- Created on 26 September 2013
samule l. jackson,
The 64-year-old recently gave a candid interview to Playboy's Stephen Rebello. The discussion opened with talk of his new flick with Spike Lee, "Oldboy," and then turned to talk of linguistic errors in society today. Jackson told an anecdote about how, when he was younger, he always made sure to address his elders properly. Nowadays, he sees people on Twitter who don't even know the difference between "your" and "you're." (To which the actor asked: "How the f--k did we become a society where mediocrity is acceptable?")
Rebello raised the point that even highly educated people, including Barack Obama, consciously drop g's from words in order to sound more like the average Joe.
"First of all, we know it ain’t because of his blackness, so I say stop trying to 'relate,'" Jackson replied while chatting with the men's magazine in West Hollywood. "Be a leader. Be f--king presidential. Look, I grew up in a society where I could say 'It ain’t' or 'What it be' to my friends. But when I’m out presenting myself to the world as me, who graduated from college, who had family who cared about me, who has a well-read background, I f--king conjugate."
He then addressed comments he made last year to Ebony magazine, saying he hopes "Obama gets scary in the next four years." Alas, he doesn't think much has changed since then, due to the political deadlock in Washington.
"He got a little heated about the kids getting killed in Newtown and about the gun law," he told Playboy. "He’s still a safe dude. But with those Republicans, we’re now in a situation where even if he said, 'I want to give you motherf--kers a raise,' they’d go, 'F--k you! We don’t want a raise!' ... How do we fix the fact that politicians aren’t trying to serve the people, they’re just trying to serve their party and their closed ideals?"
(The actor's use of the f-word is not out of anger. He has said that using the term "motherf**kers" helped stop his stutter.)
Despite his harsh words, Jackson has long been an Obama supporter. Last September, before the 2012 election, he starred in an ad telling people to "Wake the F--k Up" and vote for Obama, dubbing Mitt Romney an "out-of-touch millionaire."
In 2008, Jackson helped raise $10 million for Obama, according to The Hill. Both he and Sharon Stone donated $50,000. Other donors included Halle Berry, Jamie Lee Curtis and Jamie Foxx.
- Created on 23 September 2013
In any movie, tv show or book, the toughest guy is always the one that never actually has to draw his weapon. In old western movies, you always knew who the tough guy was, he just walked into the bar and everybody started finishing their drinks and running. You watch "The Wire" and all somebody had to yell was "Omar's coming" and folks scattered. By the time Samuel L. Jackson shows up in any scene most people are already looking for an escape route (even the snakes). The point is, that in the movies, just like real life, the tough guy is the one who makes things happen without having to lift a finger, his mere presence or even the vaguest threat is enough to get things done. Even though we all know the Hollywood tropes, some political analysts and Washington D.C. insiders insist on attacking President Obama about his Syria policy. The reality is, he is now and has been the tough guy throughout this crisis even though very few are willing to give the President any credit for it.
The Syrian Civil War is a legitimate concern for the United States even though like most Mid-Eastern policy the majority of the country has no idea what is going on in that part of the world. After decades of rule the Syrian people grew tired of Bashir Al Assad's family running the country like their personal fiefdom (he has been in power since 2000 essentially taking over for his father). Generally a civil war in a nation that funds terrorists (according to the U.S.) would be a good thing, unfortunately the situation has become so volatile that nobody, including Assad's neighbors really knows what to do. The Civil War has been going so badly for the Assad regime that after years of denying he even know how to spell the word "chemical weapons" Assad used them on a group of rebels in late August. At that point President Obama felt he needed to get involved.
Most Americans aren't aware of the facts above, and certainly our national economy, healthcare and other issues take up more of our time and energy. However the president doesn't have the luxury of only focusing on the United States, his job is to take a look at everything all of the time and determine how that might affect America. The last month of Syrian statements and speeches from the White House and hearings from Congress have been Obama's attempt at making it clear why America has a vested interest in Syria and why using military bombing on Assad's weapons capacity would be in our best interest. Nevertheless the narrative from most of the press over the last month falls into the following three categories. 1.) That Obama was unclear and confusing in his foreign policy goals for Syria. 2.) That Obama was going to "lose Congress" on any authorization vote. And then after last week's 11th hour deal brokered through Russia that 3.) Obama was outmaneuvered and essentially 'Punked' by Russian leader Vladimir Putin. None of these things could be further from the truth.
