The last slave ship survivor interview.
In the foreground this is Emmet Till, the young man, who in 1955 was brutally lynched and his body desecrated for what basically amounts to an alleged cat call.
A cat call that was just recently obliterated by the target.
This is Till’s destroyed body, which his brave mother and father insisted be on display. This is the human cost of believing that the dignity of a 14 year old boy was erased by his “race”.
This was 63 years ago. Within the lifetimes of at least half of congress and a good number of Americans.
And we expect no consequences from events like this. No memory of the butchering of a 14 year old boy because someone alleged that he spoke in less a way than our current sitting president has spoken about several women ON TAPE.
The killers were never brought to justice because of the same system that we have in place today.
If you think that this kind of butchery should be forgotten and it has no relevance to the gunning down of kids that same age by that same system, I have no kind words for you, none at all.
Edited on 6/26 for clarity. paragraph breaks and shameless pluggery.
I’ve added a couple of new, and probably to some, surprising links to my site.
I’m still working out some of the kinks but hopefully by the end of today I’ll have this thing working as intended.
Though the technical end of adding the blogroll/sites I like HTML code may be surprising to some, the content of the last two sites may be a bit more surprising.
A few years ago I looked at the issue of Gun ownership. Specifically, whether those of us not of the typically represented demographics should think about pursuing licensing and buying firearms. Never one to make a rash decision, I tend to internalize and test market the idea to the rest of my life and as that life changed I reexamined my thoughts on the matter.
A few weeks ago I started the process of getting a permit.
Oh, and I won’t be joining the fucking NRA. I already belong to this club with the contradictory sounding name.
BTW, The above t-shirt is real and you can get it here.
It all comes down to money, doesn’t it?
Money coupled with power. Power over people via “ideas” that have more in common with emotional revulsion than logic. This is what we are now.
Steve Bannon was at the left hand of the seat of power; he was the co-pilot of the administration, arguably the primary architect of the Trump victory. You’d have to be utterly blind, delusional, Stockholm Syndrome-addled or just uncaring not to see this. The nearly transparent lie that there was no collusion on the part of Bannon’s appeals to race resentment and the violence that often erupted at Trump rallies doesn’t need calling out, it is there, in plain sight, for all to see.
Nor does the connections to the Alt-Right, real Nazis, and other assorted white supremacists, they too, are plain. Through the denials (what common criminal ever said, “Yeah, I did it, that was me” when being cornered by the cops?) the obstrufications and every logical event to the contrary, Bannon, Breitbart and its network of ideologues and hangers-on continue to play a role in the conversation or at least continue to keep the discussion about them, bolstering the profiles of both the wave riders and the hard idealogues.
There is no such thing as bad press.
So why are we still playing this game?
Why are we still under the delusion that we are living under anything but a proto-fascist state, a state that combines the worst elements of our cold war and second world war enemies. We now represent the things we have purportedly fought against for most of the 20th century. It’s no longer about left and right ideologies because both would be crushed under the weight of the oligarchy. When there isn’t freedom for anyone, ideology is moot.
It is a cold hard fact that for all of the history of the United States we have been awash in white supremacy. Its taken many forms as the idea of whiteness have been adopted by various Europeans and those of European descent. It isn’t unique to this nation, but the brand of white superiority and supremacy is. We are unique in the fact that we’ve inhabited a Janus-like guise, out of one face we say we are pluralistic and generous, the huddled masses are welcome to come and add their uniqueness to our own and to our collective culture, on the other we are xenophobic, racist and fearful of difference although demonstrably, once we know each other personally those elements diminish.
We also claim to value our collective contributions to our society. We claim to not see race or sex and that the value we place on our fair values is absolute. Even on our political left, there is this illusion, the corridors of power in our entertainment are littered with the desiccated bodies of the women who know better. Liberal Hollywood is awash in its form of hypocrisy. Weinstein, Cosby, and Baldwin, either get a pass or use their considerable power as men to create false personas that defy their goodness while hiding their toxic badness.
