lawrence ferlinghetti, summer happenings
It feels good to drive with firm brakes again. I like a motor that will go and brakes that will stop the car as needed. Went to the tag office today to turn over my papers and money. When I go into such an office, I just sit down and relax. I refuse to think about how long the people ahead of me are taking, so long that I'd be embarrassed holding up the people behind me so long. I don't get anxious if somebody gets ahead of me. I settle in for the duration. When it's my turn I get up and go to the window and speak with a meat robot. I don't ask them to talk, because they act like they're not getting paid enough to talk too. I handed over everything needed. She handed me my new papers and I went out the door and stuck the 2013 sticker on the tag, being sure I put it on the correct corner of the tag for fear of arrest. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. There are so many laws even lawyers can't know them all. How can we be aware of all the laws? That's neither here nor there. It's a matter of black and white, not a matter of the spectrum between the poles. True or false. Either/or. Best thing I know to do is what I've practiced all my life. Stay out of sight of the Law. Do not attract the attention of the Law. Once they get a bead on you, you're surveilled all the time. Like somebody moves back to the county after being in prison several years, they keep an eye on him and keep him knowing he's being watched.
One of the frustrations of my life is that I have serious issues with the Amerikan penal system. The sentences are draconian. Somebody kills his mother and gets 8 years. Somebody sells an ounce of reefer and gets 15 years. For young black men prison experience has become a passage, like the Marine Corps is for white guys. It's become a tradition in the world of black people that the men go off to prison. Held down in poverty in every American city by a racist society, hopelessness sets in and kids growing up know they don't have a chance even if they make all As. Even if they do have a chance, they don't know it. The gangs are where the money is at. Nobody will hire them because their hair is sticking out all over in tight braids, tattoos cover arms and neck, love and hate prison-tattooed across the upper fingers between the fist knuckles. Pants half way down his ass with polka dot underwear, big stolen Nikes hanging open, eyes of a man who has killed, Radio Shack isn't going to hire him to work the register and deal with the public. Rap is an endless list of cases of hopelessness, people the Climb is not available to. Even making a living is not available to many. When you're held down by racism, intense bitterness comes next. In prisons the race wars are raging. It still holds that white people like black people who dance, talk dirty, play sports and make music--others need not apply. That is gradually changing, though the racist party has been holding the black people back for the last 30+ years, keeping them in stasis. Some have moved into the middle class and on up, though a separate middle class.
It frustrates me that my race is holding the black race of people down, always has and looks like always will, if given the option, but I don't believe it always will. We're at a place in our national democracy that the Deep South states were in at the end of the Civil War when more than half the census was black. It scared the whites that the blacks had equal power in a democracy. Then as now, the South would rather have racism than democracy. But not entirely. That is changing. The new breed of young people coming along are not so inclined to racism. Some are, some are not, though racism appears to be a little bit less every year. The republican party's racist attitudes toward Obama are only acceptable to some white men, not all by any means. Racism is all over the country, not just the South. The South is just a good scapegoat to point the finger at for distraction from self. The republican party this last election counted on racist white men outnumbering everybody else. This is what Limbaugh was saying after the FAIL, "We're outnumbered." Now they know that every immigrant from south of the border is one more for the side of the coloreds and the turncoat whites. Every black baby is one more possible voter. The white men who identify with their pigmentation will be getting more and more desperate as time rolls on.
White men are wild and crazy. For one thing, it's white men doing the massacre shootings, not black women, not chicano women, not white women. I'm wondering if these shootings could be an expression of a psychic panic running through white men in this time of census crisis that sets off the ones with the least mental balance like strings of Chinese firecrackers. We have our racism issues in abundance. However, in India the Hindus and the Muslims go on killing rampages with machetes, axes, knives, fires, pitchforks (guns are illegal) and anything else at hand (pitchforks don't kill people, people kill people). Over religion. Muslim Pakistan hates Hindu India with a passion beyond racial hatred in Amerika, even considering some fundamentalist preachers in Kansas. Like Ronald Reagan summed up his administration at the end, "It could have been worse." W proved him prophetic. We have laws against expressions of racism that keep them minimal and hidden, that control behavior to some degree. Laws against it doesn't change it in the hearts and minds of people who need it. As long as they do no harm, they can think and feel however they think and feel. That's the basic, understood, tenet of civilization that makes it desirable. Only outward expression can be controlled, and that not anywhere near entirely. It's education that diminishes racism, not legislation.
Racism in India is as powerful as it is here, even moreso. The Hindus are mortified of eating meat, bad karma, but jump to it when a chance comes to burn down a house with a muslim family inside and laugh at them screaming. We do some bad shit here in USofA, but here we do it with multiple shot assault rifles instead of machetes and fires. The American way, with guns. In Africa, Idi Amin ran out all races from Uganda but black. Indians who had lived there for generations had to leave. Africa has plenty of its own racism. Every race has its own internal racism. Racism is ego, like everything else we do, say and think. I've found in myself that paying attention to ego as the motivator of everything about myself, individually, I'm overwhelmed with helplessness. When I educate my ego with understanding, things change. Understanding makes a difference. It's at the ego that we have to collectively find our understanding if we want to make the ego less a problem. It never works to go against the ego and try to shut it out. That's the Fall of the House of Usher syndrome. I only know to flow with it, allow it, teach it what my higher self wants it to know, teach it respect. Not by coercion, but by convincing evidence. I can teach the ego to be less demanding, but don't dare push it so far it creates a backlash. What I've learned over the years of how to handle my own egoic matters and the egoic matters of others in my world can be put simply: don't worry, be happy. Just don't worry about it. Let it rest.