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The Tawana Award
Thursday, January 19, 2006   By: Mahone Dunbar

Chocolate City mayor receives Tawana Award


Al Sharpton, three-time recipient of the BET Tawana Brawley Racial Divisiveness Award, presents the award to this year’s winner, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin.


Ray Nagin Wins This Year’s Tawana
The Emperor Of Chocolate City


PPI–Mahone Dunbar

New Orleans Mayor, C. Ray Nagin, whose abilities as a religious prophet have heretofore gone unheralded, announced last week at an event marking Martin Luther King day that God sent hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as other storms, as a sign that he was mad at America, and at black communities, for their political infighting and violence. He also announced that God didn't approve of America's being in Iraq under false pretenses and was also upset at black America for "not taking care of ourselves."

Mayor Nagin, the black community's answer to Pat Robinson, made no mention of what God was pissed off about when he sent the tsunami to devastate Indonesia last year, not to mentioned what bugged the deity enough to send numerous earthquakes, floods, fires, pestilence, disease, tornados, and hurricanes to beleaguer humanity over the past few millennia.

As far as blacks "not taking care of ourselves," the mayor didn't mention if that included city administrators who didn't pay heed to warnings to evacuate their below-sea-level city, squandered monies earmarked for levee upkeep, and then stood idly by and let a fleet of school buses to go under water while the poor black community of New Orleans needed a ride out of the city. Apparently, God gave a pass on this.

But Nagin's most controversial remarks concerned his vision for the future of New Orleans - as a "chocolate city." Chocolate, in common parlance, like ‘diversity,’ "inter city residents," and "defendant," is a code word for black. Mayor Nagin affirmed that God wanted New Orleans to be a chocolate city. God, currently on vacation in the Pleiades, was unavailable for comment.

As well as speaking on behalf of the Supreme Deity, Nagin also admitted to holding an imaginary conversation with the late Martin Luther King, who Nagin asked: "What is it going to take for us to move on and live your dream and make it a reality?"

"For starters," the imaginary rhetorical device replied, "how about a city administrator in New Orleans who's not a dumb-ass incompetent who spends his time talking to dead people."

Though Nagin's remarks created a public stir, and caused him to back away from them, his efforts did not go without notice. Wednesday night the Black Entertainment Network (BET) honored him as the 2006 recipient of their annual "Tawana,"( the Tawana Brawley Racial Divisiveness Award). The Reverend Al Sharpton, multiple winner of the award in past years, presented Nagin with the Tawana plaque at an event held at the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

(In a related item, also on Wednesday night, in Atlanta, a maintenance worker at the Ebenezer Baptist Church reported that a picture of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was weeping real tears.)

After the ceremony, at a Q and A event, Al Sharpton was asked if he thought comments such as Nagin's - which came in concert with the celebration of Dr. King's life - actually promoted equality. "Of course," Sharpton replied, "but keep in mind; though all animals is equal, some is more equal than others."

One reporter, referring to the shooting of three people at the Martin Luther King Day parade in New Orleans, asked Mayor Nagin if his reference to the shooters as "knuckleheads," minimized the violence? And whether he thought such a minimization of violent incidents would scare vanilla, lemon, and café-colored people (particularly vanilla-and-lemon-people who had limited experience with the benefits of intercity diversity) away from Chocolate City. The mayor replied, in an effort to clarify his remarks, that his ‘knucklehead’ remark had to be taken in context, and that it was no more inappropriate than the time former Alabama governor George Wallace tried to sooth black fears by referring to a series of lynchings as "only the work of those rascally Klansmen."

In response to a question concerning a widely reported rumor that the mayor had proposed new city limits signs, each bearing a new city motto which reads: If you white, take flight, Nagin’s replied, "Naw. Naw. We decided that was too Jim-Crowish. We finally settled on 'Welcome to Chocolate City: If you a light -- then don't alight here.'  Besides, the city limit signs with the mottos were suggested by my staff in a spirit of fun. It was nuthin’ serious; just a joke. Besides, we only had a couple of dozen printed up."

When another reporter pressed Mayor Nagin on whether or not that implied that people of minimal-color would not be welcome in Chocolate City, the mayor took the opportunity to back away from his prior remarks somewhat. Clearly in a conciliatory mood, Mayor Nagin said that white people would not only be welcome in New Orleans, but that a concerted effort to bring them back to the Big Easy was being made. "Just in case there’s another flood," he said, amplifying his remark, "we're hiring bus drivers and swimming instructors. Fact is, word up on this, those slots are bing exclusively reserved for white people; hell, everybody knows black people can't swim, or drive buses . . . at least in New Orleans."

Before the Q and A broke up, Mayor Nagin also took the opportunity to invite many of the Voodoo practitioners who had fled in the wake of Katrina back to "Chocolate City" and urged them to use their collective wisdom to find a way to protect the city from  George Bush's magical ability to control the weather. He added that cost would be no concern since there was plenty of levee upkeep money still laying around, enough to maybe purchase several thousand sacrificial goats and chickens if needed.

When asked if the purchase of the goats and chickens was a proper expenditure - and a bit extravagant for the city considering its financial condition after Katrina - Nagin replied that after the sacrifices the goats and chickens would then be barbequed and used to feed the homeless. "My advisors tell me the whole thing's proper since it comes under the heading of alternative medicine and feeding the indigent. Besides, it's cost efficient. Nothin’ will get wasted; we'll fight George Bush and we'll feed the hungry at the same time. And I'll personally see to it that each and every citizen in New Orleans gets free swimming lessons. That's how committed I am to my vision of Chocolate City."


(c)1968- today j.e. simmons or michael warren