Thursday, April 29, 2010

That's Ostrich Homie

How we gonna' communicate
When we can't even conversate?
You tell me it's converse
I'm trying to expand your Universe.
Show you what is and what will be
Man, you birds kill me.
Holla' "Eff those coons" and "Bomb those sand niggers"
When you facedown, ass up chasin' figures
That's right clown, you getting screwed
Fighting feuds got your brain nude
Naked as jaybird, skinny dipping in life
Crocs in this water, falcons taking flight
It's a food chain game, and you look like dinner
Chances for survial couldn't be slimmer
Keep those blinders, bury that head
Hot sand burns, Third eye closes on the dead
You monkeys blind, deaf and dumb 'bout evil
Faking funk and pulling stunts like Knievel
My thoughts nova, catch the light while you can
Soon enough y'all be asking
"What happened to Big Man?"


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

She's Joined the Team

Sandra Bullock is on Team Brown Baby.

It's quite the popular team in Hollywood, as brown babies have been all the rage for the past five years, and were popular among some folks even before the recent craze. White Hollywood stars love adopting brown babies, particularly brown babies from other countries, although Sandra decided to stay stateside with her choice.

Now she's parading the infant around on celebrity magazines, and talking about her plans to be a single mom. I've written about the voluntary parenting sans daddies phenomenon so I won't even go there again. And while I know that Bullock has filed for divorce from Jesse James, I still have to wonder.

So, she was planning on adopting a black baby with a husband who goes hard for White Power, and likes to dress up like Hitler?

Maybe this gives credence to Bullocks assertions that she had no idea that James was a racist. Some folks will surely argue that nobody would adopt a black baby with a racist, it just wouldn't work. I can see that argument.

Then again, I find it terribly hard to believe you don't know your husband is a racist after living and loving him for five years. Racism and prejudice isn't something people typically hide from the ones they love. They usually let that all hang out. I just can't fathom that Bullock had NO IDEA about James' beliefs and predilections.

Which leads me to wonder if she planned to use a black baby to change her husband's mind. Was this baby supposed to "cure" Jesse James of his bigotry. Was this a new variation of the Magical Negro theory, basically the Magical Negro Infant theory?

I must admit, it seems like Hollywood types believe that adopting brown babies from war torn countries and impoverished areas can save the world. With that belief, it doesn't seem like much of a leap to think that brown babies with white parents can cure racism.

Does it?

But, I really don't know. A friend of mine posited that if you combine Bullock's do-gooder past with the possibility that she might have actually believed the hype about her role in The Blind Side, then you get a woman who sees adopting a poor black baby as the next logical step. I mean, it's like a real life Blind Side without the extra hassle of a dealing with an older child. My friend said that she also thinks that James could have been great at living a double life, a possiblity that I consider remote, and really just chalk up to my friend's man-hating ways.

But, what do y'all think?


Monday, April 26, 2010

Pay to Play

Money makes the world move.

Don't believe me?

What if I told you that rich citizens are given access to the police simply because of their ability to make donations? I don't mean they get to do a poo-butt ride along, I mean they get to use tasers, help kick in doors or even watch a perp get questioned. They get to fulfill all of their law enforcement fantasies with a scratch of a pen on a check.

Would you believe me?

Some of you wouldn't, you'd tell me that's a clear conflict of interest. You can't pay the police for access. You'd be right. You can't give most police departments direct donations. But, you can give police foundations donations. Or organizations like the fraternal order of police. And everybody knows those non-profit organizations are really just an extension of the police department.

If don't believe me, all you have to do is verify what I'm saying by reading the New York Times.

I'm not here to blast the NYPD. Lord knows they aren't unusual in their operation or methods.

Nah, I'm perturbed by something else in this process. I'm bothered by the possibility, wait scratch that... I'm bothered by the fact that rich folks with unprecedented and unequal access to the police always make things worse for people like me.

I know it's not anything new. Money has made its own laws forever. I'd have to be a fool to believe that rich folks and poor folks operate on an even playing field when it comes to the justice system or law enforcement agencies. I've been accused of being a lot of things, but rarely a fool.

But, what the Times exposed was fairly brazen. This wasn't a lost report, or a ride home instead of to the lockup for a rich person's son. This was an entire program where donors were given a taste of what it is like to be a boy in blue, and then hit up for cash afterwards. And instead of being done by a public agency whose records are open to the public, it was done by a shadowy foundation, that keeps its business private.

That should concern folks, for real.

