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19 de Febrero, 2007

The Skin of My Soul [intermission]

Categorized under Blogando , Hipnotismo , The Skin of My Soul | Tags: , , , ,

WE LOVE TO TALK ABOUT what we ain't talkin' about. We love to argue symbols, and argue words, and most of all we love to argue. Maybe it makes us feel we are achieving something. Maybe it's only a game that we forget we are playing. Maybe bickering of the political sort is but sports for intellectual types. But there it is. Look out over our social discourse, put your ear to the dialogue—be it on blogs, television or your newspaper—and you will inevitably be caught up in this charade. Like Rip Van Winkle's 20-year spell, much time may go by, events changing all around you and yet never once interrupting your dream. Like Puddleglum and Jill far away from the sun, you may begin pointing to a lamp and forget there is a real source of light somewhere high above, in the sky. One that warms and gives life, and doesn't just appear to be bright.

But let me get on with what I'm talking about here. And as Puddleglum didn't say, but perhaps should have: "Smell my burning foot, witch."

RACIST. This word, as a commenter on a recent thread said, "shuts down conversation." So why do we not make progress on it? Why do we keep bandying it about? And why do commenters to my site time and time and time again—even though they have read my lengthy feelings and thoughts on the issue—continue to refute the notion of "race" and take up time and cause my comment scripts to run over and over again so that they can assert the non-existence of same? Why do they not talk about what they are talking about, if they feel we are talking about a non-thing? Why continue the talk of that non-thing, thus rendering an ongoing conversation of non-thing-ness? If people are Progressive, why do they not make progress on this term?

Because RACIST paints the picture of a person none of us feel we have to identify with. And it's far too easy to talk about non-things than to dig down, or wrap your hands and heart right around that grain of harm that we all fear to touch. So let's make some progress. Let's kick this shit all vulgar-like and common. Hell, let's even forget the word entirely. (Pow! How ya like me now?) Maybe it's not even useful. Maybe it's a word we only apply to others, while at the same time others never accept it. See a problem here? See an eternal word war? See a divide that we not only try to recognize with a word but then exacerbate by warring over a word? See a Symbol being mistaken for Essence?

So what are we talking about when we use the symbol "Racist," anyway? What is the Essence we intend to describe? During my recent conversations on the subject (and I know you have a feel for how many of these conversations I have) it occurred to me that the problem is not the dreaded Racist tribe that lives somewhere yon, it is attitudes in everyday people who think they know more about what is Right than others; who think they are superior to others; who are just plain ignorant on matters of history; who are afraid of people who live differently or look differently; who want to be better than others with no real grounds.

In some people (and I think of them as "good people" just so you know), "Racism" exhibits as love, ignorance and fear. I have had these kind and good people—European-American people who love me, people I love—throw the "I don't see color" line around. Are they horrible monsters? No. This is simply ignorance of an area they have never had to or wanted to think about. It is, perhaps not knowing how to enter a delicate area. It is a way of saying "I don't think of you as a Spic," a way of saying "let's not have those stupid discussions, they are not needed here," a way of saying "it frustrates me that I don't understand this one area." It may be a way of saying "I have love for you, and that is all that matters." And sometimes, in some situations, this is true. But what must matter to you if you love me is how I see things. Where I have been. What I have felt. Who I am.

Please don't say you are COLORBLIND. I was COLORBLIND once, too. And for so long I tried to be WHITE that I began to see something else when I looked in the mirror. Assimilatin' fool. I was so COLORBLIND I ended up wearing blue contact lenses and bleaching my hair. I lost sight of myself. Sure, I've always loved costume. And shifting identities. We could argue about why this is. Yet and still, I did make my way to emulating a fair person. I now see this as myself running. Christina Aguilera can do whatever she wants, but for me, when I look back at some of the pictures I have of me with my skin, my eyes and with platinum blonde hair, the whole picture all together just looks wrong. And I am ashamed. But it is realization tempered with understanding, and so I do not condemn myself a bit.

This COLORBLINDNESS was my way of wanting to unsee those variations that hurt me because of those who didn't like those variations. So please don't do that. See me for who I am, what people are in my history, see my Brownness and know what it means. And if you don't know, think about asking, reading, or (and here is the one word I would ask you take with you if nothing else:) listening. There are amazing stories all around you and within them is the seed of healing for the entire world. And I don't feel I am exaggerating. As my blogmigo (aspirate the "g" sound here and yeah, I'm coinin' it, skippy) Rafael was riffing the other day, (and I paraphrase here), if you are COLORBLIND, then you don't see my struggles. And perhaps more important to you, you are also blind to the "landmines" and "various unwritten speech rules" and will have no chance of speaking without fear that you will walk yourself into a pit of ill-chosen words.

With these people I speak of above, the people who honestly don't "get it" but who also aren't actively being ignorant—and by actively, I mean courting their own ignorance, stroking it, nurturing it, celebrating it, hurling it at me—I want to try and be patient. I want to try. I do try. Because they are responsive. And as long as someone is responsive and willing, so am I. To a point. Until they fix on their spot, until they become rooted in their own idea of what it Means to Be Me. This is what I meant by "considering intent" in my personal considerations of Whitefolx being ig'nant. Some of my Brown™ friends have less patience than me for this. And generally, I think that is because they probably have suffered more behind being Brown™, such as my Afro-Beautiful friends. They cannot hide or pretend as easily. Me, I spent too much time hiding, and fooled myself for a while. And I have to admit, the more ignorance that smacks into me nowadays, the thinner my patience wanes.

Mi novia (the loveliest of crackers) says that it really frustrates White people that no matter how much they know or want to know, there may be an area of experience or knowledge that they cannot access. Bingo, Gringo.

This is another way of saying White Privilege.

How dare the world harbor some sort of Thing that I cannot experience! How dare you insinuate that you possess knowledge I may have to ask you about in humility! How impertinent of you to even imagine that I cannot, with study and great wisdom and effort, also know what it is like to grow up Brown™ in America! The voice of privilege thinks no seat is unavailable, no land unconquerable, no food untasteable, no right deniable, no experience out of reach. It is a slap in the face to this line of thought that there exists an area that cannot be known, even to a WHITE person. Gasp.

Tough shit. Get over it. Get used to it. Welcome to America, Macracka.

We come, then, to those who are not willing to hurt, or work, or make the real effort of coming to understand those with a different experience. Why? Because they fear the Sign O' Blame might swing their way. And then what? They may have to hurt? Work? Slide down off the High Seat? Stand on my ground? Look in my eye? Question themselves?

As in the post I have linked in these past two posts, wherein I took issue with Glenn Greenwald's post and he came here to discuss it (or so it seemed at first), I was actually hurt. I did everything I could to be respectful, to speak the Queen's English in the most careful and splendiferous of ways, to tame my wild, Brown™ friends who had no patience for the bullshit and saw right through it, to keep the room civil. And you know what? It didn't matter. The WHITEPROGRESSIVES came to my joint, spit their shit and split. And I was actually hurt. Can you imagine? Naive Nezua. But he learns quickly.

Like a battered wife who swears to la chota that she had it coming, me and dear Sylvia were still fretting as if we did something wrong. Greenwald's message included the amazing implication that social progress on these issues was not moving forward because of us OVERSENSITIVES. Even more egregious and bold is the implication that WHITE people are doing The Brown™ a favor by comin' round and entering discussions. And that if we don't toe the line, where will we be then? When they decide they just don't feel like engaging it?

You hear these messages long enough, you absorb them long enough, and you begin to own them. To feel like, well, the White people got mad and wouldn't talk to us about this thing that hurts us. Maybe it's our fault! I should have been nicer, I should have tried harder, Sylvia worried that she jumped to a conclusion and we made the nice White man go away without hearing our points or engaging us in a fruitful dialogue. I was frustrated because I wanted to feel that we could move forward. If only because GG is a visible fella, gotta lotta page hits and if he could come around a bit, maybe he could spread that wisdom to his crew. Wisdom and not just pretty words that cannot help but be fraught with inconsistency and inaccuracy...because they are not felt or known, only postulated.

