Let’s just get to it!
The main reason why we can’t easily brush off the declaration by Ellen DeGeneres that she’s quite friendly with George W. Bush, is due to the pass transgressions of the former president when you recall Hurricane Katrina and the poor response that gave the world a wide-eyed view of America’s worst kept secret.
We recall the memorable moment when Kanye West boldly and painfully uttered the phrase of our lifetime: “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People,” and how those weighty words symbolized the deadly negligence of the federal government, and the agencies that were supposed to swoop in with the sense of urgency that would’ve replicated the lifesaving efforts directed to havens like Palm Beach, Florida.
The year was 2005, and I was in LA, trying to carve out the TV career that went nowhere when I was stopped in my tracks by the graphic display of Black people taking cover on rooftops as the flood waters below from the broken Levees, overtook New Orleans with the fury that assaulted the city of historical gems.
I had spent my entire childhood rocking to the anthem of my starry-eyed parents who birthed their children in the Land of Oz, with the shared pact that my siblings and I would be raised in the “shithole” of our ancestors with the option to escape the military coups and military-style boarding schools once we were college-aged.
My well-meaning mother and father were overwhelmed by the reception from White allies who did their utmost best to magnify the still-growing resentment between Black Americans and the brothers and sisters who were also displaced by the criminality of White supremacy.
Maybe the violation of body and soul allows for the openness that can’t be taught or forced down the tubes of discontent because I was a child of the earth before I knew what that meant. I understood that shit happens without consent, and for those who are penalized for owning their primal creed, there’s the mandate to stay above water, even when the currents of discord beckon.
The Black population of Louisiana were left to sink or swim, and that was beyond the definition of inhumane. I still recall how paralyzed I was by the harrowing images of bloated Black bodies, young and old, floating in the diseased waters that held the scribe of Black death with the brashness of the ultra-hot sun that blazed from above.
There was no way to reconcile how the country of my birth that had been held to the highest esteem of perfection could possibly feature the horror movie of our lives, under the ineptness of a political dynasty that endorsed the unworthy crowing of an American president, whose destiny designed the brutal demise of those who were unprivileged enough to be under his care.
George W. Bush has enjoyed the ceremonious resurgence of popularity and nostalgic gratitude that could only be possible after an ailing nation buckles under the duress of his fellow comrade, who shares the same level of privilege that insulates wealthy White men, who were born to embody positions of power that they weren’t made to excellently manage.
When Barack Obama broke down the barriers to make history as the first-ever Black president to do it, his embattled predecessor endured years of celebrated ridicule that was well-earned after his disastrous episode as Commander-in-Chief, during an unprecedented national crisis, that horrifically displaced a Black population with the added effects that summoned the stuff that nightmares are made of.
FEMA didn’t respond in a timely fashion, and that same practice was replicated when Puerto Rico was devoured by the wrath of Hurricane Maria in 2017, and another Republican bad boy made fateful decisions that resulted in a mind-blowing death count.
The difference is that Donald Trump triumphantly brags about his evil deeds with the practiced relish of a spoilt trust fund baby, who can afford to be a nationalized heathen, berating Brown victims of a natural disaster, while mocking their plight with demonstrations of why they’re not worth shit, via the paper towel toss that the White establishment on both sides applauded.
George W. Bush operated with the mandate of stealthiness that only loudly vibrated from the abrasiveness of his second in command, Vice President Dick Cheney, who now has his daughters leading the charge with their vocal support of Trump and his crime circuit.
The Republican Party is almost split through the middle, with a little over a half pledging allegiance to a glorified mobster, who will surely be jailed for his lawlessness in due time, and the rest, meekly yearning for the days of old, when their leadership was able to avoid the glare of scrutiny, as similar antics of overt bigotry flourished without issue until the attack on New Orleans exposed the unfathomable.
When the early days of the Trump administration proved to be too much for words, social media platforms played host to the devised memes that paid homage to how the last Republican president was much easier to digest than the current dictator, who doesn’t give much of a damn about how his targeted population respond to his White nationalism, and how it has increased the incidences of White terrorism.
And while for sure there’s a stark difference between the unfiltered hatred of Donald Trump and the more temperate delivery of his George W. Bush.
The fundamental principles of racism still resonated in the thread of actions that didn’t deviate from the unyielding requirements of maintaining the status quo of how Black lives, including members of the LGBTQ community, will never matter, even when a killer hurricane honors the promise of blinding devastation.
Not too long ago, Ellen DeGeneres, the Queen of Daytime TV, who took over the mantle from Oprah Winfrey, a raving trailblazer, who was besties with Donald Trump up until he won the presidency, was forced to explain the ABCs of her privileged status to confused fans.
