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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why I'll never be a racist...


So this is the second time in a 3 week period that a white person (that I’ve never met) has called me a racist based on something on my facebook page. Normally, this is something that I would ignore in keeping with my life’s mission of deflecting negative energy, but in lieu of being seriously annoyed at the audaciousness of the claim given the accusers, I’ll address this in hopes of never having to do so again. I will not address the individuals, as I do not know them and I try not to pass judgment on those that I don’t know even when I’m not extended the same courtesy.

Anyone that knows me, my background, my upbringing understands that my view of the world is far more vast than the block that I grew up on. Throughout a large portion of my youth, my mother was a flight attendant and being a single mom with virtually no family in our city, I inadvertently had to travel with her on many occasions. This allotted me opportunities of traveling across the US and around the world on a rather consistent basis. My father lived in jet black Flint MI, where I spent most of my summers when I wasn’t traveling with my mom. I attended elementary and middle school at St. Andrews which was, until it’s closing in 2010, touted as one of the most racially diverse elementary schools in the city of Grand Rapids, then went to East Kentwood HS which is known as the same. After EK was lily white Calvin College. I gave this background to provide the readers who don’t know me as personally as some others a glimpse of my point of vantage.

Black Racism

As stated by Merriam-Websters New English Dictionary, racism is defined as follows:

1.

a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

2.

a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.

3.

hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

Before I continue, I ask how can the aforementioned logically apply to people of African decent on this planet?

The entire system that we call America was built on was off the red man’s demise and on the black man’s back. This is a fact that no scholar can refute. This having been said, equality is the least of what people of African descent deserve seeing how many resources both human and natural were depleted from Africa for America to exist as it does today. What architect builds for free? African people in this country have been fighting for equality in a land that they’ve built. To many whites, steps in this direction are seen as reasons why black people should be pacified, but given what’s been taken this is insulting and downplays both history and current conditions.

Again from Marriam-Webster’s New English Dictionary, “angst” is defined as a feeling of dread, anxiety, or anguish.

Angst is what many white people confuse for racism. When people of African decent make statements such as “I don’t trust white people”, or “White people aren’t this or that”, it’s not from a place of hatred based on color of skin, it’s from a place of apprehension for being torn down for years and being cautious that the offspring of that same mob that once called African’s 3/5th’s of a man, now all of the sudden want to kiss and make up.

This isn’t just about slavery (as so many whites like to say), this isn’t about Jim Crow, this isn’t just about Apartheid in South Africa, this isn’t just about so called “blood diamonds”, or COINTELPRO, or the crack epidemic, or the welfare system, or the richest (natural resources) continent on the planet having the poorest people in the world on it, or the worlds super power being built on the back of people with no power to show for it, nor is it just about the lack of understanding between African people and African Americans and the stereotypes that we feel about each other (perhaps the most insulting repercussion), nor is this just about police brutality, under funded inner-city schools, the creation and perpetuation of the ghetto, Steve Biko, Sean Bell, police profiling etc. This is about the common denominator being the same. Black people would be fools to act as if the aforementioned didn’t exists.

The rape victim will always give a man that resembles her attacker the side eye, no matter what his intentions may be. Is this fair??? Probably not, but it’s no way near as unfair as the original act that put the victim in this position in the first place. To say that the victim is wrong for her heightened level of judgment, is to say that God is wrong for creating memory.

African people have the right to be apprehensive of white people. I’ll go a step further and say that it’s the responsible thing to do, just as it’s responsible of the rape victim to be apprehensive of those that resemble her attacker. It’s simply common sense.

I honestly don’t know any black people that feel as though they are inherently better than white people. I DO however know black people that feel as though they are innately equal to white people which makes their societal standing a bit perplexing to them. Through this confusion, you may get statements like, “Fuck whitey” or “white devil”, and so on… I assert that as wrong as these statements may be, they come from a place of disgruntlement as to how to get ahead in a world that was built by a people that seemingly have no control over the system in which they’ve been placed.

“But angry black man, we have a black president!!!”

So what? Given that blacks built the WHITE house, we should! Even so, Obama has done more to appease whites than any president since Reagan. What’s cleverly disguised as bi-partisanship, is Obama literally trying to please every white person in which he comes in contact with to the point that not even his own party is pleased in large part. Despite these efforts to organize with the republican party and to join forces, a radical offshoot that AFTER 8 years of Bush (arguably the worst president for EVERYONE), NOW all the sudden is fed up with government. (No coincidence there)

“But angry black man, I didn’t own slaves, neither did my parents!?!”

Slavery is only a small part of black angst, because just as very few white American’s parents owned slaves, very few living African American’s were slaves. Slavery is often the first thing that comes out when one talks about the white power structure because that’s what black people are taught about in white schools. The fact of the matter is, if blacks don’t teach their children at home, the only thing that black kids will ever know about their own situation is slavery, Harriet Tubman, MLK, Rosa Parks, and Obama. The black experience is far more broad than what our children are taught in school (Be it in an under-funded black school or a suburban white school that a few black kids attend) As far as slavery goes however, that doesn’t mean that the effects don’t still exists. It’s akin to buying a car that was in an accident prior to you owning it. The fact of the matter is, it was in an accident so despite who did it, or when it happened the issues are still there. The constitution is old as well; it however doesn’t make it any less relevant to our American existence than slavery is. Slavery is no more of a scapegoat for black anger, than a constitutional right is for American pride.

“But angry black man, you have quotes from Farrakhan and other black nationalists in your poetry and writings!?!”

Of course I do. The only reason that white people have a problem with the Hon. Minister Farrakhan and not Malcolm X is because Farrakhan isn’t dead so they are still threatened by he and those that follow him. He and the few other black leaders that don’t pander to the white establishment are seen as threatening because frankly, the white establishment is used to African’s coming through them to acquire their power. The few that haven’t are always defiled and misconstrued as corrupt or extreme. Far be it for me to break the tradition of quoting extreme blacks, Honorable Min. Farrakhan said it best, “America will always side with those whom she can direct, give orders to, and have those orders obeyed."

“But angry black man, you don’t date white woman aren’t we all humans?”

Yes we are all humans, and just because I desire my own woman over yours isn’t me saying otherwise. I’m interested however, in building the black family and the black power structure just as the Dutch did in GR. You build the family, the business (Amway, Alticore etc), the educational institutions (Calvin, Aquinas, etc), the neighborhood (E. GR, Ada, etc) with people of the same cultural background and understanding, NOT UNTIL that foundation is firm you invite others in. Black people have yet to establish that foundation. When’s the last time that you’ve gotten a loan from a black bank? When’s the last time that you went to a black owned hospital? When’s the last time that you got pulled over in a predominantly black owned area by a black police officer, or got your fruit from a black owned grocer? I say that to say this, people of African descent have yet to control our own existence in this country for dealing with a power structure that was created for us to fail. What can we control? Family. How is power garnered? By keeping certain things in the family. At the root of the downfall of every mob flick from Carlito’s Way, to The Godfather, to Goodfella’s, even Scarface was marrying a woman outside of the culture. The mob understands this, the Dutch understand this, it would be ignorant for blacks to not understand this as well, seeing as thought we are in fact all humans. (Not to mention that black women are the most beautiful creatures on the planet J)

“But angry black man, can’t we just move past all of this… I’m colorblind!!!”

This makes as much sense as saying, I’m gonna walk through this wall because I can’t see it. Whether one sees it or not, it’s still there. Ignoring a broken leg and trying to walk doesn’t erase the fact that the break is still there. Color is there for a reason, it’s not to be ignored but embraced. Be proud of who you are, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Arabic, of mixed descent etc. It’s not to be ignored, nor shunned… Nothing on this planet of ours has ever co-existed by ignoring differences. The problem comes when those differences are exploited for political, social, and economic gain. Perhaps Africa is being stripped of her resources today by color blind people, perhaps that white person that just got hired into that fourtune 500 company was colorblind as well, perhaps that white kid from Lowell that just got hired into the police department to police the innercity is color blind as well. You can never judge a person’s position or viewpoint until you know where said person stands. What we can judge, however is the system that that person is a part of.