O, if only we had done everything he wanted, and the way he wanted, he would have engaged our points and listened to us!

img Days went by. He did not update his Salon post with the update that he made on his Unclaimed Territory post, the one that linked to the conversation that was so raw and real and perhaps made him look bratty and privileged, batting around a Black woman while completely avoiding the Male's points that he had no real answer for. He did not write further on it, as he said he would. He did not return to engage the substantial points that he himself had said were "fair and interesting." He claimed that "were it not for the time constraints occasioned by my moving blogs today, I'd likely add an update to the post and respond at length (and will probably do that within the next few days)." But again, this was before he took the time to smack Sylvia around with his oh-so-impeccable "logic."

I was disapointed that he did not return. I did not jump to conclusions, as he had gotten angry about that and I wanted the conversation to continue. I did not want to hurt his feelings.

I waited. I waited. He said that It can be unpleasant to watch people struggle with these awkward discussions, but, on balance, anything which forces these issues more out into the open is probably a positive development and I believed him.

That window is shut. That Waiting is over. I gave him plenty of time. And he has moved on, now back to railing against an administration that doesn't give half a shit what he thinks and will continue on its way despite any insights he has or how many comments he gets validating them. One of his flunkies readers dropped by to repeat the deal. Spit junk telling the Brown™ how wrong they are and how White Right you are. "Truthmachine" was sure to tell us that "you will stay, as will your regulars, but neither Greenwald nor I are regulars. And, as I said, dwelling on this subject is a necessity for you, while it's a luxury for us. Hopefully it will some day no longer be a necessity for anyone."

Guess what, foo'? As long as there are people like you, it will always be a necessity.

So what do I say about someone like this? Someone who walks around wavin' tha WHITEPROGRESSIVE flag and then when he gets a chance, smacks the Brown™ in the face with it? Blames us for holding back social progress on these issues? I think "racist" doesn't do it. I don't even think the word begins to describe this attitude and behavior. I would reach into my Vulgar® bag and just say "asshole," but that doesn't get at it either. Then we are just throwing verbal punches back and forth, and truth be told, I don't care for the verbal kind. If we goan throw down, I'd rather do it in the flesh. Out here, we are supposed to be exchanging ideas. And fighting won't make anything better for anyone, anyway. Hell, after all this, I am still willing to have a real conversation with any of these people, if they feel themselves capable of approaching with some willingness and humility. Otherwise, go on with ya bad self. May you find the world you deserve.

If we drop the word "RACIST" we have to use sentences. Longer sentences. More words. But these ones would cut at the heart of the matter, and not just scar palms endlessly. We might have to say "he thinks he's so special he doesn't have to feel for others who don't look like him," or "this person has a snobby attitude wherein all they see is all that matters," or "these people feel comfortable letting hundreds of people die and starve on the streets or get buried in a flood because they are scareds of these people and loathe them for being dark-skinned" or "this person purposely chooses to fill themselves up with historical accounts that justify the continued exploitation and murder of Brown-skinned people." We might say "this person is so small-minded and has such a narrow vision of the future that they want to hurt me and people who look like me or sound like me or come from lands like my own antepasados to keep us out of that future." We may use more, or less or versions of these for different types of narrow-minded, superiority-complexed, foolish humans.

Maybe "racist" needs no replacement. Maybe the word just needs to be eradicated. Maybe therein lies the chance to eradicate, too, the ignorance, hate, fear, and plain idiocy that is spawned behind it.

Meanwhile, dearest WHITE folk, dig: The Brown™ don't have to prove to you that your ignorant shit hurts us. We don't owe you a silent or timid response. We don't have to prove to you that the White Lens is wrecking the world. Because if you care about the world, you will come around to seeing the truth of this yourself.



