Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Being black- Tookie, and other moments I wish I didn't have

Tookie was killed last night. And I am sorry for it.

We can go on for days about racism. So lets…. I wasn't gonna make this a race thing - but why the hell not? Its part of hte issue no matter what people say to the contrary. I left a comment on another bloggers site and I’d like to address some of the comments it generated. Lets just say the people who frequent there are typically exactly the opposite of me. And I STILL haven’t figured put why I go there outside of the fact that no matter how many times I disagree with Jack – the author- I still want to know what he’s thinking. We are probably total opposites but I’d like to think he and I would have been friends outside of cyber world. It’s a pleasant thought and don’t try and take it from me okay?!?!
Any way here goes - btw - these are edited to just include the parts I’m gonna comment on the blog I left a post on was –http://texas-music.blogspot.com/ the Tuesday Dec 13th entry.
First up…Zelda http://sleepingugly.blogspot.com/

Raquita - Why does being a race other than white always have to be at issue? So you are slighted by some bigotted asshole. So what? That means you have to start a gang and deal drugs and kill innocent people? What's the point? Proving the bigot right?


Zelda I can’t really explain it to you. It’s not just about being slighted by some bigoted asshole when the asshole is society in general. Have you ever been followed through an entire mall by mall security? Ever been pulled over for no reason – told something stupid like your ashtray is a fire hazard – that’s why they pulled you over? Ever been told naming your child something like Jamal will hinder his ability to get a job – he’d be better suited if you name him Brad. Ever been told that celebrating your culture is not acceptable business attire- but asked why you’re not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day? Why is it that in the war on drugs the exact same amount of crack will get you three times the amount of jail time vs cocaine? But none of this has anything to do with Tookie Williams, but honestly I believe as long as America refuses to acknowledge that race is an issue in ways that you simply can’t fathom – the issue will forever be there whether white America can see or understand.
Whether the judicial system gives black men the same “fair trail” they would give a white man for the same crimes. We can go over and under it, we can flip left and right about legal mumbo jumbo and all kinds of things that don’t really make a difference. But for me this isn’t about the fact that he co-founded the Crips. Unless creating a club –ala the legal term for a gang - is against the law – I could give a crap about that. And before you ask, yes I have lost friends and family to gang violence. I grew up in NoCo (north county) St Louis, where Crips and Bloods and GrapeSt, (yes there was a gang called GrapeSt complete with purple rags and bandanas) did all manor of stupid crap including shooting each other and innocent bystanders. But this isn’t about the people who have been affected by gang activity, this isn’t about the gang he created, you can’t try him for that – any more than you can put the dumb as rappers who glorified that life through out the nineties, so all you people who are touting justifying this due to that fact are -simply put out -of line.
S.Tookie Williams was seventeen when he and his friend founded the Crips. Seventeen. Seventeen year old guys aren’t thinking about proving anybody right or wrong. They are trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in, and in today’s society if we dealt with things like residue from negative race relations – and “So what?” is not dealing with shit. “So what?” is passing the buck. “So what?” asks for confrontation. “So what?" is why young black people buck against the system. Why would you want to assimilate with people who tell you “So what?” And why is assimilation the goal? Let me not start that thought –I’ll get off subject.

Now I have always believed that Black society needs to step up to the plate. Mr. Cosby in all of his ranting had the right passion – he just didn’t DO anything, except exactly what the rest of society has done- point a finger at the poor and uneducated – say “Get an education!” but do nothing to make that a more feasible option than illegal options. If black society dealt with all of our issues we would be better prepared to stand in the gap for those that need a link to make education and prosperity feasible. I’ll quote Charles Barkley – who I never thought I’d be quoting, “As long as black people are not striving to become more educated, having children they cannot afford we are not moving forward.” But alas they need a total change in mentality- but that's another post as well.

Zelda continued –
I don't understand giving clemency to someone like that. It doesn't matter whether he's found redemption or not. Death Row is not rehab. Prison is not rehab. It's a punishment for your crimes. Tookie's were heinous and he forfeited his life when he took that of an innocent person. That is the lesson that must be taken from this. If you take a life, there is the chance that yours will be forfeit.


Prison isn’t rehab. Well that’s news to me. I thought that was the whole point. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4458080 As I recall governor Blackblack worked pretty hard to get the California prison system to be focused on rehab. Yes apparently his plan sucks but hey - Schwarzenegger declared that "the purpose of corrections is to correct" and that he intended to reform California's hard-nosed prison and parole systems to place emphasis on rehabilitation rather than punishment. So in the state Tookie Williams was executed in – that was not supposed to be the goal of that particular system.
And lets take the odd idea that he was sincere in his reform. Novel idea I know, some coming to the idea that its completly not possible they are wrong. But for shits and giggles let’s say he did. He honestly believes he did not commit the crimes he was convicted of but feels remorse for the crimes he did commit and is role in creating the Crips. He is a man and a black one at that - Pride will not let many a black man take resposiblilty for things they don't beleive they are accountable for. And his pleas for non violence– that mind you did not fall on deaf ears – helped to stop some young men from following that path, helped establish gang truces, and say he only sold 1000 books they were read by teachers to numbers of class rooms and passed by parents to parents for kids to be read to and read by them. The fact that you would kill him anyway says to me, we are a heartless society. His death does nothing what he has learned and has to say could have spoken to thousands, Letting him live and showing him mercy would have spoken to millions of young black men. And I hope young black men do not take from this the lesson that society sees nothing but your mistakes.

Zelda
If Tookie had found redemption, he would have taken his last few minutes and told every child in this country, regardless of race, that gangs are evil, murder is evil, and he deserves this punishment. But instead, we have a race martyr who, even though he is guilty of horrific crimes, will be glorified and justified to the kids who most need to see him vilified as the hateful murderer that he was


The lesson I take from this was Judge not lest ye be judged. It is not my place to call for another’s life. I don’t care what his crime was – that is between him and his maker. And people who call for another’s life knowing nothing about him, judge him on your experiences and life and upbringing, assume what you think would have been an expectable action to be granted his life, to say what he would have done if her were really repentant is disgusting to me – and very very sad. Even in the act of dying you would deny another human the right to die in the manor he saw fit? He did not reiterate his innocence. Did not scream of injustice – did nothing to rub the victims families anyway, he simply died. He spent the last twelve years telling children not to follow his path- its okay with me if he took his last moments for himself.

I don’t believe in the death penalty in my heart I believe it is wrong to take another’s life – although I can understand the desire – if someone hurt my child I’m sure I could taste the blood, and the killing Samuel L Jackson character in “A Time to Kill” committed would have felt good to me, been to easy for them though I could see myself in his shoes wanting to do it, but I pray I have the strength to leave that to my God as vengeance is not mine, I’m sure I would have to tattoo that on my person - on my hand - so I would have to see it before I picked up the gun. But it is not to be mine no matter how I want it. It is easy to say with her sleeping safely in the other room, and a pray everyday for God to grant the mercy that would never test me on this.

This has been a long enough post for one night – I want to go kiss my girl – hold my husband – call my father and tell him I love him.

p.s Sarah I am sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excite youare coming - doing a very happy dance -Call me as soon as you get here!
.

14 Comments:

Blogger Zelda said...

First off, I want to thank you for your civil tone. It may actually surprise you that I agree with much of what you say regarding the death penalty. But as far as discrimination is concerned, I'm not quite there.

My husband is Vietnamese. When his family came over from Vietnam after escaping the war, his father was beaten up at his job on numerous occasions by both whites and blacks. We're not just talking snide remarks, we're talking actual physical violence to the point where he'd come home with black eyes.

But he persevered because there was nothing else for him to do. He didn't resent all whites or all blacks for what some of them did. He didn't start a gang and terrorize the neighborhood. He didn't deal drugs for some quick cash, even though his family needed it badly. So it is very difficult for me to accept anything less from anyone else.

But in answer to your questions about discrimination,
1.) I have been followed once in the mall by security. I think they thought I shoplifted something.

2.) I was pulled over once by a cop who told me my inspection sticker was out of date when it wasn't. I think he pulled me over because I gave him a weird look. But I'd only given him the weird look because he was picking his nose. And I was stalked by a cop once, but that's a whole other story.

3.) I'll get back to the names in a minute.

4.) If I were to celebrate my culture as business attire, I doubt I could get hired as a crack whore. So I won't give you that one in any way shape or form. And what are you griping about St. Patty's Day for? It isn't a white thing, it's specifically an Irish thing and it's just one of America's melting pot cultural phenomena. No one forces you to participate. My husband doesn't participate, but he will drink green beer. Actually, he'll drink any color beer.

