Friday, July 8, 2011

Being Afro-Am vs. Diasporic Black or African

A couple weeks ago I went to DC Carnival.  I always like seeing some of the ridiculousness that goes on.  Things like the oil and mud and powder trucks.  Big Girls getting in on the action jumping around barely clothed, unabashedly. The carnivals I have been to remind me a lot of freaknik and other mass gatherings of black people: music blaring, people dancing, laughing, drinking, and displaying overt sexuality.  Good times. 

Thanks to this Blog post however, I went to this Carnival a little more attuned to our differences, not to draw distinctions just for the sake of drawing them, but for a better understanding of why and how afro ams are different from our black brethren scattered across islands and continents, each in our respective countries. 

For the uninitiated carnivals have different sound trucks.  People sign up to “jump” with these trucks and wear elaborate feathered costumes and play super loud music from ginormous speakers rigged to the truck beds.  It is a competition to see which truck can get the livest.  They throw different substances on each other to add to the wratched-ness.  At least in the U.S., many of the trucks don flags from their respective countries.  People atop the trucks wrap themselves in their countries flag and waive it proudly in a delirium of fun, letting their countries popular music drive the crowd.

Generally reserved for islanders, I found it interesting this Carnival had a truck from Sierra Leone.  They played music that sounded a lot like top 40 but had the unmistakable cadences of an African language interspersed over the beat.   Participants wore dashikis, Sierra Leone soccer jerseys, and waived Sierra Leone flags. 

It made me wonder if American black people could ever have a truck in Carnival.  A truck that blares Gucci Mane and Lil Wayne, shoots each other with super soakers to add to the wratched-ness, plays mass by crip walking and dougie-ing instead of palancing, and has participants that don the good ole red, white, and blue: insert blood curdling brake screeching noise here. 

Red white and blue, you say?  That’s when my dreams of an African American truck at Carnival died.  Even if we were allowed admittance and given our own truck, we couldn’t participate in the same way for the simple reason that when African Americans waive old glory – that shit feels corny as hell.  I don’t know, maybe I am alone here.  But minus some Afro American military families, I get the feeling I’m not. I feel like I sit solidly in the majority of Afro-Ams that feel mad silly rocking any thing red, white, and blue.  I have this theory about why Afro-Ams don’t drink Budweiser heavily, despite it being pretty tasty for a cheap beer, and you bet ya: it has something to do with its red white and blue packaging.

Anyway, Afro-Ams are not the only Africans in the diaspora and in the motherland that have been aggrieved by their country of origin.  I mean some governments have committed outright atrocities against inhabitants, yet citizens will still waive the flag and feel pride.  Certainly Afro-Ams do love being American and appreciate that fact.  So why is it so hard to imagine 18-35 year old Afro-Ams dancing to popular music and being draped in the U.S. flag at the same time?

I believe it has to do with ownership.  We live here, but we also understand it is not our country and it never will be.  It wasn’t built with us in mind and it doesn’t exist to serve our needs.  While this is true in other countries in the motherland and in the diaspora, I believe inhabitants of those countries separate their nationality from actions of their government and can even use their nationality as a rallying cry against oppressive governments. They are their country.They know governments change and circumstances can as well.  In the U.S. governments don’t change.  Parties do, but the fundamental goals remain the same and Afro Ams are relatively minor players in this game whereas diasporic Africans and Africans are the main players, colonialism and western hegemony withstanding.  They have buy-in and we do too, but hardly.  And that’s the difference folks. Unless its because basketball’s Dream Team, made up of a bunch of afro am players, whipped up on the rest of the world, waiving old glory doesn’t make us feel any kind of way.  I mean real talk the Confederate flag riles us up more. 

How does the US flag make you feel?  Dissapointed?  Ashamed? Corny? Indifferent? Conflicted?  Exuberance anyone? Goose bumps? Could there be an Afro Am truck at Carnival with Afro Ams decked out in the star spangled banner?   

