Category Archives: Racism

Boondocks’ creator Aaron McGruder to BET: %@*$% ^ & !

Animated episodes that never aired, which take swipes at black cable network executives, will be included on next Tuesday’s DVD release.

By Greg Braxton, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The battle between “The Boondocks” creator Aaron McGruder and Black Entertainment Television is about to get a lot more animated.

Two second-season episodes of the biting cartoon series that attack the black-themed network but were never aired — possibly because of corporate pressure — are slated for DVD release Tuesday. The pair of shows take aim at BET’s top executives and lampoon what it views as the cable network’s harmful negative imagery and stereotypes that work as a “destructive” force within African American culture.

The episodes amplify a familiar chord struck by McGruder, who has regularly targeted BET, first in his politically and culturally charged comic strip, published in more than 300 newspapers, and subsequently in the TV adaptation on Cartoon Network’s edgy late-night Adult Swim.

But these particular installments, which like many in the animated series feature violence, foul language and frequent use of the N-word, apparently went too far in mocking BET’s top brass. In “The Hunger Strike,” a main character refuses to eat until BET is off the air and its executives commit hara-kiri.

And in “The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show,” a foul-mouthed black man who hates African Americans gets a show on BET. The hot-button series centers on two young black boys, militant Huey Freeman and his gangsta-wannabe younger brother, Riley, who live in the suburbs with their grandfather.

When BET executives learned of the shows, they complained to Turner-owned Cartoon Networks and Sony Pictures Television, which produces “The Boondocks,” and urged that they be blocked from broadcast, according to sources close to the program who requested anonymity for fear of network reprisal.

Initially, Cartoon Network resisted, but when legal action was threatened, the episodes, written by McGruder and co-executive producer Rodney Barnes, were yanked, according to sources. Both McGruder and Barnes declined to comment.

Executives at Turner and Viacom-owned BET, however, deny there were any discussions about removing the programs between the two companies. Still, Turner officials would not explain why the two installments were eventually withheld.

Both episodes are highlighted by fierce satirical attacks on two top BET executives, portrayed in thinly disguised caricatures.

Chairman and Chief Executive Debra L. Lee, who succeeded the network’s founder, Robert Johnson, is shown as Debra Leevil, patterned after “Dr. Evil” in the “Austin Powers” films. Leevil declares in a staff meeting: “Our leader Bob Johnson had a dream, a dream that would accomplish what hundreds of years of slavery, Jim Crow and malt liquor could not accomplish — the destruction of black people.”

And BET President of Entertainment Reginald Hudlin is depicted as Wedgie Rudlin, a culturally insensitive buffoon coasting on his Ivy League education. Hudlin, a former friend of McGruder, is ironically credited as an executive producer on the series, the end result of a professional partnership that ended bitterly over creative differences before the series premiered in 2005.

A BET spokesperson said that the network was aware of the episodes and did not, as a network that runs its own satirical content, begrudge those who made fun of its programming.

The DVD release features stinging commentary from McGruder and Barnes about the episodes, which are uncut. In the introduction, McGruder said he went after BET because network executives, in his view, failed to elevate the network’s standards — something Hudlin had pointedly promised to do when joining the network three years ago.

“I was looking for changes and improvements, and I didn’t see any,” McGruder said on the DVD. “I didn’t see them. So I said, OK, it’s fair game. It’s hard not to address it. It really was an important part of the strip.” Because of legal reasons, he adds, he cannot mention the real names of the people satirized in the episodes.

Barnes added: “You expect white television to present black people in a particular way. The anger comes from black television portraying us in a particular way. That brings out a different sense of frustration, and at the heart of these episodes is that frustration.”

Wright says criticism is attack on black church



WASHINGTON (AP) — In a defiant appearance before the Washington media, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright said Monday that criticism surrounding his fiery sermons is an attack on the black church and rejected those who have labeled him unpatriotic.

“I served six years in the military,” Barack Obama’s longtime pastor said. “Does that make me patriotic? How many years did (Vice President Dick) Cheney serve?”

Wright spoke at the National Press Club before the Washington media and a supportive audience of black church leaders beginning a two-day symposium.

He said the black church tradition is not bombastic or controversial, but different and misunderstood by the “dominant culture” in the United States.

He said his Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago has a long history of liberating the oppressed by feeding the hungry, supporting recovery for the addicted and helping senior citizens in need. He said congregants have fought in the military, including in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“My goddaughter’s unit just arrived in Iraq this week while those who call me unpatriotic have used their positions of privilege to avoid military service while sending over 4,000 American boys and girls to die over a lie,” he said.

