Saturday, June 09, 2007

White Kossacks and Black People

With the exception of My Left Wing, I rarely read any of the big progressive blogs such as Huffington Post, or Daily Kos. But today I found myself reading over at Kos (or as some of my fellow black blogers would spell it, KKKOS), and I read an interesting post from a blogger by the name of "Dr Steve B" titled "White Kossacks Should Read Some Black Blogs" (These people call themselves "Kossacks" for crying out loud). I have blogged about the schism between the white and black blogs in the blogosphere before, and my interest in the subject caused me to read the entire post as well as the comments that followed.

For the record, I am of the opinion that white so called progressives in the "blogosphere" are no different than their "wingnut" counterparts on the right. I was reading Daily Kos, but I could have just as easily been reading Ace Of Spades, Wizbang, or any number of the other wingnut [cons]-servative sites. In fact, they might be worse; because they think they are above the ignorance and the unenlightenment that comes with racism. One commentator, "JuniperLea", was absolutely incensed that the issue was even raised in the land of Kos. After all, they live in a mixed neighborhood, they hire black people for jobs, and the color of skin was never discussed in their home. And, ready for this? Their daughter can have "crushes on sooo many more boys." Yeah right! "Mommy this is Jamal from school, we are going out to the movies together." OK honey, make sure you bring home some Roscoes chickens and waffles for your dad." No but seriously, they (The Kossacks) were killing me with the "some of my best friends" talk. When one poor woman of color (DeminCville) tried to talk about her negative experience while trying to hail a cab in D.C. they jumped all over her. "Could it be because of what you were wearing, the fact that you were a woman, the cabbie thought women were cheep, the cabbie might have been lazy, or ignorant," and on and on. Ahhh could it be because she was a black woman in D.C. trying to hail a f*****g cab? Yeah that cabbie was ignorant, that is what racism is; ignorance! Like what the f**k is wrong with these people? This naive view of America like we are living 200 years into the future is what you would expect from [cons]-servatives who like to throw out the "colorblind society" bull shit in their rhetoric to advance their own agendas, but not so called progressives. Still, the more I read the less surprised I was at why they (The Kossacks) thought this way. One actually wanted to know how you can tell if a blog is a black owned. Hey Kossack man, here is a hint; if the name of the blog is FIELD NEGRO, there is a pretty good chance it's black themed.

Now to be fair to the Kossacks (I can't get over that name) There were some voices of reason in the thread as well. (Although I really have to wonder what they are doing over there) The aforementioned "DeminCville" tried valiantly to explain to her progressive friends that actually having to live as a black person, ain't quite the same as looking at blackness from a theoretical and scholarly viewpoint. That race and gender might be irrelevant in the blogosphere, but it ain't in the real world. One enlightened Kossack (ChapiNation386) had this to say; "There should be no 'white' or 'black' blogs in the first place...race is a false reality." Huh? Race is a false reality? Are you f*****g kidding me? Kossack man, it may be a false reality in your world, but it ain't in mine. "We should continue to share our ideas and experiences here open without regard to our individual backgrounds." (Magisterlundi) Honestly, the more I read that thread the more I realized why the so called progressive movement in this country is still not gaining any traction, and why the [dim]ocratic party can't win a presidential race. How the f**k can we share ideas and experiences without considering our backgrounds? Do these Kossacks and other left wingers really believe that black people will unify with them around issues that effect us if they do not consider our backgrounds? Issues such as crime, proper health care, jobs, and when we do get a job; a proper living wage. Not getting shot going to the corner store to buy a f*****g two dollar bag of potato chips from Mr. Chin, all because none of the big chain grocery stores will set up shop in the hood, that's our background. But it's something they would never understand, because the beautiful grocery store with it's fresh fruits, thirty checkout lines,pharmacy, and sixty cent bag of potato chips is always right around the f*****g corner.

"I am the one who is bullied because I am white. I choose to set an example. I have a black and a Latina assistant...the color of skin was never discussed in my house." (JuniperLea) ~~~Me rolling my eyes~~ "You seem to want a cookie for not owning a white hood." (Gimmieliberty) I could not have said that better myself. Thank you oh great liberal white lady for "setting an example" and choosing martydom over racism ("I am the one who is bulled because I am white") Geez! Why do I do this to myself and even go to these sites? I was quite content in the "blackopsphere". You know what; the Kossac that said;"people choose to isolate themselves about race" may be right. Maybe we all choose to do that because it is so frustrating trying to project our life experiences on other people. So we practice self segregation ( I know I do, I am tired of shouting) and try to work out our problems among ourselves. This is why black bloggers should stop wasting their time in the "whitosphere". Get your own blogs, join black on-line and blogging communities (like the "AfroSpear"), and start sharing ideas and building coalitions to strengthen your voices. Trust me, the Kossacks don't want to hear it, because in their world, racism no longer exists. They want to end the war in Iraq, and elect a [dim]ocrat in 2008. A [dim]ocrat who won't change the quality of the typical poor black person's life one bit. You have been poor from Carter to Reagan to Bush to Clinton, and back to Bush again. Do you really think it matters who is in the white house in 2008? "But field what if Obama wins?" Yeah what about it? It will make you feel good about having someone that looks like you running the country, and it will make white folks feel good about America (we have come so far we elected a black man to the White House). But I watch Oprah's black ass on T.V. and the last time I checked, I don't have any of her money. If Obama being President can't make your quality of life as a black person better, it won't make a damn bit of difference to you or me or any other person of color. Sorry, just electing a black person as President so that I can say; "The President is black just like me", doesn't mean sh** to me. "Yeah but field, what about the little black children who will see Obama and say; "one day I too can be President." If the little black children have to actually see a black President before they can think they can become President, then we have a bigger problem than I thought. But I seriously digress.

