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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Friday, October 05, 2007

Weekend Roundup

I knew it! I knew it! I knew it! I'm a huge fan of track & field, 'cause like most "retired" amateur athletes who lie on the couch on weekends and watch sports on TV thinking "what if," I really admire a great physique and above average athletic skills. And next to gymnastics, track & field probably produces the most near-perfect athlete bodies out there. That being said, I knew Marion Jones, star U.S. Olympic sprinter and long jumper, was on something. Jones is scheduled to plead guilty in federal court today to lying to investigators about using steroids over a two year period. She said that (like Barry Bonds) she didn't know the clear substance her coach had given her was 'roids. And by the time she found out, she was scared that she panicked and lied when asked about it. I don't know about that story, but I am somewhat relieved to find out she was juicing up, 'cause I was beginning to think in my Austin Powers frame of mind, that she used to be "a man, baby!" Not that there's anything wrong with that. But if she had been a dude, I would have expected her to compete in the men's division in the Olympics. It would only be fair.

Not to beat a dead horse, but double standards are always amusing, especially when the person holding them doesn't realize or acknowledge them. So I'm back on Bill O'Reilly. Understand, I don't think he's a bad guy. I just think that he's such a big guy, as in big shot, that he couldn't bring himself to admit that his description last week of the black people at Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem sounded bad, regardless of his intentions. But in the same discussion, O'Reilly reiterated something he's said on his TV and radio shows before: that most of white America has no idea that the average black American is nothing like rappers and other numbnuts portrayed on entertainment TV and in music videos. The suggestion was that black folks need to be aware of that stereotype and that perhaps black folks, using that awareness, could do more to win over their white counterparts and convince them that not all blacks rap and dance or whatever. So here's the funny double-standard: Last night I was doing my usual chat show surfing in prime time, when I came to the O'Reilly Factor. His guest in this segment was a Filipino college professor, who was upset, because he felt a joke about Filipinos on last week's episode of Desperate Housewives cast his people in a negative light. And he was concerned that it would generate or perpetuate certain negative stereotypes about Asians. So, given O'Reilly's revelation that average whites perceive average blacks to be like rappers and other folks portrayed on entertainment TV, you would think he'd told the professor: "You are right. Why, just recently I warned black people that lots of whites assume...about black people, based on TV and music videos. So you are correct to be worried that this jokey stereotype will give the general public the wrong impression of Asians." Nope. O'Reilly told the professor he was taking a stupid joke on a stupid TV show too seriously, that it wasn't that big a deal. Here's my deal: I agree with O'Reilly. It wasn't that big a deal. But if he really meant that last evening, then he needs to go on his show, face the cameras and say something like "White people of America, I have warned black folks on a few occasions that many of you assume that all or most blacks mirror the images you see of black rappers on TV, and in music videos. Well, entertainment TV and music videos are stupid and not meant to be taken seriously. So, if you do harbor such stereotypes, then drop 'em. Because it isn't fair to the average black person, who is minding his business, earning his keep, and has never picked up a microphone or been on television." What's good for the goose, no? He said last week his long term goal was to eliminate stupid racial stereotyping. If his audience, as he says, is the largest among those prime time sort-of-newsish-talk shows, then it's his civic duty to tell his audience to pass their judgments after meeting people personally and not after watching a TV show.
And while I'm at it, let me just dispel another racial myth that I've heard in recent weeks on prime time television, this one in relation to O.J. Simpson's latest legal troubles. No worries, Mr. O'Reilly. I'm not putting this one on you. These other talking heads who've been saying in recent weeks that "black America" supported O.J. Simpson during his murder trial back in the day, and that "black America" believed he was innocent, are on crack. These guys are smoking left-handed cigarettes if they really believe the drivel they're spewing. The truth is the average black person knew back then, just like everyone else, that O.J. was a hack...literally. The average black person did not support O.J., because the average black person was aware through the wonders of television that O.J. had about as much use for them as Michael Jackson - none! Or at least none, until he was charged with a crime and suddenly in need of friends and public moral support. O.J. is like the atheist who prays in the face of danger. Finally, the average black person was not happy that O.J. was acquitted in his murder trial. On the contrary, I would argue the average black person may have been slightly amused that it took O.J. getting away with murder before such a travesty began to outrage the entire country - 'cause surely no one believes that he was the first rich person to get away with it. But let's not get it twisted. We know just like everyone else that this was a rich guy who got away with murder. What he looked like was a distant second, even to him.
Finally, hybrid cars kill! Relax, I'm not saying your Prius is widening the gape in the Ozone Layer. But according to a new report, blind people worry that some hybrid cars are too quiet for them to hear, and thus a safety risk. The report says that blind people who rely partly on hearing the engines of approaching cars before they cross the street are worried that they might unwittingly start stepping into the path of hybrid cars, because hybrids are so quiet. Hmmm. I'm gonna leave this one alone, I think. This definitely goes in the damned if you do category. But I do feel more at peace restoring that 442. It's rumble will prove that I love and support the blind.

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  • Wasn't Marion Jones married to an Olympic shot putter that tested positive for roids back in the day? I think so. I never really doubted that she was roiding too. In fact, I'm not surprised by ANYONE who gets busted for HGH or roids anymore. It's destroying sports!

    I totally agree with you on OJ. It was funny to watch the media struggle so hard to declare that it was all about race and not about just another rich guy getting away with something.

    By Blogger Jay, at 3:20 PM  

  • O.J.'s legal team made that trial into one based on race in my opinion. Look, let's face facts, most people still use certain words either in home, privately, or around others in a close-knit work setting too. I'm not saying Mark Furman is right in using those derogatory words, just saying I'd be willing to bet my bottom dollar just as many black cops say equally obnoxious things about whites and every other race, including their own, as probably do officers of hispanic or Asian backgrounds as well. But saying something like that does not mean someone also is hell bent on contaminating evidence, planting evidence, etc., etc. But when you plant a seed of doubt in a juror's mind, water it a bit and let it grow, look what kinds of things then can happen.

    By Blogger Jeni, at 5:06 PM  

  • Jay, yeah, Jones was married to the shot putter. I think his name was C.J. Hunter. And you're right about the media thing too. It was ridiculous. The only black person I ever met who was an O.J. supporter was the "court jester" at my old barbershop back in the day.

    And Jeni, you'll get little argument out of me. OJ's defense did exactly what they were supposed to do: plant seeds of doubt and water 'em, as you put it. Still, like I said, the support rumors for OJ were just that. There was little basis for that broad generalization to be made about who was in his corner.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 7:06 PM  

  • All my black friends and acquaintances were more invested in seeing OJ convicted than most whites I knew because there was in some quarters a cynical expectation that they would defend him.

    I think it should be clear that the main factor here was that OJ was rich, not black, green or purple, and to make it about race is surely to miss the point.

    By Blogger heartinsanfrancisco, at 10:08 PM  

  • For what is a man [woman, student, athlete, Member of Congress, President, Democrat, Republican, Independent] advantaged, if he [/she] gain the whole world [a passing grade using a stolen test, three gold medals and two bronze using an illegal substance, a congressional seat by using attack ads that smear, avoid impeachment and public censure by lying or elaborate cover-ups, or place party loyalty and prescripted talking points above the truth], and lose himself [/herself], [dignity, self-worth, conscience, integrity, self-respect, self-love], or be cast away [ostracized, shunned, banished, banned]?

    The price is too great. Marion, I feel, now realizes that, as well.

    By Anonymous thefirstdomino, at 1:16 AM  

  • The O'reilly premise about whites and blacks is as misguided as the O.J. premise. Unfortunately, somebody is benefiting from perpetuating these myths.

    The argument that whites don't get to interact with "regular" black folk is specious at best. Sure some whites and some blacks are living in virtual racial isolation, but I can't believe that there're that many.


    I've gone to school with them,
    prayed with them,
    eaten with them,
    shopped with them,
    lived with them,
    worked with them,
    argued with them,
    drank with them,
    played with them,
    and have done a thousand things more with them.

    And, If I were to do more with them, I'd have to leave the ghetto.

    By Anonymous thefirstdomino, at 4:59 AM  

  • I drive a Prius and it blurts out a pretty loud beep when I back up (A great safety device.).

    And, I have another great safety device located in the center of my steering wheel that I use to alert people when they step into the crosswalk by mistake.

    It's called a horn. What will they think of next?

    By Anonymous thefirstdomino, at 5:29 AM  

  • I don't get steroids. If you're truly an athlete, and why else would you invest so much of yourself into your sport if you were not, wouldn't you want to win/be the best based on your own capabilities? I guess I am leaving out the money factor, but it still surprises me every time.

