Friday, August 29, 2008

Katrina, Obama, and the Civil Rights Industrial Complex

Today is the third anniversary of Katrina. My husband's entire family lived in New Orleans (and my family is just a couple of hours away in Lafayette, La). His childhood homes, his mother's house and his grandparents' house, are both in the 9th ward, not far from the Industrial Canal. Both homes were lost. My mother-in-law, three years later, still hasn't recovered. She may never again live in the city she's left only a handful of times since 1936. His entire faimly may never again live in one place, as they have and so many other Gulf Coast families have, for generations. That fact is profoundly heartbreaking, not just because it is happening to my family, but because it is needlessly happening to thousands of families. That's what's on my mind as I think about who I want to be the next president of the United States.

Last night, after Obama's amazing acceptance speech, I was watching Tavis Smiley's show on PBS and saw Cornel West and Julianne Malveaux express their disappointment, even their disdain, for Obama's words. Because he didn't mention King's name (though he did invoke his memory and quote his words) and because he didn't mention the anniversary of Katrina (though he did chastise a country and government who allowed a city to drown before its eyes) they saw him as running awy from history and memory and "whitewashing" his legacy. I yelled so much at the television that I woke up the baby and had to be sent to bed.

Ta-Nehesi Coates, has this to say:
What I see there is a reaction more out of anger than any real consideration of strategy. The thing about Barack is that for all his rhetoric, he's a pragmatist, and he's a politician. Half the reason for having John Lewis, for having the film of MLK, for having MLK's kids is so that Obama is free to focus on winning the election. I don't think you do that but making the speech a paean to MLK--God bless him. How many votes is that going to get you? When you're on the battlefield, you don't pause put down your sword and sheild to praise God for allowing you the privelige of being there. Do that after the battle's won.

Let me add this: people continue to assume that Obama is capturing the black vote simply because he walks around with brown skin. That's bullshit. He's capturing the black vote because he recognizes that black people in 2008 have dreams too. I don't dream only having my child judged by the content of her character rather than the color of her skin. I also have a dream that I can pay the mortgage, that I can afford to bring sick children to the doctor, that I will be able to put my kids through college, that my girls will have a clean, healthy planet to live on, that we elect leaders who will prevent us from living in an Octavia Butler novel. It seems petty and short-sighted (not to mention horribly bad strategy) to think that his acceptance speech was the time for Obama to beat the drum of blackness. Black people heard him and understood. We want him to win, not because he's black, but because we want to live in a different, better country than the what we have now. The beating of the drums can come later.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The McCann Girls Go to School

Every year we take a picture of Frances on the first day of school. I have dreams of one day of making a school scrapbook for her that will include these pictures. Here is she on the first day of third grade:

Cate had her first day of preschool this morning. In this picture she was rather annoyed that we are trying to take her picture, so no smile. But do note that her hair is combed, something my mother thinks never happens. Also note her pants--Brian and Frances said they are tacky, but Cate said they make her look like a beautiful princess.

And for kicks, here is me in high school. I think I'm 15 in this picture. Note my giant teeth and enormous blue glasses.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Review: Tropic Thunder

I am quite possibly the only black person in America who liked this movie. Here's my review in The City Paper.

What offends me, what black people should rise up and shout about, is when blackness is reduced to just a few character types: The Magic Negro (Jennifer Hudson in Sex in the City, Morgan Freeman in almost anything), The Thug (the rapper du jour), The Sassy Black Woman (overweight and loud), The Player (Samuel L. Jackson's specialty), The Hot Black Chick (young, with a nice ass).

Minstrels come in blackface and black skin and I object to them wherever I see them. I didn't, however, see any in Tropic Thunder.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Afrogeeks on the Road #4--Food Edition

We took photographs to document our many eating excursions while on vacation. Here are just a few of the delicacies we have consumed the most. Okay, when I say we, I mean me. Here are some of the things I have been eating nearly non-stop since I've been in Louisiana.

First is a corn dish I haven't had since I moved away from Louisiana in 1996. It's called corn maque choux. I'm not sure what's in it (probably corn, red and green peppers, cream, butter, some other stufkf), but I feel confident it's as bad for you as it is delicious.

Here is pecan candy. I was really old, maybe in college, when I found out the rest of the world knew pecan candy by its fancier French name, praline. I may have eaten my weight in pecan candy over the last week.

