Friday, November 28, 2014

The demand of silence: Shut up if you want to stay in the room

I’m reconsidering my relationship with white America.

Some of it is based on what I have heard and read.  A big part of it is because of what I have not heard and read.

I’m confused by what people say.  I’m also confounded by what people haven’t said.  The space between the loud cries and silence forces me to reevaluate the assumptions made regarding my place in rooms where I am the only person of color. 

What is being said when nothing is being said?

What does it mean when those who say they love you fail to acknowledge your rage? What does it say when they haven’t stood in solidarity after you give voice to promote unity and peace?  What does the silence communicate beyond the desire to stay in the middle?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand and appreciate the privilege of silence. Standing in the middle established the context for compromise.  It’s empowering to not take a position.  It get it. I support it, but silence defines the terms involving your place in the room.

Silence is a negation of your voice within the context of that space.  It devalues the substance behind the pain that challenges you to speak.  What are the terms of silence, and how is ones space in the room compromised by speaking when silence is demanded?

 Could it be that silence is America’s problem? 

Could it be that black and brown people have coexisted with white America because of a willingness to remain silent?  Could it be that white Americans have shared space with black and brown people while remaining silent regarding their true feelings involving sharing that space.

If space is the place where power is influenced, who owes and measures that space?  What are the terms for remaining in space that demands silence, and how does the silence of those who manage space impact the voice of those limited by the conditions of space?

This is the overwhelming challenge of black and brown people functioning within space managed within the context of silence.  Silence assumes a lack of affirmation, and, as such, is ultimately applied as a condition of judgment. 

Black people call this being a good Negro.  The term Uncle Tom has also been used to state the condition of doing everything it takes to fit within the culture of white privilege.  The good Negro makes no waves.  The good Negro remains silent to prevent conflict with those who manage space. Remaining in space managed by white privilege and power demands silence.  The silence of those within that space is a statement related to the demand of your silence.

Is silence a necessary condition of unity, and, if so, what happens to the voice of those screaming to be heard?

Like I said, I’m rethinking my relationship with white America.  Not because I don’t care, but because of the tension created by speaking.  If silence is demanded as a condition of inclusion, what is lost when speaking is required as a part of your liberation?

Americans demand silence as an act of inclusion.  Those with power control the terms of silence.  So, what happens to the person who remains silent?

Their voice is lost in the quest to fit into a culture that demands silence.

Is the desire for silence America’s problem? Is our ability to get along conditioned by our ability to remain silent?

I may need to remain silent to fit in certain rooms.  How can I?

I’m not made that way.

Still speaking.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Why are black women supporting Bill Cosby?

Can we talk? I mean, can we really, really talk?

I’m upset with the comments of some black women popping up in my Facebook news feed.  I’m not sure how to take it all.  I mean, I’m a man.  I don’t know what it feels like to carry all that comes with being mistreated as a woman.  I don’t claim to be an expert, but I do my best to understand.

So, help me understand why so many black women are defending Bill Cosby?  Why are they attacking the 13 women who accuse Cosby of drugging and raping them over the years?  Why are they challenging the credibility of those accusations because it happened so long ago?

Help a brother understand.

I recognize why the image of Dr. Huxtable remains fixated in the imagination of those who grew up with Claire, Cliff and those adorable children.  Could it be that Cosby’s television persona kindles memories that help us feel warm and fuzzy when we watch those reruns? Are black women afraid of losing their model of marriage, parenting and career success?

I get all of that, but help me understand why women are throwing other women under the bus.  This troubles me for numerous reasons.  Top on my list of confusion regards the number of women I have dated who have experienced sexual assault. 

Get this.  I can’t think of one woman who hasn’t. Not one.  I’ll confess I’ve dated more than enough to draw an adequate conclusion. Many of those women have experienced multiple rapes.  Some have been drugged, beaten and raped. One escaped in the middle of the day while running with no clothes to cover her body.  Many were raped by family members.  It’s a long, pathetic list that exposes the ghastly ways of men.

All of them are black.  They represent the vast experiences of black women.  Some are highly educated. Others are high school graduates with amazing careers. In other words, it doesn’t matter how much money they earn or where they received training.  Black women, from all walks of life, catch Hell from men. And, it’s not just black men who use the bodies of black women for play.

Given the common experiences of black women, help me understand how a woman can’t understand why a woman refuses to speak up after being raped.  The women I know didn’t speak up.  They kept it to themselves for a variety of reasons.  Some feared retaliation.  Others felt no one would believe them.  A bunch of them merely wanted the nightmare to go away.

They didn’t want their names dragged in public space.  They didn’t want their friends to know.  They dreaded being labeled.  You know, it’s because of the way you dress.  You carried yourself like you wanted it.  You’re not innocent – you’re a whore who asked for it.

