New Year’s Resolution for 2016: Have White People Slap Each Other

2016 has arrived and with it the promise of new opportunities to change and improve ourselves individually and collectively. Something that we could all work on is combating racism in all its nefarious forms. There are way too many examples of how racism functions currently and how it changes depending on who is on the receiving end of the racism (for example, I don’t have any concerns about being sexually assaulted by an overzealous, power mad and racially biased cop like Daniel Holtzclaw – but Black women do have that concern), but since this is our annual rebirth of the new year, why not imagine what life could be like if white people in America acted like a Romanian man did when a friend of mine visited Romania for the first time. She’s a Black woman in pharmacy school, but she was extremely surprised when there was heightened attention seemingly across the country because a Black person was there. They hadn’t seen many if any Blacks, and she was even interviewed on the news (presumably to help the city she was in see what a real life Black person looks and sounds like). While enjoying this newfound position as Black ambassador to Romania and having a couple of drinks with some locals, a semi-drunk guy ambled over to her and made a joke in poor taste (at best), saying that my friend is a descendant of Kunta Kinte and laughing drunkenly.

At this moment, she’s only got a handful of options – laugh it off awkwardly to avoid an international incident; tell the drunk man how he’s being offensive with his poor joke (especially if he wasn’t trying to be offensive); or set it off in the tavern and hope to slide out safely amidst the chaos. Turns out there was another option that she couldn’t choose but was chosen for her: a friend of the drunk man SLAPPED the drunk man and told him it was rude to say that to my friend. Flat out slapped him like Charlie Murphy and Rick James. The drunk man got slapped and corrected and then APOLOGIZED to my friend for his error. Had she slapped him, it could’ve set off a dangerous course of events for all involved. Because it was one of his own that challenged him to do better, his response was temperate and appropriate, though it’s still doubtful that he learned not to say that joke in general, just not in front of Black people.

Imagine a world where white people slap the shit out of each other when they see or hear one of their own making anti-Black racist statements or espousing false, damaging, racist beliefs about Black people and Black culture. Wouldn’t that be a grand place where socially damaging behaviors are corrected within the society as opposed to legal means? We can see it now….

At the family picnic:

Bob: Those fucking nigg…

(SLAP)

Joe: Bob! Do better!

Bob (holding his face): You’re right, Joe. Sorry about that.

At the dinner table:

Sue: Daddy, a Black person was our substitute teacher.

Bob: Those fucking nigg…

(SLAP)

Jill: Damnit Bob, can’t we go through one dinner without this?!

Bob (holding his face): Sorry, Jill. Didn’t mean it?

Sue: Daddy, you have work to do.

At the office:

Dale: Bob, have you seen Johnson? I thought he went on break over an hour ago but I can’t find him and have a project I need his help with.

Bob: You don’t need the help of a fucking nigg…

(SLAP)

Johnson: Who the fuck you calling a nigger?

Dale: Wasn’t me, but I slapped him for his rudeness.

Bob (holding his face): Alright, I said it. I SAID IT! You happy now?

Johnson: I’d be happier if you didn’t need to keep getting slapped, the rest of the office has been slapfree for months now.

Dale: Gonna have to report you – you know the rules, if I had to slap you the boss finds out.

Bob: Dale, you don’t have to…seriously. You know the boss will fire me! I’ve learned my lesson! After 6 slaps over the past 2 months, I can’t take another hit to my record!

Johnson: You mean you can’t take another hit to your face. You know if the boss keeps you, you get vengeance slaps right?

Bob (still holding his face):……….

Dale: I’m going to ask the boss not to fire you but let him know I slapped you for your racism.

Bob: Dale, just have him fire me. The vengeance slaps that Justin got give me nightmares.

Johnson: Nah, nah patna! You’re not getting away that easily. Tell the boss that Johnson, the guy Bob got slapped over, has no problems with him staying on provided he’s qualified for vengeance slaps.

2 weeks later at the office:

Johnson: Bob, how’s it going?

Bob:………

Johnson: No response? You don’t feel like talking much today?

Bob:………………..

Johnson: Those vengeance slaps were a motherfucker, weren’t they?

Bob:……………………………..

Johnson: Ah, the sweet sound of silent racism.

(Bob gets up and walks out the room).

I know this isn’t the reality of 2016, 2017, 2040, or 2100 (but wouldn’t this be an incredible Black Mirror episode?). But the idea of self-correction is what many people of color are calling for when they tell people to go do their research. Go self-correct rather than living obtusely thinking that because it’s not illegal to be racist you haven’t done something wrong or that Black people are whining when they claim racism manifests in a host of different ways. If Black people had to slap white people every time they overstepped the racist line (and white folks have been habitual linesteppers) our collective arms would have fallen off by now. To be sure, Blacks and many white people have been offering verbal slaps (and some physical ones) for a long time now in the face of this problem, but Black folks’ arms are tired (and like Killer Mike recently said, white folks seem to be rather hard-headed regarding these issues) so now it’s time to make the call for all white allies and supporters of ending anti-Black racism to do something brave that’ll help everyone out:

Slap your buddies, family members and colleagues when they cross that line. If you don’t know what it takes to cross that line, stop and make sure you’re not the habitual linestepper referenced earlier. If you do, then get that equality pimp hand strong and put it to good use. The world can’t wait on you not to slap someone.

Happy New Year, folks.

My Fear of Being A N*****

I’ve been recently doing work on the post-racial concept and my healthy skepticism about race in America kicked in (like it always does).  I can’t seem to shake a fear.  It festers in my soul, noticeably so as to gently remind me of its existence and simultaneously not irritating me.  I fear that no matter what I do, no matter what good I may ultimately bring this world…I’ll be viewed as a nigger and nothing more.

It makes me uncomfortable to have this feeling, and I often wonder if it’s an irrational fear.  I suppose that’s redundant, given that fears are generally irrational, but of the normal fears one could have, this one might well seem a bit crazy.  I mean people can get fears of heights because the view is overwhelming and so is the fall.  Folks are scared of water because it can kill them even if you know what you’re doing.  I’m scared of a certain animal because it can sneak up out of nowhere and some can kill you.  Those fears are generally rational, and based upon a belief that doom will befall them if they encounter whatever it is they fear.  But a fear that I’ll be viewed as a nigger?  That doesn’t involve causing physical harm to me, right?  It seems out of left field.  Just who is it that’s going to view me as a nigger?

Perhaps that’s the irrational aspect of this fear.  I don’t have a specific person in mind.  I think that one day, when I go to a philosophy conference and present, there will be some folks in the audience who think to themselves, “There goes that nigger.”  Maybe it’s an unfair belief to have, hence why it’s an irrational fear.  But I cannot shake this fear for the life of me.  I fear that even those white people I know view me as a nigger.  It’s crazy reading this as I write it, but this is a thought that I have.  I’ve got no way to verify if they do or don’t, and I have to tell myself that I have no reason to have this fear.  But the fear remains, popping up from time to time.  I don’t understand what precipitated this fear.  If I were to be Freudian about this, I should look at my childhood.  And an event that sticks out to me is the first time I heard a nigger joke.  Perhaps this was my experience that created this fear.

When I was in sixth grade, I was a popular boy in school.  I was the President of the School Store, was a mentor to some younger students, and all of the teachers loved me.  My peers were fond of me as well, and I had many friends, some of whom I keep in touch with still.  But I had one friend in particular who had been my buddy for a lot of my time in grade school.  I won’t use his real name, so let’s name him Billy.  Billy was a white guy and he was a little weird, but he was my friend.  We hung out a lot in the school, and we’d hang out on the weekends sometimes.  He was a very good friend.

I don’t remember the date exactly, but I do remember there was a soccer game going on.  I was hanging out with some friends of mine, chatting about whatever it is sixth graders chat about.  Someone, I don’t remember who, ran over to me and got my attention.  The person said, “Billy is telling racist jokes!”  I was hurt.  My good friend Billy?  I knew that racists exist, and that there were some white people not to be trusted, but Billy couldn’t have been one of them.  I didn’t believe the person, and said, “Alright, if he’s telling these jokes, I’ll go catch him in the act.”  I didn’t believe the person, but that’s a pretty serious allegation.  I needed to check to see if Billy’s name was being slandered, because that’d be a problem.  We walked over near where he and some other white guys were standing.  I took a wider angle and hid next to the bleachers, just within earshot but clearly out of sight.  I heard the group giggle, and then I heard Billy speak.

“Hahaha, you want to know the difference between a bucket of shit and a nigger?  The bucket.  Hahahahahaha!”

I was crushed.  His laughter infuriated me.  I jumped out from my hiding spot and surprised him and everyone else.  Billy looked embarrassed; he knew he’d been caught and that I had every right to be as pissed at him as I was.  He stammered a little bit, as I took strides towards him quickly.  I don’t remember what he said, and quite frankly I didn’t care what he was saying.  My friend betrayed me in such a terrible way.  I don’t remember what I was saying to him as I walked up to him.  It probably involved a few profanities and anger and disbelief.  I  marched right up to him and got right in his face.  He looked scared.  Somewhat defiant, but still scared.  He didn’t know what I was going to do, but I have a feeling he knew he deserved it.

I decked him.  Gave him a right hand right to his jaw and it knocked him down.  I walked away after that.  The matter was settled then.  No matter what harm my hand gave him, he wasn’t going to tell.  They’d ask me what happened, and I’d tell the joke I heard him say.  And those teachers loved me – they knew I wouldn’t make that up.  The kids knew this also.  I never spoke to Billy again after that.

Perhaps this event is what precipitated my fear.  That even a person who appeared to have a genuine interest in me as a person will still think of me as a nigger.  It makes the fight against being called a nigger seem so futile.  All of the work to say, “Hey!  You have no right to call me a nigger not only because it’s rude but it’s also an inaccurate description of me,” it seems so worthless.  Because there will still be so many people who still look at me like I’m a nigger.  I’m a PhD nigger.  I’m a well-spoken nigger.  I’m a creative nigger.  The list goes on and on.

I can always tell myself that this is an irrational fear.  Remind myself that those people who do view me as a nigger no matter what (this is all based, I suppose, on the assumption that one can change the minds of those who do view all Black people as niggers) don’t mind to begin with.

But I can’t shake this fear.

Dr. Laura’s Views Revisited (The Intelligent Side)

The other day, I posted an ignant rant of sorts regarding the good Dr. Laura and her (former) radio show.  Having given it a few days to set in, to the intelligent side of the court we go, and there are two specific issues I would like to highlight in her statements beyond the use of the word, “nigger.”  She’s made some sweeping generalizations about Black people and the use of the word “nigger,” and also about the current state of racism in the United States now that there’s a Black man as the President.  Both of these views are problematic for the intellectual side of me (clearly, not so much for the ignant side).  As to the first (and possibly more pressing) issue, there’s a slippery slope that continually gets presented with her depiction of the “common” use of the word “nigger.”

At first, “nigger” is all over HBO and used by Black comedians, according to her.  Then she says that Black guys say it all the time.  This is concerning because both of these generalizations end up going from a smaller, more restricted group to a larger, more expansive group.  So from HBO and Black comedians (and to be sure, both of those are reaches in their own right) to now all Black guys saying it is a pretty large leap – in the grand scheme of Black people, the percentage of Black comedians relative to the Black population is minuscule.  But what worries me is just how quickly and how unverifiable these claims are.  To go back to Aristotelian logic, we’ve got claims like “All B’s are N’s,” “Some B’s are N’s,” and “No B’s are N’s.”  Substitute “are” with “say” and I think the logic still holds (“All Blacks say nigger, some Blacks say nigger, no Blacks say nigger”).

As a quick aside, I think it’s interesting to note that Dr. Laura, in her own words, “articulated the ‘n’ word all the way out.”  This may or may not be something to work on later on, but “nigger” is a pretty particular word in the history of the English language – and I don’t really hear full articulations unless it is meant to be an insult (albeit for comedic purposes at times).  This would probably be a precursor to the nigger/nigga distinction, but that’s for another time.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand – Dr. Laura’s slippery slope.  To go from a smaller group who use “nigger” to a larger group that apparently all use “nigger” without any sort of qualifiers like “some,” “a section of,” (I would even take a “there are many”) takes us down the slippery slope of saying that all Blacks say “nigger.”  Not to set up a strawman, but this type of slope could implicate an entire group of people or indict a culture due to the negative history of the word (that, ironically enough, these people didn’t create).  I’m not a fan, Dr. Laura.  These types of broad, sweeping generalizations have got to be avoided, even in an open discussion of the use of the word, “nigger.”  Quite frankly, these types of generalizations, while possibly unavoidable out of some sort of Humean habit, are dangerous when unchecked because they lead to multiple stereotypes about groups of people, and nobody likes being stereotyped.

Another question that comes up for me is: Why do some white people WANT to say “nigger” so badly?

A quick story: I was talking to a white guy I met in a bar one night about being a young man in Memphis and how he views the city.  Somehow, we got to talking about race relations and segregation and things of that sort.  At some point, the “n” word came up and he asked on a few occasions if he could use it in front of me.  I said that it’s his choice to say the “n” word and that it’s my choice to kick his ass if he did.  He laughed…but he damn sure didn’t say it.

Another quick story: I was talking to this white woman at a bar in St. Louis.  I’d told her I was a philosopher (great pickup line when used appropriately) and she was excited because she didn’t have deep conversation ever and was craving it (see, great pickup line).  We were talking and she was saying how she was tired of all of the racial angst and that she just wanted this stuff to be done with.  She was really exasperated and said, “And I’m sick of all of these white guys saying “nigger.”  She was making a general example of how the word was being used, so I didn’t mind it.  It wasn’t “nigger” to be able to say it and say it in my face to try to rub it in my face that you can call me nigger; it wasn’t malicious, it was historical.  I can live with that, like reading it in a book.  Though in hindsight, she didn’t need to say nigger – the “n word” would have sufficed.

All of that is to say, I still don’t get why white people want to say “nigger” so badly.  I have my theories though, and that’s perhaps to come in a later blog post….?

The second problem I have with her from my intellectual side is her idea that even with a Black president that there are Blacks trying to demonize white people still.  Here are a couple of quotes:

CALLER: — since Obama’s been in office —

SCHLESSINGER: — the point I’m trying to make —

CALLER: — racism has come to another level that’s unacceptable.

SCHLESSINGER: Yeah. We’ve got a black man as president, and we have more complaining about racism than ever. I mean, I think that’s hilarious.

And on “demonizing”…

SCHLESSINGER: I really thought that once we had a black president, the attempt to demonize whites hating blacks would stop, but it seems to have grown, and I don’t get it.

Both of these statements make me laugh.  I think she may have fallen into False Claim #1 with the Obamamania – him being the President doesn’t end racism.  Like there’s a Black president and then racism *poofs* and disappears.  That’s ridiculous.  A Black president doesn’t mean all Black people have equal clout as whites and are respected as their equals – there are people who really think Obama was not born on American soil, for God’s sake.  I agree with what the caller said, that there are some white people who are very nervous about a Black person in power and that these nerves are showing right now (think about the recent serial killer in Michigan).  Vitriol towards Blacks has been steadily rising with the rise of Obama, in my estimation, though it hasn’t been directed towards all Blacks.  It’s been directed towards Obama, and as a Black president, I believe that Black people take up for him (as well we should, in some regards.  In our minds, he needs support because he’s the first Black person to pull this off – he needs some backup).  Nevertheless, since Obama’s election, I’ve been worried about this particular claim gaining weight – that we are now beyond race and therefore;

1) We shouldn’t have such sensitivities to the past – it’s the past, duh!  The racism of the 20th Century is over in the 21st Century!