Wright said he hopes the controversy will have a positive outcome and spark an honest dialogue about race in America. Wright says black church traditions are still “invisible” to many Americans, as they have been throughout the country’s history.

He said he hopes “the most recent attack on the black church — it is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright — it’s an attack on the black church,” he said to applause, “just might mean that the reality of the African-American church will no longer be invisible.”

Videos clips of Wright’s sermons, circulated widely on television and the Internet, knocked Obama’s presidential campaign off-stride. The Illinois Democrat distanced himself from the comments of Wright, whom he has known for 20 years.

In a sermon days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Wright said “America’s chickens are coming home to roost” after the United States dropped atomic bombs on Japan and “supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans.”

Asked about some of the comments after the terrorist attacks, Wright challenged the reporter questioning him.

“Have you heard the whole sermon? No? The whole sermon?” he responded. When the reporter shook her head, he said, “That nullifies that question.”

He said criticism comes from people who only have heard sound bites playing repeatedly on television and have never listened to his entire sermons.

Wright said he’s told Obama that if he is elected in November and is inaugurated in January, “I’m coming after you.” He said that’s because his differences are not with the American people, but U.S. policies.

“Whether he gets elected or not, I’m still going to have to be answerable to God on November 5 and January 21,” Wright said.

Fukudome doesn’t find racist T-shirts in Wrigleyville funny

Offensive image on hot-selling item doesn’t reflect positively on city


Kosuke Fukudome didn’t have to wait long for the ugly American part of his welcome to Wrigleyville.

A Fukudome T-shirt with a racist image is the hottest-selling item at a souvenir stand that sells unlicensed Cubs-related merchandise across Addison Street from the ballpark, according to Mark Kolbusz, who’s in his fourth season operating the stand.

On the front of the shirt is the traditional Cubs cartoon bear face but with slanted eyes and wearing oversized Harry Caray-style glasses. It’s accompanied by the words ”Horry Kow,” scrawled in cartoonish ”Japanese” script. Fukudome’s name and number are on the back.

”That’s the No. 1 seller this year, by far,” said Kolbusz, who estimates one in 10 customers complain about being offended.

While Kolbusz was answering questions, two white guys stopped by the stand and pointed at the shirt, with one affecting a 1960s B-movie accent while reading aloud the words on the shirt.

His friend responded in a similar offensive accent, ”Oh, you tink dat funny?”

They walked away laughing.


Apparently, it’s not only the Cubs’ World Series form that’s stuck in a 100-year time warp.

For all the innocently mistranslated signs, bows and zealous cheering from right-field bleacher regulars for the franchise’s first Japanese major-leaguer, the mere creation of this shirt — but especially its popularity — sends a raw, vulgar message about Fukudome’s new hometown.

”I don’t know what the creator of the shirt meant this to be, but they should make it right,” Fukudome said through his interpreter after being shown one of the shirts Thursday. ”Maybe the creator created it because he thought it was funny, or maybe he made it to condescend the race. I don’t know.”

Regardless, it’s not funny. The image feeds not only ugly, arrogant and ignorant Japanese stereotypes, but also the stereotype of the obnoxious, profane, drunken, booing, garbage-throwing Cubs fan.

How much truth is there in either image? And how funny is either one?

Kolbusz said he’s ”indifferent” to the image on the shirt.

”I’m making money,” he said. ”It doesn’t offend me. If other people are offended by it, it’s just a silly T-shirt. Nobody is trying to offend anybody.”

Which is probably true — and, if so, sadly ignorant.

Kolbusz went as far as pointing out that the shirt’s creator is ”an Oriental guy” and also pointed out an Asian woman he sold a shirt to.

But the customer in question, Laureen Hom, had no intention of wearing the shirt, she said.

”I bought it for my mom, who has a collection of racist images of Asian Americans,” she said. And, she added, the fact the creator is Asian ”is no excuse.”

Both of Hom’s parents are Asian-American Studies professors at San Francisco State University, and they’re in Chicago this week for the annual conference of the Association for Asian-American Studies. Hom, originally from San Francisco and now living in New York, met them in Chicago and attended the Reds-Cubs game Thursday with her friend Kimberley Ma.

”It’s always weird buying that stuff,” said Hom, who was startled to see the bear image on the shirt with the slanted eyes as she walked toward the ballpark. ”And then I got closer and saw the lettering and thought, ‘Oh, my God.”’

