Thursday, July 28, 2011

Who Needs Novels?

Real life is always stranger than fiction.
Here's proof:

"I need your help. I can't tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it later, and we're gonna hurt some people.
 ...Whose car we takin'?"

That was Ben Aflleck's character, Dougie MacRay, trying to get his boy to accompany him on a beat down in the movie, "The Town".

It's also the line from the movie that republicans met and chose to watch in order to rally around each other for this debt ceiling debate. Nice. It's apropos, seeing that it is a movie about a bank robbery, and these clowns are holding up A-merry-ca.
Anyway, like a good Negro, my man Allen West volunteered to drive the car. (Because that's what good Negroes do.) 

"After showing the clip, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), one of the most outspoken critics of leadership among the 87 freshmen, stood up to speak, according to GOP aides.“I’m ready to drive the car,” West replied, surprising many Republicans by giving his full -throated support for the plan."
That's from the Field Negro's blog.

Just think, if a screenwriter tried to sell a script featuring a scene where the political party of family values watched a movie about gun toting bank robbers as they plotted a plan to hold America hostage he would be met with scorn. If his script also called for those same folks to regularly decry any attempts to label them as stubborn, pig-headed for at fault, he would be met with ridicule. It would be deemed an unbelievable farce.

Yet, that's the world we live in today. That is our reality.



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

We Should Know Better

Sometimes, well actually a lot of the time, black people disappoint me.

I know this is dangerous ground. I try to avoid criticizing black folks because Lord knows there are more than enough folks willing to do that every day. Too often blacks folks spread the worst lies about each other, and believe the worst stereotypes. But sometimes, we have to take a good hard look at our habits if we ever want to break them.

Like our habit of thinking black folks who receive government subsidies are "getting over."

Maybe you've run across this mindset, hell, maybe you're guilty of it. Who hasn't been behind a "food stamp" grocery cart filled with food and thought "Well that must great." Some of us hear about Section 8 vouchers and monthly welfare checks and wonder why certain folks get for free what we have to work so hard to obtain. Since black folks are overrepresented in both programs, most of us know somebody who is receiving or has received government aid and it's not uncommon for us to study all of their failings and deduce that they are gaming  the system.

So when your resident bigoted politician attempts to pass a law requiring drug tests for welfare recipients, or calling for them to be mandated to take birth control, it's not unusual to see a very disjointed response in our community. You will see black "leaders" decry the measure as closeted racism, while you will see regular black folks cheering that "they" won't be getting over any more.

Sadly, although we should be able to spot the tricks of racists by now, we can't and we don't. By appealing to our sense of envy and "bootstrap" ideology, racists are able to convince lots of black folks to vocally or silently support actions that are malignant and bigoted. There is a reason these types of laws only get pushed forward by politicians who think the confederate flag is no big deal and the White Citizens Council was a great community organization.

Black people should know better, but we don't mainly because most of us don't like each other. We particularly don't like those of us who are poor and exhibit behaviors that we've been taught represent the worst habits in society. If there is anything black folks hate more than "ghetto" black people, I've yet to find it.

Personally, I think it's an inferiority complex that many of us don't even know exists. We're consumed with not being lumped in with the "Bad Negroes". Many of us think that if we can just get identified as Good Negroes we will be safe from the dangers of the world, and we're silently angry at the Bad Negroes for ruining things for everyone.

But the truth is, nothing is going to save us. There is no protection. You can be labeled a Bad Negro at any moment simply because you're a Negro. You can be subjected to humiliation and pain for the same reason. Those people who receive welfare and the like don't have it easy. There is nothing easy about being poor and getting government help. It's much, MUCH easier to be rich and get government help. Just ask all those investment bank managers.

We should know better than to allow racists to trot out the same basic divide and conquer strategies that they've been using for centuries. At some point we have to stop being our own worst enemies.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Let Me See Your Skin

Remember a while back when that lil' white chick from UCLA hopped on You Tube and decided to post a racist rant about how much she hates Asian people who talk too loudly in the library? In case you forgot, click here.

Anyway, the video caused some serious outrage, to the point where the girl had to leave school to avoid being a pariah every day of her life. Seemed fair to me. But, now, in an American tradition, certain folks have decided to capitalize on the woman's notoriety to make money. Some students from UCLA have partnered with a restaurant to take advantage of a portion of the rant that uses gibberish to represent an Asian speaking in a foreign tongue. Yes, I'm serious.

What I found curious in reading that story was that I couldn't tell the race of the folks running the business, and that made it impossible for me to decide how to react. I typically like to consider context when deciding whether to get pissed, and it's impossible for me to judge context in this case without clear information on the race of the folks in charge.

Some folks would call that racism. I prefer to call it common sense. Yes, I have different reactions to people based on their race. Yes, I consider certain things acceptable when done by people of a certain race, and unacceptable when done by folks of another race. At its simplest level, this may feel like discrimination. However, I think life is anything but simple.

Basically, minorities understand what it's like to be a minority. The weird feeling of unease that comes with being the only person who looks like you in a room. The inescapable certainty that every action you make will reflect back on everybody who looks like you. The sense of being other, and the sense that the only way to change this even marginally is to sacrifice anything that has not been approved by the dominant group.

Since minorities understand this, and they understand the dynamics within their groups better than most outsiders, I tend to let folks in their own groups give me some clues about whether stuff is disrespectful. And if I saw a whole bunch of Asian folks co-signing the name of this restaurant, I'd consider it on par with places like "Big Momma's House of Chicken and Waffles" and mind my own business. Unfortunately, without information on the race of the business owners, I'm left with vague speculation, and the sense that I should err on the side of caution.

