White Politics & The Fabled Land of Diversity

UnknownThe relationship of white politics to racism is as deep on the progressive side as it is on the conservative. One is by an allegiance to supremacy and/or willful ignorance and the other by passive assumption and centering of white narratives about Black perspective, culture and experience. There is an assumption as to what it is to be progressive and without listening and comprehending the origins and trajectory of America – sins and successes – white political motives won’t drive a coalition that include the full melatonin spectrum of a diverse America. Whether political party or individual person, if you do not know yourself – you flounder in a trial and error parcourse with slapstick finale of misapprehension. Welcome to the show.

Black people know a whole lot … A Whole Lot … more about whiteness that white people do about Blackness. Privilege is really only one thread that runs through many tapestries. Not having to pay attention in order to achieve. That’s it. Not a single white candidate is prepared for what is absolutely necessary to win Black voters in high enough numbers in an era where white supremacy is more than prepared to call upon and secure the support of their own. Black America is not monolithic. This in no way suggests that it is. As a matter of clarity and priority, I’d rather white folks read The Root or watch J.C. Watts new network than read anything I have to say. I hope I say something from time to time that has a white reader dump me and go directly the far more qualified sources that I go to in a continuing education and yes, deprogramming of inherent biases.

This is not directed to any person of color. A truth defining line in David Bowie’s era-iconic song Changes, has for me, been a reference to an arrogance from which many of us suffer. Though he speaks of children and I am not – the arrogance of explanation as to what someone else is experiencing and what to do about it, is a universal offense.

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re goin’ through

Any time an observer of a group of people working for and achieving change decides anything about that group purely from the outside – a propagandized outside – you can count on large crop of ignorance having flourished recklessly and soon after gone to seed.

Hard for many to swallow, that it remains true – white folks are the ones who need to be listening. The fact that that bothers you if it does, are the biases I’m talking about in full self-preserving operation migrating to propagate and perpetuate their own. Salmon don’t work harder, and white biases have no natural predator to keep them in check. All structures have been intricately climatized to flourish and choke out any threat to dominance or even resistance to white centeredness in America and in American politics. It may sting to some, but the only way to combat the natural enemy of justice and liberty for all is to fix ourselves and get over it.

Black America’s brain trust is the most substantive for understanding America. Even with the broad spectrum of political leanings among Black American’s – they are the least likely to fall for a line. Particularly when it’s been used so many times to achieve so many disappointments, betrayals and so much disempowerment. White fear and the lack of necessity to step out of the ignorance that once held Black American’s down has turned a fateful tide. Black America has been honed and refined as a collective of profound resilience and yes, superior self-perspective. Black Women have become the Exemplar’s of Truth Telling. Most white people are still lying to themselves .. about even the smallest of collective self-truths. Certainly about ‘who’ America is and where she has been.

Color IS the issue. But not necessarily the color of the candidate. Voter color is the delicately spoken, clumsily pursued element that will matter in 2020. And it will matter bigly. So what is the problem with the candidates in this race? Possibly nothing. But the campaigns are rising to an echelon of offense previously exclusive to Trump and the offenses he uses for appeal. Dems are catching up though. This is not merely the being ‘passed over’ kind with regard to constituency and their vital interests. Black folks are used to that treatment – not that there will be much more tolerance of it. But these campaigns have lazily set a course sure to offend – and offend they have.

When a white candidate asks a Black voter of any political denomination or ilk for their vote, they are not just asking for political trust – they are asking for their lives to be put in the hands of that white candidate. That is not hyperbole. Black voters do so as an option. The other of which is just stepping aside and letting the proverbial shitakes hit the fan. That IS a possibility, incidentally. The outcomes for Black voters have often been the same no matter who goes into office. There is a consciousness that says “why vote at all” or “why vote for the same old thing.” We kid ourselves when we suggest that Trump has brought a wave of hidden white supremacy to the surface. It wasn’t hidden to Black folk. It wasn’t hidden from anyone. White people may just be beginning to see how deep and how far supremacy goes – how populated the mass of it. Black people however, have always known. The biggest perk of privilege is being insulated from the suffering everyone else is going through. White people have not had to know, so they haven’t bothered to see it in its magnitude. Rather than interrupting that legacy, the current candidates with all we know and all that is available to know, instead are wittingly or not – perpetuating that legacy. And THAT may cost us 2020 and the life support we find American Democracy hooked up to –  tubes, bellows and all.

So what kind of offenses has Black America been subjected to by a party who expects allegiance? Start with Candidate Pete. A candidate whom one would think might know better than to crib note plight awareness and its actionability. Buttigieg managed to single-handedly alienate the four percent of the Black vote his efforts and primary flagship policy sought to attain. First by using a stock photo of a Kenyan woman to brand his Douglas Plan (yes, the abolitionist, and thankfully so. A white savior introduced to brand this would have been just one too far, to brand the policy instrument Buttigieg devised to address racism in America – Really Pete? The only thing more racist he could have done is don a Dashiki to publicly announce his policy. Undeterred by consequence of insult, his campaign followed with the choice to do a press release for his plan through HBCU’s. In those press releases, Candidate Pete named prominent South Carolina supporters of his Douglas Plan categorized as support for him. Those names included a Columbia City councilwoman, prominent Baptist pastor, a state representative and the chair of the state’s Black Caucus – all of whom had no intention of endorsing Buttigieg. A couple of these generously let him off the hook for deliberate misrepresentation. They agreed to consider authorizing the plan … not Buttigieg and would do so as consulted toward its structuring. Something that had not occurred. To ice the cake, there is the dance. What to say about the dance. Going negatively viral just before the South Carolina debacle was Michael Harriet’s article in The Root “Pete Buttigieg is a Lying MF” followed festively by a tweet storm chock full of commentary like “As if we didn’t know that the campaign is super white already — might want to work on these moves before SC” – “flash mob meets Jazzercise” and “the cringiest campaign trend so far.” Buttigieg’s campaign staying conspicuously clear of the elephant in the room- older generation Black voters non-support of same sex marriage. “Nothing to see here” and the band plays on.

I laid into Buttigieg here because it was such a dark comedy of errors. But none are doing that well. None are driving a motivated coalition because none are really listening. The handling of candidates of color was reprehensible. So comes the hail-storm of objection not only from Black Communities, both geographic and webosphere, but also from the candidates toward their respective identical Dem party siblings. I sat thinking “what a mess.” White people in pursuit of the Black vote end up looking like Lucy Ricardo in an elaborate scheme to finally corner Van Johnson. Problem here is, Ethel is nowhere in sight for any measure of restraint. And the absolute truth is … the Democratic Party cannot win without a robust Black vote.

Democrats have got to do something to stop the alienation of Black voters by a party with candidates barely able to differentiate themselves from each other. But above all else, the lack of authentic relationship to the fullness of the society the Democratic Party claims to represent and the values that make that possible. I am not referring to the need to assure a Black or minority candidate – though it would help if the gay minority could invest more in understanding the interests of marginalized communities before devising and delivering resolutions for it. The combination of mansplaining and whitesplaining to women of color draws either contempt or a strained human compassion – but it ever will garner support.

 

A Dogs Last Day

It’s been an uphill battle for a long time now – hard to step through all the obstacles real or perceived. Sometimes I ask myself that question. Is what I see, think or feel real or perceived? And the answer always remains the same. Is there a difference?

Until this moment, I’ve been able to find a spark of hope. It’s so beautiful outside. I keep hoping to sit in the cool with the sun on my skin and just feel the life and the love and the peace of just being here. So many of those moments would come and pass in the years behind me. I never imagined they could end. I never realized just how valuable those moments were.

It’s hard to imagine that day won’t come again. There’s a feeling I get when I stand in a breeze. There’s a comfort that comes because I’m reminded of how beautiful it all is. But I don’t know how to touch the hope that used to wash over me. It’s not there anymore. Every day is a battle. Every morning I wake up in pain. I know it doesn’t look like I try but I’ve moved a mountain before I’ve even opened my eyes.

I burst to tears a thousand times, at the idea that I won’t ever have that sensation again. The chill of a warm breeze turning cold, at that perfect time of year that all it takes is the sun behind a cloud to swirl the cool – and the light on your face pouring honey thick warmth in a drenching stillness chasing a tide of shadow away. I feel like both the beach and the sea – the desert and the sky – the hummingbird and the flower – just me alone.