At the risk of sounding SWJish, White Male Superiority in general. Yes, even Cosby.
Masculinity is at least a convening force in all this. I’ve spoken before about how this mirror universe came to pass, how the power structure that was had been challenged by an educated, non-white man, and then an educated (albeit universally unlikeable) white woman and the resulting pushback gave us a starring role in the Truman shitshow we live in now. How the years of ingrained, assumed norms of power and who was inherently qualified to wield it, unraveled while Rural White Male America slept soundly in their beds, secure in the fact that their hegemony wouldn’t be undone by a one-term Nigger president.
See how that happened?
We didn’t elect a white knight, we chose the anti-Nigger, the crass boldness embodiment of everything we would have lynched Obama for, and some things lesser, that we tried to. Trump’s money, his conspicuous consumptive nature on full display in House Horrific gold inlay pimp my penthouse bling, his pussy grabbing dullard braggadocio, his obviously ignorant grasp of policy and its implications, all of it punishable by death for any nonwhite who isn’t signed to Bad Boy or in the NBA. Trump is gangsta personified.
Must be the money…
Edited on 10/12/17 because the first time around I just don’t give a f***!
Edited 9/8/17 because brought to you by the letter “M.”
Edited (yet again) on 8/10/2018 for a few misplaced (s)s and slightly augmented wording.
Can we re-purpose a reactionary frame?
Can we take something not quite patently offensive, but triggering and reshape it to mean something that can unite rather than divide? Can a community of people, who already feel burdened with the explainer role, manage again to unify under something they mainly feel is a bastardization and outright insult to the movement they identify with?
If we’ve learned anything from the election of Donald Trump, we should take away this, using the language of the oppressed to claim oppression works, but can the opposite work as well.
When I’d seen the statement “All Lives Matter” in response to BLM, I cringed. I knew it was a reactionary, angry, reflexive response to a needed if not fully appreciated movement. It angered me that people who know better should have understood that killing an unarmed member of any community should be denounced, that people who should know that there is a disparity between the way young Black men are seen and treated in our society, and the way young white men are treated. That Black Lives Matter, of course, wasn’t a statement of exclusivity but one of defense. That the implication that ONLY Black Lives Matter was NOT part of this declaration, nor was the implication that Black Lives Matter MORE, but it was merely that Black Lives Matter AS WELL.
There is much to be said about how we got here, much hand wringing to be done about how history had drawn a clear line to this moment and how forces, both seen and unseen have forced these confrontations.
For context, I suggest reading some of the books on slavery or civil rights or some of the more inclusive books on American history A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn is a good place to start.
I’m not getting into context here, it’s too obvious to me and would distract from my point. Plus, I believe we should all be more responsible for exposing ourselves to the context of the history of the country of which we so effulgently pronounce our love.
One of the things I have learned about messaging is that sometimes to do it effectively; you have to give up some deeply held preconceptions. You have to resort to some to the tricks of the oppressor, if you will, and one-up them by playing their game. There are limits to this, of course, but within those limits is where progress can be potentially made.
Appropriation is a hot-button term. It evoked Native headdresses or kente cloth; it evokes everything from girls in yoga pants to Rachel Dolezal.
It doesn’t deserve the reputation it has. Appropriation is, in some cases, the same thing as acceptance, it is the brother or sister or transgendered, polyamorous, biracial neighbor of cultural assimilation. McDonald’s appropriated images of Black families in print ads to appeal to the people it was trying to sell burgers to, advertising, in general, appropriates members of audiences it wants to reach, and this is often called “inclusion.”
My feelings are half and half. Half of me welcomes the representation because it brings visibility and half of me knows the motivation is to sell a product. In many cases, even this gives a certain amount of arrival cred but still begs the motivation question. Yet, for whatever reason, it’s better to be seen in a positive light than a negative one, though it can be argued that this isn’t all that positive:
but is was certainly better than this:
Appropriation can be a gateway to conversation and understanding, or it can be a gross misuse of a symbolic cultural totem. I think its time for us to use the poseur of appropriation on the All Lives Matter crowd.
