Sunday, June 28, 2009

Toure: Trying to Pull A Perez Hilton & Failing

I read the Black & White On Martha's Vineyard article several days ago. It was the subject of a very lively discussion at a popular black political blog. I immediately thought if I'd had it in print form it would've immediately been relegated to the trash bin. Or used for doggie liner. At least it would've served some purpose. I also wondered why that particular writer had been hired. What - was Dream Hampton or Lawrence Otis Graham not available? Then it occurred to me. This wasn't really about the tea and horsey set, it was a hit piece on Michelle Obama (and black women considered dark(er) skinned).

Say it ain't so! I'd seen this type of bait and switch before. A white editor hires a black writer to do an attack piece thinking skin color and a few positive words would confuse enough people into missing it. Exhibit A: the Salon article by Erin Kaplan that I deconstructed back in November. Now how many black people are regular readers of New York Magazine or Salon? So these weren't articles for us.

This is another case of a Pseudo-Intelligentsia Slave Catcher that I wrote about seven months ago. How can it be we're still grappling with these issues of black hatred? Clarence Thomas is doing his best to send us back to enslavement. I'm not joking folks! Some people also seem to be confused and think these situations involve blacks who are self-hating. No, their egos are firmly intact. They just abhor other black people. In this case it may have been about envy of (the status of) a particular black woman, but what goes for one goes for all. This is why David Letterman got smacked down publicly for targeting white women for denigration. This is why black women have not been protected as a collective and the writers of these hit pieces lie about their efforts at gaining the approval of racist whites, contributing to white supremacy and get away with it.

So let's get to the article shall we? This was supposed to be a discussion of where the Obamas would stay when they come to the Vineyard and getting responses from the residents. My feedback is in bright blue.
The Only Ones deal with glass ceilings at work, unfortunate misunderstandings in their neighborhoods, condescension from blacks who think their education or class makes them inauthentic, and identity crises in their kids....And while the Only Ones embrace each other, they can be dismissive of other blacks.

If you refer to yourself as an "only one" don't you think that you've set yourself apart from people in the first place and maybe you're the problem? Class envy is real, but so is contempt.

"When you see a beautiful black family with their kids, it makes you feel really good about being black,” says Chrisette Hudlin, wife of Reggie and a lifelong Vineyarder who travels there every summer from L.A. “As a person who’s high-achieving and striving for the best for their family, you’re looking at these other black people who have the same goals, and it makes you feel good as a black person. You don’t feel out of place.”

If you have to see other black people, in a specific setting to feel good about yourself then again, that's an internal character issue within you. Reginald Hudlin used to work for BET and greenlit such gems as "Read a God*amn Book" and "Hot Ghetto Mess". His contempt is so well-known Aaron McGruder's Boondocks "Hunger Strike" episode that skewered him was pulled.

Let's go the tape:

Trey Ellis says, "The black part of the Vineyard is like, I would imagine, being gay and going to the Castro. It’s this mecca where you can be yourself and be with people who have so much in common with you. No one has to feign some street cred when they’re playing tennis."

Well having lived in San Francisco I can tell you the Castro has a mix of LGBT & hetero with a lot of young kids thrown in the mix. Not to mention the fact that not all LGBTs have the same interests. The main thing that distinguishes the residents is income status as SF is grossly overpriced with 2/3s of its residents renting. Plenty of people from all social strata play tennis. You should have said yachting instead.
Obama is more a man of the people,” says a Vineyarder who’s part of black high society. “He doesn’t seem to identify with affluent black people. His wife definitely doesn’t; she is basically a ghetto girl. That’s what she says—I’m just being sociological. She grew up in the same place Jennifer Hudson did. She hasn’t reached out to the social community of Washington, and people are waiting to see what they’ll do about that.”

Ahem, when has Michelle Obama ever referred to herself as a ghetto girl? You know some of the real black elite and not these poseurs featured in this hit piece want to throttle these loose-lipped lucys right now.
This is the one particularly inflammatory piece that got everyone buzzing. It's also the one quote attributed to an anonymous source. Given what I discussed above, this is why I took the writer to task on Twitter. I would have done the same to Erin Kaplan had I had means of directly contacting her. This isn't personal. I could care less about Toure, but I do care about black women. An enemy is an enemy no matter shade or gender they come in. He wanted to dismiss his detractors as not understanding the tenets of journalism and the use of anonymous sources. Then it was about our being emotional (Angry Black Woman alert). I think it's a made up quote by the writer - who has publicly displayed his contempt for black women (which I'll discuss below). At the very least if it is a Vineyard resident it's someone who is jealous of Michelle Obama - and Jennifer Hudson! If you're an Only One why do you care about these women? What editor worth their salt would've allowed a piece like this to get published as written? This isn't investigative journalism or involving a government operative. It's pure fluff - and vitriol. That's why I know it's a hit piece.

