Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fantasy Fulfilled


A friend of mine recently told me he never really liked Tupac Shakur that much because his music didn't speak to him. He explained that as the child of two parents who lived together and raised him in a Christian, middle-class home, Shakur's stories of anger and angst didn't really reflect his life experiences.

At the time, I was confused. I grew up in the same sort of household, and I loved Pac. I still love Pac. Every time I listen to Pac I get hype and mourn his death. My friend also doesn't like Biggie, and I have the same sort of appreciation for Biggie. I can remember listening to Biggie's "Gimme the Loot" and thinking, "Robbing somebody sound kind of fun..."

Which is why I found this story interesting.

The story discusses the rise of Odd Future, a rap group composed of teenaged black males, that has garnered some serious love among white music critics. The article explores how strange it is to see black youth rapping about some of the most gruesome crimes imaginable lauded and championed by the very white folks who would seem to be most offended. Check it out if you get a chance.

But, I don't really want to discuss the merits of Odd Future, or whether they deserve their fanbase. Instead, there was a single quote in the article that caught my eye:

It's this overarching sense of youthful whimsy, this idea that they don't mean most of what they say, that keeps Odd Future in white fans' good graces. Because history has shown that white critics have a very low tolerance for actual, tangible black rage.
Those two sentences packed a powerful punch.

I remember reading about how white folks, mostly liberals, trekked down to "nigger towns" all across this country when segregation was the norm so they could get a taste of the authentic black nightlife. So they could hear the best music, could eat the best food, and generally feel like they were more advanced than their Negro fearing friends.

Only, it was sham. The fear was still there. These same folks didn't want Negroes in their spaces acting like fully formed human beings. They didn't want black folks upsetting their status quo in any way. They just wanted them to stay in their little areas and be ready to perform when it was time to entertain.

I'm not saying that "conservatives" and their value systems that got abandoned as soon as some black vagina was available weren't a problem, but it was the liberals who truly deceived black folks. Black folks knew that racists only wanted to use and abuse them, but liberals liked to dress up as friends when really they were only enemies in disguise. That's more dangerous to the unsuspecting.

Odd Future appears to fill a familiar space in white folks lives. They allow critics to embrace the aspects of black life they find truly scary with the maximum amount of safety. Even more, the connection is controlled completely by listeners, who can engage or not engage as they see fit, which isn't an option in the real world.

In the real world, black people make demands on you. They force you to pay attention and do things that are uncomfortable. You can't hit pause to slow things down, or press fast forward to get to the good song when real life black people are involved. And, if you're not careful, you can get seriously hurt.

That ruins the fantasy.





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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Drive-By Posting

Don't have time to write much, but I stumbled across this blog at Racialicious and just had to share it.

Seriously, the more things change, the more they stay the same. And this story highlights why black folks and other minorities care so much about stereotypes.

They have a lot of power.


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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Diversity's Hue

Diversity.

Tolerance.

Multi-culturalism.

When those buzzwords typically get lobbed around, they are euphemisms for race. Racial diversity, racial tolerance and racial multi-culturalism. Not matter how stridently Americans protest that the world is not about race, sadly, it almost always is.

But, those words lose some of their power when they are only considered in the context of race. Diversity of thought is more important than diversity of race. Tolerating diversity in opinions is far more valuable than allowing black folks to move into your neighborhood. And understanding and appreciating a diversity in true culture does far more good than hanging out in the ethnic part of town. It's about understanding what are real differences and what is superficial.

Despite its importance, race at its core is very superficial. It's quite possible to spend your entire life around people of the same color and never feel like you belong or are appreciated. Sharing a skin color does not guarantee sharing a life experience, nor does it guarantee sharing understanding.

This thought came back to me recently while discussing a hot button news topic with a group of young black men. I realized that all of us brought something different to the intellectual table despite the fact that most of us grew up on the same block. That we all digested the same events differently. That all our perspectives had some value because they all gave a slightly fuller picture of the world. Our shared color did not guarantee shared values. Our minds were our own little sanctuaries, and in them we've created own little worlds.

It is an important lesson to remember..

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Well, What a Surpise!

Are "Uncle Toms" white folks' concern?

Well, of course on a certain level they have to be, right? After all, the term Uncle Tom is used by black folks typically to describe another black person seen as a toady of white people, or a "favored" black person. So, on that level, you can't have Uncle Toms without white folks, and most of us surely know that the term was coined thanks to a book by a white woman.

