Michael Vick is being honored as a hero next month at a black tie event for his “resilience in overcoming obstacles” and becoming “a true example of life success for all to emulate,” according to event organizers.
Yes, you read that right. Resilience in overcoming obstacles. And the obstacles that he overcame were self inflicted, namely his own blatant stupidity and immorality. In this day and age, that’s not only something to be applauded, but worthy of being honored for. So how would someone emulate Vick’s success? Simply throw your life and career away by doing something moronic and illegal, then make a comeback. That’s it. That’s all it takes to be a hero nowadays.
And Hell, Vick isn’t the only saintly man to ever commit a crime.
“The term ‘hero’ is subjective,” said Michael Muhammad who heads Southeastern Virginia Arts Association in Norfolk which is hosting the black tie gala at the Half Moon Cruise and Celebration Center. “People talk about Michael Vick as a convicted felon, well so was Jesus Christ yet he was able to do things above and beyond the naysayers to the point that we all recognize him today as Lord and Savior.”
Jesus Christ! Yes, Vick is now being compared to the savior of mankind. I’m no Bible scholar but I don’t remember ever reading about Jesus running an illegal dog fighting ring. Then again, Jesus wasn’t an NFL quarterback either. So I guess they come out even in the end.
The article makes a point about who gets to be honored as a hero. What about all the military servicemen that fought and bled for this country, many of which reside in Norfolk? They might be a little pissed that this NFL star is getting lavished with praise at a black tie gala while they’re going through rehabilitation to learn to walk again. The event organizer, Mr. Muhammad addresses that:
Muhammad responded, “And there is so much honor given to them and honor is due them, but we also feel that the little man that doesn’t get the opportunity to be honored, deserves to be honored and Michael Vick is one of those.”
This story is warming my heart here. Yes, Vick is just an average Joe, not afforded the honor that those wounded soldiers get. It’s about time that a guy like him gets awarded for his noble actions of serving prison time and then becoming a quarterback in the NFL. Sure, there’s plenty of other NFL players out there. Some of them have even done great things for others. But they never strangled and mutilated dogs. That’s why they’re not heroes like Michael Vick.
The following video has made the rounds recently. In the video, we see a White guy getting searched and interrogated by a bouncer in the bathroom of a strip club. The bouncer, who is a larger Black man, accuses him of selling drugs, asks him to empty his pockets, takes money out of his wallet and looks through his phone. Around minute mark 2:50 in the video, the bouncer begins punching the White guy in the head, a total of four times. He locks him in the bathroom and then demands that the White guy kneel on the ground and pray to the, “Great fucking brown dude.” After all is said and done, the Black guy takes all the White guy’s money and sends him on his way.
The news story says that a second bouncer was filming the incident and it was later posted on the internet, most likely for the purposes of amusement, since it landed on World Star Hip Hop. After police got wind of this video, the bouncer, 35-year-old Easton Byfield, was arrested and charged with assault and battery, kidnapping, unarmed robbery and filing a false police report. The filing of a false police report charge came about because the numbskull actually reported that the White guy assaulted him! If you’ve watched the video, you can clearly see that’s not the case.
This video got me heated, not because of the racial angle, as many sites have played up, but because this has happened to me in the past. In my younger, more hedonistic days, I was a hardcore clubber, hitting the clubs 3 to 4 times a week. Illicit drugs were abundant and there came a time when there was a rash of bouncers searching and confiscating money and drugs from club goers. Anyone they suspected of carrying drugs, they searched and robbed, because they knew that if you had even the most minor amount of illegal substances on you, then you weren’t going to call the police. Some clubs were terrible about this.
Once a bouncer followed me into the bathroom and put me in a choke hold, demanding that I give up everything that I was holding or he was going to call the police. Since I didn’t have any drugs on me at the time, it was an empty threat and I didn’t comply. That’s where this guy in the video screwed up. He actually did what the bouncer demanded. Sure he was scared of the bouncer, which is understandable considering his size and that he was outnumbered, but since he was so quick to acquiesce, it makes me think that he actually was holding or at least had been selling drugs in the club as the bouncer claimed. Regardless, a bouncer has no right to search you, unless you let him.