Toure is a wanna be Perez. Perez is not a journalist either but he is a media star. Sometimes the allure of the camera, smell of cash and the pat on the head is just too much for some people. This is why you have so many lining up to participate in the Negro Superbowl aka State of the Black Union every year. Hat tip to Gina McCauley, blog host of What About Our Daughters for coming up with that one-liner. For those not caught up in the journalism swirl he is NOT respected. This article has been panned across the board but he’s going to try to milk the outrage for all he can to create more opportunities for himself.

That’s fine but I will not sit by idly while he does it at the expense of black women. Pick somebody else! You don’t get to throw rocks and run and hide. Be a man and stand up for yourself! That’s my conclusion after reading this article. Pure drivel. I know it’s hard out there for a journalist know-a-days but did you have to let yourself be used so thoroughly Toure? Ha- he volunteered for it!

Kaplan had the same excuses and mock outrage and free speech protestations. If you’re going to write something STAND BY IT don’t try to OBFUSCATE. If I’m called to “explain” myself with this post I am fully able to do so. I seek justice across the board. My motives are clear. We have to police the behavior of the would-be black assassins who are here to attack us from within. They’re so darn obvious and predictable that picking them off should be easy. The damage they do is as serious as a heart attack though. It's a slow moving poison that spreads on contact tearing away at the esteem and fiber of many, but it's especially damaging to black women.

This isn’t about a difference of opinion, the right to use anonymous sources or writing about a difficult subject. The Obamas didn’t need to be in the piece at all other than a mention in passing if that was the case. The pointed dig at Michelle was the intention behind the article. The unspoken subtext of how a brown-skinned woman from the South Side of Chicago not being “good” enough to be the First Lady is what’s at stake here. Only certain types of black women are good enough and it usually involves lighter skin, a different hair texture and other superficial traits. As someone mentioned in the comment section at NY Mag if Michelle Obama looked more like Michelle Fenty this wouldn’t even be an issue.

Exhibit B:

I realized what this person had made clear in their quote: it was the paper bag test all over again, but worse. The only thing Michelle Obama and Jennifer Hudson have in common is similarities in their height and city of birth. They are a generation apart, grew up in different neighborhoods and have nothing obviously in common to compare the two. Oh wait...they do have one thing in common. They have similar coloring - and they'd fail that test. These so-called elites (and now their wannabes) have been using advancement as cover for their assault on other blacks for many years now.

So let's get this out in the open once and for all and call it for what it is: skin shade racism. Blog host Evia at Black Female Interracial Marriage E-zine so aptly coined this term. We like to use flowery words, like colorstruck. As if it's something that has taken over us that we have no control over. By "we" I'm talking about black men using it against black women - and other black women are taking their cues from them to bash each other. These men always like to discuss and defend their racism as a "preference" or in the case of this writer who asked on Twitter why he (and by proxy other black men) couldn't talk about how much he liked light skin and found it to be beautiful when so many praise the beauty of darker skinned women. Which many black woman labeled darker skinned can attest to the fact that does NOT happen. He isn't fooling anyone. Black men (and the foolish black women who agree with them) and their preferences have been killing the black collective since post-slavery. There's no need for white racism when black people are the first in line to knock each other down for free. That's when it clicked (for me at least) why he had been hired for this piece.

About preferences: I really enjoy coffee. After trying many varietals and beans from different countries I’ve found a combo that appeals to me. I have a special occasion brew as well. It also has to be prepared a certain way and I use a specific sweetener combination. Now if I’m away from home and can’t make it the way I prefer I’ll settle for something else but I won’t really be satisfied with it. In fact I already know before I drink it that it’s a temporary fix. Sometimes I’ll skip it altogether and have a tea instead. That’s the thing about preferences. You really love it above all else. It suits you. Nothing else really compares and if you had the chance to have it all the time without the costs outweighing the benefits you would. So when you hear people talking about preferences and this is where BM come in talking about their preferences for light/white skin, the BW should know she’s been relegated to the dustbin to be pulled out and used when other options aren’t available. If she's foolish enough to stick around. And she’ll go right back there when he’s through. Preferences are desirable and coveted. If you aren’t a preference then you are not considered to be of any value beyond what resources can be taken from you (sex, money, attention, a couch to crash on).