Back to my Kossack friends. Hey, to be sure, we have some common enemies and some common beliefs. Believe it or not, like most Kossacks, and unlike most black people, I happen to be a secularist. And I happen to despise everything about this, the most corrupt and destructive administration in the history of our country. But let's just agree to come together when necessary to work on some of our common issues. Let's not bull sh** each other into thinking that we will ever agree on matters of race. Because judging from the overall tone of the comments from Dr. SteveB's post, that will never happen

"If this is still an issue then we progressives still have work to do"( Pat208)

It's still an issue, but don't worry about working on it. You guys just worry about things like trying to end the war in Iraq, the immigration problem, and campaign finance reform. We will worry about the black thing, and try to solve our own problems. After all, we have to live it every day, you just do it when you respond to some guy on the Internet.


Anonymous said...

Informative. Thanks. Unfortunately, you did step on a pet peeve of mine. Why is it that you offer the example of a black man dating a white daughter as the prime example/ultimate test of white racism? Of course, you're not alone in doing this. Black men regularly make this make this point in arguments about race. I just am wondering if it is justified as example of the "height of racism" or the most resistant bastion of racism---or, is it instead, simply--the ultimate indicia of acceptance for the black man: "When the white man accepts me to procereate in his gene pool, this is when I know I have arrived." If I were to capture the proof of the end of race, it wouldn't be couupling with an offspring of a white person. Just asking.

Chris said...

Dammit! My hood came out of the wash and there must've been a black sock in it! It came out all spotty!

field negro said...

ravenravings, good point! But trust me,that was purely by accident on my part. I was going with the flow of the thread on Kos, and the poster did happen to mention her daughter. (check it out for yourself)

BTW, maybe one reason it is always used, is because you and I both know, that at the end of the day, that is the one thing most white folks will just not tolerate.

But thanks for making sure I stay in check ;)

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Let's stop with the bullsh*t, ok.

Many "liberals" - that is, some whites and the emerging strain of @ss-kissing honorary whites - are all about equality and fair play UNTIL a black person becomes "da Boss".

Then the old rule book gets thrown out, especially if said black person ain't a field Negro.

5:00 PM

MartiniCocoa said...

Denise, amen.

Unknown said...


"Then the old rule book gets thrown out, especially if said black person IS a field Negro."

Friðvin said...

I'm not sure I even want that bunch of mostly white guys in suits trying to deal with the immigration "problem" (which started back in the 1600s, if memory serves), or campaign finance reform for that matter.

Honestly, I think we'd be better off if they'd all just shut up and go home for a couple of years.

west coast story said...

You think that's racest, go visit some of the jazz websites. Mostly white male posters and they can't stand the idea of race coming up, particularly in connection with the music. But when it comes to politics, they really are out of touch. And they are all experts on race.

Anonymous said...

Diary today at dkos about the NAACP closing regional offices.

One user suggests that the organization has a branding problem, the unfortunate use of the term 'colored people'.

User 'classical liberal' suggests poor people. as a suitable replacement.

As the diary solicited few comments, I was unable to glean additional wisdom.

Anonymous said...

I know the myth. Thanks for exposing it. I live in the bastion of white progressiveness. Interracial dating abounds. Every other kid appears to be of mixed race. Every black man--and many black women too--has a whtie partner. Still and notwithstanding, this state is the most racist place in teh country. The absolute worst racial stats in all categrories. It is clear that whites will share almost everything--including thir bed--but not their power. They will sacrifice almost anything--maybe even their daughters--but not their privilege. Their white supremacy is at the core of them--their reason to live.

Anonymous said...

Just 1-2 days ago, I suggested that "white people" visit/read some "black blog sites". Only because black folks dont run a thing on the planet.

Now this "blog" comes up, and the usual nutbars are racing around outside (like I dont get enough grief from "homies")

So let me state for the "record" whatever/wherever it is -
each time I turn around to see who is stabbing me in the back, it is some "person of color". No "white person" could have got that close without "consent";

Do not blame all this on "white folks" as some "black folks" do some pretty embarassing/outrageous things, then wonder why they have no "back up" when the time comes;

Finally, for this post, if you are going to "tell it" - tell it ALL. Before you label me a "sell out", you might want to check the background of the "male" (out of deference to "men" who accept responsibiity for their accomplishments and mistakes) that told the initial LIE to his "bretheren" - black, white AND mixed race/culture.

BTW "Field Negro" I really like your blog. Nice to know someone else is thinking along the same lines both intelligent and insightful, but I am a "girl" so it doesnt matter what I "think".

The Fabulous Kitty Glendower said...

Fuck Daily Kos, honestly FUCK daily kos. I hate that site. Where to start? It is too busy, shit is every where, links, posts, comments, etc. At the very best I would call it a kaffeeklatsch, nothing more. Since the hardest working man on the internet, Francis Holland throws in a long comment every now and again, I think I might use the mic right now and do a little copying and pasting, seeing that most of you guys are probably in bed right now.

To begin with I do not and will not support an iconclastic culture. That Kos guy acts like he is a god or something, and folks calling themselves kossacks. WTF? If that is not god worshiping please direct me to another example. Also, being a half ass literature scholar I cannot help but to think of the Cossacks people each time I read the word Kossacks. Am I to ignore the similarity. Is a bunch of internet users sitting around sucking down coffee yakking on the net about their bullshyt politics while supposedly working are actually comparing themselves to the Cossacks? As in these Cossacks (see below)? As in The Cossacks a novel by Leo Tolstoy?
The Cossacks are military folks!

Kossacks as Cossacks! As if!

(from wiki):

The Cossacks (Каза́ки, Kazaki) are a traditional community of people living in the southern steppe regions of Eastern Europe (primarily Ukraine and southern Russia) and Asian Russia. They are famous for their self-reliance and military skills, particularly horsemanship. "Cossack" may also refer to a member of a Cossack military unit. Originally Cossacks were runaway Ruthenian peasants who escaped Polish and Russian feudal pressure and settled in the southern steppes.

Different Cossack groups are identified with different hosts, or regions. The Cossacks of the Don, Terek and Ural hosts, as well as areas of Siberia (such as the Baikal Cossacks) are the best known. Cossacks first became widely known in western Europe in the mid-17th century as a result of the great revolt of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and the Zaporozhians against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in what is now Ukraine, which shook the geopolitical foundations of eastern Europe.

Their numbers grew during late medieval times, joined by numerous Russian and Ukrainian serfs fleeing from their owners. Eventually Cossacks became guardians of ethnic and state boundaries. [The Irony] In the 19th century Cossacks in Europe became known for the numerous Wars with Russia and contributed to the stereotypical portrayal of Russia. Cossacks served in the Russian regular army in various wars throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. During the Russian Civil War they fought for both the Red Army and White Army. The Don Cossack Host were one of the main military forces resisting the Bolsheviks. Cossack military regiments were, however, reformed prior to the Second World War. Currently in Russia, Cossacks are seen as either ethnic descendants or by their active military service and often both. The latter category was listed as a separate group in the census and there are currently up to 150,000 Cossacks in military service in Russia and up to several million descendants aware of their Cossack heritage, which is now experiencing a revival, particularly in the south of Russia.

I am waiting for Ravenravings to get a blog.

Liz Dwyer said...

That inherent sense of superiority gets me every time. If white folks declare that racism is dead, despite what we all experience, then it's dead. End of discussion.

And high five to Denise for her comment.

Anonymous said...

anon said:

Do not blame all this on "white folks" as some "black folks" do some pretty embarassing/outrageous things, then wonder why they have no "back up" when the time comes..."

I agree with you, however, I recognize that there is a racial double standard for EVERYTHING.

One person's career ending "embarrassing/outrageous stunt" is another person's "momentary lack of focus/cause for using unscheduled leave of absence to sort things out" moment.

And for the record, I've backed up - on the serious DL - black folk who were caught up in the most embarrassing of outrageous moments. (The speeding bus toss they later served up to me later is a whole 'nother matter. LOL) But believe me, the back up they got at that moment was the right thing to do, and they know it.

Sometimes stuff is so much bigger than you and you have to step up, whether you like it or not.

Anonymous said...

"intelligent and insightful, but I am a "girl" so it doesnt matter what I "think"'.

Anon. why do you say that? I am sure you did not get a sexist vibe from any of my comments or anyone posting here. Some of the hardest hitters on this site are females. So please explain that quote.

BTW e.k.(kitty), thanks for the history lesson. I knew that term (Kossacks) sounded familiar:)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, e.k. (kitty)!

Christopher Chambers said...

But look at it this way. WITHOUT Kos and his ilk, what are we left with? You should see the filth out there on there on the right. I'm no fan, but hey, while we're out there waggily our peckers at each other in the blogsphere, these Naziis are running amok online. I think the key is to yes, to call out stupidity where it's warranted, but we shouldn't trash these folks on a whim or because we can feel mo' black doing it. I'm not some peace maker. I just see a bigger battle ahead and we need all the troops...

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

But Kos needs to apply a little of that "Fair and Balanced" ditty that he keeps harping that Fox Channel doesn't do.

I keep a diary on that site from time to time and I swear, anytime you post anything regarding race, you get flamed because "Kos" says so.

