Sunday, September 24, 2006

of one blood or, the hidden self.

despite the title, this is not a post about the waste of paper that was pauline hopkins' last serial novel. (forgive that "waste of paper" phrase. i'm still bitter.) in fact, it's a post about the latest controversy surrounding some of the governator's recent remarks about those amalgamating blacks and latinos.

if you've been living under rock like i have (i didn't hear about this until my homegirl, rrrr forwarded me the ny times article), you might've missed it. apparently the governator's opponent, democrat phil angelides and crew, got a hold of some audio tapes with ahhhnold speculating on the nationality of california state assemblywoman, bonnie garcia. on the tape, one can hear schwarzenegger and his chief of staff discussing garcia's heritage. is she from cuba? puerto rico? apparently all they know is that garcia isn't mexican. but other than that deliniation, it doesn't matter much. cuba...puerto's all the same, right? little island, brown people... according to schwarzenegger, "they are all very hot. they have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the latino blood in them that together makes it."

hmm. the rest of this entry could go in a variety of ways...
  1. i could lament on how dirty politics have gotten. i'm so sick of these politician niggas slinging all the mud they can muster in their hands during election season.
  2. i could go on and on about how the state i currently romanticize in each and every one of my daydreams is, in fact, populated by people who i'd eventually come to despise. ah, yes, californians will surely not be exempt from my contempt. (i hate when i rhyme.)
  3. i could jump on the anti-governator bandwagon, and criticize the stupid shit he says. but what's the point in that?
  4. i could ruminate about how ethical it was(n't) to release this tape. apparently the file was accessible via a website that does not require any sort of authorization. despite that, schwarzenegger's comments were said during a private meeting. now, of course, there are plenty of you who would argue that "privacy" is not a viable excuse for saying such things. point well taken. and believe me, i am nevereverever interested in defending some fucked up shit a white dude said. however, even one of my main men, mark twain, said a thing or two that might be deemed, um, racially insensitive. (and remember, kids, he's lightweight responsible for the folks who brought you brown v. boe!) hell, i not-so-privately say fucked up shit on a daily basis. if i ever decide to run for office, the day following my announcement they'd dedicate the entire newspaper to shit i've said on this blog alone; i hope they haven't recorded all of my phone conversations.
nope. none of that.

rather, i'd like to briefly think about bonnie garcia's response. along with chastising angelides' squad for how they accessed the tape, schwarzenegger's crew cites that garcia wasn't offended by the governator's comments. and, well, they were talking about her. so arnie should get a pass, no? who cares? i'm not really interested in highlighting the various reasons why garcia might (should) have been offended. i think that's pretty obvious. and frankly, by this point, we should all understand that in this postpostmodern world we live in, having a member of the race cosign does not give pale face a pass. nah. not hardly...

a brief digression:

a while ago, my mom called me up slightly pissed because of a conversation she'd had earlier. my mom isn't really into sports, but somehow the nfl came up in this particular discussion. often known as the "no fun league," some friends of hers were griping about penalties certain players receive because of their end zone celebrations. because, you know, egotistical millionaires being charged several thousands dollars for doing the ickey shuffle on the other team's field is the type of shit we really need to be pissed about. but i digress. apparently, mom's homies were intimating that league rules were racist, or perhaps, racially motivated, because "that's how black people are." meaning: when something good happens, black people like to get their praise on. um, ok.

i bring this up to highlight the tragic flaw in all of this essentialist jargon. in my estimation, the same logic that makes you conclude that arnie's comments weren't offensive, that "that's just how black people are," is potentially the same rationale employed to oppress those same groups. it's a slippery slope. that same "hot blood" that makes you fiesty, or your food spicy, could be the same "hot blood" that allows you the stamina to pick oranges in the heat for 50 cents a day. so, where do you draw the line? and who gets to draw it?

i'm not suggesting that there aren't commonalities between people who may or may not be grouped under certain ethnic/racial/national/whatever rubrics. i'm also not suggesting that race is a myth. that is not, however, a statement which supposes that race is some really important biological shit. i'm not talking about blood here; i'm talking about the way people live their lives. that shit's not about dna, it's about society.