Ma called it ”shocking” and ”insulting.”

Hom compared the shirt to a series of Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirts five years ago that stirred outrage and controversy before quickly being pulled from shelves. One version featured caricature faces with slanted eyes and rice-paddy hats and a slogan that said, ”Wong Brothers Laundry Service — Two Wongs Can Make It White.”

Cubs officials made it clear they have nothing to do with the creation or marketing of the image, which also is being sold on headbands. The team had no official comment.

Fukudome did not seem shocked.

”I knew I was coming to a different country, so I expected something like this,” he said. ”Maybe not necessarily racial, but that anybody could take any context of my words and degrade me if they wanted to. But if I make a big deal out of it, it’s not going to benefit me, so I’m not going to make a big deal of it.”

TransAtlantic Slave Trade

TransAtlantic Slave Trade

The transatlantic slave trade is a major element of global history. The forced movement of West African people across the Atlantic resulted in unprecedented forms of cruelty and subjugation, racism, inequality, shifts in cultural identity, a marked decline in the West African population and significant economic and agricultural developments in the Caribbean, Europe and the Americas.

Little is known about the 400-year long transatlantic slave trade and its lasting consequences felt throughout the world, or of the contribution of slaves to the building of the societies that enslaved them. This lack of knowledge of history has had multiple negative effects. Most importantly, it has served to marginalize people of African descent across Europe and North and South America, as well as to normalize notions of superiority among some populations.

On 28 March 2008, high school students assembled at UNHQ will have the opportunity to interact with peers around the world who have been studying the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Students from the following locations will be participating in the 28 March videoconference:

· Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
· Freetown, Sierra Leone
· Bristol, England
· Oslo, Norway
· Cape Verde
· Castries, St. Lucia

Some of the students are traveling on a replica of the Amistad which is retracing the Slave Trade Route. The Amistad began its voyage in New Haven, Connecticut on 21 June 2007. Since then it has sailed to Canada, crossed the Atlantic to England as part of Britain’s observance of the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act of 1807, docked in Portugal, Sierra Leone, Goree Island, Senegal and Cape Verde. On 28 March it will be in Castries, St. Lucia where students on the ship will participate in the live videoconference.

Click on the following links for more information about the TransAtlantic Slave Trade:

Breaking the Silence

TransAtlantic Slave Trade Education Project

Slave Routes

Lest We Forget

Falling in love with the Truth

from WAMU’s Diane Rehm Show

“Barack Obama’s speech called on the nation to have a high level conversation on race. Much of the media has dropped to the lowest level and focused on trying to drive controversy. Cable news has been in the dirt. The media can drive the conversation. Why not take the high road and do something good for the country?”

– Bob, Rochester, N.Y.

“First of all because I cannot conceive of a national conversation in the atmosphere that this country exists in saying on the high road. We’ve seen this presidential campaign immediately go down to the low road with Bill Clinton raising the race issue in South Carolina. When race comes up and is discussed nationally, its always ugly, it always has been. Now sometimes good comes out of it, out of the 60’s and 70’s something good came out of it, but that’s a multi year process. For Obama to have now, during a presidential campaign, a long public discussion on race, is to guarantee that he’s not going to be president. He can’t possibly win.”

Tony Blankley, syndicated columnist, former editorial page editor of “The Washington Times,” research fellow with the Heritage Foundation and vice president with Edelman International. He is author of “The West’s Last Chance.”

“His white advisors advised against giving the speech. His black advisors advised him to go ahead with it.”

Clarence Page, syndicated columnist, “Chicago Tribune.”

Before I begin, I would advise that every reader click on the WAMU link to listen to the show in its entirety.

There is something about Tony Blankley’s response to the caller from Rochester I find disturbing. Tony’s response captures the pessimism, impatience, and fear that have held this nation back from realizing its true and full potential for generations.

How will things ever change unless we have those willing to change the status quo? And how does one change the status quo by maintaining the same thinking that allows it to exist? As long as we, individually and collectively, believe that the problem is too big for us to solve, how can it ever be solved? Being aware of this nation’s history of behavior and habit, especially regarding the topic of race relations, is fine – but must we always cite the worst of our history as an excuse not to move forward?

