The Black Commentator has been dogging Condoleezza Rice for almost the entire life of this publication, beginning with our backhanded salutes to NAACP Image Award winner Rice and Latino media luminary Geraldo Rivera as "credits to their race." ("Condoleezza and Geraldo - A fine pair," May 8, 2002.) We mean her no good, just as she means no good to anyone or any thing but her own career as a first-rank Pirate.

Rice learned to speak Russian in order to soldier in the Cold War and learned to talk oil to navigate her way to the inner circles of the military-energy-political complex. Along the way, she gave skin-color credibility to Black America's most dangerous enemies, most recently as prime apologist for George Bush's MLK-week incitement against affirmative action. We don't mind at all when poet Amiri Baraka calls her a "skeeza." In a more righteous world, Rice would be forced to reside in her Chevron oil tanker namesake three miles offshore to avoid the catcalls of an outraged African American community.

has provoked anger among Condoleezza defenders, mainly people who crave any form of recognition of Black talent by Power, including the approbation of Lucifer, himself. (That's why we dubbed Rice "The Devil's Handmaiden.") Two weeks ago, we crossed an invisible line, in Khalil Bendib's caricature of Rice as Gatekeeper to George Bush's inner sanctum. Sexual conclusions might easily have been drawn from the cartoon. Mattie Weiss wrote to, literally, curse us out for making "the same tired stab that is always made against women in power (i.e. that she sleeps around to get where she is) ...."

Sheryll Durrant read the same issue of , and came away with quite a different impression.

I must be a total idiot. I missed the sexual innuendo implied by Khalil Bendib's cartoon "Condoleezza The Gatekeeper" in the April 24 edition. And I'm a black woman to boot. Sorry Mattie Weiss, even after reading your comment I'm still not offended. I took the cartoon at its face value. She is truly the President's Gatekeeper in every sense of the phrase and I don't care if the cartoon uses stereotypical caricatures to get the point across. She deserves it.

As Ms. Durrant sees clearly, standards of correctness are not universal - enemies are fair game for the full range of contemptuous expression. However, we believe that Ms. Weiss has jumped to a conclusion that is, itself, quite chauvinist. Why can't she imagine that Ms. Rice and George Bush might fall head over heels in love? Our cartoon only implied intimacy, not that Rice had slept her way to the top. Does Ms. Weiss rule out the possibility that two people - similar in age, both purportedly physically fit, working in close quarters on matters known only to them and a few other, privileged human beings in the world - might find themselves drawn together. Must Condoleezza play the hussy, in this scenario? Is this not a racist and sexist assumption?

Even scorpions mate.

Steal the whole day

The entire white Democratic power structure is trying to figure out how to marginalize Rev. Al Sharpton and, thereby, remove from political discussion the concerns of the party's most important and loyal constituency, African Americans. Although inept in fashioning alternatives to George Bush, party regulars study alchemy into the wee hours in search of a formula to make Sharpton disappear from the primaries.

Victoria, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, thinks the Democrats are getting all worked up about a game that will be cancelled.

While the Dems are getting all revved up for the 2004 election, it's about time someone pointed out that there probably won't be an election! This thoroughly rotten administration will throw together a bogus national emergency, declare martial law and lock the polling places. Wait and see.

How Lady Liberty looks from Chicago

Economists use the term "discouraged workers" to denote people who have given up looking for employment and, consequently, do not show up in the monthly jobless figures. This permanently jobless cohort has long been a fixture of African American society, and grows steadily, even as the official unemployment rolls lengthen. To that number should also be added prison inmates, comprising on any given day 12 percent of Black males in their twenties and early thirties.

In his May 1 Cover Story, "How You Gonna Export Something You Ain't Even Got At Home?" Chicago Urban League Vice President Paul Street confronted the impact of what he calls "deep racism" in America, realities hidden by "artificial suppression of the true black male unemployment rate, which stood at 39 percent in the mid-1990s when prisoners were factored in."

In some cases, the pervasive effects of "deep racism" overwhelm indices of Black progress. For example, "there were more black males in the state's correctional facilities just on drug charges than the total number of black males enrolled in undergraduate degree programs in Illinois state universities," wrote Street.

In seeking to expose that persistent deep racism, it is crucial to realize that it continues to operate against African-Americans who have overcome or avoided some of the society's broader racially disparate structural forces by attaining the skills and credentials required to access modern labor market opportunities .... We need, however, to go yet deeper, behind the smoking gun of pure discrimination to see that spatial, skill, and criminal record "mismatches" are themselves deeply colored by and expressive of a covert racism that involves special white fear and loathing toward males within the African-American population.

David Comdico finds "deep racism" lurking in the Bush men's media message.

Paul Street's recent cover story is a timely reminder of just how vital the issue of racism is to these sad times, when mainstream America would prefer to believe otherwise. It is precisely because America blithely proclaims itself a post-affirmative action, "color-blind society" that racism has been running unchecked. In these topsy-turvy times no one seems to notice that a country run by Whites is butchering a country of Brown people, and using the worst sort of racial stereotyping to dehumanize them. (Well, Norman Mailer has just recently in a recent opinion piece).

Witness the latest photo-op aboard, gasp, the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln (what a vicious sense of humor the neo-conmen have): witness a sea of white faces. At the onset of hostilities, Bush was careful to stage a multi-ethnic backdrop, to communicate some notion of international solidarity where none existed. But the victory, as subtly communicated in these recent images, was clearly for White America.

William Bowles writes from Britain, the place that former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young said "practically invented racism" - a statement that may have cost Young his job. Mr. Bowles sees racism deep in the societal marrow on both sides of the Atlantic.

"How," Tony asked me, "you gonna export something you ain't even got at home?"

And of course, Tony's experience is not a new one. Black Americans during WWII denied the right to carry arms, segregated even as 'we' fought to defeat Fascism.

But the ruling class having learnt its lessons, now recruits from the poor Black and Latino communities with promises of an education denied to them in their communities. And the lack of understanding shows in the behavior of these 'cannon fodder' in Iraq which I think contrasts sharply with the Black and Latino generation who fought in Vietnam (although mostly conscripts).

Yet how does one overcome a system which as a matter of course, rewrites and obliterates history and as a result, each generation has to relearn the experiences of the past, rather than inherit and learn from them? A system which moreover, murders those leaders as a matter of course (ML King, Malcolm X, George Jackson et al) who are able to articulate and express the desires of the oppressed. And where it can't eliminate, co-opt.

And not only do we have to learn the difference between overt and covert racism, critically we have to understand that racism is an ideology, at least three centuries old, and utterly institutionalized into virtually every aspect of 'our' culture, whether it be science, history, the arts, economics, sociology or politics.

Here in the UK, a spokeswoman for the police on community relations when tackled over the institutional nature of racism in the police, which four years after the Lawrence Report (on the death of a young Black man, and the third commission convened after the failure of the first two to even name it!) admitted that she thought that "that institutional racism in the police was impossible to remove".

Now there's very little I can do about what a person thinks about me (hopefully, they'll keep it to themselves) but for sure I can tackle the institutions no matter how small my contribution is. And above all, I can pass on as I remember those who taught me.

The unwelcome mat

Our readers are usually quite kind to us, even in noting our shortcomings. So it is with Leila Mouammar, who points out our dearth of coverage of the escalating war against immigrants and refugees.

I thoroughly appreciated your cogent analysis of contemporary players and events. It's refreshing to see ideas in print that are expressed from an empowered and dignified position that nonetheless exposes the power game politics being played.

Growing up as a Palestinian-Canadian has allowed me an "othered" perspective on the world so that much of what you wrote in "Conspiracy Theories" resonated with my own experiences. People in the US who are from a growing list of countries like Yemen, Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, North Korea, (and others) are disappearing into detention after going to register at INS installations, which are now under the control of the Office of Homeland Security. Thousands of primarily Arabs and Muslims (but also Haitians, and other immigrant and refugee groups) are being held in undisclosed locations, without legal counsel, with either no charge or very spurious, unelaborated charges.

It would be great if you could do an article about the war at home, the war against immigrants and refugees displaced by these illegal wars the US is waging abroad. The whole INS registration process is very disturbing. People have waited all morning, outside in freezing temperatures, only to be turned away at noon and told to come back the next day. Once inside the INS buildings, there is nowhere to get any food or eat, and no instructions are given: you just wait to hear your name called and they never pronounce the Arab, Muslim, or any kind of "ethnic" name correctly so people sometimes miss hearing their name. But they are afraid to ask and disturb the process, so they just wait all day, only to find out at the end that they were called earlier and perhaps will have to return tomorrow.

It's really crazy.

Anyway, this is the first time I have seen your site (so if you've already done an article on the subject above, forgive my ignorance). I just wanted to say that from what I've seen, you're doing a great job and to keep writing because you inspire people like me to keep going when you write to the truth and to the heart of the matter at hand.

Ms. Mouammar is substantially correct - we have not given the subject sufficient coverage. Racism against immigrants unleashes forces identical to those that threaten African American citizens and the rule of law, itself.

Conspiracies and glitches

Two unrelated events affected the content of this week's EmailBox column. First, a computer glitch erased a big chunk of the opened and unopened mail. Our regrets to the affected writers, whom we hope to hear from, again. In addition, an unusual number of letters arrived from outside the U.S., some of which survived the glitch.

Canadian Eric Walberg responded to our April 24 Cover Story, "Conspiracy Theories 2: The Great Unraveling of U.S. Global Power." maintains that the Pirates have unintentionally accelerated a global withdrawal from entanglements with a grasping United States.

The international community - in which the U.S. is no longer a true member but, rather, a dangerous presence - struggles to work around the Americans as new structures of trade and cooperation are created ....

