Archive for the race Category

Ode on a Prospect of Botched Election

Posted in politics, race on November 12, 2016 by darryl zero

I haven’t been this entertained being wrong since Guardians of the Galaxy turned out to be Marvel’s best film.
I probably seem mean or dismissive when I talk about the election. I know a lot of people are legitimately afraid of the aftermath of Drumpf’s ascent to the Oval Office. I am too, but, unlike a lot of you, I had reason to be afraid based on the strength of his candidacy alone, and just as much to be afraid of even if Clinton had been elected.

Violent racists and white supremacists are a threat to my very life in places where they feel emboldened. Now, thanks in large part to a Clinton campaign that helped lift Trump to the GOP nomination, those scumbags feel emboldened just about everywhere.

It’s a nice feeling, knowing my already-endangered life was further threatened as part of a campaign strategy, especially the campaign of a woman who had already placed a low value on my life in the first place. Some of my fellow people-of-color were able to overlook Clinton’s extremely callous disregard for our well-being, but a fair enough amount of us, myself included, were not.

The smugness of Hillary Clinton supporters, from the OGs relentlessly condescending to Sanders’ impressive group of followers to the shrugging line-followers who fell into place like good little mice to the reticent holdouts that claimed to be holding their nose in anticipation of a time more conducive to actually having the fucking balls to stand on unpopular-yet-right principles, did Clinton absolutely no favors. Sanders supporters were told, essentially, to shut up and do what they were told, that the “people” spoke (despite all the evidence of blatant election fraud), and their needs were simply not the will of the electorate, but that it was subsequently their duty to get behind the candidate who pretty clearly embodied the very institutions they were attempting, through Sanders, to topple. Third-party voters, progressives in particular, were greeted with outright derision if not blatant intimidation, constant invocations of the 2000 election–an election, like this one, tipped more by the outright rejection of a pro-business, center-right, career politician trying to ride the goodwill of the Clinton Administration with an overt conservative as a running mate than any other factor–were often paired with aggressive, superficial-if-not-outright-false takedowns of candidates the inescapably disaffected would inevitably turn to. This, paired with a lazy campaign whose sole defining stance was, at its core, equal parts condescension and threat–I’m not THAT guy. Do you really want him? Look at who’s voting for him. Come on; children are watching–essentially told millions of potential voters that their values, supposedly the lifeblood of American society, were less important than Clinton’s belief that she should be President.

Is it really any surprise, then, that more people elected to stay home than play a game that they’d lose regardless?

Apparently it was to Clinton followers, who frantically began to scramble to find anyone else to blame for what was arguably the most embarrassing defeat since John McCain’s inability to beat a Black guy with the middle name “Hussein” (something with which Clinton herself was intimately familiar). The Stein finger-pointing immediately fell flat as the Green Party barely mustered 1% of the popular vote; even more desperate was the screaming at Libertarians, who were spared all but cursory hit takes by Democrats in the campaign because they were more likely to steal votes from Trump. And they did; Johnson managed to pick up 3% of the popular vote, to no avail to the Dems, who suddenly decided they were even somehow entitled to votes cast for a man who considered himself too fiscally conservative for the Republican party.

The comedy wrote itself. The DNC spent inordinate amounts of time and money to orchestrate Bernie Sanders’ defeat and elevate a man as unqualified and unlikable as he was likely unwilling to be President as the opposition to their preferred candidate, used the awfulness of that opponent to keep progressives, young people and minority groups from voting for candidates that actually spoke to their interests, and propped up a candidate who could only spoil the opponent. With a pathway that clear, you can understand how someone like me would assume the fix was in; nobody as unpopular as Clinton could so obviously manipulate things in her favor unless she was merely guaranteeing no one would challenge her mandate, right? I mean, would she have so completely and utterly spat in the face of nearly half her base if the outcome hadn’t already been decided? Would one of the country’s most intelligent political minds actually try to take on racism, sexism, and anti-establishment sentiment in a straight-up fight?

[I’m on my phone and driving right now, so I can’t format it the way I’d prefer, but if I were at a keyboard, you’d see a collage of stuff like LeBron James or Chicago Cubs fans holding 3-1 signs or Casey At The Bat depictions. I’ll have you use your imaginations.]

