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Race is Back!

And this time, it's personal

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, September 16, 2009.

President Obama, when recently queried his opinion of rapper Kanye West, said the man was simply a “jackass”, an estimation widely agreed upon across race and state. West is the guy who grabbed the microphone from the young and white Taylor Swift, a cross over country artist, when she accepted her MTV Music Video Award, and the guy bitched that Beyonce’s video was better and she should have won, not Swift. It was rude, quite stupid, and fully in keeping with the Kanye West we’ve loved and endured for some years. He usually complains only when he doesn’t win the major prizes, so he’s expanding.

In the event this was not a piece of pre-programmed theater like past wardrobe malfunctions or nightclub entourage fights visibly fake even by the standards of professional baseball, West has apologized as Swift made the rounds on television. There is no patting his outburst into shape, and Beyonce herself was reliably postured as mortified.

Meanwhile, in professional tennis, Serena Williams threw a cat fit in a match at the US Open she was losing, audibly swearing and moving upon middle aged oriental and white judges looking for all the world like she was going to get violent upon their pudgy faces. Williams, of course, is black.

In even less important news, a white boy was beaten up by black students on a school bus, recorded by the mandated security cameras. This, of course, has never happened before, any more than black kids have ever been beaten up by white students, say in Boston or Alabama. Rush Limbaugh - our morbidly obese, pill popping, hypocritical racist chicken hawk – has blamed President Obama. No doubt, Obama is also to blame for Serena Williams as well, but Limbaugh probably doesn’t follow tennis, where people exercise and sweat just following the ball in play.

Nevertheless, as the GOP makes an interruption of a presidential address into a cash cow for their southern bigot base, at the very least it seems the media has discovered signs of possible racial conflict on the rise, and this atop the clearly racial taunts on signs among the GOP's Astroturf political demonstrations. Before the old templates and dusted off and implanted, a couple of things.

First, I didn’t actually know anyone made music videos anymore, because nobody seems to broadcast them, including MTV. Probably on after I go to bed. That said, though, country music videos have been pretty lame, in my experience, and I would have no trouble assuming Beyonce’s video was superior to Swift’s, just as she is a vastly better singer. And, frankly, black artists have been screwed for decades in music awards. I can recall a year back in the days when the Grammys meant something that Motown should have won every award, but did not. Like journalism awards, they’re politically inbred, with awards doled out to keep folks happy and build audiences. But it doesn’t excuse West, who is indeed a rude, juvenile, talented jackass.

Serena Williams, by the way, was correct. Replays show it was not a foot fault, as the judge claimed. And because she’d been playing badly for her and was losing and already had slammed her racket once, she was booted out. She lost to a white working mother with a seriously cute little girl. Frankly, it was better for the tennis business this way, rather than a Williams sister always winning. Williams clearly threatened the well being of the judges, though, and I don’t recall if Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe went that far during their tirades in the past, and neither one of them is as intimidating as Williams. But they, too, were mostly correct, and I cannot say Williams was wrong to get angry. Tennis was a snooty sport in Connors’ day, judged by ancients, and judges asleep were photographed during important matches, including Wimbleton, in effect dissing the athletes. That’s not the major problem today, which is that humans clearly cannot really keep track of 130 mile an hour serves and air space when incredibly athletic players jump to serve. It’s too fast, and electronic lines need to be implanted in tennis as umpires need to vanish in baseball.

That doesn’t excuse Williams, who probably has a hard time taking opponents seriously and gets caught periodically. She knows she lost it, and it will cost her, but the game needs to get real about electronic officiating. So do all pro sports.

And, it’s upsetting that a kid on a bus sequentially hit by other kids raises the ire of the same conservatives who thought Rodney King, sequentially clubbed by white police as he lay on the ground, was fine. Just fine.