Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Exposure

Darkness cannot stand the light.

Whether it's darkness of the spirit, of the mind, or just plain physical darkness, the light and the dark cannot co-exist. If one is present, the other must depart.

People like darkness in their lives. They may claim to crave truth and honesty, but their actions expose that as a lie. No one wants to have the little lies that underpin their self image removed because they know that without that foundation the entire house of cards crumbles.

Everyday in America, people fight to keep their darkness. They wrap it around their minds and spirits like a dirty shawl, and while it provides inadequate warmth they are afraid to brave the cold world without it. Darkness comforts and soothes. It provides cover for their fears, and justification for their evil.

Bringing light into this darkness filled world is a dangerous proposition. Allegations, enmity and hatred are on the welcoming committee for those seeking to expose. Challenge the status quo and refuse to succumb to the darkness if you must, but be prepared for the backlash. No one, not your spouse, not your family, not your friends, will abandon their darkness without a fight.

Be careful.




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Friday, October 22, 2010

The Bullshit Must Cease


So, good ol' Uncle Juan got fired?

Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.

He and his cronies over at Fox can complain all they want, but it's not going to change anything. In a free market society, employers can fire employees if they feel they are not properly representing their companies. Or did Fox News forget that page in the capitalism handbook? Juan Williams said that riding on a plane with anybody who calls themselves a Muslim makes him nervous, and now he won't be saying anything on NPR for quite some time.

Normally, I wouldn't even waste the characters necessary to talk about Juan since who he is and what he represents are well-known commodities. But, as I was watching the television news, they showed a segment from "The View" where the ladies were discussing his dismissal.

First, Whoopi went through her whole routine, where she makes excuses for any racism she agrees with or that is practiced by someone she likes, while simultaneously reserving the right to get all huffy about racism she doesn't like. Whoopi has excused Mel Gibson for his "pack of niggers" debacle and she's encouraged Ted Danson to rock black face, I don't think she's qualified to make accurate assessments of what is and is not racist or bigoted. Agreed?

Anyway, Whoopi trots out the ridiculous idea that since Juan was only talking about his "feelings" on Muslims, then his comments shouldn't have gotten him fired. What kind of ridiculous logic is that? Since when did personal feelings become some sort of protected class of utterances? That's some idiotic bullcrap if I've ever heard it. So, if somebody just expresses their "feelings" they can say whatever the hell they want? Like, if I decided to express my "feeling" that black women who encourage their white boyfriends to wear blackface are despicable coons who should be abducted by the Drop Squad and deprogrammed through repeat beatings that would be okay because it's just my "feelings"?

Do people even use their brains anymore?

Not only was Whoopi allowed to spew this idiocy unchallenged and have it beamed into the homes of millions, it appears that stupidity is contagious because her asinine outburst provoked another one. I don't know the actresses' real name, I just know her as "Debra" from "Everybody Loves Raymond." (My editor says her name is Patricia Heaton. I'll stick with Debra.)

Anyway, speaking as if she was dropping some serious knowledge, she opens her lips to say that if Juan Williams had said riding on a plane with Tea Party members made him nervous, he wouldn't have gotten fired. That's what she said.

Well duh, dumbass.

Nobody has accused Tea Party members of being terrorists and plane hijackers, although their sympathizers have committed acts of terror. Nobody associates the Tea Party movement with 9/11. That's been reserved, unfortunately, for Muslims. But guess what, if Juan Williams had said that as a black man whenever he's in the room with two Tea Party members and a rope, he gets mighty nervous and his neck starts itching, then I'll bet there would have been just as much outrage.

The Tea Party may not be associated with terrorism, but they damn sure are associated with racism, and they damn sure don't appreciate having their entire political movement categorized as racist because of the actions of some of the members. They have loudly proclaimed this fact to the world, including going so far as to denounce the NAACP and its recent report on racism in the party's ranks as a "liberal smear campaign."

Yet, these same people who feel it's unfair to judge all them by the actions of a few (which I don't think is happening. The vast majority of those folks look like bigots to me), are defending the right of Juan Williams to express the same idea about Muslims. And this chick on "The View" gave validation to that viewpoint.

This has got to stop.

