Monday, January 16, 2006

No Day, but Today

I'm trying to avoid the whole say something smart because today is MLK Day, even though I'm at work. And, I'm trying to avoid getting all preachy because it's almost unwritten that liberal, or liberal=leaning bloggers should say something quasi-preachy on such a day. No such luck. I'm gonna get preachy.

Last night's episode of The Boondocks, called "The Return of The King" was funny as hell, in normal Boondocks fashion, but also in Boondocks fashion, asked what would Dr. King think if he saw the state of Black America, or at least the state of Black America as Black America wants you to see it. Were the beatdowns, spitting-ons, hosing, and dog attacks all done so the respect for our culture by White America is not based on jazz, but gangsta rap? The beauty of Black woman either wrapped in suggestive or almost nonexistent clothing? The glorification of underground life led by hustlers, no more than clever thieves; drug dealers, and pimps, who are much more than fast-talking, boldly dressed clowns, but are exploiters of the lowest kind? Would Dr. King really want to mark the night before his commemoration with a special party at da club?

I live in a White neighborhood. Yeah, there are a few Blacks, and if you cross a particular avenue, the Italian and Irish families were replaced in the 1970's with Latino families who are still there. For the most part, though, my neighborhood is officially gentrified, which is a fancy word meaning two G's a month for a studio and a mill for a whole house, a 24-hour supermarket, a Starbucks around the corner, and a Barnes & Noble in walking distance. Whenever there is trouble of the loud argument, fight-about-to-break-out variety, it's usually involving the few Blacks still in the 'hood, or Blacks and Latinos who visit the 'hood. My Black ass pays way too much money to put up with even a minute's disturbance of the tranquility I pay so dearly for. Fuck your keepin' it real. If you were so interested in keepin' it real, your dumb ass wouldn't continue to live in the White man's community. But when I call the cops, I'm the one branded "un-Black" and it's a brand I've worn since childhood. You probably haven't heard the term "un-Black" but you've definitely heard the term "Oreo" -- White on the inside, Black on the outside.

Who says that Black means ill-fitting clothes; either five sizes too big or too small? Who decided that all Blacks should speak at top volume or play their music at top volume? Who said that an interest in books or education is a White thing? Why shouldn't I call the police if your conversation with your buddies outside my building at midnight disturbs me? And who was on the committee to decide what is Black?

The funny thing is that when Black History Month rolls around, we see the same faces of scientists, business leaders, artists and activists whose brilliance and elegance are used over and over to teach White and non-White children how wonderful Black people are. Even some of the clownse guilty of the crimes I mentioned before teach their kids about George Washington Carver and Benjamin Banneker and Martin Luther King. Yet, the actions don't meet with the sentiments. I'm not suggesting that all of us dress and act conservatively. Hell, I've had plenty of loud music in the car moments. I've had loud laugh sessions on my stoop on warm summer nights. I've even done a thing or two outside the law. I just don't think that junk-shaking and droppin' it like it's hot, or I'm swinging or shooting at you because I think you disrespected me is what "the dream" was about. We have to do better. Not because it makes us nice, or acceptable, or tolerable, but because, damn it, we should. The movie "Soul Plane" made millions, and I guess it should because it was funny. Strong story? No. Great acting? Absolutely not. Would I show it to an alien who wanted to know what Black life in America was like? Not in a million years. However, movies like "Love Jones," and "Once When We Were Colored" are virtually ignored. Go to a Broadway show, even one with what should be a decent Black following like The Lion King or an August Wilson play, and the audience is more White than Black. Please don't give me business about the high cost of tickets. Tourists from around the country and around the world stand on line at the Tkts booth in Times Square waiting for a chance to buy discount tickets. We're running, though, to see foolish My Big Mama Burnt The Chicken 'Cause She Was Prayin' I'd Find a Good Man dreck by the busload.

There is no day, but today, for us to aim higher. Some of my people are scraping the bottom, and there is nowhere to go but up. I just hope we get up soon.


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