2) Because the racism is gone, we should all stop making white people feel bad about the past because we are all a part of a brand new future!

Of course this is kind of hyperbolic, but I think it’s a reasonable (albeit, thin) explanation of two implications of the post-racial era.  Being “beyond race” in and of itself isn’t very problematic for me, but the implications of the post-racial era do scare me sometimes – and this is one of those times.  I’ve touched on this subject briefly on a number of occasions, and won’t continue to do so now.

I won’t belabor the points any further – Dr. Laura’s infamous rant has produced a couple of problematic views that she (and I imagine many others) hold regarding Black people in the U.S. in the current cultural climate.  Thoughts?

The Chronicles of The Black Pack – Pt. 6

A couple of things – this was written when I wrote the Chronicles last year, but for some reason I never posted the finish.  Also, this story should be nominated for the 2010 Black Weblog Awards for Best Blog Post Series.  Send them this particular post because I’m linking the other 5 parts right here.  Enjoy the finish (and what hopefully will be turned into a novel for the future!) of the Chronicles of The Black Pack.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

——————————–

When you deal with the fellas, there are plenty of events that can happen, which includes having sex with someone’s unknown girlfriend.  You could get piss drunk and puke all over someone’s house.  You could even ruin someone’s wedding by being the biggest asshole on the planet because you don’t like who they’re marrying.  But for every one of those types of events, you get the events where you get in a fight and you have backup.  When you can borrow 15 bucks because you don’t get paid for 3 weeks and need gas money.  When two guys pay for a broken coffee table because they fought over the biggest chance happening since when my cousin won the lotto, all this and more can and probably does happen.  The fact is, we all have each other’s backs, like an extra part to our spinal cords.  I didn’t have to worry about James and Andre getting cool again – James got over it because they weren’t exclusive at that point and knew Andre didn’t mean it, and Andre understood how James felt and admitted he probably would’ve taken a swing if he’d been in the same position.  Petty squabbles happen – they happen to any group of people if you stick them around long enough.  My kids at school fight over who should be using the glue, for God’s sake.  I’ve heard of people in jail fighting over the titty magazines.  Conflict happens.

Rob loves to tell the story of how he and I got into it back in college because I took his girl.  It was an accident, but it turned out to make us better friends because he came after me, not unlike how James did Andre, and we fought until we both were just too tired.  He looked over at me, panting, and said, “This is exactly how you look 10 minutes into fuckin’ with Nadia, isn’t it?”  And all I could do was laugh.  There was nothing else left to do but laugh, because we just kicked each other’s ass for no good reason.

A lot of stuff happens for no good reason.  But meeting the fellas, nah that happened for a good reason.  But before Rob starts yelling about me needing to turn on Waiting to Exhale and get a good cry while eating some chocolate, I’ll say this: Every single time I’ve needed to talk some shit, get something off of my chest, or just relax and shoot the breeze about anything – I’ve known exactly where I could go.

“Man, you went berserk when you hit me.  I thought you’d gone alien or somethin’, like Lilo and Stitch.”  Andre leaned back in the chair, laughing about what’d recently happened.  “You’re lucky I didn’t Barry Bonds you and break your legs with a baseball bat, ha!”  James got a good laugh in about it too, and Rob and I chuckled about it all.  We were in Andre’s place (I told them they can’t come over to my place if they’re drinking; my furniture is worth too much to me), and Rob said, “Ok, I should tell y’all something.  I’ve been talking to this girl for a few weeks, and – oh, her name is Brittany and she works for a PR firm and doesn’t hit the gym, just so we’re all clear – and…damn I can’t believe this, but…”  James finally had his chance to beat Rob to the punch.  “Go on and grab Gone With The Wind and pop some popcorn and cry your eyes out because I know what you’re about to say – you can’t find a damn thing wrong with her, can you?”  All four of us started laughing our asses off.  Rob, still laughing, exclaimed, “I hate when you’re right, James.  There’s nothing wrong with her at all.  This is brand new territory for yours truly, and I’m ready to see what’s on the landscape, you know?”  I put my beer up in the air and sighed.  “Well, another one bites the dust.  Welcome to the club.”  As we toasted, Rob’s phone buzzed and he looked down puzzled.  “Brittany just texted me, ‘we need to talk.  R u busy?’  Damn, already?  It better not be no sneak attack, ‘it’s yours’ type of shit.”  We all tried to give him a little bit of advice, but hey – if things turned sour we’d be getting the call tonight.