 We have way too many people spewing nonsense into the air and not being challenged on it. Both Whoopi and "Debra" made stupid comments, but the folks sitting with them just nodded their heads politely as if they made sense. Either people are really stupid, or they're so conditioned to avoid conflict and disagreement that they will allow almost anything to be said unchallenged. I see it in the media, I see it in regular interactions. People don't want to discuss ideas or beliefs, they just want to get along.

That bullshit must cease.


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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

LIttle Stuff

A friend of mine sent me a link the other day.

It led to the Kohl's website, and was for a Halloween wig called the "Ghetto Fab Wig." I shook my head ruefully at yet another example of the mistakes big corporations make. Shortly after that, a former classmate posted a blog that called out President Obama and another politician for claiming that assimilation is the true American Dream.

Think about how those incidents work together.

We have a wig marketed as Ghetto Fab. It was a simple Afro wig, and the hair looked like something many natural sister rock on a daily basis. But, for its makers, it was Ghetto Fab.

Next to that, we have two politicians telling people that the way to advance in this country is to assimilate. Submerging yourself in the dominant culture is that path to the American Dream.

So, what exactly those assimilation mean?

Does assimilation require adopting all of the dominant values in America? Does that extend to our values about religion, the proper role of minorities and what constitutes beautiful or normal? Because it's quite obvious that if that's what assimilation means, many minorities will have to willingly sacrifice their cultural heritage and no small measure of self respect.

I'll admit that the word "assimilation" gives me the heebie jeebies. I can't help but get this picture of the Borg trying to make me a part of the hive mind. Assimilation, to me, means total and complete capitulation, and that doesn't interest me at least not when we're talking about human beings.

What are the benefits of assimilation? Many many black people have assimilated into American society. Haven't we adopted white values, white mannerisms and white culture at a staggering pace?

Yet, an Afro wig still gets called "Ghetto Fab" even though Afros and natural hair have nothing to do with the ghetto and everything to do with accepting yourself as God made you. If widespread assimilation among black folks can't even protect us from  "Ghetto Fab" wigs, I'd like some more information on why it's so beneficial.

It's the little things like this that undercut large arguments. Sweeping theories about the world are nice, but they are often exposed as lies when you get down to the most basic level and see how humans interact. Assimilation is held up as the Golden Path, but the truth is that certain folks will never be assimilated. Not because they refuse the process, but because they don't qualify for assimilation according to the majority.

You would think politicians would understand little stuff like that, you know?





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Friday, October 15, 2010

Thinking About Ordinary

My wife seemed shocked.

Somehow, the words I'd just spoken really didn't compute. They made sense to me, in fact they even felt like pearls of wisdom. But to her, they were totally foreign.

"I always thought that was weird," she said.

Now it was my turn to be surprised. Weird? How could she see something so sensible, so correct, so ordinary as weird? On what planet would my suggestion be weird? How could any marriage function abiding by any other rules?

I grew watching my parents fight. Not with fists, but with angry, harsh words. I vowed I would never repeat that mistake.

But, I also grew up watching my parents work at staying married. And they weren't shy about telling my brother and I about their work. They explained the compromises, the agreements. I learned mostly through observation and direct questioning. Slowly, a worldview developed, a blueprint for marriage that I took into my union.

Ah, but blueprints are only plans. Wishful thinking some might say.

Reality often differs from our blueprints. In reality, many of the things I assumed were "ordinary" were far from it. In real life, things rarely went as smoothly as I imagined despite my attempts to plan and discuss every possible eventuality. Talking before committing is a must, but words are only words, and it's actions that matter in a marriage.

Marriage has given me a different outlook on life. I'm still surprised when people see the same world I see but see it totally differently, but now I've learned how to deal with it better. That's what forever will teach you. One of the main lessons I've learned is that the unique nature of every family contributes to to unique nature of every person.

My wife and I disagree often over what is ordinary, acceptable and reasonable, and I'm sure that's common for most couples. But, it extends beyond couples. Most of the disagreements we have in life relate to differences of opinion about what is ordinary, acceptable and reasonable. Call it the Oar Effect.

More people need to admit that their worldview is just their worldview. It's important to them, but that doesn't give it any special degree of importance to the rest of the world. If we want other people to respect and appreciate our worldview, we must extend that same courtesy to others. It's ridiculous how many of us refuse to extend the same respect we demand for ourselves.

Let's make that ordinary.


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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Making A Man


Manhood is an important issue for black folks.