The viral clips of Ellen DeGeneres, with a smiley face, opposite George W. Bush and wife Laura, at the fancy cave reserved for superstars who want to watch the Dallas Cowboys kick ass, didn’t sit well with observers, who rightfully questioned how she could be so friendly with the man who lied about “weapons of mass destruction,” by vilifying Iraq after the 9/11 terror attacks to hide his familial love affair with Saudi Arabia.
The fiery backlash was immediate and harsh, with the ammunition of how this climate of “wokeness” can’t and won’t relent even when the latest subject has spent decades advocating for the rights of the community that she bravely uplifted with her very own TV show, when the character she played on a popular sitcom came out of the closet back in the 90s.
We won’t dare downplay what that meant for the star, and those who could relate to her disposition. Her show was shortly cancelled, despite the courageousness that was amassed, and the testament of how committed DeGeneres was to the cause of her lifetime.
But in this current climate of deadliness, that woefully targets Black members of LGBTQ, with weekly roundups of the stats that don’t let up and eerily reveal the criminality of Trump’s worker bees who are picking up right where the Bush administration left off, we can’t possibly give Ellen Degeneres the pass she demands with her dramatic rebuttal.
It’s interesting how noted celebs like the usual suspects, Reese Witherspoon and Elton John among others, tried to finesse this into the updated version of “We Are The World,” with the tagline of how getting along with those who have differing points of view is the only status that matters.
And DeGeneres adamantly defended her rights accordingly.
“I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have.” “Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them.” “When I say, ‘Be kind to one another,’ I don’t mean only the people that think the same way that you do. I mean, ‘Be kind to everyone, it doesn’t matter.’”
But it does fucking matter!
It was clear during the shit storm that forced Kevin Hart out of his Oscar hosting duties, that DeGeneres invited the embattled comedian and movie star to her show as proof that she only recognizes the woes of Hollywood royalty, who are rich enough to garner her loyalty.
Hella old tweets that showcased the homophobic tendencies of Hollywood’s darling resurfaced, with timelines that exhausted Kevin Hart to the lengths that forced to him to defiantly take ownership, while refusing to go back to that place where he humbly apologizes for decade-old mistakes.
DeGeneres publicly advocated for the restoration of his reputation and newly-minted gig as the host of the Oscar festivities.
But her good deeds were shunned by the Black LGBTQ, as they diligently pointed out how Hart had contributed to the ongoing slayings of their family members, and decried why a White woman, beloved by the industry that made her, would callously minimize the real and present danger that she can afford to ignore.
Ellen DeGeneres is able to claim a terrorized group with the caveat of her Whiteness and richness, and how that dictates her friendships with those who have exacted the worst kind of punishment on vulnerable Americans, who have to contend with the realness of their plight until they too are outfitted with the celebrity that makes them exempt.
It does matter that Degeneres hangs proud with George W. Bush because of how she attempts to make sense of her traitorousness with the pompousness that matches White people who truly believe in the sanctity of their actions, against the cloud of judgment from the school of thought, that tries in vain to set the reminders of how hate crimes cripple the victims who aren’t White enough to recover.
It’s White feminism with the spoonful of privilege that negates the shallowness that makes elitism a palatable drug for recipients who are propped as the mascots for movements that they claim as a default, even when their membership dues are pending.
Oprah was able to sail through her success by making White women feel good while calling Donald Trump a friend. And even after he won the election, she tweeted how “hopeful” she was after the photo of him and President Obama hit the viral circuit. She must’ve known about the deadly campaign ads that was meant to encourage the death penalty of the #ExoneratedFive, before they were systematically processed, but she still remained faithful to her friendship to the King of New York.
Ellen DeGeneres is no different, and perhaps that’s the main takeaway.
As a Black woman who will never recover from how the Bush administration escaped the penalties for the murder of Black lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there’s no way I would ever pridefully hang with the orchestrator of global and domestic terror, that destabilized the existence of populations that are still grappling with the long-term consequences of those directives.
We also can’t scrub away the memory of the late president’s mother and former first lady, Barbara Bush, who smugly alluded to how the crowded Black bodies in the Houston Astrodome were better off in their sorrowful helplessness because of how their legacy of poverty had prepared them for the brutal assault.
Activism isn’t an easy endeavor, that’s why soldiers for the cause end up sacrificing everything for the fight for equality, and how those mandates can’t be downplayed to serve the falsehood of how we all must strive to get along.
We are at war.
And the rich and pampered can’t be trusted to live up to the basic requirements because they are too busy enjoying the benefits of their station.
Maybe it’s time to let them have that vacation, and focus on the army that will take us past the battlefield and into the victory that comes when like-minds collaborate.
That’s really all that matters.