More and more, people with money are creating a separate world with separate rules. And that world is being staffed by folks with guns and sadistic tendencies. It's not hard to imagine the next stop on this train. Private militias running around enforcing the "laws" of private enclaves populated by rich folks seeking to escape the masses.

Gentrification would seem to the forerunner of a new society where rich folks have usurped easily defensible urban areas, while the huddling masses are pushed away from these hubs and crammed into shanty towns. Food and other amenities are brought in from outlying farms to those folks living in the urban areas.

Some of y'all are shaking your heads, and I don't blame you. I typically try to avoid dystopian science fiction as well.

But, it seems to me that nothing good can come of rich folks obtaining increased access to our publicly funded law enforcement system. And, given my past experiences, I know that it's quite easy for those with means to twist a public agency into basically a semi-private agency while still having it funded by the money of the peons.

Trust me, it happens all the time.

So, while some folks might see this Times story as another predictable treatise on the pay to play phenomenon, I see it as more. I see it as opening salvo in a much deeper game. A game that we all need to be aware of and vigilant about because it could have dire consequences.

Guns and money create power.

Who has the guns and the money?


Friday, April 23, 2010

Just Gotta Shake My Head

I seem to be following The Field Negro lately, but I swear I had this story before I saw it on his site.

I'm talking about the story about this white dude who dressed up like a black guy in order to avoid police detection while robbing banks.

It's another example of white folks understanding the power of the black bogeyman myth and thus realizing it makes sense to pretend to be black to commit crimes. That way you can avoid suspicion when you switch back to being white.

Honestly, I wasn't even mad at dude because his costume was so realistic. I had to nod my head in respect at his creativity.

That said, while researching this guy's costume, ('Cause face it, I need to know just how easy it is for white folks to walk among black folks undetected) I found the website of the company that makes it. Here's the site if you're interested.

If you check out that link you'll see, it's a gallery of costumes, mostly horror and freak show stuff. And then there's the black dude costume, or "The Player."

I'm going ignore the suspect name for the costume which brings to mind stereotypes about sports and women.

Instead, I'm wondwering, does anybody else find that gallery strange?

Anybody else wonder why "The Player" was a natural off-shoot for a company that had previously focused on zombies, ghouls and aliens? Am I the only one that wonders how this fits in with the long-held notions of black men as "monsters"?

I'm not alone, right?

Everybody understands that there is something a bit off with this company's decision to make its first "human" costume a mask of a bald black man, right? Y'all don't just see this as a random and reasonable occurence, do you? I sincerly hope not because that would mean I'm going crazy and my blog audience isn't as sophisticated as I thought. (Yeah, I'm kissing up.)

When I saw that gallery I just had to shake my head. You know, that "Ain't this about a B" head shake. It's like every time I turn around, I get another reminder, another tap on the shoulder.

Some folks might argue that's only because I'm looking for it, you know searching for racism like it was gold. But, I contend that I would rather have my head on a swivel then be the victim of a crackback block. Even paranoid folks have enemies, right?

So, tell me, do y'all think I'm being paranoid?


Thursday, April 22, 2010

This Sounds Familiar

Y'all heard about this new law in Arizona, right?

The one targeting Latinos as suspected illegal immigrants. The one that allows police the right to stop them and demand they prove they belong in America.

This one:

Up to ten other states are said to be considering similar laws as pressure mounts on the Republican Right and along America’s southern border for state-based immigration crackdowns in the absence of federal immigration reform. The Arizona Bill would make it a crime for legal immigrants not to carry their alien registration papers, and would allow police to arrest those unable to produce them — potentially upending the presumption of innocence underpinning US law and the principle that its enforcement should be colour-blind. "

When I heard about this I knew it sounded familiar as a black man. Not just on a random racial profiling level because that's the obvious way it relates to black folks. Nah, there was something else that came to mind:

Freedom Papers.

I know some black folks don't like anyone co-opting slavery for another cause. And I realize that Latinos would only be charged with a misdemeanor, not turned into human chattel if they don't have their papers. But still, you have to admit there is a scary similarity. Not only is there this Nazi vibe where a registry of illegal aliens will likely be created, but now we're telling legal immigrants that they have to carry around papers at all times to prove they belong here.

Sounds like freedom papers to me.

Those of you with a working knowledge of slave history will remember that black freedmen had to carry around papers proving their freedom at all times. If those papers were lost, stolen or destroyed, they had to go through extreme expense to replace them, and that could only happen if their former owners agreed to provide them. Plus, there was always the possibility that while you were waiting for your papers to be delivered, you might get picked up by a slave-catcher. Or, even worse, that an unscrupulous slavecatcher (yeah, I know that's redundant) would just destroy your freedom papers to justify placing a free black person into slavery.

