Monday, December 01, 2008

Important, but brief, note, regarding Barack Obama, Paterson Joseph, and Benjamin Zephaniah

Typical. You wait 450 years for a black man to be appointed to an important position, and then three come along all at once.

17 comments:

Sylvia said...

Now that I've looked up what position Benjamin Zephaniah is allegedly being considered for, I can't help thinking of the Onion headline from November 5: "Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job"...

Helen Louise said...

Hehe, fantastic.

ZZ said...

Is there a particular reason you're ignoring the dozens of black legislators, cabinet members, and supreme court justices we've had over the years?

Obama is indeed black, which makes him an important symbol, but that seems to be his sole qualification.

Bluejo said...

25-28 Jun 09 • The Perelandra Project, Oxford. Swann/Marsh opera (long embargoed) of C.S. Lewis novel on 25, 26, 28 June. Also colloquium at St Stephen's House, 26-27 June, with Walter Hooper; £100 residential, £65 non-residential, both inc opera ticket; bookings open 10 December. Contact admin at perelandraproject dot org.

From Ansible.

You probably know about this, but just in case you don't.

Andrew Rilstone said...

Is there a particular reason you're ignoring the dozens of black legislators, cabinet members, and supreme court justices we've had over the years?

There is in England a popular TV show called "Doctor Who". It is strongly rumored that a very good actor, Paterson Jospeh, who is currently starring in "Survivors", and who is still fondly remembered for being Marquis De Carabas in "Neverwhere", a TV programme written by Neil Gaiman, who also writes comic books, will take over in the lead role when David Tennant, a Scottish man with an English accent, retires from the job sometimes in 2010. This would be quite interesting because all the people who have played Doctor Who up to now have be white.

There is also in England a peculiar tradition of appointing a man, or woman, but in fact a man, who writes poems, to the role of "Poet Laureate" which means "person who writes poems for the Queen, or King, but at the moment Queen", although the post is actually purely honorary. There is a smaller rumor that, when Andrew Motion, who is quite good on the wireless but has never actually written any poems at all, retires from the job, his replacement will be Benjamin Zephaniah, who is a black man, who does write poems, rather good ones in fact. This will be slightly interesting because up to now the all the people who have been had the job of Poet Laureate have been white.

There was a small item in the "Guardian" that happened to mention that there had been an election at Abroad, and that the man who had one the election happened to be a black man, which was very slightly interesting, because up to this point all the presidents have Abroad had been white people.

Obviously, the role of president of Foreign isn't as important as the role of Poet Laureate, and the role of Poet Laureate is much less important than the role of Doctor Who. However, the coincidence of three black men being possibly appointed to jobs which had up to now been done by white men caught my eye, and I thought that it would be amusing to put them side-by-side. It would also have been an opportunity to show that I understand what is meant by odds of 17:7 on, but I forgot.

I understand that the other person who might have become President of Abroad was not a black man or even a white man but a female man. If the female man had become president, then I expect Joanna Lumley would have been appointed Doctor Who and Wendy Cope would have been appointed Poet Laureate and I would have made a very similar joke.

Some years ago there was a sketch on the television in which they pretended that Doctor Who was going to be played by Lenny Henry, who is a black man who has, unlike some people, a sense of humour.

ZZ said...

Well put. Let's have the Poet Laureate send all his personal naval squadrons out to the region of say, Bermuda, and have President of Foreign send his squadrons, and we can decide more fairly Who is the more important.

Better yet, let's both just pop across The Channel and give Jerry another drubbing.

Andrew Stevens said...

The rumors about Paterson Joseph might be true, but I wouldn't count on it yet. Some oddsmakers have shut down betting on Mr. Joseph, but there's no earthly reason to think they have inside information. All it shows is that too much money is being bet on Mr. Joseph and not enough on anybody else.

So what's the source of all this betting? As near as I can tell, it's all the result of one man: Mr. Rich Johnston of comicbookresources. He seems very confident in his source and his claim is that it's already a done deal. However, Mr. Johnston will not reveal his source (not even "highly placed staffer"). I assume that the same source has also assured him that Neil Gaiman will write for the show in 2010 and that Tom Baker will appear in some capacity. However, since we don't know his source, it's not really possible to comment on how likely he is to be right. Only he can know that.

Andrew Rilstone said...

Well put. Let's have the Poet Laureate send all his personal naval squadrons out to the region of say, Bermuda, and have President of Foreign send his squadrons, and we can decide more fairly Who is the more important.

It's like coppery and goldy, Baldric, only it's made of iron.

Andrew Rilstone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lirazel said...

If I might raise a small quibble -- really just a quiblet -- it would appear that only one of these persons of color (or colour, if you will) is being considered for an appointment. One of the remaining two is being considered for a job of work representing a figure on a well-known television show.

The remaining person was elected. This is a distinction that seems to me to be worth remembering, minor though the office may be.

Andrew Rilstone said...

And actually, Benjamin Zephaniah turned down an O.B.E a few years ago: it's quite likely that he'd also turn down Top Poet.(Tony Harrison, who writes erudite translations of Greek plays and earthy poems about growing up in Leeds would be perfect for the post, but rather ruled himself out of the running by announcing that he was a republican.)

Andrew Stevens said...

Zephaniah has also made it clear that he believes the monarchy should be abolished and wrote an article for the Guardian when he declined his OBE where he said some rather negative things about the Poet Laureate position. It seems highly likely he would refuse if offered and even more unlikely it would be offered.

By the by, it's nice to have a
"Poet Laureate" who only serves two years (Congress appoints a new one every session). The United States had its first woman in 1945 (Louise Bogan), its first black man in 1976 (Robert Hayden), and its first black woman in 1985 (Gwendolyn Brooks).

By the by, after researching more thoroughly (i.e. reading some posts on Outpost Gallifrey), it is definitely Rich Johnston's opinion that the oddsmakers who cancelled betting did not do so because of him. He believes they must have received a number of insider bets on Paterson Joseph, smelled a rat, and either lowered the odds extravagantly or shut off betting. If his report of the timing of the bettors' cancelling is correct, then he might well be right.

So two out of three isn't bad.

dagonet said...

Stevens wrote:
"By the by, it's nice to have a
"Poet Laureate" who only serves two years (Congress appoints a new one every session)."

Unfortunatly, you seem to be stuck with an Emperor that is a Dead White Male
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Norton

Perhaps a seperate Parlementary P.L. job could be created for Mr.Benjamin Zephaniah? At the very least (going by what little I know of anti-establishmentarism) it would give him the chance for an even more spectacular refusal. He could use a little more happyness in his life.

Sylvia said...

Emperor Norton's not dead. He'll return in our nation's hour of greatest need...

Tom said...

"And actually, Benjamin Zephaniah turned down an O.B.E a few years ago: it's quite likely that he'd also turn down Top Poet."

This was my first thought. It seems unlikely he'd go for it.

dagonet said...

Just read Miss Christina Rossetti was considered for the position of PL.

Sylvia wrote:
"Emperor Norton's not dead. He'll return in our nation's hour of greatest need..."

Thought that job was taken by Rev. Cthulhu (who is an equal oppertunity employer, and quite likely black Himself)?

If we really wanted something new, we ought to create a "Court Royal Illuminator" position, & give Siku the job.

Mr_Crinkles said...

xtansCompletely unrelated, but is there any way I could get a copy of your Christmas note from a few years back entitled "Mistletoe and Whine"? Thank you.

Mr_Crinkles@hotmail.com