Monday, November 13, 2006

dirty mind

there's something about u, baby...

so the donkeys win (back) the house and senate, and liberals throughout the country not only breathe a jubilant sigh of joy and relief (maybe my fellow americans aren't as dumb as initially thought), but perhaps muster up enough momentum and hope to propel them to do a lil blue state boogie during the 2008 election. maybe they take the white house back. and though i doubt it, maybe they give it a vagina; maybe they paint it black, or at least a nice shade of mulatto.

now, some will say the democratic, "in your face, dubya," last tuesday stemmed directly from the liberals finally garnering enough chutzpah to sock it to the playground bully otherwise known as rumsfeld, rove, and co. others will suggest that said elephants had fucked up so badly in iraq, that a political shift was inevitable. (hey, man, when your lover treats you badly enough, any nigga will start to look attractive.) then, there are those who submit that what got our dear asses over the hump were the scandals that broke as the election got nearer.

it happens all the time...

oh my how life imitates art. let's digress, shall we?

briefly: george schuyler is my nigga. perhaps the most prolific black journalist of the early 20th century, once upon a time, poor georgie wrote a book called, black no more; it's prolly one of my faves. generally regarded as a scathing satire of the harlem renaissance, the book also serves as a commentary on race-obsessed americans, and how enamored we are with discriminating on the basis of skin color.

here's a synopsis: a young black doctor returns to the united states with what he believes is the solution to the race problem. dr. junius crookman has come up with a procedure that will whiten a black person's skin in less than 24 hours. no niggas equals no race problem, right? the novel's protagonist, max disher, a young harlemite, is fortunate enough to receive one of the first treatments. disher gets white, and head to atlanta, hoping to find and smite (is that a correct use of the word?) a white woman who'd spurned him at a club on new year's eve.

as black people flock to the treatment and white people everywhere lose their minds, the hero disher gets involved in resuscitating the knights of nordica, a white supremacist organization. the shit hits the fan. race organizations (including spoofs of the naacp and marcus garvey's unia) lose members, race men and women go broke, etc., etc.

all of this occurs as the presidential election gets closer. the republicans, the party in power, have done nothing; while the democrats, backed by the knights of nordica and some mighty impressive white virginia pedigree, do their best to scare white folks. to further buttress their efforts, the democrats fund a genealogical study to prove who really has white ancestry, and hope to use the results as evidence enough to find "whitened blacks" and disenfranchise them. however, the data indicates that no one can confidently claim not having at least one black branch on the family tree, and the leaders of the democratic party (including disher) are forced to flee once the public receives news of their african american ancestry.

the republicans retain the white house, and after the election, dr. crookman reveals that whitened blacks are in fact whiter than whites. as such, the country becomes "mulatto minded," former race leaders are restored to their pre-black no more positions--this time by fighting for the rights of those who are too white-- tanning lotions and processes become in vogue, and overall the racial order is restored.

whenever i'm around you, baby...

as i observed both sides of this gay ass debate on homosexuality, civil unions, etc. i was constantly reminded of schuyler, and what he taught us in his brief yet hilarious book. the premise that racial discrimination is so bad that black people would jump at the idea of whitening their skin for a mere fifty dollars initially seems far-fetched. yet it occured to me that certain forms of christianity can in some way be viewed as its own black no more treatment. as more pillars of the most conservative and homophobic sects of the christian church are outed everyday, the work of gss is even more profound: those who seem the most aristocratic (i'm using the word loosely, incorrectly here) in their stances not only have their own skeletons (known or not), but also the most to lose. i can't help but draw comparisons between the race problem schuyler characterized, and the gay debate. a brief, albeit corny attempt at literary analysis here: junius crookman... initials j.c. well, jesus christ, i think i've just made a connection. eureka! if you're black, you come to junius crookman. if you're gay, well, come to jesus.

i get a dirty mind...

let us not be misled. these various scandals with the gay starring as freakydeaky spectacle by no means aid "the cause." what's most troubling about these high profile news stories is the connotation of homosexuality within them. i think one should take a moment to pause before holding up the latest blurb on the ticker tape as an example of those conservatives being hypocrites concerning this whole "gay problem." though elected a democrat, former new jersey governor, jim mcgreevey announced his homosexuality just before news of corruption in his administration broke nationally. after checking himself into rehab, mark foley allowed his lawyer to speak on his behalf, saying that the former representative was molested by a clergyman; he added that mark foley was gay. and finally, drugs seasoned ted haggard's own lil gay sexcapades.

