Thursday, September 11, 2014

An update.

I see that my last post has gotten a lot of pushback. That let's me know I'm onto something. ;)

I haven't been posting here, but I have been on my blog's facebook page about Michael Brown and various other -ism related things that have been happening recently.

So if you have facebook, I would encourage you to click here and "like" my page if you are interested in hearing my perspective.

Good day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How to stop being racist #20: Stop saying you hate rap music.

[if you are new and wondering what the other things are on this list, you can click here for most of the other ones.]

Remember in my last post when I asked you what were any signals to help identify underground racists? I forgot to tell you one I've already figured out...People who say, "I hate rap music."

Let me explain...

When I was in high school, it was really popular to say "I like all kinds of music except country and rap."

Looking back on it, I'm guessing this was just a way to say "I like pop music," becauseI don't think my fellow Eagles were really that into classical, folk, latin, etc. The music that was most popular at the time was alternative, but "popular alternative" is something of an oxymoron.

Someone who says "I hate all music except rap and country" is less likely to get the side eye from me, because we all know that while black people make rap, white people make country. So they probably just hate the different sounds associated with the different musics.

But when someone says,

"I hate rap...Just rap...Rap really annoys me for some reason I just haven't been able to put my finger on yet."

What I hear is:

I hate young, urban black males and all that they stand for. It is not acceptable for me to say I hate young
black urban males and all that they stand for, but is IS acceptable for me to say I hate rap, so...I hate rap.

I'm not saying this is a conscious thought on the part of these people, or that it is even accurate. It's just my perception. Also, I realize it is a bit unfair to associate things with peoples' unconscious minds, since that is not something that can be proven or disproven in a court of law or a labratory. But don't blame me, blame Freud. Personally, I think he's onto something. And if you're white getting mad, I think this rule applies to people of color too--just put internalized in front of the word racist.

My friend Polly once said that if you say you don't like a whole genre of music, it's because you think it all sounds the same. I think she's onto something, because I don't really like Ska music for that reason (though I do have a Mighty Mighty Bosstones cd.)

But I would never say I hate Ska music. Hate is such a strong word. I know there are people who go around talking about how they hate lots of different things (not just rap,) but I think that might be a habit that is worth breaking. If you hate Cheetos, how do you feel about Hitler? It's like, words have precise meanings--use the one that best describes what you're trying to convey.

I also recognize that while I probably will never be a big ska fan, that someone who is a big ska fan hears a lot of differences between the various bands, knows there are subgenres of ska, and could probably find me some ska songs besides The Bosstones that I would like.

The same is true for rap. Rap is such a varied genre with so many different artists--it just doesn't make sense to write off the entire thing because of the (most likely) extremely limited exposure you've had to it.

There is a great website called Rap Genius, where you can find basically any rap song, read the lyrics, and then read user-submitted interpretations of the lines--just like you would analyze poetry. I would encourage you to check that site out and see what you find.

If you don't like rap that degrades women, say that. If you don't like rap that glorifies consumerism, say that. Understand that people that make that kind of rap often say that they are just telling the world about their harsh reality. Examine that idea and formulate a response. Finally, be open to the possibility that there is a jam out there that you would love...if only you heard it. Then maybe you and I can be friends.

Comments? Feel free to leave me one.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

What is it like to be white?

I have literally wanted to post the video below for YEARS. But I could never find it online. Then I was in a group on facebook that deals with race, clicked 'like' on another video and then this video popped up as a suggestion. Just like this time, the Universe was working for me--you just gotta pay attention.

I saw this skit when it first appeared on Saturday Night Live. I was about 6 or 7. I probably shouldn't have been watching SNL at that age, mom. ;) . However I will say, I didn't get most of the jokes. But I do remember this skit where John Belushi held up a puppet and said, "Happy birthday, Shiela!" Does anyone else remember that?

Ok, watch the video:

Arrrrrgh, I can't get it to embed, so you're going to have to click here to watch it.