Friday, January 28, 2011

Double Standards for Women and Men: A Case Study

I know this older man in his 60’s.  He is a black guy with an Italian last name.  It’s “Stephany”.   I know what you’re thinking. “Stephany” is an Italian last name?  No, it’s really Stefancic but those guys writing in the big book on Ellis Isle weren’t too picky on spelling.  Hence, the newcomer and all his descendents will forever have a last name that is an American girl’s first name.  So what’s that got to do with why we ridicule women for sleeping around but not men?  You know all that double standard mumbo jumbo.  Well, here’s the thing, the dudes not Italian.  And neither was his fucking Daddy. 

The dude’s daddy is really an Afro Brazilian who’s last name is Quajo (something like that) but since mummy was shacked up with an Italian dude when she turned up preggers with my 60 year old acquaintance she gave him the Italian dudes last name on the birth certificate.  I guess she did that to avoid the famous Italian temper which later came to bear on her throat by way of a knife.  I’m sure it was over some hoe shit, but I digress. 

She survived the attack only to link with a black dude named Joyner.  So my acquaintance who was a toddler at the time ended up going by the name of Joyner until he switched schools as a teen and the birth certificate came into play and he found out his last name was Stephany.  Then it started to sink in.  The reason Joyner was going upside his head so bad was because he wasn’t Joyner’s child.  Christ.

So he ran away to live with his mom’s sister.  That’s when his mom’s sister was like yo, I hate to break this shit to you but you are not a Stefancic, a Stephany, or a Joyner but you are a cot damned Quajo.

WTF?!?!  Yeah, Quajo.  An afro brazilian auto mechanic who his mom bedded, but who auntie happened to have known very well, though by this time she had lost track of him.  No googles or facebook then.  Only word on the street that so and so was of ill repute and the damning that went along with such a reputation.

It’s easy to say why don’t we ridicule the men for sleeping around?  Lmao.  You mean ridicule the auto-mechanic who if he knew of his child at all it was only because of some rumor from auntie.  Or ridicule the Italian dude who prob had good intentions until he caught whiff of the rumor, probably, and shanked her.  What’s poor Stephany supposed to do? Scream into the wind?  Howl at the moon?

Mom’s is right there to ridicule.  Everyone in the community who knows this dude and his story also knows mom dukes.  She is an easy target.  She is the ONLY target. This is why women catch flack and men get off relatively easy.

Hoe shit has led to a 60 year old man roaming the earth with no heritage.  The paternal hoe shit disappeared into the ether.  For all we know he is someone’s proud grandpop.  Maternal hoe shit is sitting right there with 60 year old Stephany, who, despite the disclosures of his aunt, is pretty unsure of his real last name.  That shit is forever man.  It doesn’t get fixed.  No one wants to see a poor guy linked to two complete strangers, one by way of last name and the other by way of blood.  So for a long time society had to police itself by shaming that sort of behavior because the men were nowhere to be shamed.  That’s not a double standard.  That is being practical.

If as a society we want to rally against it and hone in on women who behave in a ho-ish manner, more power to us.  We can tell our male children respect women and yaddi yaddi ya, and for the most part we do, but we can only aim our venom at the transgressors.  The face of these transgressions, like it or not, belongs to women as they are apart of our community and families.  The men?  Not so much.  A rolling stone collects no moss. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Never Hit a Woman

Abuse is when you exercise power over someone in a way that causes harm.  When people talk about domestic violence power is always construed as physical strength and always is depicted as flowing from the man to the woman.  Physical strength is a very child like way of looking at power.   In America power can come from money, social status, gender, or even race.

Women enjoy a place in society where a cop (see video) would watch a woman hitting a man and ignore it, a place in society where bystanders would watch a woman hitting a man and assume he deserves it (also see video), whereas men fill a place in society that would cause him jail time were he to defend himself against attacks by a woman.  This is power.

Couple that with monetary power and the power that comes with the social status of maybe being a mother, and you can create a situation where a man is just as trapped in a bad situation as a woman could be.  If she makes the money or if there is a child involved and he loves his child and does not want to be separated from his child as tends to happen when a fathers social status is pitted against a mother's, where can he go?  Not many shelters out there for men in his predicament.