It turned out she wanted help getting her mom a birthday present.  Rob almost messed it up, being defensive and aggressive with her when they met up.  But that’s another story, I’d rather let Rob tell it…

End of The Chronicles of the Black Pack

A Rant on White People (but no, you shouldn’t be offended)

If ever there was a post that might get me into hot water, it’s this one.  I’ve done a Twitter rant that I posted on here before regarding the influx of music talking about getting women pregnant, but this one came the other day when Raekwon’s “House of Flying Daggers” came on my shuffle.  Maybe I was already in a slightly militaristic mindset coming into it, but for some reason that song put me in a mode.  And I used Twitter as the release.  I’m already expecting that I won’t get a job thanks to this blog, my Facebook (which doesn’t have anything all that bad on there but I anticipate anyway), and more than likely my Twitter.  The joys of the amalgamation of social networking sites and a desire to put things to paper.  Anyhow, I’ll let my tweets do most of the talking but I’ll also wrap it up afterwards with some thoughts about my stance.  And no, this isn’t meant to offend.  It’s just a stance I’ve had for a long time that doesn’t implicate any individual person.  And (I’ll go into more detail later), I recognize that the stance is prime for a slippery slope.  But let’s see what can be made of it.  Enjoy the Twitter rant.

————

Theres some music that pops up on my shuffle that lends itself to bein blasted as I go on a crusade against white people. #yeahisaidit.

I’d be lying if I said I havent been an angry young black man for nearly 8 years probably. I’ve channeled it to other things but fact…

is that my stance on white people has been – I dont like em. I dont like the group. I dont like the power thats come, the commodification…

of Blacks thats come by way of them. With that said, I dont hold it against white persons. I like many white persons. Dont like the group…

but I like some members of the group. Like not liking Republicans but liking some Republicans. Or Democrats. But thats my stance…

Admittedly its been shifted after 4 years of all Black. But I had this stance in HS surrounded by white people. Many wield their whiteness..

Like a child with a loaded gun. I choose to carry my Blackness like theres someone trespassing-I might shoot first but I’ll be safe.

I know I got white followers. They might opt to unfollow cuz my stance appears militaristic. We aint post-racial. We aint brownin the US…

and I maintain that white people (the group) just aint been that great for Black folk. But many white persons have been. Anger expressed.

————–

So that was the first half.  This has more or less been my stance regarding white people I meet.  I’m not going think you’re racist, I’m not going to think ill of you, I’m not going to mistreat you – you’re a person, same as I.  But I’m not forgetting the historical context in which we live.  I’m not going to forget the historical context in which the race relations in this country (and elsewhere) have setup serious class disparities that oddly enough, run the color lines pretty well (gee, irony?).  I’m not going to forget that to this very damn day, there are white people out here who want to “save the Black people.”  And the closest analogy I could come up with is not liking Republican party ideology but liking some Republicans, for whatever reason it may be.  I recognize it’s a potential slippery slope, where you have “white people who are cool/not like those other white people” and “those other white people.”  Look, I’m not going to make a value judgment on you.  Those white folks who want to “save the Black people,” (a great thread here is that “if I can teach them to think like me, they’ll be fine!  Little do they realize it’s that same Eurocentric imperialist mentality that help create the system we’re in now!) generally do have good intentions, seeing (at least on the surface) that there’s a problem here.  And that’s the best method they might know to try to rectify the problem.  So no, I’m not saying that all white people are bad, or that all white people are the devil – just that the group itself has profited, and continues to profit from Black and Brown peoples across the globe, exploit Blacks in the US, and are the beneficiaries of the commodification, dehumanization, and institutionalization of the inferiority of non-whites.  And I don’t think I should have to abandon that.

Some might say, “We’re in a post racial society!”  Hell no we aren’t in any damn post-racial society.  What does post-racial mean?  Absolve the oppressors for the centuries of oppression?  Forget about the creation of race now that it’s possibly advantageous to remove it now?  I’m sorry, that won’t work.  And for those who believe in “The Browning of America,” I firmly believe you’ve cast your ballot in the wrong box.  Discrimination finds a way.  If they could find a color chart to determine what percentage Black you were (octaroon, anybody?), then I’m pretty certain that shades of brown won’t be hard to get over.  India had a caste system too, remember.  But my biggest fear here is that the whole “beyond race” concept will get over.  That people will buy into it, which might end up meaning that everybody’s white.  Let’s be honest – I don’t know of many white people who would want to be black.  If there was a choice, I bet you hear a lot of, “I’ll be Oprah/Obama/LeBron/Michael Jordan/Denzel.”  But the average Black person?  Nah, I don’t see many white people salivating for that option.  And I can’t say I’d blame them.  So if we go post-racial, does this mean that everybody ends up being white?  Sorry, but “white” has dominated the cultural landscape already and it’s nearly institutionalized, this would effectively institute the “white paradigm” as another feature of progress – except this time, it’s racial progress.  Doesn’t add up to me.

So here’s part 2 of the Twitter rant, which features a cameo from @AdamMSays:

————–

Damn I think my little rant might have scared the white people. I better start coonin to get em back! *Sambos off*

I guess it was bound to happen though. I said I’m an angry black man. I stand by it. I got mad at society long ago, got mad at capitalism…

And am thoroughly dissatisfied with this world. Shits disgusting everywhere. And I’m powerless. The recognition of powerlessness will make..

anybody angry. Powerlessness should piss you off. Thats why I’m a Marxist. The power structure is unbalanced and institutionalized.

But we take small victories like theyre big ones. If a foot’s been on your neck for 4 years, an inch of room is a big win for you. But not…

a big loss for the person who got their foot on your neck. I’m tired of bein happy with the damn inch. I want REAL FUCKING ACTION.

You know what, I’m done. I’m already blackballed cuz of my social/political affiliation, now I’m gon be called militaristic/separatist…

but you know what, I’m no Garvey – I’m much closer to A. Philip Randolph anyway. No need to separate-its already been institutionalized.

