I am a bit ambivalent about "tweeting" World War 2...
Friday, November 18, 2011
Disposable History: Tweeting World War Two; Tweeting The Middle Passage and Slavery; Losing Ourselves
I am a bit ambivalent about "tweeting" World War 2...
Hat tip to Cnu of Subrealism for sending this link to me.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Pew Survey Reveals that the Public's Belief in American Exceptionalism is on the Wane: It is All Barack Obama's Fault!
The public has lost faith in the idea of American Exceptionalism. You know this is all Barack Obama's fault. Don't you?
He travels around the world on "apology tours." He refuses to wear an American flag pin on his lapel. Obama was born outside of the American cultural and political tradition and has a deep dislike for this country. In fact, we have long suspected that he isn't even a U.S. citizen. Michelle Obama, the First Lady, did not have pride in America for most of her adult life (as is her selfish way, she only became proud of this great country when her husband was elected president, the nerve of that woman!). Obama even believes that Americans are "lazy." Horatio Alger and the Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves.
And now, the President's lack of faith in American exceptionalism has infected the country's young people. It isn't surprising that those befouled liberals who have been brainwashed in college classrooms by Communist Socialist Fascist Maoist professors believe that America is not a special and exceptional nation. But, the very idea that "real Americans" would believe such a thing, is truly revelatory of the cultural rot which is holding this great nation back at the most inopportune of times, just as the Red Chinese conquer the world.
Seriously folks, what I offer in mocking jest will be the Right-wing talking points of the week when the findings from the Pew survey on American and Western European values trickles down and out to the mouth-breathing, Fox News, talk radio, chattering classes, and then is disseminated to their unwashed masses and Tea Party GOP supplicants.
American exceptionalism is a true lie. It does a good amount of political work in creating a sense of nationalism, legitimating government rule, and providing the fuel for those moments when "we the people" must rally around the flag in defense of the Common Good. A belief in American Exceptionalism, and its auxiliary premise that the United States is a "shining city on the hill" is a great story to play with, to inspire, and to use as a goal and barometer for achieving the best of what we can, and should be, as a nation.
However, as Dick Gregory sharply alluded to in regards to Bill Clinton, he who was our first "black president," it's okay to pretend that a cardboard box is your house, just don't try to use it as your address.
In all, American exceptionalism illuminates as much as it blinds.
For example, a certain generation is unwilling to admit that their understanding of America's role in the world, and the uniqueness of our singular destiny, is a function of a very particular arrangement of circumstances, power, and resources. Those are conditions which do not necessarily hold in the present. One of the key elements in the cultural crisis which is the United States at the nadir of Empire, is that the trope of American exceptionalism has become a cudgel to beat down cosmopolitanism, pragmatism, and creative solutions to challenging public policy dilemmas.
Here, the cultish personality of the Republican Party, and populist conservatism at large, clings to a dead corpse, a type of American exceptionalism that ceases to be valid or real in the present: it is a fetish, a magical totem that has lost its Ju-Ju. Instead of using the ideal of American exceptionalism to inspire ourselves to improve (for example, this country now ranks behind France in terms of inter-generational class mobility), it is now a tool for political chauvinists and bullies.
Feelings trump facts. Sentimentality fuels nostalgia. Nostalgia, a hopeful and inaccurate yearning for, and dreaming of the past, drives contemporary Conservatism. This willful misremembering and misperception of the past fuels the American partisan divide in the year 2012.
Conflicting views on American exceptionalism are central to this story.
The full report, The American-Western European Values Gap, can be found here. A particularly relevant section follows:
About half of Americans (49%) and Germans (47%) agree with the statement, “Our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others;” 44% in Spain share this view. In Britain and France, only about a third or fewer (32% and 27%, respectively) think their culture is better than others.
While opinions about cultural superiority have remained relatively stable over the years in the four Western European countries surveyed, Americans are now far less likely to say that their culture is better than others; six-in-ten Americans held this belief in 2002 and 55% did so in 2007. Belief in cultural superiority has declined
among Americans across age, gender and education groups.
As in past surveys, older Americans remain far more inclined than younger ones to believe that their culture is better than others. Six-in-ten Americans ages 50 or older share this view, while 34% disagree; those younger than 30 hold the opposite view, with just 37% saying American culture is superior and 61% saying it is not. Opinions are more divided among those ages 30 to 49; 44% in this group see American culture as superior and 50% do not.
Similar age gaps are not as common in the Western European countries surveyed, with the exception of Spain, where majorities of older respondents, but not among younger ones, also think their culture is better than others; 55% of those ages 50 or older say this is the case, compared with 34% of those ages 30 to 49 and 39% of those younger than 30.
As is the case on other measures, opinions about cultural superiority vary considerably by educational attainment. In the four Western European countries and in the U.S., those who did not graduate from college are more likely than those who did to agree that their culture is superior, even if their people are not perfect.
For example, Germans with less education are twice as likely as those with a college degree to believe their culture is superior (50% vs. 25%); double-digit differences are also present in France (20 percentage points), Spain (18 points) and Britain (11 points), while a less pronounced gap is evident in the U.S. (9 points).
Finally, among Americans and Germans, political conservative are especially likely to believe their culture is superior to others. In the U.S., 63% of conservatives take this view, compared with 45% of moderates and just 34% of liberals. Similarly, a majority (55%) of right-wing Germans see their culture as superior, while 47% of moderates and 34% of those on the political left agree.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Michael Stones' interviews with serial killers; Shawn Michaels' last two matches with the Undertaker; and now Bob Costas' interview with Jerry Sandusky.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Gots all this stuff twirlin' about in my head.
My rebuttal is predictable and direct: race and racial ideologies are no sideshow in American politics; how can they possibly be peripheral to OWS?
This is especially true as OWS works to define its movement culture, and to make sure that parallel efforts such as Occupy the 'Hood are included within their broader agenda.
Some have accused the Occupy Wall Street Movement of being the product of grumpy angst by generally entitled and privileged white folks who are upset that they are now getting a bum deal. In all, from this perspective, OWS is a version of the white privilege temper tantrum performed on a national scale.
In turn, this assertion leads to the following question: where were the OWS folks when black and brown people were catching hell for decades, as globalization and deindustrialization ravaged our communities, and punched upward mobility and wealth accrual in the gut?
These are fair questions that need to be addressed...and answered by OWS and its advocates. The following is an effort to further that discussion.
On occasion, I work through the hermeneutics of political "texts" that I find online or in print. The following open letter, which is now circulating around the black blogosphere, is quite provocative as it raises many questions that are more than worthy of no small amount of critical engagement.
As is my habit, comments follow in brackets and in bold.
[The branding of the OWS movement has been very effective. Who could reasonably agree with such a stark divide where the 1 percent (them) is doing amazingly well, and the 99% (the rest of us) are doing so poorly during the Great Recession.
However, this slogan hides more than it reveals.
For example, the biggest divides in wealth inequality, the ownership of financial instruments, and those who benefited the most from the Bush era tax cuts begins at the top 10 percent of earners. Moreover, if you want to see where the real action is in terms of America's kleptocracy, one should focus their attention on the top 1/10 of 1 percent of earners who are recording unbelievable gains while the American workforce in mass has seen its wages stagnate for the last 40 years.
When we use the language of the 1 percent, how do differences of race play into this narrative. The top 1 percent of black and brown folks are doing less well than their equivalents in White America. Does this complement the narrative? Or does it complicate it, because while the black and brown elite may be doing much less well than their white peers, both are still invested in the status quo...or are they?]
You suckers thought that you were so special, ennit? You thought that your heineys were just that much better and softer and more supple than all those poor people of color, huh? There was never any discussion of the “99%” for the past 400 years while Native lands were stolen, Native people were exterminated, black folks were enslaved, Latinos were gerrymandered, Japanese people were placed in internment camps or Arabs were sexually groped, fondled and heavily-petted at airports. No problem, right?