One argument Nazi-Feminists like to make is women can't cause as much harm.  However, if she is abusive, depending on her rage and ability to control her anger, there is plenty opportunity to cause damage.  Weapons and household goods like grits can land a dude in the hospital real quick.  They also like to cull  stats that show women as overwhelmingly being the victims of DV.  Well, if the police officer in this video is in any way representative of the behavior of other officers then they can wipe their ass with those stats.  Its funny how even the woman who did call the police wanted to call it on both of them when he clearly was just minding his own business.

At any rate, abuse is abuse.  Even if it is true women suffer from it more why is it an us vs. them enforce one but not the other sort of affair.  Did it ever occur to anyone that seriously looking at all incidents of DV regardless of the sex of the victim would actually advance the cause of DV overall?

The important thing to remember here is power.  Anyone can wield it.  Women are just as unjust as men in how they wield power.  Just something to think about.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pastor's Sermon, Drinking Buddies, Advice and Sheist Niggas

Anyone who has followed my ramblings knows I’m not really a religious person. I’ve read the Bible one time through and constantly go back to it, but I do so no different than I would “One Hundred Years of Solitude” or “Invisible Man” or any other really, really, good book. The difference between the Bible and other literary canon is broad swaths of ordinary, non-academics are familiar with the Bible and some of those people ascribe power to it as a Holy text. Well, I’ll be damned (quite literally here), but that makes the Bible a powerful text. Maybe I have taken extra efforts to know the Bible well enough to get creative in expressing myself and exercising persuasion over those to whom the Bible holds weight. Sometimes you have to speak a person’s language.

But I’m not religious. And to be frank, a lot of religion and religious people turn me off. You see, I am a pretty principled individual and have a high sense of ethic. This is not on purpose, it is how I am. Things that perplex and weigh heavily on people I see in black and white. I don’t need a preacher or congregation for that.

For some reason, I seem to attract people who have lapsed in their religion. You know those guys that used to go to church every Sunday but haven’t been in a while. Now they are drinking buddies or wing men talking shit about who they’d fuck, who they’ve fucked, and how they’ve dogged so and so and are about to do the same to next one.  As typically happens we’ll get drunk and featured backslider will start spilling guts about they don’t want to do so and so in such and such a way but they just have no choice.

Basically I sit, listen, laugh and shake my head at repentant sinner as he goes on about trying to do the right thing and how its so hard bla bla bla. Like omg, what should I do? If they are drunk enough sometimes they even get to their immortal soul as if that is another factor I should consider in giving them advice about their non-dilemma, dilemma. To which I always offer the same advice: Do the best you can. To which they offer a sarcastic "thanks." To which I offer a sarcastic "pray on it."

I don’t get these helpless motherfuckers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my shiest shit. Thing is I don’t seem to have the same internal war. If its fucked up but I can look myself in the mirror afterwards and be like you did some foul shit then proceed to laugh about it and not loose sleep, then I’ll do that shit, especially if there is some temporal pleasures to be gained. But if it’s too foul I won’t go there. No big deal. There is no pleasure worth my peace of mind and there is no repercussion for pleasure beyond my peace of mind. Since I know myself pretty well there is never a prolonged cost benefit analysis which requires a six pack and a friends ear. I can do it all by myself. And since adulthood, most of the times, I’ve done the right thing. I won't lie either, when there is some question about the right thing, I've even used my readings of the Bible (along with other books) to guide my actions. Why re-invent the wheel, you know?

After these backsliding nouveau teetotalers get back on track and find there way back to the flock, as evidenced by facebook statuses and are-you-fucking-kidding-me tagged notes sent to select friends (read: not me) about biblical passages, they now want to proselytize me. They even want to shake their head at things that I am doing or done when I never even asked what they thought. Then when I smh and have are-you-fucking-serious written in sanskrit on my forehead they behave like they know something I don’t. Perhaps they do. I won’t pretend to know what happens after death. But I can guarantee this: I know something most people you shower in your holiness don’t. That you are a sheisty motherfucker! Yeah, bro. Sheisty.