If we continue to allow fear to dictate how and where we walk, talk, and live – what kind of life will we have? What kind of legacy do we leave our children? There is a scripture which loosely reads, “the sins of the father are passed on to his children.” Shall we as a nation continue to neglect our obligations and responsibilities to ourselves and our progeny, leaving as an inheritance for our children the debt of our ignorance and the burdensome task of coming up with a solution, the way it was left to us? Who will step up, roll up their sleeves, and finally take care of business, once and for all?

We cannot afford to continue to “pass the buck” from generation to generation. We have for too long forfeited our nation’s collective strength by choosing to remain divided. When will we acknowledge, claim, and live up to our birthright in this country, honoring the best of who we are and that amazing grace which has been bestowed upon us?

When will we shrug off the anchors of laziness and fear and choose to rise to the occasion of our collective calling? When will we stop incessantly complaining and divisively nitpicking about who and what is wrong and decide instead to work together to do something right – to make this world a better place? When will we stop falling for the illusions of inevitability and instead be inspired to create the reality of possibility?

When will we get rid of the ornamental shackles, the costumes, make-up, and perfume of lies? When will we stop blaming others, making excuses, criticizing and judging without love, and giving away our power for others to manage?

When will we fall in love again with the truth?

Seeing Red over Injustice

Mary Ellen Noone’s great-grandmother was a petite woman — probably 95 pounds wet — but she was very strong, Noone says.

Pinky Powell, who was born before the turn of the last century, used to say that she could pick 100 pounds of cotton by lunchtime, Noone adds.

“She never smiled, but I could tell when I looked in her eyes that she really loved me,” she says.

One night, Noone was painting her fingernails when her great-grandmother said, “You know, there was a time we couldn’t wear no fingernail polish.”

To explain, Powell told a story from when she was a girl. Around 1910, Powell lived on a plantation in Lowndes County, Ala., where “she would wash and iron for this white woman.”

“One day the lady had thrown away some of her old perfume and nail polish that had dried up. So [Powell] took it home and added some ingredients to the nail polish that made it pliable,” Noone says. “Well, when Sunday came, she got all dressed up and painted her nails and put on that perfume and went to church.

“On Monday, she went to the general store, and when she was ready to check out, the white owner asked her, ‘What are you doing with your nails painted up like a white woman?’ He proceeded to pick up a pair of pliers and he pulled out my grandmama’s nails out of its bed one by one.”

Noone, 65, says she often wondered as a child why her great-grandmother’s nails were so deformed.

“Every time I look at enamel red finger polish, I have a flashback, and I see red,” Noone says. “I still have that anger inside of me that someone would have that control over one person just because they wanted to feel like a woman.”

Noone recorded her interview as part of StoryCorps Griot, an initiative that collects the recollections of Black Americans. This segment was produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo with help from Vanara Taing.

Bob Johnson criticizes Obama

By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer

One of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most prominent black supporters said Sunday he was insulted by the characterization by rival Barack Obama’s presidential campaign of her remarks about the civil rights movement.

Bob Johnson, the nation’s first black billionaire and founder of the BET cable television network, said Obama’s campaign had acted dishonestly and had distorted Clinton’s remarks about Martin Luther King Jr.

Johnson also seemed to hint at Obama’s acknowledged youthful drug use, an issue that led another Clinton campaign official to resign. Johnson later denied that was the case.

Clinton was quoted just before the New Hampshire primary as saying King’s dream of racial equality was realized only when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Some black leaders have criticized that remark as suggesting Johnson deserved more credit than the slain civil rights leader for the passage and enactment of major civil rights legislation.

While introducing Clinton at Columbia College on Sunday, Johnson criticized Obama’s camp.

“That kind of campaign behavior would not be reasonable with me for a guy who says ‘I want to be a reasonable, likable, Sidney Poitier,'” said Johnson, owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats. He commented after Clinton said in a televised interview Sunday that she hoped the campaign would not be about race.

Johnson also said Obama’s own record should give voters pause.

“To me, as an African American, I am frankly insulted the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues — when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood; I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in his book — when they have been involved,” Johnson said.

Obama wrote about his teenage drug use — marijuana, alcohol and sometimes cocaine — in his memoir, “Dreams from My Father.”

Johnson later said his comments referred to Obama’s work as a community organizer in Chicago “and nothing else. Any other suggestion is simply irresponsible and incorrect,” he said in a statement released by Clinton’s campaign.

Obama, campaigning in Las Vegas, declined to respond.

“I’m not going to spend all my time running down the other candidates, which seems to be what Senator Clinton has been obsessed with for the last month,” Obama said.