(continued)

9:06 AM  
Blogger Zelda said...

Names are tricky. If I were an employer, I wouldn't have a problem with anyone unless they had a bad work history, or a very felonious rap sheet.

I don't think it is right to discriminate against someone for their name, but part of the problem is that black culture and supposedly black names are associated with gangs and drugs and crime. And you can't blame that entirely on the white folks. I haven't seen anyone in the black community take pains to display black culture as anything other than violent and criminal, or at the very least, excusing the violent and the criminal.

This is the dichotomy of black society. On one hand, no one wants whites or anyone else to assume you're a thug just because you're black. But on the other hand, you have no street cred and therefore no black pride if you get an education, join the work force, and go out drinking with your white buddies on St. Patty's Day. My girlfriend, who is black is constantly ridiculed by her black coworkers for her white friends. And if she weren't an incredibly good and strong person, I can see how the pressure could get to her. But she is objective and sees the part of black culture she's ridiculed for not participating in as something that would hold her back.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Zelda said...

As for the death penalty in general, I don't approve of it. Not because I don't think the murderers and child rapists don't deserve it, but because it is irreversible. I don't think society should have an irreversible sentence and the death of anyone, even a disgusting, vicious, hateful murderer on it's collective conscience.

I also don't believe in prison as rehab. Prison should be rehabilitative in the sense that it should be so unpleasant that one would do everything in his or her power to never go back. For those who would otherwise be sentenced to death, put them on a work detail in Alaska where they can't escape and where life will be so miserable they will wish they were on death row. That way we have a sentence that is not irreversible or deadly, but still satisfies justice for the ghastly murders.

Tookie was no more an innocent victim of his environment than James Byrd's killers. I don't care how many anti-racist children's books they write. Their redemption is between them and their God. They would never deserve clemency for those crimes.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Queue said...

people all over the black commnity take pains every day to pportray black people and communities in a positive light (big groups like NAACP- Urban league 100 black men ect and small groups like UAACD, Oya xclusive and several others as well as countless individuals) Most of black communities could care less about being seen as hard and having street cred. and that's my point you don't see any of that - 1. because you aren't looking for it and 2. the media isn't looking to show it to you. Names aren't associted with gangs anywhre I know of except perhaps the media - I've never met anybody who said a certian gang wouldn't let me in because my name was too white or black.
I was refering to St. Pats as a culture example not a white thing. i wear my hair in a celebration of my cluture and it makes coorporate america nervous - Irish people drink until the y turn stupid and wear green its a statement of pride and encouraged. And yes I have been asked by supervisors why I am not being a team player and wearing my green. the problem here is that you just can't see my point there is a reason for everything - I hear what you are saying and understand - I have to understand americas nervousness with my blackness and just deal but America can't just see where I'm coming from and that's my point...

10:05 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

I'm glad I read this post today. I think part of the problem with race in this country is our unwillingness to discuss it, and even when we do, we often get bogged down in semantics. I think we've made a lot of progress towards equality, but anybody can see there's still a long way to go. Thanks, R.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Aeshema the Fury said...

Since this discussion, in many ways, is at the core of the future of America, I figure I'll throw my two cents in. Plus its always nice to talk with intelligent folk who arent afraid to voice their opinions one way or another and have the civility to do so in normal tones instead of the ranting and raving the internet can so easily engender.

One of the biggest problems with race in America is that it is so engrained into every fabric of life that it is hard to really grasp. It is also a very complex and multi-headed hydra that will never be slain by one simple swing of the Vorbal sword. When thinking about Tookie Williams and his execution and his crimes and his claimed redemption, you're not only dealing with one of the biggest 'Race Issue' foci that has come about since OJ, but you throw a lot of other issues that by themselves have nothing to do with Race but because we live in America, are completely effected by them; There is the issue of the Death Penalty and it's morality, especially when there is doubt as to the accuracy of its use. There is the question of redemption and it's role in crime and punishment or whether it should have one at all. There is the sticky situation of the Prison Complex, which much like the Military Complex, is a large corporate enterprise whose true reason for continued operation is the enrichment of stockholders. There is the thorny question of whether prison itself should be punishment or rehabilitation. All of these things go into ones thoughts, consciously or not, as one renders an opinion in Tookie Williams case. I'm just glad that between the screaming, ranting voices that are either calling the State of California murders or Cheering the death of another black man, there are people in the middle willing to talk about it, about ALL of it, in it's nasty complexity, and wont be afraid to hear things they dont agree with. As for me?

