Photo: Mike Coppola (Getty Images)

As someone who was born, raised, and currently lives in the South, I have grown accustomed to hearing colorful phrases infused with racist overtones, such as betraying someone by “selling them down the river” or hearing an unsolicited comment from the “peanut gallery.”

In fact, a few days ago, I engaged my Yankee coworkers in a debate about whether a certain interjection should be considered racist. They said it was, but I am still undecided, so let me say this:

Van Jones is out of his cotton-picking mind.

Let me begin by admitting that I’m pretty sure I like Van Jones.

While I’ve never watched his show or heard him say anything moderately interesting, I respected him partially because, with a handsome face and a name like “Van Jones,” I figured he had to be working undercover as an Avenger. Van Jones is an excellent name. Or maybe I should say that I don’t find Van Jones annoying, nor do I find him appealing.

To me, he was like the dehumidifier that I keep in the basement because it was already there when I bought the house—I hear it humming in the background and I know it does something, but I’m not quite sure what. Whenever anyone brings up my basement’s barometric pressure or mentions Van Jones (OK, it’s just one person—interestingly enough, the same friend brings up both subjects), I simply say: “Of course, Ayanna. He’s the black guy who keeps CNN from getting too musty or mildewy.”

Van Jones is perfectly fine ... most of the time.


On Wednesday, the Ku Klux commander in chief gathered some of his widest-smiling blacks to the White House to make an announcement about a bipartisan bill that might possibly offer some changes to the criminal justice system that disproportionately affects black people.

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The Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act, or “FIRST STEP Act,” is a piece of legislation aimed at changing practices in federal prisons, including:

  • Stopping guards from using restraints on pregnant women
  • Placing incarcerated persons close to their families
  • Releasing elderly, terminally ill nonviolent offenders
  • Offering treatment to drug abusers
  • Offering job training to convicted persons
  • Making sanitary products available to female inmates
  • Reducing prison sexual assault

To be clear, the president was not signing a bill into law. He was just announcing that he was supporting the legislation, which is akin to him announcing his support for repealing and replacing Obamacare with “something better,” his vocal support for “compassionate” bipartisan immigration reform that preserves DACA, or his meeting with Parkland students where he promised to do something about gun reform.

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How’d those things go?

But today, CNN’s human dehumidifier took to Twitter to rain kudos upon our Klansman president for his bold efforts at saying shit he might never actually do.

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Jones’ effusive praise for Trump stands in stark contrast to his Terrell Owens-like, tearful, “that’s my quarterback” whimper after America elected a white nationalist for president:

Three months later, after Trump’s first speech to the Joint Session of Congress, Jones was suddenly stricken with a Momentary Affected Globally Acquired Sudden Amnesia and Mysterious Brain Outage (MAGASAMBO), which caused Captain Save-a-Trump to preach about the president as if he were standing on our doorstep asking for a few moments of our time to learn about his lord and savior:


Here’s another Southern expression for Van Jones:

What do Republicans call mass incarceration?

A black family reunion.

Look, Van, just because the president forgot to wear his pointed hood with his white robe does not mean he’s an angel. I’m sure Bull Connor solved a few crimes when he wasn’t assaulting civil rights protesters in 1960s Birmingham. I’ve heard you can get great barbecue after Klan meetings, and they have a great Christmas charity: Toys for White Tots.

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Evil people sometimes do nice things.

But only black people will praise their massa for his benevolence between beatings. You won’t find a Native American complimenting the real estate prowess of the people who stole their land. You think Jewish people would ever wax rhapsodic about the Third Reich’s organizational skills?

Although your tweet might land you another exclusive with ferret impersonator Jared Kushner, this administration wants to rid their country of people who look like you. You can contort yourself into a knot to find a way to praise this president, but he is anything but an “uniter.” Anyone who calls him that is either a liar or someone who is willing to ignore racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, demonization, fearmongering and outright lies for a seat at a table surrounded by white supremacists.

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So no, Mr. Jones, I cannot offer an ovation for the man who equivocated about the virtues of people who would kill me and my family if they had the chance. I choose not to applaud a man who enacted an ethnic cleansing plan that included putting babies in internment camps.

Maybe you are willing to excuse his racism because your wife does not look like the black woman he called “stupid” last week. Or the one he refers to as “low-IQ.” Or the one he called a “dog.” Or a “racist.” It has only been a week since he kicked your colleague and coworker, Jim Acosta, out of the same White House floor in which you are now winning the shucking-and-jiving dance-off.

Jelani Cobb said it more succinctly:

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Perhaps I am not seeing this from your perspective. I admit that I can’t find the good in some people, especially ones who take every opportunity to harm black people. And yes, if this legislation passes, it will be a good thing. However, that doesn’t mean the person who did it is good.

So please pardon me if I don’t give the devil “his due.” As we say down here: “the devil is a liar.”

... Even if he has a beautiful singing voice.