Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Black Woman at the Intersection: Sean Penn vs. Lee Daniels

This is not going to be some super thoughtful post such as one Tammy Winfrey Harris would write. This post is just me saying, "What the hell!" Sean Penn has filed a $1,000,000 defamation lawsuit against Lee Daniels, the man behind Fox's saucy, ground-breaking, hit show Empire. And as a black person who is also a woman, here I am squished at the intersection of being female and black. To whom should I remain loyal in this situation, a wealthy black man pointing out the plight of black people or women who are also opppressed? What is my opinion and why did Daniels and Penn have to go public with their jackass behavior?

On one side we have Penn pulling a typical white male of privilege move. He's suing a black man for millions of dollars for saying something numerous white-owned magazines have reported for decades.

And on the other side we have Daniels, a successful black man who seems to be more concerned about defending a man who's admitted to beating women than he is to finding a better way to tell reporters, "Stop asking us about that." He instead said something that gives the impression that it may be okay for Howard to beat women because white men do it all the time and get away with it. I know that's not what he meant, but it feels like he's in the ballpark of that poor logic.

The Penn-Daniels feud began with Daniels's statement in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter regarding one of the Empire stars, Terrence Howard. In an effort to defend Howard against constant questions about his domestic violence incidents, Daniels called out racism and brought up Penn's name along with Marlon Brando's in a "white guys have all the luck" kind of way. (He should have gone for Sean Connery, too, while he was at it.)
"[Terrence] ain't done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he's some f—in' demon," says Daniels. "That's a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America."

See what Daniels tried to do there? But his deflection game is off.

He's alluding to the the double standard to which black men are held versus white men. And it's true that black men are berated and punished more harshly than white men for the same crimes. But Lee, really? Who writes this man's talking points, and why didn't he follow the advice given to everyone else working on Empire? If asked about Howard, say nothing.

I can possibly understand why Daniels, as Empire's co-creator, thought he should speak out, but he definitely said the wrong thing because:

  1. Howard has beaten women.
  2. It's never a good idea to defend yourself or others by saying, "Well, Johnny over there is also guilty."

Here is what Daniels could have said, "Terrence knows he was wrong. He has admitted to his deeds, and he's trying to change. How does constantly bringing it up help him work through this?"

Let me stop here a moment and say, "It is wrong for men to beat women." And "It is wrong for men to beat women."

But Penn, you also have a lot of nerve.

Multiple entertainment and gossip news sources, such as Huffington Post and TMZ, report Penn's lawsuit claims:
Daniels' statements are "egregious," as well as "reckless and malicious," as Howard has "reportedly, and publicly, admitted to physically abusing at least one woman and reportedly been arrested approximately five times for violent acts against women." As such, Penn finds the comparison to the "Empire" star to be untrue, claiming that while he has had brushes with the law, "Penn (unlike Howard) has never been arrested, much less convicted for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest.'

It may be true that Penn was never arrested or convicted of domestic violence, but Daniels's statement was neither "egregious" nor "malicious." Reckless? Maybe -- but not for the reasons Penn says. It was a reckless statement because Daniels should have avoided saying anything that sounded like he was defending a man who's admitted to beating women.

Maybe Penn's suing because he is hard up for cash and craves the spotlight again. He also claims that Daniels mentioned him to get publicity for Empire. Again, really, Penn? Who's riding high right now, you or Empire? Didn't your last film, The Gunman, lose money?

As far as malice goes, that's probably just lawyer talk. Unless Penn's attorney can prove that Daniels has some seething beef against Penn, it's hard to argue malice. The lawsuit is probably just blowing smoke, too. A cease and desist letter telling Daniels that Penn has never been arrested or charged with such an act and maybe a public statement saying, "I want Daniels to stop it" would have sufficed. All the lawsuit is doing is reminding a new generation that Penn used to be extremely volatile and violent. I mean, how many people under 30 would know that Penn spent time in jail for assault without this lawsuit spotlighting him?

It's even difficult to argue that what Daniels said was egregious because Daniels is only slightly older than I am, so we're of a generation that recalls Penn's former life as Hollywood's bad boy.

About 30 years ago or so, I recall, stories that police had to go to Penn's home because his then-wife, Madonna, accused him of domestic violence. As that screen shot shows, the Associated press reported the story in 1989. Did Penn sue the AP wire? Has Penn been suing every publication and news show that's repeated the story since then?