Why wouldn’t they believe all of that?  Isn’t that the common encounter of those who yell their truth?  Help me women! Isn’t that what happens? Isn’t that what happened to you? Isn’t that the reason you kept it to yourself?

I’ll say it again, I’m not an expert on how it feels to be a woman, but I am when it comes to doing my best to carry the burden of a woman I love.  Loving a woman means listening and embracing everything she has experienced.

What does that look like?

It means standing for any woman who screams rape.  It means fighting on behalf of all victims of sexual assault.  It means not calling her a liar when she says he drugged and raped her, and she was afraid to speak.

Yes, I’m aware of all the liars who make it hard to stand.  Yes, I’m still pissed at Wanetta Gibson for fabricating a story that landed Brian Banks in prison (see Rev-elution: Brian Banks not only victim of Wanetta Gibson lie, June 2013). I accept the hostility people feel towards Crystal Magum for accusing members of the Duke Lacrosse team of sexual assault.  That stuff is real, but none of that has any bearing regarding a case involving the claims of 13 women.

Help me understand black women.  Is it because most of the women are white?  Is it because you refuse to believe your television dad would do such a thing?  Is your refusal to accept the possibility of guilt rooted in a need to claim racial solidarity?

I’m not refuting your right to cling to support, but help me, please help me understand.

If anyone understands being screwed, it should be you.  So help a brother out.

Listening still.





Thursday, November 6, 2014

Big money and an un informed electorate equals mid-term change

"A properly functioning democracy depends on an informed electorate," is a quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson.  It’s a shame we can’t find the statement in the writings of Jefferson.

There are other quotes I wish I could tag on Jefferson.
"The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations," is a good one, but there’s no proof it comes from Jefferson.

Both quotations would go a long way in describing what happened during the most recent election.  If those words actually came from Jefferson, we could dub them prophetic utterance and blame the Republican takeover on an ill-informed electorate and the deep pockets of corporations.
My colleagues in the press point to this mid-term election as part of a longstanding cycle.  For more than 30 years now, the party of second term presidents gets brutalized during those elections.  No matter how strong the economy or the state of the union, the opposition party reaps the benefit of the low approval of the president.

It happened with Regan, papa and son Bush, Clinton and now it’s happened with Obama. It would be helpful to insert Jefferson quote regarding the intelligence of the electorate to explain the tradition of mid-term disdain.  Could it be that voters lack the intelligence to interpret economic success when it dropping in their pockets?
How do voters account for unpopularity in the face of a decreasing deficit, lower gas prices, a stock market that has reached all-time highs, dropping health care cost and soldiers coming home after fighting a war many failed to understand?

We could blame an uneducated electorate on the massive disconnect between the state of the economy and the lack of confidence people have in President Obama. Or, maybe there are reasons for the push to impeach Obama.  Serious issues like: he wore the wrong color suit, he held a cup of coffee instead of properly saluting members of the military or he’s not from America. You know, credible stuff that we, as a nation, simply can’t overlook.
Oh, he is black, but that couldn’t be it. Could it?

It would be much easier to credit Obama’s pathetic popularity on an electorate with the IQ of a banana muffin, but we can’t do that.  It has to be something profounder than a large mass of people ill-equipped to read between the lines of bullstank peddled by both sides of the media wagon train.
Then there’s the money.

That second quote could, if it were actually an authentic Jefferson statement, give credence to the claim that this mid-election shift was purchased by the Koch Brothers. Both sides of the track are guilty of depending more on cash than principles to influence voters.  How else can we explain the $100 million spent to elect a senator in North Carolina?
Read the prophecy one more time. "The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations," says the quote that may or may not be Jefferson.

That’s it!
Democracy comes to an end when the money changers take over the Church. Sorry, wrong convention, but it applies there too. Things change when folks with big pockets use their money to influence how people think.  At that point, and darn it we may be there, those who are either too lazy to find the truth, or easily persuaded by the conspiracy theory linked to the President of the United States, get in line to throw eggs in the direction of the White House.

You know we can’t trust big government.  You certainly can’t trust a man who isn’t a Christian, is actually a Muslim born in Africa who is in partnership with socialist from around the world. We can’t trust him, and I know it’s true because I heard it on FOX News.
You know the press doesn’t lie unless it’s the commy liberal press over on MSNBC.  They’re trying to destroy America. This is the point where you wave the American flag with a Bible on your lap and an assault weapon in the other hand.

Yup, that’s America!
If those quotes were truly the words and thoughts of Jefferson, we could argue it’s a combination of the two – an uneducated electorate and corporate money.  It’s like an old joke – what happens when you take an uneducated electorate and put them under the control of people with loads of money?

The answer is, beat the drum.
Shucks dang it, it’s the President’s fault. Kick out everybody on his side. Punish all of them for siding with that rascal.  Impeach all of ‘em.

But, it wasn’t Jefferson.
Oh well.  It sure feels real.