Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Responses to: Michael Vick and others

Well where do I begin?

Ahh yes Nat X and your analysis of of my Michael Vick post. First you make mention of the fact that you believe that Mumia is "guilty" and that he should "fry" like chicken. Well I believe that Mumia is innocent and I don't believe that anyone should "fry". But I promise to write an upcoming post detailing my opinions on Mumia's case.

In the meantime you were also very critical of my position on Michael Vick. You wrote: "I think your argument that he got "judged" more harshly because he has black skin is completely wrong." I think it is important to clarify that I never stated whether or not Vick was judged wrong in the courts. I was merely discussing the judgement of him in the public and media. You go on to say that: "The problem I have with this is that had it been a local "thug from the hood" committing those same acts, his prison sentence would have been much greater." That's actually debatable. I certainly agree that typically, people with money, black or white, get lighter sentences than people without. But in the case of Michael Vick, because of his name, the Federal Government stepped in, invested heavily in the investigation and convicted him. It is extraordinarily unlikely that the feds would do this for a "thug from the hood". Also Vick's sentence of two years in Prison is pretty high for animal cruelty. And two years in Federal Prison for animal cruelty is almost unheard of. I didn't mention that Vick got off light, because he didn't. I didn't discuss Vick's actual case in my post because I am horrified by what Michael Vick did. It's just that they are plenty of people around the country writing about how disgusted they are by Vick's actions. I'm merely saying that when a Black Person commits a reprehensible act, society has a little more venom in it's condemnation, a little more acid on the tongue. You may disagree but I certainly have a leg to stand on in this argument.

As far as your point about criminals, give me a second and I'll get to it.

Colin as far as "Am I a hippie for washing my dog with Nag Champa Soap?", you nailed it.

Slaves in the White house:

Trees you wrote:
"I don't want to rename the monuments and wipe history clean. Our nation's history is an incredibly violent one. I want to be reminded of this. I want to walk down the street and see the evidence of our ancestor's mistakes in vivid, tangible detail. I want to see and feel the connections to the past and the truth."

I hear you but here is where I have problem. Washington is still a hero. The man was a slave owner and still is a hero. The country is filled with schools that black children attend that are named after slave owners. We have one in Albany named after Phillip Schuyler, a local slave owner. You won't see Hitler's image plastered across Germany. We are taught to believe that the slave owners that founded our country were good men, who just happened to think of black people as animals destined to serve them. I do not buy this. Personally I believe that the treatment of Women, Africans, and Native Americans by the founding fathers, invalidates them as pillars of freedom. I think we'd be best off if we took the papers they wrote and threw them into a museum and got a crew of brilliant thinkers of all races, genders, and sexual identities to write a real set of principles that we could truly believe in.

And Nat X:

My problem is that the constitution was written by slave owners. And than amended after the civil war by the inheritors of their legacy. In those amendments they wrote: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

In other words slavery is abolished unless you are convicted of a crime. Any crime. The government has the legal authority to enslave you if you are convicted of any crime. Is it a coincidence that the ancestors of America's original slaves make up a disproportionate amount of the prison population, aka legal slaves? No it isn't. Now you did mention that they have committed these crimes and that's the problem. That is a problem and I'm in favor of working with young people to prevent crimes before they happen. But in the USA a crime one place is not necessarily a crime another place.

When you go to city court you will find lots of Black teenagers arrested for nickel bags of weed. This is possibly the number one first offense for Black youth. What happens is these young men are convicted, without sufficient legal representation, sent to youth correctional facilities and trained to become lifelong criminals. Meanwhile in the suburbs and college campuses, their counterparts are trafficking large amounts of Marijuana and other drugs and rarely caught and prosecuted. In the few circumstances where a middle class white youth is arrested for this type of offense, they are provided proper legal representation, resulting in reduced penalties and avoidance of any form of incarceration that would result in further criminalization. And this cycle continues over and over again.

It's my opinion that the U.S. power structure feels comfortable with this because it has never fully separated itself from it's racist past. By clinging to symbols of Slave owners we continue their legacy, sometimes unconsciously. Our attempts to change racism need to be intentional and require a deep examination of historical wrongs. This is the necessary first step in my opinion, without it, I don't think we will ever end racism and the prison system will continue to be the descendant of the slave system.

Also Nat, as far as me moving to Somalia, I'll take it under consideration. As far as me wasting my talents, I disagree.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Michael Vick

This July Michael Vick will be released from Prison. Actually he will be released from a half way house that he will go to shortly to finish out the rest of his sentence. If you don't know who Michael Vick is, he is the famous professional football player that funded and ran a dogfighting operation. He directly and indirectly participated in the deaths and injuries of dozens of dogs. As a result he has spent the better part of two years in a federal penitentiary. Not a country club, Leavenworth. He hopes to continue his football career this fall. This depends entirely on the commissioner of the NFL who suspended Vick indefinitely once the charges surfaced and Vick pleaded guilty.

So why am I bringing this up? This issue has gotten ink all across the country tens of thousands of articles have been written on it and one thing has not been really addressed and that's the public and media's inherent racism in the collective response to these acts.

For those of you that are football fans, you will know that my favorite team, the Bears are historically the worst team at choosing quarterbacks, the position that Vick plays. While reading a discussion board weighing the merits of the Bears possibly bringing in Michael Vick after he leaves jail, one Bear fan responded by saying this:

The NFL will not bother reinstating this fool, he had his chances. Yes we treat dogs better than we treat thugs from the hood, with good reason.

This was not the only remark like this in fact it's the norm. During Michael Vick's visits to court several protesters held up signs that said "Neuter Michael Vick". Not realizing or caring that it is quite possible that one of Michael Vick's ancestors could have been neutered on a slave plantation not all that long ago.