I’m going to stop here. I’m sure I’ve filled a few timelines and they go “oh its just Torrey the angry guy” but the real shit? I’m right.

And I know I’m right. Might need tweaking. And yall can pass me off as the angry nigga or whatever you want. But I got no reason to lie.

@AdamMSays – like the FSA that reduced the crack to cocaine ratio from 100-to-1 to 18-to1..they say it’s a victory, but there is still a discrepancy. They still put thousands of black and brown people in jail where they can legally enslave them (via the 13th amendment.)

@mrphilosopher3 – exactly. Those in power masquerade like its a win. And the powerless take their word for it. Everybody celebrates while the norm continues and those who were gettin fucked in the ass continue to be fucked in their ass. Might be graphic but its true.

@AdamMSays – True that bruh. Sometimes you have to be graphic to be real and stress the importance.

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So in the second part of this rant, it’s clear I’m displaying dissatisfaction with the present conditions and the response to those conditions.  If my last post didn’t display my dislike of apathy, then this finish to the rant probably did.  We’re so damn snowed that we think something has happened to the oppressor when the oppressor decides to remove his foot from our necks a tiny bit.  We rejoice it as a major victory – relax, it’s one small battle.  There should be a push for more.  Enjoy that the battle was won, but until you’re standing up and the oppressor cannot keep you down, there’s still more work to be done.

But the major thing that strikes me after putting it down a second time and looking is that powerlessness is a central theme.  And more must be explored about it.  There’s a feeling that we have power – but we don’t.  It merely appears that we have power.  That’s the nature of an oppressor/oppressed, master/slave, and in many ways white/Black relationship (and here I’m not referring to interracial dating).  The oppressed look for ways to exhort their autonomy and assert some power, while the oppressor doesn’t have to look – he just has to continue doing what he’s been doing.  So in my mind, the feeling of being empowered is a farce if that feeling comes as a result of your relationship to your oppressor.  Empowerment doesn’t feel like true empowerment when those who took your power originally are no bestowing it upon you (or so you feel).  If it can happen once, it can happen twice, which means that anything (person, entity, business, institution, system, government) that takes power and then later on restores it back to you knows more about the situation than we do.  That power might have been tweaked.  The oppressor might have enough power that what power he gave back pales in comparison to the current level of power he has.  But always ask, what reason does an oppressor have to give power back to those he’s oppressed?  Some sort of humanistic charge?  If you’re on top, why would you lower your bar or make it easier for someone else to unseat you?  I’m sorry, but I’ve got a distrust there.

I know I’ve kind of gone all over the place with this, but this should also show us that race, race theory, and race relations are not simple things to figure out.  They aren’t things we should take lightly.  They are definitely more than just theory.  I personally will declare, that if I hang out with you, deal with you, care about you, whatever – it’s at a personal level.  There will be commonalities that may or may not include race (a very good friend of mine is a Black male but race and race issues never really was our sticking point.  We had similar humor and enjoyed playing Mario Kart 64).  I suppose my stance is a little startling, especially considering how taboo it is to say you don’t like a certain group.  It’s the oppressor/oppressed relation, and I’m in the shoes of the oppressed.  I want that relation to disappear, but not at some costs that some of us appear willing to give up.  Thoughts and criticisms are welcome here, and I’m always happy to explain my stance in more detail (and tweak it).

Tradition and the American Negro

I must’ve fallen in love with the phrase “American Negro” in 2008 because two pieces I wrote at that time both had American Negro in the titles.  Anyway, this piece I did post on Facebook and it garnered decent attention, including a quick formulation of the argument given in the comments.  This came after Obama’s election also but the thoughts had been rumbling around my head for awhile, particularly after 3 years of being at a HBCU.  Made me wonder about how few traditions get questioned because they are traditions.  Circular argument, right?  You don’t question tradition because it is tradition which is why you don’t question it – and because of the lack of questioning, tradition persists unchecked, and in this piece, I try to show how unchecked tradition can be damaging.  Especially for the American Negro.  In hindsight, this issue should be revisited, so expect me to get back at this issue in the near future.

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When I look around at the American Negro and his current jubilant state due to a “Black” president, I feel happy that my people have a pulse. A lifeblood. Perhaps some of us have found a new existential meaning to our lives. And perhaps some of us are on the way. My black heart (pun intended) swells at this thought – somebody has given my people hope. Change could possibly come. But change means something old must be looked at in a different way; that we must challenge ourselves to see ourselves in the world in a new manner. We, American Negros, have then encountered a problem – an addiction to tradition. Archaic, unhealthy, “ancient” traditions that end up being counter-productive to the original point of the tradition primarily because this is a different time than it once was. Why do I call how the American Negro treats tradition an addiction? Because, like most addicts, we don’t call traditions into question. We let them be, for various reasons.

Traditions have their place – one’s family going to church every Sunday could be considered a tradition. But the kind of tradition I make mention of, I will call institutionalized tradition, to distinguish the two. I say institutionalized, not just because they tend to be part of major black institutions, but because we’ve placed them, among many other things, into this pantheon of “untouchables;” things/concepts/people we can never critique, discuss, or question. Many of these institutionalized traditions are ones we hold onto tightly as “part of the fabric of our culture,” but ask yourself this: firstly, is there really a lot to be proud of in this modern black culture (no, this is not rhetorical, and 5 years ago few knew of Barack Obama so let’s not just list him), and also is the unexamined life really worth living?

