Race

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (2018)

I’m going to do something a little different.  I’m going to quickly review “Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse” and then I’m going to speak of an aspect of it some of you might not want to dive into.  You’ll be warned.

 

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First, “Into the Spider-verse” is a revolutionary piece of  cinema.  The tale of an alternate Earth Spider-Man, Miles Morales, is told in CGI animation that ranges from realistic to Loony Tunes 2-D, depending on the mood and tempo of the scene. And what at first is jarring becomes, as we realize we are watching a comic book brought to life as we’ve never seen it before, something that reminded me not just of previous live action and animate versions of the character, but of the astonishing visuals of “Yellow Submarine” and even “2001: A space Odyssey.”  Because the story deals with a master criminal (The Kingpin, voiced by Liev Schrieber)   who creates a rip in reality to bring back his dead family, in the process unleashing Spider-heroes from multiple time lines.  Against this bizarre backdrop is the origin story of a kid named Miles Morales, bitten by a radioactive or genetically altered spider and gaining powers he doesn’t know how to control.  Really…that’s all you need to know, other than IT WORKS.  It all works. Improbably, even the most bizarre variations on the character (Kimiko Glenn as Japanese “Peni Parker” in a giant Tamagachi?  Nicolas Cage as “Spider Man Noir” a black and white version who talks like a Micky Spillane character?    John Mulaney as “Spider Ham”, such a Bugs Bunny variant that they have to discuss whether they are violating Warner Brothers  copyright?) work. Each has their own tone, own look, own feel. And It isn’t just a gimmick: it all comes together thematically, amid visuals so psychedelic that you’d expect them to sell hash brownies at the concession stand.

 

Wow.  Just…wow.   Really amazing, Spider Man.   Well done.   Instantly in the upper echelon of superhero films, and if you have any childhood left in your heart, one of the best movies of the year.

 

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And now…let’s dive deeper.    Trigger Warning for anti-BLM types.   You probably won’t enjoy this much.

 

Last Night, I watched the light go back on in my son Jason’s eyes.    Allow me to explain.

 

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Just yesterday, I watched the teaser trailer for “Avengers 4.  `Infinity War: Endgame’.  It looked intense and spectacular, but I felt no thrill at all.  I haven’t felt a thrill for a Marvel trailer since the end of the first Infinity War, where I saw the light go out in my son’s eyes.

 

Jason has ADHD, and a bit of trouble identifying with characters in movies.    I never had that problem, even when I noticed that characters who looked like me tended to die.  I still remember, clearly, the day I put a label on that observation. It was the movie DAMNATION ALLEY, where George Peppard, Jan-Michael Vincent, and Paul Winfield were traveling across a nuclear wasteland in an atomic powered Winnebago.  I was watching it with a white friend of mine,   up in Hollywood. So there’s a scene where they come to the ruins of (I think it was) Las Vegas. And out of the ashes walks the (apparently) Last Woman In The World.  And…she’s white.

 

I had an intuitive flash.  Turning to my friend,  I whispered “oh my God. They’re going to kill Paul Winfield.”

 

“Why would you say that?” he whispered back.

“Well, they’re not going to pretend he’s not interested in her. And they’re not going to let him compete for her. The only option they have is to kill him.”

 

“Jesus,” he said, disbelieving.    “Do you have to be so cynical about race all the time?”

 

And…five minutes later Winfield got eaten by giant cockroaches.  Dan was kinda quiet after that, but  insisted that was a lucky guess on my part.

 

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What did I learn from that moment?

  1. That filmmakers will kill off the only black character(s) in a film quite blithely. There is NO American film in which all white characters die, if any POC survive at all. But I’ve listed over sixty movies where all black characters, or all black male adult characters, die.  Often to protect white people.  Often to inspire them to become heroes.  Sob sob.  (And yes, chances are that I’ve seen whatever movie you think breaks that rule.    A “character” is someone with a line of dialogue.  You’ve almost certainly forgotten that in whatever movie you THINK all the white characters die, there was indeed another character.  Maybe he wasn’t white enough for you, but he was there IMO.)
  2. That sexual competition is a trigger.  This makes sense, as the only human drive as strong as individual survival is species or genetic survival.  What you see onscreen is the externalization of a fantasy, the natural human urge to believe that you, and by extension your tribe,
  3. That white moviegoers generally won’t notice it has happened.   They “don’t notice” when all the black characters die, or die to protect them, or to motivate them to mighty actions.  And watching them reel off movie after movie where they THOUGHT the opposite happened just to watch me shoot them down has been an amusement, but in the era of BLM it is just sad.   Yes, it happens. No, it isn’t just “Hollywood.”  If the audiences didn’t weep and feel ennobled or invigorated by “The Green Mile” or “The Unforgiven” or “Spartacus” or “Terminator 2” the trope wouldn’t exist.

 

Black audiences notice, though.  I remember being about Jason age, about 14, just forming my self image, and going to see such movies.  Maybe it was “The Dirty Dozen.”    When I got back home, raving about it, the other black kids in my neighborhood asked me a terrible question:  “how did they kill the brother this time?”

 

Oh, yes. They’d noticed.  And I didn’t have an answer for them. Didn’t even formulate my thoughts on the subject until “Damnation Alley.”    It was real. It was a fantasy of extinction and primacy.   I’ve seen a couple of movies in which all the white characters die: they were Asian films.   “Chinese Connection” is a good example, and the death of “Russian” karate expert Robert Baker at Bruce Lee’s hands was clearly an expression of hostility, resentment for China’s occupation by foreign powers.  “We are not sick men!” Bruce snarled, and Hong Kong audiences went berserk–remember, they were still a British Colony at the time.  That inferiority complex vented itself in an image of throat-chopping death.

 

One is tempted to wonder what fear, what guilt, what pale inner need drives the need for American audiences to see such things. Or believe that black people love to die protecting them, or to ennoble them.   A desperate need, one suspects.  But…that’s another subject.

 

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Jason had noticed this. About the time he watched his fifth “X-Men” movie, he noticed that ALL the black men die. Not one has survived in the entire series.  Frankly, “Logan” was their last chance with me, and in that one they killed the entire family.  “Why do they always kill the black people?” he asked me.  And that led to a rather painful conversation.   “The Talk” applied to cinematic experience.

 

I remember loving “Spider-Man” comics as a kid.  The most famous sequence in the entire canon might just be the one where Spider-Man, Peter Parker, is trying to rescue his dying Aunt May by recovering stolen isotopes that might save her from a transfusion of HIS radioactive blood. The isotopes were stolen by eight-armed Doctor Octopus, in a 007-style underwater lair.   Doc Ock has Peter dead to rights, but the enraged Spider-Man just tears through him and his henchmen as if they are made of butterfly wings.  Wow, it was amazing to see. But the fight damages the internal supports of the lair, and Spider-Man is trapped under a huge piece of machinery as the dome cracks and spills water, the precious isotope cannister just out of reach.