Was he guilty of murder? I dont know the case or the facts involved. In the end, that's between himself and God.

Should he have been granted clemency or was the execution justified? Execution is never justified in my opinion. I have to agree with Raquita and Zelda here; it's too final and used way too unscrupulously.

Was Tookie's 'Rehabilitation' real? I've heard many reports both ways on this. Again, I think this is between himself and God. For us, either you believe him or you dont. I dont believe him because he was black nor do I think he's lying simply because our corrupt court system found him guilty of murder. I'm going to lean towards real for the work he's done to reverse the errors he's made in his life. But, really that shouldn't be the pin that swings his execution one way or the other. It's an unknowable thing and we cannot judge people one way or the other on Unknowables. Especially with a penalty that is not reversible in strongest sense of the word.

Benticore
Out
Oh! And @ Zelda: The portrayal of black culture as being violent and mysogenistic is something that most black people are fighting and unwinnable battle against. Who are we fighting? Major Media outlets and corporations who put out only the music that glorifies this horrible aspects, which are then purchased mostly by non-blacks living in suburbs. Sure there are violent criminals and the like in black culture and society. They're everywhere. But like Raquita says, nobody cares about the people who do the best they can to make the lives of those around them better. That doesnt so much have to do with race as it does with money. Who would by a newspaper that was filled with people helpign each other and fixing up communities and teaching each other how to read? Violence and Sex and the playing to already held stereotypes sells way better, plus its easier to make video games and toys off of. If the only rap or rock I heard was the stuff played on the Corporate Owned Radio I'd hate both of the genres too. Most black people I know HATE rap the way it is now. We have to SEARCH for quality music, be it neo-soul, or jazz, or rap, or rock or Alternative. Thats not race, baby. Thats money. Haves vs. Have nots. Its just that right now, Black People are the face of the Have Nots. Just think back to Katrina But we aint the only ones struggling.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Zelda said...

What you say about black culture is probably true. You are absolutely right about media stereotypes. But those glamorized images are a powerful influence nontheless and you can tell that by it's influence on other racial groups as well. And it doesn't seem like groups like the NAACP care very much when their big counterweight to all this violence is rallying for Tookie. I mean, there is no push for a holiday or a parade or a festival to celebrate black culture and bring the positive, interesting aspects of it to society at large. There is only the same tired cries of racism when black (and only black) murderers are given their due.

I know it sounds harsh and I'm sorry if I'm being offensive. But I'm tired of hearing about racism. At some point, excuses are going to have to stop being made for individuals like Tookie. My father-in-law was only 20 when he came here with three kids to feed. He dealt with racism and did not lose his soul. I think there would be easier for young black men if there weren't this constant pessimism from the likes of Jesse Jackson and the Nation of Islam and so on. It's one thing to bring instances of racism to society's attention. It's quite another to excuse violent and criminal behavior because of it.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Queue said...

Ironically being in a mixed culture relationship I am surprised to hear your thoughts here. But your being sick of hearing about it doesn't change anything. doesn't make it less of the issue and simply makes the situation more difficult to deal with. We are so far from the solution but if hte majority of people are sick of hearing about it that means it just makes it that much harder to get where we need to be. Our voicing our problems doesn't mean we lost our soul on the contrary - it means we are holding on. WE won't just give up and assimilate to pacify the people who are sick of hearing it. Your not at all sorry for being harsh - and neither is society - you'd be happier if ethnic people across the board would just suck it up and deal quietly but that's never gonna happen. you keep bringing up your father in law as if he still doesn't want the racsims he has to deal with even today to stop, disappear. As if he is quite okay when people look at him and think negative sterotypes that probably don't even apply to his culture. as if since he's been dealing with it for as long as you been alive he's a-okay with it. And if I were your father in law I would be very, very sad if I read your comments here and saw how you tried to use my struggle to justify why change isn't necessary, instead of why its manditory. Your children with your father in laws son will have to deal with racism too, whether blantant or subdued, they may be called out of there name, may be attacked for being of mixed herritage just like their grandpa and I hope they don't just take it and not lose there soul, I hope they fight back becasue they shouldn't have to defend their culture and there parents and grandparents choices and I hope they want it to be better for their children. The way their grandfather hoped coming here would make it better for his children.
p.s. You have no idea how many celebrations of Black pride there are yearly - you can't say you see and agree with my point about media then turn right around and say you don't see anything... then you didn't really see my point now did you?