Part 7 of this Koufax Award Nominated Series to follow. In which Sha-sha teaches me the gift of not speaking. In which I bring the Bronx into NYU, and also, in which I move my uncouth ass up into Postcard Town. In which George W. Bush declares his intention that English should be the national language, and I react accordingly.

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Comentarios (34)


Rafael dijo:

GRVTR

The word I would use is insidious:

1 a : awaiting a chance to entrap : TREACHEROUS b : harmful but enticing : SEDUCTIVE
2 a : having a gradual and cumulative effect : SUBTLE b of a disease : developing so gradually as to be well established before becoming apparent.

When you ignore something it does not go away, it stays, festers and grows. It will not go away merely because you refuse to see. There is no blinder man than the one that refuses to see.


Professor Zero dijo:

GRVTR

Insidious it is, and that is more specific and precise than what I was going to say, which I will still say anyway: it is an abuse strategy. Manipulative psychological operations of colonization.

"You hear these messages long enough, you absorb them long enough, and you begin to own them. To feel like, well, the White people got mad and wouldn't talk to us about this thing that hurts us. Maybe it's our fault! I should have been nicer, I should have tried harder, Sylvia worried that she jumped to a conclusion and we made the nice White man go away without hearing our points or engaging us in a fruitful dialogue. I was frustrated because I wanted to feel that we could move forward."

Always having to educate. Tiring. And I am always amazed at all of the energy that has to go into figuring out how to talk to whitemen, and then recovering from the conversations.


Professor Zero dijo:

GRVTR

P.S. Recently I was asked to explain some of this stuff. The person asking did not get it, kept asking questions, so the explanation was long. Then he said it was too complicated, he couldn't make sense of it, I needed to be more concise. Which was, of course, how I had started out. 'Serving manipulation on the daily' - !


Ill Do Chay dijo:

GRVTR

aaaarggh! I hate it when my writing vaporizes!! Now I won't recall it all.


Man, if you call us whitefolx out on this, what'll happen to our beautiful status quo?
There's a variety of actions that I think allow WHITEPROGs to imagine improvement. The whole "Black History Month", to me, seems like a nice pat on your nappy heads, accompanied by a hearty handshake and a "well done, you Negroes". I also felt that some of the ads at UberBowl were patronizing in this kind of way: "you've done so well - you're a credit to your race". Thus showing that we will happily bear that White Man's Burden. You know, it shows how wonderful we are by helping the lower castes. Ugh.

If you really want to know how we relate, we are all homo sapiens, and beyond that, it's been tribe against tribe. The WHITETRIBE has been very succesful, and whoever kills best gets to write the history of it. WHITETRIBE gets to establish the norms - that's why I know people who think rich=good, poor=bad, racism is a thing of the past (really, I swear), Mexicans do great drywall work*.


Too bad we don't have a gom jabbar to find out who are people and who are human.

*I was buying a boatload of sheetrock and dude walks up to me, out of nowhere, and tells me to hire Mexicans. Well, I'm happy screwing it up on my own, but I think anyone who has experience and pride will do a good job. Why do you suppose he didn't recommend I hire a Mexican to do my taxes?


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

because we might steal all the zeros and then you'd get nothing back but pocket change!


Ill Do Chay dijo:

GRVTR

LMAO!

But zero? IIRC, Mayans had the zero AND a positional number system ages before Europe did.


Rafael dijo:

GRVTR

Call it the mathematical Reconquista!


joe osorio dijo:

GRVTR

Nezua
You put your alma into this, man. Many years ago I was in rehab. Long story. Anyway, when we were doing or saying something with the intent (maybe not consciously) to please the shrink, he would say we were Playing Goodboy. We would tease each other, Mira Que Goodboy y Wacha Joe Todo Goodboy.
The reason I mention this is, sometimes we do things to please White people, and we're playing goodboy. I know I do this-if I am in some type of racist environment, I will catch myself putting on a show. Demonstrating that I wasn't about to steal some chingadera, or that I could afford to buy it-so end up buying something I don't need to try to leave a good impression on White people who judged me on my ndn features. It doesn't matter what they think, though. Took me many years to learn this and it still didn't sink all the way down. Don't know if I'm explaining this well.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

you are man. and i thank you for it. it means a lot.


