Thursday, August 8, 2013

Race Is A Construct: Can We TRY And Be Constructive?

"Even though America is soundly post-racial and racism is over because Barack Obama and Cheerios, it turns out that many white Americans still don't have any non-white friends. I find this odd, considering that white Americans typically cite their "black friend" as evidence of their inability to harbor racist beliefs. You guys just made him up, didn't you?"

An online friend (I think he's white) sent an Ann Coulter column defending Bill O'Reilly for this:
"The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African-American family. Right now, about 73 percent of all black babies are born out of wedlock. That drives poverty. And the lack of involved fathers leads to young boys growing up resentful and unsupervised. And it has nothing to do with slavery. It has everything to do with you Hollywood people and you derelict parents."

Now, on it's face, I don't think the statement needs defending. It's fine. In one manner or another I've said it all myself, here, many times - minus the line, "it has nothing to do with slavery."

And let me add that, despite my disagreement, I would never stoop to playing "gotcha" with it, as conservatives have with Oprah Winfrey's assertion there were "millions" of blacks lynched.

Why? Because I'm an American, so I know what Oprah and Bill are trying to say, and why pick a silly fight (see: Obama offered dog as a child and Mitt unfortunately putting his dog carrier on the car) with my fellow countrymen over how they talk?

That's saved for Bawney Fwank.

I LIKE how Americans talk! It's wild, and wooly, and - when well observed - changes with the times. I'm not always looking for, or expecting, specificity. 

I'm listening for an idea, and open to being surprised by style.

As much as I hate being put in the position of defending Oprah Winfrey - by my fellow conservatives, thankyouverymuch - the spectacle of all these whites, collectively (and apparently instinctually) deciding to hold a internet "teach-in" on lynching is both pathetic and ugly. (How much do you want to bet there are black people out there who are POSITIVE you're the experts?) I'm sure I haven't checked every column on the "phony" Oprah controversy but has anyone done anything but attack her about it? 

Asked her to clarify or expand on her views?

I can hear some now, thinking "What's to clarify? She said 'millions'."
Oh, if it were only that simple. But, the issue's a fine place to show everybody two things:

1. Slavery's always with us. It's made us who we are.

2. That saying - "It's a black thang - you wouldn't understand" - was real shit. And, in every racial and social direction, we need to close these gaps.

Let me start by saying I don't obsess about race. Sure, I can get caught up in the tide, like when I found myself crying over O.J.'s potential suicide during the slow speed chase through Los Angeles. Or, like during this Trayvon Martin media fiasco, I can be drawn into seriously talking about race because, then, there's no escaping the overwhelming number of morons who demand to be heard after, I suppose, the Son Of Sam's dog said they're informed. 

Really, left to my own devices, I don't have time for any of it and see it as an imposition on my life:

Yesterday I spent time with a black friend and his family. I cried because he has a genetic blood problem they found kinda late - he's really skinny - but, happily, they found it. After shooting the shit with him, I played with his grand daughter for an hour and went home. Today, there's a white guy in my kitchen making dinner, and cracking-the-fuck-up because he discovered I really like freshly cut watermelon. Funny story:

The first time I was invited to a white friend's home, his mother wasn't expecting me and exclaimed, "We're having watermelon for dinner!" After my friend apologized too quickly, they were pleasantly surprised by my reaction. I am now a part of their family. 

Back to the crazy fucker in my kitchen:

He says "nigger" more than I do, and is an excellent source for hot Rap music, especially the dumbest of the dumb shit. I mean, if there's a bad idea recorded over a beat, the cracker in my kitchen probably has had it cranked to 11. He's also huge on the Velvet Underground, Hank Williams, Sr., and much, much more. 

We've been friends for 25+ years and I love him.

So that's a racial sketch of my immediate world - and a bit of the past - Bill O'Reilly and Miss Ann can judge what follows by it.

How can blacks turn thousands lynched (including white people and others) into millions of themselves, exclusively? By adding those that "don't count". Ask yourself, how many blacks were strung up during the Middle Passage? Do they count? They do to black people. How about those thrown to the sharks? If rapes weren't well recorded, what makes anyone think all the deaths of defiant niggas - especially men who made the master feel small by comparison - were always duly noted? Black oral history says otherwise. Our country has dirty laundry. And, in spite of what some whites think, blacks aren't so far removed from it. Why would we be? Until the beating of Rodney King was recorded and aired, whites denied anything of the kind was occurring in major metropolitan areas in the modern era. How many of those have occurred, still occur, and are counted? My friends, this has always been the traumatic "real" history blacks are left alone - totally alone - to wrestle with. 

"So many of us in limbo  
How to get it on? It's quite simple 
Three stones from the sun  
We need a piece of this rock 
Our goal - indestructible soul 
Answers to this quizzing 
To the Brothers in the street 
Schools and the prisons 
History shouldn't be a mystery 
Our stories real history 
Not his story 
We gonna work it out one day 
Till we all get paid 
The right way in full, no bull 
Talking, no walking, driving, arriving and stylin' 
Tell 'em -- soon you'll see what I'm talking 'bout 
Cause one day 
The brothers gonna work it out 
Brothers, brothers gonna work it out"

And if we think about it, even trying to get past slavery - no matter what color you are - has something to do with slavery. Just like the word "nigger" pops into the mind, whenever someone lamely says "the 'n' word," there's no escaping slavery's pull on our lives. We're Americans. I don't know why we try. We're the descendants of slavers and slaves. Are you ashamed? I'm not ashamed. 

It's who we are:

No slavery, no major black presence in America. 

No major black presence in America, no Civil War. 

No Civil War, no Jim Crow. 

No Jim Crow, no Civil Rights Movement. 

No Civil Rights Movement, no black kids as targets for bombers. 

No black kids as targets for bombers, no black kids recognizing their utter worthlessness and going to jail for the movement. 

No black kids recognizing their utter worthlessness and going to jail for the movement, no black kids considering jail a finishing school. 

No black kids considering jail a finishing school, no current disregard for the law or life or what anyone else thinks. 

Hello, Trayvon.


You'll notice, I never once mentioned missing fathers.

And BTW - Whites want to carry that around for a while? It's heavy shit.

An amazing fact of American culture, a gift from our industrious Founding Fathers themselves, is our contradictory ability - and drive - to make something out of nothing. My country has more cults than any other nation on Earth because, Good Lord, when it comes to us, it doesn't take much. Race seems to generate a lot of heat, but not much light. 

That's Hell, isn't it?

Yes, it is. And it's burning up our creativity, and national purpose, to repeatedly twist us into new and interesting - but useless - tools. Good for nothing, and nothing for Good. What's the point of being "white" or "black" if, in the end, everybody's still wrong - and proud of it?

I'm an American. I don't have a dog in this fight. I don't have a "side". I see family members with race-based PTSD. And because nobody's addressing that, they're allowed to go 'round and 'round and 'round with it, baring their teeth and scratching the orderlies. 

I provide the music: