Ace's View

Dedicated to minority issues, topics and everything in between

Archive for February 2013

Trayvon, One Year (and a day) Later

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(shout to Mr. Davey D’s Hip-Hop Corner for inspiring the tone of this writing)

I don’t think there’s a way I can write this and not come off as anything but what I am, which is angry, yet resolute.

And maybe that’s a good thing.

See, I currently live in a town in Northwest Indiana that many people would consider your average Midwestern place to live.  Y’know, aside from the racism.

During the three and a half years I’ve been here, I’ve experienced several forms of racism.  From near fights with customers at work after being called “nigger”, to near fights in our local Wal-Mart with townspeople unaccustomed to seeing black people regularly, to the more subtle “oh, I didn’t know that was offensive” or “do you know how to do the (insert popular hip-hop dance of the moment here)? from my white co-workers. 

Don’t get me started on positions that I’ve been passed over for in favor of lesser qualified white candidates.  Probably worthy of it’s own entry.

And let me not forget the lawn jockey that still sits in the front yard of a house a few blocks from where I type this.  The only reason it’s not in pieces is because my wife has discouraged me from doing so at the risk of going to jail.

There are many more instances that I can name, but at the risk of showing my hand (which I fully intend to do in drastic fashion once we leave here), I’ll keep them under my belt for now.

What I will say is this: I wrote recently about how at the earliest age where they are able to comprehend such matters, my son(s) will know the full consequences of being a black man in America.  That no matter how tolerant the world may become, there will still be a select few who think that they are dangerous, no matter how good-natured or kind-hearted they may actually be.

People will still fear their skin, the way they dress, the way they talk, their mannerisms, their gait, their confidence, their intelligence.  No matter the level or quality of any of the above.

What I believe now is that a year (and now, a day, as this entry was delayed by internet problems) after the murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida, if anything has changed, it is what will be taught to my children going forward.

The things that white people fear in black men are things that will be instilled in my children and their children after them, because of his death.

My children will not be feared solely because of their apparel, but because they are mentally powerful beyond what society believed them to be capable of originally when they brought us to this country in chains and shackles.

It is why they will be aware and educated about firearms, just as the white children I see every week in the sporting section at Wal-Mart with their fathers gazing at hunting rifles and shotguns and learning about what ammunition goes where, are.

They will be taught that if we still live in a society where “stand your ground” is a law, and we reside in a state that has such a law, that it applies to them as well.  That if it is not possible to escape the danger, to neutralize or eliminate the threat.

It is why they will be taught self-worth and value and to be comfortable in their own skin, so when someone decides to call that confidence into question, whether it be as subtle as shortening or changing their name to make it easier for “them”, they will have no problem correcting the situation.

It is why they will know the names of those that played a role in their history–the ones taught in the walls of their classroom, and the ones that are omitted–because our heroes, martyrs and protagonists are of the utmost importance to knowing the road ahead of us as a people.

And the ever-growing list of names will include Trayvon Martin’s name.

If anything has changed, it is me.  And by this, the way my children will be raised has changed.

I hate that it had to be the loss of a 17-year old boy that inspired this change, but I am sure that it is for the better that it is happening.

And for this change, I am grateful.

Written by aceviewblogger

February 27, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Parallels: On South Africa’s ‘Boasters’ culture

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In my last entry, I wrote about the lack of education for the newest generation of young African-Americans that has led to the point where referencing the death of a black teen in Jim Crow-era America is actually considered fair game/a “hot line”/acceptable;

…when I stumbled upon another disturbing trend that might explain exactly what kind of generational gap we’re dealing with.  Not just as African-Americans or Africans, but as black people.

See, young black people in America aren’t holding exclusive membership in the “too far removed from the struggle” club.

It extends all the way down to South Africa, former home of apartheid and one of the places in the world where people who were children, teenagers, and young adults who grew up in the struggle for freedom in their own country now get to watch their children and grandchildren do this.

The link above comes courtesy of BBC.com, which did a profile on a group of South African teens.  The narrative follows the group as they spend extravagant amounts of money on clothing, electronics, liquor, and rented vehicles, among other things, on what seems to be an average weekend afternoon–only to destroy said items in the most creative of ways in a bizarre display of wasteful wealth.  

From the article:

In township slang, these children are known as izikhotane (the boasters). In recent years, they have become a huge social phenomenon as they gather in their hundreds – even thousands – at parks dressed in their expensive outfits.

At these gatherings, loud music blares while the children dance and often ruin – or even destroy – their clothes and shoes, stripping them off and pouring custard on them and rubbing them into the ground to show off and pretend to be rich.

 

This would be wasteful under any circumstances, but when you consider that these are the descendants of South Africans who were once regarded as ‘kaffirs’ (niggers) under European colonialism, once again–say it with me–in their own freakin’ country, only to turn and spend their parents back into poverty while simultaneously giving the money back to white merchants who will take and put that money back in their own communities, not theirs–

–it’s enough to make you question if this is a problem about young people in general not knowing their history, and not just here in America.