in such contexts, homosexuality is (yet again) linked to deviance, criminality, depravity, and secrets. though moments like these may serve as the perfect time to point out agregious contradictions, i am troubled by the idea of also taking these instances as an opportunity to promote an agenda that would allow for some sort of gay equality, or whatever you want to call it. i resist the idea that shame regarding one's sexuality played an integral role in the kind of deviance that we see in these scandals to the extent that we should hold these public figures up as poster boys for "what happens when..." though such exposes may be sufficient to change which rich white dude we send to dc, i seriously doubt they do anything to change public opinion. thus, witch hunts that seek to discredit conservative christians and politicians by outting them, by seizing any opportunity to catch these cats in seedy and compromising situations all for the sake of gay rights seem to aid no one but the hunters, and feed our hunger for hoopla and scandal... jesus couldn't help mark foley, maybe a little public embarrassment (and some shock treatment) will. doubt it.

schuyler once said that the negro was nothing but a "lampblacked anglo-saxon." though i don't entirely agree with my homeboy here, i see part of his point. it seems to me that certain efforts to garner gay rights have gone the route of proving, "hey, we're just like you." but what are the stakes of this approach? what kinds of things does one lose? will homosexuality eventually be regarded as a niche market that advertisers attempt to access through logo? hasn't it already?

if schuyler's black no more and morrison's paradise teach us anything, it's that even in a situation where discrimination has apparently been removed, people who have been conditioned to discriminate will find ways to do so, and those people who are seemingly the voices, the leaders of both sides of the issue will do nearly anything to preserve the very inequality they claim to be for or against-- all in the name of self-preservation.

there must be some alternative, something that doesn't rely on outing senators and ministers, something that doesn't forsake certain viable cultural nuggets for the sake of seeming just like the joneses. though one may find a perfect model for protest and civil disobedience by examining those fighting the problem of the 20th century, there surely has yet to be a model solution. all i know is: outing a muthafucka passing for white is about as effective as outing a nigga passing for straight.

if you got the time, i'll give you some money...

that said, schuyler shows us that in the end, old regime or new regime, the same suckas benefit: knights of nordica leaders escape to mexico with the loot, and those seemingly on the otherside of the argument--the race men and women in the novel's case-- make out just as well by collecting membership money from the oppressed, and philanthropic offerings from sympathizers and apologists.

is jim mcgreevey still on his book tour?

god don't like ugly.

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


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is none other than Harold Gibson. I had to sign in Anonymous because I switched to Google Beta.

Summer: Thanks so much for dropping this brother into my sphere of knowledge. I went out and checked out Black No More from the library, he is quite a writer.

Thanks so much

14/11/06 19:42  
Blogger Lee said...

Well, Summer, I never in my wildest flights of fancy imagined that I'd come across a blog post that made me reconsider my positions on both George Schuyler and Ted Haggard. Great work, as usual. <--=bitter

Still, everyone should look up the Daily Show's response to the Haggard scandal on YouTube. It does use him in a "look what happens" way, but it's really funny.

14/11/06 19:46  
Blogger summer m. said...

@anon/harold: you're welcome. i always like to tell someone about bnm. it's one of my favorite reads.

@lee: man, you gotta give schuyler a lil love. i just really gotta give it up for a dude who would protest mlk's nobel peace prize. gss said mlk's tactics were hardly nonviolent.

as for ted haggard: i'm curious as to how/why i've inspired a possible change of heart. on one hand, i feel bad for the guy. i really think at one point or another he--as have so many--thought jesus could save him from the gay. on the other hand, i think: yeah. fuck ted haggard, too.

@both of you: thx for the continued support. you two and rrrr are prolly the only readers i have left.


14/11/06 20:36  
Blogger Lee said...

I'll definitely look at more of Schuyler's writing. I've just read the one essay that, you know, everyone's read.

As for Haggard, I think you are correctly pointing out that making a spectacle of his hypocrisy is really a bad way of combating homophobia. You can denounce the hypocrisy whether or not you believe that being gay is sinful, unnatural or whatever. It's hard to like the guy, but disliking him's not going to do anything for the gay kids being raised by his followers. The "look what happens when..." narrative can be used to support stricter repression as much as any kind of progressive position. And, I might add, that's exactly what the vatican is doing with the US sex scandals: they're prohibiting priests with "gay tendencies" from working with children.

15/11/06 17:06  

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