 

He tries to life the machinery…and cannot. The water grows deeper. And…the issue ended.   Cliff hanger!  For a month, I wondered how he would get out of it. What brilliant strategem would he use, what clever solution would he find. I remember biking to the drug store on the fateful day to buy my comics and find out what the hell Peter Parker would do.

 

And…I’ll never forget what happened.  He tried, and failed. And was faced with the fact that his Aunt would die…because of him.  As his uncle Ben died…because of him.

 

With great power comes great responsibility. And what did Peter do? Something clever? No.  He simply decided that this was the test of his life. This was the moment he had lived for. That if he couldn’t’ do this, for the family he loved, he was unworthy of the gift.  And he went deep, DEEP into himself:  “within my body is the strength of many men!” he said, and somehow, against all odds, he hoists that Hulk-busting weight of machine onto his shoulders, and…stands up.  It was amazing.  It was a full-page image of Spider Man, his every muscle rippling and straining, lifting an impossible weight…because he had to.

 

Because there was no one else.

 

For love.

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I was stunned. That lesson, that if you had enough WHY’S the HOW’S became possible…that lesson has never left me.

 

It didn’t matter to me that Peter Parker was white.  EVERYONE in the comics was white.  I just accepted it.   It wasn’t until later, when I started pitching in Hollywood, when I started writing professionally and was told in no uncertain terms that white audiences would reject black faces, that I realized that that love and respect were not reciprocated.   That there was something so obvious that I hadn’t let myself see it: the more you identify with a character as being ‘like you’ the easier it is to empathize with their struggles, and feel their victory as your own.

 

These were images of power, beauty, heroism, intelligence and moral clarity that cultures all over the world understand their children NEED.  And give to them in stories, comics, movies, songs, plays, and every other form.  24/7.   365.   Turn on any television and flip the channels a bit and you’ll see such images.  When I was a kid there were NONE that looked like me.   It is better now, much better.

 

But Jason had still noticed. And it made him blasé about movies.   Why identify with a black character if that character had increased risk of death?  And how do you identify with a white character if you suspect, on some level, that that character wouldn’t identify with you?

 

There is a scene in TUSKEEGEE AIRMEN where Laurence Fishburne asks:  “what do I feel about my country? And how does my country feel about me?”

 

I’d hoped that if I could work hard enough, strong enough, long enough, I could change the world enough that my son wouldn’t go through the existential pain I had suffered, realizing that the filmmakers and audience apparently ENJOYED fantasizing about his death.

 

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There were plenty of black characters in early Marvel movies: Fury, Falcon, War Machine, and so on.   They were fun.  REALLY enjoyed seeing them.   But the first time Black Panther appeared in “Civil War” something electric happened in the air.  This was different. He wasn’t in a chain of command, controlled by white people.  He hadn’t had his ancestral name stripped away. He knew his history, his spirituality. T’Challa didn’t follow some white guy’s orders, HE WAS A KING. And when he kissed his father’s ring there was a level of love between two black men I’d not seen in a film before. Contrast with the mess Tony Stark was about HIS father. With half a BILLION dollars in therapy and the remove of decades, he was still more shattered than T’Challa was mere days after cradling his father’s corpse in his arms.   And it didn’t end there. When Florence Kasimba faced down Black Widow saying “Move.  Or be moved” black women in the audience, even if they weren’t comic book fans, screamed “YES!!”

 

Remember the “No Man’s Land” sequence in “Wonder Woman”?  Over and over I heard women say: “I didn’t even know I needed to see that.” And I heard a LOT of guys saying “what’s the big deal?”  They didn’t get it.  Why should they?  They’d seen COUNTLESS images like that to nurture their own inner hero. Yawn. It was just one more.

 

To understand the impact of “Black Panther” you would have to imagine an entire movie composed of “No Man’s Land” sequences. There had never been anything like this before. It was something every other group of human beings on the planet have…except black Americans: a creation myth that connects them directly to the divine.  It was MYTHIC.   Bless Disney for giving Ryan Coogler the room and resources to do something no one had ever done. And as DJANGO UNCHAINED producer Reggie Hudlin put it: BP made “all the money.”

 

Yes it did.  Bless its pointy little ears.

 

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Jason saw Black Panther, and I saw the light go on in his eyes. The same light I had felt watching Spider-Man lift that piece of machinery, half a century ago.    He was EXCITED.  And then we went to see INFINITY WAR.

 

And Heimdall was the first person to die. And they killed Falcon, and T’Challa after disgracing the kingdom of Wakanda with the weakest and most unfocused defense I’d ever seen.   Only the disabled War Machine survived, a man who is totally owned by a white guy, who didn’t create his own technology, and frankly would not be considered sexual competition, spinal damage being what it is.    And then the crowing insult…after a multiple movie absence, they brought back Nick Fury in the “stinger”…ONLY TO KILL HIM.

 

I was stunned.  Don’t tell me this was random distribution.  ALL the original (and white) Avengers survived. Every one.  Do I have to wonder if all the decision makers, all the core producers, writers, directors were pale? That it never occurred to them how it would feel to a boy with few superhero role models to watch that massacre?

 

Of course I know most of them are coming back. Don’t insult my intelligence.  A number of readers pointed that out to me, and I wonder if they really didn’t think I knew that.  Predictably, most of those are people who have expressed antipathy toward BLM and “taking a knee”.

 

Jason, born into a world of Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin, watched those Infinity War images.  I watched his face. Saw the light, kindled by Black Panther, go out in his eyes.

 

In the real world AND the “reel”world, his life was not as precious.  He was surrounded by people who could judge, jail, fire, exclude, or even kill him in real life or fantasy.  And worse, if he said something about it, his white friends would in essence tell him “why are you so racially paranoid?”

 

I can see how much the world has changed.   Jason has not. And in sitting down and explaining that no, it isn’t worse than ever. No, things really have improved.  No, white people aren’t evil. They are just…human I realized how very much I’d hoped I wouldn’t have to have that conversation with him. You know, like the one to move slowly and keep your hands in plain sight and NEVER argue if you are pulled over by a cop.

 

It was heart-breaking. And it broke the “magic” I felt with Marvel films.  It was a sense that I couldn’t trust them. That I KNEW, and no one could tell me different, that if the filmmakers had been diverse that they wouldn’t have kept either T’Challa or Fury alive, and had a better defense of Wakanda.   Hell, Captain America threw together a better defense of New York in about thirty seconds, and Wakanda had had YEARS to prepare.  It was a disgrace.  It was contempt: the filmmakers didn’t’ really believe in these people, these characters.   Wakanda was just a neat place to stage a massacre.

 

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Which brings me, at last, to “Spider Man: Into the Spider Verse.”   Jason broke his ankle nine days ago, and he’s been laid up, only leaving the house to go to the hospital.  He didn’t want to leave yesterday. But…we bribed and cajoled him, renting a wheelchair so that he wouldn’t need crutches, and drove him 27 miles to Burbank for the sneak preview.