Madonna's accusations may have been purely her speaking in anger because the pair was going through a vicious divorce, but it's also true that due to Penn's repeated run-ins with police for punching people in the face and hitting at least one guy over the head with a bottle, it's reasonable that Daniels and everyone else who read an article like the AP story back then to have believed that Madonna was telling the truth.

That the superstar dropped the charges against her husband later means nothing. Any divorce lawyer will tell you that women are pressured to drop domestic violence charges all the time, and many do. "Do you want him to have this on his record? This will ruin his career. He won't be able to bring in any income." That's usually the kind of thing women are told. So, some of these women decide not to see a prosecution through, especially if they feel guilty about their part in the fight or split. They know the American justice system prefers pure victims.

Did Sean Penn hit Madonna? I don't know, and if he did, he's probably not that man now. I think that he's matured and has learned to control himself. He's also tried to help people and do more good in the world. Still, is his getting in a huff and suing Daniels is a sign that Penn is regressing?

I believe that like anyone else Penn, as well as Howard, wishes people will stop bringing up his past misdeeds whatever they may be. Nonetheless, my questions to him are: Why doesn't that 1989 AP story say something like, "Penn denies ever hitting his estranged wife?"

Also, Daniels didn't start the rumor that Penn has beaten a woman. Madonna did that. Why isn't he suing her and the many publications that have since then reported the accusation? Why is Daniels his target?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Quaint Magazine Interview with Nordette N. Adams

And so this happened: I was interviewed by Quaint Magazine about the big poetry and music event I coordinated for this weekend, Born to the Beat.

I am grateful to Quaint for interviewing me about Born to the Beat because I am trying my best to promote the mini-festival so the poets have an audience. And I.do not deny that I can be so corny that I would make a Poet Tree for a poetry event because I did, That's what you see above. I've been tweeting that and other graphics to get the word out that this Saturday is the big day, 2:00 p.m., at Morning Call in City Park.

As they say in the old church, "Those of you who know the word of prayer, please pray for me." I need all the help I can get.

Kia Groom, the publisher and editor of the literary magazine asked me a question about the list of impressive poets lined up for this event in honor of the Beat Generation. Here's the full list here with the most recent addition, Nigerian poet and University of New Orleans professor Niyi Osundare, Ph.D. And it is an impressive group. I think I may have intimidated myself. Every one on the list has been published and many of them have won award for one of their poems or for a collection of poetry, even the emcees are literary stars, Megan Burns, a poet, and Alex Jennings, a fiction writer. The Shiz band is playing, too, and it has a poet as well.

What I was thinking pulling together all these gifted people in one spot? I've scared myself.

William F.DeVault
Dennis Formento
Gina Ferrara
Tyler Gillespie
Kelly Harris-DeBerry
Carolyn Hembree
Julie Kane
Kay Murphy
Biljana Obradovic
Niyi Osundare
Valentine Pierce
A Scribe Called Quess?
M. E. Riley
Kristina Robinson
Mona Lisa Saloy
Terri S .Shrum
Clare Welsh
and our emcees,

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Alexie and Another Dolezal

Posts about Alexi's editorial were the first thing I saw when I entered the Facebook vortex today, and the topic was so full of smoke and mirrors identity issues that my head exploded. Here are its contents:

The summer was strange and wonderful, but since my return to the real world my mind's been full of American splinters, namely race matters, even race matters in the poetry community. Call me an observer.

The last time I wrote anything on this topic I think it was the Hoagland-Rankine thing at AWP, which I've since moved offline except for the initial post. Then last week I poked at the wall a little myself when I discovered the Poetry Foundation suffers from a certain obtuseness about European denigration of Africa and African-Americans. Other than that, I am essentially a nobody in the world of poetry, and let that admission serve as the excuse you need not to read this lonnnnng essay that I pecked out before I even realized I was writing.

On the blood trail of even more well-earned AWP drama about lack of diversity with blind push-back from a Kate Gale, the poetry community has been again upturned with Sherman Alexie's recent editorial for The Best American Poetry 2015 anthology in which he justifies his inclusion of a poem by a white man who used a Chinese  woman's name. This white man was apparently in the middle of a WMT (white man tantrum) when he did this, the conniption some white men have when they perceive everything they say and write is no longer the Word of God.