So, when I see a law that reminds me of freedom papers it deeply disturbs me. Although I focus on black issues, I understand how other minority groups struggle, and I recognize when our struggles intersect.

I don't take this thing lightly. This is something that once again reminds me of how fragile all our protections really are in this country. After all, it's not beyond the realm of thought that other groups might one day be required to carry papers with them.

I wonder what kind of papers they would use for black folks?


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Eternal Struggle

In my mind there is a battle.

The Filament Doctrine versus The Island Doctrine.

Where will I stand in the end is anybody's guess.

Some days, I feel that Island breeze blowing, and it's hard to ignore. When I see folks complaining and whining and blaming everybody but themselves for their personal failings, it's hard not to tell them to, shut up and man up.

At those times, I truly believe the old cliche, "No man is an island," is a bunch of baloney. I'm convinced that each of us has far more control over our individual choices and actions than we like to admit. Nobody is forcing us to make the choices we make, thus we cannot blame anyone else for our personal shortcomings. Even when the choices are horrible, there are still choices.

Those are my hardcore days.

Other times, I'm on that filament kick. For example, I was thinking the other day about the anti-government and taxes crowd. I was wondering if that group truly realizes how society has created government as a way to create jobs and opportunities for the private sector. All the services government agencies and their employees use help drive the economy of this country.

Seriously. We pay taxes and that money often is spent with private industry in a manner that ultimately benefits us. The folks who work at the DMV aren't just snippy public servants. They are homeowners, car owners, utility users, daycare users, grocery shoppers and everything else that most of us do. They are citizens using the goods and services that drive our economy. Without them, and others like them, private industry would struggle to find enough consumers to support the level of specialization prevalent in our world.

At least that's how I see it. We're all connected in ways we don't even realize and our actions do have an effect on the lives of others. You know, like The Butterfly Effect.

As you can see, there is an obvious conflict between my two philosophies. How can I acknowledge the connections and interdependence of all our lives, all while ultimately believing that all of our choices are truly OUR choices? The ideas don't seem to mesh.

Which means that I find myself applying different philosophies to different situations, which can often lead to the impression of hypocrisy. I don't actually think it's hypocrisy, I honestly believe that versatility is just as important as intelligence, but perception is most folks reality.

In my mind, we are all connected and responsible to each other. We are truly our brother's keeper, whether we like our brother or not. But, despite the impact we have on other people's lives, we must still remember that no one can force us to do anything. Nothing. We need to cling to both of these beliefs because ultimately they are equally empowering.

When you accept that you are truly the master of your own actions, you shed the shackles of reaction and revenge.

When you recognize that loving your neighbor is a 24/7 job you move past unnecessary aggression and agitation.

The more I think about, there is no struggle between the two doctrines that exist in my mind. The struggle is to find the proper synthesis that can be my guiding light on life's dark paths.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Switch Flipped

Once a person has decided how they’re going to interact with you, it can be difficult to change. Changing it demands a degree of aggression

Man, I stumbled across that quote on this blog and it really struck me. Seriously, it was one of those "aha" moments where somebody verbalizes what you've already known intuitively, but never expressed so succinctly. For me, those moments are typically jumping off points for blogs. Here we go.

1. We all assume.

2. We all are forced to overcome other people's assumptions.

3. Thus, our very human existence is rooted in a never-ending cycle of aggression.

4. Depending on how often erroneous assumptions are made about you, you may constantly be forced to decide between a position of submission or debilitating aggression.

Let's explore.

I think all of us can admit that we make assumptions on a daily basis. It's how we organize the world and simplify our thinking. Assumptions allow us to sort and use large amounts of new stimuli.

That said, most of our assumptions are horribly wrong. That's inevitable given the fact that they are rooted in our individual realities, and thus are often based on incorrect facts. Many of us also make assumptions based on propaganda spread through a variety of sources. There is a reason the old cliche states: When you assume, you make an ass out of "u" and "me".

The thing is, assumptions are unavoidable, and honestly, necessary. They can serve a useful purpose if we know the proper amount of weight to give to our stereotypes, prejudices and assumptions. Sadly, most people DON'T.

Which is why all of us work regularly to combat assumptions. A friend of mine went to Whole Foods the other day. At my urging she was checking to see if the store carried "chia seeds." I was curious to see if the product had worked its way to the mainstream, and how much it would cost.