 

And…the instant he saw Miles Morales, a kid as dark as him, with hair like him, with similar hopes and dreams and humor…I watched Jason, who had been in terrible pain for a week, SURRENDER TO THE FANTASY.

 

And when Miles began to discover his powers…Jason was smiling. Leaning forward.  And when the “other” Spider men appeared, he laughed and cheered.  And when Miles suffered loss, there was a tear in Jason’s eye. And when Miles finally tapped into his full powers, unleashing Spider-Hell on the omnipotent Kingpin, Jason was grinning from ear to ear. THE LIGHT WENT BACK ON IN HIS EYES.

 

For a little while, he wasn’t a kid with a broken leg.  He was SPIDER MAN.  Swinging from the rooftops, a hero, a kid like him.  For just a moment, he had no limitations, and the weight of his pain was off his shoulders.  For a moment…the world was right, and beautiful.

 

That moment lasted all the drive home.   Until bedtime. The happy smiles.  The tiny crack in the armor around his heart.

 

And the final message of the movie was incredibly subversive in the world that fed Paul Winfield to the roaches, that executed an innocent black man in  The Green Mile so that Tom Hanks could have a better erection.  It was: we are all heroes.  We all can wear the mask.  It is what is in our hearts, not on our skin or between our legs.   It is what we feel, and do, not how others see us.

 

I’m not sure I can tell you how much I would have given to see BLACK PANTHER when I was fourteen. How much it would have changed my life.   But INTO THE SPIDER VERSE is another example of what my wife and I call “movies from the other world.”  A world in which people don’t have to pretend not to mind when they die for the entertainment of people who do not cherish their lives.

 

It is a movie from the future. No…it is a movie of NOW.  We are still haunted by the ghosts of what has been.  But increasingly, and blessedly, the cycles are moving faster now, such that an INFINITY WAR is followed by a crowd-pleasing juggernaut of a film, 100% on Rotten Tomatoes as of yesterday, one that ALL audiences can cheer…that just happens to have a 14 year old Afro-Latino  kid named Miles Morales at the center.

 

I’ll take my victories where I can find them.  And today, I feel like a hero.  And more importantly…so does my son.

 

Thank you Sony. Thank you Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. There is a reason I’ve loved Marvel all my life: there is something at the core of that primal dream that has led to things like Black Panther…and Miles Morales…and even little Spider-Ham.

 

I’ve gone on long enough.   Go see it.   And as Spider-Ham would say…that’s all folks.

 

 

Namaste

Steve

www.afrofuturismwebinar.com

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VOTE! And how to spot sleepers and snakes…

I try to avoid politics when I can, but “what is true?” is more a matter of the philosophical.   As today is voting day, I see no rational reason any American shouldn’t stake out their position, so I will.

 

There are many issues concerning America right now, but it is said that the most important issue in this election for Democrats is health care.  It is such a partisan issue, like many others. But here, at least, (unlike racial and gender issues, immigration or even climate change)  I believe that there is something very close to black-and-white clarity.     More than any others, less room for honest debate on the core statistics (even if there IS room for discussion about what should be done with them)  and I suggest it can be used as a standard, a litmus test of clarity, honesty, and degree of politicized brain-freeze.

Here’s my notion: IF you believe these stats are as clear as I do, then beware of anyone who tries to twist that truth, confuse that reality.  They CANNOT be trusted on issues with less clarity.

 

We’ll look at the major arguments generally offered in public, repeating some things I said just a few days ago.   Repetition is the mother of skill, and this is too damned important not to hammer it in a bit:

 

 

  • Universal Health Care produces inferior results.

 

 

To those who wonder if UHC is superior to private insurance, the stats are clear.

The World Health Organization uses lifespan and infant mortality to measure the health of a people.  Let’s simplify and stick with the first: Lifespan.  Here, the U.S. ranks 26th, and EVERYONE ahead of us has UHC.  So anyone who says it “doesn’t work” will try to distract you from those numbers. Don’t let them.  Hold onto them, because there will be a torrent of rhetorical distraction.

 

Let’s zero in on one country, close to us geographically and demographically. Canada.  Not precise, of course: what is?  But its just across the border, and frankly, when I’ve been there, if I hadn’t known I was out of the U.S. it would take me some time to realize it.  And another simple statistic: Average life span is 82 years to the U.S.’s 79.

 

People will tell you that we’d do better statistically if not for those pesky minorities and poor people, who apparently WANT to die. Want their children to die.  Rip off the mask of that argument: just what the hell are they really saying?   Don’t argue with them, just let them tell you who they really are.  Decide if that is who and what YOU want to be.

 

 

  • UHC is too expensive.  We can’t afford it.

 

 

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) believes Canada spent approximately $228 billion on health care in 2016. That’s 11.1 per cent of Canada’s entire GDP and $6,299 for every Canadian resident. 

 

U.S. health care spending grew 4.3 percent in 2016, reaching $3.3 trillion or $10,348 per person. As a share of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for 17.9 percent.

 

Please look at those numbers.  They are clear.   It is NOT more expensive for the country.

Anyone who uses either of those arguments is, IMO, either asleep, or a snake.

 

Here’s a bonus: “Obamacare didn’t deliver these numbers. It won’t work in America.”

 

Yeah, well, Obamacare wasn’t UHC.  It was the closest anyone had been able to get in a half-century of struggle, a spavined camel compared to the sleek race-horse of single payer. The tactic was pretty clear: make it impossible to get to UHC, then act as if the Frankenstein patchwork that COULD get through the legislature represents what people really wanted.     If you don’t grasp the difference, I have to suspect you don’t WANT to.

 

That’s not to say there are not legitimate arguments.   There are several I can think of offhand:

 

  1. What IS true is that the money will be shifted from the private to the public sector.
  2. It is also true that there will be individuals whose very specific circumstances might not be as well served by public as private policies. These will need special insurance “riders” which might well increase their expense.    But OVERALL, for the average citizen expenses go down. Way down.
  3. You might simply say: “I don’t want my money going to help other people.”  I can understand this, and have a certain degree of empathy for it.  It is at least honest. Very few people will actually say this directly. Usually they will say it is too expensive, or doesn’t work.  In other words…distort the truth for personal or political gain.  My attitude is that government spends money on LOTS of things I’ve not approved of, including military actions that killed tens of thousands of people.  I live with that as a cost of living in a democracy. You can’t expect me to be more upset about you
  4. You might say that you are afraid of government overreach.  Too much power in too few hands.

 

As long as they are aware of the stats, and admit to them, this conversation is actually a useful one, as is the discussion of whether health care fits into the “Promote the general welfare” thingie.  That can be an honest, heartfelt conversation between awake, aware human beings who differ on some basic questions of life and society, but are committed to communication and inquiry into the truth. THOSE people I have little problem with, and think we can work this out together.

