Downtown Jackie Brown

In my very last blog I wrote, “Yes, racism is still breathing giant lungfuls of air in America.”

I meant it.

In order to confront racism realistically and efficaciously, it’s essential to realize it’s inherent.  Yeah, that’s gonna leave a mark.  Gonna be pretty controversial.  Gonna piss some of you off.  Kinda analogous to how so many of us believe in monogamy while we know that the imperative of procreation has been hardwired into us by the impetus of survival long before we became “civilized”.  I don’t proffer my theory as an excuse for either manifestation.  It is what it is.

We are after all, animals.  Mammals.  Human beings last but not least.

All that separates us is not reason but art.  Creativity.  That’s big.

Racism is not and never has been the exclusive province of the majority. We are all tribal.  Yes, as instinct it’s obsolete.  As a world view, it’s archaic.  As  dogma, it’s evil.  The object is therefore to look inside ourselves, recognize it, and with vigor an indefatigable consistency endeavor to mitigate it.  We owe it to ourselves to do so.  It’s a moral imperative.

I’m completely confident upon witnessing anyone declare themselves free of racism, that I’m in the presence of a liar.

It’s lamentable to observe that far too many subscribe to and practice bigotry and chauvinism without consciously meaning to.  There is however, no one to blame but the self for a lack of self awareness.  ‘Some of my best friends are homos’.  See what I’m saying?  That shit is bullshit.

I know and have known many otherwise good people who are or were embarrassingly guilty of being indefensibly racist.  Willfully ignorant jackasses.  A few are uncles, some were friends.  As much affection as I have or had for them, they are completely without excuse, much less reason.  To be sure, particularly in the case of relatives, they have deliberately limited experience with anyone different.  Not of their own tribe.  I don’t doubt they have done themselves an odious disservice.  I know they weren’t raised that way.

Why is it that the most self proclaimed God fearing ‘family values’ pontificating assholes are most often the most shameless and frighteningly prideful in their backward ass views and beliefs?

Fear.

Fear is a great force multiplier.

I’m afraid of cancer and car accidents.  Not so much vampires and snot oozing swamp creatures.  There’s plenty to be afraid of.

I grew up among my own kind.  White people who loved God or pretended to by worshiping at least semi regularly.  Thereby absolving themselves of any and every indiscretion, be it sexual deviance, financial malfeasance, discrimination, hubris, avarice and/or substance abuse.

I’m agnostic.

Fear is the shared, pervasive malaise of every specie on this planet and probably the entire universe.

If we were able to exert control over our own fears, I don’t doubt we’d be much better off.  Instead we exert control over our own facts.

Fear of humans different than one’s self is a convenient and lazy one, especially in contemporary society.  It requires little effort.  There is precedent and tradition easily relied upon.  As Americans we have a rich tradition of slavery, discrimination and insensitivity.  A commodious litany of among other things industry to justify our own special brand of hate, prejudice and fear.  It’s a little too easy for the unenlightened in this country to embrace nonsensical bullshit by branding it nostalgic.

It’s kinda what pisses me off the most.  It’s too goddamn easy.  Dipshits that think nothing of appearing in public hoisting a likeness of our president with a bone through his nose.  How simple are you if this your fear and how you choose to communicate it to whomever you might encounter including national television?  Paint loser on your forehead backwards so you’re able to read it in a mirror.

Fuck you.

This brings us to what I really wanted to talk about.  The soon to be published version of Huckleberry Finn with the word “slave” replacing the word “nigger”.

I’m a huge fan of Mark Twain or Samuel Clemens.  His work is still so very powerful and subtle.  Elegant and witty.  Sublime.  I’m absolutely sure he knew exactly what he was doing when he chose to use such an egregious slur over two hundred times in what is perhaps his most seminal work.  To edit it in any way is an artistic delictum.  There is no one, despite any scholarly qualification, with the right or privilege to alter the work of any artist alive or dead save for an editor or producer at the time of completion with obvious consent.

The dehumanization of the word slave is not as vile as the dehumanization of the the word nigger?

It’s a sterilization.  An unnecessary compromise.  A muting of the intended impact from a genius who sought to teach us with what he knowingly understood to be brutal honesty.   I loath that the work in question has been redacted from curriculum ubiquitous since it’s initial distribution for that very word.  Tough shit.  It’s the truth about the way it was and maybe the real rub is about how it really still is.

We have a president that at least one of my own uncles has admitted that his problem is that he’s a nigger.  He’s not alone.  Nevermind that he’s half white.  I’ll never look at that uncle the same way.  He’ll forever be a punk in my mind.

We distrust anyone but our own for no good reason.

Time to get over it.

Long since.

Drinks for my friends.

7 Responses to “Downtown Jackie Brown”

  • Mark Brown:

    Excellent post. I consider myself to be relatively free of racism. I say “relatively free” because there are still lingering elements from my upbringing. I do confess to taking pause when entering a room full of predominately black people who turn to look at who is entering the doorway and hesitate when walking towards a group of young black men (I should note here the same hesitation for young white men but just less intense). There is a twinge of fear that washes over me and a nervousness that will not leave me until I have been there for a little while or pass the group with no incident.

    The thing is that I recognize this in myself and can rationally dismiss it, after the fact, when I am in a position to give it considered thought. There is a collection of engrams that have been implanted in me over my lifetime in America and it’s not easy to get rid of them.

    I have traveled the world though and it has truly opened my eyes. I spent a total of 6 years traveling the globe on my own living out of a backpack. I avoided fancy hotels and tourist traps like the plague. I immersed myself in whatever culture I was visiting and lived with them, ate what they ate, traveled as they do, and pelted them with questions about their lives and their thoughts about the world.

    It was the most eye-opening experience of my life. I hardly expect others to do what I do to reach the revelations I reached. But I can tell you this, the one salient fact that I took away from it all is that we are all the same. The only differences are in how we reach the goals that we all strive for.

    What I saw was that the only appreciable difference between myself and other cultures was in how we approached and solved a problem. I think of it one way because I put my life experience into the problem. They think of it another way because they put their life experience into it. In the end, we both come up with a solution. In both cases the solution works but the path to get there and the brick and mortar required are different. That doesn’t make it bad, or wrong, just different.

    In a perfect world there would be no racism. There is no perfect world and you can’t make this one perfect either. You just need to roll with the punches, accept things for what they are, and recognize your own faults. If you can do that, you’ll be fine.

    • Michael Douglass:

      I agree with your last point. How fortunate you are to have be able to experience what you have and learned what you did. Most of our differences save for the physical can be attributed to the cultural.

  • Terry C - NJ:

    Why are people playing around with Mark Twain’s work???

    I don’t get that.

  • Junior's Ghost:

    I want to celebrate the end of Sarah Palin’s political career tonight, but I can’t.

    There are just too many loose screws in the jar.

    Pres. Lincoln, just where in the hell have our better angels flown off to?

    I thought we were better than this– A 9-year-old girl!!!! Is that what being a true American means to some people.

    May God have mercy on us all.

  • Michael Douglass:

    A nine year old girl? What are you talking about?

    Palin’s political career has been over since she lost with McCain. The woman is dead stupid but not stupid enough to see that the longer she leaves them guessing about whether she’ll run only increases her ability to generate the filthy lucre. She has no intention of running, trust me.

  • Junior's Ghost:

    Sorry, I was referring to the girl who died in the Tucson shooting. It just kinda got me riled up a bit.

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