My friend told me that she diligently checked the seed aisle, then approached three employees having an animated conversation. She waited patiently for one of them to acknowledge her presence and ask if she needed help. She said she didn't want to interrupt their obviously animated discussion about one of the employees working while drunk.

Finally, she said "Excuse me" and asked about the chia seeds, noting that she had checked for them and couldn't find them. One clerk said nothing and immediately left. Another just looked confused. The third clerk got the "stank" face and said "What?"

My friend, taking this an invitation to re-state her question, did so a bit more concisely. Something along the lines of "Chia seeds. Do y'all sell them? I checked and didn't see any." The clerk replied with a bit of an attitude, "Well, we must not have them."

Clearly, this was not the greatest example of customer service or decorum, but I think it was a great example of the premise of this blog. Granted this is a total assumption, but I think that the clerk viewed my friend as an "other." All three clerks were black, but they were black workers in Whole Foods.

My friend was a black woman customer in an overpriced, health food store frequented by mainly white clientele. Her surroundings, plus her inquiry about an exotic food product, most likely led to the assumption that she was one of those "bourgie, stuck up black people who think they are better than people who WORK in Whole Foods." Thus, the clerk, acting on her own erroneous assumption, about what she thought was my friend's erroneous assumption, responded with quite a bit of aggression.

Hope that didn't confuse y'all.

The thing is, this happens all the time. Black people are often accused of being overly aggressive. Yet, we all know that black people regularly have erroneous assumptions made about them. There are assumptions about our education, our intellect, our looks, our jobs, our families and our status as law-abiding citizens, to name a few. We are constantly deciding whether it's "worth it" to combat these assumptions and deal with the hassles associated with being viewed as aggressive, or to just take our medicine and let things slide. It's the ultimate lose/lose.

I'm not saying that black people are unique in this regard, just noting that we have a special appreciation for this daily battle. We understand that whenever you attempt to combat a person's erroneous assumptions, you run the risk of being labeled aggressive and angry. People don't like being corrected.

They don't like their viewpoints being challenged, no matter how simplistic or idiotic those viewpoints may be. Some folks handle disagreement better than others, but typically when people are caught in an error, or they are operating on some long-held assumptions, there will be a conflict if attempt to foster change. People like how they view the world and the people who inhabit the world. Changing those viewpoints means more work and, often, very little tangible reward.

Folks will view your attempts to correct them as aggression, and thus respond with aggression. That in turn ramps up your aggression level and the whole situation spirals out of control fairly quickly unless someone is willing to submit.

And we all know submission is a bad word these days, just like aggression.

I think it's important for all of us to remember that we are both the victims and the perpetrators when it comes to assumptions. We must understand that many of us develop views about other people without enough information, and thus our views are likely wrong.

I think it's even more important to realize that just because somebody challenges one of your assumptions does not mean you have to view it as a form of aggression. You have a choice. You can view it as a form of assistance. Honestly, we need to practice the same patience for other folks that we want people to practice with us.

Submission in the right situation is the best weapon.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance

cognitive dissonance: contradictory mental state: a state of psychological conflict or anxiety resulting from a contradiction between a person's simultaneously held beliefs or attitudes

How many of y'all remember Apartheid in South Africa?

I wasn't even born when that heinous political system came into being in South Africa, but I was around for its final death throes. Movies like "Cry Freedom" taught me about what my brothers and sisters in South Africa were enduring, and I at least knew Nelson Mandela's name.

What I understood then, and what I understand now, is that white folks carved out a little oasis in the heart of one of the most productive regions of Africa and maintained their control of that oasis through brutality and oppression. They were aided in this practice by almost every majority white country on the planet, and their brutality was defended and excused. It was only after the use of economic pressure and non-violent tactics that this political regime was toppled and South Africa still bears the scars of that terrible time in its history.

That's what I remember and what I know.

Apparently, what I know, and what white folks in South Africa know is very, very different.

Check out the link. It goes to a story about the death of leader of the Afrikaners movement, the movement that created apartheid and used it to dominate and terrorize the black majority in South Africa. The leader was killed by two black workers at his farm, and his death has sent shock waves through the white community, which feels like it's under attack and no one is listening.

If you read the article, you'll surely notice the swastikas and Nazi salutes. You'll also notice the sentiments of the folks quoted in the article. These aggrieved white people feel like their country is being stolen from them and their lives are in danger. They feel ignored, marginalized and attacked. And they want somebody to help.

And, that's why I chose the title for this post.

See, I'm not going to try to justify cold-blooded murder. If that's what happened in this white man's death, then his murderers should be punished. They don't get to skate because this man and his ilk wronged their ancestors. An eye for a eye leaves everybody blind.

