That grey braid makes the State Senator's lawyer Billy Murphy (Don King's lawyer) a type and also, in this specific situation, a combination of William Kunstler and his successor Ron Kuby.
The endless reproduction of these stereotypes and this narrative serves a purpose beyond the entertainment and flattery of a white audience. The protection of David Simon's class interests requires pro-active interference in the development of the political consciousness of progressive "middle class" Americans, and the constant instilling of suspicion and contempt for the African American left, which has always been not only the backbone of working class struggle in the US but the leadership and most strongly socialist and internationalist element of that struggle.
As Jared Ball writes:
It doesn’t happen enough but when it does we should revel in the example and perhaps even build from it. The “it” to which I refer is the acceptance of Black intelligence into predominantly White spaces. And regardless of what some may think of interracial exchange the simple fact is that without sustained and serious inclusion of Black knowledge into segments of the White Left there is simply no hope for either or any other community. The general absence of Black intelligence in White media, specifically that which is defined as White Left or Progressive media, inhibits broad social movement building. It prevents those engaged in Black struggle from receiving the necessary support they deserve from White potential allies with greater resources and makes impossible the “revolution of social values” called for by Dr. King from occurring within the dominant White society; a revolution of values without which no greater form of Black American liberation can emerge. We may not like it but without significant changes from within White America the already bleak condition of the Black struggle can only worsen.
So recently when one of the White Left mainstays in my own media diet, Media Matters with Bob McChesney, had one of those rare moments where Black intelligence was welcomed and almost gave a sense of what is possible. His guest was Dr. Sundiata Cha-Jua, noted scholar of history and African American Studies at the University of Illinois and current president of the legendary National Council of Black Studies. In an exceptional display of knowledge and principle Cha-Jua demonstrated the hopes and fears represented in just this kind of interaction. The hope is found for Progressives in some measure of inclusion of the analysis of Black America, the fear is represented, as explained by Cha-Jua, in the absence of press coverage of the interracial solidarity shown among those participants in the recent Georgia prison strike.
Still, I think Wolfe could be accused of portraying the races in a way that is both false and, ultimately, unfair to blacks. The problem is not with any suggestion that one group is more or less admirable than another; rather, it arises from the way Wolfe shows how power is distributed among them.
If a Martian read Bonfire, he would think that in this world it was the blacks who had all the power. In the book’s very first episode, the Jewish mayor is shouted down by a black crowd in Harlem. He is frightened, beleaguered, and allows himself to be hustled away by his security detail, a decision he instantly despises himself for making. Sherman and Maria take a nightmare ride through the Bronx — “dark faces … dark faces … more dark faces” — and have a terrifying confrontation with “the elemental enemy, the hunter, the predator.” In the Bronx courthouse, even though the white judges, assistant district attorneys and cops have the official power, they seem like the oppressed and beleaguered ones. They are oppressed by their jobs and by the endless flow of black defendants; they are too scared to leave the building and are forced to “wagon train” their cars at night. Meanwhile, the defendants, with their Pimp Rolls, are cocky. The perpetrators are the ones who act in this world; the judges, assistant district attorneys and cops are reacting and just trying to keep up with them. After he’s arrested, Sherman has a frightening and humiliating (and very realistic) encounter with a black man in the holding pen. In the book’s last episode, Judge Kovitsky is just about to confront a demonstration by blacks outside the courthouse, but the court officers try to prevent him, and he loses heart. Overall, it is hard to find a single encounter between a white and a black in the book that the black does not “win.” Even the black man who shines Sherman’s shoes takes advantage of him.
**David Simon: Given that the American frontier is now a mere trace memory in our national consciousness, the inner city has become the dominant stage on which we perform our morality plays, the new, untamed wilderness in which men and women are challenged and judged.