We obsess over what it means to be a man, and how many black men don't seem to make the grade. We cry in church, we complain on the Internet and we preen for TV cameras whenever it's time to discuss black manhood. Many of us assume there is a standard playbook, but in reality, all of us are making it up as we go.

Morehouse College in Atlanta has long trafficked in the idea that it creates a special breed of men. "The Morehouse Man" has a certain cache in some circles, although I confess that I had no idea about it when the school tried to recruit me out of high school. I couldn't have cared less about "The Morehouse Man," I was more concerned with the lack of Morehouse women.

Apparently, I was mistaken.

That story has been making the rounds on the Internet, and it's not surprising that many black folks have come down firmly on the side of Morehouse in its attempts to ban female dress among its students. After all, black people are typically socially conservative, and while many of us don't recognize the hypocrisy in our positions, that doesn't stop us from vehemently proclaiming them.

But, the policy should give rise to an interesting and layered debate. Morehouse has a legitimate gripe if some of its male students are actively taking hormones to become female in appearance. After all, it is an all-male school, and if these youngsters want to become something other than a man, then it seems like they are in the wrong place.

Just the fact that these students dress in drag surely confuses some people. Do they see themselves as men who just prefer the feel and look of women's clothes, or do they think they are male simply because of some quirk of birth? Are they challenging the popular ideas of how a man can look and behave, or doing their best to mimic women? The story in Vibe really didn't clear up any of those issues.

Morehouse has a reputation as a campus friendly to homosexuals in a city that has one of the largest gay black male populations in the country. Yet, it's quite likely that the school's alumni and officials have not fully accepted that a sizable chunk of Morehouse Men prefer to be romantically involved with other men. That doesn't fit the mystique, particularly among black folks.

Morehouse will not condemn homosexuality or say that gay students aren't real Morehouse Men. The backlash from that stance would be instantaneous and far-reaching, nothing like the parochial discussion currently occurring. I doubt Morehouse officials want to deal with that firestorm. Besides, officials know that some of the school's most well-known and accomplished alumni are gay men, whether openly gay or closeted. Yet, how does the school align its theories on manhood with both the mainstream opinion and the opinion in the black community?

I don't have the answers to that question but it is a fascinating issue to consider. Morehouse sells black people the idea that the school can turn out the prototypical man.

How do you keep your prototype up-to-date with the current trends without alienating your core customer base?

That is the question.








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Monday, October 11, 2010

Still Shocking

I don't mean to repeat myself, but it seems like I can't avoid it.

Y'all know I've been pushing the book Slavery By Another Name. I am struggling to finish reading about this country's dark history before the book is due back at the library. Anyway, I found a story in its pages that still managed to shock me even after reading about the horrible brutality and cruelty that was the norm during the de-facto slavery that continued after the Civil War.

The author told the story of Georgia landowner who had become prosperous "buying" convicts and forcing them to work on his farm. That wasn't unusual as much of the Southern economy was based on this practice. However, by 1920 the United States government had become more proactive in investigating claims of peonage and came to the man's farm to see his "workers."

The agents noticed the chains, whips and shackles common on peonage farms, but after interviewing the black people being held in captivity and finding that none of them would go on record against the landowner, they left them there to rot. The federal agents, both of whom were of southern origin, thought things might be a little shady, but figured that black folks being kept in captivity was fairly normal.

But, after listening to the agents explain the peonage statute, the landowner quickly realized he was violating the law. So, he gathered up some friends and gradually killed every black person on his farm through a mixture of drownings, ax attacks and other brutal violence. There were about a dozen workers on the farm at the time.

Somehow, officials learned of the deaths, and arrested the landowner and put him on trial for murder. He was convicted of murder by an all-white jury, which is of course shocking given the time and circumstances. But, here is what was even more shocking to me. From 1877 to 1966, that landowner was the only white man ever convicted of murdering a black person in the state of Georgia. The only one.

When I read that statistic, it was like I truly understood something important. The book drives home the systemic nature of racism and how much of a role it played in shaping early black life. But, it took that statistic to make me truly understand what my ancestors had to overcome.

For 30 years, white Georgians consolidated their power through the most violent means available to them, yet none of them were convicted of murder. Despite cases where evidence was overwhelming and the character and reputation of the black victims surely was better than the character of the suspect, no white man was ever held accountable by a jury of his peers. Ever.

