I have written, and read, quite extensively regarding the struggle in which black Americans have engaged for the last 300 years in the United States. What struck me last week is that the paradigm may now be shifting in a way heretofore not seen, nor expected.
After seeing many of the polls regarding Roy Moore and Alabama last week, it appears that black voters generally, and female black voters specifically, may have started the tide turning against those who would run for public office on a Trump-inspired, sexist, racist, unapologetically xenophobic platform, betting that the least informed, educated and civic-minded of us would allow them to ride into office on a wave of nationalistic hatred.
If I am right, then black voters are historically positioned to assert themselves for the benefit of us all in the coming elections. They did it in 2008 when they helped to elect Barack Obama. If they can keep their momentum, they can do it again, and provide a service to their country that may not believe is deserved, but will certainly be noticed.
This post will likely piss off many disparate groups, although that is not its intent.
When thinking about the most recent iteration of powerful males having their respective way with subordinate women, I can’t help deny that I feel personally responsible to a degree. Sure, it would be quite easy to say that there have been times in my career when I’ve been in similar (but not nearly as powerful) positions and did not avail myself of the same privilege. It is quite easy for me to say that I am not one of those exploitive, opportunistic men who feel entitled to quench their lascivious desires at the expense of those who would trust us to be businesslike and professional in spite of our ostensible power.
But, as all men know, when we tolerate this behavior among our own ranks, we are complicit. When sitting at the bar with one’s contemporaries, we hear stories about the exploitation of women, and with our best manly chuckles, endorse those actions with our silence, we are complicit. When we see our male children disrespecting women and don’t immediately correct it, we are complicit. Yes, it is, to one degree or another, our collective faults when these things happen. And they will only stop when it is we, the males of the species, call out and embarrass those who would perpetrate such actions. It is only we who tacitly support these men who can change their behavior by withdrawing the support upon which they rely.
Here comes the pissing off of disparate groups part…
I have written often about various groups and the lack of trust afforded them due to the actions of what is likely a few, but often appears to be the many.
Does the above apply to Repubs who are accused of being white supremacists? Tolerance is Tacit Complicity.
Does the above apply to Muslims who are accused of being terrorists? Tolerance is Tacit Complicity.
Does the above apply to inner city black youth who are accused of being criminals and drug dealers? Tolerance is Tacit Complicity.
Does the above apply to police who are accused of being racist and corrupt? Tolerance is Tacit Complicity.
Simply citing instances when WE did not sexually assault a woman, hoist a Confederate flag, fly a plane into a building, deal crack on a street corner or beat an innocent black kid senseless in the jailcell furthest from the front desk doesn’t not mean that we are innocent and absolved of responsibility when our contemporaries do so. We are equally at fault because we know its happening, and it is WE who are best positioned to put a stop to it, by calling it out, loudly and often. We may not be these people, but, like it or not, we are their contemporaries.
I am not Harvey Weinstein, Anthony Weiner, Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes or Donald Trump and I hate the fact that I must remind others of that fact. But it is I who can do the most to try to render these men powerless against the women whom they would exploit and assault in the future. I accept that it is my responsibility to at least try to do so.
Will the other groups that I mentioned accept that responsibility as well?
When I hear Repubs complaining that they are all being painted with a racist brush because of the actions of a few, I tend to sympathize. But not much.
Is there any rationale, any truth, any historical facts that would indicate that Repubs do in fact have a racist bent, especially Southern Repubs? Why yes, yes there is. Follow me here:
Repubs were historically known as the party that represented business. Democrats have always been known as the party that represents working people and the poor. That was never more evident than in the early 1960s, the partial evidence of which was that Democrat John F Kennedy overwhelmingly claimed the south in his 1960 election. Equally historically, most businesses and large industries were located in the North and the South was known for small time farmers and other forms of agriculture.
The South, however, with its history of slavery and Jim Crow racial segregation, was overwhelmingly racist. To this day, if you want to find statues of Confederate soldiers, you will find them all over the South. So, what does one have to do with the other?
The Civil Rights Act of 1964.
President Lyndon Johnson’s prescience in proclaiming (allegedly), that “We have lost the South for a generation” immediately after his act was voted into law by Congress was a harbinger of things to come. The South, known for its racism, had turned against its Democratic history and started voting Independent in 1968 (the segregationist George Wallace), but went overwhelmingly for the Repub (Nixon) in 1972, then again in 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. I’d say Johnson was right, wouldn’t you? (there are many who claim that he never said it, but I digress). After being forced, by law, to allow blacks to vote, get jobs, go to school, drink at the same water fountain, use the same bathrooms, etc, the South changed its political affiliations within 8 years.
So, we have an area of the country with a history of slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow and segregation, who, for the last 50 years, has voted overwhelmingly in favor of Republican candidates.
Like has been said many times before: Maybe not all Repubs are racists, but damned near every racist is a Repub.
I’ve recently been thinking about what it would take for me to leave my country to go somewhere else. I’ve wondered what it would take for me to give up everything I own, everyone I know, my family, the familiarity I have with my surroundings, etc.