Kai dijo:

GRVTR

Joe,

Yeah I catch myself doing the same kinds of "goodboy" things. It's weird because supposedly Asians are the "model minority" that "nobody is afraid of", but it doesn't look that way from where I stand. I often sense white folks getting tense around me (especially in smaller spaces like elevators or subways or narrow shop aisles) so I try to ease their concern by finding some way to indicate that I'm not about to pull out a cleaver and come after them screeching like Bruce Lee; like checking the time while prominently flashing my fancy watch or ridiculous things like that. It's really embarrassing to watch oneself do such things. I mean, I might as well whip out my cell phone and say "Edwin, bring the limo around to the front, it's time to head to the country club for the investment banking luncheon."

Just last week, while I was dropping off some dry cleaning, I got out of my car in a parking lot while a white woman carrying a baby was walking toward her car, which was parked maybe 10 feet from mine; when she saw me she stopped dead in her tracks with tensed body, pulled the baby a bit closer, then switched directions and went to the other side of her car so she could keep the parked car between us; she thought I was going to eat the baby or something. I responded by taking off my shades (to show gentle-hearted smiling baby-adoring eyes) and quickly pulling my dry cleaning out of the car to show my suits and ties (I wear ties! I'm not a thug!). I also said something in clean articulate English to another dude in the parking lot so she could hear my soothing educated American dialect. She seemed to relax a bit, but she didn't come around to the driver's side of her car until I was gone. It was such a bizarre moment. I mean, how screwy is that whole dance?


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

i appreciate hearing these things, guys. i laugh because i totally get you, and at the same time get angry that we have to do these things, or are pressured to, and i feel sad that we live in a Haunted Land that throws all these ghosts around. but mostly, i am glad to hear these stories. they are the kind you keep inside, and now i don't feel so stupid for bending so low.

it's the old "watch them pull the purse closer" or see them switch the purse to the other side or hearing the door locks click shut as you walk by, so you do stuff like putting your hands in your pockets and keeping your eyes to the street to make them think "well, he won't try to grab me, cause if he was gonna do that, he'd have his hands out and he would be watching me closely" or just knowing the moment you speak and dont have an accent they are going to relax.

"goodboy," eh? yeah...that about says it. i also get angry inside and think "do you really think if i didn't wanna knock you out and take your purse, i couldn't do it? just because you are holding it on your left side instead of your right?" the messed up thing is i would never take someone's purse. i only begin thinking that shit when i feel people are waiting for me to to do it. i become attuned to tiny degrees of knuckle-white and am pretty much waiting for the grip on the purse to tighten...which i'm sure doesn't make them feel any safer, sensing my attunement on some level.

when i hear a door lock as i walk by, i am hurt. that click translates into words of harm, thoughts of harm and i wanna kick it in and get all crazy fucking indian rictus in their face with a 100 decibel grito so they run away pissing and yelping. hey...did i just make your dreams come true, scaredy cat? DON'T FORGET TO THANK ME!!!!

kai you had me laughing your whole comment. "see? i wear ties!" jajajaja!! oh man. yeah. like looking at something with an intelligent thoughtful look on your face, something you have no interest in looking at, with no thoughts in your mind except "see, i think and ponder things! i am thoughtful, and therefor not a threat!"

...but to tell the truth, usually i just end up glaring at people. because i'm waiting for them to get nasty. i've caught myself in this cycle before. i know they are scared, i know i am, and i know we are just trippin each other off. i don't know if its my tattoos, the set of my eyes, or what they perceive me as. but i know they are looking and i know it's not admiration. in this town i feel like a movie star when i walk around half the time. but not tom hanks. more like roman polanski touring a high school parking lot.

it gets especially confusing and complex when you think about how that woman with the purse clutched tight might have been raped as a young girl and now can't even look at a man without fearing for her well being; that the guy locking his car door might be gay and have got his ass beat a few times for it, and that the idiot in the elevator is nothing more than a victim of too much TV programming. and that there are far too many of us walking around waiting for that boot to come down on us one more time.


