When Black Guys Mess Up, Everybody Gets Paid

In April, Emily Gref, the assistant to my agent, Barbara Lowenstein, received a note from Ricky D’Ambrose inviting me to contribute to the 150th anniversary issue of the Nation magazine. I was surprised to be invited. On 5/22/82, one of two hatchet jobs– the other one appeared in the New York Post– sponsored by Elizabeth Pochoda appeared in the magazine. It was a review of my novel, ”The Terrible Twos,” which is still in print! Ms Pochoda is the type of feminist who seeks to fend off black women’s one-hundred-year criticism of white women’s liberation movement in the least expensive way. Joining a few gender first black academic feminists in an attack on black men. The invitation sent to Emily Gref read:

Katrina asks that you forward the letter below to Mr. Reed.

Many thanks,

Ricky D’Ambrose

Dear Ishmael Reed:

It has been far too long!  The last time you appeared in the Nation was nearly 25 years ago, but if you go back and read your article on the Black Pathology Biz, as we have recently done, it could have been written yesterday.  So while we’re not happy about the interval, we’d very much like you to contribute to the special issue we’re planning to celebrate the Nation’s 150th anniversary….

Katrina vanden Heuvel           Don Guttenplan

In the meantime, I published a piece in The Nation about the media’s “no snitch” policy about the tangle of pathologies in the white community. This article was about white pundits’ surprise when discovering that whites do heroin. (They do a lot of crack, too). I submitted the anniversary piece before the deadline. Therefore I was surprised to receive the following rejection from D’Ambrose. It was sent on Oct.8.

He was saying that he didn’t anticipate a piece that The Nation asked me to write and for which I had signed a contract!

Dear Mr. Reed,

This is Katrina’s assistant at The Nation. We believe what we published a few months ago was important, but we had not anticipated an additional piece, and the 150th issue is unfortunately now closed. So, regretfully, we simply are unable to use this contribution. Please let us know where to send a quittance fee of $250.


Ricky D’Ambrose

Assistant to the Editor and Publisher



Emily Gref replied:

Hi Ricky,

Thank you for your email. We are surprised to hear that the 150th issue is closed, as Mr. Reed delivered his piece before the October 1 deadline as stipulated in the agreement with The Nation. I’ve attached the agreement here for your convenience.

Also as per the agreement, Mr. Reed should be paid in full. The full $500 fee can be paid to Lowenstein Associates, as Mr. Reed’s acting literary agents.

Thank you.

All the best,

Emily Gref

Lowenstein Associates

D’Ambrose replied:

Hi Emily,

We will of course pay Mr. Reed $500, as stipulated. Sorry to confuse things. However, we will not be able to put the payment through until next week, when the person who handles contracts for our accounting department is back in the office.


Here’s the piece The Nation refused to print:

When Black Guys Mess Up, Everybody Gets Paid

Just as the first reports of the Kennedy’s assassination falsely accused black men of committing the assassination, the media ran with a report that the perpetrator of the Boston Marathon bombing was a dark skinned individual.

I was driving home from my job at the California College of the Arts when Randy Rhodes announced that black people could relax because the perpetrators were white.I relaxed. The two passengers, my daughter Tennessee, a poet and poet Vernon Keeve, winner of a Zora Neale Hurston prize, relaxed. We had every reason to become anxious.The actions of a few individuals have caused white mobs to lynch, terrorize and expel blacks from their property.An estimated three hundred blacks were killed in Tulsa ,Oklahoma because of a rumor that a black man, Dick Rowland, had raped a white female elevator operator, Sarah Page.As usual the media became the lynch mob leader.After he had been released from jail, Rowland and Page met for coffee in Kansas City.

A black man called into the show and said that if a black man had bombed the Boston Marathon, “ we would have all been rounded up.” Black men weren’t rounded up physically, because of Ray Rice’s actions, but they were caught in a media net, figuratively. This was nothing new, in a country where a minority is treated as members of an enemy nation within a nation, the actions, often alleged, of one or two individuals are used to indict the many. Such collectiving of blame isn’t new in history. The actions of one Jew, Herschel Grynzspan, gave the Nazis an excuse to launch Kristallnacht.So a few days after the Ray Rice footage was exposed by cable television, desperate for eyeballs, the actions of one or two individuals jumped to an indictment of the black male population. Not satisfied with indicitng the brothers during the week ending Sept.14, Hispanic males were corralled on an MSNBC show devoted to feminist issues.