As much as I want to be the better man, as incumbent as it is on me to be kind and gracious in a shared defeat, I…just fucking can’t. All of the self-righteous, haughty, moral-imperative-izing Hillary Clinton supporters, belly-up and vulnerable, legitimately destroyed by the one thing this cycle they couldn’t justify or rationalize or philosophocally assail, left to squirm and grasp at solutions like the Electoral College, and the ruthless zeal with which they belittled, attacked, and otherwise attempted to discredit anyone who dared believe in anyone other than their chosen candidate, self-righteousness spent in a broken heap on the floor…I gazed upon then in their agony and terror and I just fucking laughed. 

The Clinton voters had wasted their votes on someone who wouldn’t win.

The Clinton voters had stupidly chased a fruitless dream; if they’d only used their votes on a Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, they’d have been able to help get matching funds for both of the most prominent third parties.

The Clinton voters had backed a candidate whose agenda had been thoroughly repudiated.

The Clinton voters had shit-talked all of their opponents’ voters, relying upon a campaign of “America is better than that, “ only discover America didn’t think they were better than the alternative.

The schadenfreude warmed my soul enough to forget, albeit temporarily, the weight of what it all meant.

Astride the utter delight at watching white liberals fail miserably trying to capitalize on shaming people into act against their own self-interests for the greater glory of someone neither great nor glorious, however, was an exhausting dismay that makes me sag in the saddle like the old man I am. Being a dad does it; I am unafraid to explain to my sons what happened, but the knowledge of what they face five, ten, twenty years from now has me on that Thomas Gray ish:

Ambition this shall tempt to rise,

         Then whirl the wretch from high, 

To bitter Scorn a sacrifice,

         And grinning Infamy.

The stings of Falsehood those shall try,

And hard Unkindness’ alter’d eye,

         That mocks the tear it forc’d to flow;

And keen Remorse with blood defil’d,

And moody Madness laughing wild

         Amid severest woe.

The road ahead is, to be nigh-delusionally gracious, grim. The battles to be fought may, in fact, have to be fought by me and people like me. When the amusement fades, I remain, as ever, a target, and to be honest, while I have to be sure my sons will have a better world, I don’t have a ton of hope.

But a man without hope is a man without fear. So that’s a start.

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Vin Diesel

Posted in race with tags on February 7, 2014 by darryl zero

There’s this moment in “Multi-Facial” when Vin Diesel’s character sits down and gives this monologue that is not even subtly the actor(/writer/director) himself speaking to the camera.

The line that always gets me is when Diesel talks about admiring his Black dad when he was kid. It starts with this kind of wistful, almost sheepish “For years, I thought he wanted me to act just like him. To be a Black actor like Danny Glover, Sidney Poitier, or Morgan Freeman…just like my dad.”

Then his face falls, and his eyes immediately glaze into this blank, numb, practiced calm, and he says, with practiced indifference, “but I was never Black enough,” and he punctuates it with the barest hint of a smile that takes the place of a shrug.

The tears always hit me at that point, because it totally brings me back to my early adolescence and getting picked on by the other Black kids because they saw my mom or listened to how I spoke or the fact that I was a fucking nerd that read comics and listened to weird music and watched weird movies and played fucking role-playing games and wrote stories, and it hurt a hell of a lot more than the usual Other-ness that comes with being around white kids, because these were the people that I felt a deeper kinship with, the people who understood being that Other, but they didn’t like or trust me, and although I never gave a fuck about “fitting in” and never felt conflicted about my identity as a person-of-color, sometimes when you’re a kid you just want someone else not to care that you’re different, especially when your experiences are exactly the same on one huge obvious level, even if it’s a superficial one, and let’s face it–when you carry the burden of having to exceed people’s expectations in order to be perceived as “normal,” it hurts like hell to have those people you’re fighting to have perceived as “normal” reject you just because your mom doesn’t look like you, it makes you fucking angry, and you have to put that anger somewhere because you can’t lash out at white people because you immediately fall into stereotype, and you can’t lash out at Black people because those are your people, so you put on a smile and crack a joke around the white folks and you pretend to be indifferent around the Black folks.

I don’t give a fuck if you claim Black or try to front “mixed” or “none of the above;” all multi-ethnic Blackfolk, or Blackfolk that were raised by or raised around whites have felt that weird combination of sadness, anger, frustration, longing, and confusion at one point in their lives.

It watch it and it makes me even happier that Diesel has reached the level of fame he has.