In full disclosure I'd sent him messages asking for a clarification. Just because you read one Tweet doesn't mean you've grasped the entire conversation. He hadn't replied at that time and since I went to his page and didn't see it as part of a larger conversation I took him at his word. Mind you this is a man married to a white woman and I'm not here to disparage that. I think all black people, especially black women, African American women in particular (since so many seem to have a problem with the concept) should exercise ALL their dating and mating options, stop chasing after this mythical Black Prince (that doesn't exist) and get out in the real world and be cherished by fully functioning men who are able to love you back faithfully and unconditionally.

He only responded to me after another black male writer entered the conversation and only about this article (the you don't understand what journalism is spiel). If people had more character and a little backbone the entire collective wouldn’t be disintegrating before our eyes. Instead people mourn dead musical icons (rightfully so) but will go back to their apathy and inaction. Or as I like to refer to them as "Excusers and Deniers". The building is on fire people. Discussing the burn rate (how things aren’t that bad), which room will go first and not caring if it’s not your section of the property (classism) or insisting that a firefighter (new leadership) will show up to put it out DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO STOP THE FIRE.

People like this writer represent BM who are of little or no value to BW. Appearance, education or notoriety without character is like whipped cream on top of poop. These famous athletes, rappers, actors, music artists – whatever - are no different from the guy on the corner selling dope. They all have a hustle: to enrich themselves, usually at another’s (some easily duped BW) expense. They will pretend to be your friend, have sex with or call on you for ego stroking duty but they will not honor, cherish or marry you. Unless you have something they want: Euro features, money or access to things they want. And if they do they will not be faithful and they will still dog other BW. (Re-read that again before you get your hackles up - I said men like that not ALL black men.)

Exhibit C: Let's go to the tape -
According to Ne-yo, "All the prettiest kids are light-skinned - normally." Do you still think this is a joke? A preference? If being light-skinned is normal then what is being brown-skinned? ABNORMAL. When BM like this music artist feel so open to allow their pathologies to be on public display the entire collective is headed for destruction. And we wonder why Michael Jackson seemed so tortured and why it turned so many of us off? Looking in the mirror and seeing the truth isn't always a pretty sight.

Now if I’ve somehow misunderstood some aspect of this I am certainly willing to reconsider a point or two. What I will not do is argue about “journalistic practices” and “use of anonymous sources”. I am not a journalist, but I am a writer and I have common sense. I also care about the support and uplift of black women. No one can challenge me on that. I also stand by what I’ve written. I’ve left the Matrix. I’m honing my mind and cutting through much of the confusion that has left many of us walking in circles. I may still trip over my feet from time to time (by asking about black men stepping up collectively) but I’ve left the burning building and I’m not going back.

What about you?

I will continue this conversation to further discuss class, advancement and intra-black racism next. I had so many ideas while writing this post it would've been five pages long!
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Khadija said...


{prolonged standing ovation}

Well done! In fact, I'm going to do a blog post directing folks to read this! THANK YOU!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

rikyrah said...

I wrote when I posted the initial article over at JJP that I was NOT a fan of Toure, and I couldn't put into words the way that you just did, and you nailed it to the wall - wants to be a Perez Hilton - THAT IS IT!

And, ICAM about that Lawrence Otis Graham should have written this article. It's not like New York Magazine doesn't know who he is; I first read Graham IN New York Magazine. But, Graham would have given CONTEXT in ways that Toure couldn't even try.

Good piece about this being a hit job on the First Lady. Jennifer Hudson and the First Lady don't come from the same neighborhoods, and labeling something ' Southside' could mean anything from Robert Taylor homes to Beverly or Hyde Park. That's ALL Southside.

Good article.

isonprize said...


Damn. SO on point! on SO many levels!

Cherishing black women is hard work. It shouldn't be, but it is. Thanks for the support. Sigh...

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Khadija: Oh wow thanks...much appreciated...very humbled.

Evia said...

Faith, you LAID IT DOWN with this blogpost! Humph!

And whatever Michelle Obama stands for or doesn't, she's taking and will continue to take a LOT of hits for the darkskinned woman. I hope it doesn't affect her personal enjoyment of being First Lady.

The sad part is that neither she nor her husband can say anything about any of this because of their position. It wouldn't have mattered what class she came from, her skin shade just can't be accepted by some of these racist Negroes.