 

But people I know and love have DIED after a lifetime of working and paying taxes, for fear of medical bills.  I’m not prepared to compromise on this.  I will discuss with honest people who are aware. Sleepers and snakes need not apply.  And remember: there are monsters lurking.

 

Again: if you believe as I do that these basic stats are important and valid, then note the people who argue, try to confuse them, deny, try to argue about what the meaning of “is” is.  Sleepers and snakes.  Do NOT trust them on more complex issues if they can’t communicate clearly and honestly on simpler ones. They will simply try to drag you into deep water and drown you with irrelevancies.

And once again: VOTE!!

 

Namaste,

Steve

Sunday Morning Musings: The “Three Gates” and UHC and Quasi-Living Things

Sunday morning musing time.   Its fun being a science fiction writer.  I can string together ideas and see if they fit, in the context of internal logic rather than convincing anyone that something is “actually real”.  And a flow of notions this morning connected in an interesting way.

 

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This will connect with some basic notions: you’ll spot them as we go along, but they include

 

  1. The “three gates” of speech:

Is it true?

Is it useful?

Is it kind?

 

  1. The notion of human equality between groups defined by race and gender
  2. A wilder notion, something called “Big Body Heuristics”: that the actions of large organizations are best understood as if they are demi-lifeforms with dim consciousness and survival motivations.

 

Let’s have fun.

 

 

I think I see a cluster of exaggerations that one side thinks kind, and the other side finds useful.  It involves UHC, Universal Health Care.  Something that the Left says works just fine everywhere in the world but here, and the Right says “it doesn’t work” and “it is too expensive.”

 

I think we can put the raw facts out pretty easily:  Let’s compare the U.S. and Canada, shall we?

 

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) believes Canada spent approximately $228 billion on health care in 2016. That’s 11.1 per cent of Canada’s entire GDP and $6,299 for every Canadian resident.

 

U.S. health care spending grew 4.3 percent in 2016, reaching $3.3 trillion or$10,348 per person. As a share of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for 17.9 percent.

 

 

People who say “we can’t afford it” wouldn’t’ seem to be looking at the same numbers.   They also can’t say “it doesn’t work, as the relative life spans of Canada and the U.S. are 82 and 79.  The World Health Organization considers longevity and infant mortality to be the most basic indicators of a country’s health.   Beware of people who try to complicate or distract from this.

 

 

What’s the problem, then?

 

I think that the main problem with UHC is that the Left doesn’t want to say “your taxes will go up” and the Right  doesn’t want to say “I don’t want my money spent to help strangers stay well.

 

There is a…shall we way “clarity gap”  because the raw stats show very clearly that it is more efficient and effective for producing the core indicators of health, and cheaper per capita. But…there is a shift of money spent from the private to the public arena.  THAT is definitely true.

 

So…people confuse the truth.

 

Your taxes will go up…but your expenditures will go down, on average.   THAT would seem to be the truth.

 

Government would get bigger (assuming nothing else shifted) so the “government can’t do anything right” people are of course up in arms.   Note that they have to ignore a raft of evidence from around the world that UHC  gets better results.     Usually they will counter with anecdotal, or mention some specific disease where people are better served by private insurance. They’d HAVE to exist, just like there are living cells in that hamburger you just ate.    But keep your eyes on the ball: longevity and infant mortality. Watch them argue about what the definition of “is” is. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.

 

So…Cui bono?  Who benefits from the confusion?

 

Let’s see…there would be some on either side. I’ll try to present what I see as the possibilities with as little editorializing as possible. I can’t deny I have a perspective, but I’ll try to be as objective as possible.  I DO start with the assumption that the statistics offered are roughly accurate. They can be checked very easily, which is an advantage. NO ONE WHO DENIES THESE BASIC STATISTICS could possibly agree with what follows, so your opinions are predictable and IMO irrelevant to the discussion.

 

Why might someone deliberately distort the truth?

 

  1. Left: people who want UHC and are willing to twist the truth to get better health care.
  2. Left: people who want government to grow larger.
  3. Right: People who don’t believe the statistics, and believe that UHC is less effective or more expensive for a nation.
  4. Right: People who don’t want their tax dollars spent in this way, for “those” people.
  5. Right: People afraid of larger government
  6. Right: People afraid that their specific health needs will be less effectively treated in such a system.   The cost of taxes PLUS a health rider policy might reasonably be higher than the cost of a basic private policy alone.  This is not an hallucination, and is an honorable objection IMO.

 

All of these have to do with “people”. What individual human beings desire and fear. But…there are other entities involved.  And here is where we veer into SF territory.

 

View “Governments” and “Corporations” as demi-life forms, large and complex enough to have quasi-consciousness but certainly the “desire” to survive and grow.  Each contains the same human beings (consider them like “cells” in the overall body) and each is ideal (IMO) for different aspects of human life.

 

But…they both cooperate, and are in competition. In some ways, deadly competition. Private industries seem better for almost any consumer desires and products, governments better at infrastructures and critical services.    Governments put limitations on Corporations through laws and taxes…and Corporations feed the notion of deregulation and distrust of governments through donations to political groups and advertising.

 

Oh, it’s fun to watch.  I do remember listening to Communists talking about how all the industry should be under the control of government. They seemed unreasoning fanatics to me.  Now I hear people talking about how government can’t do ANYTHING right, and THEY sound just the same: unreasoning fanatics.  Of course, as you modify that POV, you get more and more reasonable: a debate about which form of organization is better for what result at what time by what standards is perfectly fine.

 

But beware of people who enter the discussion with that “government can’t do anything!” attitude.  Treat them like Communists or Flat Earthers and I think you’ll be safest.

 

Look for the real arguments under the lies: yeah, taxes will go up.  But overall expenditures will go down.  Look for the people who understand that, and   obfuscate.

 

And ask yourself: what is the future of our culture? Our species?  Our planet?  What do you consider the basic social contract?  Speak of that honestly, without lying. The truth is enough. If we speak the truth, we will, I believe, come to the best decisions.

 

Unless…you look down on the “common man”.  Think that there is a hierarchy of value and capacity that prevents Democracy from working, or even a Democratic Republic from really functioning.  This is definitely the “nature” side of the argument. It will rarely speak its truth, as some of the conclusions are things we’ve decided are anathema to the dream of America.  There is a toxic aspect to the other side as well: the notion that everyone should get equal results.    On a group level dealing with race and ethnicity, I agree that with a level playing field you will get roughly equal results.    On an individual level…not so much.  And if you believe that it would be equal, even for all individuals, then the force of Government to bring that to life would be oppressive and toxic.

 

OF course, there are people who believe a level playing field would bring equal results, AND DON’T WANT THAT.    They want that nice advantage.  They just won’t say it out loud.

 

And there are others who just don’t believe that ‘those’ people are equal. They will generally hide that behind defining equality as social, or legal, or “in the eyes of God” or “I treat people as individuals.”   That’s fine. And many of them are fine, moral people.    But watch out for those phrases, and be aware of what is hiding behind them.