His strategist, however, didn’t spare Johnson or Clinton.

“I don’t see why this is so much different from what Billy Shaheen did in New Hampshire. Senator Clinton apologized for that. It’s bewildering why, since she was standing there, she had nothing to say about this,” David Axelrod said.

Last month, top Hillary Clinton adviser Bill Shaheen resigned from the campaign after suggesting Democrats should be wary of nominating Obama because his past drug use could be used against him in the campaign.

Obama supporter “I.S.” Leevy Johnson, a former South Carolina state legislator, said it was “offensive” that Clinton stood by during Johnson’s “personal, divisive attack on Barack Obama.”

“For someone who decries the politics of personal destruction, she should’ve immediately denounced these attacks on the spot,” Johnson said in a statement issued by Obama’s campaign.

Clinton was not yet on stage when Bob Johnson made his statements.


Associated Press writer Nedra Pickler in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

Golf Channel anchor says young golfers should ‘lynch Tiger Woods’

By Roy S. Johnson

Tuesday, Jan 8, 2008 4:38 pm EST

What is it about Duke? Okay, maybe that’s not fair. But it did make me scratch my head and wonder when I read what Kelly Tilghman (pictured with Arnold Palmer), a former Blue Devil golfer, said on the Golf Channel last Friday during her gig as co-lead announcer for the network’s telecast of the Mercedes-Benz Championship, the PGA Tour’s inaugural event of the season.

I have not seen the clip, nor do I know the context of the remarks. This is what I know — that Tilghman, who never played on the LPGA Tour, said golf’s young players should “lynch Tiger Woods in a back alley.”

Had Woods been white, to use the most heinous crime committed in this nation to illustrate God-knows-what point would have been egregious. But that he’s not makes the remark unconscionable. And punishable.

It would be a travesty if Tilghman is allowed to broadcast the next event for the Golf Channel. (It speaks volumes already that she was allowed to sit on the air all day Saturday, as if nothing happened. She then offered an on-air apology on Sunday but still did the entire telecast.)

At minimum, a suspension is in order. Some will surely call for a firing. If the network does nothing — just months after the Jena Six dominated the nation’s airwaves — it would make a significant statement about the network’s tolerance of such actions. A statement that would hurt the sport of golf and rekindle memories of a racist history that Woods’ success has helped it begin to move past.

Doing nothing would remind us of Fuzzy Zoeller

Doing nothing would remind us of Shoal Creek.

Doing nothing would not be smart.

Okay, so it’s just the Golf Channel. And Kelly Tilghman is simply a hottie that was given an opportunity to anchor a telecast because she can swing a golf club.

That is not the point. Tolerance at any level cannot be tolerated.

Your move, GC.

Tilghman has reportedly reached out to Woods to apologize. Here’s hoping, at least for the moment — until the Golf Channel makes its statement — that he does not accept the call. Or the apology.

Roy S. Johnson, an award-winning journalist who is currently the editor-in-chief of Men’s Fitness magazine, pens a daily blog called “Ballers, Gamers and Scoundrels.”

Tilghman apologizes for ‘lynch Tiger’ remark

Updated: January 8, 2008, 8:55 PM EST

You certainly have to file Kelly Tilghman’s on-air, on-camera comments during the Golf Channel’s coverage of the Mercedes-Benz Championship under the “What was she thinking?” column.

During their usual post-round banter as they wrapped up Day 2 at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, Tilghman and cohort Nick Faldo discussed young players who could possibly challenge Tiger. Faldo, ever the joker, said perhaps the youngsters should “gang up (on Tiger) for a while.” The pair laughed a bit before Tilghman responded by saying, “Lynch him in a back alley.” The pair chuckled awkwardly before moving on.

The Golf Channel said it received a limited number of complaints regarding the comment.

Tilghman, realizing her faux pas, explained her comments during the final-round broadcast despite the possibility she could have swept the incident under the mat.

“I’ve reached out to Tiger to make an apology, and I’ve done the same with our viewers,” Tilghman said.

“I can assure you that there was never any intention to offend anyone. I’m sorry for any misunderstanding.”

Attempts to reach Woods or his agent, Mark Steinberg of IMG, were unsuccessful. A Golf Channel spokesman said no disciplinary action is planned, “other than the mistake she made is regrettable and an extreme learning experience for her.”

Read this article at:

Kelly Tilghman
Kelly Tilghman

State of Race Relations (as posted after this story).