But, what I can't shake is the idea that these white folks lack the ability to truly appreciate their position. Not only are they an ethnic minority, they are an ethnic minority that continues to cling to the symbols and rhetoric from a time when they and their forefathers oppressed and brutalized the ethnic majority. And, they have the audacity to do this, and still request, no scratch that, DEMAND, that the rest of the world heed their plight and provide them succor.

As we say in my hometown, "That's pretty damn cheeky."

See, while I believe in the power of forgiveness, I'm also firmly aware of reality. I may be an idealist, but momma and daddy didn't raise no fool. In addition, I find it quite strange that people would cry out for justice, while at the same time wrapping themselves in a movement that denied justice to so many.

That's a some cognitive dissonance right there.

I'm curious to see how this whole enterprise shakes out, although I doubt we will hear much about it in America until things get truly violent. I would wager that by the time this story reaches American viewers, we will be told that white people in South Africa are the victims of a genocide by black folks, and we'll be asked to consider the story from the angle of: "Black people are just as bad as white people when they have power, and they don't run their countries nearly as well." That's usually the spin the media puts on these types of stories.

The question that won't be asked is "What do the black people of South Africa owe their white neighbors?" Or, "How much forgiveness can occur when power is still skewed and hatred is still so prevalent?"

In my mind, these white people are calling on their black neighbors to forgive them without expressing any repentance. Their support of Nazism proves that in my mind, along with their willingness to fall back on slurs and stereotypes. These white folks are not seeking a peace based on equality and mutual respect, they are asking their black neighbors to willingly subjugate themselves or risk the wrath of the rest of the white world.

I wonder when that wrath will come.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Intertwined Forever

Hypocrisy and humanity sitting in a tree
First comes love
Then comes marriage
Then comes a baby
In the baby carriage

I'm convinced, every human being is born a hypocrite. Hypocrisy is as natural as screwing, and almost as satisfying.

Don't you think?

I didn't have to teach my oldest boy to snitch on his brother. Nope, he worked that out all on his own. I asked him if he loved his brother, and he said "Yes, sometimes." When I asked why he doesn't love his brother all the time, he said, "Because sometimes he does mean stuff."

Now, I was puzzled. My oldest son is pushing three-years old and his brother just turned 1. I couldn't figure out how a one-year old could do "mean stuff" to a 3-year old. So, I asked my little boy what his brother does.

"He pushes me down. And he takes toys from me. He's mean."

You really would have to spend time in my house to truly appreciate that comment. All of the actions my oldest son attributed to his brother were in fact actions he does himself. My wife and I are constantly having to chastise him for roughly shoving his little brother out of the way, or knocking him down just to see him cry. But, in my little boy's mind, he's the victim, not his brother.

In fact, when I asked him if he was ever mean to his brother, he said "Yes." But, he followed that up by reiterating that his brother was the real problem.

My little boy is a hypocrite.

Sadly, he's not alone. If hypocrisy were hemorrhoids, nobody in the world could eat spicy food.

Why is that? What makes hypocrisy so appealing?

I read a book recently that said that the majority of parents cited "honesty" as the most important trait they wanted to instill in their children. How can that be true when we have so many lying, rationalizing hypocrites running around the world? If honesty is important to parents, then why are they failing to teach their children that hypocrisy is the anti-thesis of honesty.

Maybe they just don't know. Maybe most people don't realize they are hypocrites. Maybe they view their hypocrisies as perfectly logical viewpoints. When they hold other people to standards they don't even try to live up to themselves, maybe that makes sense in their minds.

It has to be ignorance because I struggle to believe that people enjoy wallowing in hypocrisy. How can they enjoy that sick feeling of shame and disgust that accompanies uncovering personal hypocrisy?

Perhaps they can enjoy it because they don't experience those emotions. Instead of shame, maybe most people feel disbelief or even pride. What I see as hypocrisy, they see as perfectly acceptable and logical behavior. What I deem reprehensible, they deem praiseworthy.

Maybe hypocrisy has tunneled so deep into the soul and psyche of humanity that for most people they don't know where they begin and the hypocrite ends. They can't imagine life without the little hypocrisies that comfort them, and thus anybody who tries to force feed them honesty is an enemy.

Maybe I just don't know.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Holding Fast

What are you certain about?

What are the things in your life that are so obvious, so blatant, that your belief in them is unshakable and beyond reproach? Is there anything like that for you?

Seems like folks are certain about a lot these days.

