Friday, July 31, 2009

In the Deep End

Saying, “I don’t know why I continue to do things like listen to Glenn Beck,” seems the easy way to begin this but it wouldn’t be true. I know why I do. It’s the same reason I write this blog. I have ideas that formulate a mind frame, and in order to maintain perspective, I search out dissenting opinions and offer mine, to try to keep a balance. I am making a feeble effort to ensure I don’t drift over the edge, even though many are convinced I have already done so.

“Brother” Beck would be one to think I didn’t drift but dove. He went on TV proclaiming his belief that our President is a racist. He isn’t the first person I have heard say that. He cites Obama’s calling of the actions by a Boston police office “stupid”, his attending Rev Wright’s church, and…….? Beck has reached a conclusion and now he is preaching it. Glenn, what do you really know about this stuff? I would really like the answer to this question.
I listened to Beck go on a rant, citing scripture, that a man must be punished for his OWN sins, and not those of his father. He insinuates that the racial divide that exists today is caused by black people wanting to punish white people for historical instances. He moaned about how he has done nothing and now the govt., now our president, wants to punish and blame him for everything.


Mr. Beck is this about you? I got t o thinking about a series of things that I have seen or read somewhat recently, NOT delving into history. I would ask what in this list of things has to do with Mr. Beck, or the greater white aka “American” people he speaks to and for?

Ask yourself how equal is today’s playing field?

Can you be arrested in your own home if the only thing you have done is insult a police officer?

A bunch of kids were instantly kicked out of a private pool for “safety” reasons. The initial concern was the “complexion and atmosphere” of the club’s pool. A member of the club asked “why are all these black kids here”.

Black Phila police officers are suing the website, an online forum for Phila police officers, for hosting racist comments. The owner says it has nothing to do with who comments and refused to edit racist commenters. The website was/is a bastion of racist remarks and only open to Police officers.

A PA state senator, who happens to be a former police officer, while waiting in traffic, saw an old man being arrested. He saw the officer pull a stack of money out of the suspects pocket, place it on the hood where the wind proceeded to blow it away. The senator got out and asked if he could help. The officer told him to get his black a—back in his car. The senator informed the cop he wasn’t the right person to talk to that way and so the cop arrested him for disorderly conduct. Turns out the old man was being arrested for driving a “stolen” car… which he owned and the money was his cashed paycheck.

My wife while driving with her sister was pulled over for having a broken taillight. The officer told her both her lights weren’t working, crumpled the ticket in his hand, and threw it at her through the window.

Audra Shay is elected chair of the young Republicans after she posted “you tell ‘em” to a wall post urging us to take our country back from all these coons on Facebook.

In Jersey the Republican candidate was involved in a dispute with neighbors where he was quoted as saying “if you want to act like Ni---- go back to Paulsboro.” When asked about the incident he responded that he did say that, he added that it’s his freedom of speech, and nothing is wrong with what he said under certain circumstances.

Pat Buchanan said on MSNBC that he has no problem with the majority of supreme court judges being white because white men built this country and white men died invading Normandy. He claimed Sonia was unqualified for the supreme court because she was just an affirmative action selection.

I watched a fox and friends host say that Americans are less happy because they are not a pure race like the Swedes, because Americans marry other “species”.

Jack Wiswall, who just retired as the luxury products division pres of Lo’real, was successfully sued for ordering the firing of a black counter manager. When questioned on this order due to the managers superior performance, he retorted “Da—n it” get me one that looks like this ” pointing to a blonde counter manager.

Sheri Goforth, an executive assistant to Republican senator Diane Black received complaints after sending an email forward from her office entitled “Historical Keepsake Photo” that displayed a picture of every president from Washington to W. Bush, then a black square with two Scooby Doo eyeballs in Obama’s place. When asked if she regretted sending it or could see what was wrong with it, she replied she only regretted sending it to the wrong email list. She received no disciplinary action.

Rusty DePas,a Republican activist responded to a news story about an escaped gorilla by commenting that the gorilla was “probably one of Michele Obama’s ancestors”. When questioned on his comparison he responded “that was her comment, not mine”. Efforts to uncover any comments by Mrs. Obama regarding gorillas were unsuccessful.

Obama curious George T-shirts sells out at a Georgia bar.

Political cartoon depicts a cop shooting a gorilla and remarking “now someone else will have to write the stimulus package.”

I watched a video of an Oakland cop shooting an unarmed black man who was sitting helpless on a train platform while others watched. It was possibly the most disturbing thing I have ever watched.

I watched a video of Phila police officers entering a corner store, locating all the security cameras and cutting the power chords, (except the one they missed that recorded it all). The team of officers then proceeded to take the money from the register and various snacks.

A Phila police officer lost his job after using the N word regularly in talking about black people to a college reporter who was riding along for the day.

It may seem I am picking on Republicans and Cops here, but rather than pointing out a slant in the examples provided, pause a moment and realize all these were taken from mainline news sources. Say what you want about media bias, these things still happened, the reporters didn’t commit the acts.

What conclusion would you come to observing these things? Is Mr. Beck really the one who should be upset and feel besieged?
What do you think?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Train of Thought

I saw a commercial for a new cartoon today. At first I thought it was for Family Guy. There was a clip animated in the same obvious style, but there was a father and son, both black. I don’t watch Family Guy so I paid little attention, till the closing shot.
It closed with a family shot, an animated black family, and a “coming soon” sort of voice over.
My first thought, an instant thought, was, “why are they doing a black Family Guy” spin-off? That is some obvious pandering and I can hear the “age of Obama” complaints now.
Then it occurred to me that I never thought, “look, a white family” the first time I saw Family Guy. Why would I instantly think that an all black family on a cartoon would be pandering? Was it because it was from the same animators as the original?
That’s messed up that the image of a black family on TV would evoke any sort of knee jerk reaction, let alone such a cynical one. What does that say about our society? What does that say about me?
I wonder how many other white people had the same involuntary reaction at this commercial as I did? Worse question is how many of those white people later realized how sad and wrong such a reaction is…. even if the cartoon is in fact pandering.