Have you ever lay by a tree and let it all wash over you? The sound, the scented confluence of competing and ever blending perfume – your senses trying to seize each one like biting off chocolates in search of just one … only to relent. You submit to the symphony, as the futility of
chasing a single note reminds.

Did you ever learn something from a dog in the grass and recognize in that moment how profound her wisdom and how foolish your own? Did it stop you for just a moment from looking back without seeing the future or looking ahead without seeing the past? Did you finally understand why she wouldn’t leave her spot in the grass on her very last day for that moment in the sun – to hurry back to the busy world where nothing is really ever done?

She told me to sit and I did. She said to me without a single word. Now is all you have. Now is all there is.

The 2nd Amendment & Preserving The Constitution

Defending The 2nd Amendment is not defending the US Constitution. That is a misuse of constitutionlanguage. Defending the US Constitution is to defend the right of the argument. The argument for and the argument against – yes, even the argument about what it is the 2nd Amendment means and is. But more than the 2nd Amendment alone, we must take into account where The US Constitution was then and where we are today. Our founding fathers would have far less of a conflict on their hands today, than do our Constitutional purists. They would above all understand, that to defend The constitution does not mean to interpret and defend every letter as written – but rather to defend its intent, its stated purpose, its mission statement, its Preamble. Everything else is amendable.

The most important aspect of The US Constitution is the allowance and the certainty of
“the argument.” Our justice system, the ratification of The US Constitution itself, our legislative process, The Bill of Rights, treaties – all depend upon the allowance and certainty of “the argument.” It took 10 months for 9 states to ratify The US Constitution. That achievement and those that followed all depended on the allowance and certainty of “the argument.”

Under each of these arguments were the intentions toward vs. the resistance against … change. Whatever the constitution says – and it says many things by many interpretations through many generations of a great many scholars – it does not anywhere intend or proclaim the rejection of change. That is the most important thing to recognize for any of us to even begin to understand The US Constitution. Its singular most astonishing brilliance is its profound capacity of accommodation for things unconsidered then, known by them then, yet to be unseen.

An argument suggesting that changing the constitution is wrong in an effort to validate the content of an amendment (a credentialed change) contained in The Constitution, is to say the very thing within the amendment being defended is invalid along with the amendment and The Constitution itself.

Until we comprehend the most important aspect of The US Constitution – enlightened men of their time, making allowance for enlightenment yet to come – this is what it means to preserve and defend our Constitution. It is not immutable or constant. It is evolutionary just as we are. The beauty in it, is the evolving beauty in us as we become a more enlightened society. “God said it that settles it” is a compelling argument with only the choir in attendance. It becomes dictatorial however among the broader and varied population that makes up The United States of America and its citizens short and tall.

We still have a white man’s Constitution in many ways.  Remember … the very first gun regulations were that Black People and Indians couldn’t have one. It’s tough to be a purist without exception on this topic – and not have a juggling act with Freedom and Justice for all.

 

Taking A Knee – What The Argument Alone Reveals.

One of the most important aspects of “taking a knee” is both the high profile visibility of a national stage, and the disagreement about “what’s appropriate where.” 

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The argument that ensues on this subject takes place between people in a manner that reveals their values and their awareness. Values have a tendency to change based on awareness. Before abused children began coming forward as adults- there was very little awareness about child exploitation and sexual abuse. People kept it secret – refused to look at it – found it uncomfortable and kept it hidden. Today, because of expanded awareness – most children know they have rights and possess necessary tools to defend and prevent. Parents seldom any longer say “it’s a private matter” and sacrifice the victim to social vanity as many once did. 

Racism in America may seem like a long stretch for comparison, but really it is very similar – and this analogy has nothing to do with Black people, but everything to do with white objectors. The difference is-  it is white people who are the secret keepers – the shooshers – the crime enablers who find this uncomfortable to face and discuss. It is white people who believe that their “game night” should not be interfered with while many of the people providing their entertainment have family and community, even children murdered in the streets. If a protest takes place that does not keep the silence at the cost of the crime against others – they are miffed. It is because they either do not comprehend (awareness is shallow to the realities suffered daily by people of color – exacerbated by white silence) or their values are such that white comfort is more important than Black lives. (Refer to Black Lives Matters and seek a correlation with their message). 

