The No Thanks list, 2018 edition: From Kanye West to the NRA

Ready to count your blessings? Let's get the anti-blessings out of the way first

By D. Watkins

Editor at Large

Published November 22, 2018 10:00AM (EST)

Kanye West (Getty/Oliver Contreras)
Kanye West (Getty/Oliver Contreras)

I'm not sure where 2018 went, but it’s already November and Thanksgiving is officially here. My white friends are probably somewhere prepping casserole dishes — research has taught me that only white people eat or use the word casserole — while my black friends are slam dunking neck bones into bucket-sized pots of collard greens and every other dish they're cooking in preparation for glorious dinners full of family, friends, fun and food. But before we get too full and too thankful, we should all stop and share the things we are not thankful for this year, so our nights can be spent basking in positivity instead. I’ll go first.

Betsy DeVos
Our country will spend $19.8 million through September 2019 on the U.S. Marshals to protect Betsy DeVos, the worst secretary of education in the history of both secretaries and education. She’s brought zero ideas, no positive change, and has contributed nothing to addressing the real problems in public education in this country. Here’s an idea: without someone as controversial as DeVos in that cabinet seat, the outsized security budget could be reallocated to schools in need. In 2018 there are still schools in Baltimore and many other urban areas without heat. Imagine trying to learn algebra when you can't feel your fingers.

Eric and Donald Trump Jr.
Every time they open their mouths, a book dies.

Kanye West
West was once one of my favorite musicians, personalities and leaders of the sneaker revolution. But in 2018 he officially trashed his legacy by trading it in to become a spokesperson for Donald Trump. Last month during a lunch at the White House, the self-proclaimed genius, sporting a floppy MAGA hat, professed his love for the president by leaping from his seat to squeeze Trump, yelling, “I love this man!” As if that man is not a pompous family-separating racist who could care less about black people? I no longer wonder what happened to the Old Kanye — his art, fashion and ideas just aren’t cool anymore. The racist MAGA-hat clown crowd can have him as now. Last week West donated $150,000 to the family of Jemel Roberson, the security guard who was killed by police after saving the lives of people in a Chicago area night club. That's cool, but hateful and racist people donate to causes in this country all the time, too — it’s called a tax write-off. Kanye, you can’t just buy your respect back with a generous donation.

Matt Whitaker
I have never been thankful for Jeff Sessions. However, Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, the cable news hack who pretends to have knowledge or a valid opinion of Robert Muller's investigation, might change that. At lease Sessions — as horrible, ineffective and disconnected as he was — recused himself from Muller’s investigation. I seriously doubt Whitaker will do that, as it appears he was brought in to dismantle it. His appointment is a clear example of how phony our system of checks and balances is.

Donald Trump
Need I say more?

Van Jones
Van, Van, Van. Van Jones used to speak truth to power. He appeared to be a person who wanted to bring a black perspective to CNN, but appearances can be deceiving. His first foul was trashing former president Obama for being paid $400,000 to give a speech. Since when is it strange for a president to get paid big money for a speech after their term is up? Obama’s blackness means he shouldn’t get paid? What kind of sense does that make? Then Jones started praising Trump by making bold statements like "He became President of the United States in that moment, period," after Trump's poor performance at the State of the Union, and tweeting love letters to the president lie this after Trump declared his support for criminal justice reform: “Give the man his due: @realDonaldTrump is on his way to becoming the uniter-in-Chief on an issue that has divided America for generations. Congrats to everyone on both sides who fought for this." No Van, we won’t give him his due. Acknowledging a person for doing good should only come after that person does some good. We should have no problem filing Jones now in the washed section, between Ben Carson and Kanye West.

"This Is Us"
This TV show is too good — so good it makes me angry, so good that in real life I'm probably going to be a better father and husband because of it. How and why is it able to be that good?

Golden State Warriors
The West Coast All Star team pretending to be a regular team won another championship. I’m happy they didn’t visit the White House like teams normally do after a championship win; however, the lack of heart and fear  to truly be competitive they display by running with a super-stacked team is ruining the NBA. This season they added another All Star, DeMarcus Cousins, making them look even sillier. I can’t wait to not watch them now.

It feels like there's a multiple mass shooting every week now. I’m not blaming the NRA for the actions of these horrible individuals, but the gun owners' group must be held accountable for their responses after tragedies and the way they reject any language around gun control. Our nation's gun problem isn’t solely the NRA's fault — anyone with a brain should understand that — but it doesn’t mean they are exempt from helping to solve some of these issues.

That felt great! I am no longer angry, and I can spend the rest of my day focusing on the good in 2018, like the Democrats taking back the House, the fact that I’m alive, and all of this great food I’m about to eat, and as always, thank you for reading Salon. Don’t go crazy on Black Friday and have a blessed holiday.

By D. Watkins

D. Watkins is an Editor at Large for Salon. He is also a writer on the HBO limited series "We Own This City" and a professor at the University of Baltimore. Watkins is the author of the award-winning, New York Times best-selling memoirs “The Beast Side: Living  (and Dying) While Black in America”, "The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir," "Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope" as well as "We Speak For Ourselves: How Woke Culture Prohibits Progress." His new books, "Black Boy Smile: A Memoir in Moments," and "The Wire: A Complete Visual History" are out now.

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