mercredi, juillet 19, 2006

“One is not born a genius, one becomes a genius” -Simone de Beauvoir

Y'all don't even know the half. Spelman College is a breeding ground for genius. Exhibit A: Moi. Exhibit B: L'Erin (in China right now) Exhibit C: Courtney. Exhibit D: Moya. The list goes on and on. If you got up orientation week in the twilight, sang the Spelman hymn 'til your vocal cords ached and declaimed your name in Sister's Chapel (or when it was being renovated: the Oval) you are evidence. Nathalie, Exhibit E, is running a tribute to Spelman women on her myspace page this week. And Ruha, Exhibit F, isn't mincing words on her blog. Witness.

Racism: A Local Bash

A good friend explained to me in a conversation we were having about his experience of being both voraciously desired & painfully cast aside, that yeah, its cool to be a Black man on Saturday night. This makes me think that the coolness of blackness distracts us from the rising temperature of Black Life...for the vast majority.

I am daily reminded of the conflicting tendencies in US culture whereby Black people are at once devoured and spitOut. If you are unclear, watch a commercial or two then immediately turn to your local news. In the first, its highly likely that the background ditty will be vocals, rap or sung, by some very hip Black Act. In the second, a chorus, the suspect is thought to be a Black man, is very likely the refrain.

Locally policed and virtually released. Our voice is the soundtrack for the bash, at which we are the mainCourse. Devoured and spitOut. This bulemic practice is the reason why I imagine some Black folks get soo irrrked when people who are not Black, munch on morsels of Black urban culture- speech, dress, hair, posture, etc. Ours is a confused reaction, however, since we are at once flattered, relieved, redempted, and pissed off, by this selective nibbling.

The very serious element about all this Black urban identification by beneton youth, the white urban chic, hip mulattos, and middle class folks of all stripes, is that cultural consumption has become the main entree... as if that could ever be the (main) course to racial justice and unity. While nibbling on style and clamouring about our common tastes, the backyard butchering of Black Life by the police state, poverty, and dis-ease goes unnoticed. "Hmm, hmm! That sho do smell gud shawty. Give me a slice of that ghetto chic, with a lil' hip hop on the side, pleeease."

Somehow, buying cds became an act of solidarity in support of Black Life. Somehow, inviting Black artists to perform at national celebrations (Stevie W at last nites DC 4th of July), makes up for an economic disenfranchisement that forces Black labor into low-end service work, yes-maaming the rest of us on these same holidays. Somehow, because the word bling is allowed into mainstream lingua, offensive social critique is supposed to shush up. "We've mastered your slang for goodness sake, what more could you want?" Somehow, because surburban school dances bump 50 Cent and Beyonce, we're not supposed to bring up the residential segregation that isolates Black city dwellers for the zoo-ish amusement of the rest of us. And somehow because interracial relationships are en vogue in some quarters, we think we've dealt adequately with the heart of the matter.

Especially now that commercial unity is all the rage, "eating the Other" becomes a delicious route to make believing our oneness.

Be wary, then, of anything served on a platter. When you get to the bash, check out whats cookin in the backyard. It'll probably make your stomach turn.

"Ethnicity becomes spice, seasoning that can liven up a dull dish that is mainstream white culture." ~Eating The Other, bell hooks