 

And be aware that when an organization of any kind grows to a certain size, its actions might best be interpreted as those of an organism: hungry, growing.  And at a larger size, with sophisticated communication…one might wonder if its actions might be considered those of an organism developing a central nervous system…or even awareness.

 

The tobacco industry certainly looked out for itself rather than its customers.

 

Those who believe in AGW would certainly consider that the petroleum industry seems to be more interested in its own survival than that of human beings (short sighted, yes. But I didn’t say that demi-organism was smart)

 

And the Insurance Industry, seeing its power threatened would certainly (from that odd quasi-life form perspective) join with other corporations looking to suppress the power of the only “life” form on the planet which rivals and controls it.  “Smart” enough to support the political/philosophical positions that fear government.  Enough to get people to ignore relatively simple statistics, and vote against their own best interests.

 

But that’s just morning musing, just asking what perspectives make sense of different events.  Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed. Not just between different groups of human beings, but between human and non-human entities.

 

Its fun being a science fiction novelist. I don’t have to convince people of anything except: “Isn’t this a fun story?”

 

Well….isn’t it fun?

 

 

Namaste

Steve

www.geeksguidetosoulmates.com

Halloween (2018) and “Toxic Humanity”

There is a terrific scene in the new “Halloween” film where three generations of Strode women: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, and Andi Matichak) face off against “The Shape” Michael Meyers.

 

(SERIOUS SPOILERS)

 

The set-up is devastatingly simple: traumatized by the events in the original film, Laurie Strode (Curtis) has become a neurotic, agoraphobic recluse, convinced that Meyers will return to kill her one day, and sacrificing the love and warmth of her family to attempt to protect them and prepare them for the danger to come.  She has become a “gun nut”, obsessed with barriers and traps and the nearness of death.

 

Her daughter Karen (Greer) wants nothing to do with her, and her grand-daughter Aliyison (Matichak) would like to be the bridge between mother and grandmother.    When Meyers escapes custody and comes after them, the reality that Mom was right the whole time hits   like a ton of bricks. When   Karen and   Aliyson are trapped in the basement, Michael battering his way in, Karen grabs a rifle in a desperate attempt to protect her daughter and her own life…and the pressure breaks her.

 

It is an awful scene. This is her dying place, these cold walls and dark shadows her tomb.  She has let down her daughter, who will die under Michael’s knife.   She has heard of the horror, of this implacable hellish, soul-less creature her entire life and mocked the concept…and now it is here.

 

Death itself, is here.   She looks into what Dr. Loomis called “The Devil’s Eyes” and sees no mercy, no hope, nothing but her own ending, and the abyss sucks her in.

 

Even with a rifle in her hands, she screams that she can’t do it. She calls for her Mommy, paralyzed with terror.

 

Michael, the predator that he is, knows she is helpless, comes for her and…

 

She shoots him BOOM.  She was faking!   And what follows is one of the most satisfying sequences in horror film, as three generations of Strodes stand up to this terror, (at least temporarily) destroying it, and in the process healing their shattered family.  Wow.

 

 

The audience I saw it with went NUTS at the basement scene!  THAT was one of the great moments of horror cinema.   She was luring him in with the illusion of weakness, where in reality the training, her fear for her life, and her commitment to saving her daughter has actually moved her totally OUT  of illusion, and into a savage reality:

 

Women can and have protected themselves throughout all history. And throughout the animal kingdom.

 

Female “weakness” is an illusion, a game, an agreement between male and female that works great for producing more grandchildren, but is not based in biological or psychological reality.   Are males stronger, larger, more explosively powerful? Yes.  Does that mean females cannot defend themselves?

 

No.

 

There is an expression: “it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”  And a woman fighting not just for her own life but the life of her child is about as dangerous, pound for pound, as a human being can be AS LONG AS SHE STAYS OUT OF THE SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED ILLUSION.  Get out of her head. Get into her heart, and her body instincts.

 

If you step back and look at the game of male and female, it is arguable  that deep in prehistory the human race decided to play a game: females would pretend to be weaker more timid than they were, males would pretend to be stronger and braver than THEY really were.  The goal?  Produce maximum grandchildren via specialization.

 

And it had advantages and disadvantages for both sides.  The thought that “women’s ambitions and men’s lives were disposable” comes to mind.    Arguably, the human race, post-industrialization, birth control, the invention of firearms and overpopulation, has entered a new era, one in which we can question those gender roles and actually shift them if we choose.  This is new. And…the good news is that this change is actually good for both sides.

 

All that is required for this change is to awaken from the illusion.   To do this, start with the assumption of equality (with some inevitable reproductive complementarity).  It can be difficult because of all the politics, but just as with racial issues, if you START with an assumption of equality between groups, understanding that societies exaggerate the differences for its own purposes (mainly genetic or tribal survival), then “waking up” frees us.    If you stop needing to project guilt, blame and shame and instead ask: “how did we get here, if we are basically equal across gender and racial lines?” all of the answers will come, and WITHOUT demonizing either side.  Stop the war.   We have done the best we could as a species, and now we have the chance to do better. A chance to step into a new future that is rooted in our distant past, but builds upon it to create new options.

 

I ask you seriously, guys: when you saw Karen blow Michael Meyers away (well…or at least wound him. You know how these immortal monsters are!) didn’t that turn you on, just a little?  I can’t imagine a healthy male who would want a weak woman.  Could such a woman protect his children?  Protect HIM if he was sick or wounded?  Don’t you want the strongest life partner you can possibly find?

 

And I ask you, ladies: when you saw that, didn’t you cheer?  Didn’t you feel that that was YOU , given the right situation, the right motivations?  And what would you think of a man who looked at that and cheered? And was turned on by the notion that you could stand at his side, utterly female but utterly capable of defending your children, no matter what it took?

 

This isn’t a salvo in the gun control debate.  Stop the politics, just for a moment. We’re talking about primal survival, the creation of young, one of the primary drivers of human sexuality.  And ALL animals have the means of self-protection and the internal permission to fight for their lives.   WEAKNESS IS AN ILLUSION.    POWER IS SEXY.   That power can manifest as various forms of intelligence, drive, self-confidence, skill, talent, calm, balance and so forth, but except for BADLY wounded people and predators, weakness is NOT attractive.

 

I recently met with one of the producers of “Halloween,”  who  chuckled when I mentioned that Michael Meyers could be seen as an avatar of Toxic Masculinity.  Unstoppable, violent, dominating.   But that would only be half the puzzle, because the other half would be Toxic Femininity: pretending to be weak, begging for help she didn’t need,  thrusting the protective energy (Curtis) out to the hinterlands to harden the heart and then blame it for the very sacrifices that keep the home safe.

