Thursday, September 01, 2005

Come Together, RIGHT NOW

The entire nightmare of New Orleans and Katrina and The South is really adding to the anxiety and anger I have this week. At first I felt the horror and pangs of empathy that anyone would feel, especially because we New Yorkers know what it's like to plunge into chaos. Every disaster is completely its own thing and none of them can be compared to each other, but the feelings, fear, and desperation will be there across the board. From there, I can relate.

What I CAN'T relate to is when the population reduces itself to mindless violence, attack, theft, exploitation, and murder... yup, MURDER. So what if a hurricane hit the south if their solution to resolving this horror is to MURDER EACH OTHER!!???

I am terrified for those who are trapped there among the selfish monsters.

And don't tell me this is because of lack of food, water, or services. This shit started IMMEDIATELY upon word that the storm was rising.

This is an opportunistic, greedy, lazy, resigned, resentful, angry, mob of a population and this behavior is not a result of a natural disaster. Check out the historic facts of violence in that area. This incivility is a result of indoctrination among the poor, who HAPPEN to be primarily Black in this case.

HOWEVER, I have two types of Black friends and each type subscribes to two VERY different modes of philosophy:

One group sees life as just LIFE and that we are all in this together. We all do the best we can do and we never blame others for our failures or our successes. If we feel downtrodden, we ACTIVELY seek to find a solution. This group is the one I can call "my friends" because we have had many a discussion about the Black Culture's own attack against them as they continue to grow in their success. If a Black person grows successful, they are automatically ostracized from their own culture and seen as selling out or "trying to be White," which is just ridiculous, ugly, and hurtful.

The other group sees life as if something is desperately OWED to them and that any and all failures, missteps, and defeat are the DIRECT RESULT of their Race. Everything goes back to Race. Nothing goes back to Responsibility, Creative Solutions, Getting Help, or Keeping Trying. There is a spoiled mentality among this group and their culture actively feeds and nurtures that, creating evermore hostile-charged, opportunistic behavior. Rather than find a way to improve their lives in a way that helps improve life around them, allowing them to participate more in the life they seek to live, they simply resort to theft, drugs, anger, brooding, violence, murder, and divisive intellectual concepts.

I'm sick of it. The guy who was going to kill LITTLE was of that ilk.

The interesting thing is that I have a large number of Latino and Hispanic friends (and exes) and NONE of whom are divided in this way. This division seems to be exclusive to the Black Culture, based on my experience. I know of no wealthy or privileged Latino or Hispanic friends and I hear NOT ONE COMPLAINT about what is required of them to participate in life. Sure, there are struggles and pain, but so what... my Hispanic/Latino friends play along with everyone else.

On the other hand, two of my very privileged Black friends complain that EVERYTHING in life is against them and that they are automatically doomed because they are Black. Meanwhile, they have more money, more things, less obligation, less bills, more education, etc. than I have ever had AND YET THEY STILL behave anti-socially, opportunistically, and spoiled.

Being poor or not having what you want is not a license to violence. I've been poor. I've been homeless. I have gone for days without food, had to steal (food) and even when I got it, the food was not healthy. Poverty can happen to the best of us and I have even turned to the government for help when I was younger, but ultimately WE HAVE TO HELP OURSELVES and REMAIN CIVIL.

When a population has been indoctrinated to believe that everything is OWED to them, that they are oppressed and hopeless, or that SOMEONE ELSE should do something to make life better FOR them, then there is so much more self-righteous justification in their harming others. There is a violent division then between those who are OWED and those who HAVE, automatically categorizing those who HAVE as those who ARE KEEPING IT FROM THOSE WHO ARE OWED.

For instance, I almost always choose to live in a primarily Black and/or Hispanic neighborhood. I always have. I don't mean to do that intentionaly, but poorer neighbhorhoods usually breed more diversity in NYC and I like the creative, artistic, lively flair of the better of these neighborhoods, plus, I can relate to the creative, poor, and struggling a lot more than the rich and greedy. At one point when I lived in Raleigh, NC, Cyprus and I and our friends were the ONLY White people in our neighborhood. Big mistake. Several times we were confronted late at night by strangers from our neighborhood coming to our windows and our doors demanding that we "give them some money." We were POOR! We didn't have money, let alone money to give to a stranger out of nowhere. The hostility rose around us and against us from our neighbors because WE wouldn't find a way to feed their babies; WE wouldn't find a way to make it possible for them to make the next payment on their Surround Sound Television Systems from Rent-a Center; WE wouldn't find a way to get them beer. Fuck that. We were trying to figure out how to make a MEAL from some frozen vegetables and rice for 5 of us without a stove and that was afforded only by the counted change we piled together as a group.

I'm sorry, but Racism is far less rampant than Classism and Prejudice, and those who are in the less-privileged category, no matter how priviledged or potentialled they are, use that stance to justify some horrific and uncivil behavior. Racism is a JUSTIFICATION, not an epidemic.

