My Two Cents: Affirmative action for hurricanes?

News and absurdity officially crossed lines on the journalism-humor index recently, with a report earlier this month that U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) is decrying the fact that black names are underrepresented when it comes to naming hurricanes. (I know it’s hard to believe, but I am not making this up.)

The current nomenclature for the devastating storms is too “lily white,” according to Lee, sounding painfully like a character from the popular satirical newspaper The Onion (

“All racial groups should be represented,” said Lee, who would make a good leader for any future House Committee on Injecting Race Into Every Aspect of Life. She hoped federal weather officials “would try to be inclusive of African-American names.”

This story raises some intriguing possibilities, which I present here in a question and answer format:

Q: What exactly is a black name?

A: While names obviously don’t have a skin color, some names are associated with certain races or ethnicities. Lee herself has suggested naming hurricanes Keisha, Jamal and Deshawn.

Q: Aren’t hurricanes actually white?

A: They are, according to every satellite photo of a hurricane I’ve ever seen.

Q: Isn’t this a no-win situation?

A: Yes. It’s only a matter of time before some so-called black leader is offended by attaching black-sounding names to destructive and unpredictable storms. I’m sure the Rev. Jesse Jackson – always eager to appear before the media – is planning a protest.

Q: Does this mean there will be affirmative action for hurricanes?

A: Considering today’s politically correct climate, it’s a definite possibility.

Q: Speaking of political correctness, aren’t you worried somebody will be upset at your use of the term “black” instead of “African-American?”

A: Bite me.

Q: Why is Rep. Lee so concerned about what to name hurricanes?

A: She only wants to concentrate on the big problems, not minor issues like the war in Iraq and the nation’s economy.

Q: Are you sure you’re not making this story up?

A: Yes. I’m no Jayson Blair.

Q: What’s he up to now?

A: Not much. In a case of somebody getting what they deserve, Esquire magazine has decided against commissioning Blair to write a review of a film about another media fraud.

“My Two Cents” is a weekly column where the author – who’d like to see a hurricane named “Homer” – gets in his two cents worth in spite of the old saying that you only get a penny for your thoughts.