The President said he wanted to punish Bashir Al Assad for using chemical weapons, get rid of the chemical weapons and at some point get Assad out of power. These are neither conflicting nor unrealistic goals. At this point it looks likely that both goals one and two were accomplished without firing a shot. The president was likely going to win approval for Air Strikes on Syria in the Senate, at least until Secretary of State John Kerry's awful performance in the Senate Foreign Relations committee. However there are a couple of things to remember regarding the president and Congress. First, (at that point) using the War Powers act of 1973 Obama could have sent air strikes to Syria and not needed Congressional approval for 30 days (Clinton did that in 1999 with the Balkans.) Second, Congress, especially the House of Representatives universally votes against anything the president calls for, which explains why Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John McCain and several other Republicans in the House and Senate were all in favor of military action against Syria UNTIL President Obama was on board. Then suddenly it was bad politics. Finally this notion the Vladimir Putin outmaneuvered President Obama is not only patently not true but brings us back to our "Tough Guy" rhetoric that we all know too well. The President merely threatened the use of force in Syria, and suddenly the Russians, Syria's most powerful ally comes running with a peace plan to avoid conflict. That's right, Obama didn't have to lift a finger and the Russians jump in to provide a peace plan. There is absolutely no way that the Russians would have gotten involved in this crisis if they didn't fear American military force under Obama. What many analyst fail to acknowledge is that many of Syria's weapons systems are coordinated by Russian engineers, so any attack on Syrian weapons would have killed Russian citizens and Putin did not want to show and prove his tough guy image against the United States. In other words, the president brought two powers to the negotiating table without firing a shot. That doesn't sound like a weakened presidency to me, and certainly not to anyone else who actually paid attention to what has happened over the last month without an axe to grind. The President's policies on Syria have not always been great, or pretty, and we know they have as much to do with natural gas as with a humanitarian crisis, but he certainly comes out of this situation still looking like the Commander in Chief of the world's most powerful military. Even with a hostile congress, skeptical public and muddled narrative he can still send nations running just by opening his mouth, and by most American standards that should be 'tough enough'.
Dr. Jason Johnson is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College. You can reach him at Drjasonjohnson.com and on Twitter @Drjasonjohnson
- Created on 20 September 2013
There are few social ills in the African American community that can't be solved by listening to a little bit of old Public Enemy. There's a great song on the Apocalypse 91 album called "I Don't Wanna be Called Yo Nigga." The song is pretty simple actually, it's just Flava Flav (the pre - Flavor of Love version) rapping about how he and most black people don't want to be called "Nigga" by anybody, under any circumstances.
How can you say to me, "Yo my nigga!"
Cursin' up a storm with your finger on a trigger
Feelin' all the girls like a big gold digger
Take a small problem
Make a small problem bigger
You say, "Yo; I ain't poor I got dough
You Don't consider me your brother no more?"
Goddamn kilogram, how do you figure
I don't want to be called yo nigga!
The point of the song is that no matter how common the term is amongst Black people, and Black culture it's still stings and there are very, very few circumstances in which calling somebody "nigger," or "nigga," or "niggaz" is appropriate. Perhaps someone should have explained this to Robert Carmona, the head of the STRIVE work program.
It might've saved him $30,000.
Rob Carmona, 61, is the founder and director of STRIVE an employment agency in East Harlem that focuses on helping convicted criminals find work and get back into the economy. Brandi Johnson, 38, was a STRIVE employee.
Both are African American. It's not hard to figure that the N-Word was going to come up eventually right?
Apparently on March 14 of 2012 Carmona went on a four-minute expletive and racial slur laden rant on Johnson about her workplace attire and professionalism. However this wasn't the first time that Carmona had gone off on Johnson at work, and because her previous complaints had been ignored she secretly recorded the entire conversation.
After the tirade, she claims she ran to the bathroom and cried for 45 minutes.
On the stand in her workplace discrimination case she testified: "I was offended. I was hurt. I felt degraded. I felt disrespected. I was embarrassed."
At this point this is still a simple discrimination suit, something that happens all of the time in America. Just ask Paula Deen, or anybody who's ever worked at Denny's.
But the reason this ganered national attention is because Rob Carmona and his defense lawyers tried to argue that he was using the term "nigger" as a term of endearment, and since nigger has different meanings in different contexts that he in fact wasn't really creating a hostile work environment for Brandi Johnson.
When asked to be more specific as to why he called her nigger eight times in the span of four minutes Carmona testified he was trying to tell Johnson that she was being "....too emotional, wrapped up in her[self], at least the negative aspects of human nature." You know.... being a nigger. Of course the jury didn't buy his ridiculous story either, and Carmona will pay Johnson $25,000 in punitive damages and STRIVE will pay another $5,000 on top of that.
To be honest with you, if every Black person in America got paid $30,000 every time we've been called ''nigger,' collectively or individually I think I'd stop complaining about reparations, but I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen. Already many press outlets are reporting this court ruling as some sort of major sea change in language, now that there is no longer this "double-standard" where Black people can say "nigger" and White people can't.
This is completely wrong of course and another example of the disingenuous double standard of race that we all still live under.
The workplace is the workplace; you are not supposed to use foul language at any job, no matter what race you are, or who happens to be working there that day.
If Carmona was a woman and had gone on a four-minute rant calling Brandi Johnson a "bitch" eight times and lost a discrimination suit, nobody would be calling this ruling a sea change in language or culture. Why? Because anyone with a lick of common sense and professionalism knows that words like bitch, faggot and especially nigger, may be okay when you're joking with your friends and family, but those words never have, and never will have a place in a workplace that isn't a recording studio or on the set of the newest Showtime drama.
Only White Americans who obsess over "not" being able to use the n-word and Black people who don't know any better, would view this court ruling as anything significant. The rest of us know better.
Of course Robert Carmona knew this from day one and simply got caught for being a verbally abusive boss. He could have saved himself $30,000 if he'd just listened to Flava Flav, nobody wants to be called "Yo nigger".
Dr. Jason Johnson is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College and an analyst for CNN, HLN and Al Jazeera English. He can be found at @Drjasonjohnson on Twitter and at www.drjasonjohnson.com