So, the other day I'm driving along, my son in his kid seat in the
back, and I'm looking out the window, thinking about how San
Francisco has changed from a class conscious hotbed of Radicals to a
bevy of buttheads who moved here to be cool -- not realizing all they
did was bring their lack of coolness with them, infecting us with it,
thereby lowering the cool average, and making The City just a little
more like the intolerant, sexist, segregated pest hole they fled --
when I decided I needed to calm down. Son giggling in the backseat,
beautiful day, no known infections -- I really needed to "chill," as
my piercing bedecked brethren say.
So I switched on NPR. It's not Air America, but sometimes even I get
tired of unvarnished progressive talk, and just want to hear a story
about how some old bluesman is finally getting remembered with a
posthumous medal of honor and a commemorative recording of his songs,
made by those who ripped him off his whole life before he was dumped
into a paupers grave.
You know, a feel good story.
But no. I hear a commentary about the case of the Jena Six, and all
the subsequent noose sightings around the country. In a nutshell the
speaker, who was a Black man, was saying that the real problem wasn't
the nooses, but the reaction to them. All this complaining, media
attention, marches ... what should have happened was people just
ignoring the incidents. By being concerned and angry, by reacting at
all we are just giving the perpetrators of these rather minor acts of
vandalism too much power, and the attention they want. Better to just
get on with life.
And there went my feel goodiness.
What the fuck?
( read like William Shatner)
What the fuck!?!
Somewhere W.E.B. DuBois is feverishly gluing hair to his head so he
can tear it out in frustration, and Martin Luther King Jr. is
limbering up so he can spin in his grave without throwing out a hip.
Ignore it and they will go away. Because, as we all know, anyone who
would hang a noose would never wonder, "Since no one kicked up a fuss
about that, what else can we get away with?" No pushing the envelope,
taking a chance, dragging you behind a pickup truck for these
fellows. No, the very fact that they hung a noose on your door proves
they have the kind of restraint rarely see in those so inbred.
Oh, and he said if he saw one on his own door he would take it down,
and forget it, because he had better things to worry about -- like
redoing his kitchen.
This isn't just lame ass, run-of-the-mill rhythm method stupid. This
is crazy stupid. This is swim with sharks with a lamb chop necklace,
screw your Boss's wife on his desk, I think I can make it even
though the light turned red stupid.
Okay, first off: having an appropriate reaction to threatening
stimuli is not only survival adaptive, its part of not being batshit
nuts. Let's say somebody pulls a knife on you. The correct response
is to be wary, and take a defensive attitude. Maybe nothing will
happen, but you want to be ready just in case D'Artagnan Jones makes
What if he doesn't pull a knife, but simply says "I'm going to stab
you." It is still in the best interest of you and your insurance
company that you take that seriously, especially if it seems the
guy has taken a real dislike to something about you that you aren't
going to change -- like your skin color.
Ahhh... Now, what if you wake up and there is a only note on your
front door - "I'm going to stab you." What kind of fool ignores that?
Especially if you live in a country with a history of stabbing people
like you? And remember, this is a threat to your whole family. I look
at my son in the backseat and try to think of what Father wouldn't
want to hunt the person down and make them eat their own feet.
And as for giving power over to those that threaten you...
Ignoring actual events, denying reality is what gives the perpetrator
power -- the power to make you deny reality. And denying reality is a
definition of crazy. Now that's power. They got you walking around
trying to convince yourself this isn't happening. Got you saying your
Mediterranean tiling is more worthy of discussion than a righteous
reaction to Terrorism and the Politics of Fear.
Ignoring the threat is a way to keep your power? What's next:
Ignorance is Strength?
When I was a wee bairn, bouncing on my ma's knee, there were two
things she said that I will never forget. "Michael, my boy," she said:
"A: Capitalism is theft. Investor dividends always equal the added
value created by the worker's labor, a worker who is by necessity
underpaid and oppressed." ( Of course, she didn't say it like that -
her version involved two bunnies, a box of cookies, and Warren G.
"B. Being Black should put you at the vanguard of the fight against
injustice and oppression, which must be stomped out at the soonest
opportunity. And if they pop up again, stomp again. Pop, stomp, pop,
stomp. That is the dance of an alert citizenry -- and if Blacks are
supposed to be such good dancers that's the dance we should to do
She had a way with words.
These things cannot be ignored. And when I hear some guy argue how we
should ignore racist, or sexist, or homophobic threats, I think about
all the people who stood up to injustice so this guy can say we
should lay down, raised their voices so he could ask us to keep
quiet, gave their lives so this guy can worry more about remodeling
his kitchen when not only did someone hang a noose on his door, they
hung it on the door of his wife and children.
What the fuck?
And if you honestly believe that having a survival response, and the
accompanying anger is somehow giving power over to you tormentor,
here are some other tried and true reactions to so-called "threats:"
Ignore the swastika carved into your steps. Just think of it as Nazi
folk art. Besides, you didn't need all those pesky aunts and uncles,
Burning cross on the lawn? Toasty on a cool night. Get marshmallows,
and share them with the Klansmen. They love the color. And doesn't
the word Klan just mean family?
And nooses? How could they imply violence? Don't think of them as
direct threats, think of them as Negro coat hooks -- just a place to
hang spare Blacks when we're not in use.