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We Have Always Been Wakanda - Chris "Preach" Smith

Photo Credit: NME

"Image sees, image feels, image acts." 
- Lerone Bennett Jr.

It has been exactly one week since I got myself together and made my 
way to my local movie theater in order to catch Marvel Studios' latest 
offering in the superhero movie genre, Black Panther. It was a moment 
that many had been anticipating for well over a year. As I sat in the theater
and saw the opening scene unfold, with Sterling K. Brown telling the story
of how Wakanda and the Black Panther came to be, I felt the welling of 
tears in my eyes. These were tears of joy. Tears of pride. And, tears of 
relief. I wasn't alone - I could see a few others dab at the corners
of their eyes as the scene where T'Challa, Nakia and Okoye returned to
their home of Wakanda unfolded. This co-mingling of emotions surged
and bubbled well after I left the theater. I walked out and saw a young 
girl with her parents. She looked at me and gave me the Wakandan salute.
I returned it, and we all smiled.

And that moment began to underscore what Black Panther has become for
me and many others who've watched the film. Because we have always 
been Wakanda. 

T'Challa(Chadwick Boseman) and Okoye(Danai Gunira) stand on guard. Photo Credit:

There are quite a few articles and syllabi that have been published in the past
week and prior to that on the impact that this film will have on Black people 
across the diaspora. And there will be more to come. For me, this film directed 
by Ryan Coogler (only his third motion picture if you can believe it) is definitively
the crowning achievement of Marvel Studios but a watershed moment for Black
cinematic history as the bold next step our films will take in conveying our stories
across the board. Yeah, I've seen the pushback from bigots who want to pop up
whenever there's something positive for Black people. "Oh, Wakanda isn't real."
It's a funny statement to issue when you have people dressing as Pokemon 
characters or those people who create Quidditch leagues in parks with brooms and
black lab coats yearning to be part of Hogwarts. Even more so when you consider
there are actual courses where one can learn the Klingon language from Star Trek.
Image, and the energy it generates, matters. And with this film, there are so many
images and layers that enhance this film's power. I honestly feel like there'll be
a lot to unpack from this movie for the entire year.

I direct you back to the quote above that opened this article, words credited to
one of Black America's most foremost historians who passed away a day before
the film opened. Lerone Bennett Jr. was someone who would've understood the
power behind Black Panther and what it took to make this film, being someone
who began to piece together the true history of his people back in his home state
of Mississippi at a time when Black people on the big screen were relegated to being
shiftless scoundrels. One has to remember that the highest grossing movie in this
country that made the motion picture industry here take hold, a film that is still taught
as part of university curriculum is The Birth of a Nation by D.W. Griffith. The film 
became a flashpoint of high racial tensions in America, with whites flocking to the
theater to see Black people depicted as lazy and over-sexed savages in the years
after the Civil War. It is forever tied to the revival of the terrorist organization of 
the Ku Klux Klan, a revival spurred by an Alabama schoolteacher who saw the film.
The film was also part of a spark that led to the strengthening of a civil rights movement
in this nation due in part to the activist and journalist William Monroe Trotter leading
efforts to have the film banned in Boston, Massachusetts. From that point there has
been a concerted struggle for Black people to be represented well and have their 
stories told in a way that isn't demeaning. From the body of work of Oscar Michaux 
to the prominence of acting talent such as Paul Robeson, Canada Lee, Sidney Poitier,
Cicely Tyson, Nichelle Nichols and many others on the big screen and the TV screen
to now, that has been a journey that has lifted us up and made us proud. Seeing 
yourself in a powerful way in a story that's compelling and opposite of a negative 
narrative that the powers that be put you and those who look like you in is something
that can never be dismissed given the history of the United States and in turn, the 
Western world. Image matters, even in moments when you think it does not. Image 
can become a prison as much as it can be a throne seat. 

Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) confronts T'Challa(Boseman). Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

And so Black Panther enters the stage with the weight of all of this history on its 
shoulders, and it more than meets the challenge. Think about this - an acclaimed rising 
actor in Chadwick Boseman who hails from South Carolina playing T'Challa. Lupita 
Nyong'o as the spy and love of T'Challa, Nakia who hails from Kenya. Michael B. Jordan,
who plays the villainous Erik Killmonger being an American. Danai Gunira as Okoye 
being of Zimbabwean descent. This film is a woven blanket of the diaspora brought 
forth beautifully by Coogler, an Oakland, California native who no doubt went into this
film having his thoughts dwell on the Black cinematic history he was set to advance.
There's been many written pieces on how he wove the resistance history of the Black
Panther Party into the film, with the revolutionary struggle represented in Jordan's 
intense portrayal of Killmonger who sought Wakanda's resources to take over the world
and arrived at the kingdom through treachery and murder in order to reconnect to his
past through his exiled father, N'Jobu. I do feel that Coogler also took pains to glean/
influence from one of the great Paul Robeson's few motion picture appearances, Song Of
in 1936. That film, made in the United Kingdom featured Robeson as a dockhand
in London  who yearns to find out where he comes from in the African continent, spurred
on by a melody he sings often and a necklace handed down to him. This leads to him 
being discovered by a opera maestro and in turn, leads him back to the African nation
that he is a rightful heir to the throne of - but not without severe resistance. Seeing 
Killmonger and his actions on the screen to me is an illustration of the complexity of the
relationship between African-Americans and African people from the nations on the continent
and also of the toxic elements of masculinity coupled with the revolutionary ethos that 
is still playing out today. Especially when it comes to the traces of misogynoir present in
Killmonger's character which also has been a point of serious discussion.

The sheer solidarity that you feel on the screen with T'Challa and the women of Wakanda which
include his mother, Ramonda (played by Angela Bassett) and sister Shuri (played by
Letitia Wright) is at times electric, and ultimately nurturing and unbreakable. As I sat
in the theater for a second time seeing the movie with my mom and two of my sisters
and brother, I felt that bond reflected in my own with my family. I saw that same feeling
reflected in the sheer amount of families in the theater. In the line that stretched outside
of the lobby doors waiting for the next showing. My mother turned to me after the film
and said with pride, "this has to be the best film I've seen in a long time. And I can't
wait to see it again." To me, the women of Wakanda are in this film the realization and
the homage to many women of the diaspora who have helped to uplift Black people
throughout the centuries. The Dahomey Amazons and Queen Nzinga, to name a few. And
I saw T'Challa in essence represent those Black men who recognized, honored and embraced
the role of sisters in the fight like Thomas Sankara and Fred Hampton for example. And
one can't discount the women behind the scenes such as Hannah Bechler and Ruth E.
Carter who helped to fully hone the Afrofuturistic splendor of Wakanda and its citizens.

In a time where you have a virulent racist in the Oval Office and a cross-section of the
country who are tuned in to him as if they were a hive mind of hate, a film like Black
matters. It matters because it ups the ante in what Black storytellers can present
to the world and their people. The film is on track to make a BILLION dollars at the box office
at its current rate (as of today it has officially topped $500 million). Ryan Coogler is in
that pantheon now along with Ava DuVernay (who is set to be next with her film for Disney,
A Wrinkle In Time opening in two weeks), Jordan Peele and Barry Jenkins who are expanding
the cinematic perspective of Black people in different ways. Black Panther is a glorious next
step that should be rightly celebrated. And hopefully added on to by other films that can
build upon its greatness because all this is, is a reaffirmation of how great we as a people
have always been. And that image is one to hold onto, fiercely. 

Wakanda Forever. 



Taking The Trash Into Account - Chris "Preach" Smith

Photo Credit:

“People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised
when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them,

- James Baldwin


It's the fourteenth day of 2018. And the President of The United
States has openly re-affirmed that he is indeed, an unabashed 
racist. This is due in part to the publication by the Washington Post
of remarks he made to four sitting senators regarding Haiti in a 
discussion concerning immigration reform. Trump went on to then
ask why should we be concerned about those from "shithole" countries
and why the U.S. can't seek out expats from countries like Norway.
Dick Durbin, the Senator from Illinois went on to confirm the reports
hours later. Lindsey Graham offered a tepid comment that danced
around the issue. The other two senators flatly stated that "they
didn't recall" the euphemism being used.

It seems to be an almost hourly basis where The Crass Ass In Chief
is tied to or the direct cause of some form of disgrace that chips 
away at the very foundations that America has built herself on. This
situation didn't surprise me a bit. I've grown up always regarding 
Trump as a racist - I grew up in New York City seeing his ascent and
how media then treated the racism as "just being colorful". Calling 
Haiti and the entirety of the African continent (once again reinforcing
his stupidity by lumping all of those nations into one country) what
he did is something he probably does at least once a day. It's part of
why he got elected. It isn't a new thing to those who knew and know
better. Racism in the Oval Office also isn't a new thing, from George 
Washington to Andrew Jackson to Woodrow Wilson to Ronald Reagan.
What has people shocked is that the prism of coded political language,
has now been shattered into pieces. And the timing of it was particularly
cruel. He made these comments the day before Haiti marked a painful
anniversary of the devastating earthquake that ravaged the country back
in 2010. He was in the midst of working on a speech to commemorate 
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A speech that went on the following day as 
he was surrounded by Ben Carson and other assorted Black hangers-on,
most notably the preacher Darrell Scott. Someone who looks more like
a failed 112 cover band singer than anyone of substance who made the
attempt to silence April D. Ryan, the veteran White House Correspondent
when she directly asked Trump if he was a racist.

I am not going to go into a mode of defending the esteemed nation of 
Haiti or any of the nations of the African Union that this man has offended
with their comments, because their legacy has and will stand forth longer
than this orange strain of verbal diarrhea that currently sits in the Oval 
Office for the moment. Their dignity should not be exalted only as a default
to callous racism but all the time. 

But on this weekend, a weekend that is designated to celebrate the life and
legacy of one of this nation's greatest people - a man who I sometimes ask
if this country even deserved at times - something like this should highlight
exactly why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many other men and women spoke
out, resisted and gave their lives for. To eradicate such thinking, to live up to
the ideals of a nation and of humanity on a whole. Fifty years after Dr. King 
was gunned down on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee we are still dealing
with the internal wounds that the unique cancer of American racism. The shit that
still dangles from various parts of this society. Dr. King died while lending his
voice to those participating in a sanitation strike in Memphis, men whose job
it is to dispose of trash. And yet, the trash that racism and bigotry in all of its
forms is - still lingers and is on a resurgent wave thanks in part to Trump and
those behind him. Because he is just the figurehead. There's a lot of people 
out there who in some form or fashion espouse what he said. People who at 
times hide behind pictures of animals or go to lengths to create fake profiles
on websites to hurl verbal filth at others online. And those who don't. 

There are a lot of people who will use this weekend to issue quotations from 
MLK because they believe in what he stood for. But there are also a great deal
of people - white people - who will not deign to look at MLK's entire philosophy
because he spoke plainly to white moderates who wouldn't truly confront their
burden of acknowledging and dismantling white supremacy. (This also applies
to the scant margin of people of color who search for cookies from this system
too, by the way. Looking at you "Pastor" Mark Burns.) This weekend cannot and
should not only be a "kumbaya" moment to feel better. It should be a weekend
to honor what one person sacrificed, and to move towards recognizing that the 
fight isn't over. We have an overt racist in the White House, who is supported by
a political party who shares some if not all of his ideals no matter how many 
statements they issue. All you have to do is look at how they voted this past year
to confirm this. And they in turn still have a base of citizens who will cheer such
ugliness on - until they realize it cannot distract from their healthcare being taken
away along with their jobs. 45 using the word "shithole" isn't the issue. The racism
that is being reinserted into goverment policy, the racism that is prevalent in the
abject neglect of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, is. The racism that lifted 
Donald Trump into this position both here and in other parts of the world that 
subscribe to white nationalism, is. We're only in the second year of this administration.
It has the potential to be worse, but it can be beaten back as long as we move 
past the knee-jerk outrage and use that to better combat the policies and those 
lackeys trying to carry them out. 

The thing about shit is, only the ones who revel and wallow in it are the ones 
who will find it harder to remove from their flesh and their character. All 45 did
was reveal how permanent that stench will be.

It's on the rest of us who refuse to be tainted by that filth to work towards 
keeping it out of our hearts and our spirits any way we can. That's what Dr. King
did. That's what some other people who wallow in it need to learn.


Let The Ladies Eat - Chris "Preach" Smith


Photo Credits: (Top), (Bottom)


Maybe it's not in vogue to acutally have a nuanced position like this,
but here goes...lean in closer. Ready?

Cardi B AND Rapsody are hip-hop. You can like one or the other, or 
you can enjoy what both bring to the table. You can root for them 
both to win.

Rap music is an art form that does tend to lend itself to a kind of binary
struggle. It's the art of battle that's embedded within, going all the 
way back to the park jams that helped give birth to the culture be it 
the DJ's or the MC's. And while its mainly been male-dominated, women
from Roxanne Shante to Sha Rock to Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott 
and all those in between have made their mark on the culture. For 
Rapsody and Cardi B, they're both poised to do the same from paths
that vary wildly but have the same amount of the grind in them. Cardi
B has drawn a lot of attention thanks in part to her role on VH1's "Love
and Hip Hop" series that has given birth to a thousand memes and has
propelled her to create a mixtape with a smash single, "Bodak Yellow".
The Bronx, New York native is now celebrated highly, which has gotten
her some detractors. (More on that in a bit.) Rapsody has been on the
underground scene for years as an MC down with fellow North Carolina
native 9th Wonder and the Justice League crew. Beasting on guest verse
appearances on albums by Von Pea and Kendrick Lamar among many
others, Rapsody has dropped a couple of mixtapes that have only boosted
her visibility. This has led to her dropping her latest album, Laila's Wisdom,
under the umbrella of Roc Nation. But to some, there's something that she
lacks that in their view has led to her not blowing up in a major way.

Part of the drama that comes up when discussing something like this is
the mainstream versus "backpacker" comparison and contrast that takes
place. Cardi came up using a keen strategy of videos that showed off her
personality and her rhymes while she was working as a stripper, and this
led to her TV appearances. So heads will look at her and essentially say,
"well, she's the chosen one" following in the line of Nicki Minaj in terms of
that kind of visibility. Rapsody has gotten acclaim from those seeking an
alternative to contemporary rap music, but some of those fans have chafed
at her growing prominence, even criticizing that she might be mimicking 
Kendrick and other rappers from the TDE crew. Another part of the drama
does stem from an ugly perspective that's still ingrained in rap culture, and
that is colorism. Controversial rapper Azaelia Banks made some comments
via social media going after Cardi B, basically claiming that she has only
made it because she's Latina and men tend to put non-Black women in rap
on a pedastal in the industry. Cardi B clapped back, and Azaelia doubled 
down before deleting her initial comments online using her past as an exotic
dancer against her. Now, there is truth to the way that dudes in the industry
and in general do tend to belittle Black women by valuing Latinas and other
women over them in various ways. Part of that could apply to certain industry
forces when it comes to Cardi B. But those truths don't fully diminish her 
own work to get to this point. And she's a bit more cognizant of it than 
others would expect. As for Rapsody, it's not farfetched to say colorism has
played a part in her struggles - being a dark-skinned woman in rap does 
come with that uneasy truth with regards to corporate labels and their own
practices of promotion. Add that to being a rapper who has made her bones
in the underground and having that being a strike against you for the casual
fans and those who want everything new only in the veins of pop culture. 
Rapsody herself has commented on it at length.

These two women right now are part of a new wave of rap music that has 
ties to the Golden Era, but represent newer and more strident voices that 
the music and the culture needs. Some may throw shots at Cardi B because
they feel her lyrics aren't overly complex and geared towards getting it on
and popping in clubs. Rapsody may have critics because they feel she should
"stay in her lane" and not challenge male MC's like Drake. Sometimes folks
conflate critique with out and out disdain. That's just the way it is. Ultimately,
Rapsody and Cardi B are building on the successes other women MC's before
them have laid down and creating newer lanes for those alongside and coming
up after them. Let these ladies eat. We've got women MC's in a new light that
isn't totally about being a sex object for dudes or any other restrictive box 
that we find ourselves bringing up whenever this subject arises. If we're at
all serious about the culture of hip-hop, this multifaceted wave is all part of
the nature of the culture and should be respected as such.


For The Red, White & Bruised - Chris "Preach" Smith

Photo Credit: Getty Images

"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge
to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at
whatever cost.” 

- Arthur Ashe

The 2017-2018 NFL regular season starts tomorrow. And Colin Kaepernick, the 
former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, is without a team. He has become
the center of a roiling and furious debate ever since he first sat down, then took
a knee as the National Anthem played before games last season. Kaepernick did
so as his form of protest against the continued shootings of Black people by law
enforcement officials across the nation and the inequality inflicted on people of 
color in general. Other players, most notably Michael Bennett of the Seattle 
Seahawks and Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles among them, also 
began to protest in solidarity with him on these issues. Months later, the protests
and the debate continues. Without Kaepernick, who is the likely target of a silent
but concentrated blackballing effort by ownership in the National Football League.
Not unlike the "gentleman's agreement" that existed in Major League Baseball under 
then Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis that barred Black players until Jackie
Robinson's breaking of the color line in 1947. 

Of course, this is the part where someone out there will chime in to claim that this
isn't true. I've heard all of the arguments exhausted and taken apart. There's the 
camp that says he isn't THAT good. He's four years removed from taking the Niners
to the Super Bowl. Look at the slew of QB's who have been chosen by teams across
the league to start or play backup in comparison. Brock Osweiler, who went to the
Houston Texans and got traded with a draft pick a YEAR LATER to the Cleveland 
Browns, who then cut him a few days ago, goes back to the Denver Broncos. Jay
, who was retired and was all set to be in the broadcast booth, gets a fresh
new contract with the Miami Dolphins. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who Jets fans were mortified
at after a season last year that included lowlights not seen since Mark Sanchez(who
by the way is backing up Dak Prescott in Dallas), has a gig in Tampa Bay. Given the
recycling bin that the position can be in the NFL, for Kaepernick to not even get a 
tryout is amazing. Then there's the argument that he was asking for too much money.
When no one could get exact statements from credible sources to support that point,
then they pointed to his girlfriend - a recent example of it being used by former 
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Mainly because of a tweet she directed at him.
I've had discussions with a couple of cats who say that if he only spoke up, that it 
could possibly help him get a tryout. Kaep has already stated that he would not be
kneeling in protest this season if he were to be picked up by a team. So there is 
really nothing standing in the way of him being looked at for consideration.

Nothing except the fact that he has effectively revealed the still-embedded hypocrisy
that surrounds sports and politics in that they are separate entities.

"If you destroyed the underpinnings of this great American sport,
you are a hated, ugly, detestable person."

- Curt Flood

To me, the proof that Kaepernick's position is right lies in the rising amount of anger
and defensiveness that exists on the part of the detractors looking to keep things the
way they are. They do this because they benefit from things remaining the way they
are. Look at Ray Lewis. This is someone who basically got a second chance after pleading
to an obstruction of justice charge related to a crime of double murder in 2000
after a Super Bowl party in Atlanta, Georgia. He's now someone who has fixed himself
as a man of God, and an inspirational figure. But he's also now seen as someone who
the Ravens organization will put out there as media cannon fodder when it comes to
Kaepernick. Another person who is looking to make his bread off of this while within
the system is Jason Whitlock, sports writer and host of "Speak For Yourself" on Fox
Sports One who has essentially made himself the Shelby Steele of Black sports media
figures with his respectability politics that reek of servitude. It seems like he has a 
personal score against Kaepernick to the point of airing a skit on his show yesterday
that mocked the quarterback - apparently with the help of Kid of the iconic rap duo 
Kid N Play. Whitlock has himself been under fire for his behavior which led to his parting
of ways with ESPN. But this marks a new low, one that essentially spits in the face of
all who came before him across the Civil Rights spectrum. The protests Kaepernick helped
to initiate have even made some members of the Cleveland police union and the EMS union
publicly state they will not participate in the pregame activities before the Browns' 
season opener. Add these voices to the rabble online that throw out shots at Kaep in
expletive-laden social media posts (with some dubious spelling errors) in the name of
patriotism and yell "stick to sports" and it goes to show that a nerve has been struck.
The quote above by Curt Flood brings that truth home. A cross-section of the American 
public throughout history has never wanted to confront the ugly truths that sports can
obscure. Yet without the merging of sports and politics, some of what makes this nation
great would not exist. Think about Curt Flood. He fought against being traded by the St.
Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies because he felt that the owners of baseball
were treating players like chattel instead of like valued athletes. He lost his career, but 
in the process opened up the free agency era that today's athlete would be lost without.
Kaepernick seems poised to walk down that same road - his charitable efforts have been
constant and widespread. 

There's been a good amount of protest on his behalf, and there's a certain number of people
and groups that plan to boycott this NFL season. The NFL is the dominant sport in the 
country because of TV ratings. It's not a good look at all - especially for a league that is
now beset with issues of former and current players dealing with trauma after the steady
amount of collisions, and an epidemic within some of its players that focuses on domestic
violence. Kaepernick's crime seems to have been offending veterans, if you look at the 
more reasoned opposition to his protest. But a number of vets have commended him for
his stance and support him. 

Kaepernick has found himself as a key figure among the red, white and bruised who are
athletes. One of my friends disparaged him, feeling that "someone" was behind him taking
these stances. The conspiracy theory is always the tool of deflection used by those who 
are either weak themselves or cannot develop effective critical thinking. This is someone
who prior to his rise in the NFL, was derided for having tattoos that made him seem like
a "thug". Kaepernick didn't set out to be a hero. He set out to speak his mind and use his
platform to do something good for people, to make a change. The thing about change is,
there will always be those against it as it takes place. He just has to take those lumps as 
he's now out of the pocket of protection that an athlete's salary and status affords him as
long as he sticks to the script.

For that willingness to do so, to adhere to the tenets this nation reveres - he's already 
got his champion status.



Squeezing More Out Of The Juice - Chris "Preach" Smith

Photo Credit: ABC News

Last Thursday afternoon, I tried to avoid it.

The parole hearing of the disgraced NFL legend O.J. Simpson
was last Thursday. You couldn't help but hear about it thanks 
to ESPN and other networks touting this as "must-see TV". 
Simpson was serving a 33 year sentence for his role in being
the mastermind of a botched robbery in a Las Vegas hotel -
a robbery that was an attempt to get personal items and
memorabilia that he was advised was stolen from him. He had
served nine years of that sentence. The days before the hearing,
I began to see how other media outlets were preparing themselves
for the airing of the parole hearing. And I have to say, while
it irked me, it isn't a surprise. And when the board made the 
decision to grant him parole, releasing him in October...I knew
it would only get more people in a frenzy.

One of the open secrets that exists about America that O.J.
represents is that we are still undoubtedly all-day suckers for
sensationalism, no matter if its delivered in a slick package
or doled out in a crude manner like miniature alcohol bottles
from a cardboard box in the back of an SUV. And the media
outlets of this nation know it. They were laying groundwork
for interest in subtle ways at least a month beforehand. How?
Well, A&E Network began showing the highly regarded five-part
documentary "O.J.:Made In America" about 2 weeks prior. 
Other networks began showing their O.J. programs, mainly 
centered around the 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown
Simpson and Ron Goldman. Articles were springing up about
O.J. How he stood to make a couple of million if paroled. How
he was conducting himself in prison. Last Thursday, I was 
working with the TV on in the background as I sometimes do
and I was flipping to avoid channels that had it on. I wound
up settling for an airing of a daytime judge show. I saw the 
social media flurry of activity once the decision was made. I
turned to one network to hear the analyst reaction and got 
what I was expecting - disappointment that Simpson got freed
and in the case of one particular analyst, outrage. 

Which leads me to this - another open secret that O.J.'s parole
hearing unveiled is that of race and privilege and how once 
again, he managed to buck the system. I still believe that a 
good deal of the ire against Simpson dating all the way back
to 1995 when he was acquitted in the murder trial is that by
the letter of the law, he got off. "This Negro got away!!" is what
still swims in the maudlin swamps some out there have for 
brains. In an ironic manner, the other news story that WASN'T
stemming from the White House? The story of a white Australian
woman who was a yoga teacher in Minneapolis being shot and
killed by a Black police officer after requesting help. A story that
has played out in recent years repeatedly, but with the ethnicities
of those involved reversed. And in the days since, we've seen
the police chief RESIGN over it and calls for the mayor to step
down along with an uproar from those who previously were 
so pro-law enforcement that they stooped to thoroughly demean
all of those who lost their lives at the hands of inept cops as "thugs"
and "deserving it" because of the color of their skin. O.J. getting
parole angers them in the same way. Color is the main denominator.

Let's make one thing clear - I'm not someone who is going out
of his way to defend The Juice. I do think he's done some really
reprehensible things, and has put himself in a position that has 
hurt a great many people all for his own ego. But last Thursday
reaffirmed to me that there's still a market for the kind of fame
that surrounds O.J. I mean, one of the better & albeit controversial
songs from Jay-Z's most recent album 4:44 has him as a central
point. The media at large, and O.J. himself, understands that 
there is still a lot left to be made from his existence in the public
eye. They dug up Kato Kaelin again for heaven's sakes. I know 
that one of my boys who worked on the ESPN doc has already
stated publicly that he hopes O.J. just sticks to the shadows. I 
don't think that will happen only because he, like a certain 
orange-tinted figure in politics, needs this attention. They've had
the fame either through adulation or disgust for so long that they
don't know how to operate without it. They confuse it with love &
validation from early on and it sticks. And there are always people
willing to feed into it. The last six months of this nation is a testament
to how that can backfire. But O.J. will still be willing to feel the 
squeeze as long as it gets him fame and the benefits once more.
But what about the other stuff that gets left behind as a result?

That's a question that goes beyond sound bites and half-hour 
televised debates.