Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where Are We?

I've a been a "nerd" for some time now.

I say "nerd" because by some measures I hardly qualify. I was a football star in high school and fairly popular if not the BMOC. I've dated women, and I have no problem fitting in socially when that's my desire. I love to watch and play sports, and I don't own any "Star Wars" or "Star Trek" paraphernalia.

But, I've also been teased for years for being too smart. Plus, I have a fiendish obsession with fantasy novels and certain science fiction works. I know way too much about the inner workings of Pern, and I'm a little too familiar with the intricacies of the Farseer reign. Those are nerd references for those of you who are confused.

Being a black fantasy fan with decidedly "black" views about the world can make reading most fantasy books an interesting experience. Sure, I love good fantasy because it challenges norms, but when it comes to racial mindsets, many fantasy and sci-fi writers are plagued with a very naive or uninformed view on the world. Hell, most of them know more about God than race, and they don't know that much about God!

My experiences made me knowingly shake my head when I stumbled across this story on one of the sites I visit frequently. It seems that when casting Hobbits for Peter Jackson's new movie "The Hobbit" the casting personnel let it be known that folks with a complexion any darker than "pale" need not apply. Hell, if you read the article, you can see where the casting director obviously realizes he's discriminating, but decides that he has to do it anyway.

The article lead me to wonder why is it that so many white writers have such pale imaginations? Some folks will bristle at that contention, but it's just a fact. White people make up a very small part of the world's population, but when you read books about space, or fantasy worlds, they are ALWAYS the dominant group.

Hell, even when characters are given "black" features, they still behave like white folks in blackface. I guess that fits with the writers' "colorblind"view of the world, but I find it to be unrealistic. Black people and white people may share interests and education, but often our life experiences are divergent in key ways, which gives us very different perspectives. Which again leads me to wonder, what is shaping these writers' imaginary worlds?

Do many white people long for a world free of unsavory and difficult minorities? Do they really find find us to ancillary parts of their lives, and feel like life would move on easily if we weren't around? Do they have an inflated view of their own importance and not realize just how little of the world's population they make up?

I think you could answer yes to all of those questions which is illuminating and disturbing. Many white people do see most minorities as either unimportant background noise or unsavory elements to be avoided. In fact, it's often only minority women who prove to be of interest and then only for the occasional sexual dalliance. It seems that when white people dream of their ideal world, it doesn't include us at all.

We're not in their plans.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Something Old From Someone New

Nicholas Sarkozy should run for president.

Sure, France's president already has that title in his home country, but that shouldn't stop him from immigrating to America, ignoring  the rules on presidential candidates, and tossing his hat in the ring. Given Sarkozy's views on immigration and "national identity" he would probably give the crowd trying to take their country back recurring nocturnal emissions.

I find Sarkozy interesting because despite all the claims that Europe has "moved past" racism, the actions of the French, English and British prove that's a pipe dream. What should have become obvious to most folks, and was already obvious to me, is that many European nations never dealt with widespread racism within their borders, and it's been allowed to fester and spread. Now, as more and more immigrants from the countries these European powers have screwed over the years attempt to come power seat, this deep-seated racism and xenophobia.

Sarkozy is just the face of the movement.

It was only five years ago when France's slums exploded with riots fueled by the pent-up anger felt by children of many of the country's immigrants. Sarkozy capitalized on the fear those riots created and expanded the country war against what many French believe are uncouth interlopers. He created a "National Identity Ministry" and set out to prove he didn't like foreigners one bit.

It's funny looking at what the French have done and then considering our own country. Tea Party candidates recently rode the wave of anti-immigrant and anti-black sentiment still prevalent in much of the country into Congress, and they're hoping to use those same feelings to take back the White House in 2012. One of the central themes of this new shift in direction has been the discussion of what it means to be a "real" American, and a call for "real" Americans to take their country back.