Real bunch of kool-aid drinkers over on that site. I do know that Kos did give Steve Gilliard his start as a nationally-recognized blogger over there, and it's not Kos' fault that he can suggest and the masses follow what he says without engaging in comprehensive thinking.

I know some of the front-pagers; some are down with us and others have their own agenda and need Blacks to help them advance it. The trick is identifying that and laying down your own ground rules to see where they are - either they are true liberal progressives, or they are playing liberal/progressive in public and are no better than the guys wearing hoods....

Anonymous said...

Afro-Latin Americans:
A rising voice
Black populations in Latin America are undergoing a cultural and civil-rights awakening
By Audra D.S. Burch
PEARL LAGOON, Nicaragua -- In hidden fishing villages straddling the wide, muddy Kukra River along the Atlantic Coast, a quiet cultural and civil-rights movement flickers:

Almost six feet and dark-skinned, a 17-year-old whirls in her kitchen, enchanted by the intricate African beading on the gown she will wear in the village's first black beauty pageant.

A 47-year-old reggae artist who chronicles the pain and hope of his people in song makes history as the first black to win his country's highest cultural award.

A 30-year-old activist finally liberates her hair, lets it grow naturally, an act that screams race more than complexion ever could.

These stories are part of a slow but dramatic shift in consciousness among blacks here and throughout Latin America. In something akin to the civil-rights movement in the United States -- without the lynchings, bombings and mass arrests -- blacks are pushing for more rights and reclaiming their cultural identity.

"For years, it was just so much easier to not 'be' black, to call yourself something else," says Michael Campbell, who grew up 18 miles downriver in Bluefields. "But the key to our future is to strengthen our identity, to say we are black, and we are proud."

Carmen Joseph, a caterer and mother of eight children in Bluefields, Nicaragua, prepares potato salad as her granddaughter Britney Cash, 5, stands by. 'Some folks don't say they are what they are,' she said. 'You see, I am black, and I raised my family up knowing they were black.' (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald) BELATED ATTENTION

Latin American governments are listening and have finally begun to address racial inequities that have simmered since slavery.

Just four years ago, Brazil created a Cabinet-level position to deal with race. In Colombia, activists have won legislation legally recognizing blacks and their history. In Cuba, increasing numbers of non-political groups are forming to tackle race issues, including the Martin Luther King Movement for Civil Rights. And in the nearby Dominican Republic, some blacks are fighting state authorities for the right to be categorized as "black'' on their passports.

Statistics show that blacks in the region are more likely to be born into poverty, to die young, to read poorly and to live in substandard housing.

Authorities are only now starting to count the black population, but the World Bank estimates that it numbers anywhere from 80 million to 150 million, compared with 40.2 million in the United States.

The new push for change is fueled by support from African-American politicians and civil rights groups through globalization -- the technological ability to share common human experiences. Indeed, once isolated Latin American countries now have access to pop-cultural channels such as MTV and BET, which broadcast social messages worldwide.

Students share a bench -- and some candy -- during a break in classes at Moravian High School in Bluefields. A black-history curriculum for public schools is on the agenda of black leaders and activists. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald) Just last week, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., led members of the Congressional Black Caucus in a nationally televised townhall discussion in Colombia with President Alvaro Uribe about the living conditions of Afro-Colombians.

"[Afro-descendants] can see what the outside world is doing. That's caused a consciousness where they say, ‘We can do it, too,' '' says Meeks, who is also working with blacks in Peru and Bolivia. "They can see what the civil-rights movement did in the United States and know that they have the ability to benefit also."

The movement challenges a widely held belief that Latin America comfortably witnessed the civil-rights movement in the United States from afar because the region was not racist, and blacks were already integrated.

"The black movements have been able to get people to question that notion, and to acknowledge that racial democracy is a great idea and kind of wonderful dream, but it really doesn't exist on the ground yet," says George Reid Andrews, author of Afro-Latin Americans and a professor of comparative race at the University of Pittsburgh. "That, I think, is a real achievement."

Elizabeth Forbes, 85, known as ‘Ms. Lizzie' -- on the porch with grandchildren Sean, on her lap, and Brandy, and with Jayson MacField, 8, peering from the window -- is helping to revive the ties of Bluefield's blacks to their heritage. Nine percent of Nicaragua's population is black. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald) DISADVANTAGED GROUP

Nicaragua's black population is the largest in Central America, but there is only one black member in its National Assembly, Raquel Dixon Brautigam, who was elected last year.

Only about one in five residents in Nicaragua's predominantly black neighborhoods have access to clean water, versus the national average of three in five. Between 4 percent and 17 percent have electricity, compared with the national average of 49 percent.

Twenty years ago, the country recognized blacks and indigenous people through autonomy laws, making it possible for them to claim natural resources, demarcate communal lands, govern themselves and reclaim their ancestral identity.

For years, the struggle has been framed largely in regional terms -- the Atlantic Coast, led by towns such as Bluefields and Puerto Cabezas, versus the Pacific Coast -- English versus Spanish, Creole versus Spanish-indigenous mestizo. Creoles, descendents of English masters and their Caribbean slaves, often identify themselves as black.

