There are signs sailors used to know they were getting close to land: driftwood. Seagulls.
When you start writing, there are signs that you are getting closer to your goal of publication: hand-written notes on your rejection slips used to be a great one.
“Maybe” instead of “no”. A kiss instead of a handshake. Lots of indications that you are making progress.
My goal is ONE MILLION AWAKE, AWARE, ADULT HUMAN BEINGS. What does that imply? That there are far too many sleeping, oblivious, child-people. People who blame others for their emotions, who believe that the competitive world of consensus reality is of ultimate importance, people who fail to feel the connection between themselves and other.
There is an expression to the effect that people will love you if you let them THINK they are awake, but hate you if you actually awaken them. That nothing is harder than teaching people things when it is in their interest to remain ignorant.
For instance, if there is ever a meat substitute that tastes and looks and chews like meat, but involves no animal sacrifice, I suspect that within a couple of generations people will have a hard time understanding how human beings could ever have “tortured and murdered” animals for their flesh. It just won’t make sense. Give it a few more generations, and you’ll have people doubting that slaughterhouses ever really existed.
“I’ve never seen one.”
“My grandparents said that they always ate NewMeat, and so did all their friends.”
“People would be shunned for actually killing animals.”
And so forth.
You go from
- “This is the way its always been” to
- “You are endangering us to even talk about this” to
- “You are insane! Disruptive! Ignorant! How dare you take these actions without consulting me! You’ll reap the whirlwind!” to
- “We’ll repeal this asap” to
- “Well, I was right to raise questions” to
- “What do you mean? Its always been this way. Its YOU guys who supported the problem, not us!”
So much fun. Over the last month, I’ve gotten more of number 3. I’m insane, disruptive, ignorant. Insistence that even discussing issues is some kind of cultural suicide. That promoting the idea of equality causes mass murder, that saying “this is problematic” equals “Forbid this! Crush it with government force! Now!!”
It’s almost fun. Driftwood. Seagulls.
In the arena of social justice, it is easy to identify the issues under the issues, and that all of them basically boil down to: “who am I” (what is humanity) and “what is true?” (what is reality) it became obvious that those discussions have been conducted for thousands of years, and there are smart people on multiple answer-tracks.
That, for instance, when it comes to “what is humanity?” the nature/nurture debate BASICALLY comes down to believing that social realities are primarily the result of either genetics or environment (yes, its actually more complex than that in terms of interactions, but I think it is honest to say that these are the two big ones). Political arguments around these issues sure boil down to this, although people will deny it, or deflect and obfuscate until you nail them down with questions like “given the same historical circumstances, would whites have been as damaged by slavery?”
Anything but a swift and emphatic “yes” is most safely seen as a racist “no”, and the more mumble-mouthed fumbling and discussion of the success of group X or Y under harsh conditions, the more they are saying they’re in the Nature category without the courage to take responsibility for it.
Don’t settle for the surface discussion if there is a deeper level. It is a waste of your time. Seriously.
Another great one is people actually getting furious with me for suggesting that the sign of a level playing field will be proportional representation in politics, economics, and the decision makers in entertainment. Wow, this one is great.
If they are upset by this idea, it seems to me that their basic position is that a level field will lead to inequal result, because the people are unequal. Therefore, the use of “proportional representation” is a stealth call for “government pressure.”
In other words, they don’t even believe that I believe in equality. They aren’t even thinking “Steve is deluded.”
They’re thinking “he’s too smart to believe that. He must be saying that with his fingers crossed behind his back.” That because they believe inequality is self-evident, I must be a smiling monster.
I love that. That is SO cool! Because I know what I am, and I ain’t that. That tells me that their perceptions are wretched, their understanding of human nature seriously flawed. And diminishes the degree to which I need to respect their opinion on other subjects vulnerable to subjective evaluation and faith.
See how that works? Another fun thing is when they don’t grasp that, were I to lose my belief in equality, my conclusion would NOT be that white people are superior.
That is so much fun. “It would break your heart if it turned out your belief in equality was wrong” someone said just last week. Seriously. To which Bad Steve replied: “Well, it would disappoint me, sure. But if it turned out white people really were weak and evil, I suppose I’d learn to live with it.”
Watching their eyes cross as they tried to come up with a reason THAT is a more insulting position than theirs brings joy to Bad Steve.
Bad, bad Steve. No biscuit.
Yeah, I enjoy some of this. I have to. Because if I let myself really feel all of the pain and fear, some of it would contaminate me, and I’d not be able to do the work. And the work is more important than I am.
So yes, I chuckle a bit. Otherwise…I’d cry. They are sleeping children. Sometimes brilliant, yes. But they don’t see the degree to which they are extending faith to one conclusion or the other. Octavia Butler told me that her greatest fear about human beings was
- Our tendency to be hierarchical
- Our tendency to place ourselves and our tribe higher on that hierarchy.
All these people are doing is coming to the easiest, laziest conclusion EMOTIONALLY, then using their intellects to justify it. And then mistaking that for courage. They have the COURAGE to be “un-PC” and admit they are superior!
In fact, in some cases THEY CAN’T EVEN WRAP THEIR MINDS AROUND THE CHANCE THEY MIGHT BE WRONG. That is a fascinating experience. Can’t even handle the “what if?”
And if you can’t contemplate that you might be wrong? Can’t deal with the consequences and implications? I don’t trust you to evaluate whether or not you’re right.
P.S.–we all create stories about the facts around us. That’s what humans do. And we all try to control the narrative. All AFROFUTURISM is is the children of the African diaspora beginning to control our mythology. Art, film, writing, music, dance…its amazing, and humbling to realize how our ancestors struggled and kept their heads high without this critical psychological leverage. If you’d like to learn more about it, and haven’t experienced our OCTAVIA TO T’CHALLA webinar, join us tomorrow at 6pm pst. WWW.OCTAVIATOBLACKPANTHER.COM)