(It starts at 2:42.)

hurr.

Posted in race with tags on January 30, 2014 by darryl zero

I have dreadlocks down to my butt. Black people occasionally acknowledge this, but not often. Very few other minorities say much about this.

White people, on the other hand, can’t shut up about it. I’m constantly bothered about it when I’m out in public (I live in Iowa now and Portland Oregon before), whether it be someone in my face at the store or, often, someone just walking up and grabbing my hair. If I am in public and it’s daylight, it happens at least once. It’s frustrating, but I deal with it.

There are a lot of stereotypes that come with being dread. I have long since given up trying to explain who the Mau Mau were and who the Baye Fall are, that I don’t smoke weed, and that, like most self-aware Blacks, my hair is a part of my body and that Black hair–natural Black hair–is a serious cultural thing that isn’t to be trivialized. And, if I’m going to the grocery store or trying to take a shower after a workout or just get a pizza after work, I simply don’t have the time or energy to be a cultural informant for white people, so usually now I either ignore people’s questions or respond in monosyllables.

Today, I was approached by someone and brushed them off. Another person later accused me of being “antisocial” because I wasn’t in a mood to talk.

I describe it thus: if I walked up to a woman I didn’t know and said “Oh my god–I LOVE your breasts. They are so amazing. I’m in love with them. Wow. How big are they? How long have you had them? I used to work in a strip club, and there was this women that had tits JUST LIKE those. Can I touch them?” And then I tried to touch them, BEST case scenario, she brushes me off. With good reason; even if my intentions were just to compliment her, it’s still both reductive and rude, and impolite, because I’m not treating her as anything other than someone that exists solely within the context of my amusement, pestering her with questions about something she considers a daily reality while she tries to simply do something normal without being bothered.

I don’t bother trying to explain this to white people, because, trite as it sounds, they do not understand. They don’t have a historical context of being treated as second-class for daring to look as they naturally are. Most whites (and, sadly, a fair number of Blacks) don’t see hair as anything other than a malleable accessory, like a coat or handbag. And that’s fine.

But I don’t.

My hair is a part of my body. My hair is defiant statement, my acknowledgment that, while I may have a white parent and “speak so well” and can function comfortably around whites, I am not white. I am not trying to be white, and even if I tried, I know whites would never see me as white.

My hair is an in-your-face to everyone who would judge me based on how I look, who would try to call me “half-white” when I was acceptable to them but describe me as all-Black if I stole their car.

I’m a debater by nature and a teacher by training. My hair is a reminder that that same so-called n***** you think is a potential thief or rapist or thug is actually the Black man teaching your children to think, or showing you he knows more than you, and that this is what every Black person has to do: work twice as hard to prove they are worthy of half of what a white person can get just by being white and dressing passably.

But it would take too much time and energy to explain this. And most white people don’t care.  And sometimes, I just kinda want to go to the grocery store without having to be a cultural informant.

So I’m not being antisocial. I just don’t talk to white people about my hair.

Race, Ethnicity, Kwanzaa, Africa, etc.

Posted in race with tags on December 28, 2013 by darryl zero

Kwanzaa is an odd time of year for me.  On one hand, I’ve taken to acknowledging it because it’s the only ostensible “holiday” that specifically refers to Black Americans; on the other, I feel uncomfortable celebrating it, not because of the obvious misgivings surrounding its creator’s past, but largely because its designated purpose is to reinforce Black Americans’ connection to Africa, which is something I’ve never felt comfortable doing.

I struggle when people try to dance around the notion of calling me “Black” by referring to me and people that look like me as “African-American.”  I understand the need for white people to feel as if they are being politically correct, and appreciate the effort taken to refer to my people in a manner that is neither offensive nor derisive; likewise, I appreciate it when people of my race want to look beyond shortsighted descriptions of who we are as people in an effort to transcend the bloody, chaotic, horrible origins of post-African diasporic peoples in the Americas.  I love the idea of Pan-Africanism–in fact, I embrace it–but I find the idea that people of the diasporic community must look back to Africa to be counterproductive to what Pan-Africanism wants to accomplish, especially when the only connection most U.S. Americans have to the African continent is the color of their skin.  For that matter, while I also appreciate how Pan-Africanism recognizes the ethnic and racial diversity in the African continent, I also think that such a blanket characterization of distinctly unique peoples actually contributes more to the minimization of micro-cultures in favor of a macro-culture–in essence, doing the exact same thing white Europeans have done to everyone else.  So, while I’m definitely a Pan-Africanist in that I recognize Africa as the birthplace of humanity and civilization, the rest of my own philosophy on race, ethnicity, and how they relate to culture is something a bit divergent.