[Yes and no. Wealth accrual and inter-generational transfers of resources in this country have for centuries been racialized. As professionals in sociology, political science, and economics have repeatedly observed, race in America is also a story of wealth--who had it, had access to it, and could pass it down--and then reproduce its benefits for themselves and their descendants.
Scholars such as Joe Feagin, Manning Marable, Ira Katznelson, Eric Williams, Omi and Winant, Oliver and Shapiro, and others have done a wonderful job of tracing out these contours. White folks, both native born and immigrants knew this game. To not participate in it would have been morally and ethically sound (perhaps), but ill-advised in terms of crude self-interest. Who the hell is going to run away from free money?
Whiteness involves being an active signer to what Charles Mills smartly describes as the Racial Contract (or for whites in mass, at the very least being tacit beneficiaries of it). Once you make the bargain those "inconveniences" of history become just that, facts and incongruities to be avoided lest too much uncertainty (and responsibility spawned by introspection) occur.]
There was never any discussion of the fundamental imbalance of power on this continent and inherent unfairness of the trickle-up economics for the past few centuries as the aforementioned groups were only seen as a source of labor for powerful white male interests. Not a word.
Because you thought you were special. You were immune to that. That little issue didn’t involve you.
[Always be careful whenever you insert "never." There were many folks, across the color line, who understood the damnable imbalances of power in this country, especially as they overlap with gender, race, class, and other types of identities. Taken in total these disparities reveal the naked lie that is the American creed of upward mobility and the Horatio Alger myth.
Folks often want to deploy the "they were products of their time defense." Avoid it. Run away from it. The premise is absurd and weak.
Whiteness does involve being special. Historically, it was the cultivation of white mediocrity and the prize for European "ethnics" assimilating into "Americanness." Part of that bargain was to distance oneself from black people, and to look askance at, as well as socially distance oneself from, most people of color. European immigrants deeply--and others as well to this day--understood that to be "White" pays a material, financial, emotional, and psychic wage.
Whiteness is special: it got you low interest loans; it got you the G.I. Bill; it got you a job in a factory with a living wage; it got your kids into college and good high schools; it got you membership in a privileged class.
White folks knew exactly what they were buying into. Do not remove or take away their agency.
There is a reason that white Americans have on average 2 dollars for every 10 cents that blacks and Latinos possess: the State was invested in subsidizing their enrichment and advancement. The wages come with a natural defense as well, where the beneficiaries of White privilege can proudly announce that "their family never owned slaves" or "my grandparents were immigrants."
Guilt free. Hands clean.]
Now, you see that these powerful white males do not care about you either. Now you see that they will—just like they did to “us,” all people of color in this country—extrapolate every single ounce of energy, money and value out of you, your kids, your wife, your mistress.
[We need to ask hard questions here. Historically, elites have not treated their social lessors well. More specifically, Europeans were barbaric to each other across lines of class--in the work houses, in the factories, with indentured servitude--long before they got to the New World and discovered the "blessings" of African labor, chattel slavery, and genocide of indigenous peoples.
We need to define terms. Who are the "powerful?" Who is "white?" How does gender play into this--do not let white women, as beneficiaries of Whiteness and white supremacy too, off the hook so easily.
Here is another challenge. The global power elite numbers only a few thousand. Do they even care about race? They are transnational. Their concern is Capital and finance. Most certainly, race and these other issues of identity and in-group superiority may matter for the middle managers and other lowly administrators in this game. But, do you think that those who are really moving the pieces on the chessboard are at all concerned with such parochial and local interests as race, gender, and sexuality?]
After they do that, they will throw you away, fire you, lay you off, send your job to Mexico or India or someplace else where they can do exactly the same thing to those poor schmucks. Only they’ll do it for much less money. Now, you’re beginning to see that and so you started to call yourself the so-called “99%,” because you realize that you’re not so special at all.
[This is old school for black and brown folks. Hell, listen to classic rap song The Message. We were on to this con game decades ago.
When White America gets a cold, black and brown Americans get the flu. But, what of poor rural whites? What of those folks in the rust belt? On the 'res? How can we work together with them, to find common class interests across the lines of white identity and the wages of Whiteness? Where historically most members of the white poor and working classes have chosen racial affinity over class alliances with people of color?]
Stupid white people.
[The masses are asses. Are white folks any more or less stupid than any other group because of their "skin color?" No.
But, Whiteness does encourage a type of willful historical ignorance, myopia, blind denial, and short shortsightedness. Whiteness has paid white people as a group--for the most part--a type of psychic wage from group belonging. This has come at a moral and ethical cost. Most folks, not because they are White, but because they are lazy, dim witted, and painfully human (and comfortable on the sidelines of history) will not be self-reflective enough to work through the ledger sheet of race and their soul's debit; what is the blood on their hands from the benefits of "benign," "colorblind," white supremacy in the Age of Obama.
In fact, there are still white folks who believe silly fantasies such as this School House Rock video about Ellis Island, the melting pot, and European immigration. There are others who are race traitors, and as such, know the score. The latter have always been with us and on the right side of history. They are down like John Brown. Real warriors.
The question becomes how to move the lazy and settled middle.]
The punch line though? You were always part of the 99%.
[Yes and no again. In absolute terms they were not elites. But, they could feel superior and special by signing restrictive housing covenants; joining the KKK; becoming cops so they could beat a colored, a Mexican, a Chinaman, or an Injun; lynching negroes; and rioting against efforts at school integration in and around Boston.
The system needs to maintain the appearance, and historically for whites, of upward mobility. The system also needs the appearance of inclusion in order to make those who have bought into it psychically invested in the merits of their own hard work, because of course those other people can't succeed because they are "lazy," "un-American," or have "bad culture."
Remember: Success is easy in America. But, only if you work hard enough for it.]
Those powerful white interests love you as much as they love me. Which is to say that they love you about as much a man loves a pregnancy scare from a one-night stand. None. Zero. Idiots.
[Is this the money shot? Sorry, I couldn't resist...]
The bad news: You’re not special and unfortunately you’re just now beginning to realize that. The good news: well hell, at least you’re beginning to realize it now. But those are the two reasons that people of color have not joined this movement en masse: #1 We cannot believe that you were so stupid to not know that you weren’t special and that these powerful white male interests were just using you, and #2 we want to make sure that you gullible sheep will not, as soon as those powerful white male interests try to buy you off with giving your job back with the little benefits and 401k, forget about all of us poor people of color who have been suffering for years.
[Those white folks who are race traitors, critical thinkers, and visionaries who see globally and were long onto the neoliberal con game will get you. But again, most people are profoundly mediocre. Do not forget your audience: Whiteness is profoundly ahistorical; it is literally without history. To ask most White Americans to think about structures, institutions, and power, is a challenge, because to be white, is to be the quintessential individual.
In all, to get the privileged "I" to think structurally is quite difficult, if not impossible, in the long run. Some of them are coming around. I would not hold my breath waiting for the others as it may take an even bigger system shock than the Great Recession to wake them up. But by then, it may be too late.]
We are the faces at the bottom of the well, the very bottom of the 99%.
We are the 99th percentile. The bottom.
[Who is "we?" Who is "the bottom?" Please clarify your terms. Do these cohorts include people of color who are part of the elite? Be mindful of assuming a sense of linked fate or group affinity. These assumptions can lead one to misunderstand how class interests can overcome race, gender, or other assumed intra-group markers of affinity.]
We’re attracted to the movement, but we need assurance that you’re not gonna just up and leave and get tricked again, like you did before.
Now the invitation: we will join you. We are attracted to this movement. We want to join you. The truth is that we need this movement at least as much as you do. The truth is that we want to make something very serious and very permanent happen for the betterment of all poor and middle-class Americans—Native, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Arab, everybody! The truth is that you have always been our brothers and sisters—you just didn’t know it. But we need to know that you’re serious. And what we mean by “serious” is that you aren’t going to back to thinking that you’re part of the 1% again and forget about us. You are not. We are in this together, whether you, my white brothers and sisters, choose to acknowledge it or not. We’re waiting.
So what’s it gonna be?
[I will let these paragraphs stand on their own. To reiterate the author's claims, please tell me, what is it going to be?]
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Watching the Vietnam War in HD: General Nguyen Ngoc Loan Executing a Vietnamese Officer was "Right"--He was Also "Wrong"
If you are not watching the History Channel's miniseries event "Vietnam in HD," you are truly missing out. The World War Two HD series was unsettling because the original black and white footage was "colorized." This made the events seem more real. The Vietnam War is closer to the present in terms of decades. Ironically, the high definition enhancement makes the events seem surreal.
Friday, November 11, 2011
We Were Always "Men": A Wealth of Dignity in the Civil War Era Photographs of African American Soldiers
He Lives to Rape History: Herman Cain Yearns For the Good Old Days of Jim Crow and "Small Government"
Herman Cain on the stump in Kalamazoo, Michigan. So very sad.
It is a small world. I lived in Kalamazoo, Michigan for a year. There, I would far too often enjoy the lovely evening of a 5 dollar movie, some jazz at the Union, and then a few beers at Burdicks.
My night out on the town would cost me less than 20 dollars.
Kalamazoo was a sad, but dignified place. It was a once prosperous community with beautiful homes from the Gilded Age. Like so many cities across the Rust Belt, Kalamazoo went downhill because of deindustrialization and other changes in the economy that were to the disadvantage of the American worker.
As a measure for comparison, I had an apartment in "the 'Zoo" that cost me about 600 dollars a month including utilities. The same apartment would have easily cost, at a minimum, 2,000 dollars a month in Chicago. Alas, given how inter-generational wealth transfers are to the disadvantage of folks of color, if I had parents to hit up I would have purchased that palatial domicile in a second if afforded the opportunity.
Thus, to hear Herb Cornbread Cain preach the neoliberal, small government, gospel to folks in a community that has been destroyed, precisely by such a civil religion, is more than a little bit off-putting. I shake my head as folks cheer his policies. But, I vomit in my mouth to hear him--once more, as he always does--rape history.
[Do the math. If Herman Cain's pappy walked off the farm in the early 1940s at (let's guess) 20 years old, his parents may have been--and his grandparents most certainly were--born as slaves. How did the free market and the "American Dream" of deregulation help them? Are his supporters that dim? Or are the masses just generally asses?]
It is not only because I am a student of history that I find his allusion to the glory days of Jim Crow, sharecropping, and racialized debt peonage offensive. Rather, it is my common sense.
How can any person, of any reasonable sense, conjure up a story about the evils of "big government," and a racist labor market, as a means of talking about the Horatio Alger myth of the "good old days" relative to blacks in the Jim and Jane Crow South during the 1940s?
I rarely, if ever, use profanity. I will break that rule today: Cain is huffing bullshit as he relays a story that is designed to please the mouth-breathing, upright walking, White conservative populists who are his base; there is no way that even Herman Cain can believe such a noxious fiction. Utterly impossible.
Herman Cain, race minstrel extraordinaire, is truly a performance artist: there are few if any other explanations for his Koch brother funded Bojangles routine.
Folks, he is slouching far past Gomorrah. As a professional Herman Cain watcher, I predict that he is soon about to go somewhere which will leave you shocked--but not at all surprised.
Herman Cain's, "slavery was good for black folks moment," is not too far ahead. You are now forewarned. Be prepared. And do set your clocks by that prediction.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
The Online Chronicles of an "Angry Black Man" in the Age of Obama: Why is Black Genius So Threatening to Some White Folks?
Writing online is a type of archiving. It is also a type of performance.
What follows is a bit of critical self-reflection, breaking kayfabe, and thinking aloud in public.
I always take a moment to step back whenever I write something on these Internets that riles folks up. When doing so, I ask myself the following: "Okay, if I didn't know the author, what impression would he leave me with?" "What are his politics?" "What 'type' of black man is he?"
He seems pretty reasonable to me, if at times a little provocative and playful. But crazy? Mean? Unreasonable? Not interested in "dialogue?" I just don't see it.