That said, if a black person calls another black person an Uncle Tom, is that really something that white folks should be running around spouting their opinion on?

I raise this question because recently, Jalen Rose, a former NBA player and current ESPN analyst, made the comment during a recent documentary about his time at the University of Michigan as a member of the famed Fab Five. Rose wasn't calling anybody a Tom today, instead he was explaining how his teenage self viewed black players recruited by Duke University in 1992.

And his comments have ignited a firestorm.

I won't recap the back and forth, mainly because it's easily accessible for those of you who feel like trawling the web. Instead, I want to discuss the curious fact that this firestorm of discussion on what is really an issue about how black folks view blackness has been largely driven by white folks. White folks have ardently questioned Rose's comments, and what those comments say about the black community. They expressed outrage and disgust at his word choice, and as certain black folks have weighed in with their "I used to get teased for being smart and black" stories, the thing has snowballed.

Honestly, it pisses me off more than a tad.

I meet so many "educated" white folks who avoid racial discussion like the black plague. They have no interest in researching or discussing racial history, no use for in depth conversations about how we got to this point, but let a black man throw out the word "Uncle Tom" and they are all over it. They have theories, and extensive commentary, even as they profess that racial issues aren't typically their cup of tea.

First, that's incredibly arrogant. If you don't typically discuss or focus on racial issues, why would you think it's a good idea to pontificate and argue with those with more experience.? Why would you assume your opinions have merit simply because they are your opinions, regardless of the logical and factual fallacies they contain?

Second, white people jumping to the defense of a black person accused of being a Tom only increases the impression that said black person is, in fact, a Tom. White folks ain't rushing to defend black people they don't feel comfortable with or close to. And for black folks, any black person who is really and truly comfortable and accepted by white folks is automatically suspect. We can't understand any situation where you can gain that level of acceptance without displaying Uncle Tom behavior. That might not be true, but that's exactly how we think.

It's funny to me that white folks have so many thoughts on this topic and that they are sharing them so freely. Sadly, I don't think this will continue in a few weeks when a less juicy example of racism, one that doesn't involve black on black crime, pops up. Instead, I'm sure white folks will be too busy to weigh in.

It figures.






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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sometimes I wonder



Watched this clip the other day as it was getting passed around Facebook. (Excuse the size. Blogger is tripping. Just Google "white chick insults asians" for a better video.)

As you can see, this busty blond is complaining about Asians at UCLA using their cell phones in the library. She also complains about excessive visits from their relatives, about how much those relatives help them with general housework, about their accents and use of a foreign language, about their presence on campus and about their general lack of manners. Basically, she complains about their existence.

As I watched this young woman spew hatred and bigotry, I found myself getting angry. I'm not Asian, but all I had to do was substitute my "black" for Asian and change up some of the stereotypes, and the woman could have been talking to me.

As she mentioned "real Americans" and people lacking gratitude and social grace, I wanted to reach through the computer and shake her. As she attempted to justify her remarks by ragging on "political correctness" I could almost feel my blood pressure spiking. She is a walking, talking caricature and the worst thing about her is that she is not alone.

People think she has a valid point.

Sometimes I wonder...

Is it that hard to put yourself in someone else's shoes? Is it that difficult to understand that blanket statements involving race are dangerous, particularly when they are derogatory? What's so hard about realizing that it is offensive and insulting to question whether full-fledged citizens are real "Americans"? It's not cool to seclude yourself in a bubble of ignorance. It's just not cool.

This young woman is so convinced of her right to spew ignorance that she actually posted it on the Internet for the world to see. She believes so strongly in her ability to identify authentic Americans, that she had no fear of her classmates and future employers learning her opinions.

And why should she fear? In this country, her thoughts mirror the mindsets of far too many mindless, small-minded drones. She's right in the mainstream. The woman is potentially facing sanctions from UCLA, but I'm sure she'll gain more supporters from being targeted than she would have if she'd been left alone.

That's what's so sad. Ignorance can be a terrible thing, and it's only worse when its shared.

Sigh.



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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Monkey See

Real quick.

How can conservatives get all up in arms about an NPR executive calling the Tea Party racist and saying that NPR would likely be better off without public funding when those comments were gleaned through nefarious means? First, we know both comments are true, but even the truth is not the issue here.

Don't conservatives get mighty pissy when people glean incriminating information about them through underhanded means? Wasn't that the main complaint of the governor of Wisconsin and all his buddies?