He pretended to be Chinese because he wanted to prove that people of color are favored over white people in poetry publications these days or something like that. This attempt is akin to what Rachel Dolezal wanting to prove about Africana studies, I think. She did, after all, first sue Howard University for "reverse discrimination." And it's definitely what Mindy Kaling's brother wanted to prove about med school admissions except he did so because he believes black people are favored over Indian and Asian people. Even getting harassed more by the police and store clerks didn't turn his unethical ship around. The difference is the impostor poet targeted Asian people and did not change his speech or subject matter. He merely lied about his name.

That said, no matter what others may assert, the impostor's poem selected for BAP 15 was still published because of its white maleness and affection for the hegemony. Alexi admits he thought first about the oddity of such colonialist affection in what he thought was a Chinese mind when he first put the poem in the maybe pile:
"When I first read it, I'd briefly wondered about the life story of a Chinese American poet who would be compelled to write a poem with such overt and affectionate European classical and Christian imagery, and I marveled at how interesting many of us are in our cross-cultural lives, and then I tossed the poem on the "maybe" pile that eventually became a "yes" pile."
Identity always plays a role in the creative process and how we perceive the world. In the Alexi case the European aesthetic still won. Alexie was curious about the poem as banana and in that way he reveals something’s going on in his head regarding his own appleness. (Yes, I’m playing off the Oreo trope.)

When I worked at a black weekly back in the 90s, whenever we didn’t seem to be down 100% with “the struggle” the editor would say, “That’s 'cause you’re not black in your mind!” The statement always struck me first from the view of slavery as death of the self (Slaves are forced to take on the identities of the masters.) and later as the ways in which the colonized often suffer from Stockholm syndrome. Even when we resist, some thread of whiteness remains in us because it’s difficult to not be influenced by the culture that surrounds you with claims of superiority.

So, Alexie's published a poem that's not Chinese in its mind, so it is not "Chinese;" therefore it has no real validity as proving a point about people of color being more privileged in poetry publications (statistics prove they are not). The only thing it's proven is how Sherman Alexi's mind works.

Poems that show no evidence of the ethnic identity of a poet of color are not “ethnic” poems. If I write a poem about a love of nature in a way that has no relation to how I identify as a black woman, then I’ve written a nature poem, and unless people know I’m black, the assumption of authorship defaults to white poet. If I write a poem about my old life in the Jersey suburbs that reveals nothing of my identity other than frustrated housewife, then it’s a life poem also known as a white poem and it's assumed the speaker is the stereotypical frustrated white housewife.

Someone could publish an anthology of a hundred poems written by people of non-European descent, but if in reading them you get no inkling that any of the poets were written by black, brown, and yellow people, and none of the poems challenged the status quo of white supremacy, you would be reading a white anthology also known as vanilla. It would be an anthology with which even a conservative white male might be comfortable, and it too would probably be called something something American.

This doesn’t mean that POCs should only write poems that reveal their ethnic heritage or overtly protest the hegemony. It means that often publications produced by white publishers get to count having a representative publication when they actually don’t have any such a thing. What they have is another book that completely upholds the white perspective and Western-European aesthetic but happens to include some people known to have darker skin.

Think of my current governor Bobby Jindal and his position in the Grand Old Party. Think of the words that come out of his mouth. The GOP counts him as evidence that they’re open to everyone, but who is Piyush "Bobby" Jindal really? Is he saying anything different from his Duck Dynasty friends?

Alexie has over-analyzed himself away from the anger he could have maintained and convinced himself that he published that poem simply because it’s good, but he’ll never know the truth about the poem:

  1. He can’t un-think his first curiosity about what kind of Chinese person was that in love with European culture.
  2. He could not separate his ego from his initial decision to publish the poem and from his desire to prove that he was still objective when he learned of the deception. Nobody is that objective. In fact, it’s the Enlightenment Age mind that privileges white male notions of rationality that has Alexi thinking he could be objective at all. He fought with his own thread of whiteness and his own maleness and  those aspects of himself won.

I noticed that he never discusses whether the poem moved him other than to a place of confusion and curiosity.

So, even if the impostor had actually been a Chinese poet, the poem itself added nothing to diversity in the anthology no matter what Alexie told himself when he accepted it and what he says now. The poem may be a good poem, but it was its perceived unique identity that drew him in. Would it have made the cut if the BAP used a panel of editors from different backgrounds? We'll never know.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

I love Michelle Obama laughing in this picture

Right now I'm doing something that people on the Internet used to do a lot more of, informal reciprocal linking. An example of that would be Bob links to one of Susan's post for good reasons and without any prompting from her, and when Susan finds out that Bob's linked linked to her post, she finds something of Bob's she'd like to link to at her blog. People used to do that automatically back in the day.