Fortunately for whites, a black person can NEVER be racist because African’s simply don’t have the power system in place to pull it off.

Unfortunately for blacks we are still at a disproportionate disadvantage in the US and around the world based on the president of white supremacy that has been set.

Unfortunately for both whites and blacks, lingering dismay may make some blacks disagreeable causing a rift between two otherwise genuinely good human beings.

Fortunately for blacks and whites, there is a creator that has domain over all His creations and after awhile of seeing the debauchery that His creations are capable of seems to make a way where there otherwise wouldn’t be one.

No black person should be ignorant enough to hate all white people, nor should said individual be naive enough to love all blacks. However in the global system that has essentially been set up by whites and for whites, we have a right to rebuke the status quo and be angstful all the while. Me personally, I’m not a racist… I’m a realest

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Mathematics of HipHop in the Blaq Community

Math has always been my worst subject, I never have been one to take kindly to people telling me that there is only one answer to any question. Moreover, I remember when my fifth grade math teacher Mrs. Williams told me that I had to “show my work” to explain how to get to an answer; At the time I didn’t understand it, however as I grew older, I started to understand that the only way to truly find an answer is to go through the process that it took to arrive to the conclusion. Upon hearing so many recent arguments attacking and blaming Hip Hop for the despicable behavior of a small percentage of individuals within the African American community, I feel obligated to point out a few key things for those that exist outside of the Hip Hop culture to consider. First of all, misogyny, sexism and black female degradation existed long before the conception of Hip Hop. From James Brown, Miles Davis, David Ruffin’s etc abusive behavior toward their wives and girlfriends, to the Black Panthers historically sexist banter that caused feminist such as Angela Davis to separate themselves in later years, to the patriarch cal institutions that forced colleges such as Spellman to be conceived. Black male sexism has been and continues to be an issue in our society. This begs the question, Why attack Hip Hop? The answer is simple. Hip Hop is the single most overt form of art that has ever existed on the planet earth. It is the manipulation of words to convey a point. The thing that separates Hip Hop artist from other poets is the fact that this particular genre was birthed in the slums of Black America and has never left. This is an important, all too often, looked over piece of this particular equation. The fact that Hip Hop was conceived in the ghetto, raised in the ghetto, and has never left the ghetto causes it to be as crass, raw and abrasive as the ghetto itself. The word “Bitch” doesn’t sound good melodically spoken, hence Ruffin and Brown focused on other things when they were singing and saved the female abuse for personal endeavors. Miles Davis was never accused of making music that degrades women, however he also did on a consistent basis within his everyday dealings with so-called love interests. 
Violence is historically as large a part of any black ghetto in America as the liquor store on the corner (which is in direct relationship to the violence… Don’t get me started on that tangent though) just as Black, self-destructive, behavior is as old as African’s selling other African’s to European terrorists for purposes of slavery in the states over 600 years ago. I say this to detail that, nothing documented in the verses of your favorite rapper is something that isn’t part of a bigger picture. From the use of the word Nigger, to the Use of the word Bitch, to the documented killings of brothers and sisters, we’ve seen it all before. We just haven’t heard it as vividly put as your favorite rapper does. What does all this mean? You can ask your neighborhood rapper to clean up his/her lyrics, but until we clean up his/her neighborhood, the problem will still exist. A good example of this is P. Diddy and Rusell Simmons push last election to engage the Hip Hop Generation to “Vote or Die”. This valiant effort raised quite a stir amongst CNN NBC and FOX, but come Election Day, the Hip Hop Generation didn’t come out to vote in any more force than they always do. This is because it is vastly perceived amongst this generation that politics have rarely positively changed their environment. Henceforth, even power players such as Diddy and Simmons attempts at becoming outwardly political still didn’t engage the generation because the same environment that caused the complacency still existed. 
Hip Hop in many cases is a mirror of our tormented community. A reasonable person wouldn’t blame a mirror for their imperfections, so I ask, why is it ok to blame the art and artists of that community for painting an accurate picture? The good thing is that, what needs to happen to cure these societal ills that plague us is simple. DeBois in his classic sociologic critique entitled “The Souls of Black Folk” documented it over 100 years ago and it still holds true to this day because it hasn’t ever been fully implemented. Those of us in our community that are fortunate enough to have an education, money, connections etc (Talented Tenth); need to invest that capital back into those that don’t. In short, strategically give back to the ghetto. This can be done by mentoring, teaching in a public school, being a positive visible force in a neighborhood, going to bat for one another when it calls, watching over the single mother, employing our own… In short THE SAME THINGS THAT EVERYBODY ELSE THAT IS SUCCESSFUL IN AMERICA DOES! This is what the Panthers did in the 60’s and 70’s. The elders need to stop being afraid of the youth that, in many instances, they failed to raise. The youth need to listen to the elders that take the time to actually enlighten. Black pastors need to use the old model of the Black Church to teach LIBERATION THEOLOGY as opposed to these fiscally and morally conservative pastors whom have single mothers in the hood tithe 10% of a welfare check while they drive their Benz’s to revivals and republican fundraisers. We need to develop a moral compass that doesn’t transcend societal implecations. Most importantly, we need to realize that we are in a similar situation to the one that we’ve been for years. The struggle is still prevalent, brothers are still getting murdered, we are still in chains in prisons, drugs still ravage our communities, women are still raising children by themselves, sisters are still being disrespected by brothers, our men don’t know how to be men because no man was around to teach them etc… The saga continues. Oh yeah, and the white man still isn’t all too fond of us. He’s just calmed down a bit because the institutions that he’s put in place are still sustaining him and contributing to the aforementioned plight of our village. All of these sociological and cultural critiques that I just made, can be heard in your average Hip Hop records. I hope that I am not accused by someone that doesn’t understand the black experience of being to overt or blatant in my assertions: I too hope that Hip Hop music doesn’t continue to be a scapegoat for its overt and blatant critiques of the black experience. The one thing that I feel separates this piece that you have been so kind to read and the average Hip Hop song (Other than proper English) is the fact that not only have I provided answers to our (Black) collective problems, but I too have shown the work that lead up to the answer. Thanks Mrs. Williams. I’m understanding the mathematics a bit more clearly now. 