Couple things:

Did you catch the part where he says in order to become white he read Hallmark cards? I feel like that is part of the race problem that doesn't have a whole lot to do with white people. This idea that certain things (that I would consider positive,) are quintessentially white. Like, giving someone a card with a sweet sentiment is not something that a person of color should feel like they can't do if they want to maintain an authentic racial identity. Being interested in school and speaking the King's English would be two more examples. So, if there are any black people reading that put these kinds of limitations on other black people--please stop. If you don't want to stop; please tell me why in the comments so I can understand better where you're coming from.

So, I am pretty sure that this is not what happens when there are no people of color around. But you'll notice I didn't say I'm positive...cuz I'm not. Because logically, everywhere I am, a black person is--so I could always be influencing what is happening. Also, we got to where we are now by white people giving each other preferential treatment for at least 200 years--so it's not like this skit is coming completely out of nowhere.

And that's where you come in, white readers. I don't think you give each other free stuff or have parties on the bus--but how frequently do you hear racist/racish comments from other white people when there are no people of color around? What percentage of white people are actually scarily racist and just savvy enough to control themselves in public? An estimate for both of these answers is fine. Last question: any tips on spotting these people?

That's all for now. And if you're a new reader who got here after my mention on the country's best morning show--Welcome! I'm glad you're here.

And if that's not how you got here--I'm glad you're here too.

Feel free to answer the questions I posed, your reactions to the skit, or just share about anything else that's on your mind in the comments.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Donald Sterling's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Trying something different here. Speed post.

Donald Sterling. He's probably rue-ing the day he got involved with that girlfriend of his, huh?

--Once again I am not surprised. I don't know why other people are surprised. Because he owns a basketball team with black players? He's also an 80-something-year-old white man. That means it is safe to say for the first 30 plus years of his life, he probably never saw a positive portrayal of a black person doing anything. And by the time you're 30, you're pretty much an adult. Obviously, I am not excusing his behavior. There are probably 80 something year old anti-racist activists too. But my point is when it comes to race, his life got set on a certain track being a white man in America, and he didn't really have to or want to do very much to change it.

--I liked the peek into the inner workings of the sugar daddy/ sugar baby relationship. He straight up told her she could sleep with other men. Why doesn't he want her broadcasting that she sleeps with black men? Probably for the same reason that white adult film stars get paid less money when they start doing scenes with black men. Probably for the same reason that black men were lynched just on the suggestion that they slept with or raped white women. Probably for the same reason that the most pervasive stereotype related to black men is that they have large penises. Some white men have a weird sexual thing with black men. I'm not white or a man, so I don't really understand it.

--The players: SMH. Obviously, the most clear sign that they didn't agree with his remarks would have been for them not to play. They didn't do that. I would imagine that they see themselves as being between a rock and a hard place. I would also imagine that they are being pressured by other people in the organization to continue playing. But I personally don't see continuing to play as any kind of real statement, regardless of how they wear their uniforms while doing it. But I am not going to knock them for their decision, they are doing what they think is best.

--The NAACP was scheduled to give Donald Sterling a humanitarian award before this tape went public. If that doesn't tell you about the sorry state of race relations in this country, I don't know what does. I don't know the specifics of how this award came about, but I am going to guess that it had something to do with Mr. Sterling writing some checks to some organizations that the NAACP cares about.

--Sports: I don't watch sports. I don't like seeing so many black men pursue athletics as a way to success. Especially sports like football and boxing, these people are basically risking their brain health and mobility for some shiny cars and big houses.

When Shaq was on Cribs showing us his basketball court and gaigondo house, you think, "Wow Shaq is rich." Yeah, that may be true, but Shaq is selling his labor. If Shaq was injured, the checks would stop. The person who signed Shaq's checks is wealthy. That person makes money in his sleep, and lives off of money he no longer has to work for. I hope this Sterling incident is a wake up call for rabid sports fans. Think about who you're really benefiting with your money. Not to mention the time you're spending watching sports...maybe you could be doing something else? Just a suggestion.