Ill Do Chay dijo:

GRVTR

Nez, you are reminding me of our current fearmongering "terror color levels". Teh Man wants us all to be afraid, and he'll tell us how afraid we should be. People I know don't believe me when I tell them it's all lies. They are afraid of Osama & they believe in a GWOT. All that nonsense at the airport is theater, window dressing. It's a dance, to make the public BELIEVE some good is happening. Ignore the man behind the curtain.

So how did we get this embedded fear of the brown, the POC? I would tell you the vast majority of my experience has been neutral, except for once some dude flashed a gun to me & a friend. Showing his fangs, letting me know I was not in the right neighborhood. But only once. At least he didn't open fire.

I used to get those "is this trouble coming my way?" vibes, mostly when I lived in the Big City. I don't think I get those anymore, but it doesn't mean I'm everyman's best buddy, either. "Why can't we all just get along?"


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

yeah man you got that right. it's a terror show to keep us under the heel and to get us us acquiescent for the coming empire. unfortunately, the fear PoC face is too often not a show....

where did it come from? well, i call it the Haunted Land, and i've written a couple times on it. basically, i feel its a guilt/buried awareness of the fact that divested of the propaganda, America is and has always been about killing and enslaving and stealing from non-whites and we all know it. a perverted sense of this manifests as fear of the PoC and a feeling that a reckoning awaits.

i often feel more comfortable in a big city hell yeah. more PoC, more variation. it's the small towns i am very wary of.


Ill Do Chay dijo:

GRVTR

Well it's not like I'm that far from Big City, I work in Wash DC, and I used to live in a very immigrant-y neighborhood (Arlington VA). I suppose for me it was some of those "unwritten boundaries" :-) , like I didn't know where the poor and poorer neighborhoods were, and would end up in or going through them. In Atlanta, the "threat" was a certain mile of road (just off Ga Tech campus). Supposedly whiteboynever makes it through alive. Well I sure did, before I heard of its gangsta rep! Really, ARE there neighborhoods so bad that the random non-local gets kilt for trespassing? I've seen it in the movies, and they wouldn't LIE, would they? But I've walked through so very many neighborhoods, and made it through ALIVE. Not even been roughed up. Swindled maybe, but not roughed up.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

i've moved around a lot, and my rule was always "never explore a new neighborhood at night." sounds obvious...but it's a solid one! i'm sure you know, you can go from one block to another and boom, everything changes. the economic segregation/racial segregation can be amazing. i spent a number of years in NYC and it never stopped blowng my mind how one sec you could be be walking next to a movie star and the next, stepping over a down and out drunk, or walking past the projects. literally. again, if you live/work in DC, you know this.

i'm sure those types of neighborhoods do exist, where you would be hurt just for being there. i've not seen them yet, and i've gone cruising through brooklyn projects at three am, the deep of the bronx dressed totally in the wrong fashion, and parts of harlem that were totally foreign to me. i think of Washington Heights (NYC), tho, where i've seen shit go down right in front of me and i wonder. but if you do find those places, i'm sure there's a lot of history in them that causes such animosity and danger to exist. like cruel racist cops who can sometimes be nothing more than their own kind of ganglords, for one tiny example.


Ill Do Chay dijo:

GRVTR
...who can sometimes be nothing more than their own kind of ganglords, for one tiny example.

Back in the 70s - early 80s Miami, it was black cops gunning down cubano kids. That opression bit will work a number on society.

I was lucky enough to go to Rio de Janeiro, and they had incredibly polarized wealth. Estates with glass embedded in wall tops, favelas* with no water nor electricity across the street from resort beaches. When we took the trolley up Corcovado (Christ of the Andes, if you're into that kind of stuff), local kids threw stones at the trolley. Symbol of wealth and privilege.