"Race and region are inextricably linked," says Juliet Hooker, a native of Bluefields and assistant professor of government at the University of Texas. "We have never really been acknowledged in the national narrative about identity. Much of the discrimination has been through the lens of the coast we live on."

Now, for blacks -- about 477,000, or 9 percent of the 5.3 million Nicaraguans -- the movement is largely about visibility.

A Garífuna boy, kicking a soccer ball, is part of a dwindling group descended from shipwrecked Africans exiled to Honduras in 1797. (Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald) Black leaders and activists say they are collectively defining, and redefining, what it means to be black here. They are working on an ambitious agenda that includes redistricting for better political representation, bilingual education and a black-history curriculum for public schools. And in March, the National Assembly passed a reform measure to include race issues in the new penal code.

Before now, there were no anti-discrimination or affirmative-action laws. Still, a bill that would outlaw institutional racism has languished in the assembly for more than two years, with not enough backers to push it through.

This isn't the first time blacks have mobilized.

A black-power movement started along the coast as early as the 1920s through the nationalist message of Marcus Garvey.

In the 1960s, as the civil-rights movement was unfolding in the United States, blacks formed a coalition to negotiate better living conditions. That effort fell apart with the start of the Sandinista revolution in 1979. After the war, the Sandinistas promised to end racial discrimination and to promote regional cultures. At the same time, they were accused of precisely the opposite -- oppressing groups already disenfranchised.

It would be almost three decades before meaningful steps were taken under the Sandinista regimes. Now, there is cautious hope with the return of that government.

A horse is ferried across the Kukra River, where black awareness is rising in villages. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald) RACE CONSCIOUSNESS

Although the Atlantic Coast has been settled since the 17th century, the first road connecting the coast to the rest of the country opened only 50 years ago. It is still impassable during the rainy season and still doesn't go all the way.

The last leg to Bluefields from Managua is by boat, along the Escondido River. Despite the remoteness, it has not been closed entirely to the outside world. Some residents talk on the telephone, listen to the radio, watch foreign programs on television and a few have access to the Internet. Much of the contemporary movement along the coast came from men who died long ago -- Martin Luther King Jr. and Bob Marley. King's unyielding message of equality and Marley's social lyrics were delivered here starting in the 1970s by kids who got jobs on cruise ships and brought back books and music.

Pearl Lagoon's unofficial leader, William Wesley, a warm guy with an easy smile, lives on the main road with a view of the village. Just inside his living room, a picture of King hangs near the phone.

"The kids came home, and they kept talking about these people," says Wesley, a retired teacher. "I knew a little bit already. But I wanted to know more. I found myself in the teachings of King and Malcolm X. I discovered my Afro heritage. We have to take what they said to help us create a direction that we can all follow."

U.S. sports are popular in Pearl Lagoon, on Nicaragua's Atlantic coast. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald) In Bluefields, Carmen Joseph, more comfortably ‘‘Miss Carmen," a caterer who is said to make the best potato salad in town, quickly steps outside a neighbor's house. She sits on the front porch, this racial business too touchy for inside talk.

"Yes," she whispers, never making eye contact. "Some folks don't say they are what they are. You see, I am black, and I raised my family up knowing they were black."

With eight children, Joseph has spent a lifetime trudging up and down the hills of Bluefields, establishing her place as one of the town's matriarchs. "I am not ashamed. I never turned on my color, but some people do."

To appreciate the story of race here, is to understand the kaleidoscopic legacy of slavery, the historic demonization and denial of blackness and the practice of racial mixing.

This portrait is complicated by the lack of reliable census data because of traditional undercounting and because some blacks decline to identify themselves as such.

The dynamic along the coast is a layered quilt of Miskitos, mestizos and blacks. The ancestors of other Afro-Nicaraguans were free blacks who immigrated from Jamaica and other Caribbbean countries, lured by the good, steady jobs available for English speakers.

Stories abound about people who have hidden behind ambiguously brown complexions, "passing'' for Miskito Indians, or mestizo.

"It's hard to mobilize when you are still recouping the identity and just starting to openly use the term black," says Hooker, the University of Texas professor whose father was a regional councilman.

A year ago, Shirlene Green Newball, who grew up in Puerto Cabezas, allowed her perm to grow out. "I really wanted to show and know who I am," says Newball, who works for a women's organization.

Newball had thought for a while about what it meant to be black here. She considered all the terms morena, coolie, afro, chocolate, la negra. Then she decided that natural hair -- an enduring barometer of ethnicity was the purest expression of blackness.

"You are seeing an authentic black movement along the coast, but things are moving slowly," says Kwame Dixon, an assistant professor of African American Studies at Syracuse University.

Koreth Reid McCoy, 17, gets her hair combed by 'Ms. Vilma' in preparation for a black beauty pageant in Pearl Lagoon. 'I'm so proud of my heritage and my ancestry,' she said.(Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald) SYMBOL OF CULTURE

In Pearl Lagoon, population 3,000, the dogs sleep on the dock, the main drag is more dusty path than street, the country-western music drifts from open windows and doors, and Koreth Reid McCoy rushes home from school.

