotlight we shine on him, is it any surprise people don't know the actual history of that walk across the bridge in Selma? It's not as though this moment is covered much in schools.

Selma opened in theaters a few days ago.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

That kid in the black jacket is not Antonio Martin

This clip posted on ImGur.com is going around on Twitter, and a lot of people think the kid in the black jacket with the cell phone is Antonio Martin. I thought so, too, at first. But then I noticed the third figure in the clip.

Yes, the kid in the black jacket is holding a cellphone and not a gun, but that kid in the black jacket is also not Antonio Martin.

Unfortunately, Antonio is the kid with the backpack at the edge of the frame, lower left corner. As you may be able to see, he lifts up his arms, and the officer backs up. The friend then jumps back.

Whether the gun was loaded or not, whether Martin fired or not, we know that if you point a gun at an officer right in front of him, he's most likely going to draw his weapon and shoot, especially if you're a black person. I could write more about the evils of guns here, but been there, done that.




As most sane people are, I am anti-police-brutality and overreach. Furthermore, I firmly believe that people of color are often mistreated and prejudged by police officers in general. I'm not one of the people who automatically believes the official versions of events when I hear them, including Officer Wilson's story for the Mike Brown shooting, which is why I marched in protest here in New Orleans.

But I believe as well that when you fight the good fight, you must be fair and have your facts straight. In the Antonio Martin case, some of us are so anxious to find police at fault that we are buying any story that contradicts the police narrative and then not bothering to check facts. That's a good way to sound unreasonable.

Yes, police officers kill black men at a disproportionate rate compared to white men, and that crisis is worthy of our righteous anger, but is it wise to blow up even when police officers do their jobs and face situations in which they must defend themselves from people with guns?

We can't expect police officers to not draw and shoot when a gun is pointed at them, and the person pointing the gun is that close. They're human, so I'm sure they're not fear-free when someone waves a gun in their faces. So, while I can't say for a fact Antonio Martin had a gun, based on what I see when I look at the Antonio Martin surveillance footage the teen assumed a stance and moved as though he had a gun. So, I think this is not a case for second-guessing the officer.

My heart goes out to Toni Martin-Green, Antonio Martin's mother. Everything she's said about her son is probably true as far as she knows or wants to know. So, I'm low on patience with people making fun of her for saying that her son was trying to turn his life around. Wouldn't we all hope that was the case if we had a child in trouble? So, I hope his mother gets the help she needs to get through this.

As for Antonio actions, he may have been trying to get his life on a better track, but late Tuesday night, December 23, his life skipped that track. He made a bad decision, and it cost him his life.

I know some of us are so infuriated by the way police treat members of the black community that we will still doubt the Berkeley police department's version of events even in the face of evidence that support it, and that skepticism is understandable. Police departments around the country have been caught in lies before. The Ferguson police were not honest, efficient, or respectful after the Mike Brown's shooting, and more recently in the Tamir Rice homicide, the Cleveland police had already released a false report and stood firmly behind it until video showed the report was a lie. But in the tragic case of Antonio Martin, the police officer appears to be telling the factual truth about what happened that night.

Does that mean we should only stand up when the dead child is a "perfect victim"? No, it does not. Does that mean we should no longer demand investigations when police shoot black people with "criminal" histories? No, it does not. Does that mean Antonio Martin's life and death can be deemed less significant than the deaths of others? No, it does not.

Does that mean that our community, education system, and American society failed Antonio Martin? Probably. He was only 18 years old, and according to cognitive scientists, the teen brain is not mature. Human brain development goes on longer than we've been led to believe.

Sadly for us all, there probably were adults in Antonio's neighborhood and leaders in the Berkeley community who saw the Martin household was in peril, in particular the oldest boy, Antonio, but no one wanted to get involved or no one felt inadequate for the task.