And I'm not talking about link farms, web rings, etc. I'm talking about the honest exchange of links without one party pushing the other to do anything. But as more people came online and more marketing schemes came about to formalize reciprocal linking, people began to do it less. Also, I think as more people came online, the web became less about community building and information providing and more about trying to get hits at your blog or website to become famous. JMO.

Checking my stats (the lowest they've ever been because I don't post enough), I saw a lot of hits from Parade Magazine to my article about the music industry and the California band Gooding. It turns out a Parade writer interviewed the band, which is a good thing since Gooding deserves attention.

While poking around at Parade afterward, I discovered this great photo of Michelle Obama. It happens to be in a post by the same writer who linked to my music article.

This picture is from one of the White House Nerd Proms, the one last year. It shows here genuinely laughing at something Jimmy Kimmel's saying. The article at the Parade link, however, covers an amusing exchange between the First Lady and Kimmel in a PSA about her program FNV, (Eat your Fruits and Vegetables) a campaign to brand vegetables the same way junk foods are branded to sound cool to youngsters. The FLOTUS appeared on Kimmel's show last week.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Born to the Beat: NOLA poets prepare for The National Beat Poetry Festival

Visit the mobile site for B2TB
In conjunction with the National Beat Poetry Festival, a New Orleans poetry event, Born to the Beat is in the works. The poetry and prose reading is set for Saturday, September 12, outside Morning Call Coffee Stand at City Park, New Orleans, 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. (inside if it rains).

Some of the poets who will be reading are former Louisiana poet laureate Julie Kane, Dillard University professor and poet Mona Lisa Saloy, Kelly Harris-DeBerry, Carolyn Hembree, A Scribe Called Quess?, and John Gery. Local Indie band The Shiz will provide music, and Nordette Adams will be joined by Megan Burns and Alex Jennings as emcees.

It's free! So, if you'd like to attend why don't you let us know on Twitter (@BeatPoetry504) or Facebook.

There's more to say, but until next time . . .

Sunday, June 21, 2015

When Christians praise themselves for not rioting . . .

Dear fellow believers in Charleston, South Carolina, who are also black like me:

I thank God that you have praised Him through this trial. The loss of nine sisters and brothers is a tremendous burden for a church and family to bear. The recognition that racial hatred still breeds in your state and this nation is frightening, but as witnessed on national television, you have a strong faith.

From this tragedy Americans have shared the moving experience of grieving family members offering forgiveness to the killer. That obedient response was a testimony to their faith and the teaching they have received. Indeed, I think what we’ve witnessed through you in Charleston is an instance of how God may be glorified in suffering. And yet, I must caution you.

In Charleston, I have also observed on television a troubling response. A few black Christians speaking to reporters have patted themselves on the back for “not rioting.” I cannot help but think that they praise themselves in reference to the #BlackLivesMatter protests that have turned violent in the last year in places such as Ferguson, New York, and Baltimore. So, it sounds to me that what these black Christians in Charleston want the world to believe is that they are better people than those who have rioted since the deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and Freddie Gray.

Yes, it’s good that more violence was not the result of the massacre at Emmanuel AME Church, but comparing the response of mature Christians to the reaction of young black people in Ferguson and young black people in Baltimore is not fair.

First, the comparison sounds similar to the Pharisee praying “I thank God that I am not like that sinner over there,” not that you are pharisees, but it does seem strange that you would praise yourselves and appear not to understand what has happened in the rest of the country. Second, in terms of protest, your situation in Charleston and what has happened elsewhere are not truly the same.

The shooter in Charleston was not a government representative, such as a police officer, and your police department did not behave as though nothing had happened (as Florida police did following Trayvon Martin’s death). Your police chief and mayor sprang into action to condemn the murders and find the perpetrator.

So, who would you have rioted against, the police department and mayor for doing their jobs? Or is Dylan Roof someone to riot against? Did you pay taxes for Dylan Roof to protect you? The white supremacist culture in general may seem like something to riot against to some people sometimes, but who riots against a wind?