For one: I’m not African.

I mean, I am definitely of African descent–one needn’t do anything more than look at me to determine that–and I definitely identify as a person-of-color (something the vast majority of Africans also could do, even if they choose not to), but what would truly make me African?  Having roots on the African continent?  If that’s the case, I’m no more African than I am European–something that is definitely true for more so-called “African-Americans” than they care to admit.  But, really, when you get down to it, doesn’t everyone have roots on the African continent?  Actually, strike the rhetorical–everyone has roots on the African continent,so shouldn’t everyone be called “African-American?”  What about white South Africans, South African or Ugandan Indians, or Arab Egyptians/Algerians/Moroccans/etc.?  What about Freddie Mercury, whom most people mistakenly consider “white,” but who was actually an Indian Parsi born and partly raised in what is now Tanzania by parents who were, due to the quirks of international politics, British citizens?

I get in trouble on occasion when I bring this up amongst people that fancy themselves “African-American,’ mostly because it parallels some logical arguments well-(and sometimes not-so-well-)meaning white folk also bring up, but also because it exposes the truth of what people mean. Depressingly Foucauldian though it may be, when people affix “African” or “Afro” to any term, they couldn’t possibly mean “of the African continent,’ because the continent is more ethnically diverse than any place on the planet.  If anything, they mean “of or relating to the sub-Saharan Africans transported from Western and Central Africa via the slave trade,” a population of people more diverse in background, language, and culture than anyone probably realizes, but with one common characteristic: their relative skin tone.  Their “Black” skin tone.

I bring all of this up because, as anyone who has watched the news in the past fifty years can tell you, there is no monolithic “African” culture–that the diversity that makes African genetics so fascinating so often turns fatally violent when those lines are drawn between cultures.  The average U.S.-born person (Black or white) probably can’t tell the difference between a Hutu and a Tutsi, for instance.  Rwandans, on the other hand, can, and recent history proves how dangerous such discernment can be when given too much ideological weight.  I don’t like to even allow for those divisions, because, to me, if I pass a Black man on the street, it doesn’t matter one iota to me if his ancestors were Fula, Mande, Hausa, Tuareg, Hutu, Tutsi, or any combination thereof.

Which leads me to my next point: just as the diversity in genetics led to distinct ethnicities amongst people on the African continent, similar diversity in cultural identities have developed among the diasporic peoples even after the Atlantic slave trade ended.  Haitians, Dominicans, Jamaicans, Panamanians, and certain Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and (especially) Brazilians all clearly share sub-Saharan Black ancestry, yet nearly all are quick to deny their Blackness in favor of calling themselves Latino/Hispanic, or reference their specific New World country of origin; I found this out the hard way when, Freshman year of college, I jokingly referred to my Puerto Rican colleague Felix (a man just as dark as I, whose hair was just as nappy) as “negro.”  He immediately frosted over and was quick to assert he wasn’t “Black.” I had a similar experience recently with a young man of my skin tone who works at a local burrito place; the Texas-born, Chicago-raised son of Panamanian immigrants, he once expressed how he was frustrated at how people were often surprised to see his Spanish last name and comment on how they thought him Black, whereas he thought himself “Hispanic.” (“Brother, please,” I told him.  “I speak more Spanish than you do.  Congratulations: you’re Black.”)

For that matter, I even find people from the African continent who try to distance themselves from Black U.S. Americans.  I’ve been called “cotton picker” or some derivation by French Blacks before (something not unique to my own experience, and is in fact common enough to make its way into pop culture).  The experience of a Chadian man in France, for instance, may be parallel to that of a Black U.S. American, but the similarities are often lost on people.

This brings me to my overarching problem with Pan-Africanism, Kwanzaa, and the “African” or “Afro” prefix in general: much like Dominicans et al claiming to be Latino, it stresses, glorifies, and emphasizes a muddied, misinterpreted, and often outright-invented past.