The generational divide must be great and growing rapidly for us to tolerate similes in hip-hop involving dead black teenagers killed at the hands of angry whites.  It must be non-existent when about 20 years ago, people stood in line for days to vote in the country’s first democratic election–and elected a jailed revolutionary–and now, they’re destroying material things to show wealth.

I can’t explain it.  I just know that we have to make it a point for our youth to learn about where they came from so that they never, ever forget it.  Even many, many years removed from the actual event.  

And in case you were wondering, they have a Facebook page.

*sigh*

I’d be done writing, but I have more.  So there.

Thoughts?

 

Written by aceviewblogger

February 26, 2013 at 5:15 pm

On Emmett Till, Lil’ Wayne, and our Future

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Weighing in on the whole Lil’ Wayne vs. the legacy of Emmett Till is not something that I planned on doing, nor wanted to do.

Mainly because a) I believe Lil’ Wayne, to quote Luvvie (over at AwesomelyLuvvie.com, for more on her and & what the banner with the feet goes to, the  see the entry prior to this one or just click here) is a “high imbecile” and b) because I believed that with this being Black History Month, I didn’t want to lend any more attention to a song that is not only terrible musically (I mean, shit.  It’s awful) but invoked such a visceral response from the music world and the black community.

And by black community, I mean the ones who actually know who Emmett Till was.

This apparently, however, does not include “rapper” Future, who, in an interview with MTV.com, defended the song and its content.  Because, according to him, it was just “a hot song” and that “it came from a good place with good intentions.”

No, that’s not taken out of context.

Of course, the usual damage control is being done.  Twitter caught fire once the remix of the song leaked, and Epic Records pulled the version of the song and vowed to re-edit it and dub over the offending line.  No word from Wayne yet, who is apparently too busy beefing with the Miami Heat to issue any sort of statement on the issue.

Because, after all, it was just a hot line.

Which brings me to today.  After a brief hiatus from blogging while I finished a project for class (more on that at the end of the month, trust me, you might dig it), I still see that there are several blogs tackling the subject.

The most interesting spin I’ve seen so far comes courtesy of thisisyourconscience.com, where the headline reads “The GREAT Thing About Lil’ Wayne’s ‘Beat The Pussy Up Like Emmett Till’ Line.”

Talk about clouds and silver linings, because at first, I couldn’t see any type of argument that could be made for this as a good thing.

The writer goes on to say, though, that there is a direct link in the division between some black people, like myself and many people who I heard from in the days following who were repulsed and disturbed by the line–

–and others who were defending his right to say such things, going as far as to say things like “that happened a long time ago” or “it wasn’t anybody I knew”.

Yeah, people actually said that shit.

The writer goes on to say that if this is the kind of reaction this creates, perhaps there is a need to eliminate Black History Month, because apparently, one month dedicated to our history and culture is NOT doing the job.

How many young people who are Tunechi fans defended that foolishness?

Too many.  Enough that there was cause for concern.  Which is more than a few uneducated.  It’s generational.

And so, while I see the need for a month strictly dedicated to learning about black history, I do see the writer’s point that there needs to be a year-round discussion about the contribution that all cultures have made to American society, and not 28 days of blackness and the rest of the year generic textbook history with other races, cultures and religions sprinkled in at random.

We have to dedicate ourselves to teaching our youth about the importance of their history, or we run the risk of what was once considered a watershed moment in civil rights being reduced to be a hot line, in a “hot song.”

And our Future will be a name for a rapper sorely lacking in talent and cultural awareness, rather than the greatness that lies ahead of us.

Writer’s note: This draft was written prior to the release of the family of Emmett Till writing a letter directly to Lil’ Wayne, who apparently, as of the time of this posting, still has the damn song up on his page as an “unofficial remix.”  …Somebody, get your boy.

Read it here at vibe.com.

Written by aceviewblogger

February 22, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Hiatus

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No, I haven’t forgotten the goal of writing once a day for 28 days.

I had a project due for school (more on that later, most definitely) and have spent the last couple days working on that.  Now that that’s out of the way, I can get back to this.

I had a whole entry nearly finished earlier and ended up hitting the ‘back’ button somehow and losing the whole thing.  Irritating as hell.  Hopefully the draft saved on the phone,

….but I doubt it.

Until then, do the following things for me:

1) Please visit awesomelyluvvie.com, since she’s one of the most awesome bloggers I know (e’en though she hates on my frat–what’s up with that?  LOL) and support the Red Pump Project.

It’s not what it sounds like.  And it’s actually for an awesome cause.  So go there.

2) I will be back this weekend with several entries for the end of the month.  Shout out to those that have been checking out the Black History Month Meme entry, it seems to be the most popular one so far.  More popular than Barack with a gun?  Who would have thought it?