More than likely there was some program proposed that would have helped families like Antonio Martin's family, but the bill and funding for that program never passed in Congress or Missouri's state legislature because it was labeled "more welfare." Most likely there's some program that's been proven successful that could have assigned someone to intervene on Antonio's behalf when he first showed signs of frustration with his life circumstance or got into trouble, but in the name of individual accountability and fiscal responsibility, for the love of tall tales about bootstraps, that program was cut.

Does the American population as a whole really want to help people like Antonio, or does it just want to sit on its ass and demonize people who have the deck stacked against them? It's a difficult question and the answer, I'm sure, is complex. And maybe taking time to throw tantrums about the killing of Antonio Martin is part of our journey toward finding an answer. I don't know. But I do know that we should be fair in our allegations when the police kill a member of the black community. I know we have to weigh evidence and choose our battles.

When we don't get our facts straight, it gives our opponents an opening to overwhelm and distract us with minutia. It gives them a way to do what they would prefer to do, ignore the real problems, dismiss the truth. Knowing this is how the world works, can we pause, reflect, and focus again on the central points of our protest? Can we shake off distractions and move on?

Unity of purpose is a beautiful thing, but a mob mentality smothers wisdom.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fox News Baltimore Fakes Story, Stokes Tensions (Video) --
Now Featuring Fox 45's 'Sorry'!

UPDATE:  On its evening broadcast, Fox 45 apologized to Tawanda Jones, the woman leading the chant in the video and interviewed her. They repeated multiple times that they were "mistaken" in how they represented the protesters' video and Jones.



David Zurawik at the Baltimore Sun wrote an opinion about the apology and said:

"The Sun is seeking an explanation as to how such an egregious and potentially inflammatory change in the meaning of the protest chant was made without anyone raising questions in the editorial process.

“Honest misunderstanding” would seem to warrant such an explanation rather than asking viewers to accept it [the apology] on faith." 

I agree. If you look at the original C-SPAN video you see how long that chant went on and how clearly Jones enunciated her Ts through most of it. So, I still believe that while it may have been an error in judgment to produced the segment, the false reporting was not an error.

Previous Report


FOX News corporation affiliate WBFF TV, FOX 45 of Baltimore, has falsely reported that protesters at the "Justice for All" march on December 13 in DC called for people to "KILL A COP." I do not believe this was an honest error on the station's part, but an intentionally callous piece of yellow journalism. According to Mediaite.com, the Baltimore station has run the phony story three times already.

C-SPAN filmed protesters chanting a call for police who've killed unarmed people to go to jail. However, Fox 45 misrepresented the chant. Wait, no, they lied about the chant.

The protesters were really saying the following:
"We won’t stop.
We can’t stop.
Till   KILLER cops.
Are in cell blocks."
You can watch the original clip right on C-SPAN, but I've also embedded a video capture of it right after this paragraph.


In its broadcast, FOX 45 cuts the video before the fourth line of the chant, and then the the anchor tells the audience that the protesters are saying the following:
"We won't stop.
We can't stop,
SO KILL A cop"

Here is the story from the Baltimore station's broadcast:



After misrepresenting what the protesters say, FOX 45 footage switches to scenes from New York about the murder of the two police officers, attempting to tie peaceful protesters to the recent "execution-style" murders of NYPD officers Liu and Ramos by a mentally disturbed man from Baltimore.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

How Is the Finger Pointing After the Murder of Two NYPD Officers Like Finger Pointing After the Giffords Shooting?

Earlier today, a man who had earlier shot and wounded his girlfriend in Baltimore, Maryland, traveled to New York and killed two police officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. The officers were sitting in their radio cars in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, doing their jobs, when Ismaaiyl Brinsley executed them.

According to witnesses, he walked up to the passenger side of the officers' car, assumed a firing stance, and shot each officer in the head before they could even draw their weapons.

The murder of these officers can only be called a tragedy. The families of these officers are devastated. Even when you know a loved one faces potential death each day, nothing prepares you to face what you've dreaded.