The tragic irony is; It is the very fact that white people have the option to view this as a non-priority to their lives that necessitates continuing, strenuous, repeated high visibility. The reality is, white people should have the decency and the moral accountability to be ahead of this violation against humanity. But because of racism, privilege and implicit bias they do not grasp the magnitude that is lived and endured daily by people of color. The fact that a white person can permit atrocity without even investigating the stories they reject at presentation is the reason Black people die – and are forced to do all the heavy lifting for equal justice. The offense of “Take A Knee” is in direct proportion to the degree of white apathy in the heart of the offended. 

Privilege, Starbucks, Neighborhood Watch – and the pervasive crime of white apathy

Things White Folks Don’t Knowmsa q

The hardest thing for me to reconcile in my life today,  is that I have children I love and would give my life for whom I know hear about white people in ways that do not describe me. Yet still, they do describe white America. Words that are not false, are not overstated, but in fact are proven out over and over in the daily life of us all.   It brought me to my choice – my choice of voice or silence – marching or watching from the sidelines.

I am a family friend of a Black American family, and I get the perks of outings with the children. I am that uncle that loves to spoil them – loves to hear them – loves to be in touch with the amazing world of brilliant and aspiring children. Any adult in this role knows what I am talking about. We are reminded how smart they are – we are reminded how vital and essential their exposure to and experience of the world. And we know that the wonder we once had for the world and life – returns to us gazing through their eyes.

When one child gets up to go to the bathroom at a restaurant, I stand between the door and the ones remaining at the table – equal distance so I can see the bathroom door entered and those at the table undisturbed. I do this because they are children and because they are in my care.  But I do it more in ways that no one knows because they are children of color – Black children – that do not carry or share my privilege. No one will touch them, speak to them or reach them in any disparaging way – not when they are in my charge. The intolerable reality is, I do have to watch and I do have to be more vigilant. And that tells me things all of white America needs to know.

Leaving the theater as we approached the down elevator to parking,  a white man stepped away from a Black woman in a manner I have honed my sight to recognize. It isn’t difficult, and it isn’t a mistake when noticing the airs of a supremacist, a bigot or racist. One more Black person came toward the elevator and I saw him grappling with his position. I stepped back from the children and put my hand on his arm – leaned in and whispered “this car is not for you.” He knew and acknowledged what I was talking about. His disapproval now directed at me – he stepped back to wait for another car.  I will not allow him near them, or an utterance under his breath to reach their ears.

My rage was subdued by my insistence on normalcy for the children and disruption of our outing. This subject is above my pay grade and is to be reserved for parents and their children. They need no input from me. Though subdued on my face and in my demeanor, my rage was beyond anything I have ever felt. I wanted to hurt him but they were there. They were not subjected to a thread of it. It’s not the only time or only thing I’ve experienced while in the company of these three exquisite young girls.  I looked toward the man with a boundaried nod, shuffling this laughter-occupied group of girls into the elevator.  No one but me and the Black woman who arrived behind us knew a thing. She was the mass-tilting reason he paused about entry. She knew it. Black people know. They have had to be hyperaware for generations. She gazed into my eyes on the three floor trip down, in a way I have considered over and over as to all that her look had held. It was one of understanding and compassion – but also carried a glimpse of fear and admonishment that perhaps I might not be endowed with such clarity and vigilance in the future. I am white, and I have the privilege of forgetting what others endure.

Two Black men were put into handcuffs for sitting while black in a Starbucks. They refused to leave and were arrested. They were asked to leave because they are Black. This is confirmed by white customers who occupy tables with no purchase yet made – waiting for the rest of their party. The many tweets and comments by white people saying “there must be more to the story” are mistaken or racist bias or both. The police who arrested them are wrong. Everything is wrong with this event.

A dear friend of mine asks these questions that no white person can answer – not without  the glaring face of complicity or self-indulgent denial.

“How can I or my children tell the difference between a white person who will shoot us and a white person who won’t?
How do we ask the police for help when we don’t know what KIND of officer will show up—100% compliance will still get you killed, ask Mesa PD ‘bout that. Don’t tell me if I follow orders I’ll be safe, because I will NOT be safe. Miss me with all of THAT bullshit.
Which Starbucks can I wait in for my client, how do I know which door to knock on in my community when I need help?
Are we at the point where white folks have to put HUGE safety pins on their door posts? Businesses have to hang POC welcome signs in their windows?

