Friday, May 20, 2011

Powerful, powerful post. Check it out.

Daddy Dialectic: A Day at the Park

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Movies, Schools and Homes


 If white people don't see themselves in movies, they don't want to go. So says Salon.

White people also don't like to go to schools where they are the minority. They don't like to buy homes in neighborhoods where they will be the minority for the foreseeable future. They don't like to go to churches that are more than 20 percent "colored" either. Pretty much any time the demographics take a trend towards "colored" and the power dynamic shifts with that change, white folks want out.

That really isn't unusual. Most people like things they can relate to, and most people relate better to groups they are familiar with. In turn, most people are familiar with groups that look like them. Simple really.

But, there are troubling side effect that result from those simple facts of life. Since white people are the default target demographic for most things in America, anything that doesn't target white people will likely be marginalized. That marginalization can impact profitability, which of course is the Holy Grail in a capitalist society. In addition, if white people don't like something, there is a distinct possibility that it will be labeled as inferior. Furthermore, due to their position at the top of the power hierarchy in the world, white people get to create reality.

I guess it's not so simple.

For example, white flight is typically used to describe the way white homeowners fled cities from 1950 to 1990 with the exodus gaining particular fervor in the 1970s and 1980s. Often, this phenomenon is presented as an understandable and unavoidable reaction to growing inner city crime, rather than as a racist reaction to integration and the gradual reduction of government sanctioned discrimination. That's what happens when history is your story.

But, what is rarely discussed today is that white flight was not confined to preserving neighborhood composition. Nor do people tend to acknowledge that the practice never stopped. Simply put, white people were not interested in being minorities back then and they still aren't now.
In fact, in a world where white people are actually minorities compared to non-white people it is no accident that white folks have banded together to form enclaves of power through which they attempt to rule the largely colored world. This isn't just because of the innate human vice of greed, but also because white folks took a look around at reality and decided they wanted something different.

Therefore, it doesn't really matter if a movie is really good, if a school is awesome, or if a neighborhood is to die for. If those things aren't also "white" then white people aren't interested. Things are only worthwhile if they are white, have been verified and approved by white people, and openly solicit the involvement of white people.

These are important concepts to remember. Not only do they temper expectations, they provide much needed context for the actions of white people that seem asinine and hypocritical..

If you understand that many white people are not interested in sacrificing their position of dominance and preference, you will understand their persistent resistance to change. If you understand that white people believe the current state affairs is not only God-ordained, but the result of their own ingenuity and hardwork (instead of avarice and cruelty) you will understand why they get so angry about accusations of bias and impropriety.

Those accusations challenge the existence of the realities many of them have invested blood, sweat and tears into creating, and who among us would be willing to sacrifice our realities without resistance?

It's quite simple actually.




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Friday, May 13, 2011

Role Playing for Coloreds





“White people have this instinct that is really important: to give off the impression that they’re only going to do the really important work. You’re a quarterback."

Sometimes when people say stuff all you can do is give a single head nod. A succinct affirmation of the undeniable realness of the words they just uttered.

I gave that nod as I perused many of the high points in this story linked to over at Racialicious. The above quote perfectly captures a feeling that many, many minorities, even the model ones, seem to share. On the football team of life, it's quite obvious who the Golden Boy is, and who is the role player.

We all use stereotypes. We all love to lump people into easily identifiable groups that make it easier for our minds to process their existence. Stereotyping is human. But, and this is important, that doesn't make it an optimum behavior. See, the group with a hand in creating many of the dominant stereotypes in this country also is the group hell bent on maintaining its favored position in this country and the world.
And, thus, our stereotypes serve a deeper and darker purpose than just making the world easy to understand. They affirm and reinforce the power of white folks, even when they appear complimentary or inconsequential.

The linked article is about growing up Asian in America, but it speaks to the lives of most non-whites. Few of use ever transcend our non-white status and the stereotypes that accompany it. In small and large ways we deal with the consequences of not making the cut. For Asians, they may reap the benefits of being a "model minority" but they must steal deal with being labeled as largely asexual, or subservient, which diminishes their ability to succeed in America's vaunted and mythical meritocracy.

As the article notes, if academic achievement is supposed to be valued, why do so many Asians see themselves shunted into subordinate positions despite their academic achievements? Why does their success lead to the latest form of white flight, where white people are not fleeing the real and imagined pathologies of the black and brown, but the increased competition of the yellow?

