The Whitewash of Blackface

269614_2125700498792_1134296117_2405887_3679363_n I have a style of posting on Facebook that encourages audience participation. I throw something out there, often it’s inflammatory. But posed in a way that makes people think. Above all else I want people to think, whether they agree with me or not. I want them to be awake to where they stand on a thing. To own what they believe, not merely recite it like pulling a string in their back. I encourage discourse and opposing views. My only rule is you can’t attack anyone else’s beliefs. You can’t bully. Yesterday after reading the teaser for an article someone posted which had three photos of President Obama, Eric Holder and Al Sharpton with the word THUGS in the title. Behold, my topic for the morning: You *do* realize that when you use the word “thug” we all know you actually mean “nigger”, right? The discussion that followed was interesting and at one point it was suggested that by posing this rhetorical question I was exasperating the racial divide in this country. Now I’ve been chewing on just that idea for the last month. And this is what fell out. I’m not furthering any divide. That divide is plainly there. I’m just calling out the fart in church. The etymology of the word “thug” is of little relevance to the discussion. Very pertinent is it’s popular usage. I’m reading things encouraging conciliation in the wake of the cops getting shot over the weekend. I say the opposite needs to happen. Not an out and out race war but for the topic to not be hastily stitched closed by people saying all the right things to smooth egos, hurt feelings, and retain status quo. We NEED to talk this out. We need to be made to see our willful blindness that keeps things comfortable for us and not for everyone else. (see: U.S. population NOT white, straight, male) The isms in our country are institutional, pervasive and part of every bit of it’s fabric so much so that it is stunningly easy to be blind to it, akin to a fish being asked to describe water. There is much talk about women, brown people and all the other crybabies of society sucking America dry one welfare check, crack pipe and illegitimate rape at a time. That they need to get over it, get a job, stop with the victim mentality. Every meaningful social statistic says that societal opportunity is stacked against them, from birth forward. Blacks, asians, women, hispanics are rarely shown in any media as anything but stereotypes. Caricatures. If they’re strong, capable, smart, well they die to save our white hero (who avenges their death). Or the white savior makes a stand to save them. Educational resources are funneled away from poor neighborhoods. Police arrest nonwhites at 4 times the rate of whites even though drug usage rates are equal. No one except double digit I.Q.ed neanderthals actually say “nigger” anymore, they say “thug” and everyone in the club knows which side of the fence they’re on. All levels of any meaningful career is still firmly a good ol boys club. Even Silicon Valley only has maybe a 25% female employment rate. It’s bullshit. The protesting going on didn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s been brewing for a long time. Most of it isn’t being done by people breaking windows and setting fires. Hell, protesters outed a cop in Oakland undercover as a protester breaking windows – instigating chaos. When confronted he drew on them. It’s insidious. And the media is all too happy to produce the narrative. One crackpot shoots two cops sitting in their car and it wipes away decades of police abuse. I don’t accept the “a few bad apples” argument regarding rogue cops the very same way I don’t accept the “not all men” tactic. It conveniently hands the worst characters over as appeasement to keep everything the same. it looks absolutely nothing in the eye. And that desperately needs to happen. I am not a race traitor, a gender traitor or a closet homo. Those aren’t filters I see through usually and whether you think I am speaks a great deal about you, not me.  What I am is awake. And being so makes me sick. The consciousnesses that need to be raised are *ours*, not the people we keep held down by the fiscal, social throat, insisting that if only they had more character they’d be just like us. Everything about our society is rigged to favor me. Ann Richards, governor of Texas once said of George Bush, “Poor George, born on third base and thinks he hit a home run.” That’s you and I. Maybe you’re relatively poor and you aren’t feeling that statement at all. But the word “relative” is significant. You probably work your ass off just to get by. The people I’ve listed at the outset of my post – they work just as hard, for less, with even less hope of leaving their station in life. The consciousness that needs to get raised is mine. Ours. Step out of your comfort zone. Pay attention to how you get access, privilege, a basic assumption of benevolence simply by nature of your gender, race or orientation. It’s easy to do. Think of the superlatives you use reflexively to describe a black person, even complimentarily, that you find unnecessary to use to describe someone from your tribe. Try it with a woman. A gay person. Those words are unconscious prejudice. And deeds follow words. America is at a turning point. “All lives matter” is a worthless rebuttal to “black lives matter” because we already know white lives matter. Acknowledging that black lives matter brings them into the equation. It has to happen first before “all lives matter” is a truth and not literally a whitewash. I don’t lose a damn thing by offering women, blacks, asians, hispanics, and gays the same humanity, dignity, opportunity, access and rights that I receive simply by virtue of half my bloodline (I don’t have the energy to get into what’s been done to the Native American part of me). We all gain by bringing as many great minds to the table as possible because America isn’t doing well. We need one another.
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Purchasing Pain of Future Pasts

missing-pics

9/11 is maddening to me. Like every single one of you reading this I remember precisely where I was. What I was doing. The feeling of surreality that the world was somehow ending. The silence overhead for the ensuing week. Grief, rage, patriotism. I also remember going to my local 711 and warning Said to keep his head down because people were going to be thinking and doing some stupid shit soon. Said had as much to do with 19 shitheads from Saudi Arabia flying planes into buildings as you and I did. That is to say, nothing.
I remember tailgating at a Raider game when word got out that we were bombing terrorist camps in Afghanistan. The feeling of release and vengeance coursed through me and I felt good about it. Really good. Then the media machine geared up for what was obvious to everyone as an oncoming invasion of Iraq and I wasn’t buying the hype. Not because I’m cleverer than you or because I hate America but because I sat in my break room at work one day and read, tucked back in page A13 of the SJ Merc, about how the cylinders the Whitehouse was claiming had tactical warheads easily launched from mobile command centers were in fact not the right size, nor shape to function as such. A point never addressed by the media, military or President. And so I worried.
That was 10 years ago. We’ve been at war ever since, playing whack-a-mole all over the middle east. It will never end. It polarizes us like little else. I watch my countrymen pass or fail social litmus tests; are you for the war or not? Are you a real American or not? Do you support the troops or not?
I’ve flown a flag in front of my house since 9/11. (Need to get a new one) I make a point of clearing up when people approach me to thank me for my service with earnest pride and heart ache in their eyes while pointedly not looking at my fake leg that I’m just an old diabetic, not a vet but please don’t stop thanking them. I have many friends who ran off to serve. I have several friends who lost people in the Towers that day. I have friends who were firefighters and cops. I love my country and am proud to be an American. I support the troops and hate the VA and the congress that refused to fund their needs after returning home with traumatic brain injuries, depression, PTSD. I wonder aloud – all the time – why we put them in harm’s way in the first place. I wonder why we, as a nation, abjectly refuse to look at why those planes killed 3000 souls that day and subsequently 1400 first responders in the following years. It was not the world’s worst sucker punch. We need to understand *why* that happened to move forward. It’s not weakness nor cowardice nor unpatriotic to look within. It’s being a grown up. I don’t think we’re there yet – by a stretch.
I love America.
And I hate nationalism.