Every good story I know starts at the very beginning, because like that white lady said in The Sound of Music, it's a very good place to start. My story doesn't start the day I was born, because that isn't the very beginning. My story starts years before I was born.

In the 1950s, America decided it was a good idea to try to fight communism in tropical jungles on other side of the world. When JFK was president, he seemed to think we needed to help the Vietnamese, but that ultimately they would need to figure themselves out on their own. Once he died, Lyndon Johnson took office and became the guy who really made a big national issue out of it for us. President Johnson and his administration, in their infinite wisdom, tripled our military presence in Vietnam, basically upping the ante on some crazy idea of President Eisenhower's from about ten years before. I don't understand how anyone can like Ike.

Shouldn't our presidents be given tests for common sense? I'm no military strategist, but I think the people in power from the late fifties through to the seventies were a bunch of paranoid white dudes. In the way that the PTA looks at marijuana as the gateway drug, those guys thought of 'Nam as the gateway to worldwide communism. They told the American people, who at first really bought into this shit, that if we let those communist Russians get stoned on Vietnam, they'd become addicted to takeover. Soon they'd be selling their crackhead philosophy all across Asia and into Europe. Then they'd hook up with their homey Castro in Cuba and have a huge commie cartel poisoning our free democratic minds in America. There'd go the whole damn neighborhood. The Russians were supposed to be some kind of new Hitler, and if we didn't get that communism out of 'Nam, we'd be eating Kremlin Nuggets in McDonald's over here in no time.

Excerpted from I Am the New Black by Tracy Morgan, with Anthony Bozza. Copyright © 2009 by Tracy Morgan. Excerpted by permission of Spiegel & Grau, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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