7:25 AM  
Blogger Zelda said...

First of all, I don't say that change isn't necessary, just a change in tactics. I agree wholeheartedly that negative portrayals of blacks in the media must be fought. But no one fights as hard to see black women show their brains instead of their booty as they do for convicted murderers like Tookie.

As to my father-in-law, he doesn't give a shit what people think of him - black or white. He laughs at their stereotypes and focuses on the things that are important to him which do not include the opinion of small-minded bigots of any color. I'm telling you, the man is tough as nails and he would not adopt a victim mentality for all the white grovelling in the world. It's a matter of pride for him.

And you are right. My children may be attacked for being of mixed-heritage. But I refuse to let them succumb. They are going to learn that racists and bigots are morons who should not be given credit for affecting their lives one way or another. I insist upon this. And it is far easier for me to instill this in them today than it would have been 40-50 years ago. I give all credit for this to Martin Luther King Jr and the black movements of yesteryear who fought incredible odds and put their lives on the line to bring us where we are. No soldier did more for his country than MLK.

But the problem, as I see it, is that no one acknowledges how very far we've come. When you cry racism and ask for clemency for someone like Tookie Williams, I'm amazed. Would anyone have dreamed of asking for it 40 years ago? No. So that in itself is evidence of progress in the race relations department.

Another problem is that I don't see a pragmatic solution for your problems with society. There will always be someone who doesn't like you because you are black, white, fat, skinny, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, atheist, etc, etc, etc. That is human nature. And you can waste your time trying to force imbeciles to like you and trying to convince the system to free convicted murderers from death row, or you can live your life with as much joy as possible.

As for celebrations of black pride, sure they have that, but who else gets to participate? No one from the black community extends an offer for the rest of society to join them in the celebration.

There are a lot of festivals in my city. Gay Pride, Hispanic Pride, Black Pride, Greek Pride, Asian Pride, etc. No White Pride, though. But I guess we have St. Patty's Day, so we should just sit down and shut up, eh? I'm joking. But we went to the Juneteenth celebration downtown a few years ago. There was hardly anyone there who wanted to share the history of the event, or of black culture in general. And it was not inclusive as there was an atmosphere of "no whites allowed." That's well and good if that's really what everyone wants, but I see it as going backwards to the days of segregation. And I personally hate it.

When you have a celebration, you want to celebrate - drink a beer or get your face painted. There is a huge interest in tribal art now. Couldn't that have been used to build a bridge between cultures? Soul food and it's origins. Need I say more? But there was very little of that. Instead there was an accusatory focus on injustice that offered no solutions and made most non-black visitors feel unwelcome.

Now of course I don't think you bear any responsibility for one Houston festival that you had nothing to do with. But I would be interested to hear some thoughts on how to bring the positive aspects of both our respective cultures to light in a way that is inclusive?

9:35 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

I think it's very interesting that the Williams issue was never about race for me, and, I suspect, a majority of white people...I never really thought about it in terms of color. His race just never entered into the equation for me. The interesting part, for me at least, comes when I realize that for (I'm assuming) a lot of black people, William's race was the main issue, even more so than guilt or innocence or redemption or the debate over the death penalty.

I know we have racial problems in this country. To pretend otherwise is just stupid. But at the same time, I don't believe, as it seems a large percentage of the black community does, that every issue involving a black person is racially motivated. (Yes, I'm making broad, general statements here for the sake of argument. Bear with me.)

I think there are times when race is raised as an issue when it really isn't about race. (Case in point, Williams.) I think there is a segment in the black community whose first, knee jerk reaction is to accuse white people of being racist regardless of the facts in any given situation. I think that this same group uses the claim of a racist society to excuse even the worst acts committed by black people.

The constant cries of racism where none is present only widens the racial divide, in my opinion. These claims of constant oppression and unfair treatment to excuse poor behavior are nothing but transparent attempts to shift responsibility. That's how I see it, and I also suspect a majority of the white community sees it. So even if I'm not right about that, (which I might not be...I never claimed to always be right about anything) that is still the perception, namely, that there excicts in the black community a percentage of people who make a habit of throwing the serious accusation of racism out there no matter what.

I think that's important because the constant false cries of racism and discrimination draw attention away from real cases of racism and discrimination. A murderer who happens to be black getting executed isn't racism. A person getting denied a job because they're black is.

Last week I saw a store manager follow a group of young men through a music store. Hats on backwards, baggy pants, jerseys, laughing and shouting and being too loud, causing a big commotion. They drew a lot of attention as they went through the store, just creating a ruckus. The manager folowed them and then so did another store employee, making it obvious that they were watching them. The men finally left, after loudly complaing to each other about store harrassment. They were, as you might have guessed, all white. I used that anecdote to illustrate the obvious...it's not always about race. And until "everything" stops being about race, we're not going to be able to fix the things that really are.

Just my two cents...although as long as this is, you might want to charge me 50 cents, R. Thanks.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Queue said...

But that what I'm saying you just don't see the fight - People fight every day to remove those images - tehy don't support those artists they do everything they can, people hold rallies and fourms and thry to use all kinds of tools - at least here in St.Louis I know those things happen all the time. hip hop fourms address the issues and the artists and the parents for not making a firm enough stance on the issue.
And when I talk about addressing racisim i beleive it is necessary to address it on every level - coorporate levels, individual levels, in educatin, law enforcement, in entertainment, in news media, in black on white situation, in white on black in every possible situation - and while you can never make any problem completely disapear including race issues - you should still strive to make it better. By not we are disrespecting the legacy of MLK, of Ghandi, of Malcom X, of all the workers in the sixties who fought, disrespecting the memory of the people who died if we don't keep moving and making the fight heard. We acknowledge the progress by pushing to make it go even further - 40 years is crap in the time line of the united states. My great grand mother is alive and she can tell me stories of her grandmothers time as a slave and as a sharecropper in Mississippi, so i'm sorry its not that distant to me to just forget. I can't forget - she tells me so I won't - so I will know we haven't gotten that far. if all the MAJOR issues are still on the table and we aren't just talking here about Joe blow or Sam nobody making a random racisit comment in the heat of a moment then I have to push on. Its not enough until we are really honestly treated equally- until women make as much as a equally qualified man, until a black man and a white one have the same opportuinty to impress a employer at a job if there resumes are equal -they should get the opportuinty to impress at an interview. ect...
But 40 years ago Tookie williams wasn't an argument we could even begin to win. You fight the fights you can and it is a testiment to our progress that we can even have this conversaton about tookie Williams. For me tookie isn't about race - its about death and the sentence to be being wrong - race only became an issue as people began to debate the situation.

Because someone gives you bad vibe at a black pride ralley doesn't mean you avoid them all together, that becomes your loss if you allow one person or a group of people to dis sway your goal of learning more - and isn't that exactly what you said you wanted to teach your children? not to be deterred by racisim? Like you said there will always be people who don't want you there - but there are always people like me who welcome those who want to learn more or as much as possible and are honestly open and receptive to what is going on. And people white people do celebrate their pride in their cultures, I see greek festivals, and German, and Irish, and Polish, and French festivals annually in my area and we attend them with or little girl so she can see all the different cultures, we go to the world festival in our area every year, and we go with a vast array of people. You simply have to pick your battle stations - there are so many people who want to bridge the gap - its a sad thing that one festival where you ran into negative energy was enough to stop you in your tracks rather than push you forward to make the situation better. To insist on information - to foster community. typically one goes to a festival and already knows something about why they are there - a little research before you went to a juneteen festival and you wouldn't have been looking for someone to guide you through why you should be there. People want you to already know why you are there - we shouldn't have to, need to, convince you that you belong at a celebration of life. There are countess opportunities to bridge the gap every day, everyday we are presented with opportuinites to be what we would want other people to be with us. I share with people, help people, have as many moments with people as I can and I hope that takes a bit of the edge off of any sterotype they hold about black women. Thats all I can do ona daily basis. And I volunteer with non profits and do what I can to further their causes with Urban children - It what I can do, but we all have to do soemthing. I plan on taking my daughter to soup kitchens and volunteering with edlerly people when she gets older, its what I can do.I don't allow BET videos played in my home - we don't buy R Kelly CD's we don't listen to local boy Nelly, we don't respect Artists who disrespect us and our goals. thats what we can do. the individual things that never make it to newspapers and music videos and CNN - those are the best things we can do - we can't fight the big machine in a giant battle - we and only do it one little battle at a time.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Queue said...

