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Thursday, August 8, 2013

RACISM BUBBLES OVER

new york subway


Every day when I look at internet news sites, racism seems to be the key word. Since the Zimmerman shooting, and especially since the trial, the racism in every aspect of it; from the shooting to the trial, to the law, to the courtroom, the explicit racism was front and center. Concern about the enword is even more ridiculous than before. I saw a clip from the tv show The View with some black women and some white women. Everybody was on edge. They all knew they could be fired on the spot if they said the enword. They spent their verbiage dancing around the word they were attempting to talk about. Whoopie Goldberg pointed out that it is a generational matter. Her generation freaks out over the enword, but the younger black people have no problem with it. I saw something else where Oprah remarked that her sensitivity to the enword tells her age. Evidently the hip-hop generation is not so sensitive to the word. Oprah said her problem with the enword is that it's the last word a man heard hanging from a tree. I took that for a showbiz sounds-good rationalization. Hippie times liberated the F-word from the mountain of taboo that went with it. Possibly hip-hop times have liberated the word nigger for their generation, again, by over use. Run it into the ground using it and the power it carries diminishes. Refusal by the white middle class to use the word, as well as the insistence of the black middle class that white people not use the word, have made it into a most ridiculous taboo. The taboo gives the word more power than it ever had on its own.



It brings to mind the time NC senator Jesse Helms made an issue of bumper stickers that said Shit Happens. Children might see them. So it's on the news for over a month every day that Jesse Helms wanted to make shit happens on bumper stickers illegal for the safety of children's delicate minds, like kids don't have experience with shit. Such a big deal made of it, at least a hundred thousand times more kids heard about it on tv than would ever see it on a bumper sticker. For example, I have never seen one. However, one day in that time I was driving on I-77, I think somewhere between Charlotte and Statesville, and came upon a little red Yugo with a wiggling exhaust pipe, a red bumper sticker with white letters: HELMS HAPPENS. Passing it, I saw a young Asian guy, looked Chinese, I took for a college student. The only problem with the S-word is the people of the working class use it freely. Not using the word distinguishes someone of the middle class as not working class, the same way as clothing styles. We don't use that word. It's not nice. Nice is another middle class word that distinguishes the user from the working class. Somebody from the middle class might define somebody as nice when somebody from the working class might say he's a silver-tongued rattlesnake.


One of the women on the View tv show brought up "the B-word." I started imagining a forbidden word for each letter of the alphabet. The A-word for asshole. One day a few months ago I was talking with a white middle class woman I know, who was coming out of the store as I was going in. For some odd reason she went off on the enword and how it ought to be banned from the language. Then, while we're banning words, she added the C-word. Bewildered by another letter with a bad word attached, I said, "Cool?" (The only C-word I could think of that's overused.) She said, "NO! CUNT!" I take them for people who are partially educated, but not enough to get it that making something into a taboo turns up its power potential immeasurably, the opposite of what they want. This is one example of how do-gooding often creates the opposite of the do-gooder's intent. Fixing somebody else's issues comes from ego, and ego can't see somebody else's flow. Fixing somebody else seldom works; by its very nature it is egoic. It's saying, I know more than you do about yourself. The white backlash the republican party has whipped-up over civil rights matters has brought American racism to the surface again. The Reagan revolution kept the black people down while television pretended there was no more racism. We got a black president and the racism in the republican party bubbled to the surface and over the side. The irony about having a black president is that Obama does nothing to help black people, and he, himself, is whiteness itself. He certainly brought republican racism out into the open.



Now preparations are being made for the 50th anniversary civil rights march in Washington DC. Over the last thirty-plus years the black people have watched what rights they'd fought for in the 1950s stripped away systematically by the corporate (white man) takeover of our government. All the way to openly racist supreme court shutting down the voting rights act. I wonder how many black people have used the enword in private conversation regarding Clarence Thomas. I wouldn't want to meet one who has not. Racism never went away, but racism is back with a vengeance at the present moment. It is locked in by corporate decree, by legislation, by court rulings setting precedents. This is the Reformation after the years of the FDR influence in government of helping the poor, government for the good of the people, like standards for education, republicans taking us systematically into a society of a ruling class and a peasant class that will work for as little as in Asian sweat shops. Back in the civil rights days, racism was never really addressed. It addressed wrongs done by racism, but not the matter itself. Half a century later, after a few years of illusion of progress, then 30+ years of regress, racism is alive after years of being whipped up among white men by way of republican hate media. In this time when all manner of stored hatred is bubbling to the surface, racism is one of them that needs examining out in the open. At the same time these hatreds are popping to the surface, they are being examined, talked about, brought out into the open.

 
 
That new over-used T-word, transparency, will ultimately have to be the case. Racism sank into the well of the D-word, denial. It needs bringing up out of denial and examined collectively. Racism's roots run so deep in the white belief system, it will require attitude change and belief change. I don't mean religion belief, but the belief black people are innately inferior to white. Those changes are hard to enforce on others. It's individual and can only be changed by the will of the believer. If a society truly wants to eradicate racism, education is the answer. We've had black studies courses for black students since the Sixties. What about teaching black studies to white kids? The black kids have to study white history. How about letting American history include black history and what Howard Zinn called the people's history, the history of American movements for basic rights. All the way through school, it bored me out of my mind that history amounted to names of generals and dates of wars. Graduated from high school, I wondered why history did not include the invention of the the flush toilet, the discovery of plumbing, changes electricity brought, the changes in music along the way. That such directly relevant looks at American history were missing, the chant through the Sixties was for relevance in education. Nobody quite knew what that meant. Everything schools tried toward being relevant failed. The attempts were cosmetic. The relevant was in front of our faces, too obvious to be seen. My feeling about racism is it is too obvious to be seen. Easy to deny. I respect the people who are openly racist on both sides of the coin, because they're not in denial, at least about the R-word. 


subways of new york
 
 
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