Shit She Says

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The Victim Parade

Oh, my. Here it comes now: The Victim Parade.

In the wake of star witness Rachel Jeantel’s testimony in the George Zimmerman case, a flood of narrative shaping litanies has been unleashed decrying the maltreatment of said star witness. MsRachel_94‘s Twitter feed has as its tagline the words, “My Character And Action Describe Who I Am” and after 7 mostly combative hours on the stand, in which she fairly spat the word “Sir” at defense attorneys, most of America is familiar with both her character and actions. She is the face of underclass black America, and indicative of its attitude toward anyone not swaddled in the suffocating hold of black underclass culture.

In one such litany called What White People Don’t Understand About Rachel Jeantel, author Rachel Samara displays part of what it is that irks so many American whites. It’s in the very first line:

A predominantly white jury is not going to like Rachel Jeantel. Let’s just be real here.

After a lifetime of being told we are not to pigeon-hole people, that we must treat them as individuals deserving of respect for their human status, to see a women on a black-oriented hip hop website resort to the exact same behavior she spends 20+ paragraphs decrying is annoying. Nevermind that Samara is a thin blond chick or that one could easily portray her the same way people on the left portray the women of Fox News: as a disingenuous foil being used for her looks to sell a point of view the group of men in charge don’t believe in. That’s just icing on this poisoned cake.

In another screed at the Sad Bastard Bar, an actual immigrant stands in defense of the American-born, English-speaking Jeantel because she couldn’t be understood. The defense offered? The same one used by the prosecution; she had a Haitian mom who spoke Creole sometimes. This is being portrayed across the web as The Most Important Reason she couldn’t talk straight. This false sympathy chaps at the hide because Jeantel spoke good English when she wanted to, and she spoke clearly when she wanted to. The problem wasn’t her English, it was her apathy and attitude, her insistence on proving her hood credibility in a court of law, and on national television.

No one in that courtroom gave a shit about her hood credibility or her court nails, and for good reason. It was a court of law and a second degree murder trial, one in which one young man was dead and another young man’s life was hanging in the balance. This is serious shit requiring serious attention and serious conduct.

A black man at DailyKos, the clearinghouse for progressive race relations, has a recommended diary called The Digital Lynching of Rachel Jeantel. Like the other articles linked above, it’s heavy on emotional exploitation and light on logic. In Vyan’s telling, Rachel:

…was an amazingly shy teenager. At times introverted, distraught and occasionally brittle. She was not Media Trained. She’s not massively articulate.

This of course didn’t stop her from becoming a laughing stock online.

Among the great ironies of this diary is the linking of a Salon article within it, where a quote about her not being blond and thin, and there goes her credibility…was included, which I suppose brings us back to Samara from the first linked article.

The irony and assumptions present in the articles about white people are astounding, and will do little to cultivate alliances with white people who genuinely care about Civil Rights issues. Oh, sure, those who speak the progressive language, who’ve gladly slapped on their white guilt shackles, will get it, but those aren’t the kinds of people these authors need on their side. That is, if changing what they perceive as evidence of white racism is their agenda. I’m not convinced it is.

The upside to all of this is that we are, finally, getting to have that conversation on race that President Obama said we needed to have in 2008. I want to do my part. What I perceived of Jeantel was that she is evidence of the failure of our national attempts to address race relations, to end racism in America. She is exactly the kind of person I avoid in any government office, or while shopping or seeking services. Her hostility toward life in general, and white people in particular, is not something I want to have to deal with. And yet, I do, often. Read more…

Because segregation, that’s why

Funny things happen when you watch as the political party you once wholly integrated into your psyche comes off the rails and transforms itself into that which it professes to hate. Certain little things become obvious. Like, for instance, the whole diversity/oppression game. Almost weekly for years now I have seen people wonder about how different the treatment of racial and gender issues is for the political left in America. The left is all about race, but not so much about gender, though they pay plenty of (hollow) lip service to it.

So I’m here and I’m tipsy and I want to ‘splain something to you folks who just. don’t. get. it. The difference in treatment boils down to one thing: segregation. As in, we still have it racially speaking, and we have never had it gender-wise. Oh, sure, we no longer have Jim Crow laws to enforce segregation, but we get right down to it when it comes to conventions. And I speak of both sides.