Until we face ourselves if we are white – we have not faced the truth. The truth is, this is our responsibility – even if you believe it is a construct in which you had no participation. You are participating today – and in so doing you stand on one side or the other. silence is the selection of a position. It is the selection of truth or denial- and it is the selection for racism or equality. Which do you choose?

Things White Folks Don’t Know

s-l640Racial Bias From Neighborhood Watch to Doctor Visits – Black Folks are Dying & White Folks are Sighing Dismissals.

A near tragedy that sits alongside so many others, once again brought to mind the injustices to which I am party. White people like me don’t like to hear it but we are so often complicit in tragedies that seem to have no end in sight. It’s a rickety soap box I stand on because this type of complicity is hard for Black people to forgive – and white people can’t stand other white people who face the responsibility and point out that “you should too.” But I’ve seen the Amber Alerts go viral and so have you. I’ll bet you know someone who reposted over and over or who asked around even though the child missing was counties or even states away.  I can promise you this – there would not have been a Jada or Aaliyah Alert and you damn well know it. Will this article by a guy with zero platform an unremarkable story,  average talent or contribution ever reach anyone or change anything? I doubt it. But I can’t live with not trying.

Another near tragedy. A fourteen year old boy who is lost goes to a door marked Neighborhood Watch. He is lost and needs directions home. What he meets with is white violence and racism that nearly cost him his life.

Neighborhood “Watch Out For Black Kids !”

If you grew up in my time, you remember The Black Panthers. In 1966 when they formed I was only seven years old. By 1982 when Huey Percy Newton fled to Cuba, I was twenty three. I recall the news, the allegations, the horrific criminal profiles of Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, the inextricable influence of Angela Davis and many others. My dad would rail at the television with the riots and the fear mongering that went on about these radical criminals. But who were the criminals … we never learned until later … not if we’re white we didn’t. Most still don’t know, and for the sake of comfort probably never will.

Why is all this relevant to a near tragedy involving this fourteen year old child? It is directly related and it is related to every opinion of every white American alive today that is old enough to have grown children. I was thirty before I began any interest in the reconciliation of my American heritage to the truth. The truth is today and was then that Black men, boys, women and girls have been vilified and dehumanized since the days of Black enslavement – and it is still being done today. If you are white and you are less angry about this than any other child – or Trayvon Martin less than a whiter kid with Skittles, or Tamir Rice or any of the others – if you are white and this doesn’t affect you the same as it would a white kid – you are doing it too.

When this woman opened the door, her fear and response to that fear was the driving force that enlisted her husband to get a gun. Stepping back to the Black Panthers once again, their original intent was to protect Black communities that not only had no protection as white communities did – but also were subject to the biases that drove the mistreatment of their community’s citizens, just as it does with police officers today. The Black Panther Party for Self Defense was established because what we see going on today was going on then. Soon, there is going to be an uprising, and candidly I know which side I’ll stand on. White people have to gain an understanding of what is going on with regard to racial inequality – and even legal murder of Black people.

There is no Edgar J Hoover today to conspire and vilify an entire race of people to justify racist attacks by law enforcement and enlist the American public’s white support. We support it on our own through privilege. Yes privilege – that slippery thing that white people like to argue they do not have. I can help you out with your confusion. Privilege is what the white kid has in the kindness of the white woman who hung a Neighborhood Watch sign in case he felt unsafe. That is privilege. Privilege isn’t just in what we get that others don’t. It is what others endure that we don’t have to. Black people face battles we don’t have to. White people don’t face the same battles – because we don’t face ourselves.

There are many white doctors who think Black people feel less pain and under, or incorrectly treat them. Medical Students in today’s educational system, presently taking their final exams believe this myth. You can read this study and many others proving what and why we subconsciously believe these impossible myths.

PNAS (Proceedings of ) National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America Racial Bias In Pain Assessment and Treatment

Still, with all we can prove we cannot pull ourselves collectively from this de facto consciousness that has us not respond to horrors and tragedy we’d never allow happen to white people. Are you white and angry about angry Black people? Answer this. Why aren’t you angry with them?