And that's what's happening in The South, particularly in New Orleans. As they plead and beg for services, food, and water, which is perfectly understandable, but instead of finding ways to work together and remain civil, what are they doing? They are using guns to shoot down helicopters with goods and killing rescuers who are helping the needier!

WHAT!!??

MAYOR of New Orleans CALLS FOR SOS


First of all, WHY and HOW does an impoverished population have that many guns in the first place? Because of the teaching that one should be prepared to TAKE what is OWED, rather than earn it. Did these people take food, water? No, they took their damn guns. They were expecting trouble and now they are creating it, even if completely unnecessary.

Why am I so riled up? Because I struggle on a precarious line that teeters toward resigning to the fact that I exist within a violent, stupid, and meaningless species. I don't WANT to think that way, but when people can so easily erase you from their life, it's easier to start seeing the shit around you and saying, fuck this.

Of course, I know I won't end up feeling that way, but that's why I write about it, so it can go away, out of my skin and body and leave room for the truth of the bigger picture.

Still, I saw a "heartwarming" story on the news about this family who fled from their neighborhood to safety in their own LARGE vehicle. Upon returning to their neighborhood, all was gone. They ended up with a flat tire and out of gas, landing in the parking lot of a CVS. As they told their story, I was touched by the various people around them reaching out to help,... I thought, okay, now here's what humanity is all about.... UNTIL they mentioned that when they went back to their home, "even their pets were gone."

WHAT???

They couldn't take their own animal companions with them in their PLENTY-BIG vehicle??? I cannot FATHOM the lack of consciousness that is required to whimsically sacrifice the life of an animal for mere convenience. Our dogs would have been in that car/truck,... I don't care if I had to WALK, they would walk with me, but I would never abandon them. I would NEVER leave a living thing in a clearly-defined path of destruction. And what made this even more disgusting was that they said it so incidentally, AND as this was said, the children pointed out that they had "rescued" their STUFFED ANIMALS, though! Well, WOOPTY DOO.

THAT's the policy of life that is being taught to children. Adults live in that world of perception, too. Everything is expendable beyond that which is convenient or self-serving.

And THAT's why I am pissed off, because if people weren't raised in that manner, I might not have a boyfriend who so easily erased me from his life just to return to the convenience of his routines and avoidance of true intimacy, and I wouldn't have a friend who deleted me from her life, just so she could remain protected from the burden of vulnerability and all that goes with true friendship.

I'm writing all passionately and wildly, but it's all just cathartic, not conclusive. I'm in pain this week. A lot of it. And when I see that people could so easily remedy that for each other, and yet they choose to make things worse, or not help at all, I cringe painfully inward.

Breathing...

Taking one step...

Okay, and now the next...

ANYyyyy way...

I know all of this isn't the truth. It's just part of the dance where toes are hurt.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know exactlywhat you are talking about. It's frustrating. I call it the welfare mentality. It applies to all races. I'm Black by the way.

I don't know how enticed I would be to rescue someone shooting at me. Those people are going crazy.

Just keep trying to send love.

james

CocteauBoy said...

Keep in mind, James, that I am only ranting about a small percentage of the population. I know that. And I'm not all that serious; just ranting. I do that sometimes just to get out the infection.

All clean now.

XO

troy

Tara said...

Here's my take on it. The sense of entitlement comes from having ACCEPTED that you are trapped and/or owned by someone/something other than yourself. It's almost a childlike response that it seems many, many adults still have.

Think about a five-year-old who wants adult attention - he or she will try the social conventions they've been taught, but when not rewarded, they will quickly move toward rage and violence because they haven't enough perspective and self-determination to choose a better way.

People coming out of prison, or recovering from abuse or drugs/alcohol, or having been kidnapped, or having spent a lifetime in extreme poverty, are very likely to experience this reaction. With a whole race having been enslaved, it seems to me that there would be a cultural increase in showing this reaction.

Of course there is a better path, but the better path is hard to find when you've accepted that someone else owns your life. Also, have you ever noticed how the "high road" is the hardest one to walk, even if you know there's a spiritual reward at the end?

A sense of entitlement often feels much better to someone than the anger, frustration and helplessness of having (or seeming to have) no self-determination. And ownership of material things becomes a substitute for ownership of your life.

I guess understanding, or thinking I understand, how people get to the places they are in helps me have compassion, but it doesn't take away the incredible sadness of seeing what's happening.

ethereal_lad said...

I understand the frustration you feel about New Orleans, and the violence there but there some conclusions in your post that I am confused by. When you say that racism is "less rampant than classism and prejudice," what do you mean? I have a problem with the notion that Racism is somehow a collective delusion.

In my experience, one of the hardest things to accept is that people who are victims can still be assholes, thieves and liars. Your anti-social, opportunistic privileged black friends can STILL be victims of racism.

I also believe that racism and classism are intricately linked, and much of the coverage of this tragedy and policies are informed by them. Being oppressed economically and socially does not always bring out the best in people. The “noble peasantry” is just a myth. While some people can overcome impoverished environments, most can’t. I’m no economist, unemployment is a factor in the operation of this society, and racism is one of the ways to justify it—that somehow unemployment is deserved.