This video isn’t an isolated incident, but something that happens at clubs across America. I’ve known guys that were bouncers from different states who bragged about doing exactly this kind of thing. And beating and robbing were only part of it. I’ve known of girls that had bouncers force them to perform sex acts on them. Usually, they’d find girls that were rolling on ecstasy, which is obvious to notice, search them for drugs and then threaten to turn them over to the police unless they gave them what they wanted. In some places, like Florida, where club culture is more widespread, this type of thing is common.
This is not a simple case of Black on White crime as some have framed it, but a pervasive problem with abuse of authority. While I’ve known a lot of bouncers who were good people, many seem to be persons with serious delusions of grandeur that are quick to take advantage of their imagined position of power.
I went to check my email and found this jubilant news greeting me:
Urban Prep Academy Gets 100% Black Male College Attendance… Again
Well, that’s certainly an impressive sounding accomplishment. The link to the article was labelled, How the school achieves triumph. Of course I wanted to know, so I clicked through and was brought to AOL’s Black Voices. There I found a short celebratory article by Boyce Watkins, PhD, about the Urban Prep Academy of Chicago, an all male charter school for kids from the “worst” parts of the city. The article was sparse on details, but abundant with affirmations of Black greatness.
The school started with kids whose futures had been left for dead by their public schools: Only four percent of the school’s incoming freshmen were reading at grade level when they arrived on campus. But by sending all of their graduating seniors to college, they’ve not only gotten these kids up to speed, they’ve allowed them to zip past every other public school in the entire United States.
“No other public [school] in the country has done this,” said Tim King, the founder of Urban Prep.
So far, so good. Hopefully, they can tell us the secret formula they used to destroy the seemingly incurable problem of Black high school under-performance.
The students at the school are required to wear a jacket and tie every single day. They also go to school for two hours longer than other kids. They take English twice a day and are given a mentor with a cell number that kids can call 24 hours a day. They’ve clearly hit the mark when it comes to understanding that getting our children to the land of educational success requires both academic and sociological strategies.
That’s it?! So after billions of dollars spent trying to close the achievement gap, we find now that 2 extra hours of school, uniforms and a personal mentor is all that was needed to get Black students to excel? Hot damn! Time to celebrate!
Dr. Watkins spends the rest of the article bathing in the glory of the profound news and proving why he deserves the title of “Doctor” before his name.
…the men of Urban Prep Academy are firm reminders of what black men are meant to be. We are not hard wired to be thugs, athletes or entertainers. We are meant to be just as brilliant, capable and successful as everyone else in America…Every child can be college material if they choose to be. I was personally told that I wasn’t smart enough to go to college, but it takes more intelligence to make it in prison than it does to make it on a college campus. It all comes down to hard work, and black people know how to work hard.
Well, that makes sense, considering all the geniuses in prison. Go on good Doctor.
What I also love about Urban Prep is that they are translating the excellence that black men show in athletics and transferring that to academic achievement. It takes far less effort and natural ability to become a heart surgeon than it does to become an NBA basketball player.
Exactly. If they can play basketball, then they should be able to perform complex surgery. Why didn’t I think of that? Guess that’s why I’m not a doctor.
They should be given millions more dollars to pursue their objectives. Their educational model should be replicated in every city across America. They are showing us that black men are not destined for failure, fundamentally flawed or built for mediocrity. We truly embody excellence.
Tell it Dr. Watkins! We must spread this news far and wide and make sure that Congress and the President are aware of this stellar educational model so that we can transform inner city schools across the nation into shining beacons of hope for every Black child in America.
Sure there’s plenty of details that we haven’t been told, like, “What were their end of grade test results? What were their GPAs?” Who knows? Does it even matter? Well dammit, I guess I’m just too much of a cynic, because I had to delve deeper and found some pertinent facts that the triumphant Dr. Watkins failed to reveal:
Oh wait, so they only graduate the kids that get accepted into college? Well, they all got into college so I’m sure they were excellent students, right?
Well…hey, why sweat the small stuff when you have such a fantastic story of an entire Black senior class making it to college? So most of those that made it were woefully unqualified. So what? What matters is feeling good inside. We don’t need to worry about kids meeting requirements anymore. We can just change the requirements to meet the kids. Achievement gap solved.
“Tables aren’t real.”
“What are you talking about? I have a table right here in my house.”
“No, you don’t. A table is only a construct.”
“Yeah, somebody made it. That doesn’t mean it’s not real.”
“No. The idea of a table is just a construct. Can you even define a table?”
“Sure, it’s an object with four legs and a flat surface that you put things on.”
“What about those things underneath it? What are those?”
“Those are chairs.”
“Don’t those have four legs and a flat surface?”
“Uh, yeah, but I sit on those. I don’t put things on them.”
“You put yourself on them.”
“So? They’re still chairs.”
“I just proved to you that they’re the same as the table and you still deny the truth. What about that thing over there?”
“That’s my couch.”
“That has four legs and a flat surface too. Do you ever put things on that?”
“Well then, if your couch can be a table then how can a table even be a valid concept? Tables aren’t real.”
“My couch isn’t a table. They aren’t the same.”
“Yes they are the same. I just showed you how they are equal. Why can’t you accept the truth? You’re obviously just a tablist.”
“A tablist?! What the hell are you talking about?”
“You believe in the concept of a table. Therefore, you are a tablist.”
“So what? There’s nothing wrong with believing in tables. Why wouldn’t I believe in something that I know is real?”
“The real question is, ‘Why would you cling to a false concept that I already showed to be untrue?’ Why can’t you just admit that there’s no difference between a table, a chair and a couch? You just believe in tables because it brings comfort to your simple mind. If you were more enlightened then you would see the truth.”
“Are you retarded? A table, a chair and a couch aren’t the same! Why are you even arguing this with me?”
“Ah, yes. Now we start with the insults. I knew it wouldn’t take long for a tablist like you to resort to such tactics. Proof that you are losing the argument.”
“What argument? You’ve come here insisting that tables aren’t real, when I know that they’re real. I can see one right there!”
“What you are seeing are the differences. Why can’t you see the similarities? Why are you so hung up on such superficiality? Does it make you feel superior?”
“I’m going to punch you in the face.”
“See? It’s just like a tablist to act irrationally and violently. That’s why I’m trying to build a better world, where we don’t see distinctions. What does it even matter if something is a table or a chair or a couch? Why do you have to put labels on things? Labeling only leads to discrimination.”
“I’m not having this stupid conversation with you anymore. ”
“Hmmph! See, you start losing the debate, then you want to end it. Typical tablist. You are all the same. You can’t handle the truth.”
The anti-tablist then goes on his blog and brags about how he pwned a tablist today.
When I was a kid, I had absolutely zero Thai film stars or musicians to admire or imagine myself as. While I don’t really feel bad or upset about this, since I recognize that’s part of growing up as a minority immigrant in America, I do wonder how my self perception would’ve been different had I been able to have access to Thai films as a child.
I watch a lot of Thai movies with my kids, in part, to try to help build a healthy sense of ethnic identity for them, but really though, I do it for myself. I try to get my children used to seeing Thai people in media, so that they don’t develop a disconnect with their own father’s ethnicity and looks, as I did with my parents when I was growing up.
This post is dedicated to one of the only internationally known Thai film stars around right now: Tony Jaa.
Tony Jaa is a Thai martial arts superstar with increasing renown across the globe. Born as Panom Yeerum and known in Thailand as Jaa Panom, he has since taken the name Tatchakorn after he became a Buddhist monk.
He’s gained fame for both his extraordinary martial arts ability and his almost super human stunt work, where he’s known for not using wires or special effects. In his earlier days, he used primarily Thai martial arts in his films, but has since incorporated multiple styles from Chinese kung fu to Indonesian Silat.
He’s starred in 4 films so far: Ong Bak, Tom Yum Goong (The Protector), Ong Bak 2, and Ong Bak 3. He’s had roles in older, low budget Thai films as well and a cameo in both Thai Bodyguard films.
He is of the the Kuy people, an ethnic group related to Khmers that resides mainly in northeastern Thailand and who are known to Thais as the elephant people because of their close relationship living with and raising elephants. His second staring role in the film, Tom Yum Goong, had to do specifically with his ethnic group and his quest to rescue two kidnapped elephants taken to Australia.
Physically, Tony Jaa is representative of a type that is very prevalent in northeastern Thailand. With a strong brow, very dark skin and round, wide set eyes, he has a look common to many Thais and Khmers in that region.
As a side note, an interesting discovery made along with the recent Denisovan study was that Cambodians have an unexpectedly high percentage of Neanderthal genes. I wonder what Neanderthal traits are present in Khmers and Thais?
Here’s a clip from the film Ong Bak 2 with Tony Jaa in an incredible display of martial arts mayhem:
It’s that time of year again when we celebrate and acknowledge the contributions that Black people have made to American history. I don’t have cable or even an antenna so I’m sure I’ll miss out on the fine shows that will be aired on PBS and the History Channel detailing the integral role that Blacks have played in shaping the course of this nation. Okay, I know it seems like I’m being sarcastic when I say that, but I’m not. I recognize that Blacks are as much a part of America as baseball, apple pie and Chinese take out. America wouldn’t be America without Black people.
When this month comes along, a song usually pops into my head. A song by dance punk duo Death From Above 1979, appropiately titled, Black History Month. It’s a simple yet catchy little song that stays in your head long after you hear it. The video isn’t anything special, but the simple lyrics convey a clear message that speaks to the heart of the Black experience in America.
“Black History Month”
Can you remember a time when this city was
A great place for architects and dilettantes
A nice place for midwives and crossing guards
And on, and on…
Hold on children
Your mother and father are leaving
Do you remember a time when this pool was
A great place for waterwings and cannonballs
A nice place for astrologists and blow up dolls
And on, and on…
Hold on children
Your best friend’s parents are leaving
During the week of Christmas there was an exciting paper released that found that Melanesians have, on average, 4 to 6 percent of their genome derived from a third, previously unknown archaic human species, the Denisovans. This news has been written about in several mainstream publications and numerous blogs, so this post is more than a little belated, but I wanted to add my thoughts about this important discovery.
Who are the Denisovans?
Denisovans is the name now given to a human group that was discovered in Denisova cave in southern Siberia. Earlier in 2010, the mitochondrial DNA of a pinky bone was sequenced that showed a separate and divergent type of human was living in Siberia up until at least 30 to 50 thousand years ago. The sequencing of the mitochondrial DNA showed that these humans had diverged from living humans at least a million years ago. This person was dubbed the “X-woman.” Some anthropologists playfully called her the Yeti, which set off all kinds of internet speculation that this human was in fact the origin of legends of the abominable snowman and sasquatch. A molar belonging to another individual was found in the cave, so now we have a confirmed population.
The sequencing of the nuclear DNA from that same finger bone has shown that the Denisovans shared a common ancestor with Neanderthals and split off from them 50-100 thousand years after Neanderthals split off from us. This conflicts with the mitochondrial DNA study, which showed the Denisovans breaking off from us at least a million years ago. Why is this? This could be evidence that the Denisovan population had bred with another archaic human species and acquired the mtDNA from them. Or the Denisovans could actually be a much older group and share alleles with the Neanderthals because of inter-mixture.
Since we only have a finger bone and a tooth, we can only speculate as to what they looked like. The molar is fairly large, which would suggest a large jaw, but beyond that it’s anyone’s guess.
Why is this important?
A year ago, the out of Africa model of human evolution was so set in the minds of most that it was practically the consensus theory. Those that promoted the alternate multi-regional model were generally dismissed and any evidence suggesting that there was regional continuity between archaic non-Africans and modern humans was mostly ignored. The out of Africa model was neat and tidy and fit nicely into the “We are all one” meme now prevalent in Western leftist thought. Then last year, proof of Neanderthal introgression into modern non-Africans shocked much of the scientific community.
This was vindication for many that promoted the multi-regional model. Paleo-anthropologists have pointed to fossil evidence that supported this view for years, but geneticists had dominated the debate and in essence had told the world, “Our science is more sound than theirs,” and everyone believed it.
After the Neanderthal buzz settled, there seemed to be so much attachment to the simple out of Africa model that, unsurprisingly, some downplayed the discovery, stating, “Well, we are all still mostly out of Africa.” Instead of smashing the out of Africa model, the Neanderthal news seemed to just make a small dent to it.
Then the Denisovan paper was published. Now we have definitive proof of at least two archaic human species contributing to the modern human gene pool. If the Neanderthal discovery smacked the pompous smirk off out of Africa’s face, then the Denisovan discovery gave it a swift kick in the nuts.