My beloved boudin (rice and pork sausage). if I were still living here, my family would have to have an intervention. We made friends with the guy at the corner store on the country road where my mother lives. That's how many links of boudin I've eaten.

This is stuffed bread. I'm not sure what stuffed bread is stuffed with (it never occurred to me to ask until just now; probably meat and spices).

And this is a guy who works at Fricken Chicken in Baton Rouge. Here's a brief transcript of our exhange:

Guy: Welcome to Fricken Chicken. May I take your fricken order?

My sister: We would like the 12 piece family meal with fries and rice dressing.

Guy: We're no longer serving the rice dressing. The recipe was no fricken good.

Me: (uncontrollable laughter)

Guy: Your total is $20.70. Please drive to the fricken window.

I was so amused that I went through the drive through again.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Afrogeeks on the Road #3

One of the things everyone was looking forward to on this trip was Frances getting her ears pierced. Where I'm from little girls get their ears pierced when they are 3 or 4 months old. Brian objected to poking holes in his kid when she was a baby, so Frances is still without earrings. She requested ear piercing for her birthday and my mother agreed. We all piled into the car and headed to the mall. Here's Frances's ear before.

And here is her face during. This face is mild compared to the absolute screaming, falling down on the floor fit she had in *two* stores in the mall. Needless to say she still has no holes in her ears.

Here we are at Vermilionville, the original settlement site of Lafayette, La. It's like a scaled down Williamsburg, with original buildigs and people in period dress demonstrating various things like blacksmithing and spinning and weaving cotton thread. This is a shot of me talking with Cate's preschool teacher, arranging a home visit. Brian documented this moment because he was very annoyed with me.
And this Brian and the girls in front of a replica of a native Louisiana Indian house made of bamboo, bouisillage, and palm frond, with a slightly raised packed earth floor. Brian is right now, as a I write, giving me an amazing amount of detail about this house to include in this post (which I'm obviously not). I think he wants to move in.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Afrogeeks on the Road #2

We spent the weekend in Baton Rouge visiting with my sister and my in-laws. My sister, an LSU alum and crazy avid fan on LSU athletics, is already trying to recruit Frances to play soccer at LSU. My brother-in-law, a Southern alum and member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, was trying to bring her on a tour of Southern University.
Here are some people we visited with:

Here is my grandfather, Wilton, who told us happily that he is "free, single, and disengaged." He is our pecan candy (aka pralines) hook up when we are in Louisiana.

This is my niece Morgan. My sister is probably mortified that I sharing the picture of Morgan before she got her hair combed, but I think she looks cute. She's two, 6 months younger than Cate. She's getting a new sibling in February. Her vocabulary is blissfully free of the profanity that my own two year old spouts frequently.

And this is Gerald, Brian's brother, Nikki and Bryce. We are out to dinner at Copeland's and had the most delicious red beans and rice, pecan encrusted catfish, and other yummy food. A good time was had by all.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Afrogeeks on the Road

Greetings from sunny (and humid!) Louisiana. The family and I have made our way from Charleston to Louisiana by train (a trip that started at 5am and eneded at 8:30pm). Here are some highlights from that trip:

--The train is surprisingly cold. We didn't have blankets (apparently everyone got that memo but us) and the people on the train didn't turn up the temptarure until about 6pm. It was fairly miserable for a time.

--Brian, unsurprisingly, made several pals on the train, including a lady who was tres impressed that Brian was actually doing hands-on parenting with the girls, and a guy with whom Brian traded, off-color, wholly inappropriate jokes.

--Advertisers haven't discovered trains and train routes. There was a surprising lack of ads during this trip.

--We discovered this about our children: Frances is an excellent traveler. She asked questions of the conductor, wrote in her journal, watched some movies, took a nap, played 20 questions, and held up remarkably well.

Cate, on the other hand, is every nightmare toddler scenario rolled into one kid. She yelled "What the fuck!" at the top of her lungs because she was tired of us telling her she couldn't go racing down the aisle. She spent the last 4 or so hours of the trip in nothing but a diaper. She eventually took a really long nap and we discovered finally that she would sit still if she was allowed to listen to music on Frances's cd player by herself. Here's a picture of her curled up and sleeping.