Now, I don’t want anyone to misinterpret this and think I am, somehow, not proud of the fact that I am descended from the African disapora.  I self-identify as Black–occasionally in defiance of those who would dare to classify me as “half-white” or “mixed”–and I consider my experience to be that of a Black person.  But to call myself “African” or “African-American” is both logically and ethnically inaccurate at best and downright insulting at worst.  Because my experience is different from that of a Rwandan or Liberian refugee.  My experience is different from that of a Zulu, or an Oromo or Amhara Ethiopian, just as it’s different from a Dominican or Brazilian.  We are a century removed from the days when Africans were brought to the Americas as slaves; while it isn’t really that long in terms of lasting cultural legacies, cultures have grown and developed identities far faster in the information age.  Much has been made of the diasporic community’s near-complete disconnect from its roots on the continent; while I certainly understand the need to acknowledge the tragedy and its effect on Black U.S. American identity, I’ve always been of the mind that repatriation isn’t the solution.

Because that just plays into the hands of the dominant social group in the U.S., that we Blackfolk are outsiders whose true place is somewhere far away, and far removed from our practical reality now.

I repudiate that–again, not because I’m not proud to share ancestors with my brothers across the Atlantic, but because I’m from the United States of America, and I belong here.  My people may have been brought here illegally, unethically, and immorally, but they are here, now, and they have become as influential to this country’s cultural fabric as any other group (and, in the case of music, considerably more than any other group).

So, when I nod to someone with a similar skin tone, when I refer to a Dominican or a Black Frenchman as “brother,” when I capitalize the B in “Black” when referring to a person, even when I celebrate Kwanzaa by examining concepts named with words created by cultures that largely didn’t contribute to the makeup of post-Africans in this country, I’m not doing it because I consider myself to be “African.”  We’re not all African.

But we’re still Black.

Just thinking.

Dear White People:

Posted in race with tags on August 17, 2013 by darryl zero

When you say shit like “oh, race doesn’t matter as much anymore–white people with [tattoos/non-heteronormative gendersexual identity/insert other non-readily-apparent thing white people trot out when they try to say race doesn’t matter] face just as much discrimination as ‘African-Americans’,” I don’t fucking believe you.

Because I could be wearing a shirt that says “Sorry, Girls–I’m Gay” and bright pink Converse All-Stars, sipping from a coffee mug that says “Portland Fucking Oregon” in the middle of Des Moines, Iowa with my tattooed right arm in full view, and all you fucking people do is bother me about my fucking hair.

The fact that the only things you people (yes, you people–being generalized really sucks, doesn’t it?) notice about me (skin tone/hair) are the things that clearly mark me as “different from you” makes you so wrong, I want to punch you all in your condescending, liberal-inasmuch-as-it-keeps-the-darkies-exotic-and-not-normal fucking faces whenever you try to pull that bullshit on me.

Remarks on Remarks.

Posted in race with tags on July 30, 2013 by darryl zero

First: I want to make a point to tell everyone that I generally speaking do not give a flying fuck about what Pat Buchanan has to say about much of anything; the man was one of the worst kinds of humans since long before I was born. From his days with Richard Nixon (whose role in creating the current health care system that treats American health and vitality as a commodity unarguably makes him one of the most evil villains in U.S. History) to his current talking head status, Buchanan is an easy target for anyone with either common sense or even a basic knowledge of history—in short, he’s a typical right-wing asshole. While he attracts his share of ire from people with whom I share at least a superficial socio-political ideology, I personally see him the same way I do Ron Paul or Newt Gingrich or any of his ilk—an avatar for the system designed both to maintain the systematic divisions between haves and have-nots and to keep even the more logically-thinking folk clinging to the notion that arbitrary values are, somehow, representative of actual worth. In short: Buchanan’s just a symbol for what’s wrong with people, and the real tragedy is that people are so desperate to cling to a sense of self-worth that they actually get behind the fictional bilge that oozes from his mouth, pen, and/or keyboard.

But my sister said she wanted to hear my response, so that’s what I’m doing.

Dear Pat,

For most of my life, I’ve considered you an infuriating annoyance at best–and a villain on-par with Ra’s Al-Ghul at worst–so applying any brain power to any word you say is a waste of my time on-par with, say, defecating in my car (which is, to say, even if it were necessary, it would still be highly unpleasant, and even though I could still function afterward, it would still require a considerable degree of cleansing).  So, when my sister indicated that you responded to President Obama’s remarks in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman ruling, I greeted the information with distracted apathy.  I was at work, after all, and despite my Spider Jerusalem-inspired belief that the Truth is of utmost importance at all times, bills must be paid.

