Saturday, April 3, 2010

RIP David Mills aka Undercover Black Man

 David Mills in 1995. Photo: Rhonda Birndorf/Associated Press.

It's been a brutal week here in my world. I'm a freelancer and parted ways with a client. There was a brutal rainstorm here in the NYC area. I'm on the top floor and, yep, you guessed it, the roof sprung a leak...directly on my bed. Also, my laptop got infected with a Trojan horse virus. Good for me that I knew immediately that something was wrong, basically went into safe mode and stopped using it. An IT professional referred me to a great place to get it repaired. They knew what was going on and told me to bring it right in. I took it in Thursday morning and I picked it up a day later. Note that I work from my computer, so I had to scramble and get work done at the public library. I did it, but yeah...I had to hustle and do it fast because you get, at max an hour. (Good I've got both a Manhattan and a Brooklyn library card. I did hit libraries in both boroughs on Thursday.)

All of that means one thing, beyond major news stories, I've not been paying much attention to the world around me. This week, Twitter started blowing up overtime that David Mills had collapsed and died this past Tuesday while working on Treme a new HBO series in New Orleans. I was MIA on Twitter this week, so it didn't catch up to me until today.  Thanks to a fellow forum member who reads my blog and his that let me know that he'd passed. She'd noticed that he linked to me in his Background vocals (ladies) section. He linked to me awhile back a couple of years ago. I'm sure as a result of some of my more spirited posts on race. The company he put me in is great and is humbling.

David was great too. I knew he was the writer of the popular Undercover Black Man blog, but what I didn't know was that he was a powerhouse writer in many other respects too. David, who grew up and made Washington, DC home, was a journalist, and he created, collaborated and wrote on some great TV shows like The Corner, Kingpin, and the Wire.  In fact, he died while on location working on an HBO series called Treme. Considering spent almost nine years abroad, I only heard about these shows. I didn't know all this about him, and it's even more humbling because he found my blog and appreciated what I had to say.  I know I definitely related to and appreciated his writing too.

What's interesting about David's blog is there was never a picture of him.  I'm someone who is clearly and easily identified as black.  I figured because of the name of his blog he was probably a black man with a light complexion because my mother and both of my grandmothers were light.  That's something that non-blacks tend not to get the nuances of.  That you don't have to have obvious sub-Saharan African features to be or identify as black.  Especially in the USA, there are other results of racial discrimination: mostly that relationships both consensual and those that aren't produce off-spring.  My family has a huge range of hues and colors. Now that interracial relationships are legal, now people can freely date and marry who they want. That history of legitimate and illegitimate shows a lot in black families and almost not at all in white families because the shunned offspring never was never accepted and probably most didn't know he or she existed. I know from the stories my mom told me of the struggles you have when you're black but you're almost always seen as something else.  I'm sure David dealt with this too.

David was a powerful creator and I'm glad that he made a significant impact before he left this world.

RIP David.  My condolences to your family, friends and fans.

Two tributes:
More news:

(code not fixed and "Read More" leads you to a wasteland of nothingness...)

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  1. Well, seems like somebody's had a hectic time of it... and news of death to top it all off.

    C'est la vie.

    Have a great one.
    Condolences re David Mills.

  2. Oh, life is still crazy, but I made myself relax yesterday and am doing the same today. It happens when you make the choice to move to one of the craziest cities on earth.

    Unfortunately, it's more like c'est la mort instead of c'est la vie with this bad news :(

  3. Sorry to hear about David Mills.
    Death from natural kinds of causes is taking too many of our most creative men from us when they are young.

    When I was a kid, (e.g.9-11 yrs.)I spent a lot of time by myself, thinking of things to do with my time. I once counted the books in our house and concluded there were around 2,500 books. Later, when I had access to a woodworking shop and some money to buy wood, I built enough bookcases for all of the books.

    But there could never be enough bookcases because my mother, a sociology professor, received free books from publishers, in their hopes that she would add their books to the required or recommended book lists for the courses she taught.

    In addition, my mother visited the Salvation Army and other used stuff stores on a weekly basis and brought home any book we hadn't read and might be interested in, as well as any book that she thought was great and would like to have more so that she could give them away to friends. So, we had two or three copies of "Manchild in the Promised Land" as well as "Black Like Me."

    Now that I'm living in Brazil, I find that buying books is far too expensive a habit for me, since a typical book costs sixty dollars, or ten percent of the minimum wage here.

    Some wealthier Brazilians say that Brazilians in general don't have the "culture" to read, but I think they don't have the MONEY to read. Unfortunately, when people buy a book they prize it and put it on a bookshelf along with their other heirlooms. So, there aren't a lot of used books in circulation either.

    I'm reading Bill Clinton's autobiography because I found it posted on the Internet. I certainly hope it was posted with the approval of President Clinton, but then I can imagine that he would want people all over the world to have access to his book, regardless of their "poder aquisitivo" (buying power/expendable income).

    I wish I could buy books for my step-daughters, like I had when I was a kid, but they'll have to settle for Internet access and access to free books at places like the Guttenburg Library.

    In our town here in Brazil, the only real bookstore is at the airport, which is because only people traveling through or people who can buy airline tickets are reading books, aside from those they buy for courses.

    Professional people and students entering professions also buy books like the "Vade Mecum," which is a summary of all sorts of areas of Brazilian Law.

  4. Hey Francis!

    Your comment got caught in a clog of email, and I remembered it was waiting for me to hit "publish".

    Sorry about that.

    Yeah, it's pretty sad that he's gone. Treme is on the air and people are saying good things about it. I'm not much of an intentional TV watcher. That means I watch TV, but usually because it's there and usually I have no plan of attack. ;)

    However, in David's name, I need to sit down and watch an episode.


Hey there! Thanks for visiting my blog. It's my first blog, and I'm glad folks are still stopping by even though I'm no longer living in South Korea. Feel free to comment. If you want a personal answer, leave your email, and I won't publish the comment. Nasty comments and spam links will not be tolerated.