It’s no secret that white flight drove white families out of our urban centers. Oh sure, there’s a few single or DINKy hipsters who take up residence, but once people have kids, priorities shift. White people in general do not g out of their way to encounter black people. they stay in their mostly-white enclaves and avoid predominantly black neighborhood unless they are looking to score.

On the other side of the coin, black people it turns out prefer to be around other black people, and self-segregate, even in institutions, such as public schools, that aim for integration. It is what it is, and what it is is proof that social engineering is often a colossal fail. The result is that via the mechanism of self-segregation, isolation exists, and that’s what allows those namby-pamby intellectuals I’ve derided before to believe that black people are just hapless victims with zero agency.

But isolation is a weird thing, which is what segregation really is. In isolation, assumptions aren’t challenged and issues aren’t addressed. Isolation exists to preserve the status quo. This is not the case with gender issues. Women and men have cohabited literally from the dawn of time. That means that the opposite sex knows all your dirty little secrets. And it is this proximity and familiarity that allows political intellectuals to treat race and gender differently, and to fight progress on gender fronts more overtly and more vociferously. That’s the short of it, anyway.

And one day, when I’m not drunk, I might even get around to explaining this issue a little more. That’ll be about 4 years from now, though.

Irony-Jawed Angels

IronyMeter2

Joanne Bamberger is one of those Vichy feminists so often to be found on the left side of the political spectrum. She can be found variously posting stuff to HuffPo, her blog, PunditMom, or speaking before Netroots Nation on the wonders of political activism via Twitter. She lives in Washington D.C. and works from home now that she’s a mom, and spends her time wearing her badge of woman-momdon to further the causes of Democrats. Like most Vichy feminists, she is not in the habit of questioning her ideals or her allegiances.

Which is why she has caught herself in the newest, latest, greatest of catfights among upper-crust feminists of the world. There is an old saying about monkeys in trees looking up, and all they see is assholes. So it is with life, thus so it is with women. Bamberger is naturally upset that the niche she’s carved out for herself is being threatened by women with higher attainment than her. Those damn monkeys at the top, you see, want to make changes to workforces that don’t apply to her, but may indeed cause her to be judged.

Enter Sheryl Sandberg, that nepotistic, privileged bitch, and Marissa Mayer, the ungrateful CEO of Yahoo, who are shaking up things up for the comfortably pajama-clad mommy-blogger. But not just her, you see, but for all women, who are entitled to highly successful careers, even if they have to wear their pajamas at home to do it.

Sandberg, who is the COO of Facebook (and, it should be noted, Mark Zuckerberg’s sister), has just published a book, which, if Bamberger had anything to do with it, would be titled Lazy Women and the Bosses Who Pay Them.  As it is, the book is actually called Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, which is about women making different choices that might, you know, actually lead to leadership positions. Stuff like, stop gossiping at the water cooler and go gossip with the boss like the big boys do.  And, of course, Yes, you will have to work late–a lot–if you want to make Vice President.

Mayer, for her part, had the unmitigated gall to have a baby and only take two weeks off, and as if that weren’t enough to set women back to the 1890s, she followed it up by eliminating telecommuting positions at Yahoo. How dare she! Expecting people to show up at work in the age of computers? Oh, hell no, boss, I’ve got a puking kid to cuddle. He pukes every. single. day. I’ll meet my deadlines after, thank you very much.

This is all very ironic, I think, considering where first and second wave feminists were actually coming from, and considering the major rhetorical error Bamberger makes in her USA Today editorial. In it, she says:

The message coming from these C-suite moms is less about empowerment and accountability than it is about guilt. Guilt for women wanting to work remotely in order to manage their lives and provide for their families. Guilt for not acting with more ambition. Guilt for daring to put their children and spouses on equal footing with their careers.

Guilt is never a good motivator. Mayer and Sandberg, even if they have good intentions, are setting back the cause of working mothers. Sandberg’s argument, that equality in the workplace just requires women to pull themselves up by the Louboutin straps (though she does acknowledge the need for a shift in national policy for working families) is just as damaging as Mayer’s office-only work proclamation that sends us back to the pre-Internet era of power suits with floppy bow ties.