The fact that she's the wife of the world's most powerful man irks the heck out of these bm racists. Bm want to have their light-bright-white women but they don't want anybody to shine the light on their discrimination. Somehow, that stops them from totally enjoying themselves.

Yes, I'm married to a wm, but I married him because he's a Quality man. If I'd met a loving and loveable bm of any hue with Darren's Qualities and traits first, and that bm had asked me to marry him, I'd be with him. That's NOT the case with many of the bm. They DO meet high quality darkskinned bw, but always find something unsuitable or "unfit" about them. There's just a long laundry list of things they find wrong with darkskinned women. These negatives rarely apply to lighter-whiter women, if you watch the behavior of these males.

I believe this is why they can't stand that Obama chose Michelle and considers her the light of his life. His choice shows clearly that many of these interracially married bm and light-bright-white chasers are racist Negroes. Many non-blacks have picked up on this pattern now. I can't wait until TIME magazine does and article about it.

I'm not saying any of this because I'd want or would ever advocate that any bw should want one of these bm. I don't think any bw should want this type of man because he will definitely pass on this type of devaluation of blacks to his children.

Mildred said...

Sadly this confusion isn't limited to Chicago. After the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, the geographical boundaries of South Central and Watts grew to near mythic proportions. I've seen similar problems in San Francisco and Milwaukee.

In my opinion, we have to confront our disregard and disrespect for each other AND challenge main stream media.

Unthinking racism requires a sustained strategy and effort. Matthew 11:12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing: I do agree with a lot of this post, and as a Black woman, can stand by those parts. But then you go and do the "Not that there's anything wrong with it, but..." thing about Toure's White wife. The very fact that you felt it necessary to bring it up, and then quickly make an excuse for the mention, shows that you were very deliberately raising it as part of your larger (and hole-riddled) argument about Toure not liking Black women.

Based on your need to make it personal -- what the hell does his wife have to do with his journalism? -- I don't blame him for not fully engaging you, though, having read his multiple comments to you, it's not for a lack of trying on his part. You basically tread into Oreo-baiting territory here. I'd respect you a lot more if you'd just come out and called him one, rather than hiding behind your flimsy, weightless words of innocence about you not really having a problem with his tastes.

And having said all of a journalist, I really do wish you would at least try to understand where he's coming from about anonymous sources. You can disagree with the practice of using anonymous sources, but to call him a liar and fiction-writer? Come on.

- AC

Halima said...

Some people also seem to be confused and think these situations involve blacks who are self-hating. No, their egos are firmly intact.

This is a gem Actsoffaith and brillaint essay!

Bw in particular, continue to mislabel these situations (I know this is as a result of working within the 'all-blacks-are-brothers' framework given to us, which disallows such negative conclussions about other blacks particularly the men). But this mislabelling of acts of aggression as self hate continues to prevent an effective solution to the problem.

These aggressors do indeed hate others not themselves, so self-hate is a wrong term particularly for the purposes of finding a solution.

Mislabelling the sitution is dangerous because our sympathetic emotions get triggered rather than our righteous anger, and we proceed to want to 'understand' and give these ones 'hugs' because 'poor babies are suffering from self-hate (which of course the white man is responsible for)'.

Imagine that, wanting to hug someone who has a dagger ready!

PVW said...

Acts of Faith:

Obama is more a man of the people,” says a Vineyarder who’s part of black high society. “He doesn’t seem to identify with affluent black people. His wife definitely doesn’t; she is basically a ghetto girl. That’s what she says—I’m just being sociological. She grew up in the same place Jennifer Hudson did. She hasn’t reached out to the social community of Washington, and people are waiting to see what they’ll do about that.”

My reply:

I have seen her described in liberal-oriented magazines like the Nation(?) as "seeming white," because she was raised in a black working class family that had middle class values.

Even though pieces like those are respectful, it is like a back-handed compliment. They don't give full flavor to black women's experiences--she seems "white" because black middle class people might as well be from the moon.

And then we have this piece. Talk about a 1-2-3 punch: classism, racism and sexism.

A darker toned black woman from Chicago must be a ghetto girl, especially when she is not of the black elite. Like you said, since when has she ever described herself as a ghetto girl?

So of course, he is meaning to tell his readers that all black women from Chicago are ghetto girls.

Sister Seeking said...

Peace and blessings Faith:

I found this essay by way of Khadija’s blog.

I thought your essay was EXCELLENT.

Faith, The Honorable Minister Farrakhan spoke at the State of the Black Union, and mentioned that our ethnic collective was “on fire, and burning”.

