Thursday, May 8, 2014

How Many Straws?

STRAW
Cliven Bundy makes his comments reminiscing about the good ol’ days when black people were happy slaves.

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NBA team owner Donald Stirling’s comments about his girlfriend and those dangerous sketchy non-white people are released to the public.

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Certain conservative pundits come out defending Bundy, a man clearly in violation of the law. These same people regularly come out in support of “Stop and Frisk,” the policy where (mostly minority) citizens’ right to the presumption of innocence are regularly sacrificed in the same of The Greater Good.

STRAW
The gut-punch of “12 Years A Slave,” rented as a sort of white guilt penance for the ear poison of Bundy and Stirling. The sadness I feel knowing that the only hearts likely to be moved by the film are already in the right general vicinity, hearts already aware of just how deep the racial scars of our country’s history go, how much of the surface of the flesh they cover.

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The soul-crushing feel of reading The Atlantic’s lengthy look into the resegregation of public schools across the country. The gut-punch of having to ask myself if working in a “high-caliber, high cost” independent school like the one I’m in is doing more harm than good and believing, with dented conviction, that the alternative -- all students in public education -- wouldn’t be a magic solution.

STRAW
The conversation held in semi-private outside the one-person restroom in a hallway inside my church, where two older white men go back and forth about how that Cliven Bundy fella probably shouldn’t have gone and said what he said, ‘cuz he ought to have known better about the lib’rul media. But between you and me and bein' completely honest with ya, some of what he said is true, ‘cuz them blacks are slaves to welfare and drugs, and they abandon their children left and right, and they stopped having to earn their keep with hard work, and it's destroying their whole dern race.

STRAW
The gut-punch of “Fruitvale Station,” rented as more white guilt penance for the conversation overheard outside that church restroom by men too white and too old to fight their own prejudices, but also too old to pretend that segregation and racism is some bygone fantasy of some medieval era. The feeling that, were these older men to watch this film, they would actively and intensely work to find all the ways they could justify a young and (in the moment) innocent black man being shot to death at a subway station. The feeling that these older white men aren’t the only ones who are eager to work as hard as possible to prove that young men like Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant got what was coming to them, or at least “weren’t completely innocent,” whatever the hell that phrase is supposed to mean in our fallen world.

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The amount of pressure and work it took for the abduction of 270 Nigerian schoolgirls to get a teensy fraction of the attention given to the disappearance of a single airplane carrying 227 passengers. Reporters and multiple countries surged to assist in the search for debris faster than most people can spell Nigeria.

How many straws? Do people “change sides” anymore? Why aren’t the old men in my church hallway blinded by a light on the road to Damascus? Why can’t we admit that race in America, and in the world, might well be better than it was in 1940, but it’s still far from OK, that we’re still far from equal, that discrimination and prejudice are alive and thriving on the ingredients of our souls? How many people need to wake up before we spend more time fighting over whether there’s even a problem than working together to attempt genuine solutions?

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