a thousand words

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Cowboy, The Billionaire and The Murderer

Three men, three different walks of life, one recurring theme.

Stop me if you've heard this one:

Cliven Bundy, Donald Sterling and Elliot Rodger walk into a bar. A Black bartender asks them what they want. They all say: "A white bartender."

Here we have three very different men and three very different stories, yet they all have one thing in common : Race.

Some time ago, I wrote another blog you probably didn't read called "Everythang Is Racist." which discussed how race is fused to the bones of America. Well, as usual I am right. This is a very delicate and complex problem and we treat it like a joke. It is not just a problem of visual and cultural differences but one of image and powerful imagery that works in the subconscious.

So, when people? When are we going to stop this ridiculous dance we are doing around the issue? How many more idiots like Bundy and Sterling will we have to suffer? And how many more racist murder spree letters will we see before we address the problem?

Let's stop pointing fingers at each other. Let's stop trying to rewrite history, like the geniuses in Texas who want to take the word "slave" out of the history books, because you know, Texans aren't quite ignorant enough yet. And let's stop making these retrograde, "Save A Negro" films, where white liberals get to wash their guilt and black people get to wash white peoples' dirty floors.

The good news here is Bundy and Sterling are old. The bad news is Rodger was in his 20's and it makes me wonder how many young white men are out there holding hatred of blacks in their hearts, hiding behind smiles and handshakes but seething with resentment.

For centuries now, Black people have been the repository for this nation's fear, resentment, hate, and failures. We are the cause of everything and yet we have nothing.

I think that maybe we need the conflict, that if there were no niggers and racists that we'd have to invent them, because we are still basically these little hairy animals fighting for the watering hole and ignoring the shiny black obelisk holding the power of our enlightenment.

Sterling is now shamed and stripped of his team. Bundy is forgotten and Rodger is dead, but the thing that linked the mall together still lives and we ignore it at our peril.

© 2014


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

GET STERLING

I don't like Donald Sterling.

It seems he is an evil, greedy, bigot who has made a fortune through savvy and ruthlessness with an amiable assist from the continuing powers of the Old Boys Club. I detest men like him and for a long time they have been the bane of our existence. But one thing is clear:

Donald Sterling must be sacrificed.

Because if he is not, then we will have to face and maybe take action on the comfortable racism we've all allowed to exist.

Let's get Sterling, so white people will not have to accept that the problems of black people are not in our minds, that it's not a coincidence that black men are targeted and black women marginalized and "racheted" in the media giving continuing truth to harmful stereotypes.

Let's get Sterling so blacks will not have to accept our measure of guilt for squandering the proceeds of the Civil Rights Movement, turning away from our children and responsibilities and using the lingering racism of this nation as an excuse for failures that have nothing to do with race.

If Sterling keeps his team, maybe the black NBA players will wake up and see that Sterling was allowed to buy the team for a paltry $15 million and it wasn't the money that was an impediment to black players but the other owners who only wanted white men to own teams.

If we don't get Sterling, white people will realize that Donald Sterling is their father, uncle or their boss at work or the man or woman standing on the other side of their bathroom mirror. You know, the person who think if their vile thoughts are never uttered, then they can harbor them, even act on them as long as there is no proof.

If we don't get Sterling, black folks would see that racist thoughts and words offend but they can be ignored until they are put into action. Maybe we would see that the best guard against racism is to clean up our own house and stop following religious charlatans and start demanding value for our citizenship.

But Sterling won't keep his team because it might start something no on wants: thinking. No, it's better to crucify him, take his team and give it to the black celebrities who covet it and who will make the rest of us feel like there has been some justice served by Oprah getting another feather in her well-feathered cap.

So sorry Don, you lose because the bigger loss comes if you win.

Copyright 2014

Monday, May 5, 2014

THE GRAVITY OF IMAGERY: A REAL LIFE CONVERSATION

This is a real conversation. It happened earlier this year at a little cafe in LA. It has been polished a little or maybe this is just how I remember it.

MY FRIEND: Aren't you happy about 12 Years A Slave?

ME: I'm happy for the winners. They all seem like good people.

MY FRIEND: I meant the Black people. Don't be cute.

ME:  They would be included in "the winners." But don't you see the larger symbolism in this year?

MY FRIEND: Oh God, you are not going to throw salt on this, are you? You know, you think way too much about stuff sometimes.

ME: Something I would never accuse you of.

MY FRIEND: Smartass.

ME: I'll take that. My mother would just hit me.

MY FRIEND: A good woman. Okay, Captain Salty, what do you mean by symbolism?

ME: The two movies 12 Years A Slave and Gravity perfectly illustrate the relative positions of the two races in modern pop cinema. 

MY FRIEND: So? They are both good movies. But 12 Years is our movie.

ME: But think of what they are about. One takes place in space, above all of mankind, raised by superior intellect, technology which three hundred years ago would have seemed like alchemy. The other takes place, well three hundred years ago.

MY FRIEND: I don't get it.

ME: Our movies, as you say, are still very much earth bound. We seemed to be stuck in this perception of the pain and wretchedness of our past as if the Industrial, Manufacturing and Computer Ages never happened. While movies have soared to the limits of imagination, orbiting the world, we are still riding the same Cinema Comedy and Guilt Train to the same destination like it's the only thing we've ever done. We have been slaves and kings, heroes and villains, geniuses and fools, poets and scoundrels and our history starts at the dawn of man. Why can't it extend to the stars?  

MY FRIEND: Can't you just be happy for the damned movie? Dang.

ME: Of course I can, but I would have been happier if Django Unchained had won the year before. It was heroic, romantic and imaginative. That would have been progress.

MY FRIEND: I didn't like that movie. Too much violence.

ME: Because 12 Years A Slave was a feel good film, right?

MY FRIEND: That was different. It was based on a true story.

ME: And pretend violence is worse than real violence?

MY FRIEND: (laughing) I really hate you right now.

ME: Thinking way too much will do that.