That's where Sarkozy could really make a mark. A central theme to his election was the idea that France had fallen victim to too much multiculturalism and really, too much diversity. Sarkozy argued that immigrants should be forced to become indelibly French and toss off any affiliations to their old countries. Implied in this message was that any sort of connection or allegiance to another country was a betrayal of French values, and the mere possibility of the existene of this sort of conflict justified pre-emptive action by the French. That pre-emptive action has included banning Muslim headgear in public spaces, and clear discrimination in hiring and education for immigrants.

It's interesting to watch Sarkozy and the French people stammer and stumble around in their moral morass. It's actually quite satisfying since the French love to blast the racism and discrimination in America, but seem to somehow miss the beam in their own eyes.

Yet, it becomes scary when I think that it's not that unlikely that if President Obama fails to get re-elected America might get its on National Identity Agency and I'm not sure black people would be as safe from scrutinyas we assume. Those centuries of enslavement only count so much towards proving our worth. Besides, these past few months have taught me that a sizable portion of this country views any sort of questioning of American ideals and motives by non-white folks as a sign of intense disloyalty and grounds for suspicion.

True, it's only the latest iteration of the "Stay in your place" motif, but things have risen to a pitch not seen since minorities were openly denied equal opportunities. Many whites will bristle at that comparison, but it is what it is.

Sarkozy's views echo something from the not so distant past throughout the Western world, and we see it taking shape in a variety of countries. Many white folks have decided the time has come to rise up and recreate the past that many of them cherish and miss. Sarkozy is just one more cog in that frightening machine.

Something old indeed.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Obama's Nuts

Apparently President Barack Obama's testicles are a lot like former President George W. Bush's brains.

Their existence is disputed.

Well, at least James Carville disputes the existence of Obama's cojones. I'm sure some of you remember when Carville questioned Obama's testicular fortitude during the campaign as Carville stumped for Hillary Clinton, and now Carville has decided to revive those comments. If you haven't heard about it, check on this cached page. The page used to be on CNN, but when you click on the link now you're told it no longer exists. Good thing Google does.

Anyway, it's always amazing to me that folks feel like Obama's anatomy and manhood are fair game. Carville has tried to laugh off his comment as a joke, but when you say that a woman is more of a man than a man, you're insulting both the man and the woman. You can't joke that away Mr. Carville.

Folks of a certain hue insist on pretending that Obama lacks a backbone, as if getting mad and throwing a hissy fit is proof that you have a backbone. They ignore the fact that he walked into a room full of Republicans and debated them word for word with no backup or teleprompter. They ignore the fact that he's made unpopular decision after unpopular knowing that they would piss of his base. Hell, he ran for president of the United States and exposed himself and his family to previously unimagined level of scrutiny. That takes a certain type of courage.

Black folks understand that Obama has a different sort of temperament, and that he's a black man operating in a largely white environment. Those of us familiar with that particular tightrope know that the slightest slip up can plunge you into a world of peril. We may not agree with all of his choices, but most of us understand that there's only so much angry black man America can take. Hell, some folks are already pissed because he walks with a "strut"!

These trite attacks on Obama's manhood are tiring and disrespectful and they should not be given a pass, particularly when they come from a public figure.

That's what's nuts.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Power Of 12

I sat on a jury the other day.

It was one of the most interesting and nerve wracking experiences of my life.

In my line of work, I've attended several court trials. I've watched prosecutors and defense attorneys make their arguments and I've often decided in my mind whether someone was guilty or not guilty. But, it was always from the other side of the jury box. Stepping inside that box, becoming one of 12 people charged with dispensing "justice" is a totally different experience.

It's pretty damn scary.

When I went into jury service I wasn't thrilled about the drudgery of the ordeal, but I was excited about the possibility of helping dispense "justice." Notice how I keep putting that word in quotation marks? There is a reason.

In my mind, jury service would be the perfect time to use my superior intellect (insert sarcasm) to convince people of the proper decision to make to keep the world on its proper course. Using my vaunted logic and only slightly biased objectivity, I was certain I would be in the vanguard of protecting this country's legal ideals.

Until I got selected to be a juror in a rape case.

