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You asked. I'm

You asked. I'm


Every once in a while those boneheads in the White House run into so much trouble that they have no other choice but to turn to me for advice. And so I wasn't surprised when I received a call at 3 a.m. the other night from an anonymous Administration source I'll call "Karl." He was clearly drunk, out of sorts, and a little sad, I must say. He had one thing on his mind: A recent poll showing that only 2% of African-Americans support our president. What, he begged me to tell him, could the Bush administration do to win the undying love of African-Americans?

I gave him a few suggestions, in no particular order of importance:

1. Stop killing people in other countries for no apparent reason. This would seem like a slam-dunk, but apparently it's not on the table for discussion, "Karl" said. But if there's one thing we AA's really can't stand (and we gays, for that matter), it's a senseless war that brings us 2,000 dead girls and boys and no closer to a peaceful world.

2. Stop talking to us like we are idiots. Tell Bush II not to say you're "doing all we can" when you're doing very little, as even a fourth-grader can tell you. You're not a "compassionate conservative" if you're more eager to make sure white folks in your home state aren't driven out by too many dislodged black people (see Mama Bush's comments) than to help the evacuees get back on their feet. Also: You can't talk to black people like you're a redneck cowboy, when we generally hate redneck cowboys.

3. Stop padding the wallets of people who are screwing black people. Like your big company cronies at Wal "Screw Your Health Benefits" Mart. Like the Exxon "$10 Billion in Profits While Americans Can Barely Fill Their Gas Tanks" Mobil. Like Condoleezza Rice, whom your boss mentions time and time again as if I should be proud of her. But you know, I'm not. She's a classical-piano-playing, sensible-suit-wearing, Russian-speaking House Negress, and as in days of yore, she's unlikely to be loved by black people unless they are strikingly similar to her. (Which apparently somewhere around 2% are.)

4. Stop lining the pockets of rich folks while screwing us out of essential services. The latest plan to finance your endless tax cuts for the rich is to cut $50 billion in spending, including Medicaid, food stamps, and other key services for low-income African-Americans. Hello! You know that if you want white people to like you, you give them money. What's wrong with that philosophy when it comes to black folks?

5. Find some real black people who will tell you the truth, and listen to them. For a start, listen to Maxine Waters and Barack Obama, Phill Wilson and Keith Boykin, even Kanye West, Aaron McGruder (of "Boondocks" fame), and the fiercely intelligent Barbara Smith. They'll tell you how your response to AIDS in the United States and the world is too little, too late, and all gauged to public relations, instead of actual concern for human life. And if someone brings up the health issues facing black women and lesbians to your boss's face, I would guarantee it would be a first for the Cracker From Crawford.

6. Start praying for real. I know George says he prays a lot, but I assume that either (1) he says that to placate the Christian right or (2) he's praying for all the wrong things in the wrong ways. (I'm betting on door number 2.) How 'bout praying for deeper knowledge of God's true will or true compassion or a semblance of tolerance of diverse ideas or an understanding of real christian principles--like "doing unto others" for starters?

When I finished, I realized that "Karl" had hung up his secure phone a long time ago, and I was ranting into the dead air. I wasn't surprised.

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