They are certain that abortion is an abomination. They are certain that every woman should have a right to choose whether she can end her baby's life in-utero. They are certain monogamy is an outdated standard. They are positive that the real problem in our society is the insistence that people should not confine themselves to one partner.

They are certain racism is a myth and that discrimination is an ancient and powerless relic. They are positive that Phil Mickelson is a much better husband than Tiger Woods and has never, EVER done anything to hurt his wife.

It's obvious to anyone who looks that Obama is trying to ruin this country, and that Big Ben was set-up by a money-hungry gold digger.

Let me be clear, it's not that I have a problem with people have disparate opinions. It's not that I have a problem with people aggressively defending their opinions. What I can't understand is the unyielding certainty so many people bring to their opinions.

Is doubt a forgotten emotion?

The Bible says that the disciple Thomas walked with Jesus and the 11 other disciples for three years. During that period he saw many miracles and wondrous events. Yet, when his fellow disciples came to him telling him of Jesus' ressurrection after his Crucifixion, Thomas said he needed to put his fingers in the holes in Christ's hands and stick his arm in Jesus' side.

Despite everything he had seen, Thomas doubted.

Many preachers use the story of Thomas to discuss the problems with doubt, the failure of our feeble human minds to truly trust despite all the evidence we've seen. I can see that point of view. Yet, I also see Thomas as a man who truly loved and believed in Jesus' greatness, but still found it hard to believe that a man he saw die three days earlier was now walking the Earth again.

His doubt seems to make sense.

How can so many folks eschew doubt? Where does this unshakable certainty in everything come from? For me, life is a constant cycle of considering and re-thinking what I believe:

Am I being just?

Does this make sense?

What's the other side?

What are the other angles?

It's not that I don't have bedrock beliefs, I do. But, I fully recognize the issues with those beliefs, the potential chinks in my mental armor. I see where the central concepts in my life are connected, and I understand that most of my worldview hinges on a leap of faith. This doesn't bother me, but I can appreciate that it bothers many others.

I don't think that just because I believe something it must be a fact.

Increasingly, I feel like I'm in a minority. I see folks, folks I love and some I don't, who are so rooted in their reality that even a Category Five hurricane couldn't shake them. Sometimes that is comforting, other times it's maddening.

Folks are so certain that discussion has become a waste of time. Nobody is truly considering their positions, and nobody is willing to give an inch. Civility is dead and reason has been abandoned. Any action can be justified and every action can be condemned.

We're holding fast to a sinking ship, convinced that we are rising to heaven.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Nope, It's Not All Better

So Governor Bob is sorry.

He now understands that slavery was horrific and an abomination and he feels terrible that his words made it seem like he condoned the practice. He is deeply, deeply sorry.

Yeah, it didn't work for me either.

Sorry good sir, but I find it hard to believe that a semi-intelligent human with some knowledge of American history could make an honest mistake like the one you made. Nope, not buying it.

Instead, I'm going with the explanation that you knew EXACTLY what you were doing and who you were TALKING to when you made your comments. You made a calculated decision to either display your inner bigot, or pretend to have an inner bigot to gain some points with other bigots. Now that you've caught some heat you're trying to backtrack, but I'm not buying not.

Nope, not with Oprah's black card.

Nothing you ever say will convince me that you made an honest mistake. You can't convince me that you just misspoke. You said exactly what you wanted to say to appeal to a particular constituency, and you know good and well that you can even spin your apology to those folks.

"Well that damn liberal media forced me to apologize. You know how those people are so sensitive. A God-fearing white man can't even speak his mind these days without getting called a racist or something."

They'll believe that lie because it makes them feel better about themselves. So, while you may have lost some moderates, you gained the support of the die-hard bigots, and I'm pretty sure in your mind that's a fair trade-off.

I see what you're about Gov. Bob, and no matter how many proclamations you change, my vision won't be blurred.


It's Actually Sinister

He who forgets history is doomed to repeat it.

That's how I feel about the recent news out of Virginia that the state's governor doesn't think "slavery" was "significant" as it relates to discussing the Confederacy. That's what he said when he was challenged about his decision to leave out any mention of slavery when discussing Confederacy History Month. The whole human chattel issue wasn't really a big deal. Seriously.

Some folks are upset by the governor's comments. Other folks are complaining that people are making too big of a deal about nothing. There are also a few folks who are pointing out that the War of Northern Aggression was about "state's rights" not slavery.

Nobody is seeing the big picture.

This incident reminds me of a story a friend told me about having to take a tour of a southern plantation. She was taking the tour as part of her job, and hating every minute of it because she's a logical-minded black woman.