 

The path forward is for BOTH sides to awaken.  To end a “war” that has lasted tens of thousands of years.  Which once served a very real purpose which it may well have outlived   It will not be easy, because partisans on both sides are convinced the illusion is real. But there are massive rewards for those who can shake off that fantasy and embrace a new and better world.

 

And one of those rewards is the ability to love BOTH the male and female aspects of ourselves.  And therefore…each other. And the path is to connect to the child self, to commit to the protection of hat helpless one at any cost. From there, we can see we must harness everything within us, every drop of compassion and love, which then spins into a total commitment to protect and smashes the illusions.

 

We can be more. We can be free. We can love ourselves, and understand our world, and embrace each other as we walk this journey called life.

 

The answer, as always, is love.

 

 

Be kind to yourself…and love each other

Steve

 

www.geeksguidetosoulmates.com

Can’t have it both ways

I had a recent FB conversation with a gentleman  who defended Confederate statues and memorials, and insisted that they were appropriate.  I do believe I understand his position.      But if he simultaneously claims to be a greater ally of black people, with more respect for us, than those opposed to the maintenance of those statues, I can only conclude that he is either asleep, or a snake.  If he would make the same argument to a Jew about a statue of Goebbels, he is at least consistent, and I can respect consistency.   But he cannot, with a straight face, claim to be more of an ally to Jews than those who side with Jews about such things.

 

And I cannot think of a reason a black person should respect the Confederacy more than a Jew respects the Nazis. I just…can’t.

 

And if your mind goes immediately to the question of “is it appropriate to have such statues?” you are looking at the wrong part of the question.  The right part is to look at the relative compositions of the groups that say “yes” and “no.”   That is the tribe you have chosen, and while I wish you well there, there is a serious difference.   Consider yourself right, better, smarter…that’s fine. But you can’t do that and simultaneously claim that you respect us more than the people who respect our judgement and perspective on the matter.

 

You simply cannot have it both ways.

 

Namaste

Steve

A Pair of Questions

 

I would like some help from the readers. ONLY those who believe in human equality will be able to answer this question.  But I won’t forbid others from trying.

##

My perspective is that there is parity between races and genders in terms of mentation and morality.  A fascinating series of conclusions can be drawn about history and current events if one sticks to this…and it is HARD.  The drive to believe “our tribe” is superior is so strong that few can really resist it.  Sometimes I think it is more common to find people who denigrate their own group than those who really delve into the implications of equality.  Another subject.

 

Racism is probably easier: it is more extreme, as one tribe really CAN wipe out another, while men and women co-evolved and have to get along.  Racism would here be defined as the attribution of differential capacity and worth between racial or ethnic groups.

 

Given this definition, the following question is primo for revealing racism:     “Given the same history, would whites have been as damaged by slavery, and complained about it as long?”  The balancing question:   “Given the same history, would blacks have been as cruel and oblivious as white slave-masters, and clung to racism as long?”

 

And yep, things are better these days. When I was a kid, I found a copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica that just stated straight-up that whites were the smartest, followed by Asians, with black people bringing up the rear. That was just the status quo, and people didn’t even question the belief..  And I can trace this dehumanizing attitude to everything from life spans to incarceration rates to BLM and the last act of INFINITY WAR. Yeah, I went there.

##

Sexism would be defined similarly, I think.  Perhaps “the attribution of differential worth or mental/moral capacity between genders.”  This is more problematic, because (for instance) reproductively, an individual woman IS more valuable.  This led to an entire chain of emergent behaviors and social decisions over tens of thousands of years.  Only in the 20th Century did we finally disrupt this, and I think that disruption was a combination of industrialization, firearms, overcrowding, and effective birth control.   We have a very different situation now, and are working through different questions, largely: the social attitudes and priorities men and women have held for thousands of years have changed.  If we awaken from the illusions that have driven us…what next for humanity?  Other than a LOT more gay people in the future, I’m not sure.   But one conclusion I draw is that neither men nor women have “been in control” of the world.  Our genes have been in control, with the following notion: “women’s dreams and men’s lives are disposable” not exactly crazy.  All that really mattered was producing the maximum grandchildren, and what we as individuals wanted or needed, other than this priority, was irrelevant.

 

We can change that.   All of that.   But IMO  one thing we have to do is identify sexism the way we have identified racism. And that means the hidden stuff, and the ways it manifests on either side of the gender divide.

 

Here is what I’m asking:   Is there a question, or a pair of questions, that reveal sexism the way those other questions reveal racism?   I DON’T KNOW. Not sure.    But whatever it is, there will be matching questions for men and women.   It will assume equality of worth and capacity (with some allowance for complementarity due to reproductive priorities), and will probably be a little embarrassing for both sides.

 

What might those questions be?  I’m asking your help.

 

Namaste

Steve
http://www.morningwriters.com

Equality or Bust

I talk about faith-based arguments. That’s because at the core, any argument dealing with the nature of human beings cannot be totally proven with logical, deductive reasoning. Ultimately, there is an element of “best guess” involved. People decide on a position, see if their world fits from that perspective, and usually then go on with their lives.

When it comes to this arena, in both race and gender, I find that starting with the assumption of equality produces fewer errors…and less horrific ones. Without thinking that everything can always be logically understood from that position…that is the hil I’m prepared to die on,  at least partially because the results of the other position have caused unspeakable grief to millions, right here in America. I won’t give aid and comfort to that toxic stew. This is why yesterday I asked specifically: “Has anything that I’ve ever said about either issue been incompatible with equality?”  Because if there was, I’d want to know it, see it, and hammer at it to see if I can disprove it.

 

No one mentioned anything directly.  However, I saw something interesting: there were a couple of people who disagreed with some of my past and present conclusions. That’s fine. But you know what?   In either case it seemed to me, based on past discussions, that these were people who struggle to believe in equality.  It’s a reverse discrimination thing: they are afraid their OWN group are the crazier, less moral and worthy ones.

 

Which led me to a suspicion, one I will test over the coming months: I suspect that what I’m saying ONLY makes sense if you start with equality as a basic assumption.  And that’s tough.  As the song goes, “everybody wants to rule the world.”   “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”  (Note: I didn’t say: “if you believe in equality you will accept my conclusions.”  I said “to accept my conclusions, you must believe in equality.”  Not the same statements.  All X are Y, but not all Y are X.)

 

Black people are as likely to consider themselves superior as white people. Women as likely to consider themselves superior as men.  Whatever percentage of “The Other” you consider, at the core, evil or stunted…look in the mirror.

 

In both cases, MOST cases, it is hidden behind smiles, PC talk, euphemisms and distractions.   But its there.  And it is natural. And toxic.  And wants to point the finger and claim that the poison is in the OTHER guy, so that they don’t have to clean up their own puke.  “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

 

Cleaning your own house isn’t hard. So just redefine the words and point your finger, and there you go.

