March 21, 2003


On Saturday, at one of the state's public colleges, another man said something even worse about another black female government official.

In front of an overwhelmingly black audience of about 100 at Coppin State College, Amiri Baraka, New Jersey's Lunatic Laureate, called national security adviser Condoleezza Rice a "skeeza."

For those of you not in the know, a "skeeza" is a derogatory street term used in reference to a woman and as offensive as calling her a prostitute. It's a noxious, bilious, disgustingly sexist term and one of the worst things you could call a woman.

It is something Rice certainly is not. Baraka knows she's not. Those blacks who laughed, giggled, tittered and applauded when Baraka said it know she's not. But what was the reaction of these black folks when Baraka finished his invective masquerading as poetry that he called "Somebody Blew Up America"?

They gave him thunderous applause and a standing ovation. At no time was there the indignation that was present when O'Malley said much less about Jessamy. I guess Baraka can get away with it because he hates all the right people.

I'm waiting for the chorus of condemnation for this slur. You know it would be forthcoming if Trent Lott had said it. Instead, we get this:

Robert Cataliotti, an associate professor in Coppin's department of humanities and media, said Baraka was paid for his appearance, and he defended his being invited to speak.

"[Baraka's] a major figure in the development of African-American literature," Cataliotti said. "I'm not here to judge the content of his poem. He has the right as an American to express his opinion."

And others have the right, and perhaps the duty, to condemn his opinion -- unless they share his ugly views.