The Denisovan story hasn’t gained as much traction in the popular mind as the Neanderthal one, which is to be expected. After all, Neanderthals are a widely known human species that have been portrayed for years in books and film. Finding out that most people in the modern world have Neanderthal genes is going to blow a lot more minds than news that an unknown species of humans passed some genes onto Melanesians, a group of people that the average person doesn’t care about.
What makes this discovery so important is that it shows the evidence previously used to make the claim that all humans have a recent common origin was wrong. This assertion was made by looking at mitochondrial DNA and the Y chromosome, which pointed back to Africa and we now know paints a misleading picture. The idea was so entrenched in mainstream science that the numerous studies showing otherwise were treated with skepticism and/or ridicule. Now it’s the out of Africa model that should be treated with skepticism. Evidence for the multi-regional model that was brushed aside will now need to be reexamined and reinterpreted. It now becomes not just possible, but probable, that modern humans are the result of the combination several extremely divergent human lineages.
Do Melanesians have the most archaic admixture?
With 4 to 6 percent Denisovan genes plus the 4 percent Neanderthal contribution, that would make Melanesians almost 10 percent “other human.” I think these results are actually a bit lower than the actual percentage. While Melanesians are shown to share genes with the Denisovans, considering that they were found in Siberia and the Melanesians are located at the equator, it may be that Melanesians received the genes indirectly from another group that had mixed with or diverged from the Denisovans. Melanesians may actually have more archaic lineage than we currently find.
Other human populations are also likely to have introgression into their gene pool from ancient human species. Another study has shown evidence of archaic admixture in over 50 percent of Chinese, with an origin in eastern Asia that is 2 million years old. And another study shows 13 percent archaic lineage in some sub-Saharan African populations.
What’s important to remember is that fossil evidence is always sparse and discoveries of new species is often by accident. There are likely human species that we may never know about and without having the sequenced genome of these extinct species it becomes impossible to draw a direct comparison between these species and modern human populations.
What’s for certain is that the out of Africa model has been forever altered. It is on a trajectory to become the new fringe theory. The origin of homo sapiens is far more complex than that simple model and we should look forward to more discoveries of verifiable admixture in humans.
A note on species
There’s a general misunderstanding about the taxonomic definition of species. It’s often assumed that if two populations can mate and produce fertile offspring, then they’re part of the same species. This is often true, but not always. Many different recognized species can and do mate. Wolves and coyotes, for example, have produced a new hybrid species called the coywolf(I prefer wolfyote) that has become a menace in the eastern United States. The two species of orangutan, the Bornean orangutan and the Sumatran orangutan, also can mate and produce healthy offspring and they don’t even have the same number of chromosomes.
I bring this up, because some have stated that the Denisovans are not a separate species but a branch of homo sapiens. Species are generally classified by morphological differences, yet there is no set measure to delineate species. We barely know anything about how Denisovans may have differed from us physically, but we do know that they probably shared a common ancestor with Neanderthals, who are usually considered a separate species. If we use the mitochondrial DNA, which we have seen can be problematic in making these assessments, then they split off from us even before the Neanderthals did.
Given that evidence, I’d say the Denisovans should definitely be labelled as a different species from us. This causes pangs for some because of the implications. This would mean that some groups of humans(most likely all) are hybrids of multiple species. I think that this is the more sensible conclusion, rather than the incredibly simplistic idea that humans just appeared suddenly in Africa some 200 thousand years ago and somehow avoided mixing with any other human species they encountered. If history has shown us anything, it’s that humans will have sex with practically everything, human or otherwise.
See also The Denisova Genome FAQ at John Hawks’ blog.
In my last post, I wrote about Africans in Thailand and how Thais generally don’t like them there. The discussion that followed made me remember a Thai commercial that’s been floating around for a while. I’ve come across this commercial many times over the years on other blogs and websites and it’s usually shown under a headline like, The Most Racist Commercial Ever! I don’t really think that it’s the most racist commercial; it’s actually kind of funny to me with its bizarre tone.