But my sister demanded I respond.  We’re not especially close, she and I, but we’ve always had at a respect for each other’s opinions and talents, and almost never ask anything of one another.  So, when my sister asks me to do something, I do it.

I freely admit that, when I read your screed, I thought I was either reading a clumsily-orchestrated hoax or an outright joke (and a big part of me still thinks that).  I then perused your website, which I would normally link to but would rather spare the few readers I have the inconvenience, and I came to the conclusion that, even you are not, in fact, the author of said piece, its points were close enough to the positions you clearly publicly espouse that it was worthy of my dignity to address my responses directly to you.  You’ll please forgive me–I’m not a professional pundit, talking head, or political scientist, and any assertions of my being a professional writer are tenuous at best–so my rebuttal may lack the refinement or panache that you or one of your contemporaries may offer.  Also–I am, if you’ll forgive the expression in light of what happened in Sanford, shooting entirely from the hip–I’ll provide citations if I can reach them quickly enough, but I have many more pressing, interesting, and ultimately happy things to think about that I plan to return to as soon as humanly possible.

Without further preamble:

Pat, I can say without qualification that your perception of race and racial relations in this country are about as accurate and informed as one could expect those of a rich, white male born in 1938 and having spent the majority of his professional life surrounded almost exclusively by rich, white politicians to to be–not at all.  The fact that someone so steeped in white privilege, male privilege, and class privilege could even consider themselves a valid participant in this discourse automatically removes your opinion from any degree of validity; that you actually seem to believe what you say is proof enough that your opinions are irrational fantasy at best and outright white supremacist drivel at worst.

But–as I often used to tell the debaters I coached–I can’t trust you, nor anyone reading this (thank you for that, by the way) to just take my opinions at face value.  I have, to appropriate the parlance of some of the rap musicians whose music has heavily informed my educational history as much as that of my entertainment, specific beef, so specifics you shall receive.

You completely derail yourself with your opening statement:

Barack says we need to have a conversation about race in America .. Fair enough. But this time, it has to be a two-way conversation.. White America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to….

Your first word destroys your credibility.  One does not address someone they respect by their first name; when that person is the President of the United States, in fact, to address them so informally is to specifically assert a disrespect for that President’s office and authority.  A quick examination of your website shows you referring directly to presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush by title.  While it would be easy to say that a broad assumption of your personal beliefs could not be inferred simply by the use of informal conversational style, the fact that you profess to desire a dialogue based on mutual respect (or I can only hope that’s what you refer to when you suggest a “two-way conversation”) while blatantly disrespecting the authority and office of perhaps the only person in the country whose office explicitly commands respect shows that you clearly value your own agenda (and, by extension, the agenda of your social demographic) above all others.

Really, it’s few sentences that automatically disqualify you from having any valid opinions on the subject.  One look at television, one listen to radio, and one quick examination of printed media makes it pretty clear that White America is in no danger of not being “heard from.”  Believe me, Pat: we non-whites have spent our entire lives hearing from all of you.  The very suggestion that white people have never had a voice in the greater socio-political discourse on race relations suggests that, either you’re an idiot with no knowledge of history (which I doubt) or simply a pernicious bigot.

I want to point this out, Pat, because your introductory tone clearly shows the faults in your ideology.  You, like a disappointingly large number of white U.S. Americans, automatically equate the inclusion of the perspectives, needs, and experiences of non-whites to completely disregarding the perspectives, needs, and experiences of whites, which clearly indicates your lack-of-perspective on what you truly need–and what people of color truly experience, which you would perhaps notice if you actually listened when anyone that looks different from you were talking, instead of simply being caught up in your own, not-so-subconscious belief that, because it’s a Black man speaking, the words and ideas issued are automatically inferior to yours.

I really don’t need to read any more of what you’ve written, honestly, because everything one needs to know about how you think–and how horribly, completely, absolutely incorrect it is–is in those few sentences, but I’m nothing if not thorough, so on I go:

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks.