Oh my, we can’t have the floppy bow-ties back, now can we? And why in the world would you want power suits, when there’s, like, pajamas, for reals? Read more…

Babies, Guns & DUIs

So I teach at a school we’ll call Ghetto Community College. I’m good at my job and I love doing it, but I fucking hate the field of education. It mostly does a disservice to the very people it says it wants to help, and the people in it are the biggest part of the problem. It’s filled with namby-pamby loser-ass middle class white people. Higher education is filled with even nambier-pambier middle class white people, who mistakenly think they’re smart. Put any one of these people on the street, expose them to the real thug life, and they wouldn’t last a second. Surviving the streets without resources and without hope is a skill that requires real intelligence. Passing classes at an Ivy League school or even a state school is not. It’s not hard. You just have to have a decent vocabulary and the skills to flatter the fuck out of narcissistic professors.

But Ghetto Community College (GCC) is not a real school, not in the sense that the schools that the people who run it and teach at it went to. It’s filled with lowlifes, rednecks and thugs. These are people who really need an education. And that’s why I’m there. I started as a lowlife at a community college, myself, so I understand it.

My students love me, because I tell ’em straight, and because I can write the fuck out of shit. That’s what I teach: college writing. I love everything to do with language. I tell them that  they will be judged on the way they speak and how they write, and whether or not they can tell the difference between “there” and “their,” and even on the sorry-ass names their mommas’ gave ’em. They come to class faithfully for two reasons: they need the knowledge that I have, and because of the shit I say.

The other day we were having a conversation about the poor and working classes, not your typical fare for a college writing class. And some dude was talking about how he was going to write his narrative essay on his DUIs. So I’m like, “There’s an essay topic I’ve never encountered before, ” and rolled my eyes. He took it in stride, because these kids and adults are just waiting for the shit I’ll say next. So I explain that narrative essays on babies, guns, and DUIs don’t interest me because I get 20 of each every semester. And I go on to explain that there’s this saying about how to keep the lower classes down: Girls get babies, and boys get guns and DUIs. Get any one of those, and you’re stuck at the gate–opportunity is lost.

So this really pissed off a 19 year old single mother in my class. She has a 15 month old son. And she’s been fishing around since she found out the consequences of her actions for some saving grace. But I won’t give it to her. I tell baby mama/daddy jokes in class, and advise students to write process papers on how to break up with a thug or a crazy bitch. I am not going to give her an inch, because I want her to know that this is a mistake she cannot make again if she really wants to provide for her child, and because I want to discourage all the other young women in class from pursuing this route at all costs.

Because it’s true: Having a baby, getting caught with a gun, or driving under the influence are routine, stupid fucking mistakes that poor people make. And they can be avoided, but they often are not because poor people will deliberately make these choices. They aren’t stupid; they know exactly what they’re doing. There’s no need to feel sorry for them, or think they just don’t know; they know, they just don’t have options.

In the rough-and-tumble neighborhoods I grew up in, a baby was a pathway to independence, and to government funding. It still is. Guns are bought, stolen, or gifted for protection or to demonstrate bad-ass-ability. DUIs are risked because some drunk ass idiot has learned that a belligerent attitude is a lifesaver in whatever ghetto or trailer park he comes from. But it will get you nowhere outside that environment.

The only reason that girl is in my class today is because that baby bought her a ticket to financial aid. Her mom is probably working for an hourly wage, if she’s working at all, and our financial aid system is so fucked up that you can’t be considered independent until your 24 years old, no matter where you come from. Unless you’re married or have a dependent, that is. So there’s all these people who would very much like to go to college, but their parents either make just barely too much money, even though they’ve maybe kicked the kid out, or you have students who don’t get along with their parents well enough to even get the information for a FAFSA.

But there are real people who pay the consequences for these real choices. The kids born to young women who haven’t even really started in life, who don’t even have the skills to pick a good mate, will always suffer in some way. And the people shot by these guns will pay the price. The people hit by drunk drivers pay, as do the families of people in jail, with records that disallow the option to work. A whole lotta people pay for these stupid fucking choices. And while I didn’t go that far with my discussion in class, I certainly gave those folks some shit to think about. That’s why I’m there, and that’s why they keep coming back. They come hear the shit she says.

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