Why do I think it is racism. To some the examples I've just given will be enough but to others it will still be unclear. This is what I'm saying. The fact that people are outraged that these innocent dogs were unnecessarily tortured and killed is not the problem. The problem is how people express that anger. The United State Prison System, of which Michael Vick is a resident, is the most racist institution in this countries history since Slavery. The reprehensible way people are treated, the unjust manner in which people are convicted, and the disproportionate numbers of Poor Whites, Blacks and Latinos that make up the prison population are so thoroughly unacceptable for a so called "advanced" nation that it makes me sick. And yet where is the outrage. Where are the demands for justice. We just let it continue. Even though the vast majority of us no that something is inherently wrong with our justice system.

And yet when the Michael Vick story came to light, PETA came out and demanded that he be sent to prison. It's ironic that the organization that demands the "Ethical Treatment of Animals" would want to send the ancestor of American Slaves to one of the most unethical places on the planet. I got an idea why doesn't PETA start a committee called "People for the Ethical Treatment of Criminals". And than maybe I will listen to what they have to say.

Are you still horrified that a man that has committed such reprehensible acts may have a chance to reclaim his wealth and fame on the football field? Well there is horror to spread around for people like: Roman Polanski. The Director of the film The Pianist won the Academy Award for Best Director in 2002. He wasn't there to receive the award but received a standing ovation. He of course wasn't present because he is a fugitive living in France. Why is he a fugitive you ask? Because he refuses to return to the US and serve time for the crime that he pleaded guilty to of "unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor." The child was 13. I didn't see any protesters at the Academy Awards that year. But there is always Senator Robert Byrd currently the oldest active member of the senate and former KKK member. I haven't seen many "Get Robert Byrd the Fuck Out of Washington Protests" lately.

So what's my point? It's two things. One I think people that engage in reprehensible acts are still human beings and should be treated as such. Not without punishment, just with a justice that doesn't attempt to take away their humanity. But also I realize that sometimes we may have the urge to think of people that do awful things as less than human. I'm merely saying that the collective consciousness of the United States has a much easier time doing that when the person, engaged in the terrible actions, has black skin.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Am I a Hippie if I wash my dog with Nag Champa Soap?

I think the answer pretty much has to be a resounding yes!!! Since I have no pre-existing cultural connection to the fragrance. And since my introduction to it has something to do with a Phish Concert and some nuggets from British Columbia (a former life; sorry, geez). But as I am informed by Wikipedia, it seems that Nag Champa, a fragrance developed from the Champa flower, is used in Hindu temples known as Ashrams. So I doubt those same people are than going and washing their dog with the same fragrance. But truth be told I have no idea. And that's the point. Being a hippie means many things but one of those things is... taking beatiful aspects of various cultures and utilizing them without sufficient background or possibly permission from the people whose culture is being used. I think I opened a can of worms there. I'm just gonna leave it sitting there open...

Now for the record... I do know how to properly tune a Conga drum as I was taught by my dad. I was once told at a Phish Head Drum Cirlce that "you don't need to tune your conga man, you just need to let it get broken in so you can listen to the natural groove dude, You have to let it speak to you..."

I may use Nag Champa Soap on my dog but at least when I play my Conga, with the Bob Marley sticker on it, I know how to tune it.

As far as whether or not I am a hippie, no need to respond. I already know the answer.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

procrastination, a leftist analysis

So. I'm a blogger and a procrastinator. So this means I procrastinate on writing blogs. This is problematic. So now I have one more thing on my never ending list to put off... What am I going to do... The world's closing in... someone please help...

Sorry I was just being melodramatic. Seriously though has anyone ever written a radical leftist perspective on procrastination. A good friend in college was a professional procrastinator. He didn't get paid to do it, he was just really good at it. Anyway he had a film due that he couldn't get together to save his life. So he decided to make it about procrastinating on his film. It was genius...

So instead of writing my blog about how we're all going to be disappointed by Barack Obama, or my blog about the racism in the Societal Conviction of Michael Vick, or the blog about the tragedy that is Domestic Violence in our society and more specifically in the Black and Latino Community as evidenced by the Chris Brown and Rihanna story. Instead of writing any of those entries, I will do something even better...

I will write about procrastinating from writing this blog...

So what is a leftist analysis of procrastination. Well I think there is the obvious answer. You know that us procrastinators are just rebels resisting the oppressive results driven capitalist society that measure us based on bs quantifiable outcomes that disregard our true worth and substantive essence. I have no idea what I just said. But don't we kind of all think of ourselves as little Che Guevara's. Putting off that paper, or writing that report for work, or washing the dishes. I think most of us would like to think that we are noble warriors taking a stand against unnecessary rules about what we should accomplish. And you know what I'm not about to take that away from us. We are rebels and we should continue to rebel whenever we see fit. I will however offer some additional analysis...

I have no idea what I'm about to write but I'm sure something will come to mind...

OK procrastination is a way in which we sometimes harm ourselves. A way in which we don't accomplish tasks that we deem important and helpful to our productive existence. Going to the gym, doing our laundry, writing that book. I am in no way saying that all procrastination is harmful, quite the contrary. As I said earlier most procrastination is honorable rebellion. But truth be told. Sometimes it's not the best thing. And once in awhile it can even hurt. We can't wait forever to accomplish these important feats in our lives.

So. What does all of this mean. It means stop procrastinating if it isn't in the name of revolution. If you aren't getting out of bed because your job is nothing but a miserable experience designed to make you a pawn for the Capitalist Power Structure, than by all means stay in bed. But if you're procrastination is self-inflicted punishment, designed to prevent you from reaching your full potential. Than goddammit get your ass in the gym and on that treadmill ASAP.