It makes sense that reactionary forces would seize on an approximation of a statement that virtually says the same thing. In this era of lack of imagination, lack of the ability to see things in shades of grey, and lack of connection across lines of partisanship, we have been unable to ask each other, “so what exactly do you mean by that?’ instead of reflexively attacking each other over our perception of that meaning.
So let’s start out by saying that all lives do matter. Black, White, Mexican, Gay, Straight, tall and short, cis, queer, nongender specific, Cops who occupy all of the other identities as well and are both sheltered and wrongly maligned, we can even go as radically far as to say that plants, animals….all life is important. The human variety is where we’ll focus for the moment though, let’s just say that all human experience is valuable.
Now we can get into a little trouble here in our appropriation as we often do when trying to be inclusive, how far is too far? So if the whole point of this is a marketing strategy (and make no mistake, the most efficient way to convey this message is through that means), who is the intended audience?
Assuming the target audience is the former Obama voting Trump devotee, a person who, right or wrong, thinks he is now in the minority, who assumes that being white has somehow become a liability, despite all evidence to the contrary, and now feels he must pull back into an enclave of reactionary juxtaposition. We aren’t going for the 1% White Lives Matter crowd, they are lost and never wanted to be a part of this new America anyway. Calling out the hypocritical other and also the people who genuinely don’t understand why All Lives Matter is such a divisive statement by appropriating the tag is a tact worth pursuing.
Re-branding as All Lives Matter, re-purposing with inclusion in mind of the people of all races that have been discounted and ignored, bringing in law enforcement of all races to have a dialog about how people are not treated equally and to what degree. Actually TALKING to each other about these vital issues under a moniker that doesn’t seem to exclude.
Maybe All Lives Matter can be a vital starting point to challenge the notion that they do conceptually and working on how they can actually.
Taking advantage of the short memories of Americans to change things in the long-term may be sneaky, but it can also be useful. From a marketing standpoint, it would be as brilliant a coup as turning a brand that had been wrongly associated with Nazi Germany into a brand that appeals to the Spanish-speaking among us.
In the world of spin, anything is possible.
Edited 10/20/16 For Clarity and Grammar
Edited 3/28/16 – 11:45 Tags
I have a love/hate relationship with firearms.
On the one hand as a guy who played war and cowboys and Indians as a kid, an adult who has done archery and played countless shoot em ups, I’m fascinated by the skill it takes to hit a target at range. As a slightly paranoid father and household head, I am just as terrified of someone breaking into my home and assailing my family as I am paranoid that they will find, or wrestle a firearm from my hands as I attempt to defend myself.
As an African-American and a reader of history, I understand the complicated relationship we as a people have with firearms and how that relationship has been manipulated. As an American I see both sides of the debate, I see how an interpretation of the 2nd Amendment can be the determining factor in where you stand and how your race and background can figure equally into both your understanding of others feelings and your personal feelings about gun ownership. I also see how that is changing.
What I especially don’t care for is the manipulation of past restrictions on gun ownership by Black Americans by the NRA and other regressive organizations to make political points that work against us. Using the Black Codes as a means to flip the script and somehow paint gun owners as civil rights pioneers is deceitful, hateful and disrespectful as primarily white gun owner associations have never been either enslaved or restricted by the federal government to behave as full citizens, with equal rights under the law.
As a Progressive, I’m seeing both where we have far too many guns in the hands of untrained citizens as it is, and far too few in the hands of those who share my political philosophy. As a practicalist, I see how we are becoming more violent, more volatile as people. As a realist, I also see that part of the reason is that we have a massive proliferation of firearms.
With tensions in the country simmering to the point of boiling over, Trump firing up angry crowds and inciting violence, and most of these folks committed to defending what they feel is rightfully theirs regardless of a lack of logic behind any of it; I’m feeling more like Huey Newton and less like Mahatma Gandhi.