Can you imagine what that does to the psyche of people? Not just the black people living under such terrible violence, but the white people who have their worst abuses ignored and justified? How many men reveled in cruelty and depravity? How many men and women cowered in fear and desperation?

It's all well and good to tell people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but when their very existence is threatened and they have nowhere to turn for assistance, is it shocking that disillusionment sets in? Is it shocking that many black folks learned to blame "The Man" for every failing?

It shouldn't be shocking at all. What should shock all of us is that this information is not part of our history texts and curriculum. It should be shocking that those who establish the standards for educating America's children don't deem this information crucial. How can we ever hope to heal the wounds and right the wrongs of the past if most of the populace remains ignorant? Doesn't ignoring the truth  make it more likely that things will never improve?

Viewed from that perspective, I guess the lack of information isn't that shocking at all.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What's The Process

So, Rick Sanchez got fired.

And it wasn't for being inept, incompetent or idiotic.

Shocker.

Nope, Sanchez made a much bigger boo-boo. He got pissed about something one Jewish person did and went after the whole race/religion.

He pulled "a Gibson."

Gibsons happen everyday, but they are particularly damaging when you work in any field related to television or movies. The backlash is typically swift and searing. So, I'm not surprised that Sanchez got the boot.

I am a little intrigued that he managed to get tossed without drawing more support from the folks who always resent any emphasis on being "politically correct," and who rail against the subversion free speech police. Those folks seem to pop up whenever a racial brouhaha erupts, but I haven't seen as much of that for Sanchez. And I think I've figured out why.

Jewish people have succeeded.

Somehow, and I really don't now how they did it, they have managef to impress upon most people that whenever somebody randomly blames then for problems or issues it's uncool to side with that person. Sure there's a fringe element that blames Jewish folks for all the ills of the world, but that contingent is decidedly non-mainstream. It's not like the faction that loves to bring up every manifestation of black pathology whenever discussions of discrimination or racism pop up. That feels like the majority of the American public.

So, my Jewish brethren, what's the secret? Do you all have some sort of special mind control? Are there hidden pictures? It can't just be the Holocaust because no disrespect to the Holocaust, but up until 1990 things were extremely harsh for black folks in the United States. I'm not talking back of the bus harsh, I'm talking Rosewood harsh.

I really want to get to the point where racist outbursts directed towards black people are met with overall disdain instead of couch lawyering. Are there seminars I could could attend, or possibly a tape series I can purchase? Maybe you all have some sort of workshop? I'm willing to try just about anything as long as it doesn't involve blackface or O.J. Simpson.

Just give me the process. Please.

Shalom


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Monday, October 4, 2010

Seeking information

Had a convo with a friend the other day.

He was noting that many white people don't enjoy talking about race with black folks because they have to accept the role of evil abuser, or sit through a lengthy lecture. Plus, he said white folks don't appreciate the fact that many black people set themselves up as the final arbiters of racial truth.

This didn't surprise me since I've seen the same attitude many times myself. White folks reject information that I assumed was common knowledge, and refuse to concede even the most obvious points. Not all white people, but quite a few.

My friend chalked this up to human nature, and he's right. There's also an element of white supremacy. Most folks think their opinions and thoughts are valuable, few of us accurately estimate our intelligence and many of us equate feelings with facts. In addition, it appears that white folks tend to see black people as overly emotional, which means they don't trust our opinions on anything outside of music and sports. And then only sometimes in sports.

I say all of this because it seems like an untenable position. Shouldn't it be obvious that due to their position in society, the average black person likely has more experience and knowledge of the way race affects life than the average white person? Do white people have a responsibility to accept that their opinions do not hold the same weight as a comparable black opinion? Is that just? I don't think white people have to bow down to black folks just because we're black, but if you readily admit that you don't think about, notice or study race, shouldn't that be a sign you need to shut up and listen? And, what is the best way to get this point across?

Let me hear from y'all.

I haven't been writing as much in this space because of two things. One, I feel like I've expressed all the original thoughts I have to express at this point, and two, I'm tired of the idiocy of the world. I'm looking for new information and inspiration. I'll still try to post somewhat regularly, but I wanted to let y'all know why things have slowed down so much.



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Raving Black Lunatic