It would be a very difficult thing for me to do, even though I have the privilege of belonging to a race that will likely be welcomed in most places in the world. Even though I have the privilege of the means to drive or fly there. To come in the front door. To not be rejected out-of-hand due to my skin color. To not be assumed to be entering that country for the sake of taking something from those who were born there.
With all that going for me, I’m still here. Not because I think that America is the only place in the world in which I could live peacefully. It isn’t. Not because America is the only democracy in the world. It isn’t. Not because America is the safest country in the world. Or has the best health care. Or the longest life-span. Or the most honest politicians. It isn’t and it’s not. I stay here because this is my home.
Now, imagine if you take away all the privileges I’ve listed above. The privilege to be welcomed. The means to enter legally, through the front door. The privilege that assumes that I have something to offer the new country.
Imagine if, prior to leaving, I know that I will be rejected for my skin color, assumed to be stealing someone’s job. Imagine if I already know that I’ve got to walk, along with my family, through miles of deserts with little food or water. Knowing that after traveling for days in the hot sun that I might be caught and sent back. Knowing that I, or my family, could die trying.
And yet, I still came.
If some of us would try to imagine the love that these people must have for what we, in America, offer. Imagine what courage it takes for someone to make that journey, knowing that he might be sent back. Or, even if he makes it, knowing that he will be hiding from the law, hated for his nationality, ridiculed as lazy and only wanting something for nothing, like welfare or food stamps.
How many natural-born Americans would go to those extremes to be Americans? Immigrants, both legal and illegal, apparently love America so much that rather than ridicule them, we should be throwing them lifelines when they wash up on shore. Or border patrols should be searching for them to help them cross, rather than turn them away. We should have provisions for them to come and do the jobs that Americans have proven time and again that they don’t want to do, and thank them for it.
If you think about how much you must want to be in a country for you to risk your future at best, or your life at worst, then you understand that many of these immigrants are the ultimate American patriots-and we should be welcoming them.
For my Repub friends:
Based on the latest revelations regarding Putin and his meddling in our election, there is one thing that you cannot possibly deny.
That thing is the fact that the ex-head of the Soviet KGB, the man who denies Israel’s right to exist, the man who is supplying Syria with weapons to use against us, the man who would not support us in Iraq or Afghanistan, the man who is well known for simply killing his adversaries, the man whose country has NUCLEAR WARHEADS POINTED AT ALL OF OUR CITIES…
The same man who is quoted as saying: “We don’t need a weakened government but a strong government that would take responsibility for the rights of the individual and care for the society as a whole”, which argues in favor of big government taking care of the people, the exact opposite of the Repub conservative agenda…
THAT MAN AND YOU both chose the same person to be our president, THAT MAN AND YOU both preferred Donald Trump over Hillary. THAT MAN AND YOU thought that Donald Trump would serve their agenda better than Hillary, and you saunter on by saying, “What’s the big deal about Russia?”
This happened this morning at my house:
I’m outside washing my car when my daughter returns from a trip to the store. “C’mon, grab a sponge, we’ll wash your’s too,” I said.
“Nah, it’s not that dirty, and I have things to do” was her response.
I said, “Yes, it’s dirty. It will only take a few minutes.”
She said, “I don’t feel like it right now,” as she started walking in the house.
I said, “Ok, I’ll do it for you.”
After a long pause, my 16-year-old grabbed a sponge and started washing her car, along with me. We then both dried it. Then she thanked me.
Later on she changed and went to the local hospital where she works as a volunteer with the elderly.
It reminded me that, especially with family, we don’t always need to be “teaching them a lesson” or some other lofty parenting cliche’ about taking responsibility for their things. Sometimes we just have to show our willingness to do things for them, for no reason whatsoever, that makes them turn into good people who are willing to do things for others.
It’s OK to let them get away with stuff every now and then, if you raised them to appreciate it.
Still thinking about Bill Maher’s use of the “n” word. (I hate calling it that. It appears cowardly).
I’ve always been of the opinion that the word, when used in a certain context, is not inherently offensive nor racist. That context is one where the actual word, its genesis, or its etymology, is being discussed, as compared to using it to describe another human being. I have never used it to describe any person, nor do I ever intend to. I used it extensively in my book Black, White and Grey, and, to date, have received no complaints.
But Maher was using it ironically, calling himself “the house n—–“. He was using the word as it had been used extensively during slavery and was doing so to describe himself in that context.
Yeah, I know, it’s always a slippery slope when you venture down that road, like when Don Imus tried to appropriate black speech by calling some women “nappy-headed hoes”. It wasn’t his place to try identify with another race by using their vernacular, and Maher is apparently guilty of the same thing.
When white people venture to show how much they “get it” by appropriating the language or cultural mores of black people, they always end up sounding like Al Gore trying to rap. It’s always a better idea to stop trying to sound like something with which you truly have little familiarity.
There is a black culture and there is a white culture. Leave them that way.