First, and again–the fact that you feel the authority to make this statement shows you clearly have neither respect nor understanding of what it truly means to be a Black American.  Second–that you dare to suggest you, a rich white man with an established history of supporting and working for politicians who have deliberately sought to subjugate and undermine the Black community–actually know what is “best” for Black people falls somewhere between being insultingly condescending and being an imperialist would-be slave master.  To justify the rape and murder of millions of Africans, to wholeheartedly endorse the unlawful removal and forced separation from the home culture of millions of individual people is as chilling as it is offensive.

For that matter, all of the benefits you suggest have been given to the descendants of the survivors of the Middle Passage holocaust–

 Untold trillions have been spent since the ’60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream

–the few benefits you suggest that were actually created specifically for the Black American community were only obtained begrudgingly (and which you actively campaigned against).  Most of the things you mention here, however, actually weren’t designed specifically for the Black community–take affirmative action programs, which primarily benefit white females, actually–and, in fact, help white people just as much (if not more than) Blackfolk.

That last part is actually extremely important, because it effectively negates your following statement:

Governments, businesses and colleges have engaged in discrimination against white folks — with affirmative action, contract set-asides and quotas — to advance black applicants over white applicants.

What about all of the white applicants that are advanced over other white applicants?  Pat, Black Americans constitute approximately 13% of the U.S. population–and that’s rounding up.  White Americans are over 72% of the population–more white people are passed over in favor of other white people than they are in favor of non-white people.  For that matter, the sheer number of opportunities offered white people completely negates your argument–especially in the college example, in which the best defense your side can offer is a white girl that didn’t get into her first-choice university but still managed to do just fine at a just-as-good university in another state.  Exactly how many Black people are taking white people’s spots in college, after all, when more Black men are in prison than in college (a statistical figure also larger than the number of Black men imprisoned in 1850)?

For that matter, Pat, you tout the things white people “gave” Black Americans as these grand gifts, while criticizing the fact that they were given in the first place–effectively proving that they’re not only still necessary, but clearly not effective enough.  This isn’t even getting into the fact that many of these “gifts” were, in fact, additional tools of oppression—Christian “salvation” may be fine and dandy for some, but when it comes as part of a package deal of completely obliterating any connection to one’s original culture, can it truly be considered a “gift?”–or that, in many cases, the other “gifts” wouldn’t be necessary if white America didn’t create a systematic structural bias preventing all people of color from being seen as equals.

Barack talks about new ‘ladders of opportunity’ for blacks. Let him go to Altoona ? And Johnstown, and ask the white kids in Catholic schools how many were visited lately by Ivy League recruiters handing out scholarships for ‘deserving’ white kids…?

Pat, I know you to be an intelligent person, so this type of statement leads me to believe this might not actually have been written by you. This is a textbook example of the kind of shortsighted argument I’d expect from a novice debater and not someone who has been involved in politics for as long as you have. An equally relevant question to ask would be how many Black students lived in areas in which students were given access to the highest-quality equipment, had class sizes small enough to warrant individual attention, or presented with curricula that actually suited their interests and educational needs?

For that matter, focusing on the minority of white kids that don’t benefit from a system skewed heavily in their favor (which you agree to tacitly by pointing out the various programs ostensibly “gifted” to Black Americans) as justification to stop attempting to help a minority of non-white students benefit from a system skewed heavily against them makes no sense. I would buy it if whites and non-whites existed on an entirely equal playing field; but literally everything you cite suggests, if not outright proves they don’t. So, when I see you say something like this:

Is white America really responsible for the fact that the crime and incarceration rates for African-Americans are seven times those of white America ? Is it really white America ‘s fault that illegitimacy in the African-American community has hit 70 percent and the black dropout rate from high schools in some cities has reached 50 percent?

my only response is “obviously not entirely, but you’re equally obviously missing the point.”

Which is exactly why, Pat, there really isn’t much of a place for white Americans at the table when it comes to discussing racism; many white Americans clearly have no idea of the depths to which racism has insinuated itself into larger U.S. American culture. To people like you, Pat,  “racism” only constitutes blatant, open hate speech or violence—which makes sense, because that’s the “worst kind of racism” a white person is going to experience (you say it yourself). But racism isn’t that simple or cut-and-dried anymore; sure, the number of lynchings has gone down proportionately, but that doesn’t mean racism hasn’t gone away. It’s just become more subtle, because the real source of it—and the problem that President Obama attempted to explain, albeit too subtly for my own tastes—isn’t something that can easily be identified. To attempt a comprehensive analysis explaining how racism still affects all non-white Americans would be a waste both of my time and my effort, Pat, because clearly you don’t get it—but I’ll point out the one thing that answers all of your offensive questions: White Privilege.

Sure, not all individual white Americans benefit from White Privilege—but, invariably, some white person does. I’ll oversimplify it: Barack Obama being elected president is significant, but doesn’t erase the fact that the forty-plus presidents before him were white, male, mostly-upper-class. Pat, you and your ilk point to examples of a small number of minorities experiencing success in America, ignoring the fact that most non-whites don’t live like that—and, that, proportionately-speaking, such success still eludes far more non-whites than it does whites. That, Pat, is the “worst form of racism,” and not the interracial crime you so passionately state; sure, not all white people are going to succeed, but that’s not because of their race—it’s because not everyone can succeed. The odds of a Black person being treated as an inferior, or denied their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness simply because they are Black are much, much higher.

I’ve lost any interest in explaining it further, so hopefully I’ve made my point, Pat.  I’m sorry if you feel as if a detailed explanation of exactly why things like the George Zimmerman verdict irritate Blackfolk comes across as an inconvenient “lecture,” but your response clearly indicates that, actually, it’s you that needs to do the listening, and the fact that you don’t obviously reveals that, despite not being overtly violent, you’re still a racist, and should be silent, and maybe–just maybe–allow some logical discourse on a problem that clearly hasn’t been solved yet.

But that’s wishful thinking, I guess.

Signed,

A Black man smart enough to realize racism isn’t always violent–but is terrified that it once again is.

P.S. In a just world, you’d spend your remaining days being violently fisted by gauntleted Black felons in an Arizona prison.  This is why I don’t believe in the Judeo-Christian concept of “God.”

more irrelevant words on the death of Trayvon Martin

Posted in race with tags on July 14, 2013 by darryl zero

I don’t want anyone to say that the fact that I’m willing to spend hundreds of thousands of words talking about why the Watchmen or World War Z films sucked, yet utter less than a fraction of that number about Trayvon Martin’s murder and the acquittal of his murderer means I don’t care or am not as emotionally affected by it.

I am affected by it.  I am angry, and I am sad.  Because it confirms, yet again, that all the progress white Americans trot out in defense of their institutionalized racism is naught but window dressing, pretty distractions in the face of the exact same fucking shit that has been going on since Black people were brought to this country against their will.

But I have spent my entire life trying to explain that to be Black and male is to be a target, that my very existence is a threat to most of the people around me, whether they know/admit it or not.  So, to all of the people that dare say I’m being needlessly reactionary or an asshole or “playing the race card” because I have to take the shit I take from people intellectually and physically inferior to me without saying a goddamn word, lest I be seen as a wild animal, I present to you George Zimmerman.

It’s been said already by better pens than mine, but I’ll say it again–this is the reality of a Black American male: you are a threat, unless you are a target.  You are only acceptable as a peripheral, exotic ‘noble savage,’ but even then only as long as you are able to code-shift into a mode white people find comfortable.

And even then, it’s still perfectly okay for anyone to kill you.  If your killer is Black, they won’t even bother trying to find the killer; if they aren’t, your killer will never go to jail.

Don’t believe this bullshit about the authorities not wanting Blackfolk to riot.  What they’re really saying is don’t take your rioting to the people most responsible for this atrocity, because we will kill you, and we will get away with it.  Which is the most frustrating, depressing, terrifying thing; WE CAN NEVER HAVE JUSTICE.  WE CANNOT MARCH, PROTEST, OR EVEN WRITE INJUSTICE AWAY.


So that’s why this is all you’re getting from me about Trayvon Martin, a young man who didn’t deserve to die, killed by a man who does.  Two parents will never know justice or peace ever again, simply because their son happened to be Black in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they’re only the ones we happen to be able to see.

But this is all stuff you should fucking know, and now it’s not something that I even have to explain–IT’S ON FUCKING CNN, not just in rap songs or whispered (or even shouted) in subcultures easily dismissed–it’s in the mainstream news: BLACK MEN ARE SUBHUMAN ANIMALS THAT YOU MAY HUNT FOR SPORT AND KILL WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE.

So there.  It’s all there, now.  Get it?