First of all, before you watch it, realize that this commercial is made for Thailand and Thai viewers. I’ve seen some get extremely angry over this commercial and I find it ironic because many that do are anti-racists and one of the cornerstones of that ideology is cultural relativism. Judging this from a Western multi-culturalist perspective should be verboten for those that hold that world view. I mean, all cultures are equal, right?
Is this commercial racist? By Western standards it may seem that way, but it’s actually against prejudice. The Black man was being friendly to the little girl and we’re made to feel sorry for the way that he was treated. Then by the end we can see that he’s tried to help so many others and the situation that he experienced was a common occurrence. We are left with the message, Appearance can be deceiving (the narrator actually says, “Don’t judge by looks”).
But wait, this commercial only works if we understand that it would be a normal reaction in Thailand to be afraid of a Black man. To many, this itself is racist, even though the commercial tells us that’s wrong. The imagery of the mother treating the Black man in such a harsh way is upsetting to many and enough for some to declare this commercial the most racist ever.
Some comments have claimed that the way that he is shown climbing the pole is racist, because in the eyes of some, he appears to climb like a monkey. I think that’s subconscious racism on the part of those that make that claim. How else would you climb a pole? Thailand was once mostly jungle and there’s still tree climbing competitions annually. I think most Thais would be impressed with the Black man’s superhuman pole climbing skills. And that’s part of the point.
Many are so focused on the racial imagery that they fail to comprehend what this commercial means to say. The commercial is metaphorical. The balloon represents plaque in hard to reach places. The black man, of course, represents black herbal toothpaste. His superior pole climbing skills are meant to show the toothpaste’s effectiveness. The mother, upon seeing the Black man, fears and rejects him, much in the same way that she might feel if she saw her daughter putting a strange brown colored substance into her mouth. The viewer is made to feel sympathy for the Black man and the way that he was treated. He fades into an image of brown toothpaste on a toothbrush, transferring the feelings of sadness onto the toothpaste. So next time a person who saw the commercial is at the store, he’ll see the toothpaste, remember the mistreated Black man and feel sorry about his prejudicial feelings and think, “If a Black man can be good, maybe black toothpaste can be as well.”
An article in the Bangkok Post details the Thai police’s efforts to crack down on West Africans and the illegal drugs that they peddle. While this operation was promoted as an effort to attack the drug trade, the Thais explicitly targeted the Africans in the country, who have long been seen as a problem in Thailand.
There’s a small but significant population of West Africans(mostly Nigerians) in Thailand. They’ve been a source of social friction for some time in Thailand with both Thais and tourists alike objecting to their presence. Many are in the country illegally and deal in the black market. Through bribes and corruption within the Thai police, they’ve been able to keep their presence strong. Now Thais are making an effort to change that.
Using tactics that would be impossible in politically correct Western countries, Thai police blocked off an area of Bangkok known as Soi Africa(Africa Road) to prevent anyone from escaping. All foreigners were detained and their passports and visas were checked. They also searched every individual for banned contraband and even forced every person to take an onsite urine test to check for drugs. Anyone that tested positive was arrested.
From the article:
Pol Col Chatchai said Soi 3 had become a West African community, with several hundred often gathering in one place which made it ”very difficult” to arrest them with drugs. ”We have to use immigration laws to arrest them even when we know they are selling drugs, this is very frustrating.”
He estimated there were ”many thousands” of West Africans in the country, adding ”We shouldn’t allow them to stay in Thailand so easily; and that’s why we will ask the Immigration Bureau to join our operation and check their passports.”
Pol Col Chatchai also said their behaviour was aggressive when compared to other nationals, and they often shouted and spoke aggressively to people. ”We have to control them and not allow them to behave like that in our country. They don’t have any manners. People from the Middle East and Europeans are polite and nice to our women but not the West Africans. They will insult and abuse them,” he said.
I’m personally glad to read that the Thais are finally attacking this problem. In 2001, I went back to Thailand for the first time since I was a kid and I was shocked when I first encountered the African community in Bangkok. Their attitude and demeanor was so out of place. Thais are well known for their friendly and placid behavior, so much so that Thailand is called the “Land of Smiles.” While some Western tourists can be obnoxious with their disregard for Thai sensibilities, the Africans really take it to another level. Some poorly behaved Westerners can be tolerated because they bring money into the economy, but what do these Africans bring into Thailand besides crime and violence?