The Honorable Minister Farrakhan toward the latter part of his speech, said that” some of our leaders are on the road to hell, and if he had anything to do it with it, he would push them right in.”

Well, that’s how I feel at this point too about the skin shade racists, and the DBR bm, and the ABC crew as well (especially after the situation on my last job by one of their strivers).

I don’t say that out of anger but out of what I believe to be Allah’s laws of justice.

JaliliMaster said...

I came to this post from a link on Khadijas site, and I just wanted to say that it is very well written. You did a really good job and I agree completely.

I have no doubt abotu where the so-called "anonymous" comment came form. It was from Toure himself!

foreverloyal said...


Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Rikyrah: That was a multi-tiered conversation at JJP and I had to wade through it to cut to the bone. Of course it was an idiot statement for someone to assume the entire Southside of Chicago, one of the biggest cities in the entire US was all one area. Even my teenage brother knows that! The Obamas lived in Hyde Park which is a black neighborhood with million dollar homes. Duh! We can have money, not be hood and still not be exclusionary. Racism 101. And yes it was abt Michelle but it was a statement to all browner BW that they're supposed to feel worthless. Hooey!! When you attack the women of a group you weaken the entire collective. These fools don't realize they've lit the match that started the fire in the 1st place.

Isonprize: We have to value ourselves, not fall into the black hating/racism cesspool and divest ourselves from those who give us nothing in return. We'll be the better for it!!

Evia: Coming from you that's high high praise. Your blog has been helpful in correcting the miseducation of this negress, lol. Thanks for commenting.

Mildred: Welcome. We can't begin to address outside aggression until we take care of the massive problems in-house. If white racism ended tomorrow, the black racism and sexism and homo and trans phobia would still be there. Lots of work needs to be done but it starts with one.

Anon: I let your comment thru because this is a teachable moment and there's lots of lurkers. Is that you Toure? First of all you need to go back and actually read the post until the comprehension comes. As I stated I fully support ALL PEOPLE, esp BLACK WOMEN exercising their mating options to find the best person for them regardless of race (or gender). So don't even try it! Toure could've been married to a light-skinned, bi-racial or otherwise "special" type black woman and my response would be the SAME. NO ONE believes that quote was from a Vineyard resident. He (you?) has defended it from an academic standpoint as if using big words is somehow going to disguise the very OBVIOUS message embedded: "Darker-skin BW need not apply". Any person who lacks the COURAGE to log in with a verifiable profile is a COWARD. Kinda like how I described throwing rocks and running away. Like Toure. Like you. What is the Oreo-baiting nonsense you're referring to? You obviously DO NOT read my blog. I am a non-classist, black affirming, black supporting, black woman uplifting, African-American woman who fights for justice across the board. What are you, but an excuser and a denier?! Tell your friend when he wants to have a real conversation he knows where to find me online, but I somehow doubt he's willing to engage with further obfuscation. Just for the record, when you put your pathologies on PUBLIC DISPLAY don't be surprised when other people NOTICE THEM. This is about the behavior and actions of others, not the individual so don't try to make this into a personal situation either. Toure is just like soooo many of you BW-hating Negros (be you male or female) and one by one you will be called out when you use public forums to attack us. The stay and be silent time is OVER!

Halima: Yes we need to correctly label things so that people can stop being so confused. The enemy has a brown face not a white one.

PVW: Thank you so much for your insight. It's either one or the other isn't it. Racialized sexism and classism. Or it's LGBT bashing.

Sister Seeking: It's either the damaged, the we're too good for you's or the you can't part of my tribe unless. All too predictable these days, but we have ways to combat all of this! That's the great thing.

JaliliMaster: Welcome and thank you for stopping by. I'm just trying to do my part and pay it forward.

Forever Loyal: Thank you as well!

Nu Girl said...

Wonderful Post,

Thanks unapologetically for speaking the truth!

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Nu Girl: Thanks so much and welcome.

Taylor-Sara said...

Wow Faith.!!!
That's all I can say. I read about you on Khadija's site, and I had to come over and read the article. That was AMAZING! I would love to post you on my sidebar if that's ok. You're a fantastic writer, and speaker, and really got right to the heart of that article. I'm SOOOOOOOO jealous of you, Khadija and Evia because you are all such fantastic, and eloquent writers. I wish I was half that good! But anyway I guess I manage to get my point across. That was amazing summation, and I will def. be back....

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Taylor-Sara: Welcome and thank you. I'm just learning and growing like we all are, but I do like writing. Your blog is great as well and feel free to add me. Don't be a stranger.