3) Trust me, the internet has given me no shortage of things to write about this Black History Month.  But where this blog goes from here, hopefully, will be beyond that.  I want to address any issues affecting minorities in this country and abroad, so any suggestions or ideas, hit me at the link below.  There will be more additions to the site in the days to come, so stay tuned.

And thanks for all your support thus far!

Written by aceviewblogger

February 21, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Soul Food (or) The Myth of “Eating White”

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Me and another brother who was one of my roommates at the time were making a list of food and household items to buy, and we came up with designing a menu for the couple of days that we could actually get together and cook something for the residents of the house.

I started jotting down items that I wanted to eat.  Fresh fruit.  Bagged salad. Fish. Mixed nuts.  And the like.

Before I was finished, the other frat brother who didn’t live with us (but who came over quite frequently to eat, mind you)–objected to several of my list choices.  Loudly.

“Man, y’all gonna be eating like white folks in here!”

Allow me to explain why this statement and similar statements upset me greatly.

First off, it implies that white people are the only ones that enjoy balanced diet, fruits and vegetables, and meals that would under normal circumstances be considered “healthy”.

Second, and perhaps more infuriating, it limits us as black people to a certain group of foods that are “for us” instead of opening our options up to try different and new things that we may not have access to under normal circumstances.

Think about it this way.  How many grocery stores in African-American neighborhoods can you think of that sell fresh produce, meat and poultry? 

Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Now, count how many liquor and convenience stores there are.

I’m sure that took longer.

My problem is this: we as a people suffer from lifestyle choices that we make from a lack of choices given to us, but when we are exposed to these choices and given an opportunity to do better or improve on our diet, we are shamed back into the same unhealthy routine.

‘Cause, you know, black folks don’t eat like that.

This entry was also inspired by the plight of a hip-hop artist from back in the day–courtesy of Davey D’s Hip-Hop Corner. For those who are old enough to remember Digital Underground, Saafir and his story should be heeded as a cautionary tale.

You can read about it here.

But whatever you do, think twice before you equate health with skin color.

Written by aceviewblogger

February 15, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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A more historical explanation to my post from yesterday. Well said.

Written by aceviewblogger

February 13, 2013 at 10:15 am

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Just For Laughs: Black History as a Meme

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Once again, today’s post is inspired by a Facebook status on my feed and the responses to it, that indicate that this is more than just jokes, but a symptom of a much bigger problem.

My friend’s full status, as posted below:

 

I don’t know about some of yall….but I’m getting a little offended by all of these “The 1st black person to…..”! Really…..why poke fun at our own expense? That’s why OUR youth don’t know their TRUE history!!!! We’re right along with the schools taking it from them, instead of teaching them. How about right now today I’ll be the 1st black woman to say……cut it out! Nothing funny about these post! But some of yall with these same post are quick to say they don’t respect us…….why don’t YOU. try respecting us 1st……geesh and to wonder why our children are mislead and misguided……we’re their leaders. So lead and not follow the crowd!

 

Now, in case you haven’t seen these memes, think of the more popular “niggas/bitches be like” memes in circulation over the last few weeks.

Now add in a picture of older generations of blacks, false name and a falsely attributed comedic reference to modern-day black pop culture (ex: “Isaiah Freeman, 1st to put that shit on everything he loves”)

…and on from there, ranging from the humorous to obscene to the you-tried-too-hard to the okay, seriously?

If you Google any of these, I’m sure that there would be a host of images you’ll find under “black history month 1st meme”.  

I did and I was saddened after about 5 minutes of clicking.

The point is this: there are more people who I’m friends with posting these humor memes than ACTUAL BLACK HISTORY FACTS AND FIGURES.

This indicates to me and to anyone else who is less familiar with black people and culture that we don’t take our culture seriously.  

We don’t take our history seriously.  We don’t take our ancestors sacrifices, their trials and triumphs, their coming here in chains and contributing to and improving every aspect of what we now know as modern America–

We don’t take ourselves seriously. 

So how the hell can we ask any other culture to take us seriously?  

To respect our culture and the things that we celebrate?

To not dismiss Black History Month as a token gesture for us to celebrate our history during and then for the other 11 months of the year, we are largely ignored?

The people who will defend this as “oh, it’s just jokes” and “oh, it’s funny”, try letting one of your white classmates or co-workers pop one of these up on their feed and see how you feel about it.

Apparently, we are the only ones that can make fun of our history, and it’s actually kind of funny how far people will go to defend that right.

But never mind the fact that people died for the right for us to even be recognized and accepted in the first place.

Or the fact that despite this started as a week in February and is now a month just gives us longer to CELEBRATE us instead of more room for jokes ABOUT us.

If we are taking our history as a joke, imagine the precedent this sets for the ones who are coming up behind us.

The reason I wrote this today, ironically, was not just for fun.  Or, for the people who know better.

It’s for those who don’t.

I’m out.

Written by aceviewblogger

February 12, 2013 at 3:53 pm