I would also say that the “you’re acting white” thing expand to other groups, like Hispanic/Latino groups—I was talking about the phenomenon with a Columbian-American friend of mine a couple of weeks ago.

CocteauBoy said...

To TARA:
I totally get your take on this scenario, of course, or I haven't ever heard of The Michael Teachings; LOL! This is Baby Soul shifting to Young Soul behavior along with powerful Young Soul outbursts. This disaster helped isolate a large portion of Baby and Young Souls so they could gather the experiences inherent in the spectrum between Civil and Uncivil, Oppressed and Free. The Black population has moved from being a primarily Mature Soul population (pre-1950's) to having primarily Young Soul population (post-1950's). When a specific Race is recovering from oppression, it is often the Young Souls who incarnate through that Race to bring back the footing. The Mature Souls who were the ones who experienced the history of enslavement of that Race have long moved on to other experiences, though many will remain linked to that Race as a means to help bring about a peaceful, re-empowerment.

I will direct you to some channeling about this when I get a chance! For those of you reading this who are unfamiliar with what the hell I just wrote, if you are interested from a metaphysical angle, I will link you. Let me know.

TO ETHEREAL_LAD:
I agree with everything you said.

I truly believe that what most people call Racism is actually just Prejudice. Racism is an active stance that one race is superior to another, but Prejudice is when you draw conclusions or ideas about a person based on superficial cues. We are ALL Prejudiced in some way about some people, but Racism is a seriously different thing. Prejudice is based on lack of experience; Racism is a chosen philosophy of hate.

It’s time to be fair and differentiate between those two things. I think that would help to heal a great deal of hostility and resentment from within any minority.

I didn't want you to think I mean that Racism is a "collective delusion," but maybe I could say that its reality is propogated MORE by inner mythologies and interpretations than by real scenarios of Hate.

I can't tell you how many times the Race Card has been pulled when Race WAS NOT the issue. Like hailing cabs that are already occupied: I see that nearly every week. A Black man or men hail cabs that are already taken and then start shouting out about Racism, when the frickin' cab is just NOT available! AND sometimes a cab DOESN’T stop; true! But cabs have refused to stop for ME and for Cyprus, too. And we are as White as you can get, on the surface, at least. Or when my friend sends a resume to a prospective employer and says he was rejected because he is Black, even though there is NO WAY she knows he is Black just from a piece of paper! Everything about his resume, including his name, is "WHITER" than even I am! I mean, for god's sake, my name is TROY. How Black is that! LOL!

Another Black friend of ours explained that the Violence, Destruction, Drug Abuse, and Vandalism within Black neighborhoods toward each other is a direct result of Racism. WHAT??! No. That's a direct result of CHOICE. If you destroy your neighborhood, rather than come together to make it better, that's a CHOICE.

And I am sick to DEATH of being labeled a Racist just because I am White. Being White does not automatically make you a Racist. Of course, ANY interjection of empowerment to suggest that MAYBE Blacks have more power and freedom than they actively teach within their own culture is met with hostility, defense, and dismissal. And of course, my suggestion automatically incriminates me as ignorant and racist.

Yes, Racism exists, but I have see Racism existing far more powerfully FROM WITHIN the Black community than TOWARD it.

Not that Racism doesn't exist in all forms across the board, but something's gotta change WITHIN a community before any differences or progress can be made around it. Waiting for the government, White people, or God to do the work is just not healthy. The Gay community learned that lesson.

Words like "victim" need to be removed from the vocabulary of our Black children and teens. Why teach them from the beginning that there is no hope!? I hate when I hear a Black parent, teacher, or authority saying those things to their children! And it’s perfectly acceptable and the response is as if THAT is empowering! It really seems hopeless when the adults within your own community are telling you there is no hope, that the enemy has you by the balls, and that the very people who surround your world are the Devil. Spending all of their time pointing the finger at the "enemy" and inciting anger and hopelessness is not a solution to our divisions. Most of the education from the adults within the Black community is about Blame, Justification, and Entitlement, not Potential, Rights, and Empowerment. Those who teach differently are “trying too hard to be White” and are shunned or at the very least a minority.

The answer to the lift of oppression within any modern community within the United States lies in doing something different from within.

This is a complex situation and I don't mean to belittle it by sounding like there is an easy answer, but I'm just saying that the majority of focus from within the community is way off the mark of progress.

I agree that Racism and Classism are intertwined, but when it comes down to it, it’s who has the money, not what color you are.

Ethereal, we need to have a great talk about this and let me hear everything you have to say about what I have experienced. Please trust that these are NOT conclusions, just observations that are totally open to education and more insight!

As for the "you're acting white," scenario, I have seen that in the Latino/Hispanic world, too, but not so much with the White spin. The guys I have dated who are Latino/Hispanic have had to overcome gaps between themselves and family/friends because their success or ambitions were interpreted as their wanting to be "better than," but not so much about being "White."

Love,
Troy