In fact, for blackification purposes, one might be curious to know that one such as myself is not particularly influenced by the fate of random black teenagers in random southern towns. So I swear to you this moment that I don't know the name of the any of the Jena Six and cannot recall the name of Shaquanda Cotton's Texas town. It was Texas, wasn't it? Such snuffed candles do not light my path through history with all due respect to John Donne.
However there are some blackfolks I've been considering of late whose fate seems lost to the hoodie class and their fetish defenders. As I might have mentioned, I'm spending more time thinking about aerospace, rocket science and the long now. A couple weeks ago I bought a 5 disc boxed set of video covering NASA starting with Friendship 7. I recall actually meeting several black astronauts when I was in college when such matters were important to me. But just to remind you where I'm coming from with regard to blackfolks... When I was a freshman, I went to the library and grabbed a copy of Who's Who Among Black Americans. There were something on the order of 35,000 entries in that book. I basically swore that day that my social involvement was done - if the only black people I met were people from that book, I would be perfectly happy. After all, I did have to get married one day. So I did in fact meet Guy Bluford, Ron McNair and Mae Jemison. And then that was done.
Several others are at Wikipedia which is of course doing a better job of putting such things in front of the public than any of the so-called black leaders. There are 14 who have been in space, 11 more than once. But on any day at any college campus, you'll probably find more professors who can sing the lyrics to Gil Scott Heron's "Whitey on the Moon" than name five black astronauts. Hell, I know the lyrics to Whitey on the Moon and I still haven't memorized the names. But my priorities are straight.
I'm secondarily impressed with the progress of my own family. My son has been accepted into the business program of Cal State Fullerton, which was legendarily run by a woman by the name of Jewel Plummer Cobb. No relation but her biography is no joke. Look it up one day. She too was about the hard sciences. We'll see about Boy, he's recently attracted to economics and Freakonomics in particular. The Scholar is insisting on taking challenging courses for her senior year as she bucks up her already nice GPA, and the Sprite is breaking her own records in track. She's a sprinter, hurdler and long jumper.
But I've come to meet another branch of the family that goes back to the old days in New Haven, who have been doing quite well for themselves for quite some time. I'll call him Uncle Mack because what I've come to know about him leaves me with little doubt that somewhere in one of his many closets is a full length mink coat. Uncle Mack lives one of the most exclusive suburbs in New Jersey in a castle of his own design. So far as I can tell those ceilings are 20 feet above ground and there's at least 6,000 square feet on the first floor. Uncle Mack wears French cuffs at home and reminesces about the days when Atlantic City was newly revitalized and high rollers actually tucked in their shirts. I brought up the Tyson Spinks fight on my iPad.
There used to be a club on Amsterdam Avenue that was all that when I lived in NY. I met Mike Tyson there and found I was a half inch taller. When you go back to those days, when Eddie Murphy filmed 'Boomerang', there wasn't a black American living who didn't have some metaphor of black power that didn't include Mike Tyson. He was the unstoppable force and the inevitable symbol. Uncle Mack loved to see him fight in Vegas and Atlantic City and had good seats, but not as good as some Jamaican drug dealers. There's always a bigger fish, but not always a better flavor. Uncle Mack has done better with his wealth than Iron Mike.
Finally, I've been considering the possibility that Condi Rice might find herself on Romney's short list for Veep. Either way, I listened to an hour long interview through the Hoover Institute and found how easily she grasps the motions of the geopolitical world. She is one of the great women of our time, who stepped up and made her mark. She has returned with passion to Stanford and is certainly the only living Secretary of State who bothers to teach undergraduates. I'd say the future is bright.
I know why it is difficult for some black Americans to keep their eyes on any prize worth having. They have been distracted by those in control of short attention span theatre, who are by definition not interested in knowledge. But I have plenty of confidence that human nature triumphs and that people will unplug from nonsense when the time is right. I'm not on a mission any longer to prove something or even exemplify something about a proper blackness. Like Popeye, I yam what I yam. I am a writer, and this is what I'm thinking about black America today.
Oh yeah, and I hear Tiger had a good game, and I realized that Ron Artest lives in my neighborhood, and I'm feeling Lewis Hamilton not being happy with 3rd place.