Therefore, I'm left with the idea that somebody has crossed some boundaries, is trying to disguise racism as humor, and probably needs to have a Come to Jesus moment. Standard fare for America, I guess.

But, I think it is funny that such an unimportant issue like race can have such importance in a situation. Funny indeed.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I Don't See Anyting Soft

"The soft bigotry of low expectations..."

 The first  time I heard that quote, I scoffed at the idea. I'm not scoffing anymore.

See, when I first heard about "soft bigotry" I thought it just meant your do-gooder liberals who think that black people deserve pity and handouts instead of assistance and acceptance. And while it means that, it means much more. It also means that while you preach about equality and a meritocracy, you quietly eliminate opportunities for certain folks to ever advance beyond their current station, and you claim you're doing it for their own good.

Apparently, some of that is happening in the Pacific Northwest.

It boggles my mind that only seven schools have African American children enrolled in calculus and none of those schools have more than five kids in the class. Seven schools out of 52 schools in the district? That's utterly ridiculous.

This is one of the reasons I support HBCUs and majority-black schools with a history of academic excellence. I attended an almost all-black high school where not only did we have multiple Calculus classes, we had multiple Physics classes and several Advanced Placement offerings in other courses. Black kids weren't expected to fail, we were expected to succeed and succeed spectacularly!

We never had to worry that we were innately inferior, we only had to worry about failing to meet our immense potential. But, when you stick black kids in majority white environments those expectations often change. Sure, there are always a few "good darkies" selected as high achievers, but the rest are left to allow their gifts to atrophy until they are ill-prepared for even the most menial jobs upon graduation. And that simple strategy allows the current power dynamic to continue largely unimpeded, and makes black folks more susceptible to losing ground in economic recessions.

There is nothing soft about soft bigotry. It's a rock solid means to maintain the status quo. Rock solid.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Everybody Loves Europe

The other night I was watching "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Yes, I watch "Everybody Loves Raymond." I actually enjoy the show quite a bit, along with other stalwarts of white comedy like "Frasier", "That 70s Show", "Seinfeld" and "Friends." I may be a Raving Black Lunatic, but my sense of humor is of mixed ancestry.

Anyway, I'm watching the show and it's the episode where the family travels to Italy. In that episode, Raymond initially pouts about the entire trip, before finally being won over by Italy's Old World charm. At one point he exclaims that it's so great that everything in Italy is so old in comparison to America where everything feels like it was built yesterday.

That made me pause.

It's not that it's untrue. Many countries in Europe, at least those that weren't decimated by wars, have some pretty ancient structures. What made me pause was the idea that America is a "new" nation.

In some respects, there is obvious truth in that sentiment. America was only established as a country well after most European nations had taken turns being worldwide empires, and long after China, the Middle East and certain countries in Africa had staked a claim to the center of the world.

But, there is a long history in this country. True, this land's original inhabitants didn't build sprawling cities or conquer the known world, but they left behind monuments and artifacts that show they were here. They clearly had developed societies that took a much different approach to life than their counterparts to the North and South. Knowing this, it felt like what Raymond was saying was that "American history that matters is so young."

That makes me sad. I'm saddened that so many people discount those societies that didn't create their greatness on the backs of slaves and other forced labor. I'm sad that so many are willing to ignore the conditions that allowed "civilization" to proper in favor of glorifying what was built. And, ultimately, I'm sad that so many people have decided that the accomplishments of the largely brown people who inhabited this land before white folks even knew it existed don't matter at all.

I don't love that at all.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

These People

I didn't think it was possible, but it is getting worse.

I wrote the above-linked blog back when I first started doing this site, and sadly, I think it's even more true today. Blame it on the internet, on free time, on Fox News or on genetic drift, but it cannot be denied that despite the surfeit of information available at their fingertips, people seem to be hellbent on being aggressively misinformed and stupid.


See, "aggressively" is the key word there. It's acceptable to be misinformed. We all are about some things. It's ok to be stupid. We have all been stupid at one point or another. It's entirely different to embrace these two states of being, and actively work to convert the rest of the world. Once you've started doing that, you've crossed the line into Moron Land. (Sidenote: Did you know that back in the 19th Century when intelligence tests first became popular, they actually characterized people as "imbeciles", "morons" and "idiots" as scientific classifications. Not sure what that says about science and people.)

Way too many people are crossing the line these days. They repeat easily verifiable lies, they refuse to admit that what they've repeated are lies, and they actively protest that their preferred lies should be given preference over the obvious truth. It's like some sort of Bizarro World where it doesn't matter what the facts are, it only matters who has the power to impose their views on the most people.

Then again, that's not really a Bizarro World, that's just the world. It's always been like this in a way. The more I read, the more I see that logic and reason have always been in short supply, regardless of what the people in a certain time believed. I see that what was once hailed as cutting edge science was really a mixture of prejudice and contradictions dressed up in pretty charts. And it actually makes me wonder how much we've progressed today.

In 50 years will all the sacred truths of my generation be lambasted as obvious idiocy? Will our crude attempts at "science" be seen as the babbling and dabblings of the daft? I don't know. But I do know that listening to the idiocy of today is slowing raising my blood pressure to the danger zone. Everyday it is a constant struggle not to be overwhelmed by the type of rage that leads to extended tirades and possible violence.

These people are working my nerves.


Raving Black Lunatic