She floats the whole way, more than a mile, to behold the lovely lavender gown with beads she is to wear at the beauty pageant. In the last decade, the coast has held annual black beauty pageants, but this is the first one -- along with an African cultural festival -- in Pearl Lagoon.

"I love the way it falls. I love the colors. I love the style," Koreth says, her voice falling into a lullaby. "It reminds me of Africa. I'm so proud of my heritage and my ancestry."

Leaving her house, Koreth steps into the road, and, carried by the giggles of barefoot little girls, makes her way toward the river and back, as poised and glamorous as she would be on anybody's runway. All of a sudden, and maybe not so suddenly, she is more than a pretty girl in a pretty dress. Koreth is a symbol of cultural possibilities.

"I want people to know where we are from."

Philip Montalban Ellis sings about his hometown, Bluefields. ‘I been trying to sing songs that say something and that uplift my people,' he said. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald) MESSAGE IN MUSIC

For as long as he can remember, and certainly when times were bad, Philip Montalban Ellis -- beautiful dreadlocks to his waist and a guitar that rarely leaves his side -- has been singing about the black experience.

. . . We gotta fight or we will die. . . . Lord knows we need liberation, Lord knows it's the only solution. . . .

Today, Montalban sits on an old, rusted chair under a lime tree in his backyard, strumming away.

"I been trying to sing songs that say something and that uplift my people. We have struggled so long," he says. "I have been charged with carrying the message of my people."

Earlier this year, the Nicaraguan government recognized Montalban's art, awarding him its highest cultural honor. Before now, the idea of an unapologetically black man even being considered was unthinkable.

"I feel like I am accepting the award for a whole race of people," Montalban says. "I hope this means something."

DJ said...

Whatever, man. I found this blog because of DailyKos, and now it's on my list of favorites.

dnA said...

Whatup Field,

Your discussion of the "whiteosphere vs. blackosphere" is actually what originally brought me to this site. I think that you make a good point, and it seems to me that so often white progressives and white conservatives are after the same thing, that is controlling the black narrative in America so it can be exploited for political gain.

I post at Dailykos pretty much everyday, and I do it to bring traffic to my own site but also because there are many people whose comments I enjoy reading. That said I do run into my share of crazies. I had one guy who in the same breath called me a "black race warrior" and five minutes later told me he was "colorblind." Don't even let me get into the shit that gets said about the CBC when the Fox Debates come up, it's pretty frightening.

But that said, There's something to be gained I think, from making them have those discussions. At the very least, people with some perspective are horrified when they see people with like-minded politics saying certain things, and at least it prevents them from avoiding race all together.

dnA said...

Oh yeah I forgot to mention that the "Kossack" thing bugs me too. My Jewish fam was run out of Europe by those assholes. I don't know why that has to be the term they use for each other, but I'm never going to use it.

field negro said...

anon (you should have left a link or name or something) but thanks for your insight on afro Carib culture.

dna, thanks for bringing some light to those lost souls over there. I guess somebody has to do it :)

Christopher Chambers said...

I guess somebody needs to broker a sit-down like in the Soprano's last lame episode. Kos etc agree to less arrogance and egotism, pateralism (those are the usual white liberal hallmarks; Kos' folk do need to drop the "Kossacks" thing), the brothas agree not to be so angry. hahaha. Frankly, we need to something, for as I said, the bigger battles loom, and I for fucking one ain't gonna stand by myself in the pass at Thermopalye while the pissin contests continue...

Anonymous said...

This all comes down to some hardcore liberals and some blind black people that keep think if they keep saying that racism doesn't exist out loud enough times then it truly must be true no matter how many glarring examples are out there to disprove this train of thought.

There is no right side to be on in this 2 party political BS that goes on,

Democrates are ok with you owning a piece of the pie as long as it is not as big or bigger than their share.

Republicans want you to own nothing because you are suppose to be working for them and rejoice at how they have saved you from living in squaller

Malik Isasis said...

Good post Field. I agree that so-called white progressive share the white supremacy of their more conservative counterparts, especially when it comes to marginalizing people of color's (especially Black folks') experience because it is not their experience. I too avoid their blogs...Black Agenda Report writes on this often. Good post.

Anonymous said...

"Kossacks" is derived, of course, from "Daily Kos", which itself is based on the name of the site's owner/founder, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga (sic?). I suppose "Kossites" might be less provocative, but perhaps it's also a referent to "Deaniacs"?

Yesteryear's "enlightened white guy" is today's "well-meaning 'soft' bigot". Some of this might be generational, some of it the cluelessness of class-sheltered individuals, and some might represent people who have issues they haven't really grappled with yet.
I'm somewhere in the process towards "enlightened white guy", I suppose, and for personal reasons "don't worry about the black thing" doesn't really work for me.