Anyway, she said the tour guides gushed on and on about the clothes the slave owners wore, and the balls they held, and the lives they led. But, curiously absent from the discussion was the role of slaves in making this lifestyle possible.

In fact, although there was still an intact slave shack still present on the property, the tour guides for the plantation told all the visitors that visiting those quarters was only "optional." That's right, you visit a plantation, but it's "optional" to get a glimpse of the suffering and misery that supported the entire lifestyle.

Again, there is a bigger picture here.

It's not about black folks getting up in arms because another old white man showed his hindparts. That's blase. Nah, the real problem is that an elected official felt comfortable telling the media that slavery was not a "significant" part of the history of the Confederacy. It's bad enough that Virginia celebrates an armed insurrection as a "high point" in the history of the United States, but to pretend that slavery was only a minor issue, and expect folks to buy that, well that's a sign of something sinister.

Blacks folks know that the "history" taught to most Americans is really "His-story". The story of the greatness of white folks and how they conquered the world.

Most information that contradicts the firy tale that America was basically a wonderful place filled with wonderful, loving people, is left out of the standard school curriculum. Even those periods like slavery or the Jim Crow-era are covered as quickly as possibly to avoid bringing down the vibe about America the Beautiful.

Thankfully, I went to school with black folks. Black people talk about the ugly stuff in this country's past, particularly the ugly stuff that affected us. WE don't pretend the Civil War was about taxes. We know damn well it was about whether master could continue to run his little, darkie harem without federal interference.

Certain folks are working overtime to change even the most basic facts that we all know to be true. Those folks understand that if they can re-shape and re-define the truth, they can then create the world in the image they prefer.

It's why they twist words, and ignore obvious context. It's not because they are stupid or stubborn, it's because they actually have devious aims they are trying to accomplish. This governor knows damn well that the Confederacy was all about slavery, but he believes that if tells the Big Lie long enough, nobody will be able to prove it's not true.

And that's a real danger. I've found that if people repeat a lie long enough, most people stop questioning its veracity. They just assume that nobody would lie about something so serious, and assume it must be correct.

For example, I've seen certain types of white folks mention that black men rape white women far more often than white men rape black women. It's often quoted as statistical fact with allusions to news articles to buttress the claim.

Only, it's complete crap. It's not true, there are no news articles, and any sort of serious analysis of the Justice Department's statistics would preclude any honest person from making that argument. But, folks tell that lie everyday, and other folks believe it.

The governor of Virginia understands that given the current educational system and the general unease most white folks feel about talking about race, there will come a time when most folks are willing to believe that slavery wasn't a big deal. Once they consider that, they will be ripe for the idea that slavery wasn't really the main issue that drove the Civil War.

They might even believe that the Confederacy was a manifestation of true patriotism. It seems far-fetched to you and me, but bigger lies have been told and accepted.

So, I'm glad people are calling the governor out for his Big Lie, I just wish they would focus on the fact that his attempt was far more sinister than stupid.

That way we can all stay vigilant.


Monday, April 5, 2010

The Brain Game

"I need you to say something nice to me."

Those were my wife's words the other day. We were in the middle of one of our "battles of coldness" when she hit me with that line.

It felt ridiculous at the time. What right did she have to demand something nice from me when I was (justifiably) angry at her. Why should her "needs" be important to me, when I felt like my own concerns were not being heard.

I tend to fight with coldness. I grew up with two great parents, but, man, they used to yell at each other something fierce. No violence, but crazy screaming and doors slamming. I always told myself that when I got married, my kids would never have to see that from their parents.

So, instead of getting hot, I get cold. It's not that I don't get angry. I'm constantly praying to God and trying to work on my temper, trying to slow down that anger reflex. But, even when I get angry, my first response is to shut down emotionally, not to yell or scream. My brother and I share this trait, and the women we've dealt with have complained about it over the years.

Lord knows my wife has complained about it. Still, I'm always surprised at how my cold attitude affects her. I can't understand why my lack of attention is such a hardship, hell, being left to my own devices never bothers me.

I got a little better understanding of the problem recently while reading a book called "The Female Brain."

The book is a study of how the female brain processes information due to its unique structure and hormone mix. I must admit it was eye-opening. As a man, I have always believed that there are fundamental differences in how men and women process information, but it was interesting to see how deep those differences go.
According to the book men and women clash so often because the basic structure of their brains is very different.

Now, the book has been criticized by several scholars for depending on faulty science and for making some fantastical claims based on a paucity of information. I've read of those critiques and they softened my initial enthusiasm about the book.