There is no crime like rape. It's no coincidence that rape convictions can carry death sentences, just like murder convictions in some states. Outside of child molestation, no other crime carries the stigma that rape carries, yet rape trials often are very difficult to prosecute. That's especially true when the rape trial is a consent rape case, instead of a forcible rape involving a stranger.

I was asked to decide a consent rape case.

I won't discuss the details of the case because I think that would be an issue. But, the case showed me that the responsibility of being a juror, at least the way it is outlined by prosecutors and defense attorneys, is awesome. I truly found it difficult to come to a firm conclusion on the "facts" of the incident. I struggled with the possibility of freeing a rapist or sending an innocent man to jail. I struggled with watching a woman shed tears relating what she clearly considered one of the worst experiences of her life, and being asked to determine if I believed her account.

I can honestly say that I never, ever, want to do it again.

I don't know if I'll be excused from jury duty the next time I'm called, but I hope I am. I hope I never have to sit in that box and try to determine who deserves freedom or punishment.

I never want that power again.



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Every Time I Think It Can't Get Worse

Yo, what up blog family? I know I don't post that much anymore, but I saw something that just got my angry lunatic juices flowing.

I'm watching CNN (I know, first mistake) when that dude Jack Cafferty says something like President Obama's tenure may be a short term love affair because he might not get re-elected. Then, to buttress this point, this cat points to a recent poll by somebody where 49 percent of the folks polled think Obama did a better job than Bush.

49 freaking percent!

Man, I don't think it's my job to be Obama's fart-catcher and cheerleader, but somebody has to say something about stuff like this poll. How the hell could any reasonable group of people consider Obama's two year tenure next to Bush's eight-year debacle and seriously come to the conclusion that Bush did a better job? WTH!

The Great Depression
The Patriot Act

That's just a half dozen of Bush's most high profile screw-ups, I'm not even getting into the stuff that happened behind the scenes that most people aren't aware of. That list only includes the stuff that we all know about and all despis,e and depsite those eff-ups people are saying that Obama has done something worse than that?

I feel like slapping TACs right now.

If this ain't the double standard to beat all double standards, then I'm not a black man with anger issues. Bush creates the problems for Obama to inherit and because Obama doesn't solve them in a quarter of the time Bush had in office, Obama is screwing up. Do white people and conservative minorities even see their hypocrisy or are they on their Stevie Wonder thing right now? Really, if these folks think making that kind of statement is a form of intelligent discourse then I weep for the current state and future state of this country.

We are royally and totally fucked.

Point blank period.


Friday, November 5, 2010

A New Color on the Hood

Same stuff, different day.

That was my reaction to the story linked above about South Carolina politician Nikki Haley. The story outlines how Haley has used her color and gender to her advantage while at the same time espousing the traditional, hateful conservative message. Basically, she's just donned a different color hood for her Klan robes.

That's honestly how I feel about minorities who try to prove they are more conservative than the most loony Tea Party member. They have the Klansman's spirit wrapped up in a new package. That package allows them to escape scrutiny and dodge questions, but it can't truly hide the poison in their hearts.

Haley, whose given name Nimrata Randhawa, is having success by painting herself as the victim of injustice at the hands of hateful whites and blacks, while also promising to inflict the Tea Party's peculiar brand of pain on as many dark-skinned people as possible. (No, she doesn't promise to target darkies, but she sure knows the codewords.) As the story I linked to notes, it's a common strategy of minorities looking to rise within conservative movements, just as adopting a colorblind strategy is useful for minorities wishing to remain popular among liberals.

In reality, these minorities, be they conservative or liberal, trade on the same stereotype just from different perspectives. Both consevatives and liberals view minorities, particularly black folks, as unrelenting complainers always seeking to take something from well meaning white folks to enhance their own station in life. A savvy minoritiy politician seeking mainstream approval learns quickly that distancing your campaign from that idea by any means necessary is the best move.

That could mean pointing out that minorities are just as capable of racism as anyone else, while at the same time denying that white folks are really even racist anymore. It could mean pushing the idea that race is a played out metric, and what we really need to focus on is poverty and our shared interests. Of course that ignores the reality that while everyone is affected by class, some of us are affected by class and race.