Days turn to weeks and we’ll hang out less and less. You know that sort of thing happens with buddies, no hard feelings. I just would like to offer some insight on why this happens other than the typical church folk narrative, which goes: 1) He was a sinner and would have tempted me and/or 2.) You can’t save everyone focus on your own salvation and shed those who would hold you back. You know something like that. Hey, whatever it takes to maintain. I’m not mad.

But here’s my take on the situation 1.) You are a foul dude and I know that about you so you couldn’t go on with your charade in my presence without being a liar. I mean sure folk change, but this was last week dog. And 2.) You know my moral judgment is more sound than yours hence you replacing pastors sermon with my ramblings off a six pack for a month or two, yet I clearly thumb my nose at all that religious ish so what does that say about you or that religious ish? Pretty scary to think about, I know. So don’t. Don’t think at all. Believe and have faith. It works for you. To me that’s all it comes down to. Does it work for you?

All this other ballyhoo and judging and feigned condescension is why people don’t like you Jesus freaks. Fuck being a hypocrite, we all are. Just don’t be such schmucks about it. Do that shit silently somewhere without being a prick to people you once turned to for counsel, without being a prick to people you turned to for counsel because you never developed the ability to make tough decisions independently sans Pastor's sermon or drinking buddy, more specifically.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Do you have kids? Do you have abortions?

This really gets my goat. Women go around judging the character of men with children. Some situations I'm like ok. So Tyrone got 5 kids with 4 different women. Alright, Tyrones character may be fair game.

Generally speaking however, if you are a woman finding out a man has a child with a woman he is not married too chill the fuck out with the judging. It's one thing if you want nothing to do with the man. You may have always dreamed of starting your own family and not having a ready made one, being the man's first so to speak. Or maybe you just don't like kids or the typical drama associated with a baby's mother. Maybe you are not at that point in your life. All those are legitimate reasons to not want to be in relationships with a man that has a child.

But judging the dudes character? Coming out your mouth with some shit like he left the woman with his child why wouldnt he leave me? He's irresponsible. He's a dead beat. He's not a real man. Or coming out your mouth with some equally ignorant variant of the above arguments? Please stfu. You have abortions. And but for the grace of god 5 Supreme Court justices, there goes you.

Yeah I said it. That ish is a taboo topic no one likes to talk about. Privacy laws build a nice little safe haven for women who like to throw rocks and hide their hand. So before you go in on the character of a man who happens to have child, think about your own character and what those abortion(s) say about you.

Did you keep that ish secret from everyone in the whole wide world including the father? Damn, I guess that means she is sneaky and doesn't respect the role of men in the family structure. Did you get a couple of them? Guess that means she is a slut that likes to avoid consequences. Does it eat you up inside? Must mean she got deep seeded issues and should be avoided like the plague!!

No. We don't go there. And for good reason. Alot of speculation goes with those character judgments. And while a man's child is visible and makes him an easy target, what if you did open up to a man about your run ins with roe v wade and he were to judge your character. It wouldnt be nice. So chill with the character attacks women, lest you be judged. And if you dont have abortions, cool, take this cookie. Like I believe you

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

For Colored Girls who Considered Everything as an Affront when Taking Stock is Enough

What do Tyler Perry, Tiger Woods, CDC, ABC, and Steve Harvey all have in common? If you guessed trashing black women in the media you guessed right. Was Tyler Perry serious about all those run ragged black women in for colored girls? You mean Tiger Woods couldn’t have cheated with a sister? Not one? Does he know how undesirable that makes the black woman look? CDC go away with your AIDs and Herpes rates. Dateline did you really have to go there. Again with black women being undesirable. Steve Harvey? Even fat comedians on their 8th divorce find black women laughable and are on the attack offering sage advice. I think it’s time for a (insert blog about black women haters and/or feel good commentary about all the great black women there have been to walk the face of the earth) here.

I’m sorry. Scratch all that. I don’t buy it. The black women screaming that out to get us mess are the real villains. They are in a vocal minority that draws negative attention to the whole sisterhood because they are so out of touch, delusional, and irrational that the media gods can’t help but fan the flames, because who doesn’t like to rubberneck a good crash scene? One with hysterical bystanders at that? Everyone, right? I sat in traffic for one and a half hours because of a wreck on the other side of the highway this past Tuesday. The great thing for publishers and networks is the rubbernecking round those parts lead to Neilson ratings and book sales. Cha ching.