Anonymous said...

i'm in complete agreement with your comments, field. the blackosphere has been my saving grace as a refugee from the dc white progressive non-profit community. despite my valiant efforts to maintain my idealism, i've had to take a hiatus from trying to talk about civil rights and meeting the needs of "underserved communities" with people who would much prefer that actual people of color refrain from contributing to their conversations about race. ugh.

i also think that the "kossacks" would be at least a bit more hesitant to espouse the opinions you quote if this was a face-to-face conversation, and they weren't safely hidden behind their computer monitors. ah, the perils of the blogosphere...

Cynthia said...

I think the Whiteosphere and the Blackosphere can't come together because they want different things. Blacks want equality and Whites see this as taking away from themselves. Therefore, those who make up the Democratic Party is torn between too many factions. This is why the Dems can't get anywhere in my opinion. Btw- I’m a secularist too! It's always good to see someone else who's not all tied up into the religious thing. This is one of the reasons why I like your blog; your narratives are not littered with religious references.

west coast story said...

What Cynthia said, even about the secularism.

The conundrum for the Dems is having the platform for equality for all when this country is not interested in that, including many in the Dem party. The rollover on the 2000 and 2004 elections confirmed for me that Dems are not working in my best interest. I left the party in the wake of expanding the President's war powers and the Patriot Act. I've never missed an election in my life but there is a distinct possibility that I could sit out 2008, even though it goes against what I've been preaching for years. We need more parties. I could never vote Green. I'm all about sustainability but the Green Party is nutty as a fruitcake. And I can't imagine voting GOP unless the guy Paul What's-His-Bucket, who is anti Iraz war, got the nomination, which will happen when hell freezes over.

Anonymous said...

I see I am being "blocked" atanother website - but my "ideas" are more than welcome.

Guess I'll call myself

"Anonymous TOO" since the other post never made it on the Web. Not the first time, btw. Maybe a way to send your musings individually would be another thousght.

Anonymous said...

"Paul from SF", a commenter on My Left Wing, made this comment on FN's post after sub discussion on the number of blacks in San Francisco came up:

Diversity isn't just black and white (6.00 / 1)
Hispanic counts. Plenty of Hispanic folks in SF.
Asians count, too. We have thousands of Chinese, but it goes way beyond that. Japanese, Thai, Burmese, Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese, Korean, you name it, we have it.

Then there are the Indians, Pakistanis, Middle Easterners of various nationalities. Russians, Ukrainians, and various other eastern Europeans.

To boil down the idea of diversity to just "how many blacks do you have in your city" is a gross and mistaken oversimplification.

All that, without being at all aware that he proved FN's point more forcefully than almost all the commenters who agreed with FN.

rationalpsychic said...

Hey. I am listening. I'm getting most of your points. I just wrote a blog talking about Candide by Voltaire and mentioned the word "Moors" in it. This kind of stuff is in a historical context that shows where we (white liberals) were 250 yrs. ago. I also realize that it shows how little we've moved in that time, even though the book skewers everybody with satire.

Would you mind if I put a link to your site on my blog? No, it doesn't make up for the rest of my ignorance, but it could be a start if it gives folks a way to mix and listen.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post.

Made me think of a newspaper article I read recently on how negative stereotypes can affect people's performance in tests and the like. In the study, one group of women were told men were generally better at maths, and that group did worse - not only at the maths test, but also at another task.

This just shows the deep-seated impact which a negative stereotype can have.

I would never think to tell an African-American person that there is no prejudice. For one thing, I'm not African-American, or American at all, so that would be a bit presumptuous, but also - how would I know? Just because I'm nice to everyone I meet doesn't mean that everyone else is all open-minded.



Anonymous said...

Hey, field.

Excellent post. I'm a white guy, and this post was a definite eye-opener for me. I agree that I don't have to worry about:

"Not getting shot going to the corner store to buy a f*****g two dollar bag of potato chips from Mr. Chin, all because none of the big chain grocery stores will set up shop in the hood."

I know I would like to think of myself as being "colorblind", as they say, but I also understand that I have no idea what it's like to be a black person and deal with the problems that you face. However, I would honestly like to know more so that I can better understand and maybe then be able to help somehow (if that's possible).

I have one question. You seem to have advocated a particular remedy for the situation:

"A [dim]ocrat who won't change the quality of the typical poor black person's life one bit. You have been poor from Carter to Reagan to Bush to Clinton, and back to Bush again."

Could you expand on what exactly you would like Democrats to do to change the quality of your life? I would honestly like to know. If you don't want to fool with me and would rather send me to some relevant links, I'd appreciate that also.

Anonymous said...

anon why do you say you are being blocked at this site? That kills me when people say that. I am going to say this again: I DO NOT AND NEVER WILL BLOCK OR CENSOR ANY ONES OPINION FROM THIS SITE. PERIOD! (Unless of course there are naked or what I consider obscene pictures attached to their post)Please feel free to say whatever the hell you like. Just be ready to debate or back up your position sometimes.

Thank you WCS for your perspective on the Asian community out on the Left Coast. I think that's important. We too often here on the East Coast view Asians with mistrust and envy just because they are doing what we should do.

Thanks for cheking in "barieev", please feel free to link me to your site, and to come back to this one. You, and everyone one else checking into the fields for the first time is always welcome. Not only to lurk, but to leave a comment as well. That's how we are going to get through this ignorant racism bullshit, by having a dialogue with each other.