Many of us know the answer. The game is rigged. There is no path designed by white folks that leads to non-white folks usurping their favored position. The path to that goal is something non-white people must find for themselves, or face a life filled with small and large frustrations.

We know the roles that have been set aside for us and we know the casting director. The choice should be simple.


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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Talking about Thugs Again

Some folks believe that when you pay attention to racists, you only give them power.

I don't know if this is true, but it sounds like it could be. But those folks who espouse this belief need to explain to me how they control the anger that bubbles up within them when confronted with the most obvious forms of racism and hypocrisy. And if their answer is that they don't have those feelings anymore, then we really don't need to speak anymore.

Really.

I say all that because even though I know Fox News is a bastion of racism and hypocrisy that draws its inspiration from the good old days of America, those bastards still have the power to make me angry. Even when I tell myself to expect the worst, I can still be surprised at how low they will stoop to advance their memes.

Take the recent controversy surrounding rapper Common. I know a little something about Common because he's my best friend's favorite artist. I know a little about his story, and I've listened to most of his albums. And I can say one thing for certain, Common Sense hasn't been a "thug" for quite some time.

But, don't tell that to Fox News. They are convinced he's your typical violent rapper hell bent on overthrowing the police and every other aspect of respectable society. And they believe it figures that President Obama would invite a thug like that to speak about poetry at the White House.

It doesn't matter that Fox has praised Common in the past. It doesn't matter that they have praised artists like Kid Rock an Ted Nugent. What matters is that Common is a nigger who raps and he's easy prey to advance the meme that Obama is a white-hating bastard who should be rubbed out at the first opportunity. That's all that matters.

And while I know it's simplistic and false and will be forgotten in a week, it still eats at me. It eats at me that a man with some complex thoughts could be distilled into such a false image, and then have to watch that false image blasted out to the world. It hurts because I can see how it could happen to me and any other black man so easily. It's so easy to turn us into monsters.

Common talks about burning a bush in a poem spoken in Jamaican patois, and nobody even considers that maybe he's not talking about the president? Nobody thinks that maybe he was saying something else, because what type of Negro would have the mind power to think that creatively, right? It makes me sick

Hell, for many white folks, that's the default setting anyway.



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Monday, May 9, 2011

A Mother's Way

...She felt a little bit wistful or sad that Barack had essentially moved to Chicago and chosen to take on a really strongly identified black identity,” recalled Don Johnston, Dunham’s colleague at Bank Rakyat Indonesia. That identity, she felt, “had not really been part of who he was when he was growing up.” Dunham thought he was making what Johnston called “a professional choice” to strongly identify as black. “It would be too strong to say that she felt rejection,” he said. But she felt “that he was distancing himself from her...”


 That is an excerpt from a story about a new book about President Barack Obama's mother. The full story can be found here.

The book apparently attempts to provide the public with a fuller view of Obama's mother, and to give her an identity more in line with the feminism that dominated her adulthood. I have no plans to read the book, but I did find the excerpt telling in what it appears to reveal about the president's mother.

She honestly thought Obama had a real choice about whether he identified as black.

It is a common mistake for white folks. They often see the poses adopted by black folks as part of one long string of choices. They seem to imagine that we come to a fork in the road and decide whether we'd like to take the black route, or some other path.

Of course, since the black route is fraught with peril and frustration, many white people are surprised that more of us don't change directions. They can't understand why we don't adopt identities more in line with mainstream America. Why we don't listen to different music, wear different clothes and socialize with different friends.

Why we don't work harder to assimilate.

I'm sure the president's mother saw Obama as just as much white as he was black, particularly since it was her family that nurtured and raised him not his absentee African father's family. Moreover, the president spent several of his formative years outside of the country in countries where his blackness was clearly secondary to his American citizenship. (Take that birthers!) It seems that the president's mother thought that Obama had another path he could have trod, and she clearly believed that one was preferable.

Sadly, this just wasn't true. Obama's face proclaimed his blackness. The only way he could have embraced his "white identity" would have been to deny his blackness. The America of the president's youth did not have the term "biracial." It was a world where your racial identity was binary, particularly if you looked like a black man. There were very few opt-out opportunities.

In addition, having read the president's books, I wonder if his mother truly understood what his life was like growing up as a little black boy with white grandparents? She seems unaware or unconcerned about the slights, both large and small, that the president endured thanks to his unique position. Her comments appear to brush off any confusion or frustration he might have felt trying to negotiate the world around him carrying that additional burden.