I know asking that second question displays a bias to my discipline, but really and truly – figuring out why instead of just accepting does indeed give one’s life more depth and meaning. But I will remove this essay away from the abstract and into the concrete, so that you all can know some possible traditions I’m referring to.

A friend of mine had a “random” room check at 1a.m. one morning due to a report on the room by I assume a neighbor. This was in the Morehouse Suites – considered off-campus housing by the school, and yet is subject to the same rules as the dormitories on-campus. I searched the bewildered face of my friend as his room was glanced into and, upon opening the fridge, a not even 3/4 full 40 oz. of beer was found. The friend is 21, and should be able to drink. Morehouse is NOT a dry campus, but it is inside the residence halls. But there’s a problem – this residence hall is considered off-campus housing, but is subject to on-campus housing rules? For the extra money being paid, the difference seems only in the fact that visitation officially doesn’t exist in the suites. As my friend and I discussed what’d just transpired, this conundrum of sorts was brought to my attention – a grown man can’t have a beer where he lives in this on-campus/off-campus dorm/residence hall/ apartment-type place. Why is it this way and hasn’t been challenged? Morehouse tradition. Now people like my friend have to fight their individual battle because nobody wants to fight the institutional battle against an archaic rule with regards to alcohol on campus.

Another friend of mine, maybe a year or so ago, told me about how at Lane College, boys weren’t allowed in girls’ dorms, and vice versa. Besides merely the thought of absence making the heart grow fonder for certain carnal desires, why is this archaic tradition still around? To prevent or make social interaction between the sexes at a crucial time period in a young person’s life difficult? Maybe 50 years ago this tradition made sense for the state of the society at that time, but not in the 21st Century. It’s not like black male/female relations are pristine and clear skied – it’s currently torrential rainfall with no end in sight. But hey, you gotta follow tradition. And again, she moved off campus so that she could spend more time with her boyfriend, unimpeded by counterproductive traditions.

Still not convinced that black people suffer from an addiction? Look at what we eat! Sure, we harken back to slavery days and out of appreciation for our ancestors, we show pride in eating what those strong men and women ate. But I always wondered, did they really enjoy eating pig entrails, or was it a forced response to make life a little easier to endure beyond the terrible hardships of daily dehumanization? Or really, did pig ass and feet and intestines make them genuinely excited because of what it was?

I understand I may be going overboard to present my point, but let me say this – traditions are good things. Before I conclude, I want to make that known – traditions are how you form a culture, a society. But when traditions are paramount to the society, there is no check to create a balance. And that’s what I’m seeing now. We need to check traditions so that they are all productive, not for minor ends, but for major ones! The more we sit and receive information, believing it to be true, the worse the path of ignorance becomes. It’s truly a shame that there’s a lack of questioning in the American Negro community, and that questioning traditions has a stigma attached to it. Questioning traditions will eliminate our useless ones, and strengthen or adapt our productive ones! Not to mention we will start to make sense of why we do what we do. Massa is dead! No longer should we accept what others (including other American Negros) as sound, valid, and true – question it! Be skeptical! Over 250 years of tradition has not helped the American Negro climb out of the hole it was placed in; do we really think 250 more years of archaic, asanine traditions will change that?

And so, one American tradition has been broken – no longer must you be a white male over 50 to be President. If traditions weren’t made to be challenged, broken, or questioned, we would not have any President elect Barack Obama. We wouldn’t have any sort of black pioneers. But I guess American traditions are made to be challenged, but we are still incapable of putting the mirror to ourselves and questioning what we see.

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Truthfully, I can’t remember which essay I wrote first, this one or “My Thoughts on the American Negro.”  But it’s clear that, when put next to each other, there’s a connection between the topics.  There’s more to explore.  As summertime begins to arrive, expect me to really explore these issues.  Or at least try to.

My Thoughts on the American Negro

This is an essay I wrote in the Fall of 2008, just after Obama’s election.  The full title of the piece is “My Thoughts On The American Negro: “Who in the hell do you think you are, nigga?”  The subtitle is important, as that’s the theme I was after throughout the piece.  It was accepted by the Morehouse Literary Magazine, The Catalyst, in the spring of 2009.  I’ll post my other late 2008 writing on the American Negro immediately after posting this one – consider the two in conversation with one another, in a weird way.  While over a year old, re-reading this piece got me thinking about the state of Blacks in America following Obama’s election (and no, not in that “we’re in a post-racial society” way), particularly when it comes to a professor of mine’s claim that the Obama election will hurt Black people more than help Black people due to his colorblind campaign.  This essay might be a precursor to that conversation, because if the professor is right and what I’ve somewhat asserted here is right, then Black identity is in trouble.  But enough prelude – let’s get you right to the main event.

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My Thoughts on the American Negro/”Who the hell do you think you are, nigga?”