 

So…warning.  I don’t buy that, won’t play that.   I honestly believe I see something that has been in a cultural/social blind spot for thousands of years, something that can open the doors to a new way for human beings to relate to each other.  But ONLY people willing to come from a position of equality will see what I’m saying.    That’s o.k.  There are enough of us.

 

If I am correct about this (and of course I may not be), it is huge.  What an amazing species we are, really.   I’ll be sharing my thoughts.  Already started.  It will get more intense, and it will be fascinating to watch and see who “gets it” and who doesn’t.  I won’t try to convince anyone, but will be willing to explain my position. Those who agree will agree. Those who don’t…I ask them to dig down and see if I’m right: that on a deep, core level, you really don’t believe we’re equal, even if you give lip service to it.

 

And friends…if you don’t?  You are playing the same game as the others who don’t, whether or not they are elevating or castigating ‘their own’ team.  IT DOESN’T MATTER.  It’s the same error.

 

And leads off the same cliff.

 

 

Namaste

Steve

www.morningwriters.com

Totally FREE Webinar: Crowdfunding your movie!

You’ve been studying Black Horror and screenwriting– now it’s time to learn how to crowdfund your short film or web series. Check out our panel of experts to learn the good, the bad and the ugly of raising the money to bring your work to the screen – and why it’s important to create your own film/TV projects. This webinar is one of your FREE extras for signing up for The Sunken Place.

Here’s your registration link: https://events.genndi.com/register/169105139238449714/aa4d4c8db3

Here are Saturday’s panelists:

Xavier Burgin

Xavier Burgin is a Sundance Lab Fellow, an HBO Short Film Finalist, a part of the Ryan Murphy Television Half Foundation, and one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business for 2017. Xavier’s filmography has been accepted in The American Black Film Festival, HBO Short Film Competition, Raindance Film Festival, Urbanworld Film Festival, Anchorage Film Festival, and many more. Xavier is a fellow of The Sundance Institute’s Youtube New Voices Lab where his web-series, Lame Lance, was one of eleven projects selected. Xavier shadowed on the set of American Horror Story as a member of the RMTV Half Foundation, a diversity directing program created by Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story, Scream Queens). (We also worked on an upcoming project that hasn’t been announced yet.)

 

M. Asli Dukan 

M. Asli Dukan is an award-winning filmmaker and visual artist who works primarily in the genres of speculative fiction as a subversive artistic and liberatory practice. She has screened at numerous film festivals around the country including, the Newark International Film Festival, the Imagenation Film and Music Festival, the Langston Hughes Film Festival and the Blackstar Film Festival. In 2017, her mixed-media, augmented-reality installation, the “Resistance Time Portal”, which centered Black radicalism in a futuristic narrative, made its debut in the Distance≠Time exhibition at the Icebox Project Space. She has been the recipient of several grants, awards and fellowships, including a 2016 Transformation Award from the Leeway Foundation, a 2016 NBPC 360 fellowship from Black Public Media, a 2018 Philadelphia Independent Media Finishing Fund and a 2018 Flaherty Seminar fellowship. In 2018, she completedResistance: the battle of philadelphia, a near-future web series about a community’s struggle against surveillance and state violence. She is in post-production on Invisible Universe, a documentary about Black creators in speculative fiction and in development on the anthology horror film based on the book, Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson. She holds an MFA from the City University of New York and currently resides in Philadelphia.

See her web series “Resistance” at https://youtu.be/WsGoVOXeGSw

Luchina Fisher 

Luchina Fisher is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. She wrote and executive produced the documentary “Birthright: A War Story” and has produced three nationally broadcast documentaries on Gladys Knight, B.B. King and the history of Title IX, as well as numerous segments for television. Her work has appeared on Discovery Health, A&E, ESPN, National Geographic Channel, ABC and in syndication. She is also the writer, director and producer of two award-winning short films.

See our short horror film, Danger Word, at www.dangerword.com

Why and how I have faith in Equality

One of my core beliefs is that the question of human equality between groups is ultimately faith-based: that you cannot perform the necessary experiments to really test the hypothesis. So that what is happening is people FEEL a reality then accept or reject information in alignment with what they wanted to believe in the first place.   It might be unconscious, but it is there.

 

One evidence: unless they are deeply depressive, almost no one believes their own group is the inferior one.  It is the most natural thing in the world to believe “we rule, you drool.”   By the time people have their intellectual and political positions formed (adulthood) it requires MASSIVE pattern interrupts to shift them.  Usually, what will happen is that some event or conversation will change their minds temporarily, but they’ll snap right back to the prior belief.  It takes something close to an ego-shattering epiphany to really change them.

 

With that assumption, I choose equality for a variety of reasons:

 

  1. It matches my personal experience of the world.
  2. It matches my research into the nature of history and humanity
  3. It requires the minimum epicycling to explain current events: there is no aspect of human life as I know it that is not explained within that position.
  4. It isn’t self-congratulatory, or self-denigrating.  It is just “human beings are like this…”
  5. It explains all human behavior more clearly than any other theory.
  6. The people who believe in inequality, without exception, strike me as ignorant of some basic social facts. In terms of racism, they rarely know many people of the Other group, and therefore have little data to extrapolate from.  They are mostly depending upon head-down intellectual models, usually provided by members of their own groups to explain why they are superior.   Often with crocodile tears, of course.
  7. Beliefs in inequality often are buttressed by advantage. If you would lose privilege, resources, self-concept, a sense of an heroic history, self-justification for failure, lose political alliances, be force to acknowledge that your group has inflicted horror on others beyond your current belief patterns…you are looking at something which would bring more pain than pleasure into their lives.   Animals don’t voluntarily increase the net amount of pain in their lives.
  8. It explains the past and present, and offers clear paths to the future.  I have zero fear that “we’ll never work this out.”   People who believe in inequality often strike me as despairing, seeing no answers.
  9. If I DIDN’T believe in equality, my conclusion wouldn’t be blacks are inferior. It would be that whites were evil and weak.  I don’t like that guy. I won’t be him.
  10. If I’m wrong…then the consequences might well be unpleasant.  Resources might be allotted that might otherwise be used better elsewhere. But if the racist is wrong…if he has supported a doctrine of differential worth when it wasn’t true?  He has been a handmaiden to horror.  At the LEAST an ally to monsters responsible directly and indirectly for death and pain and fear on an almost unimaginable level.  If I had to make a mistake…I know which mistake I’d rather make.

 

So…if you can think of something in anything I say that is inconsistent with a belief in human equality of capacity and worth across racial and ethnic groups, I’d love to hear it.  That would actually be doing me a favor.

 

If you think you know of facts in society that cannot be explained by that model, I’d be interested in one I hadn’t heard. The chance you have one of any major significance are almost nil. I’ve been chewing at this a LONG time.  On this subject, unless you have more information than I have (and yeah, I’ll look at your FB photos and laugh if you don’t actually know many black folks), or can convince me you’re smarter than me (which you’d have to be to draw better conclusions from less data) I wouldn’t even bother trying.