And trust me, according to the president's writings it often felt like a burden to him. The challenge of trying to relate to his aging white grandparents with certain emotions bubbling within his black mind must have been daunting. The 1970s were a confusing time for white Americans, and I can imagine that his grandparents were just as confused as most people of their generation about what black people were so angry about. And I can imagine that Obama, who looked like a black man to the rest of the world, understood that anger only too well, and was increasingly bothered that his family just didn't get it, even as he loved them to death.

Obama never had a choice about being black if he wanted to be a man of morals and values. Any other path led to the type of assimilation that breeds contempt. Despite all of her many gifts, it is obvious Obama's mother never truly understood what it was like to be black in America, and all the small battles and choices that accompany that designation.. That's no big surprise. Very few white people ever obtain that understanding.

We walk this path because it's the only honorable path. Any other choice affirms the myth of white supremacy that is constantly being pushed upon us. It is sad that Obama's mother may have seen his choice as a rejection of her when it was clearly a rejection of becoming something far worse.

A disgrace to his mother.


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Thursday, May 5, 2011

What I See


There are a lot of white people trying to make this whole race thing better.

I just want to make it clear that I understand that fact. These are folks who could live their lives tightly cocooned within the comforting folks of white supremacy and probably have things a lot easier. Instead, they are trying their best to change the world and confront wrong ideas. I respect and appreciate their efforts.

But sometimes, y'all get on my nerves. (And I'm not picking on you Mi Grant, and I hope you stay around.)

Mr. Goff in the above link seems like a smart guy. And I'm sure there were many black folks who read his comments and nodded their heads at his advice. Sadly, I was not one of them. When I read his words my first thought was "Does this dude live in America?"

See, it's all fine and dandy to want to concentrate on incarceration rates instead of playing Guess Who's a Racist? It sounds wonderful to say you want to eliminate the achievement gap instead of pondering whether Donald Trump uses the word "nigger" when he gets angry at black folks. (My vote is "yes.") But, it's really hard to actually put those ideas into practice. You know why? Because racism is real!

That's right, racists do still exist.

That's important because the education issue, the poverty issue and prison issue are all intertwined with the race issue. They are not separate stand alone topics to be digested at leisure. They are all part of the same foetid mess. Racism is what has caused those problems and is a key component in maintaining their existence. The idea of white supremacy and the systems created to further that idea are why non-white folks get shafted with no vaseline each and every day.

The fact that Gross and his supporters don't see this fact can be quite disillusioning for a black man like me. It's even more bothersome that Gross decides to tell us what he'd rather discuss instead of race and who is a racist. That smacks of a certain arrogance. It's not like Gross is just expressing a preference, it's almost like he's telling us poor backwards peons what's really important, and smugly instructing us to get on board.

Black folks know what's real. We know that throughout this country's history, black people have embraced the self-improvement tenets espoused by folks as varied as Booker T. Washington, Carter G. Woodson and Malcolm X. We know that we've built businesses, built communities and built power. And we've watched as racists have casually demolished all of those things in the name of racism, and scoffed at our pleas to leave race out of the discussion. We know this because this is American history.

Racism trumps rules. You can't encourage people to solve problems for folks they view as inferior beings. Sure, they may dispense a little charity, give a few handouts, but there is no way you are going to convince racists to make the wholescale structural changes needed to correct past wrongs and ensure a just future. That doesn't happen with racists. They aren't interested in that plan.

So yes, identifying racists and racism is still a priority because black folks deserve to be able to point out our enemies and say "You don't want this to work. No matter how you pretend, no matter what promises you make, you don't want this to work." Otherwise, we're wasting our time and energy with folks who are just waiting for the best moment to slip a shiv in the hollow of our backs.

That's what I see.


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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Damn Donald

Man, the more I learn about The Donald, the worse it gets.

Later that year, Trump caught flack for his comments attacking affirmative action on NBC’s two-hour special “The Race,” telling host Bryant Gumbel: “If I was starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black because I really do believe they have the actual advantage today.” That remark was derided by Orlando Sentinel columnist David D. Porter, who opined: "Too bad Trump can't get his wish. Then he'd see that being educated, black and over 21 isn't the key to the Trump Tower. You see there's still that little ugly problem of racism."

 That's just the tip of the iceberg in an article found in a blog at the Huffington Post. Check it out when you get some time.

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Raving Black Lunatic