And still the lessons are not learned. Off to exploit another undeveloped country, steal their resources, install a thugtator, business as usual.

Gotta go, you west coasters stay up waaay too late.


*slums, in Ingles. Mostly shanties made of corrugated metal and boards.


Ill Do Chay dijo:

GRVTR

what a spas I am.


joe osorio dijo:

GRVTR

Kai and Nez,
It's funny that we all do that, wanting to please them and show that we're not like the fearful stereotypes. Using reassuring voices and mannerisms. Nez, the tie thing might not work for you though-with a beater and beanie on you'd just look like you stole it !

While there are bad neighborhoods of course, often it really is the perception. If you're comfortable, you're comfortable. When we first moved up here I heard White people talk about La Mision, Mission District like it was a terrible place. Too dangerous to ever go, if you were there keep your head down and get the hell out as quick as possible. My daughters and I were real comfortable and safe even late at night. I guess if the people look like you, how could they look dangerous ? The ones who look dangerous are the pinche chota but that's everywhere.


Kai dijo:

GRVTR

Nez, I know exactly what you mean about that feeling, "What, you think that if I actually wanted to do something to you, that pitiful measure you just took would be an obstacle?! Well in that case, guess what, whitey? I'm that chiggah!!!" And it is weird because, as you say, this stuff isn't coming from inside of me, it wouldn't even occur to me if it weren't being projected onto me by another's fear. But after enough of these experiences I find myself thinking, "Hmmm, maybe I should carry a cleaver so that I can bust it out in some random venue, just to see some fool's face when their fear comes true! That would be some funny shit..."

Ill Do Chay, yeah sure there are dangerous neighborhoods that should be avoided if possible, but honestly I've never found an area so lethal that it must be labeled absolutely off limits. Not that I'm looking for that hood, but I've spent a lot of time in East LA out West and Harlem here in the East, partying late at night, running the streets, yes handling contraband, and I've seen some crazy shit but have never been personally attacked or even gotten into a fight in these areas. You know where I've been attacked and gotten into fights? In Irish pubs. Italian sports bars. Yuppie nightclubs. Ironic eh? I've had a gun pulled on me by an LAPD officer during a traffic stop and had my life credibly threatened by an NYPD officer, but never by a street thug. I don't mean to downplay danger or encourage reckless disregard for one's environment, I'm just reporting these facts, which are necessarily inflected by many factors (e.g. being a man of color, with a certain swagger, and the right friends, and well-honed intuition about people, places, and situations, etc). But I guess what I'm saying is that I agree with you about how fearmongering from above keeps us all trembling in our little boxes, easy to control, separate from one another.

Peace.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

yes, joe...that's sort of what i meant by small towns. i feel much more comfortable in a city. "bad" or not. jeje. "bad." we know what that can mean. i lived in upstate ny for too long, and couldn't wait to get to NYC, where i moved...and felt right at home right away. a feeling i never got in the rural towns. never. even when i was trying to blend in. especially then.

and Ill Do Chay, this is a longtime playlist fave. mebbe you dig it, too.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

Ill Do Chay, if you mean because of your code errors, i fixed them. if it's anything else, i can't help with that. ;)

yeah kai, that's where these fearin' peeps dont realize they are helping to bring their own nightmares true. by treating the Brown™ as if they are the nasty things that are thought about them. i think of two things here.

one, a TV show i saw where a "hidden camera" type deal faked a white woman getting mugged, that is, her purse being stolen. they did it in public to see what people would do. they did it over and over and over. nobody went to help her. none of these respectable whites milling about. now, the fake mugger wasn't hurting her, just ripping off her purse and running. who finally helped? two black youths with do-rags on and the whole bit. they looked around like "wut?" looked at each other for a second and then took off after this fool, bearing down on him like thirty miles an hour..he was like "ITS COOL ITS COOL, JUST A TV SHOW its cool!" but they were gonna give him the business.