On the night when Obama was elected, a friend of mine eloquently commented on the state of the American Negro; “We ain’t niggas no mo’.”  To a certain extent, I wholly agreed with him – a large burden has been lifted off of our shoulders, and an even bigger one has been placed on them, so that we now mimic the Greek Titan Atlas.  The world lies on our shoulders because we aren’t niggas no mo’.  We’ve lived with the projected identity of niggas and niggardry and niggerdom and all things N-word that when my friend said that comment to me, I took a pause.  He presented a true issue of existence, one that has not left the American Negro experience from day 1 – if we know what we are not, what are we?

While my friend may not have intended for his comment, while insightful and empowering, to be taken in such a manner, I must thank him.  He has delivered an existential charge to the Black community in this country to figure out just who in the hell we are.  I’ll say now that there’s a strong chance profanity will be a part of this essay.  And a major reason for this is that I am a reflection of the Black experience – sometimes I have no clue what other, “sophisticated” phrase might do justice.  So I’ll stick by my guns and dance with who brung me, so to speak.  But back to the matter at hand – is it possible to develop an identity by figuring out who we are not?

Historically speaking, I’m going to vote no.  Philosophically speaking, hell no.  First the history.  When it comes to identity development of ethnic groups, it has tended to be around mutual cultural backgrounds, which are reflections of where they came from – not who they aren’t, but who they are.  Many successful ethnic groups have been successful because of that concept of knowing one’s self, and having that extend into the family unit and beyond.  Statistically speaking, Asian Americans make more money than the white man (this is my essay and I’ll be pejorative regarding the majority in this country if I want to, all will receive equal diminutive commentary when deemed necessary).  According to some sociologists, it’s because of the cultural heritage that tends to be treasured in the common Asian households, which include a tight family unit, responsibility, and building up one’s character.  Stereotypical they may be; they are also parts of Asian culture.  And there are many Asian Americans who are not many generations removed from their family’s emigration to America, adding another footnote into a drive to succeed that many Asian American families hold.

I use the Asian American as an example of what can happen when there is an identity formed prior to coming or at least maintained after arriving.  The possibility of success is endless because you at least know who you are, to a certain extent.  There is a re-affirmation of one’s cultural heritage because it doesn’t come by excluding all other factors.  It comes as the default, which is what the American Negro has tried so desperately to develop, a default ethnic setting for us to claim, but it is usually cultivated out of negation of the other, and not affirmation of the self.  To avoid getting into philosophical jargon, I will illustrate my point through the famous Civil Rights movement.  Done in the 1950’s and 1960’s, these men and women were roughly 2-3 generations following the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865.  Whether or not their great grandparents were still alive, many were able to witness the sharecropping in the South combined with Jim Crow legislation that continued the tradition of slavery and forced inequality in the United States.  Being so close to that time period developed a sentiment of forcing equality, because there was a known identity at that time.  That at the very least, we, Black people, were humans and deserved to be treated as such.  That was step one to self-identification – figuring out that we are human beings, no matter what the other may say about us.  That, to me, was an underlying drive with the Movement; the indefatigable knowledge that Black people are humans and deserve humane treatment solely for that reason.  We begun answering our existential issue, and then the ball dropped.  Some 40 years later, we now have a Black president and can claim a partial eradication of our prolonged status as “niggas.”  But we haven’t answered our problem as to what are we otherwise.

The question is not “to be or not to be,” but, “what will we be?”  And philosophically we should not answer what we will be through negating what others are.  A de facto identity does not stand the test of time, because it is not actually yours – it’s just not everyone else’s.  There is a gigantic difference in those terms; one is undeniable possession that has nothing to do with the other, it is auto-developed, and appreciated as evidence for one’s people.  The other phrase has everything to do with the other, worrying and trying to differentiate itself from the other, placing energy in the wrong aspect of the process.  By now, hopefully you understand that to figure out who we are now as Black people, we cannot waste time trying to differentiate ourselves from the other.  It doesn’t get the job done.

I won’t say I know how to get the job done, however.  I’m not that arrogant.  What I will say is that it will take a willingness to explore one’s humanity to begin to figure out who we are.  The confusion that has plagued the past 2 generations is not one necessarily of angst, but perhaps we’ve been kept in the darkness about the troubles of the 20th century so much so that we look at our (comparatively minor) troubles as paramount.  “If we forget the really bad times, then these times aren’t so bad.  It’s been worse.”  This is a damn shame.  In many of our grandparents’ lifetimes the American Negro was not receiving this new, subtle racism we experience – they were called nigger to their face routinely.  They toiled against institutional racism that had no reason to go away.  We have drug dealers, dope fiends, gang banging and other illicit behaviors; none of which have been institutionalized yet, Thank God.  But damn people, the Cosby’s were a TV show.  Family Matters was a sitcom.  We have had multiple race riots in our lifetime!  We don’t get the luxury of forgetting the past to start a brand new future.

Again, we ain’t niggas no mo’, so whether or not this country wants us, they have to deal with us.  The status quo was ruptured.  At this moment in time, we can begin to develop this identity, with a new moral fabric and a new status quo.  I’m not saying we all need to be in church, with our pants pulled up, no more drinking or cussing, etc.  This ain’t prohibition and I’m not advocating for mass censorship.  But there’s now a space for a re-evaluation of who the American Negro is.  And maybe, just maybe, we can stop worrying about who we aren’t, and find out just who the hell we are.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m a little bit hype right now.