nothin's scarier than a blank page

16 July 2013

dumping thoughts from somewhere else

I was in a conversation elsewhere and got carried away with commenting and my thoughts were too long to fit into the post-limit there.  So I'm dumping it here.  Yeehaw.  No editing went into this, so fuck you.
I've been thinking about this thread for awhile, and I'm gonna try to share some of my thoughts.

Frederick Douglass was one of the first prominent voices for civil rights and provided an excellent example of Republican-style responsibility. His presence was so prominent that people gave him all of the oxygen in the room, and when he died, there was no one person who could fill his shoes. Booker T Washington was pretty great, but then there was W.E.B. DuBois, too, and in the absence of one great voice to listen to, people were split between this divide -- the great irony being, of course, that no one voice can or should ever speak for any group of people. But a pattern of dialectical leadership began, and I think it's morphed into a fucked up standard for today. (For those unfamiliar with Washington or DuBois, I'm not going to try to sum them up, but the MLK/Malcolm X dichotomy runs parallel.)

Excuse me while I make a feminist analogy, but there certainly does seem to be a madonna/whore problem with black racial stuff that I don't see in the same way with other racial issues. (Maybe it's just me?) I think the problem, in part, has to come from other races being more closely tied to an actual country, whereas black Americans are tied to -- what? To slave culture that they are told to resent? They are told by their own that they are "other", but the only thing they really have to tie them to an understanding of what that otherness is is a history of injustice with real heroes like Douglass and the black robe regiment being erased.

This is a lot of babble to get to the point that when I was in diapers and black people were first starting to get mainstreamed into popular culture in a hardcore way, it was a big deal. And it was an even bigger deal when the Cosby Show rolled around and portrayed them as "normal" instead of Rerun or "Dyn-o-mite!". (etc) But at the same time that The Cosby Show was groundbreaking, you also had Run-DMC essentially recreating the music industry. Which way were people supposed to go? Washington or DuBois? MLK or Malcom X?

I'm oversimplifying, of course, which has a tendency to mush the pot.

I see a strong desire by mainstream America and its white liberal guilt to accept black culture... but what the fuck is black culture? It's not the black slave traders who sold them into American slavery to begin with. It's not the carefully chosen songs sung on plantations that were used as coded communication methods. It's not the amazing black leadership that existed before the 1900s that's been all but erased from the books. It's like the big secret of black culture is that it's as fabricated as Kwanzaa. The emperor's wearing no clothes, but ain't his pimp suit fly? Black culture seems to be rooted most strongly in Otherness, and with so much emphasis on the injustices of the past, personal pride becomes the ability to eschew the norm. There's nothing else left to use as an identifier other than doing the opposite of whatever is mainstream. So, maintream becomes "white" (regardless of color or ethnicity", and not-white become black, and it's a fucking pile of confetti on the floor that you're supposed to not call garbage.

Generationally, this always happens. Your parents are square and weird, you're hip, and your children think you're dreadful. But having children and burying parents (and a general attitude of love and respect within familial ties) evens that shit out. But I don't know if there's ever really been an entire subculture like Black America before (like, ever-ever), where the whole reason for it existing as a different group is to promote that it's not the "ruling" group, with no strong ties to an identity of its own beyond rejecting something else. And a loose and mythological tie to the jungle -- which, let's face it, is a loose and mythological tie to tribal savagery.

How dangerous, and how sad. And now the country seems to have two different roads of black people: oreos and criminals. Cultural things that come out of urban areas that seem to belong more to black people (rap, for example) get mainstreamed, leaving black people struggling to find new ways to be Other. Saggy pants and wearing hats on their feet and seemingly ANYTHING that's too crazy for a Cracka to get away with doing it. Even hair is politicized. Straightened or corn-rowed or shaved or what the fuck ever. I'm lucky if my hair is clean on any given day. Is there any fucking thing in black culture that doesn't have some weird whitey oreo opposite that's put down? Is there anything in black culture that is actually it's own fucking things and not a fabricated opposite version of the Way Whitey Does It? (<-- not a rhetorical question.)

The cruelest irony is that with each black thing that's mainstreamed, we're actually TAKING AWAY something "wholesome" (or, at least, not too horribly dangerous) for them to cling to as "theirs". They're left with the world of "Precious", because no one in their right mind fucking wants that, and then they cling to it, because at least THAT is THEIRS, and then the fucking Democrats subsidize it because if THEY claim it as THEIRS then it's cultural and must be respected, and now fucking Rachel Jeantel is a multilingual genius lauded for her oratory instead of a functionally retarded liar whose claim to fame is saying "retarded" and "cracker" under oath and fucking a kid who was shot.

I'm doing that thing where every paragraph leads me further down the rabbit hole. I'm trying to say that I think the problem with black culture is that it is not a culture in the textbook sense of the word, and in trying to understand it or live it or respect it, we fall into strange dichotomies... when perhaps the only solution is to blow up the whole damn ship. Black culture and heritage is totally different from pretty much any other fucking race (different in its formation and construct) -- with the exception of mutt-Americans like me. I think that's part of the reason I delight so much in the ironical celebration of "cracka"ness. I'm mostly British/Welsh, and I've got some Mayflower blood or whatever, but I don't look at a map of England and cry for my motherland. I'm American, and if I wanted to feel pride in some other ethnicity, it'd be a fun fabrication. American culture takes the best of everything that's been poured into it and claims it as ours. And that's fucking awesome. It's one of the secrets to our success. (Or, it used to be.) Ex: we can all celebrate fucking St Patrick's Day without being Irish, and no one goes stomping around on that day wearing American flags because they feel like the drunkfest is marginalizing them. Black culture, in order to exist, has to do the opposite of American culture. Just by definition, it has to do this in order to exist. Since American culture = white culture, and since white culture = source of slavery/injustices, black culture becomes something awful just by definition, because it's the opposite of something uniquely awesome. But no one (no one that has a real voice -- you know what I mean) will fucking say out loud that the emperor is naked, so we keep going on ladidah, as if pouring poison into a jar of sugar doesn't leave you with anything other than sweet death. We're supposed to feel bad for thinking people look retarded when they wear their pants backwards -- but what the fuck, their PANTS are BACKWARDS. We're supposed to feel boring and white for liking pearls instead of bling. We're supposed to "understand" this "otherness" and find some kind of "acceptance" and "tolerance", when at its core, it's really just a rejection of everything that as defined what it means to be an American.

It took time for the American identity to develop, and it wasn't there yet in 1776. It grew and flourished, and later on, within it, something new started to grow that defined itself as an opposite. It's like the only way to defeat it would be to turn horrible and ugly ourselves, so the evil twin becomes nice, and that ain't an option. I know I feel disgusting guilt for thinking most of what I've written, which just further demonstrates how insidiously this polarity has infused itself our core -- and the more we try to make room for everyone in the tent, the more everything splits apart at the seams.

How can we ever make room in the tent for something that is defined as being outside of the tent? And why is it our fucking responsibility to make room in the tent -- no, not "make room", but carry into the tent on our backs" -- for people who want to stand out in the rain?

I'm apparently unable to sum up my point, so I'm stopping now. Hopefully there was something worth reading within that babble. Langworthy out!