--This incident combined with the NCAA development that student athletes can unionize makes me think that maybe something big is going to happen with sports. And since a disproportionate number of black people are involved in sports, it could have significant ramifications for the black community.

--Obviously what needs to happen here is Mr. Sterling needs to sell his team. Anything less is unacceptable. If he won't sell, the players and coaches should refuse to play and coach. I understand the games are important, but probably not as important to these men about their beliefs about racial equality and who they want to enrich with their talents.

Enough from me, what do you think? What should Sterling do? What should the fans do? What should the players do? What is the purpose of professional sports in society? Is this all just a smokescreen to deflect from the FCC's recent ruling on net neutrality? The Sterling story has been the opening story the past two days, while the FCC ruling hasn't even made my nightly news program. Weird.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Love lights the world...

You've probably already seen this, but if you haven't click below:

and then this one:

Great job, Honey Maid. Now I've got a lot of the same critiques of the first commercial as I did of the Cheerios commercial. Like, how much do you want to bet they had those paper rolling artists on standby, long before either of these went up? If you never read my Cheerios critique, click here.

But there are two things that Honey Maid did in the second commercial that Cheerios didn't. First, they gave a ratio of positive to negative comments. It is so easy to read the comment sections of blogs and think that the world is just filled with bloodthirsty, racist, homophobes. But the reality is, said comments are more likely to be written by a socially maladjusted 13-year-old than a federal judge. Not saying there aren't racist federal judges, just saying they don't spend their time writing youtube comments.

Second, and most importantly Honey Maid just basically gave a big F-you to the people that didn't agree with their point. Yes, they wrapped it in a nice little message about love and upcycling, but they doubled down on the TWO GAY DUDES CAN RAISE A BABY!! idea. Lots of people have a problem with that. However, instead of being a company that tries to be all things to all people in order to make as much money as humanly possible, Honey Maid is taking a stand.

Now, don't get me wrong--I don't have a problem with companies who want to stay out of everything because the only color they care about is green. That's called capitalism. I also don't have a problem with companies that take a stand even if it's something I don't personally agree with (See: Hobby Lobby).

What I do have a problem with is wishy washy corporations like A&E who suspend someone for a weekend until they do the calculations of all the money they're gonna lose if the whole Duck Dynasty family walks off the show, and then come up with some wack excuse about why they didn't cancel the show. See previous paragraph, if A&E had just kept their mouths shut, I could understand that. But I feel like what they did was the worst possible outcome, because it showed them to be lacking convictions while trying to appear as if they had some. Don't suspend the guy for a weekend, that's just offensive.

Got sidetracked for a bit there, forgive me.

So HoneyMaid is basically saying, You gotta problem with this?! Don't buy our cookies then!

I respect that, more than I respect the original commercial. The original commercial can be written off as a trend in multicultural advertising. The second one cannot. They burned some bridges with the follow up commercial and took a real risk.

Those of us who appreciate that should let them know by buying their products, and letting them know that we're buying (more of) their products because of this campaign.

Finally, I want to see a white family in a trailer park pitching me a product. Or anyone broke in general.* Because the whole point in advertising is to create a need. They make you think you can be like the people in the ad if you buy the product. Most of the time, the people in the ad are attractive and/or rich. In the HoneyMaid ad, they're saying buying their cookies will make you feel love. This is not true, and all savvy consumers should know that. But I want HoneyMaid (or some other corporation,) to show me that I might want to be like a white family in a trailer park, because they're happy and love each other. Show me that people that don't have a lot of money still have value and deserve to be put forth as some ideal on a tv screen. Because even more than race or sex or gender, the idea that you have to be of a certain economic class to be admired is an extremely pervasive idea in our culture.

*I know everyone that lives in a trailer park is not necessarily white nor broke. I'm just trying to make a point. If you were offended, let me know and we can talk about it.

Do you have any thoughts? If so, leave me a comment.

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