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Archive for the ‘2009’ Category

Remarks:

Not sure if this one is for the ages, but I love the Corvette.

I was thinking maybe she was Jamaican American. As it turns out she is Guyanese Canadian.

The beginning of this song is almost the same as the beginning of “(Hey There) Lonely Girl” (1975) by the Softones.

Lyrics:

Oh yaahh I’ve got trouble with my friends
Trouble in my life
Problems when you don’t come home at night
But when you do you always start a fight
But I can’t be alone, I need you to come on home
I know you messin around, but who the hell else is gonna hold me down
Ooooh I gotta be out my mind to think it’s gonna work this time
A part of me wants to leave, but the other side still believes
And it kills me to know how much I really love you
So much I wanna ooh hoo ohh to you hoo hoo
Should I grab his cell, call this chick up
Start some shhhh then hang up
Or I should I be a lady
Oohh maybe cause I wanna have his babies
Ohh yah yahh cause I don’t wanna be alone
I don’t need to be on my own
But I love this man
But some things I can’t stand ohhhh
I’ve gotta be out my mind
To think it’s gonna work this time
A part of me wants to leave but the other half still believes
And it kills mee to know how much I really love you
So much I wanna oohh hoo ohhh, to you hoo hooo

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RogerEbertAndWifeRenee of Womanist Musings has a wonderful post on Roger Ebert’s review of “Good Hair”. I was going to comment on it at Stuff White People Do where it was guest posted, but I feel a post of my own coming on:

Roger Ebert wrote a review of Chris Rock’s film “Good Hair” (2009). Nothing surprising there: he makes his living as a reviewer. But what makes this one priceless is it shows up his whiteness in two ways:

  1. He assumes he knows more than black people – even about black women’s hair!
  2. He downplays what black people go through by comparing it to something white that is not at all the same thing.

Roger Ebert ends the review this way:

The movie has a good feeling, but why do I know more about this subject than Chris Rock does? Smile.

The smile presumably refers to the fact that he is married to a black woman, Chaz Hammel-Smith. Earlier in the review Ebert takes issue with the film based on the Wikipedia, of all things. So Ebert feels he knows more about black women’s hair based on what? This:

  1. I am married to a black woman.
  2. I look up stuff in the Wikipedia.

Compare that to Chris Rock:

chrisrockfamily

  1. Also married to a black woman.
  2. Has a black mother and two black daughters.
  3. Spent two years making a film about black women’s hair.

Where in the world does Ebert get off thinking he knows more about black women’s hair? Since Ebert does not strike me as a know-it-all blowhard – I used to watch his reviews on television – it is hard for me not to think this is racist: “White people know what they talking about, black people do not.” Help me out here.

He even assumes he knows more than his own wife, who has had such hair all her life! You know this because it is clear he printed the review without her looking it over – either that or he did not take her comments seriously. It would have kept him from making a fool of himself. But, again, he thinks he knows better.

I find it hard to imagine his wife agreeing with this:

The use of the word “natural hair” is, in any event, misleading. Take a stroll down the hair products aisle of a drugstore or look at the stock price of Supercuts. Few people of any race wear completely natural hair. If they did, we would be a nation of Unibombers.

See that: what black women go through with their hair is no big deal at all! This is stock racist deflection: what black people go through is no different than what white people go through.

White people talk that way because they have a hard time accepting difference in people – what leads to the whole “good hair” thing to begin with. They also do it because, like Ebert, they do not want to take black people seriously.

See also:

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Goldstone report

The Goldstone Report (2009) is the United Nations war crimes report on the war in Gaza last winter. Richard Goldstone, a former South African judge (pictured above) led the UN’s fact-finding mission to Gaza.  The report finds both sides guilty of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity, but Israel much more so.

The report does not “prove” that war crimes took place, merely that it seems so based on facts found. The report calls on both Israelis and Palestinians over the next six months to carry out their own independent investigations that meet international standards.

If they fail to do so, then the UN Security Council should hand the matter over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the The Hague. But most likely America will block that: it has veto power in the Security Council and turns a blind eye to Israel’s misdeeds.

Findings:

  • Palestinians:
    • Fired rockets into southern Israel with little hope of ever hitting a military target, thereby spreading terror among civilians.
    • Hamas, the ruling party, used the war as cover to kill some  from the opposing party, Fatah.
  • Israelis:
    • Israel struck mosques, hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, water treatment plants and factories that had no military value. One mosque was struck while hundreds were there praying. If Israel’s true concern were weapons that may have been hidden there it would have struck the mosque in the middle of the night.
    • It struck a house after the Israeli army told Palestinians to stay there to be safe.
    • It used white phosphorus, which burns and kills people, in the middle of Gaza City.
    • Israeli soldiers used Palestinian civilians as human shields.

In war you are supposed to fight the enemy’s military and destroy things of military value, like bridges, roads, armies and weapons factories. Some civilians will get killed, but you are supposed to take reasonable measures against that.