But, for some reason, many of the book's claims still resonate with me. That's probably because they validate my own preconceptions, but it might be because it actually provides great food for thought when considering male/female relationships.

For example, I got a better understanding for why my wife craves communication and emotional attachment. In the past I had been guilty of chalking it up to the general "spoiled" nature of all females.

But, after reading the book, I realized that she might just be built differently than me. That her brain craves and focuses on different things than mine, and while her needs may seem tedious and ridiculous at times, they are no less valid or natural than my own. Sometimes I need information like that to move me out of my rut.

After all, it's easy to get trapped into thinking that our worldviews are the only true reality. But, that mindset is particularly dangerous in marriages because successful marriages require a constant willingness to see the world from someone else's perspective.

I'm not ashamed to admit I have a LONG way to go in this regard, but I'm thinking this book might help make me make some strides.

Now I just need to read her new book on men.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Peep the Filaments

Sometimes black folks just don't see the web.

I'm not talking about this Internet thing. I'm talking about the web that connects us all. There is a human web, and within that web there is a "black" web.

Some of y'all are shaking your heads already.

"There you go with that separatist talk again Big Man. How are black folks ever going to move past this race thing if y'all insist that y'all are separate all the time?"

First of all, I'm not interested in "moving past" this race thing. I like being black, it's wonderful. I wouldn't change my skin color if offered the chance. Besides, "this race thing" is real life.

Finally, race was created by a certain group that shall remain nameless, so I would imagine that it's up to that group to correct the problems they have caused. Maybe once that happens we can "move past it."

Now, with that minor tangent out of the way, let me get to the meat of my treatise. First, as is my wont, I'll share a little anecdote.

I was sitting in bible study the other day and we were talking about putting on the "clothing" of Christ. Basically, that means making your life mirror Christ's life in how you treat folks and conduct your business.

But, as the preacher is talking about spiritual clothing, he takes a long and detailed detour into a conversation on the clothing of today's youth.

Uh oh.

Anybody who has spent some time in the black church knows that there is a serious disconnect between the young folks and the old folks on the issues of clothing and music. Honestly, I can see the old folks point as I grow older, but that doesn't mean they don't get off track on occasion.

In this instance, the preacher begins railing against clothing that identifies young black youth, particularly males, as criminals. Y'all know, that "thug clothing."

He tells the young men that they may not be thugs, that they may not be criminals, but when they dress a certain kind of way, everybody assumes they are thugs. And, what really got to me was that he seemed to be defending this state of affairs. I mean, the preacher said it "might" not be right, but he never actually condemned the practice and seemed to be pushing the meme that it was justified.

That kind of ruined my worship.

Look, I understand the Uniform Doctrine. That argument says that if you are not doing the job, don't wear the uniform. I get it, and to a certain extent, I agree with it.

The thing is, life is full of unforeseen consequences.

In Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series that mantra was known as the "Wizard's Second Rule." (Sorry for exposing my inner nerd, won't happen too often in the future.) When black folks use the uniform argument on young black men, they provide cover for those who racially under the Black Skin Doctrine. That doctrine says that the uniform of criminals is black skin. Period.

I have spoken to folks who have had their young sons beaten or abused by the police, and none of them are "okay" with the Black Skin Doctrine. They may have embraced the Uniform Doctrine before their children got humiliated and injured, but when that doctrine is taken a tad further, they have a real problem.

They didn't see the filaments.

The filaments. The connections that bind all of us in this human web. The little invisible bindings that we can't see and just won't acknowledge. The filaments that make your neighbor your brother, and make his welfare just as important as your own.

Those filaments.

Older black people need to realize how easily the Uniform Doctrine turns into the Black Skin Doctrine. They need to understand that their status as "Good Negroes" is not some blanket protection. They need to remember Christ's words about the "least" of his children.

When you rationalize the profiling of some, you're really rationalizing the profiling of all. You may think that folks will be able to tell that you don't deserve to be profiled, but you're wrong. Once you give people the green light, it's up to them whether they follow the speed limit.

How many of y'all are speeders?

I'm really debating whether I should bring this issue up with the pastor at my church. On one hand I feel like it needs to be said, but on the other hand, I wonder if it will be received in love and truly considered. Most folks feel like their views are perfectly logical and acceptable given the realities of the world we inhabit, and they aren't inclined to change them for some idealistic vision of how the world should be. I get that, I truly do.

But, I still see those damn filaments.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

This Is A Problem

I believe somebody has lost their Favored Negro status.


Raving Black Lunatic