Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Boodocks Social Commentary:
Making Pacts With Racism, And
Sistas Expected To Act Like Trannies

"I will renounce Ice Cube and all his works."

And thus in Season 3, Episode 8, titled "Pause" (start at about 6:30), the Boondocks' Grandfather, Robert, repeated this pact with racism to get fame, women, and escape the boring life he lives.

Now that was deep.

Tying it in with religion was genius.

For you young'uns, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre were two of the original NWA. They picked up on the revolution for justice in the black community when the say it loud, I'm black and proud meme ran out of gas. Until they had beef in the early 90's and gradually became less political by glorifying gangsterism for the sake of it (Dre more so than Ice Cube), those bros excelled at protesting police brutality and "just us" in the jails.

At one time, a sure fire way for brothas to get chicks was to be an activist. Who the FBI didn't kill, the media co-opted. Along came Good Times, The Jeffersons, Cosby, Diff'rent Strokes, and Oprah. None of them were mad, or mad enough, about anything. Just as happy as they could be. Drive a few miles from where those TV shows were taped and you'd be rolling through Black Shanty Town, USA.

My point isn't to bash the entertainment factor of what they had to offer, or Tyler Perry's thang either because I do like him, but to illustrate that Hollyweird is guilty of overusing this script as tool to smother the fires of legitimate concerns about racism, and along with it, the creativity of writers and producers who would address this side of the culture if their work wasn't killed in the cradle.

A second brief segment in this cutting edge Boondocks episode is stunningly brilliant - but a very subtle social commentary made by Aaron McGruder.

In this spoof (at around 5:20), "Winston Jerome" is the cross-dressing director and will play the role of Ma Duke.

He announces, "Ma Duke should find herself a man."

The question to Granddad Robert is, "Do you think you're man enough for Ma Duke?"

Granddad says yes. He's dying for fame, remember?

So in this role, his line is to say to 'her', "You are a strong, intelligent black woman who will make me a better man."

Wow. I had to think about that shit - and then it clicked.

Have we gotten to the point where the strong black woman is expected to act like a cross dressing gay man?

Before you jump up and say oh hell no, think about the increasing sexual expectations of young women.

All year I've been fighting the urge to heave when I read posts promoting sistas to not only suck but to swallow and to take it up the azz, and to stop sweating the men over commitments and marriage, and instead to "just have fun".

Now that's some gay lifestyle shit.

As I see it, it's been pushed on women to behave promiscuously like gay men.

This goes hand in hand with Hollyweird and the feminization our men.

Who is perceived by White America as being less dangerous than the gay black male? I swear they get office jobs hands down twice as much as the straight black male applicants. I ain't hating on the gays, and eff you if you think I am, but Aaron McGruder is on to something in that scene.

McGruder also goes after the loonier, deeply closeted gay yet homophobic side of black churches. It makes me think of this 2007 favorite Ice Cube video as a symptom of straight urban male backlash.

Otherwise I don't feel the need to comment on the religious or the skin complexion issues because Twitter and other bloggers (check out Chauncey's and Nordette's posts) are already smokin' hot on that, and some other angles.

Thumbs up and a standing ovation to Aaron McGruder for being perhaps the best social commentator of our times. You can watch all the Season 3 episodes here.


  1. KIT,

    You thoughts on this issue and on point and I had a good laugh when I read:All year I've been fighting the urge to heave when I read posts promoting sistas to not only suck but to swallow and to take it up the azz, and to stop sweating the men over commitments and marriage, and instead to "just have fun".

    Now that's some gay lifestyle shit.

    True dat KIT!

    I watched the episode last night. The entire time Dave Chappelle's remark about refusing to put on a dress and wig to be a woman was in the back of my thoughts. I also thought about the video that I viewed on you tube that used Who's That Lady and pictures of every Black male star who had dressed in drag.

    I happen to be a fan of The Boondocks because I like how Aaron brings the message with a twist of humor.

    This is a great post KIT. You hit the issues on the head.

  2. As usual. A LOT to think about. The stereotypical black gay man is perfect for what Hollywood (HW) wants.

    LaFayette in True Blood being a GREAT example.

    These stereotypes are sassy like HW likes it's black women, but not demanding like HW expects black women to be. They're male so that's a plus, but not dangerous to the susceptible and easily victimized white girls.

    They can play that "all knowing, capable of making it all better" mammy role, but like... better.

    However, when you take how HW wants it's black people (male, and gay) but throw what black folks want their females to be like (strong and independent) on top of it, you're going to get... well... Ma Dukes.

    Damn Kit. Damn.

  3. Raw and powerfully brutal in honest post Kit. I wonder over an African America "Tootsie"? But the post is to pause. Great stuff, a new awareness. Will be taking a look at Disney more than I have been.

  4. Stereotypes of ANY kind are usually evidence of a lazy mindset, a stifled intelligence and an excuse to label people by not looking any deeper than the surface for the usual quick fast-food answer.

    Is it any wonder that this country and so many of its citizens remain stuck inside a mental ghetto of their own making?

    Great blog entry, KIT!

    You DO bring the fiYAH!