MSNBC is reporting the shooting as a protest act of terrorism in the name of Mike Brown and Eric Garner based on the following comments the killer made on his Instagram account:
"I'm Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours........Let's Take 2 of Tehirs #ShootThePolice #RIPErivGardner #RIPMikeBrown This May Be My Final Post. . . . I'm putting Pigs In A Blanket. (sic, words including punctuation and capitalization as written on his Instagram page.)

But Brinsley shot his former girlfriend first. Then he traveled from Baltimore to New York, shot the officers, fled the scene, and later shot himself. Something was going on in his life that made him this angry and mentally disturbed. I doubt it was the police. If you'll notice, he doesn't even spell Eric Garner's name correctly. Also, what's up with his capitalization of every word in his post? Something was not right with Brinsley.

As I said on Twitter, it sounds like he was a ticking time bomb.

In many ways, today's tragedy reminds me of the Gabby Giffords shooting in which other people died. Already some people on the right are pointing fingers at political leaders, such as Al Sharpton and Mayor DeBlasio, saying they caused the shooting. If not them, then the media, such as MSNBC, essentially any entity questioning police behavior and tactics.
I recall that some people on the left tried to blame the Giffords shooting on Sarah Palin. I have certainly spent more than my share of time critiquing Palin's rhetoric, but the left wasn't correct when it blamed her specifically for the Arizona massacre, and neither are these people on right now who are blaming various progressive leaders. Loughner was a fuse waiting for a match and so was Brinsley.

The protests that have been happening around the country asking for justice in the cases of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and countless others who've died by way police overreach are not to blame for Brinsley's horrific deed either. No person who seeks justice wants dead police officers.

May these officers' families eventually find ways to cope with their loss and know peace again.


Dear Friends Still Defending Bill Cosby At All Cost

Dear Friend:

I apologize for my long response about allegations against Bill Cosby. To help you decide whether you'll read my entire thought process, you should know that this letter is divided into three parts. The first part laments the disillusionment that comes with considering these allegations against him and shares the background of what I know about Bill Cosby having seen him on TV since the 1960s, read about him in print, and heard about him in the news over the last five decades. The second part (here) tells you what I think about the accusations and why I've drawn the conclusions I've drawn that do not favor him. The third part questions societal beliefs about women.

I've written so much on this topic because I would like to stop repeating myself to people who insist that the accusations against Cosby are ridiculous because he's never been charged with a crime, and it's unfair to think he may have done anything wrong. "There's been no trial and everyone's innocent until proven guilty," they say, "So, I wish you all would shut up about Dr. Cosby (he has a Ed.D.) until a jury hears the case and a judge makes a decision."

They continue along this vein even when others respond, "But the statute of limitations has run out for both civil and criminal charges. Bill Cosby will not face a jury or judge."

Before I go further, please let me express my sympathy for you and other Americans, including me. We are all rightfully disturbed and saddened to hear of these horrible accusations against a beloved entertainer. I know some of you have concerns about Cosby's legacy. Some of you may consider yourself to be not necessarily a fan of Cosby just a "warrior for justice" who will not "rush to judgment." You may even call yourself "neutral" but feel compelled to chime in nonetheless because you have a friend who was falsely accused of rape and all this Cosby talk reminds you of that painful period. So, I'm sympathize with any agony and discomfort you've experienced in discussing Cosby.

I see as well that many of you, some dear friends, too, feel personally wounded by this current string of accusations. His character Dr. Cliff Huxtable was America's ideal dad, after all. In many ways, so was Cosby himself between his hilarious comedy routines about fatherhood (I own some of his DVDs) and those warm commercials for Jell-O Pudding he did with adorable, giggling children. So, I understand that some of you sense yourselves becoming disillusioned thinking about the possibility of his guilt and perhaps virulently angry at "the media" and his accusers. You refuse to think the man you think you know may have done anything so horrible. It feels better, perhaps, to think that these stories are just another plot to bring down a "good Black man."