Israel did not. It was not just carelessness either: it went after things like water treatment plants that were a threat to no one.

The Israelis called the report “one-sided” and unacceptable – months before it even came out! They would not help the UN one bit, which had to cross into Gaza from Egypt.

After the report came out Israel said it was “one-sided” (again), “inaccurate and flawed” and that it would derail the peace process (a lie: the Israeli government is hardly serious about peace). Sadly American Congressmen and even The Economist repeat the same words and excuses as the Israelis.

Hamas does not agree with everything in the report but accepts it. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and a Fatah man, says he will not hold a vote on the report till March 2010. He is seen as giving in to the Americans. That has led to protests (pictured below). In Gaza there are posters of Abbas with a black X across his face at which people throw their shoes.

protests

See also:

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teresa-and-hitler

I do not hate white people. Am I racist against them? Yes. Do I sometimes have a hard time trusting them? Yes. Do I hate some of the things they do? Yes. But do I hate anyone just for being white? No, of course not. Even with racist jerks I try to hate the sin not the sinner. But, I must admit, I have not always been successful.

I do not want to put people in a box. I want them to surprise me and sometimes they do. But too many times white people act like they all went to the same Secret Course on Whiteness that I was not invited to.

Some commenters assume that because I say bad things about whites I must hate them, that I think they are pure evil, that no one else in the world is evil, that I do not know that black people can be evil too. No, it is not like that. It is just that white people do bad things too and, unlike with black people, it tends to get overlooked or played down.

Have white people done good things? Of course. I would have died at 13 if it were not for modern medicine. My wife would have died in childbirth. There would be no Internet or television game shows. Etc.

Have white people made progress? Of course. In America they no longer use whips and chains on black people to force them to work for free. They no longer force blacks to sit at the back of the bus or hang them from trees. A big fraction of them – more than I expected – voted for a black man for president. Etc.

Whites have the same hearts and minds as everyone else, the same human nature. What makes them different: power.

Power corrupts: it hardens your heart, it wears away your sense of right and wrong, it weakens your hold on the truth. Because there is no one to keep you in check, to keep you from going off the rails. Power leads to evil and self-delusion.

So in the case of White Americans they take land from the American Indians (because they can) and make black men slaves (because they can). They knew it was wrong, but instead of stopping they made up lies about blacks and American Indians (because they can), many of which they still believe to this day (because they can). They went off the rails, losing their hold on right and wrong, on the truth. It is still going on.

That is what power does to people. Read Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, Thucydides’s “History”, Shakespeare’s “King Lear” or even the Bible.

Whites use their power to make themselves look good and blacks look bad. From the time we are little children our minds are filled with “white is right” and “black is bad” over and over again, making white people big-headed and blacks self-hating. I am not going to use my blog to add to that.

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oldnavy

This is partly in answer to Macon D’s post on Stuff White People Do: “fail to see how racism harms white people”. Here is my take:

Racism both helps and hurts white Americans. I cannot prove all of the following statements with studies, charts and figures, but this is the truth as best I know it:

How it helps:

  • They are way richer than they would have been:
    • They live on land taken from the American Indians.
    • They benefit directly or indirectly from the free labour of black slaves and, later, from the cheap labour of blacks and other people of colour.
    • They get paid more for a given level of education.
    • Lower unemployment: they are less likely to fired and more likely to be hired – even with a prison record.
  • They get to live in nicer, safer neighbourhoods with better schools.
  • They live longer: even poor whites live longer than middle-class blacks.
  • It helps to keep them from falling to the very bottom of society.

How it hurts:

  • They become morally blind. Since they do not see the evil they do they are surprised by 9/11, race riots, failures in foreign policy, poverty at home, etc.
  • They harden their hearts.
  • They become partly deluded: they believe lies – about themselves, their history, their society. They do not take the truth seriously when it comes from a person of colour.
  • They have a limited idea of what it means to be human. At root, racism is the idea that being “different” means there is something wrong with you. That means many whites hide or slowly kill their true selves in order to fit in, making them into plastic people.
  • They become small-minded:
    • Because they feel good about themselves by looking down on others.
    • Because they narrow their minds by not taking other people and their cultures seriously.
  • They are not true to themselves and their belief that all men are created equal – and so they live with guilt.
  • Crime is higher than in other rich countries – and so they live with fear.
  • By hurting people of colour they are hurting their own country. At the very least they are wasting a part of its human capital.
  • Many whites vote against their class interests in part because of race.

That is what comes to me off the top of my head. I might be forgetting some big ones. Commenters can kindly point them out.

In short, whites are not true to themselves – to their morals, their beliefs, their heart, their soul. They are sell-outs to an idea that is beneath them.

If I still have any white readers left I know they will strongly disagree. Perhaps they will think I hate them, that I am trying to put them down. Wrong: I am trying to be honest.

