Archives for category: Current Affairs

On “African mercenaries” in Libya:

Are the men we see pictured here perpetrators of state-sponsored violence, are they victims of racism, or is it possible that both of these things may be true at the same time? Are they being attacked in retaliation or in the course of a battle, or are they taken for mercenaries simply on the basis of their skin color? Is this just one more instance of non-citizens falling victim to a conflict that is not their own?

Snapshot of anti-miscegenation laws in 1961, the year our current president was born.

Snapshot of anti-miscegenation laws in 1961, the year our current president was born.

The family name of Richard Perry Loving is a gift that keeps on giving. After contributing to perhaps the most leadingly-named US Supreme Court case in history, Loving v. Virginia, the decision that overthrew laws legal bans against marriages across the color line, it has now been appropriated by the folks behind Loving Day, an annual holiday on or around June 12th celebrating all things interracial.

I missed this weekend’s festivities here in New York City, but I did get a kick out of their inter-active map of state anti-miscegenation laws throughout the centuries (notice the retroactive imposition of the red state/blue state divide). I also was intrigued by the little post-script on actually scrubbing the law books of the offensive legislation post-Loving, a symbolic process that continued up until quite recently.

This last bit of dead-horse-flogging, however, raises a larger question about Loving Day. Why bother? Elevating an ingenious legal strategy (finding a plaintiff named Loving) into an annual rhetorical occasion, and a half century later to boot, seems a very tepid means to “fight racial prejudice” and build “multicultural community” as the website proclaims.

As cultural politics, “celebrating Loving” substitutes the vague for the precise, and the amorphous for the achievable (indeed, for the achieved). Marriages across the color line are indeed now legal, and have been, in all states, for over half a century. Don’t we have other civil rights issues to take on today?


Odetta, who lived sang at the March on Washington, lived to see a black man elected president, but didn’t quite make it to sing at his inauguration, will get a much deserved tribute Thursday night at Princeton University. The line-up looks stellar, and deservedly so. Odetta was an irreplaceable icon of civil rights and musical history.

Tickets are Still Available (FREE, FREE, FREE!!!) – Call 609-258-9220 to Reserve Your Tickets for Tomorrow’s Show!

Bebe Zahara Benet, Cameroonian winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, in fine diva form. Represent Mother Africa!

BeBe giving good Zora Neale Hurston

BeBe giving good Zora Neale Hurston

Ms. Hurston herself

Ms. Hurston herself

The “global financial crisis” got you stumped? Then check out radical economist Rick Wolff’s lucid, essential lecture on the origins of the present crisis. In “Capitalism Hits the Fan,” Prof. Wolff breaks it down in language that anyone can understand, which is more than the Treasury Secretary or any talking head on television can say. And, best of all, you can stream the entire lecture in “preview” format from the website. Do that, and then put a request into your local library to buy a copy.

Lady Rizzo and Isengart

Lady Rizo and Isengart

Denizens of the demimonde gathered this evening to raise a glass and toast the return of Foreign Affairs, hosted by the fabulous Lady Rizo and Isengart, at Night Hotel near Bryant Park. Seen in the crowd: Joey Arias and (out of drag) Flotilla Debarge. On NYC’s tiniest stage: Sherry Vine, Amber Ray and the glamorous hosts themselves.

Another fine internet missive from Kenya’s Binyavanga Wainaina, featuring his signature blend of wit, social criticism, and stream-of-consciousness. An excerpt:

To belong to a civilisation is to take all your nation’s bodies and ready them for the open market. The open market comes in at a profit of 3% a year, rises to 6%. Then every 10 years or so, five years of progress is wiped out. This is the only way to live. While all of this is happening, you may occasionally need to eat our Swedish-designed supernutritious soyadriedfishpowdered milk gruel, out of a tube, while you wait for the annual 3% to trickle down. Your cut is disbursed by your elected officials, every five years during election time, when a panga is given to you, a fist of shillings and you are told, by the same guy who told you to lie down naked, that you are oppressed, and you need to act. Ha. This you know. You watched Rambo.

More here …