But the fact remains, firearm possession is legal in the United States, so the question becomes should Liberals and Progressives seek gun ownership?
I’m leaning towards yes.
It is ever so slightly paranoid to believe that some race war or civil war on any large scale, is coming. However, if the rise of Trump and his throng of angry and armed supporters decide to wreck havoc, is it not best to be prepared?
It is very easy to assail a person, to threaten them with a gun, a knife or some other sort of physical brutality on a whim if you feel you outgun them, this is an essential tendency of our species, the strong, for better or worse, feel empowered to prey on the weak. Indeed, if they already feel under siege, certainly if they feel emboldened and right. It is alw3ays easier to prey on someone weaker than you than it is to attack someone equal to or stronger than you.
Dominance over smaller women by larger men common in sports, most especially in MMA, is one example of this. Police using deadly force against suspects, primarily but not limited to men of color is another. Is not an equal playing field a guarantee of some semblance of safety?
I find myself now drifting into the realm of the Gun rights camp but not fully, not without the balance of statistics and not without significant reservations.
First reservation: Police.
There aren’t many police confrontations with open carry permit holders of color to compare to the ones posted on youtube with Caucasian men. This one recently occurred in Bridgeport CT, and pretty much goes the way most of the others do. But I do not trust already trigger happy police to handle every confrontation this way. They have proven time and time again that they are willing to break the law and assassinate people as a matter of course. Would people of color applying en masse to get permits change that script? Would Blacks, Browns, Liberals and Progressives open carrying make the same impact?
Second Reservation: Itchy Trigger Finger Syndrome.
The consensus found by recent studies is that having a gun in the home increases the chances of violence, either toward someone else or by self-harm. It is also has been the conclusion of a few studies that firearm possession increases not only the likelihood of their use in a confrontation but the escalation and threat of a confrontation itself in armed motorists. Concluding that people who are armed, and already angry feel extra empowered to use or brandish a firearm. Conservative white men who have grievances based on fear of the other have been involved in the majority of cases of road rage gun use, but would adding carrying Liberals, Blacks, Browns and Progressives who also have legitimate grievances to the mix not only increase the likelihood of violence? Are people indeed people across color lines and politics? My guess is yes.
Third Reservation: Critical Mass.
We’ve seen it time and time again, in many ways, we have this conversation in the first place because of critical mass. When the number, demographically, of “others” begins to eclipse the number of “whites” as it is starting to do now, the assumed balance is upset. The power structure is upended, and those who associated power with race (everyone) starts trying their best to adjust to the new reality. In the case of the United States, it isn’t going well at the moment. Many in the US, who self-identify as “white,” have enjoyed a long stretch of prosperity mostly inherited. The proof of this is all around us, said in explicit terms and implied in coded language that has become part of the vernacular. Many of these very people feel honestly that the election of Barak Obama was the death knell for the old America, which it was, but somehow despite the culture being a mix of the best and worst of all of us, this is only seen by them as a bad thing.
Others have had much more powerful things to say about this, and I suggest seeking them out. The fact remains that if the critical mass in legal gun ownership by Liberals, Progressives, Blacks and Browns is reached, judging by the knee-jerk reactions to the duly elected President, it will be ugly, probably very ugly.
Regardless of what we fear will happen, it is apparent that many folks are paranoid and armed.
Would balancing the paranoid and armed on the right with sober gun owners on the left be a good thing if the path we are on seems bound for confrontation? Or would the number of bullies be less likely to be dissuaded from starting aggressive movements if they knew those they oppose were armed as well?
I know this, an armed society is not immediately a polite one, a polite society is polite despite being armed or disarmed.
I’m still weighing my role in all this.
I wish no ill will on anyone, want nothing more than to live and let live and even find some common ground along the way. I also do not want to be the one with a target on my back. Despite what they may think the changing cultural demographics can benefit everyone, I just don’t want to be a victim of someone who has other ideas.