I played some Aretha Franklin yesterday to get me in the mood for church. Man that woman could wail. On one of her cuts, it was the Rev Jesse Jackson's unmistakable voice introducing Aretha and her sisters. I didn't even know that Aretha had a bunch of sisters. But I do know that I haven't heard Jackson's voice in some time. He'll be 70 soon. Who is going to back him up?
I've been thinking for some time that the most salutory effect of the candidacy of Barry Obama is that he will have set a standard for black politics that will disqualify an entire class of pretenders. It's not him alone, there are certainly others from Michael Steele to Cory Booker who have raised the bar as well. Certainly it will be a long time before we see another Kwame Kilpatrick as well. Black politics is moving on up to the big time. My question today is how tight is the rear covered?
For some people there is no black politics but the angry sort. That stereotype is based in reality but it's nowhere near the whole picture. What interests me is whether ghetto politics in particular, the strain of complaint that originates from the substandard living and substandard treatment that has been the legacy of a significant number of blackfolks for generations. To my mind, the efficacy and quality of ghetto politics lacks very much the same way today's R&B singers compare shamefully to Aretha in talent and depth.
As I have been considering the Bell case in the ghetto context, I can't help but speculate about the extent to which the ghetto is more likely to replicate men like Bell rather than men like the officers. Neither is to be a paragon of black manhood, but we all know that the cop gets the benefit of the doubt by the system, as it should be. As African America grows and improves, those left behind in the ghetto.. well the talent pool shrinks. I wonder out loud how long the ghetto will remain part of the black lexicon, and I say so in a sort of romantic way. The ghetto we know today will go the way of Moms Mabley and Pigmeat Markham. In a generation we may not understand what's even being said.
Nobody can predict that accurately of course. I recall Ridley Scott's vision of Los Angeles in Blade Runner. Not quite as urban Asian as he predicted. The Asians headed toward their own suburbs like Carson and Cerritos. Hmm. I've been thinking if I might be the man to take the place of Ofari or Joe Hicks here in Los Angeles. But I think things will deflect in a whole new way. The post-civil rights era of black politics was surprised by Barack Obama, but not at all by Jeremiah Wright. Obama will survive and Wright will not. I think there are many more such surprises to come.