“… North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government…” The article cites journalist, author Colin Woodard’s view that much of the culture and political habits in North America are carryovers from the original European cultures that settled those areas. It’s something to keep in mind when trying to bring about change-- to work within those particular cultures, giving consideration to the dynamics of those cultures, to bring about change. Here's the rest of the article:
This is a great article posted at GBM News.com about how we are now beginning to re-read the story of the murder of Matthew Shepherd. While the narrative of Matthew Shepherd’s murder is being re-interpreted, beyond these revelations that are now coming out about Matthew Shepherd and what might have led to his murder is an understanding of how icons and myths are used to inspire movements, the reach of icons and of our mythologies and how carefully we choose those icons.
This is a very interesting article I found at NPR.org.
"... Nor did it tell its story partially from the point-of-view of a white person who witnesses the horrors of racism or race-based inequality. This is in itself a rarity, as evidenced by, in the last few years, The Help, Django Unchained, Lincoln, and The Blind Side. For the last several years, most mainstream films involving African-Americans have been either told from the point-of-view of a white participant, or operated as sort of a two-hander where the white person who learns a lesson is given equal time. But even that is changing." ~ Scott Mendelson, Forbes Magazine
Forbes Magazine's Scott Mendelson wrote a great article on the growth of black cinema in which the POV is told by black characters as opposed to white characters serving as the narrators of black stories. Read the article at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2013/08/28/the-butler-42-and-a-new-wave-of-mainstream-black-cinema/
I just read an interesting post titled 'How I Was Shut Up', at a blog by a young South African man, Hugo Canham, on how disabled he feels when dealing with white women on an everyday level. It's a very personal and insightful piece.
Reading it, I came away thinking how wars have been fought over white women that have made the pages of the particular histories that we're taught. How even special status is given to white women in images of many of our religious myths. The status of white women is often heralded even in a contemporary media that tells us to bow down, even to the point of emulating their likeness as a model for other women to achieve and to the point of seeking access to them for some men, because there is 'none other'. I think that plays a role in this narrative as well.
But what was most engaging in reading this wonderful piece was that I was granted access to a slice of life in a society that has not too long ago emerged from heavy racial oppression, and this made the article even more insightful.
When I heard Don Lemon's comments on the 'problems' with black America, I was astounded that he waded into a subject without talking about the historical institutional and structural dynamics that also play a role in creating the 'problems' he decided to 'entertain' us with during that piece.
He seemed to overlook matters of discrimination that has hounded black America for centuries and of the privilege afforded to white America.
I do agree that sometimes people, not just black Americans, can get too bogged down in the blame game, but that’s not to say their blaming others have no credence. In the matter of black America, yes, there are things, many things we, as black Americans can do to make things better, but to accept all the conditions in which we might find ourselves as our own fault is simply ridiculous.
While I don’t believe in getting caught up in the ‘blame game’, I do believe in being real when it comes to addressing issues. Yes, there are ‘problems’ in the black American community, but to shoulder what is the effect of being black IN America without addressing some of the causes like job discrimination, disparities in housing, education and in the criminal justice system and such, is to be totally unrealistic.
There is work to be done, but it’s to be done by everyone, not just black America.
Keith Boykin has written a great commentary on the subject:
Some would say the case of Gabriella Calhoun is an unfortunate circumstance of someone who disrespected the police, even though, by the story that has unfolded so far, her act was mild. But if you live in black skin, you learn that ANY act that challenges perceived authority is an act of rebellion worthy of extreme reaction.Another example of how black folks, unlike white folks, become victims of extreme reaction whenever they show the slightest act of resistance. This officer should not get away with impunity.
When you're a person living in poverty, the chances of your rising out of poverty depends on where you live. A study finds the odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities, like Atlanta and Charlotte, and much higher in New York and Boston, according to an article on research by economists that was posted in the New York Times.
Inequality in matters of race and class became clear once again with the outcome of the Trayvon Martin v. George Zimmerman case. Once again we see evidence of what happens when a black person is killed, how it is either overlooked or the killers have many times been acquitted. And if the victim is black and a male, we see how those outcomes are more prevalent. History has shown us that.
Now here’s the thing: if history has shown us that, don’t we have to become more involved in changing the future? What do we do everyday to pay forward the message of equality? Yes, we can talk about how there was not one black face on the jury in a city in which about 30% of the population is black, and how the jurors probably have no idea of what it is like to raise a black child, let alone a black male in a society that says he is a monster the day he comes out of the womb, and yes, we have to ask how Florida’s statutes can be on the books. But we also have to ask ourselves how do we play a part in allowing this centuries’ old drama to keep re-playing.
We should be outraged that a young man minding his own business died at the hands of someone who profiled him and that his murder is being overlooked. We should have pity in our hearts for Trayvon’s family. And then, we should become involved every day in making our voices known and our actions clear about how we feel about race and class inequality. There are organizations, solid organizations, we can join who are involved in addressing these issues, we can speak out as individuals, we can turn up the heat at the ballot boxes addressing local issues (not just Presidential elections), we can join unions and boycott when companies and organizations short-change us. There are so many things we can do. The Martin/Zimmerman trial might be over, but matters addressing social and economic equality will always be on trial. Do your part to make sure the trial continues.
Re: The Trayvon Martin case... I hope people will continue to do the work that's needed for systemic change. People need to be more proactive and not just reactive to singular events. The situation we're seeing in this country will go on until we involve ourselves every day to work for change. I fear that after this trial has concluded most people will go back to their holes and raise their heads only when the next act takes place.
Doug Cooper Spencer is the author of the novels: 'This Place of Men', 'People Like Us' and 'Leaving Gomorrah' (the three books in the 'This Place of Men Trilogy'), as well as a book written as an epistle: 'A Letter to A Friend: Thoughts on Living As A Gay Man'.