Perhaps I was Wrong about a Blaq President

I never in a bazillion years thought that we would see a black president of the US!!! I was very vocal about this viewpoint and questioned Obama on numerous occasions on his “audacity of hope”… (Pun Intended) I dismissed people that told me that this was possible as blissfully ignorant and overly optimistic… THIS IS MY ADMISSION, I WAS WRONG!!! Wheeeeew… That was tough… Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I think that it is important for me to voice to you some of the reasons why I thought (Think) the way that I did (do). 
Anyone that has a remote knowledge of the history (our)story of this country understands that we (blk) people have been vastly marginalized. So much so that for many of years the ceiling wasn’t even glass, it was as apparent as that of the Sistine Chapel. Tremendous strides have been made since our country’s conception from the civil rights generation’s gains socially, to the black power generation’s gains consciously, to the hip hop generations gains financially; however the ceiling was all too apparent and to a great extent still is. Now, far be it for me to drop the cake in the middle of the party, but I can’t help but look at certain occurrences this election season with a certain level of cynicism. First off is the whole Sarah Palin phenomenon… Let’s be real here… Someone really had to do their research to find a VP nominee dumber than Quayle. I mean WOW!!! My mother always told me that African Americans needed to be twice as good to be considered equal, well if the math holds true on the other end, Whites need to be twice as dumb to be considered equal to blacks: Enter Sarah Palin. We’re talking about someone that didn’t know that Africa was a continent. This is a woman that didn’t (And still doesn’t) know what a vice president does... (Sidenote: If you apply for a job at McDonalds and don’t know what a fry-man does, YOU DON’T GET THE JOB!!! *Trust me, I’ve tried*, This is a woman that didn’t understand the VP’s role in the senate… Hell, this is a woman that didn’t know who was in NAFTA (The NORTH AMERICAN free trade agreement) *HINT* Think North America. Yet somehow, she managed to make it into the running for the second highest office in the land. Meanwhile on the twice as good side of things, Obama whom finished at the top of his Harvard Law class and has a genius level IQ is being scrutinized for “lack of experience”. Now, I know that Obama and Biden won, but my point in illustrating this is to say… OF COURSE THEY WON!!!! With all of the above factors being quantified, anything less than a victory would be ludicrous. Only in the US could someone finish third from last in his military class, get captured by the other side in a war, be well into retirement age, and still be considered formidable competition for someone as intellectually equipped as Obama. On one hand I am proud of my country for making the right decision, on the other hand, I think to myself… “What other decision was there?” This is an incredible and historic time that we are in, but this is a time that proves how superior African Americans need to be to beguile the status quo. I assert that this election doesn’t make blacks equal in this country, that is still going to take years of honest antidotal paperwork and policy to counteract the years of paperwork and policy that have been used to oppress blacks. What this election does reaffirm is that when faced with an inept opponent, it is possible for blacks to win over the popular vote. This is a start, this article isn’t meant in any way to belittle or demean the incredible accomplishments of President Obama, but less we forget Jesse Jackson, Angela Davis, Shirley Chisholm, and the countless other African Americans that were lambs of sacrifice to make this day possible. Let’s continue to work together as agents of positive and progressive change. I truly believe that that starts with arming ourselves with the knowledge that there is still much work that needs to be done. Moreover, African American’s need not allow this great accomplishment to trap us in a state of euphoric complacency. If there is anything to take from this historic time it is that we African American’s need to work twice as hard to continue to make American HIStory. 