Whites signed up for racism to create America and they continue to hold on to racism to hold on to its advantages. They made a deal with the devil and we know how that ends.

See also:

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shoppingWhileBlack“Shopping while black” is the “crime” of shopping while being a black person. It is not supposed to be a crime but you would not know it the way some shopkeepers seem to assume you are going to take something the minute their back is turned.

In one well-known example a woman and two of her friends from work went to Old Navy during lunch. They were respectably dressed. But despite that when they entered the store the police were informed of a “gang of shoplifters” – based on little more than the fact that the three women were black.  The police came and held them for 90 minutes even though they had shoplifted nothing.

It is not just “certain blacks” either – most blacks in America have had the experience of being followed or closely watched while shopping, of not being trusted. One black woman put it this way:

I’m very careful about how I move throughout the store…. I try not to put my hands in my pockets. You internalize a lot of the heightened racial scrutiny.

Meanwhile on the Internet people say stuff like this about blacks:

… they just point the finger at the white community and cry racism, whenever they see white folks reacting reasonably to the uncivilized tendencies at the core of their own culture.

With the way some shopkeepers act you would think they did an Internet search and found out that most shoplifters are black.

In fact most people arrested for shoplifting in America are white – about 70% according to the FBI. And that comes in the teeth of racial profiling aimed at blacks and Latinos! According to one study shoplifters are most commonly white women in their twenties and early thirties.

A store at the Barton Creek Square mall near Austin, Texas is being taken to court for singling out black shoppers for suspected shoplifting: FBI numbers show that blacks at that mall are no more likely to shoplift than anyone else.

One black woman who was arrested at Macy’s in New York noticed that even though 80% of the people who shop at Macy’s are white, 0% of the four other  people who were being held at the same time as her were white: two were black, one Middle Eastern looking and the fourth Hispanic.

Blacks and Latinos are being singled out not based on any hard-headed facts but based merely on racist stereotypes.

ABC staged some very unsubtle cases of “shopping while black” (pictured above) to see what other shoppers would do. About 80% of the shoppers did nothing, but 20% of the time they spoke up for the black person. People of colour were more likely to do that than white people – meaning that well over 80% of white people are quite fine with it.

There has been progress: in the 1950s, according to Siditty, Neiman Marcus would not let black women try on clothes. Sears and J.C. Penney in the South were even worse: black women were required to order their clothes from the catalogue.

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dorf

bird2

Dorf (2009) is short for “dead, old, retro or foreign”. Jody Rosen at Slate.com came up with the term to get a handle on what it is about the black music that NPR plays. You find the same sort of black music at Starbucks and the New York Times Magazine.

If you have ever noticed that  out-of-date black music is respectable among well-to-do whites while the current stuff never is, that is dorf.

On occasion NPR will have a Jill Scott or a Santigold, but by and large their black artists are dorf:

  • dead: Michael Jackson (now that he is dead), Mahalia Jackson, Bobby Short, Albert Ayler, Sam Rivers.
  • old: black vaudeville, jazz, blues, Motown, old school hip hop, Booker T. (still alive), Smokey Robinson, Living Colour, Death (1970s), Run DMC, Solomon Burke.
  • retro: soul revivals, Little Jackie, Ryan Shaw, Brown Bag AllStars, Lenny Kravitz.
  • foreign: anything African or anyone with the last name of Marley, Oumou Sangare, Rokia Traore, BLK JKS, Staff Benda Bilili, Amadou and Miriam, Blick Bassy, Cesaria Evora, Andy Palacio.

You might say, “Well, it is not like NPR plays Britney Spears either.” In fact many NPR stations spend much of the day playing utterly dorf music like classical and jazz.

True enough, but they also push plenty of white indie rock: current stuff by living, breathing American artists working in a current style. None of it dorf, but nearly all of it white.

To assume that NPR is not being racist at some level you have to assume that the quality of black music sank like a rock sometime in the early 1990s and never recovered, at least not up to the levels of indie rock, African music and Little Jackie.

One could argue that, but I doubt that is what is going on here. Because dorf is not just an NPR thing or even a current upper-middle-class white thing. I first noticed dorf in the 1980s:

  • The opening credits of “The Big Chill” (1983). It has an all-white cast but it starts with Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” (1968), a black song from 15 years before.
  • In “Pretty in Pink” (1986) Duckie, who plays a white teenager, knows all the words to Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” (1966), a black song from 20 years before.

But meanwhile old school hip hop was at its height at the time. Back then it was dismissed by whites (and many blacks) as being “too ghetto”, but now it has become respectable in the very same circles.

And jazz went through the same thing too: at first it was just music that poor blacks listened to. Not only did whites look down on it, so did middle-class blacks. But now the very same songs, in their dorfitude, are utterly respectable. Why is that? It is not like the music has changed.

Angela Davis noticed this dorf thing too among white people: if she spoke with a foreign accent, whites would be way nicer to her.

See also:

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