This whole train of thought took about ten seconds. My wife in the kitchen, had she been watching me at the time, would have had no idea what was in my head, if anything at all. I’m sure I looked like an imitation of Al Bundy in front of the TV.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Its Hard To Say, but I Wouldnt Be So Quick to Defend the System

I spent an afternoon at the Philadelphia Family court house waiting to see if my young friends case was going to trial. The courthouse has four football field sized waiting rooms in which people sit on benches waiting to be called into the courtroom. I took the time to wander from room to room and observe.
Looking at the people here raised a lot of questions. The answers to the questions are not obvious.
At first it seemed I was the only white person here. After the third person asked me if I was a lawyer I realized there were a few white people, but they were all wearing nice suits and carrying legal pads, or wearing a badge and a blue uniform. I thought I must be seeing things wrong so I made a few more rounds over the next couple hours.
I did not see one white face sitting on a bench with a worried or tired look. Not one out of thousands.

I looked at the cops. There were plenty of black and white but I noticed the white ones more. Maybe it was the cop with flames tattooed all the way up both fore –arms, or maybe the one with a skull clearly visible just below his elbow. I know this is 2009, everyone has a tattoo, and this is Philly where being a cop means someone will shoot at you sooner or later, so a little ‘grit’ is to be expected. But I started keeping track. There were more white cops that had tattoos than those who didn’t. What made it more interesting is that I saw no tattoos on any black officers. Interesting.

Lawyers were easy to spot. They were male and female, middle aged or late 20’s, but all well dressed, and all seemed comfortable in their surroundings.

So what?

So what if some white cops are tatted up and all the people awaiting trial are black? I have often been told you cannot judge a book by its cover and I have learned enough about people to know you can never know someone’s motivations just by looking from the outside, but that’s all I had here.
Here is what I do know.
I grew up in an extremely stable, middle class, all white neighborhood and people got arrested all the time. On top of that I saw people doing things that should have got them arrested on a regular basis. Granted this was thousands of miles from here but am I to assume no white kids commit crimes here in Philly? Was it that the jurisdictions here are all black so it’s a natural consequence of the racial makeup of the area? Nope, I live in this area and there are no minorities for blocks and blocks. Now I do see cop cars in my neighborhood but they are always parked in front of a home, a barbershop, or a diner. I don’t see patrols, yet I did see some twelve year olds smoking pot at the local park the other day.

Again I am not claiming to know the ‘why’ to what I observe, but I did, and do, see it. Do you think I am the only one? What impression do you suppose my young black friend gets when he sees these same things?

Let’s assume for a moment my young friend is innocent. He is taken to a place where all the “bad guys” are black like him. White cops all look scary and mean, a bunch of rich looking people argue with each other about his fate, and he has little to no control of it all. What assumptions do you suppose this 16 year old will make about our world? What lessons are being taught?
I will not call tattooed cops racist. I do not assume all these black kids are innocent. I do not think all lawyers are rich blood suckers. I will not assume these things, but how can I expect an immature black youth NOT to?
What picture has been painted before him and what hope is portrayed?
His Mom is single, has four more little kids in the house whom she supports by working temp jobs. Is it reasonable to expect her to make note of what her son may be observing and then encourage him to not look on the surface? Why would I expect her to give any of these people the benefit of the doubt?

I’m taking extra time because I believe in this kid. I think it’s important to see some white faces who really are on his side. I have to explain to him that wearing that tie makes a difference in a judges eye the same way those tattoos make an impression in his. I have to explain to him that white cops see a sea of black faces sitting in those benches and it makes an impression that affects how they see him when he’s on the streets.
I have been told and taught that race does not matter. After seeing the scene at the family court, after knowing the circumstances of this kid’s life, can I say race doesn’t matter in his life?” How do I teach him not to judge while at the same time warning him that he is being judged all the time?

Monday, July 13, 2009

More Than Just a Color

I’m sitting in my upstairs office reading and reflecting. The black kids who were kicked out for “safety” reasons are now being asked to return to the pool. There have been no communicated adjustments to remedy the safety concern, but there is a law suit.
A potential Supreme Court justice is sitting before congress and her past words and views are being scrutinized.
My young friend who is navigating the wrong end of the justice system has a final court date early next month and things are looking better. Turns out the original police report corroborates my friend’s story which will most likely lead to an acquittal and the question as to why this has taken over six months. I think his cousin did it.
Another friend is questioning her faith not because of doctrine but social issues. She hasn’t said as much but race has something to do with it. Not directly, but those with whom she has issue, all share the same complexion.

The kids are sleeping, my wife has yet to return from her day trip to New York and I’m listening to Jack Johnson. Whenever I listen to Jack I mentally wander off into lamenting that I have never learned to surf. I always wanted to, but never lived near a beach. My mother in law once told me of how she used to go by the beach all the time while in L.A. I asked her if she ever wanted to surf and she replied, with a surprisingly thoughtful look on her face, “naw, that was always just for white boys.”

Swimming pools, Supreme Court, the justice system, church, and surfing; none of them are really about race. When you add race to all these things you have an added layer of complexity and issues. Sure I could try to ignore it but no matter if I do, my wife will still be black. I will still be white. One day my daughter will realize that those two things aren’t just a color.