The Myth of the Successful Single Blaq Woman

It is always funny to me to hear “successful” black women talk about how they can’t find a “good” black man. For one, I think it is very interesting how some women define success; I also think that it’s strange that so many “successful” women fail to abide by the gender-roles that make a traditional family tick. Before readers jump down my throat about putting women in a “gender role box”, I submit that gender-roles do no such thing, however the stigma of gender roles is what is truly offensive because the role of the women traditionally has been looked down upon by our matriarchal society. The way that we define success often dictates the attitude of the person carrying that “successful” title. For years financial success has been assumed as a male trait as has working a nine to five, and being the breadwinner of a household. Hence, these being the ways that we have defined success and have related these characteristics almost exclusively to males, women often times assume the “male role” in other situations as well which leaves no room for a male in the relationship. The accomplishments of women in this country have been incredibly abundant, in my opinion rivaled only by those of African Americans. When one puts these two factors together (African American and Woman) the accomplishments are all the more awe inspiring. Black men however have faced a slightly different plight in this country and although we have no shortage of accomplishments and accolades under our collective belt, we are still faced with a plight that is distinctly troubling and obstacles that are distinctly ours. There is the prison system that disproportionally recruits black men for industrial purposes and has been doing so since the late 30’s. There is the stigma of fear that has been perpetuated by caricatures from the minstrel era on through modern times, which often shuts the doors to job and educational opportunities. The list goes on. I say these things, not as excuses for under-performing African American men, but instead to document some of the things preventing us from reaching our full potential. Black women are faced with their fair share of stereotypes as well, but none are as blatant a hindrance as those that plague black men. That having been said, I think that it is time that we (black women and men) redefine our collective idea of what success is. This is not saying that women should lower their standards and tough it out with any coon that shucks and jives his way into their lives, but perhaps it’s time to reevaluate their role as it pertains to a relationship and not confuse it with their role as it pertains to the office. Being a successful black man to me means more than my education, means more than my car, my house, and my job. A great part of it is defined by the quality of my relationship with my significant other and the quality of the family that will one day follow. It would be great to be the breadwinner in all of my relationships as men, that’s what we’re taught we’re supposed to be, but if not, I would like to think that the role of my significant other wouldn’t be dictated by it. How successful can a woman really be if she lets the male centric definition of success hinder her to the point that she is balling and single? Another part of success is happiness and it is hard to be happy when you’re alone.