Thus, I am always surprised by the response of some folks to my online work, that in their eyes I am somehow "angry," or "upset." Black folks know that figure, "the angry black man" quite well--he is us, we are at times him. White folks know him too: he looms large in the American political and cultural subconscious, where instead of a 3 dimensional being, this angry black man is a bogeyman caricature, all huff and puff, irrational and rageful towards those innocent white folks who did him no harm.
Of course, there is much to be upset about in this world. And in America, much of this ugliness has worked itself out along lines of race.
Given that clear, plain on its face reality, I nevertheless remain surprised by the power that the very idea of the angry black man holds for so many. Intellectually, I get that white folks, and Whiteness at large, does not want to be forced to confront the righteousness of black anger. Why? Because to do so would force "uncomfortable" conversations about justice, one's personal relationship to white supremacy--and of course their investment in the normality of Whiteness with its White looks, White ways of thinking, White ways of knowing, and White ways of being.
For many, to take ownership over such a fact is the very definition of cognitive dissonance.
America is a country without a history. America has no memory of anything earlier than what happened last week. The historical myopia of Whiteness is no small part of that national personality trait, what is in all, a very bad habit.
I often smile when I read comments by readers who think that I am an angry black man. I am not. Life is too short to overly obsess over the curious ways of white folks. What I struggle and work towards is a holistic type of personhood; I simply want the freedom to be, to integrate every part of my self.
And yes, my blackness, and particular experiences as a working class black man of a certain age, a ghetto nerd, sensualist, reader, and citizen born in the post-Civil Rights moment at the time of hip hop's birth, is a significant part of my full humanity.
Because I love black people, and respect our accomplishments in the face of unimaginable obstacles in these United States, I am at peace, even while I see that there is much work still to be done. Because I understand how black folks helped to save American democracy from its own malformed, retarded, bigotry, I am made quite proud.
Back in the day we used to call that "knowledge of self." At present, I just call it a certain peace of mind.
When I wrote my open letter of sorts to the readers of the Daily Kos about liberal racism, Brother Akbar's words on the need to fully integrate one's self; to not have to ask permission from white folks to speak; to not need white approval when we want to sing our own "heroes" and "sheroes"; and to be unapologetic about demanding that democracy live up to its promises and potential, were echoing in my memory.
Black confidence, black pride, and black self-confidence is scary to many (if not most) white folks. For all of my reflection and research on the topic I do not know why. Of course, I intellectually "get" the ways that race, power, and structures intersect, and how "in-group" identity is normalized. But on a personal and emotional level, how can a people who have so much, who in essence run the world, be so easily upset by black folk's most simple, basic, human needs?
Ultimately, when we refuse to ask permission, we become angry black men and angry black women.
Why is this?
Please, teach me something on these matters. I am eager to sit back, listen, and learn.
Hat tip to Rippa on this one. You do have to love Brother Denzel.
A provocative post.
What ever happened to shame? And wasn't shame a good thing when she kept our teen girls from posing bellies-exposed and taking pictures of what should be their private shame and circulating it online?
Please forgive me my old school respectable negro politics. Do pardon my pun, is this what radical sexual autonomy has "birthed?" Where did we go wrong as a people?
Or is this some type of co-parenting adaptive strategy among the underclasses where young women coordinate their pregnancies in order to be in an opportune position to share resources?
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Navigating White Privilege and Liberal Racism: 10 Tips for Blogging While Black on the Daily Kos (and Other Predominantly White Spaces Too)
As demonstrated by hundreds of comments, it would appear that I am the object of no small amount of upset by some readers of the Daily Kos.
...a selection of uprates...well, my hr stands,I am still unconvinced: the presentation and the racialist undertones still make this post inappropriate for a progressive blog...sure, I am not African American, I may not be able to follow your perspective as an African American, but Dailykos has community standards and I still feel, you haven't met them...but in time with more posts you will probably understand what a progressive blog is really about... progressiveness is looking into the future, not getting hung up by the past!
I have been doing an experiment over at the Daily Kos this last month or so. I have long been fascinated by liberal racism, and given what I heard about Daily Kos' war on black bloggers, it seemed the perfect time to do some recon.