On Tuesday, Sept.16.William Rhoden of the Times, appearing on an MSNBC show, said that black and brown women were the ones most affected by domestic violence. He’s wrong. The typical domestic violence perpetrator is a white male. For example, if one in five college women are raped, the rapist is most likely to be a white male since college enrollment for black men is low. Yet, when a black football player was alleged to have committed a rape, an “investigative report” about the rape began on page one of the Times and jumped to fill two pages.

Some of the most enthusiastic commentary about the violent actions of some black football players came from media white women, who work at networks that have had problems with sexism since the beginning of the medium. This case of a black male abuser shows that some black males acting stupid can really get the bourgeois sisterhood riled up, with such cases beginning a “national discussion” about domestic violence. If the middle class corporate sisterhood, those who, according to Harriet Fraad, co- opted a working class integrated feminism, had been as riled up about Proposition 209, or Welfare Reform these legislation would never have passed. I’ve rarely seen the National Organization so pumped. Well, maybe when a black male, Clarence Thomas ignited a “ national discussion” about sexual harassment in the workplace, or when a black fictional character “Mr.” in Steven Spielberg’s version of “The Color Purple” began an international discussion about domestic violence and incest.

When I posted a comment about the National Organization for Women on Facebook, some criticism of the organization from black women began to appear in the replies. Such criticism has been muffled by the media, owned by wealthy white men, who chose feminist leaders just as they choose black leaders, Hispanic, and Asian American leaders. Activist Jolynn Brooks wrote:” Why doesn’t anyone speak to that fact that American feminists in large part are not egalitarian but too often anti-male as well as anti-black? I found this fact to be evident in the membership of the National Organization for Women. I was in attendance when they voted down the candidacy of a black woman, Efia Nwangaza, for a leadership position with the thinnest of reasons. These bourgeois feminists are not revolutionary in their political orientation but rather totalitarian. They don’t want to replace the present political system with one that is just, principled, or guided by the dictates of each according to her/his ability; each according to her/his need. Instead, they are bald and bold in their need to replace white male patriarchy with a female version complete with its own bigotry and white-skin. “

Ray Rice’s knocking his spouse unconscious has led to a festival of hypocrisy among the chattering classes. Dr. Louis Moore an assistant professor in the history department at Grand Valley State University commented about how the offenses of a few black men are projected upon the many. “Part of the privilege of whiteness, is that Whites are allowed to be individuals,” said Moore. “So when Tony Stewart killed that man on the racetrack, it was an indictment on Tony Stewart, not White men. When Wes Welker got suspended for drugs, we did not have a national conversation about Whites’ use of drugs even though we know that Whites use more drugs than Blacks.”

While I was invited by Canadian radio to air my views about the NFL, one of those media, which has published my Op-eds since the nineteen seventies, said that they had enough comments on the case. Their commentary was controlled by white men of the kind who’ve appointed themselves the explainers of black Americans to the audience to whom cable wants to sell their products. Like anthropologists explaining the behavior of Indian. At least Irving Berlin applied black face so you’d know that he had no experience at being one.

Also, why is it a surprise that men. who are trained to be weapons and even encouraged by some unscrupulous coaches to maim their opponents, can’t shed these feelings when away from the game.

But do these men represent all black men? To the cable networks, who have been searching for an O.J., who would boost their ratings, they do. The O.J. trial saved CNN. Black men not only were assets for the cotton industry but are assets for the football and the cable industries as well.When black men mess up; everybody gets paid. What Bill Withers said in his song “Use Me” must apply to them. “You just keep on using me / Until you use me up”

And so Ray Rice’s brutal decking of his spouse followed a familiar pattern. First the shocking footage went viral. Then, to boost ratings, the virus spread to include other black men who’d perpetrated domestic violence, the old black bogeyman trope that has earned hundreds of millions of dollars and created political careers. Every time I see Senator Corker on television, I’m reminded that he got to the senate by pairing his opponent, Harold Ford, with a white woman. The Anne Card. In the course of the week Chris Brown, Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather were shamed and of course O.J. And by the middle of the week a guest on Joy Reid’s show indicted all black men.

The behavior of one group of men toward women was not examined. They are the men who own the cable networks and provided the majority of the commentary about the actions of black men. They were all over MSNBC in a self-righteous orgy of tsk tsking about the behavior of the brothers. The on air feminists who gave black men such a drubbing during the week are their colleagues and protectors.