the other thing i think of is the film Borat. Borat got out and approached some homies hanging out at night in their place, a "bad" part of town, looking all "thuggy" with 40s and all, but he did not approach with fear. he just was his stupid self, even asked one if he was related to michael jackson, but see, he did not stink of fear and prejudice, the guys ended up laughing and before you know it, they are all laughing and having a good time.

a lot to learn in these two incidents. for those interested.


joe osorio dijo:

GRVTR

Kai, so you used to kick it in East Los huh ? That's where I'm from. Little Valley. Nothing like the old days there. Guess the new days may be just as good-although I leave kicking it to the youngsters now.


Kai dijo:

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Joe, yeah when I was growing up in LA I had lots of relatives and friends in East LA and Monterey Park (surprise!), and by dad worked at USC (which is right in the heart of East LA, which is odd because most of the preppy white students basically never venture beyond the campus walls; in the same way that Columbia is next to Harlem). Not only that: in my youth I worked a few jobs in restaurant kitchens, and guess who my co-workers were? Mexican dudes from East LA! The rules of restaurant employment were simple and remain commonplace: white women deal directly with customers at their tables; white guys man the bar; men of color clear dirty tables and work behind the kitchen doors (not much room for women of color in that equation). Well, I always figured we had a better time in the back anyway. Smoking special cigarettes (hehe) next to the garbage bins behind the restaurant, my co-workers tried unsuccessfully to convey to me the nuanced baroque aesthetic of swearing in Spanish. They called me "cuñado" and derived great laughter out of getting me to say things like "Güey, no seas pendejo, cabrón!"


Chimakwa dijo:

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Dude, this red pill you've had me swallowing is a pain in the butt. ;) That particular Ignorant Shit you mentioned above finally made me get up off my ass yesterday (ok, metaphorically -- I was still plopped down in front of my computer) and write a Letter to the Editor that will probably never see the light of day. The school newspaper here published a ridiculous op-ed piece, the basis of which was "these stereotypes have always been around so it's OK to continue them -- it's tradition!" (I linked to my letter in my notBlog down below.) The Ivy League is full of colorblind types (not to mention not-so-colorblind-but-they're-rich-so-what're-you-gonna-do-about-it types) but rarely does the paper put out something so blatantly racist.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

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Anglicub! You've made my day, amigo. You keep on with ya bad self.

Great letter.


Chimakwa dijo:

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Thanks, man. I'm gonna eat a few of my previous words: the letter may see the light of day after all. The editor emailed me about an hour and a half ago, saying she wanted to print my letter but it was too long, and could I please edit it down to ~200 words and resend? It's hard to be scathing that succinctly, but I did my best. Hopefully the reproof will fall on a few ears willing to hear.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

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hey, allright, man! that's great to hear. keep on keepin, on amigo. i like your style.


Deoridhe dijo:

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I want to say thank you for this post and the post which inspired it. I've been a longtime reader, but I don't think I've commented before. The comment threads in particular were wonderfully rich. You gave me a lot to think about, and that's a valuable and wonderful thing.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

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Thank you Deoridhe. I agree. The discussions here that wouldn't be possible without the readers are invaluable. Thank you for saying so, and I'm very glad to have given you something to think about. Thanks for reading.


MB dijo:

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I haven't even read all of this, but knowing Greenwald's involved, all I have to say is he's a friend of Hamsher's. 'Nough said, neh?


MB dijo:

GRVTR

btw, Nez...I used to wear green contacts and dye my hair red. Most of my boyfriends from my teens and twenties haven't a clue I'm an Indian and not "Black Irish" like I told 'em.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

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sounds so familiar....


Trin dijo:

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"And as Puddleglum didn't say, but perhaps should have: "Smell my burning foot, witch."

I love this sentence to pieces.

As far as the rest of the post, it's amazing, but I know I'm gonna have to read it multiple times before I have a coherent response... and I may not have one that does it justice then either.

Thank you.


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GRVTR

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