Either way, you don the hood. Any time you embrace racial dishonesty to advance your cause, you don the hood.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sarah and The Dummies

Just read this piece from Politico about how the Republican establishment doesn't want Sarah Palin anywhere near the presidential election in 2012.

The bigwigs fear, rightfully so, that given her appeal with the rank and file, Palin is a good bet to win the Republican nomination if she runs. Unfortunately, given her repeated idiocy and complete lack of qualifications (Yeah, I know she was governor) she's also a good bet to get waxed by President Obama in the general election. Obama may be unpopular, but he's not THAT unpopular just yet.

I showed the article to a friend and she expressed complete confusion at Palin's appeal to Tea Party folks and other staunch conservatives. Given the fact that she's consistently shown herself to be uninformed and uninterested in becoming informed, my friend can't understand why people would be comfortable with her in a position of authority. She noted that Palin's constant attacks on the elite and intelligent only convince her that she's not prepared for the job as the top politician in America.

My response was simple:

"That's because you're not a dummy, and don't like dummies. On the other hand, dummies like their fellow dummies and don't like you eggheads."

That's about it. Dummies stick together like semen-covered balls and thighs.

This reality only confuses folks who lie to themselves about their own motivations and the motivations of human beings in general. We all know about birds of a feather, but we like to pretend that somehow that old cliche doesn't apply most of the time. Newsflash, it's a cliche because it's true almost all the time. That's how you pass the entrance exam for cliche school.

People are comfortable around people like them. It's not always evil, and it's perfectly understandable. The problem is when people decide that only people like them are "good" or "right." That was the impetus behind segregation and discrimination, well along with the need to increase the power of a certain group by cruelly subjugating another group. It's not surprising that the idiot brigade has rallied around their all-powerful leader, it would be shocking if they recognized her idiocy because then they would have to admit their own.

And Lord knows people in America aren't too keen on admitting their flaws.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Guess We've Got Enough Nigglets

I used to watch Jon and Kate Plus 8.

Before their family exploded due to the combustible nature of fame and responsibility, I liked to watch two regular people try to cope with a very irregular family. I didn't begrudge them the free trips and substantial salaries they received due to their show. I knew that if I was in the same position I would want the same assistance.

Unfortunately, that assistance isn't provided to every family of multiples.

That's a picture of the McGhee sextuplets, a group of six brothers and sisters born to an Ohio family. For those of you unfamiliar with the cost of car seats, what you're looking at in that picture is about $300 to $500 worth of equipment. Yeah, having babies is hard on your pockets.

I understand that nobody forced this couple to take fertility drugs, or refuse to "reduce" the number of babies they had in utero. (That has to be the worst euphemism I've every heard for abortion. Easily.) It makes sense that if two adults decide they want to get pregnant with multiple babies, they need to make some arrangements to take care of those children on their own. I understand, and support that logic.

That said, I know that there seems to be different attitudes about different multiples. Some families are greeted with appreciation and television deals, while others, like the Octomom and McGhees, are greeted with scorn or indifference. It's the same "miracle" but it seems like folks don't feel as enthralled with every bevy of babies.

Truthfully, I guess that's people's choice. There is no law saying that you have to gawk and support every family that exponentially increases. Yet, it still leaves me with a strange feeling. I have no proof, or statistics to back up my feelings, but I still feel like something is wrong.

I wonder if the indifference to the McGhee's plight is because their family doesn't meet the "cute" criteria or because people just don't feel like this extra large family of black folks is worthy of help? Do companies feel like it's not a worthwhile investment to give these kids free swag, or do schools think it doesn't help their profile to offer them free college tuition?

Those are all freebies that countless other multiples have received, but they've been absent for the McGhees. Is the recession to blame, or is it just a convenient excuse to hide behind? Maybe people no longer consider multiples special, although I do know that another white family just got a new deal with TLC to replace Jon and Kate. Are the McGhee's a victim of circumstance, or just another entry on the crowded log of discrimination in America?

I don't know for sure, but I know which way I'm leaning.

Raving Black Lunatic