that said, it's the blood part that scares me most. when you go there, you imply that some unalterable thing dictates your behavior--good or bad. and if you're gonna blame blood, that hidden self which determines your temperament and your decision to shuck and jive in celebration of the six points you've just scored, well, what are you gonna say when someone suggests that dunking a basketball is one of the only things you were meant to do? so, ok, go ahead. give arnie and the rest a pass. it seems to me that what may or may not be offensive is tied to one's opinion, and we all got a different one. but when someone uses "blood" to explain away and assign some deleterious behavior to you and your people, i hope you have a good response, and it better be more than a "yo' mama" joke.

because at that moment, an impeccable retort will be essential.

language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison

Sunday, September 17, 2006

reality? tv?

let me begin by saying that, until last thursday, i had never seen an episode of survivor. so in a sense, their new ploy worked. (you clever television executives!) if you've been living under a rock, or are amish--in which case you prolly aren't reading this blog--let me fill you in: for the 13th season of the show, the folks over at cbs decided to separate the tribes along racial/ethnic lines, therefore creating a white tribe, a black tribe, an asian tribe, and a latino tribe. (no, there is no indian tribe. apparently cbs struck a deal with the native american team. in exchange for using the word, "tribe" to represent their people, the native americans got a casino, a mascot, a couple blankets infected with small pox, and were sent on their merry way.)

though i imagine that all of the team names actually mean something in some "native" language, i can't help but think these niggas just pulled a whole bunch of scrabble letters out of that crown royal-esque velvet bag and put some consonants in between the vowels. that said, for the purpose of the next two entries--and because i'm an asshole--i've come up with my own tribe names. as such, the aforementioned teams will from here on be known as: team mayflower, team underground railroad, team shanghai express, and team run for the border. i imagine you can connect the dots from there. if you can't, navigate away from this blog NOW.

when i first heard about this new twist, i wasn't really sure how to process the information. i've tried to handle it in a couple of ways, none of which was very successful. for instance, at the grocery store the other day, i stood behind this interracial couple and their kid. feeling the pain of my single sistas out there trying to find a decent black man to marry, i cringed. but i figured that wasn't activist enough, so i asked the man if his mama knew that he wasn't rooting for the black team on survivor this season. when their kid threw a cheerio at me, i simply replied, "and who will you be rooting for this year, little boy? you can't ride the fence on this one, tiger. you're gonna have to choose." **

i quickly realized, however, that such acts were not the proper way to deal with the new, affirmative action survivor. how, then, should i (re)act? if maury povich is a most perfect example of why television exists, and if flavor of love proves yet again that coonery would be much easier to resist if it wasn't so damn entertaining, what, then, could i say about survivor? then it dawned on me: i must blog about the potential ramifications of airing the show. and so, i've comprised a brief overview of each team, including pros, cons, and their potential fate. here goes:

team underground railroad(of course i put them first. whatchu think this is?)
pros: a tropical people, team u.r. is able to work from sunup to sundown with little food. the work inspires happy songs that they sing throughout the day.
cons: five words: NO CHICKEN ON THE ISLAND.
prediction: forgetting they're on an island, they decided to try and escape. they get to the shore, however, and all the women head back inland because they are not fucking up their hair in salt water. this, of course, only leaves the one male team member with no choice but to return inland with the women, and wait for the other two male cast members--who both get out of jail in 5-10 episodes-- to attempt another run. niggas can't swim anyway.

team shanghai express
pros: they're by far the smartest team on the island.
cons: with no college campus in sight, no one gives a fuck about their s.a.t. scores.
prediction: um... a chain of successful small businesses patronized by team underground railroad?

team run for the border
pros: talk about team spirit! they live eat, drink, and sleep together.
cons: they didn't bring enough water for a desert island.
prediction: with teamwork, they build a chevette-sized canoe, and make a go for the mainland; only to get caught by team mayflower, and ordered back, even though they were just trying to get to land that used to be their's any damn way.

team mayflower
pros: with artistic interpretations of prospero and robinson crusoe hanging in the team tent, methinks team mayflower will find a way to get settled, and get rich.
cons: this season, there are explicit rules against enslaving, oppressing, or scheming land from other teams.
prediction: they elect some bumbling idiot as their leader, and destroy everyone on the island.

**that's a lie.

up next: survivor cycle 13: potential ramifications.

language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison