Archive for April, 2013

I want roads that I can drive on. (a moment of unadorned vulnerability.)

Posted in Uncategorized on April 27, 2013 by darryl zero

The lingering soreness in my muscles pops up when I bend my neck.  I know I’ve been sleeping on it wrong, but don’t really care.

The passage of time is a double-edged sword; I fucking hate so much about everything I do in this place (except for my time at the gym, and the few moments in which I get to shoot the shit with people about stuff other than work) that I can’t wait for the time I have to myself.  On the other hand, the bullshit takes up so much time that my defense mechanism means I miss out on…well, life.  I only exist for the few hours I have between when I get home and when I go to bed; apart from the hour-and-a-half I spend at the gym, I don’t really function when the sun is out.

I can’t make any sense of anything.  On one hand, it feels like mere seconds since I was so fucking happy (in fucking Portland, I still marvel); on the other, the good thing, that seed that planted and took root needed to be killed, because it would grow twisted and distorted trapped inside my body, so I did everything I could to forget about it.  I’m afraid to go back, truthfully, because I don’t want to feel that good again, I don’t want to brush up against that magic only to know it has to go away again.

Had a dream last night in which someone I know told me she wanted me in that secret way in which I want to be wanted, and it was simultaneously the hottest and saddest thing I could have experienced.  I am not a man of particularly complicated needs or desires, so knowing the simplicity I need–and, from this person in the dream, I received–is something that still evades me is frustrating.  I need to take the time to truly fix the path I’m on; the inside of me is as fixed as it’s going to be as long as I am still childless and doing something I want to destroy, so I need to escape, find a home–and I mean that on so many levels it isn’t funny.

I worry the dream may have planted another seed, a different, possibly more dangerous one (mostly because the person-in-question, while definitely one that wants what I want, does not, cannot, and will not ever see me as a potential partner in that endeavor); yet, how many dreams will I defer before I finally find something obtainable?
I was going to take the day off from the gym.

But I need control.

If you are out there, and you see me, rest assured it’s an illusion and I’m not really there.


some race stuff. (freestyle)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 25, 2013 by darryl zero

It catches me off-guard every now-and-then when people say the words “tragic mulatto” like it’s still a thing.  I don’t even remember the first time I ever heard the word “mulatto;” it damn sure wasn’t ever bandied about in my presence as a lad, due as much to the fact that my parents weren’t assholes as it was to the fact that there was never any particular doubt as to which category in which I fell.  Even though, by my family’s standards, I’m fairly light-skinded, my identity was pretty clear in my brain: I’m Black.  My moms isn’t.  In Hawaii, where I was definitely Black (I’ve never been called the n-word in my life, before or since), I always kinda saw multi-ethnic folk as falling into three categories: those that could clearly identify with one racial/ethnic group, those that chose not to identify with any ethnic group (unless it suited them), and those that were just plain confused.  The older I got, the more assured of my identity I became–and the more annoyed I got with the confused folk.

It’s irrational, I know, and people really do have a right to determine their own identity, but I always thought the whole “oh my god–what am I?” debate was fucking needlessly time-consuming, if only because, for some of us, the issue was having to defend our self-perception from others.  Having one’s Blackness constantly questioned because white people really hate it the idea of a Black person being more intelligent than they are–or, more importantly, because some Blackfolk have an idea that “Blackness” only constitutes a specific set of cultural norms, many of which heavily influenced and created by whites as a means of keeping the race marginalized–tends to make one touchy and a bit defiantly pissy about one’s identity, and definitely a bit unfairly critical of others.  Mariah Carey blew up when I was in my early teens; I always looked at her and saw a Black woman, to the point at which it kinda threw me for a loop when people would see her as anything else.  (The older I got, the easier it was for me to accept her as Latina–although, hilariously, Carey seems to be the only Black Latina people could possibly consider Black before they consider Latina.)

It was only when I hit college that I realized it was…I hesitate to use the term “privilege,” so let’s just call it “convenience” in that I was so easily identifiable by my physical appearance.  But, because of this, I was so confused by lighter-skinded Blackfolk playing the “confused mixed kid” dialogue, because they were always Black to me; when I would hear people talking about “I wasn’t sure what to mark on a form for my race,” my immediate thought would be whatever the fuck you think you are, perhaps?

Again, I know it’s bad, and I don’t mean to offend anyone, because ultimately identity is (obviously) a deeply personal thing, but by this point in our history, I think it’s pretty safe to say you can make a damn decision; if your decision is “neither,” then you’d better damn well get used to (white) people trying to force you into a category, because white privilege and all.  Which is kind of at the heart of it: I think some multi-ethnic folk that could theoretically “pass” get a taste of white privilege and realize it’s pretty fucking convenient, but also know it’s something they only have when they’re hiding something about themselves.

It’s for that very reason that I consider multi-ethnic Blackfolk to be Black, regardless of their self-identification, and I not-so-secretly wish they would do the same: White people are extremely picky about who gets white privilege, and it doesn’t take much to go from ‘in the circle’ to ‘colored.’  I’m no Pan-Africanist, but I do think an important part of creating a better sense of racial justice in the world is marginal folk realizing their common threads and common experiences and actually embracing each other as part of a larger community.  I’m sure some white person will say “ZOMG THAT’S CREATING ANOTHER US VS THEM,” but I don’t really care–white folk (at least in the Americas) managed to melt into one big entity, so why can’t marginal folk?
So–yeah.  “Tragic mulattos.”  Is that really still a thing?  Are there really still people that are clearly marginals, yet cling to the idea that, maybe, if they try hard enough, they can transcend their colored past and become white?  Shit, are there really marginals that actually do that shit?  I mean, I suppose so, and more power to them–but I’ll still nod to you on the street if I think you’re my brother or sister.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17, 2013 by darryl zero

“In a ‘post-race’ country like America where nothing and no one is racist, where people are more likely to believe in UFO’s than in institutional bias, which does back flips to obfuscate the operations of white hegemonic power and therefore ensure its continuance, anyone seeking to expose white supremacy or battle it is in for some serious uphill. You will be attacked. You will be censured, usually by your own community. People will say that you are obsessed with race and that even mentioning white people in the context of white supremacy is itself racist. These days the average person doesn’t even have to be taught not to bring up white supremacy. Here in our country, as in Mordor, everybody knows not to say the dark lord’s name.”

-Junot Diaz, Facing Race 2012


Posted in Uncategorized with tags on April 10, 2013 by darryl zero

[This is something of an incomplete thought.]

Whenever I hear some pedagogical theory on how bullying is somehow the next big threat to America’s children, I immediately think of Steve Urkel.


Perhaps that isn’t clear enough.  Hopefully this sheds some light on it:


Not enough for you?  Okay, how about this:


This was me in the 1990s: a huge nerd with big glasses and a propensity for acting like an unrepentant goofball out of sheer discomfort with being around people obviously different from I.  I quoted Shakespeare, I wore different clothes from everyone else, I didn’t play sports (although, if given the chance, I was actually pretty good at them, at least until puberty made my arms and legs twice as long and my sense of balance was shot).  When I lived in Hawaii, Family Matters was at the peak of its popularity; regardless of what you may think (or have been told) about the so-called “Aloha Spirit,” there wasn’t much room in the ohana for Black nerds.  I got called “Urkel” a whole fucking lot.

Like, a whole fucking lot.

I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me–it did–but the real thing that bugged me was my general discomfort with dealing with other human beings.  I needed some kind of buffer zone between them.  In retrospect, I realize it was because there really wasn’t much going on at home in the way of modeling behaviors for dealing with adults.  My mother was emotionless, mostly by necessity and partially because that’s just how she was–unsentimental, practical, downright uncomfortable when it came to anything vaguely human or adult. (We’re talking about a woman who trusted my propensity to read just about anything placed in my hands rather than teach me about sex–although, given Mum’s attitudes about sex and Twenty-Five’s confusion with how to be an adult himself, I think I was better off.)  Twenty-Five was just starting to become the man he is today, on-and-off his meds, so full of regret and resentment that he’d ended up in the family he was in that communicating with him was virtually impossible, with no real friends to speak of other than Jeff, the disembodied voice from far away.

Hawaii sucked, particularly after Elementary school, when I didn’t have the security buffer of having a monstrously large father whom everyone knew to be monstrously large, if gentle.  As an anonymous nerd who refused to speak pidgin and was more into comic books and music than looking cool, to call myself persona non grata was a bit of a stretch–I was visible, for sure, gods know people knew who I was, but I didn’t really hang out with anyone and didn’t really do anything anyone else did.  I got made fun of–a lot–and it wasn’t just the “Urkel” shit, either; I just simply flat-out wasn’t “cool.”  This isn’t even counting the times I was threatened, or had firecrackers thrown at me, or had guns pulled on me–while discomforting (if not outright terrifying), to me that was just…how shit happened.  And yeah, it sucked, and I was miserable, and I was sad and lonely much of the time–I spent more time in my counselor’s office in seventh grade than I did in classes–but I figured it out.

It didn’t get much better when we came back to Iowa; while I was definitely more comfortable than I was in Hawaii, my emotional development–already stunted by being one of the youngest in the class–had suffered during my time there.  Again, I didn’t feel especially comfortable around humans, and covered that up with what people have politely called my “big personality.”  As you can imagine, this didn’t go over especially well socially.