    I think OJ won not just on the basis of his money, but on his fame.

    By Blogger fiwa, at 9:26 AM  

  • It only cost O.J. $10 million in '95 to get off. With a legal team that was second to none.

    Gasoline is going to have to become a lot more expensive for hybrids to overcome the premium pricing that still exists.

    If you want racial harmony, have the different races have sex together regularly. Not that I have an opinion, mind you.

    By Blogger The CEO, at 10:42 PM  

  • You mentioned so many things worthy of comments but, just like the news the last few weeks, I just want to talk about O.J.

    Of course he was a rich man who got away with murder! I listened to news reports that the average black person supported him and thought, who the hell did they interview to come up with that?

    By Blogger Lex, at 11:50 PM  

  • "Gasoline is going to have to become a lot more expensive for hybrids to overcome the premium pricing that still exists."

    No doubt about it. I bought a Prius, not because it's the green thing to do to save the planet, although it might reduce green house emissions; not because I save money (which I do, because often I get 50 miles to the gallon on the open road) by not filling my car as often as, say, a SUV owner might; but because I wanted to do the patriotic thing--help reduce America's dependence on foreign oil.

    It seemed a small price to pay to achieve such an meritorious end. I don't wish to be self-congratulatory here, but wish merely to point out the less-than-obvious reasons people buy these cars.

    "...have the different races have sex together regularly."

    Have you seen all the "brown" babies/children populating America today?

    Harmonizing the races by way of interracial copulation was a favorite pastime of white slaveholders in the antebellum South.

    With all that "harmonizing" we should reach racial parity within, let's say, the next 50 years.

    By Anonymous thefirstdomino, at 12:38 AM  

  • I don't buy your O.J. arguments. Average African Americans appeared to be ecstatic following the verdict.

    I look at that woman, the track star, and think her body might not be that perfect. I think she could have a little work done.

    By Blogger M@, at 5:15 PM  

  • James,

    I like how you call them left-handed cigarettes, see...

    By Blogger M@, at 5:15 PM  

  • Three important things here:
    1) Marion Jones is hot. I don't care if she juiced. If juicing contributed to her hotness, then so be it. But then, I'm a hypocrite. I admit it freely. I think Maguire, Bonds, and Sosa should all have huge asterisks after their names. They aren't hot.

    2) Bill O Reilly is an ass. Stop watching him. Remember when your parents used to say, "quit making those faces or your face will stay like that?" Quit watching O Reilly or your brain will stay that way.

    3) If you want to hear real insensitivity and racism, listen to Hannity. Yes James, I do follow the right wingers. I believe in knowing my enemies.

    Hannity, who would defend the Holocaust if it was thought up by one of the Republican candidates, moans daily about how women and people of color continue to support Democrats. Considering how the Republican party has written off people of color and women, who could blame them. Of course, Hannity is content to leave the gays to the Democrats. Apparently, so were the Republican candidates.

    And speaking of women...ladies how do you like your Ann Coulter now? Facist.

    By Blogger Stewart Sternberg, at 7:35 PM  

  • "Average African Americans appeared to be ecstatic following the verdict."

    I'm sure James can respond for himself, and you're certainly entitled to whatever view television cameras will give you--but the blacks I know were as startled by the decision as were pleased with it. I'd say that most were startled by it, myself included--and I feel pretty "average."

    As a postscript, the argument as to O.J.'s guilt or innocence still rages within certain black circles--so we're not all of like mind on this or any other subject, just like color.

    By Anonymous thefirstdomino, at 9:16 PM  

  • love reading you James.
    I just don't have any thing to offer on this subject of any worth.
    Just makes me sad to see potential for goodness twisted by lust for adoration and power.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 12:35 PM  

  • sad news about Marion Jones. the pressure world-class athletes must feel is incredible.

    By Blogger minijonb, at 2:44 PM  

  • Hi, I know this is not the topic but Second Saturday gallery walk looks very interesting. I've found a list of openings and exhibits @

    The Herald should include a listing of ongoing events and exhibits in the Wynwood Art District and the Design District areas. Thank you.

    By Blogger 2007, at 1:24 PM  

  • Hello,

    We would like to do an interview with you about your blog for . We'd like to give you the opportunity to
    give us some insight on the "person behind the blog."

    It would just take a few minutes of your time. The interview form can
    be submitted online at

    Best regards,

    Mike Thomas

    By Blogger Mike, at 5:35 PM  

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