The real bomb ticks under America's porch, and will devastate the dollar in a spasm of millions of individual and institutional decisions to run in the other direction.

Mr. Walberg says the world is fed up with playing a rigged game using U.S. monopoly money.

Brilliant journalism, more an extended prose poem.

Guess who's financing the Iraq invasion? Not the US government. WE (the rest-of-the-world) ARE! What a clever international financial system the US has going for it. It has no intention of ever paying back its monster foreign trade debt. It simply prints its dollars, and we the gullible rest-of-the-world take them in exchange for our goods, directly financing even their most criminal actions.

How breath-taking, and how bald the lie.

A Swiss reader named Moritz, who describes himself as a "student of Afro-American culture," writes of dramatic changes in European views of the U.S.

This essay on 'Conspiracy Theories' is a real masterpiece, everything in there, strong analysis and incredible writing, bravissimo! I didn't know about your site and got linked there through for the first time.

You won't believe how public opinion, as reflected by the media, has changed against the US within the last two months. Sometimes I sat in front of the TV and couldn't believe how this historical transition period was taking place, right here in front of my eyes. Let there be no doubt about it: the rupture between Germany (actually German speaking countries, including Austria and Switzerland, too) and Amerikkka is irreversible. To me as a longtime-observer this gives me a lot of hope. I'm convinced that if we as Europeans stick together we can help the world bring these pirates down faster than anyone.

Mr. Moritz seemed to almost slip into a minor Anschluss, for a second, assembling a Greater Germany from his outpost in Switzerland. But, perhaps we are too sensitive to these things.

To paraphrase Andrew Young, Europeans practically invented piracy. We shall see how they respond to the U.S. offensive-against-all.

Australian Christopher Skinner shares an observation he's made of his countrymen, regarding race.

I greatly appreciate your cogent columns in Black Commentator, which I have just discovered. Here in Australia we observe terrible levels of ill health, unemployment, and incarceration amongst the indigenous population. Interestingly, the white majority here seems to display little overt racism against Black American visitors. A black face on TV is more likely to be from the Caribbean or USA than from the Central Desert or Arnhnem Land. Those places do provide most of the art that Australia exports.

Offensive language

Finally, we got a letter from Harvard University, concerning language employed by Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. In a campaign message published in last week's , Kucinich said:

I don't agree with other Democrats that we can continue to increase military spending, and still deliver on our domestic agenda for middle class and working Americans. We can't. That's voodoo budgeting.

Susan Klimczak took offense and, in the process, drew our attention to an interesting story about Haiti.

Can you tell me why you didn't point out that the use of the phrase "voodoo budgeting" in the long quote by Dennis Kucinich in The Issues: "Supremacy forever" was an unfortunate choice of words used in making an exemplary point?

You are usually so precise in being both strongly critical and critically sensitive in your language, so I think perhaps there might be something I don't understand.

Here's what I understand now:

One of my spiritual sisters practices Vodou and every time I hear "voodoo" used as a putdown, usually meaning "misleading" or "not real" my heart hurts for and with her heart. Considering the historical role that Vodou played in the liberation of the Haitian people, I believe that when discourse puts down Vodou, an important historical and present-day tool used in working for liberation of all peoples is put down.

(I also think it could have been a wonderful opportunity to point out that this month Jean-Bertrand Aristide, president of Haiti issued an executive decree declaring Vodou to be an officially sanctioned religion in Haiti. This is a great moment of acknowledgement and respect for a very powerful spiritual tradition.

Click here for one link about the news from Haiti.

Again, I really respect you at and think it's entirely possible that there exists some position around the use of the word that I don't yet understand, a position that defends its use. And I would sincerely like to understand more than the little I do now.

Thank you. I continue to look forward to your journal each week!

Having no defense, we offered none.

Keep writing.

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Issue Number 41
May 8, 2003

Other commentaries in this issue:

Cover Story
Bush's Harvest of Shame - One Million Black Children in Extreme Poverty

Welfare Safety Net

Black Spinelessness in High Places: DC Mayor sells out on vouchers - for nothing!

The Issues
Lieberman seeks crossover GOP in SC... Ashcroft targets Haitians as threat... The quickest route to death row

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Commentaries in Issue 40 May 1, 2003:

Cover Story
"How You Gonna Export Something You Ain’t Even Got At Home?" - By Paul Street

Shock and Awe USA

Treat Corporate Media Like the Enemy - and no free pass for Black radio

The Issues
Sharpton: Going the distance with low finance... JC Watts, in it for the money... Section 8 housing threatened... The doomed occupation

Run Black, or don’t run at all... Condoleezza cartoon insults women... Conspiracies of the many against the few... Peace of the Shaman

Guest Commentary
The Lena Baker Story: Execution in a small town - By Lela Bond Phillips

You can read any past issue of The Black Commentator in its entirety by going to the Past Issues page.