During what became Ray Rice Week, a white man murdered five of his children, but this event didn’t ignite a national discussion about child murder. In fact, the white perpetrator was given an out. Maybe he was on PCP mixed with synthetic marijuana, therefore, not responsible for his actions? The kind of out that is given, regularly, to white middle class kids who get into trouble with the law, according to a study made by a group of black and Hispanic students

On  September 18,The New York Times printed a lengthy Op ed by Michael Eric Dyson about how black parents punish their children on the basis of a NFL’s Adrian Peterson, one parent,  meting out excessive punishment to his child, one child. Dyson traced this practice to slavery. He was rebutted on Sept.18, 2014 by Michael M. Gerber, professor at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, University of California, Santa Barbara, who wrote :”Professor Dyson tries hard to thread his argument between the psychological and the sociological understanding of child beating, but he errs, in my opinion, in the struggle to attach contemporary adult behavior to slavery experiences. As he himself points out, a large majority of Americans accept or use corporal punishment to ‘teach’ children. That statistic points to an American, not an African-American, problem. All groups create cultural justifications for beating children, but they all distract from the reality.” To blame blacks for practices that happen nationwide is racist, but the men who control the media know this. They just can’t resist shaming blacks as a way of accruing profits. This marketing strategy begins with the penny press of the 1800s.

Etan Thomas a former NBA player as well as an intellectual accused the media of singling out black men. He mentioned the case of a white California Highway patrolman’s repeated bashing in of a black woman’s head, his argument was dismissed glibly by the MSNBC host.

On Sept.19, a white man murdered his daughter and his six grandchild, but the Times didn’t assign someone to write an Op-ed about white parenting. While assigned to loop the Ray Rice story by her producers, Tamron Hall devoted only a few seconds to the story, without photos of the killer, Don C. Sprit. Previously, he’d murdered his son. a murder that was ruled an accident

During the same period, a South African judge cleared Pistorius, the Olympian, of murder even though he murdered a blonde! This  has to be one for the Guinness books of records! By contrast to the way that the Rice brutality was treated, on Sept.13, an MSNBC legal analyst, a woman, was very sympathetic to the athlete. Said that the tears he shed during the trial was proof of his contrition. I thought that she was going to cry.

So as long as white men own networks like MSNBC and CNN and have a monopoly on the punditry industry, will we ever learn about how they treat women? For some white men all black women are pick up material an issue that ignited the Tenderloin Riot of nineteen hundred when a New York policemen mistook a black guy’s girlfriend for a prostitute. During the struggle with the officer, the policeman was killed. On Thursday, Danièle Watts, an African-American actress who played Coco in “Django Unchained” says she was handcuffed and detained by police in Los Angeles who suspected she was a prostitute. When a young Muhammad Ali commented that black women were ugly, and a Klansman agreed, Minister Elijah Muhammad answered the Klansman. He wrote: “We see you day and night after the so-called Negro women whistling and winking your eyes and blowing your car horns at them; making advances to every Negro woman that walks, rides, flies or works for you in your homes, offices and factories. Not in America alone but all over the earth wherever you go among the black, brown, yellow and red people, we see that you are after our women, whom you say to be ‘ugly.’” Two thirds of Native American women are raped by white men, which is an improvement over the old days when, according to Tlingit poet, Ishmael Hope, Alaska Native women were raped and then murdered by members of the American Navy. When is ESPN’s Hannah Storm going to comment about this? Just as Greta Van Susteren and Nancy Grace became celebrities as a result of their commentary on the O.J. trial, the media appointed star of the Ray Rice, and Adrian Peterson scandals is Hannah Storm of ESPN. She says she ‘s been trying to explain the two to her daughters. Most of the child abuse that occurs in this country is perpetrated by women. ”Mothers are almost twice as likely to be directly involved in child maltreatment as fathers” Is Ms. Storm misleading her daughters by presenting them with a one-sided view of domestic violence?

Moreover is NBC’s headquarters, Ray Rice central, a glass house? Three books, “Live and Off-Color by Bob Teague,”” News Lady” by Carole Simpson and “Top of the Morning” by Brian Stelter, report the sexual harassment including groping and propositioning of women that has taken place at NBC since the 1960s. Before Ray Rice was born. Carole Simpson said that she was called a “slut” by one network executive and a colleague tried to undress her and told her that he felt like fucking her right then and there.