Think about it for a second. Tyler Perry makes a movie about a bunch of black women getting ruined and destroyed by a bunch of black men. If you’re keeping score out to get us black woman, it is the good guys: black women with some pitiable flaws -1- and the bad guys: black men with no redeeming qualities -0-. Yet according to the out to get us black woman this is a movie that trashes black women. Dateline comes out with a show that interviews various sisters who talk about the short comings and inadequacies of black men as a collective. Yet, according to the out to get us black women, this was a show that trashed black women.

Noticing a theme here? No, not that black men are really the ones getting trashed publicly by black women (ya’ll can have TP since he dresses as a woman and you are his main supporters anyway). No, not that. If I were to say that the out to get us black women would probably accuse me of exercising “black male privilege” and attempting to usurp the discussion by laying claim to black male problems at the expense of the black female who never gets heard except on Oprah, Dateline, and NPR etc etc. Nope. Not going there. I’m talking about this theme: the one where the out to get us black women crazily lash out at the world instead of pausing for a second and taking stock. And yeah, I purposely used the word crazy you crazy conspiracy theorists you. I digress, the theme is unaccountability*. Don’t believe me?

Remember when some government and non profit agencies studying STD’s, obesity, economics, and family structures uncovered higher rates of morbidity, broke-ness, and knocked up-ness, respectively, for black women than those of other races and genders? Remember when the out to get us black women argued something was up with the timing and veracity of these reports? Like the CDC, you know, that massive clusterfuck of red-tape filled with locked in the labratory mad scientists government agency that takes ten years and a signature from someone appointed by the President to replace an empty ink jet cartridge actually waited for Steve Harvey's latest book to drop the bad news that Black women stay losing with the Herps.

Really out to get us black women? Grasp at straws much? Get real!

If I actually believed the feminist college survey course syllabi the out to get us black women re-circulate to those of us that took real classes never took the course about black women being the lowest on the hierarchy of patrilineal hetero homo sexual normative judeo Christian jabberwocky, then I'd know nobody cares enough about the black woman to plot out her demise by pin prick through the media. Through trite entertainment and vapid statistical studies, much less.

I went to my homies house this weekend and he was talking about the pledge process for Southern University's marching band. Telling me as much as he could anyway. And he was saying the kids that complained the most caught the most grief. No one liked a whiny bitch, so they would beat their ass more so he would quit or man up and change his ways. Black women are getting hazed right now, as the media tends to do from time to time. They do it to groups, individuals and countries. Right now these out to get us black women are complaining the most. Complaining so much the notion of “woman-ing up” and actually dealing with some of the concerns these “media bashings” raise is falling on a lot of deaf ears.

And its jacked up because I know for a fact most black women don’t give a fuck about this stuff and even if they do are open minded enough to at least consider whats being said. But these out to get us chicks is effing it up for all yall. Long as they keep the crash scene spectacular with narcissist level paranoia and denial and pseudo intellectual histrionics, all black women will continue to get the medias two by four upside their backside. Politicians and athletes and even some countries learned this shit a long time ago. A.) Ignore it it'll eventually go away. Or B.) Apologize and act contrite, it'll go away. Or C.)Change the news with something positive. But if it really is sucking for you absolutely do not fight it by engaging in a drawn out battle.

Fucked up as Chris Brown handled that Rihanna situation, it would've been worse if someone caught him angrily throwing chairs screaming I am not a woman beater it was in self defense! But that seems to be the path the out to get us black women took. What better way to deny the charges of undesirability than to exhibit traits people find undesirable in women: irrational argumentation and combativeness. And there it is. I hear them now, “Way to go bitter black dude for blaming the victim.” No! Actually, it’s time you finally stfu out to get us black women. Next time I hear your mouth I want it to be you telling me how your complain and whine them into submission strategy worked out for you.

*Note to readers: could a non-out to get us black woman actually familiar with the word accountability let me know if unaccountability is a word. Thanks.