I never thought of myself as “bullied,” though, even if that’s exactly what I was now by modern pedagogical standards.  I mean, maybe I was, but again, that’s just how shit happened in my brain.  I knew that, at one point in time, I wasn’t going to be there anymore.  No matter how sad I got, no matter how I felt like a loser or a failure, I knew this was just how it went, that there was going to be something tomorrow, even if it was just more of the same bullshit.  Which kinda comes down to it–no matter what, I never pointed my blame externally.  I always thought the problem was with me–which, in a way, was correct (although not the way I thought it was at the time)–and that eventually I’d figure it out, that things would be different, and that I’d eventually get it.
When I started working as a school bus driver, I was required to take all kinds of mandatory classes–but my favorite was this “anti-bullying” course that I basically spent the entire time laughing through, especially when I saw all the examples of so-called “bullying.”  Because being teased every day, having rumors spread about you, and being generally unpopular didn’t constitute any kind of weird, drastic, unbelievable-that-this-could-possibly-happen kind of tragedy that deserved a title–to me, that was just how shit went down when I was in school.  I got a lot of bad looks and a few more uncomfortable questions when I voiced my opinion on the subject, but basically my thoughts broke down to two different levels:
1) Creating “bullying” as the new boogeyman for school administrators is a stupid, knee-jerk reaction invented by bureaucrats as a means to address a problem they’d like to solve, rather than focus on the problems that really need solving .  Yeah, there are some truly dangerous things going on in schools, now–and there are some instances in which children are legitimately placed in physical peril where they ought not to be.  That kind of bullying is dangerous, and definitely needs to stop–it makes the environment unsafe for students and teachers, and sets a dangerous precedent.  But that kind of bullying has always been there, and it’s always been against the rules, and it’s always been something teachers have tried to manage, if not outright stop.  The problem is that educators have been so hamstrung by regulations that all but forbid them from actually disciplining students–lest they be disciplined themselves, and absolutely no one dare confront the real sources of pernicious bullying: students themselves, and their parents.

So, of course, because it can never be the fault of the child–nor can it be the fault of the person most responsible for their programming, it falls on a completely toothless authority system to somehow keep children that have never been held accountable for being assholes from fucking things up for everyone else.  The solution?  Make everyone a victim.  Bad kids are misunderstood snowflakes that need drugging and pampering.  Kids that are picked on are poor, defenseless, unfortunate creatures that need drugging and pampering.

Which led to my other issue:

2) Declaring normal social activity as “bullying” leaves kids wholly unprepared for a world that doesn’t give a fuck about how special they are.
That doesn’t require much explanation.  I never really broke down and talked to anyone at length about what I went through as a lad.  I had a pretty good relationship with my guidance counselor in 7th grade, but that was more because I was just confused and frustrated–it had less to do with what I endured at school and more to do with everything else in my life at the time.  Which, who knows?  That might actually be why I didn’t really give two shits about having guns pulled on me or having firecrackers thrown at me–there was so much other shit going on in my life that the rest of it just felt like momentary bullshit.  Anyway, the point is that all of the shit I dealt with, no matter how bad it felt, was just one part of the rest of existence.  Even I knew that, and I’ll be the first to admit I was emotionally well behind my classmates.  The rest of life was so much more complex and full of interesting things, things I could control, that spending time thinking about shit I couldn’t control was useless. Especially when I had violent movies, loud music, and endless masturbation for catharsis.

My father, bless his negligent heart, was at least good about telling me what life was like.  He was pretty clear that the rest of the world didn’t give a fuck if I was smart, or if I was sad, or if I was in a situation that made me uncomfortable–it was my responsibility to figure out the world, and not the world’s responsibility to figure me out.  This was (and is) basic fucking logic to him–and me–but seems to have been completely lost in today’s world, in which every kid is special, and ever possible dent in their self-esteem is somehow the failure of the educational system and not the kids for being unable to fucking take the fact that, sometimes, they’re just another person that has to get through the fucking day, and it doesn’t matter what obstacles are in front of you–sometimes, you just have to deal with it.

That last bit is most important, because it reminded me of something that I’d never really thought about until recently–my dad was born in the late-1950s.  Pre-Civil Rights.  Which meant that, in the mid-1960s, when the civil rights movement was in full swing, he would have been starting school.  A bit of digging with my Uncles proved me right–dad was part of the first group of kids bussed out of the ghetto and into the newly-integrated schools.  He never, ever talked about it–his stories generally centered around high school, and his young childhood experiences focus more on his JFL exploits–but, as you can imagine, things were a bit uncomfortable at that time.  I won’t go so far as to say my dad was the kind of martyr that other Blackfolk were at the time–but even that’s telling, because he was definitely teased, threatened, and talked-about in school as a lad–things that would have labeled him a victim of bullying–and, rather than turn himself into a helpless victim, he lived his fucking life.  If anything, his experiences as a lad helped him learn how to deal with challenges he faced as an adult–among them “how do I not fucking pound this person into a pulp when they clearly deserve it?”  And, sure, Dad was lucky in that he grew into the kind of person that no one would dare fuck with–but only part of that is due to genetics–the other part was learning that, in order to deal with people that would potentially victimize him, he would have to make himself into someone that could deal with those that would try.  I wasn’t an enormous badass or star athlete–but I was a great writer, pretty damn smart, and learned pretty quickly just say “fuck ’em” to everyone that made fun of me.

Which is ultimately what it boils down to–by turning kids into “bullies” and the rest into “victims,” all we’re doing is telling kids they’re too special to solve their own fucking problems, and further stripping kids of the controls that tell them the world doesn’t revolve around them.  Only a fucking idiot–or a person that never works around children–would think this would do anything other than make the mean kids even meaner (no consequences) and the rest of the kids into entitled shitbrains with no ability to function without their hands being held.

Just a thought.