It's understood that peaceful people prefer peaceful protest. Still, even Dr. King understood why oppressed people sometimes riot. Understanding rage and condoning its actions, of course, are not the same thing. Then there's the reality that Christian people who actually believe what Jesus taught tend not to become violent.

The question for you is this, Has your dignified response to these murders and the evil acts against you come by your own grace and power or by God's?

My heart goes out to you and the nation, but I hope none of you, including preachers, will use this tragedy to compare yourselves to other black people in pain in order to condemn them. I hope that you will not stand on the necks of other black people to lift yourselves in America’s eyes.

But I'm sure you will move forward in grace because you have the Humble Servant in your hearts. And nothing will separate us from His love.

Peace and Grace to you,
your sister, Nordette

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Everybody Loves Rachel Dolezal (Video)

If you used to watch "Every Body Loves Raymond," then you may have seen the episode called "Robert's Date" in which Raymond's brother begins to dress and behave like how he thinks black people talk and behave. Robert also quickly jumps to a conclusion about how Judy thinks of him.

I immediately thought of that episode when I first heard of Rachel Dolezal pretending to be black for years.

UPDATE: Rachel Dolezal has resigned as head of the Spokane Chapter of the NAACP. MSNBC interviewed her parents. Her mother thinks she still hasn't taken responsibility for her deception, but hopes Rachel gets the help she needs. Her father got a tad choked up thinking how she used to call him "Papa." And then there's the news that while at historically black Howard University, she identified at white and sued the school alleging that they had discriminated against her because she's white. However, the courts disagreed.

Late night, June 13, I wrote this post but did not get back to it until today. When I heard about this perplexing and vexing story last week, I thought I would not comment, but I've found myself dropping thoughts everywhere such as tweeting about what's wrong (partly) with applying a term like "transracial" to Dolezal's identity issues.

I ended up writing that tweet after watching Melissa Harris-Perry's show on Saturday. I was surprised that discussing this mess with Alysson Hobbs she risked playing into the hands of white conservatives by accepting the term "transracial" could be legitimately applied to Dolezal's presumption. What an unwise move!

Also, the discussion on the MHP show Saturday did not clarify how passing for white and passing for black are not the same. They seemed eager to legitimize the possibility that Rachel Dolezal truly has a black identity. Hobbs said, "There certainly is a chance that she identifies as a black woman and their could be authenticity to that."

But on today's show she attempted to clarify what she meant. As you may guess, I was among many who found her position troubling. She said today that she is trying to find the language to discuss that some people may feel like they belong to another "race" more than to their biological kin. (Of course some people feel that way, but should they do what Dolezal did?)  However, on Dolezal herself MHP slowly backed away, saying Dolezal's lecture on black hair was too much. Finally, the depth of the woman's deception hit her.

Regarding the term "transracial," Megan Willett at Business Insider has already covered why it" should not be applied to Dolezal's misrepresentation of her ethnicity, and I add to her point that I wouldn't use it for no other reason than how the term will be used politically.

I could have also also written a long piece arguing that the head of the Seattle NAACP's actions -- wearing dark make-up, kinking and braiding her hair, claiming a black man is her real father when that's not true--are proof of her white privilege, but Michael P. Jeffries writing at the Boston Globe has covered that point well.

I think some people are cutting her too much slack by applying identity theory inappropriately to this woman. However, there may be any number of psychological issues underlying her condition.

The Huffington Post interview with her parents (end of this post) touches on the possibility that she may be unstable.

Also, today a fellow blogger sent a link to Alicia Walters's article at the Guardian addressing why she, as a black woman, objects to Dolezal's masquerade, "I became a black woman in Spokane. But, Rachel Dolezal, I was a black girl first." Walter writes:

"Rachel Dolezal may have perfected her performance of black womanhood, and she may be connected to black communities and feel an affinity with the styles and cultural innovations of black people. But the black identity cannot be put on like a pair of shoes. Our external differences from the white majority might be how others categorize us as black, but it’s the thread of our diverse lived experiences that make us black women."

I've considered that she may have resented her parents' adoption of black children. My daughter tossed that notion aside and generously suggested that Dolezal has some kind of "racial dysmorphia" akin to body dysmorphic disorder.

And while others have decided Dolezal is simply another narcissists on the loose, Elisa Camahort noted on her Facebook page the high number of racial harassment incidents the woman's reported and decided she may have some kind of one-off  Munchausen's By Proxy syndrome, a Blackhausen By Proxy, if you will. An amusing concept, but that notion occurred to me as well when I first began reading about the controversy.

I do have some sympathy for Dolezal if her pretense is rooted in some kind of mental distress and self-loathing. Never healed, that sucks no matter how it comes about. As I wrote on Elisa's page, in some situations whites have been known to wish they were black. Harry Connick Jr. said he used to wish it as a boy because all the great jazz musicians he knew were black men.

Then there is the "race is a social construct" crowd. I agree that race is a social construct, but I also believe Dolezal's choices indicate she may not. She thinks race is physical;

But who really knows. I find this mess all rather headache-inducing, which is why I think I'll just watch the "That's Not My Baby" scene with Katt Williams again, and remember the funny clips from the Everybody Loves Raymond episode I've posted above. Both involve someone trying to pass whiteness off as blackness. In both cases the people fail. But for more video commentary, try this link.

The video below is an excellent interview with Rachel Dolezal's parents followed by commentary from scholars and journalists. It's moving. No parents who love and believe they've done their best with a child wants to have that child reject them.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Slave ship ruins reveal horrid conditions Africans endured

Yesterday's New York Times featured the article "Grim History Traced in Sunken Slave Ship Found Off South Africa." People have been sharing the story on Facebook and Twitter.

The article tells some of the disturbing details of abuse 400 to 500 Africans endured on the São José Paquete Africa before the slave ship sank not far from the Cape of Good Hope. Unfortunately, the detestable conditions they faced were typical of slave ships.

Some people reading the article have been shocked to hear how Africans were forced onto these ships and squeezed into cargo holds like livestock for a four-month journey to the shores of the Americas and Europe.

But Lonnie Bunch, the founder of the African American History Museum at the Smithsonian knows this horrid history and of even worse traumas the enslaved suffered. So, he gets that the lives lost during these treacherous journeys, also known as the Middle Passage, and the lives of those who suffered in bondage later deserve a dignified remembrance.

Here's how their memories will be honored at the museum Bunch runs.
The space in the museum for the items pulled from the sea, he said, will include recordings of voices describing the slave trade — “a place,” Mr. (Lonnie) Bunch said, “for you to mourn and to remember.”
This is the attitude we've hoped the architect behind the current design of the proposed National Slave Ship Museum would have adopted. But his vision as shared with the Times Picayune last week reveals again that he just doesn't get it. Remembering the humans who traveled to this country in shackles as well as those that did not survive the journey should not be an entertaining moment or a time to make everyone feel better than he felt at the Holocaust Museum.

James doesn't understand that a slave ship replica as a tourism boat and the Middle Passage as an indoor "simulation ride"he claims will let museum visitors "experience as a slave their journey at sea" is just wrong. The only outcome of such a presentation will be a distortion of history that creates more tension and misunderstanding between ethnic groups in America.

Please sign the petition, if you haven't already, and share it so we can stop the current plan for the NSSM from moving forward.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

National Slave Ship Museum Board denies slave ship replica to cruise Mississippi but I've got video proof of their plan

Supporters of the National Slave Ship Museum, including New Orleans City Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell, participated in an interview that made false claims to Times Picayune reporter Jarvis DeBerry about plans for the National Slave Ship Museum.

Board member Debra Morton unequivocally denied that the museum plans have a full-scale replica of a slave ship that will sail the Mississippi River selling rides to tourists. She, Cantrell, and the architect Clifton James seem to think it's ludicrous that anyone would think the plan included such a thing. And yet they never bothered to contradict the numerous reports about the sailing ship over the years.

However, the video above shows an economic development committee meeting in which the cruising slave ship plan is mentioned twice. Once it's mentioned as a revenue source. So, clearly they planned to sell tickets to board this ship.

I also discovered planners have already received a letter of intention from the Port of New Orleans agreeing for them to use the proposed area of the Celeste Street Wharf, and that they've named their celebrity spokesperson, actor and activist Wendell Pierce (SELMA, Suits, The Wire, Treme).

More surprising however, is the proposal's plan for a simulation ride inside the museum that the architect says will let riders "experience the journey as a slave as they did at sea, a realistic ride that would probably take 4 to 5 minutes."

If these people can't be trusted to tell the plain truth in a media interview, can they be trusted to ensure the integrity of history such as suffering and death during the Middle Passage?