Ann Curry claims that she was humiliated by the NBC “good old boys” during the last months of their getting rid of her, which one executive called “Operation Bambi,” after a friend’s comment that firing her would be like “killing Bambi.” Did any of the MSNBC feminists or men who’ve comment on  Ray Rice’s actions come to her assistance? On Monday, Chris Matthews commented about Peterson’s whipping his child. Matthews is part of the Irish Catholic mafia at MSNBC members of which have expressed their admiration for Cardinal Dolan, who has been accused of coddling child abusers. NBC White House correspondent, Chris Jansing was absolutely giddy about the possibility of his becoming pope.

Kavitha Davidson, who works for Bloomberg News expressed her condemnation of the black football players. When her boss was mayor, black and Hispanic women complained that members of the NYPD used Stop and Frisk as an excuse to molest them sexually, without a complaint from the National Organization for Women whose president was on the air round the clock complaining about the behavior of black football players. A smug Brent Schrotenboer from USA Today, chimed in about the black bogeymen who were sending cable ratings soaring. Because she did not appeal to the angry white male demographic, Barbara Reynolds was fired from USA Today. She was escorted out of the building by a security guard. That night she had a heart attack.

And what about the behavior of the corporation that owns MSNBC? Comcast, which has supported ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is the right wing outfit that is leading a drive in favor of Stand Your Ground laws and voter suppression. Who has been hardest on women. NFL football players or an organization that supports Americans United for Life, a far right organization that opposes women’s right to choose? Already Texas women are jeopardizing their health by seeking abortion solutions in Mexico. And aren’t the MSNBC feminists who hold weekly tribunals about the behavior of black men compromised by their association with all white male patriarchy that comprises Comcast’s board of directors?

How did the NFL respond to the actions of black football players toward women? Even though it was a black woman who was knocked unconscious, an all white women panel was convened to judge the actions of black male players. Did any one of these women express willingness to yield her seat to a black woman?

Black, Latina feminists complain of being slighted by the corporate feminists who have been chosen to represent the movement.  German Jewish women who were members of Judischer Frauenbund (JFB), founded by Bertha Pappenheim also complained of being slighted.

“They joined with other women’s organizations that pursued feminist and social welfare goals specifically the Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine, Federation of German Women’s Association, with which the JFB maintained friendly relations from 1907 – 1933. “ Even before the rise of the German right wing, the Jewish women began to experience slights from their Aryan sisters. It was obvious for example that the German feminist mainstream was more comfortable with the participation of Catholic women than with theirs.

Just as bell hooks complained that liberal white feminists are uncomfortable with the issue of racism, members of the JFB accused the Aryan feminists of being comfortable with them only if they “closeted” their Jewishness. What began as solidarity of the German/Jewish sisterhood on the basis of gender, became for Jewish feminists ethnic survival and a preparation for exile. Those who remained behind were sent to the same camps as the men.

Copyright 2014 Ishmael Reed.

Ishmael Reed is the editor of Konch, Ishmaelreedpub.com  He plays “Love For Sale” on You Tube.

Sources & Flashbacks

http://www.nytimes.com/1997/07/14/business/cnn-ratings-go-south-calling-oj-calling-oj.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Aw%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A8%22%7D ( CNN’s profiting from O.J. trial)


http://www.buffalo.edu/ubreporter/archive/vol28/vol28n16/n9.html ( white domestic violence)

Street Justice: A History of Police Violence in New York City Paperback – October 31, 2004 by Marilynn S. Johnson  (Author) ( Tenderloin riot)

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/07/nyregion/for-women-in-street-stops-deeper-humiliation.html?mabReward=relbias:w,{%221%22:%22RI:5%22}&_r=0&adxnnl=1&module=Search&pagewanted=all&adxnnlx=1410962405-ck3sol6Bkc/CSF6yzVkZ5g ( Stop and Frisk sexual harrasement)

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/fatherhood/chapterthree.cfm( Mothers and child abuse)

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/04/16/sports/errors-in-inquiry-on-rape-allegations-against-fsu-jameis-winston.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A9%22%7D&_r=0 ( Investigative report about black football player)

http://www.alternet.org/story/154947/meet_alec’s_equally_despicable_anti-choice_cousin_–_au( ALEC supports anti Abortion group)

Reinharz Jehuda and Walter Schatzberg, The Jewish Response to German Culture from the enlightenment to the second world war,published for Clark University by University Press of New England ( Jewish-German Feminism).