Jack - 1. you posted while I was posting so i'm posting again.. 2.I agree with you ... wait did I just say that... woah, lets just let that digest...



Okay - because for me the issue wasn't about Tookie being black as much as it was about the death sentence. And when Clemency can ever be used - really? Its about how political everything is and how we (americans) turn everything into a political stance. Pro death people turned it to their uses, Black people turned it to their uses, Pro life people turned it to their uses, everybody had an agenda. So I agree if everything could stop being politisized (I bet I screwed that word right up) It'd be easier to deal with alot of issues. but politics being what they are - i really doubt that's gonna happen.
-isms in general are a problem, discrimination is a problem and I used to get it on all fronts - being black - being a woman and being young, I'm not so young anymore :)
But Despite that I can't stop pushing because it would be easier if things were different - I'll keep pushing until they are different.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Zelda said...

Oh believe me. I will never let anyone or anything dissuade me from learning more. That is everyone's right and that will not be taken from me. And nothing ever stops me in my tracks. I'm simply relating an experience I had and how and why the atmosphere was different than other festivals I'd been to. And I know all about Juneteenth which was why I was looking forward to the festival.

I also know about discrimination against blacks in the workplace. I've seen it with my own eyes and I would have resigned in protest if I hadn't already quit before I knew about it. I made sure everyone at the company knew about it before I left, but no one else quit, even the blacks. But those practices, when brought to light, arouse a great deal of sympathy in society at large because the victim is truly a victim who simply wants to work and live just like everyone else. But there are legal solutions as MLK showed us involving exposure and then boycott. Starting a gang and shooting and robbing other blacks, along with whites, hispanics and asians is so far from a solution I don't even know where to begin.

I am opposed to the death penalty in general, but I don't believe in justifying crimes just to get someone off of death row. I wouldn't do it for James Byrd's murderers and I won't do it for Tookie.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zelda,
Your comments are interesting, but I have to take issue with some of your assertions. You state that other races don't start selling drugs & forming gangs when they are discriminated against. How then would you explain the Italian Mob in the U.S.? Italians were brutally discriminated against in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A nonfiction book I recently read cited the wages of a local contractor. Skilled laborers were paid highest, followed by unskilled laborers, followed by "negro" laborers, and lastly, Italian laborers. This was typical of the time. As a result, many of them turned to organized crime, or gangs. (They are essentially the same, the only difference being color and the familial organization of the mob.) The Mob dealt in drugs, liquor during Prohibition, arms trading, and killed plenty of their own. Many Italians did, and still do, take pride in the mob persona. Many of my Italian friends today will joke about "being connected," as if it were some type of grand game, rather than a horrific criminal activity. (I am of Italian origin as well, but would be ashamed were I to find that I had mob connections, and would certainly not brag about it.)

Additionally, the NAACP and many other organizations do fight for portraying positive aspects of black culture. The NAACP has a program called the Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics, which rewards academic, artistic, and cultural achievement among minority high school students. They advocate civil rights policy in D.C. They encourage fair treatment and fair access to credit, capital, and other financial resources. Their Image Awards honor people who promote positive images of people of color in the media. You have been continually asserting that noone is fighting for a positive portrayal of African-Americans. This is simply not so--the positive portrayal, and inclusion of, African-Americans in society is the NAACP's reason for existence. All of this information can be readily found on the NAACP's website, which suggests that you are simply misinformed about the efforts of civil rights organizations.

While I respect your father in law's attitude, it is misguided to suggest that every victim of discrimination should adopt it. If you do not fight discrimination and race-based violence, you will never overcome it. While your father in law was certainly well within his rights to ignore the cruel treatment he received, he might have advanced the plight of other Vietnamese immigrants had he chosen to speak up about his treatment and act, do something to prevent those horrible things from happening to someone else. After all, aren't you advocating action on the part of African-Americans to overcome the negative stereotypes of their culture?
Respectfully,
Leta

1:21 PM  

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