  5. @Kit

    "...or Tyler Perry's thang either because I do like him..."

    After reading your blog for a while now I'm really curious why you like Tyler Perry? I can't stand him. To me he's a modern day minstrel who sells stereotypes of Black woman to get paid. Also he's a homophobe, which some might think ironic.

    Anyway, like I said I'm just curious as to why you like him.

  6. Have we gotten to the point where the strong black woman is expected to act like a cross dressing gay man?

    I think you're a bit off on this one Kit. Actually, that line if anything says that the black man has been emasculated (as you pointed out) to the point of weakness. McGruder and company did a good job of tying this in with the religious subtext. To be a "strong successful black woman," one also has to be God fearing, and in steps the Ma Dukes (Madea) character to rescue (the souls) weak black men.

    That's how I saw it.

    One last thing: I wouldn't categorize N.W.A. as activists. They spoke the frustrations of urban youth while at the same time promoting behaviors that were detrimental to us as a people. Trust me, I'm almost 40yrs old now and I cringe when I think back on how I nodded my head to that shit when I was 18yrs old.

  7. Big Mac, Good.

    Deborah, Tru dat thanks.

    A Smith, Wonderful point... and I'll say that what they see as victimization is just sexual attraction their women have which pisses them off.

    Gwen, Good ole Tootsie! That was a funny movie! I'll bet it's crossed Perry's mind a time or two.

    Moanerplicity, Thanks!

    Val, Re: your question. Perry's comedies are funny to me, and his co-work on Precious matched cases I've had.

    My liking his work is almost as simple as that. You see, I don't buy into the rejection of so called mininstrel shows by and for black people. We have a range of socio-educational-economic classes as well as humor, and one thing the bourgeoisie crowd of any race has done historically is try to dictate language, and act as the thought police for the entire group. I have an allergy to classism.

    Rippa, Nah, I ain't off on this. I saw what you saw too, but also the more subtle meme I addressed.

    Also, I don't know if you missed it, but I did say in one of the beginning paragraphs that NWA "became less political by glorifying gangsterism" in the '90s. Their earliest album is thuggish by today's standards, but at the time, I see it as a social commentary to the class struggle of L.A. near-apartheid.

  8. Kit,

    They always glorified "gangsterism", and they were never political. That was what I was trying to clarify. Compared to today' standard? Shit, they are the standard that cats today are trying to live up to. But make no mistakes, theirs was never a "cry" for change in the hood no matter how you look at it.

  9. "...think about the increasing sexual expectations of young women."

    I need some clarification on this, Kit. How exactly do you see this as being played out, and how it ties into that scene specifically?

  10. McGruder is brilliant and skilled in comedic delivery. Thank you for the link. I try to avoid the crossfire between Perry and his critics. I don't regularly watch his movies because they're flat and formulaic, but I don't think they are the pale horse of the apocalypse as some do. I tend to think the divide over his work reflects differences in social class within the African-American community, mostly education level and exposure to broader artistic expressions combined with who has the critical thinking tools to analyze theater, movies, and literature within a historical context against varied standards of quality.

    Good break down of the episode. I approached it from a very surface level. My hope for Perry is that he will grow.

  11. Nordette, Girl, I love your way with words and agree (which I said in an earlier comment here) that people's like or dislike for Perry's work is often based on class, background, etc. Anyway, thank you.

    Rippa, I'm chuckling now; you're really into this, huh? Thank you. And no, I never said NWA was about change. They were reactionaries to L.A. police brutality and apartheid-like conditions. They threw that on the front shelf post-Civil Rights and made the world think that maybe things over here wasn't so post-Civil Rights afterall. We may differ on opinion on this, but I think NWA's first album was exactly what this country needed at the time. Now, hell no.

    As for the other part of your question that you don't see, I wrote a comment but it's long enough to be a post. I may post on it, or just answer it on this thread tomorrow if something else catches my attention.

  12. Wow. I never made that connection before, but it doesn't seem far fetched. I've been a fan of "The Boondocks" since it was a comic strip. We need more people who are willing to challenge authority and have the determination to get their views on a public platform.

    I expressed my feelings on Tyler Perry a few months ago in this post. But in short, entertainment has never been meant to uplift & educate the masses. It's our job to educate ourselves so that we can look critically at the media we consume, instead of blindly buying into it.

  13. The Boondocks should be mandatory viewing for all high school students. Aaron Mcgruder speaks the truth and it is a damn shame that this is the last season of his genius.

  14. Hey Kit, "Pause" was off da hook--food for thought on many levels!! My take is this: It slays those "Pastor/pimps who use Jesus as a means to legitimize and sell their "products" This happens in churches all across America. They first lift up themselves and claim that Jesus is their co-pilot, cosigner, then they get to work on the minds of their followers/captives, just like a pimp.
    BUT IT GETS DEEPER. Tyler Perry can get away with the "Madea" crap because we allow him to in the name of his success. We laugh because it's allright to laugh at the "SBW" fronting like she is. We laugh, but we don't protect her. Cops punch her in the face, and we can't protect her. Her womanhood is questioned and no one defends her. Maybe Farakkan, but who else? And as I've read on "Black Men Confronting the Lies and Distortions" blog, it's all her fault (I vehemently disagree).