Don't Tea Party members complain that the liberal media edits videos and interviews to make them look like ridiculous bigots? Shouldn't they be upset that someone is doing that same thing to someone else in their name?

Nope.

Nobody, on the left or right, seems capable of saying "You know, I think I'm going to actually follow the Golden Rule and stop attempting to justify the means through the end." Instead, everybody uses the bad behavior of their opponents to justify whatever horrible behavior they in turn commit. And then the all pretend they don't see the hypocrisy.

Monkey see, monkey do indeed.




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Friday, March 4, 2011

Wholesome Is What Wholesome Does... Sometimes

It seems a "wholesome" white child has killed his parents and wounded his siblings in Colorado.

That is terrible news.

Yet, as I read the story I noticed three things. First, despite an act more unwholesome than McDonald's new oatmeal, the boy was still identified as an all-around great guy by everyone. Second, despite being a cold-blooded murderer, the District Attorney does not know if he's going to prosecute the child as an adult. Third, it's good to be white.

Here's why I say that. Wholesome black children do not shoot their parents. Why? Because wholesome black children don't exist. And, even if by some miracle they did exist, which everyone knows is impossible, they would no longer be wholesome if they had the audacity to shoot their parents. Besides, black kids don't have "parents", they have a "parent". Usually a mother on welfare. Everyone knows this, right?

Right.

It is good to be white because any black child who has the audacity to kill another human being automatically gets tried as an adult. Those are the rules of life, just like the sun rising in the East and setting in the West. There is no debate about whether they can handle adult prison, instead the concern is making sure this depraved human being is prevented from ever becoming a danger to, well, white folks. After all, if the child was willing to kill family, Lord knows what the child might do to pure white folks.

The horror.

Was that too harsh? Did those comments overstep the boundaries of acceptable speech? Am I unnecessarily interjecting race into this family's private hell? Maybe.

And maybe not.

It is a shame that this young man committed such a terrible act, but it's more shameful that we handle horrible acts so differently based on the color of the perpetrators. Remember that 14-year old Florida boy forced to stay in adult prison for years after he accidentally killed a 9-year old girl while wrestling? Was he not "wholesome" enough to be spared such a cruel punishment that scarred him for life?

Rants about media coverage are the ultimate long hanging fruit, but they still cannot be avoided. As I read testimonials from the boys family and friends it struck me how the story was clearly written to maximize feelings of disbelief and not disgust. It amazed me that the District Attorney promised to consider the community's wishes when deciding how to handle the case. How often are little black murderers afforded the same consideration?

Never.






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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Laws Were Made

My brother once told me that the "law" is a collection of rules designed to keep power in the hands of those who already possess it.

My brother is a lawyer.

If somebody sworn to uphold the law has such a dreary view of it, that should be a sign to the rest of us. Few people believe that this country's justice system is flawless, but most people still don't understand the extent of its flaws. Moreover, while people claim to support "law and order" they are often willing to cast aside laws whenever those laws constrict the freedoms they feel they should possess. Sometimes this is based on higher ideals, but often it's just based on comfort.

I often find it interesting to examine how laws, both major and minor, bind us and tear us apart. Most of us understand our responsibilities as law-abiding citizens, but all of us break the law on a near daily basis whether it be through minor offenses against traffic and civil ordinances, or more serious acts involving violence, theft or fraud. If you were to poll most Americans I would imagine you would find dire feelings about the state of lawlessness in our society, yet I would bet most people would rate themselves and their family and friends as quite law-abiding.

For example, folks in Texas often feel their state embodies "law and order" in this union, yet months ago those same people, including the state's governor, were openly discussing the seditious possibility of seceding from the United States.

Police officers typically have a derogatory take on lawbreakers and the lenience extended to them by courts and "liberals." Yet, nearly everyday I receive information or actually see officers breaking the law on their own, and these failings are quickly covered up and excused. It would seem that criminals aren't those who break the law, but people who haven't earned the right to break the law.

There is the rub. Many Americans feel that some rights are for all, and some rights are only extended those people who have "earned" them. The only problem is that it seems like "earning" certain rights simply boils down to being born the right color. For some folks, no matter what they've done or suffered they will never earn the right to openly flout the laws of this country. And certain other folks are born with that right and can never lose it.

It's a curious thing when you think about it.



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Raving Black Lunatic