You find also that you fume especially at people like me who refuse to call the women liars. I get that. It seems to you that we are crucifying him and maligning him openly. I sort of feel that way, too, sometimes, especially when I see that Gloria Allred, the ambulance chaser, with all her theatrics has inserted herself into this scandal. 

But whatever you feel about Cosby today whatever you may think of his accusers, by now we all should know that from here on, no matter what is said or believed, proven or not proven about Bill Cosby, we're experiencing an American tragedy and journeying through the stages of grief. We are perplexed. We feel betrayed when we hear about Dr. Cosby and all these women. 

For most of my life I've been a fan of Bill Cosby, but I consider myself to be more objective about him than some fans. Cosby the man is separate from Cosby the entertainer in my mind. Cosby the man is a philanthropist and appears to want to do some good in this world, but as a man he is also an imperfect being exhibiting signs of duplicity.

So, I still admire Cosby's work as a comedian, actor, director, and producer. I still appreciate how he worked his way to a level of power in the entertainment industry that few black men ever achieve and how he's managed his money.

I also respect his hard work in earning a doctorate while also working as a comedian and actor and that he's taught in prisons, and I'm old enough to remember his accomplishments from pre-Cosby Show days. Not too shabby. However, I did not care much for his Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings album that was part of my family's record collection. By the time his pudding days rolled around, it seemed he could do no wrong. My grandmother and my mother, both dead now, would express how proud they were of Cosby because represented black peoplewell. Halcyon days became halcyon decades for Bill.

As we know, I and my family are not anomalies. Not only have many black people loved this man, but people of all ethnic groups. By 1981 advertising executives were saying Cosby was so marketable that he  "transcended" being black. And he donated so much money to good causes. What was there not to like?

When his son Ennis died, I was as mournful and angry as if Bill Cosby were a personal friend. I was even annoyed when news broke that Autumn Jackson had tried to blackmail him, saying he was her biological father. Married and more naive in my thirties than I am now, I did not want to believe Bill could be unfaithful to his beautiful, loving wife Camille. Still, I did not ignore the revelation that although Cosby denied being Jackson's father, he had admitted to having an affair with her mother and to "providing regular financial support" for both of them.

I was naive but not that naive.

Either Cosby was the nicest man in the world, kinder than some husbands are to ex-wives and the acknowledged mothers of their children, or he was Jackson's father. But if he were her father, then he also had a stern side, was a man with titanium will and the cool temperament to send his flesh and blood to jail.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bruno Mars Performs Uptown Funk on The Voice (Video)

If you saw The Voice finale, then you know that Damien came in fourth, Chris Jamison came in third, Matthew McAndrew second, and Craig Wayne Boyd won. Now, on to the performance I enjoyed most: Bruno Mars, of course. Although I definitely enjoyed seeing Jennifer Hudson performing with Damien and Fall Out Boy with Matthew as well.

Bruno Mars and his band cut up with his latest hit "Uptown Funk." He wore gold curlers in his hair taking us back to the days of black men wearing their hair "processed" (conks) and later Gheri curled.

Actually "Uptown Funk" is a Mark Ronson release featuring Mars. So, I guess both of them channel an old school mix of funk and soul into new jams. Obvious influences that I see and hear are James Brown, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 (mostly in the dance), KC and the Sunshine Band, Kool and the Gang, Earth, Wind & Fire, etc., basically any older group with a great horn section. The look of the band is also reminiscent of Morris Day and The Time, but The Time also referenced back to Motown groups and James Brown when they performed in the 1980s.

For those of you who have not seen the official video for that neo-soul jam, I'm posting it after The Voice performance video.



Official Uptown Funk musical video.
If you were around in the 60s and 70s loving the soul and funk of that era, you'll fall in love with this song and video. It doesn't make me wish I were "young again." It makes me smile a lot and wish I were out dancing right now at a retro club.