    Tyler Perry is a huge piece of work--selling out and buying into the twisted stereotypes of SBW/Gay Black Man/Emasculated Black Man, which is like that huge parasitic symbiotic thing! And all for riches! He's the orchestrator of "Madea" the best of every "black pathological stereotype" out there! Overbearing, ignorant, loud, thuggish, mannish woman, effeminate man, all rolled into one big bootied, big breasted, 6'6" glock toting Big Mama!!
    Flip Wilson's Geraldine has nothing on him!

    As for us sistas, maybe it's time to release that "SBW" thing we've been holding on to for so long. It hasn't served us that well as I see it. We're really not that "strong" because we hurt like all other women. There's alot of black women in pain from holding on to this "SBW" image. We're feminine like all other women and ought to reclaim our femininity. Because if Tyler Perry can make bazillions of dollars pretending to be a strong black woman (rather than a strong black man) then something is off.

    @Rippa, I think what Aaron did so brilliantly in this episode is show that the Madea knife cuts both ways--She masculinizes black women and emasculates black men!! She's a strong, black women/effete black man all rolled into one for our laughing pleasure! And we pay to see this shit!! All because we like Tyler Perry/Jesus!! Aaron McGruder, "The Spook Who Sat By The Door"!

    Sorry for the length of this answer Kit!!
    Whew! Now I need a nice cup of tea.

  15. Anna Renee, You might be appalled at some of the things I laugh at, and this includes both Tyler Perry comedies and Boondocks. Humanity, in it's comedic extremes, cracks me up when not done out of malevolence.

    You raise an interesting point about black woman needing "to reclaim our femininity". Part of the problem, I think, comes from so many us having to wear too many hats: mother, father, worker, and weekly survivor of economic and systematic racism, combined with various medias which don't reveal all of our assets.

    It's like this. As a child, I grew up believing that certain groups, particularly non-whites, were ugly. This was because the media consistently selected photos of unattractive people to show when discussing them so the audience would feel less empathy for them. Native Americans and Chinese in particular always looked old, and Russian women were portrayed as being stocky and having mustaches. All this was political.

    Dirty Red, I'm thinking how McGruder didn't have any work for a long time thanks to the Bush political climate and his thoughts about 9/11. Google that, it's interesting. He made a great comeback, however, this year. I hope this season is a stepping stone for him to continue his work.

    Brownbelle, Yes. It's an interesting new way of looking at the dynamics of sexual expectations, promiscuity, and the seedy side of changing sex roles of unmarried black teen girls and women when we don't, as you alluded to, absorb the memes uncritically.

  16. In the process of trying to sell voice and text message broadcast services to a megachurch in the greater metropolitan area hereabouts, I was invited to attend an all men's service.

    The "pastor" of this church insisted that all the men assembled there call him "daddy".


    To make the long story short, I booked out of that madhouse so fast that the door couldn't hit where the good lord had split - and in so doing - left what would've been a nice pile of money sitting right there on the table.

  17. "All year I've been fighting the urge to heave when I read posts promoting sistas to not only suck but to swallow and to take it up the azz, and to stop sweating the men over commitments and marriage, and instead to "just have fun". Now that's some gay lifestyle shit."

    Bingo! You really put your finger on the problem. Now that you said it, it could not be clearer watching that Boondocks episode. Thank you.

  18. Kit, I feel you on that, sometimes we have to laugh to keep from crying. Or laugh because we want to.
    I'm processing in my mind why all the hateration against black women for wanting love and commitment. There's a reason why it's come to this. I believe it has to do with our not being able to define ourselves in the larger society, which has power over the media. Im thinking that even as we decry the wickedness of the negative depictions, we are still influenced deeply by them, even against our wills. Their descriptions of us become what we believe of ourselves, even as we fight against it. Now I feel that this beast has many, many tentacles, and black men may not be fighting the assault against black women as hard as he is the one against black men. And vice versa. Which creates a disconnect, IMHO. So if you're not fighting against it, then you're believing it. So it goes for black women, valueless, dirty, undeserving of love. If we squawk, someone wants to shut us up. If we say nothing, nothing happens. If we act up from frustration, then we prove that we aren't deserving. If we go to Jesus, then we're weak. If we do the damn thing alone, then we're another statistic!
    Im going to be processing all of this at my A Black Woman's Beauty Blog, I got alot on my mind about it all. Check me there from time to time.

  19. Anna Renee, Awesome break down. Yes, when we complain, we're told to STFU and when don't, nothing changes, and all the other stuff and more. I never heard of that blog but I'll find it and I'm looking forward to that post.

    Dark Comedy, Thank you. I'll add that the problem with this bizarre lifestyle for single women is that nothing is considered sacred, or left for exploration in a loving marriage. She's been perpetually reduced to the role of "anything goes" girl around the way.

    CNu, That is a weird story... an all male church run by a pastor who wants to be called 'Daddy'. I wonder how many regular members he has.


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