"reasc" let me try to answer your questions about the dems. And don't get me wrong, if given a choice between the dems, and the Nazis on the right, I will usually hold my nose and go with the dems.

But they should stop taking the black vote for granted, and try to have a meaningful dialogue with grass roots black organizations. Go to inner city groups and community leaders-not just Jessie, Al, and the usual suspects, but the REAL people in the neighborhoods who people respect and will follow; and fine out what needs to be done. ( I gurantee you they would get more votes)They need to start talking more about issues that effect us. Like allowing ex felons to vote after a certain amount of time spent being good citizens. Talk about improving public schools, and pushing for after school programs. Talk about small business loans to minorities and putting the hammer on banks that red line in certain areas. Talk about changing the crack cocaine laws that call for unequal sentencing of minority offenders. They need to be talking about more trade with Africa, more aid to Darfur, and a higher minimum wage..... I could go on, but time doesn't permit me to right now.

Bottom line, I think the dem party should be more open to our (black peoples) concerns, especially given the fact that black folks have invested so much time and energy with you guys.

But I promise tog et back to you on this one. It's a good subject.


Anonymous said...

BTW folks, pardon the bad grammar and spelling ("is always welcome"?)

Chalk it up a weak attempt at multitasking.

Anonymous said...

Of course racism is alive and well--just like sexism, homosexual(ism?), classism, and fat-peopleism, and any other ism you can make up.

There are people who don't like/hate another person because they wear a different brand of tennis shoe, where they live, or the sports team that they like. The point is that some people will find any excuse not to like another person no matter how stupid or irrational it is. I can't believe people deny that.

Just because we don't have "colored" bathroom and hotels any more doesn't mean that we don't have racism. Yes the government stepped in and stopped a lot of the overt racism, but they can't change people's hearts. As much as it sucks, that change just takes time.

It's "just" been 40 years since that crap ended. Hell, 100 years ago the Irish were the "niggers" of the country and had all the same racism, lack of jobs, housing discrimination, and the rest of the crap that blacks are still dealing with. It sucks but it's reality.

As far back as you look there's been the haves and the have nots. Not so long ago there were kings and serfs. You think that system's gone but look around and you'll see there's still the rich and powerful and then there's the rest of us. That system has been around for thousands of years and it hasn't gone away yet.

People usually don't give up power and control out of the goodness of their hearts. The only way things *really* change is when they're forced to change.

There was the late 50's to late 60's when blacks protested and made things change. Then in my opinion blacks allowed themselves to be pacified with social programs (but that's a whole other post.)

I'm definitely not making light of the situation--racism is alive and well. It's less than it was 20 years ago but more than it will be 20 years from now. That's just reality.

You might be interested in two posts I made on my blog that are talking about this very thing:

The revolution will not be televised

Whitey on the moon - 37 years later what's changed?

Check it out and let me know what you think.

I dig your blog. I'll check it out again. Later.

Angel H. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angel H. said...

I saw that mess over at Daily KKKos. I was going to blog about it too, but this post is better than anything I would've scrounged up! Keep up the good work!

Francis Holland said...


You know how I feel about DailyKos, but for those of you who don't, just Google my other blog, called "The Truth About DailyKos."

Meanwhile, I've written a few articles about the fact that 60% of DailyKos is atheist or agnostic, including one member who funded a case to the US Supreme Court to take the words "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance. I refused to say the ENTIRE pledge of allegiance in grade school because I thought (and think) it's a load of crap to say "liberty and justice for all" in the light of our experience.

So, when I criticize the anti-religious nature of DailyKos, it's simply because (1) I hate DailyKos and (2) white people don't care that DailyKos is segregated, but they hate atheism, and (3) spouting and touting atheistic ideas and trying to push them on candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is BAD POLITICS and will lead to the election of another Republican president.

That's an argument about the politics of Kos' atheist activism, not about atheism itself, which is something about which I am an agnostic.

Francis Holland said...

Was the Black Panther Party a "hate group" or a "self-defense" group? This article is posted at the AfroSpear Members Forum.

Anonymous said...


It is my own ISP that is doing the "block" not you/yoursite.

And it does happen at other sites the moment I put in my real e mail address. Talk about a "control freak", whoever it is.

Personally, I love your site and wish there was some way I could e mail some of your posts - with permission of course.

David Sullivan said...

Let me get this straight.

I am an Irish-American *joke* *smile*, so I can't visit the Afrosphere, enjoy the writing and join in the commentary?

Why bash the white liberals? In a country where people who identify themselves as black (12.3% in the 2000 census), then why would you not take on allies. Allies don't have to agree with every issue, but band together for common goals.

I don't pretend to know what its like to have black skin, but I grew up in a minority neighborhood, poor as fuck and have a pretty good idea about powerlessness and lack of hope.

Racism is never going away (the black community still regards different shades of skin differently, seen it first hand), but lets come togethjer on common issues and lets not alienate allies, however, self serving.