 

Remember my first comment: all you’re doing is telling me what your faith is.  I remember reading The Bell Curve, where a reductionist theory was promoted that criminal behavior (untrustworthiness) was deeply influenced by I.Q., which was deeply influenced by genetics with a trivial environmental component.  How was this known?  Because of the I.Q. tests given to members of different groups.

So…let me understand this. I am supposed to believe black people are less trustworthy, because of tests conceptualized, created, largely administered, and then interpreted by white people.  I am also to believe that these white people correctly interpreted the genetic components as opposed to the environmental ones. Correct?

So…I am supposed to believe that at every step in this process their intents and perceptions were clean and without significant bias?   When when simply distributing human imprecision, prejudice, self-justification, lack of wisdom, fear and simple lack of global knowledge spread evenly across both groups would imply errors and deletions of information even if the intent was totally positive?  I am, in other words, to trust white people that I cannot trust black people?  When these same people will, if they hold that belief, ALWAYS tell me I should also doubt my own direct experiences in favor of their theoretical projections and self-serving interpretations?

Really?  Can you say “gaslighting”?  Really.  Please.  If you don’t see why I laugh at that, you don’t understand me at all.  And if you don’t see how you are traveling in the company of snakes and monsters…you are truly Asleep.  That is why if you have those beliefs, I won’t let you comment on threads about what we need to do next to bring social justice to the world.

And if you use that mealy-mouthed bullshit about “It’s not race, it’s culture!” which is the last step, the last desperate attempt to believe you aren’t promoting a racist position…?

 

Well, unless you follow that with “And 250 years of slavery Jim Crow and Segregation stripped away culture, language, religion, philosophy, mythology, names and social ties while imprinting a bastardized and brainwashed horror-show that people are still recovering from 50 years after the Voting Rights Act”, you are just kicking the conceptual can down the road.  You are, from the side of your mouth and without taking responsibility for what you’re saying, implying that white people would have done better and suffered less.

In other words, you are a racist who isn’t honest enough, perhaps even to yourself, to admit that’s what you are.

You have an odd faith. And kneeling in the pew right next to you?  David Duke.

If that’s your view of the ethical structure of the universe, if that’s how you think God or the powers of nature work…good luck with that.  Let me see that you are healthier, happier, and more successful than I am and I might believe you have a better mind.

Otherwise…I’m gonna laugh in your face.

 

Namaste

Steve

www.afrofuturismwebinar.com

Just Do It

I’ve seen some great spoofs of the Nike campaign recently.  Some really are funny, but I suspect  that the people posting them fit into one of two categories:

 

  1. Don’t believe there is a mortal issue at stake.  Don’t believe there is disproportionate unjustified police violence toward black people. Or:
  2. Approve of the oppression and violence.

 

I don’t see a third major category, other than perhaps people with a sick sense of humor (some of my favorite people, in general) but most of it seems to sort into those first two..   Racists (those who believe in differential capacity or worth between racial groups)  if of good character (no, not a contradiction in terms. A perspective of differential worth is pretty common among human beings. Doesn’t make a direct statement about how you treat people)  tend not to believe there is a real issue.  Most fall into the first category (however, you do NOT have to be a racist to fit into this category. You do seem to need to be Conservative however, believing in a “level playing field.”   I know good and decent people who fit this category, so don’t hallucinate that they don’t exist, please.)

 

If they believe there is a problem, they will blame the black community itself.   If they are racists they will hem and haw around the subject, and have real problems speaking their real belief directly: blacks are targeted disproportionately because they are just innately less capable and more criminal.  Blame God.

 

Or, they blame “culture”.  It’s black “culture” you see.  Next stage: “Oh. So you’re saying that slavery and Jim Crow and Segregation were so violent and destructive that they damaged the ability of blacks to create a successful society? ”  Blame Slavery and its aftermath.

 

They will stutter here, because the   Current Southern Apologia is specifically designed to absolve the South for any responsibility for what they did.  If they DON’T blame slavery or its aftermath…precisely what do they blame for the dysfunctional “culture” they blame for black issues?

 

Next question: “Given the same history, would white people have been damaged as much or suffered as long?”

 

If they say “yes” then it is environment, not genetics, and you can move on to the next question: what do we do now?

 

Well, don’t expect a wound to heal until the knife is removed. That would mean the differential treatment, and the lies about history and current conditions.   Change both of those, and the healing is much more rapid.

 

But anyone who won’t say “yes, white people would have suffered as much and been damaged as long” is IMO hiding a racist agenda.  Disengage.  This is a Faith Based position, and arguing does nothing.

 

There are of course others.  Racists of venomous intent and low character. They actually approve of the violence: “Got to keep the monkeys in their cages.”  They would also approve of torturing suspected terrorists, of course. They are frightened, angry, petty people, and they hide behind the mask of “oh, it’s just culture” without explaining where the damage came from.  Kicking the can down the road for others to intuit that, yeah, it’s innate capacity.  Or maybe they don’t WANT to live, or be free, or make money, or for their children to survive. Because if they do…maybe they just…ahem…don’t have the capacity, poor devils…

 

Yeah, it really is that simple.  Logically let’s MODUS PONENS (If/Then proposition) this:

 

IF black people are equal in capacity to white people, THEN the playing field is unlevel.

 

IF the playing field is level, THEN black people are not equal to white people.

 

Take your pick, but I don’t believe there is a serious third choice.

 

Now there are dishonest people: “the playing field is unequal.  But government attempts to make things better will only make them worse. Therefore, I will deny they are unequal.”  This is cowardly. Much better to say:

 

“Yes, they are unequal, but I see no way to make them better without greater net damage.”

 

Or even: “Yes, they are unequal, but I’ve got mine and screw you.   I LIKE having an advantage.”

 

Hey, I may not think that second one is evolved, but I have to admit that it is common human thinking. And it leads to dishonesty:

 

“Yes, its unequal, but I’ve got mine and don’t want to give it up. But I don’t want to look like a selfish ass, so I will PRETEND to believe that things are equal, to protect my image.”

 

Here’s a worse one:  “Yes, its unequal, but I’ve got mine…and I want some of yours, too. So `tragedy of the commons’  be damned, I will pretend to believe in fair play because I want YOU to treat me fairly even if I don’t give a shit about you.  YOUR children can suffer, but I want you to keep a caring, watchful eye on mine.”

 

That is both dishonest and cowardly IMO.  These are snakes.

 

Interesting things happen when you simply start with the presumption of equality despite the (IMO) fact that you cannot ultimately “prove” equality or inequality, that everyone is ultimately making a faith-based assertion.  You then have to live with the results.  Equality means that I can’t assume whites are innately evil, either.  However much self-serving evidence I might amass, and however satisfying that might be.

 

No. I actually have to live in that space, or the whole thing falls apart.

 

Another time, we’ll discuss what happens when you apply this notion to gender.  THAT’S a doozy.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

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