Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When I grow up, I hope to be this eloquent.

The link in this post is an impassioned, informative speech by Jonathan Emile McCoy on why the "n-word" should be abolished. I agree with him.


What does this have to do with media? I...um, saw it on YouTube?


Here, also, is my response to Keli Goff's article:

Dear Ms. Goff,

Thank you for an insightful article and also, thank you for the inclusion of Jonathan McCoy's speech. I hope the following is half as eloquent:

I won't add to the tide of people that knock Dr. Laura Schlessinger. It has been done quite a lot and I cannot add anything new to the mix, save to say that mass electronic communication does not equal gravitas (so sayeth the commenter!!), which becomes more and more evident with the passage of time.

Over at the Huffington Post, Earl Ofari Hutchinson surmised that it was lame to think that the use of the "n-word" would dun it into irrelevance. He is almost correct. Had I walked up to you and made mention of "Jazz" or "Rock 'n' Roll" many years ago, you would have slapped my face. Why? Both were euphemisms for the "f-word". Nowadays, it is hard to think of anyone who considers these terms socially unacceptable. Miles Davis, was known to hate the term Jazz, preferring it just be called, "Music", much like Tito Puente's dislike of the phrase, "Salsa" ("Man, that music is some good SAUCE(!)"). There is a nasty cultural stratification that is attached to genre. Take, for example, "Science Fiction". It carries a stigma of being capable of being issued in book form, read, studied, but is sometimes considered less than "literature" and as such cannot be discussed with other works.

Now, imagine that you have played your instrument, which you have loved and studied for many years, honed with hours of practice, graduated from Berklee with a degree only to hear someone say, "I LOVE Keli Goff's playing. She plays great F**k. She can interprete F**k along with the great f**kers of the past."

What Hutchinson may have meant, but left out is that when you add the element of race, THEN, it is a bit naive to think that this most despicable word will lose its hold on people. It would be wonderful to see the day that it does, though.

As to your article (I did plan to get to your article!), here are a couple of points that I would like to bring to light. One has nothing to do with race, the other does.

I am not a writer by profession, but there is a phrase that I am getting rather tired of seeing, and that is, "...unless you've been living under a rock". I find it worn, oft-used and condescending and while I do not know you, I know that you do not wish to give off a "hipper-than-thou" vibe. I didn't know about Schlessinger's comments until I read the Huffington Post blog. Does that mean I'm an uninformed slug? No, it just means you got to that information before I did and that is one of the reasons you are employed doing what you do. May I humbly suggest, "let me tell you what has happened...", or some such phraseology. Had we been at the same party and I had said the "...rock" phrase to you, I doubt that I would have impressed you; depending on my tone, I might have repelled you.

The other point is this and it is a matter of spelling. I am not a huge fan of "black". It beats "Negro" as a word, for description in some ways, but black is:

- the absence of light
- what the bad guys wear
- technically, not a color
- "the color of my true love's hair"...oh, wait, it's dark brown. Skip that.

Worst of all, and you have used this in your article, black is...

...not capitalized!

"Aha!", you say, "I didn't capitalize "white", either!"

"Ahem", I retort, "That is precisely my point".

Being the age that I am (46), Black is preferred to Negro and "African-American" or just "African", which is unwieldy, but a bit more accurate (even though all of humanity, arguably is African; I don't have the Science background to argue that too much). African-American at least suggests that you and I have an origin. Black, however, when it comes in the middle of a sentence, has that psychologically damning lower-case "b" in front of it. Negro is not used as much (no tears shed about that), but it is always capitalized. My other humble suggestion would be that if you must use Black, capitalize it, as you should White (which, truth be told, is equally amorphous in its inclusion).

I walk with everyone else down that street called Life, and I refuse to give up on the corner that we can turn so we can veer away from the hate. I want to be able to tell my grand-nieces and grand-nephews about how bad things were regarding this, as compared to what they have seen (knowing full well that I haven't seen the soul-sucking, debilitating, mind-numbing, incapacitating racism of my ancestors).

So, down with n-word!
Down with "black"!

Don't even get me started on "Devil's Food Cake" vs. "Angel's Food Cake",
Brian Phillips

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Excerpt from "The Hoaxters" by Herman Hoffman (1952)

I only saw the tail-end of this documentary, which was nominated for an Academy Award, which it lost to "The Sea Around Us" by Irwin Allen. I cannot speak to the entire film, but it featured this very timely words at the end. I was shocked how much of it applies today, particularly the "Professor" remark, with regard to some of President Obama's naysayers. From what I have gleaned, this is a Cold War-era propaganda film, but this holds up rather well:

NARRATOR: "...It is not enough to be anti-Communist. That doesn't mark the measure of a man's love for Democracy. Remember, Hitler was an anti-Communist, and accomplished his Nazi reign of hate and terror, by the violence of his cries against Communism. What we are FOR is important. Beware the hoaxters with different bottles to sell.

NARRATOR (cont.): Beware the fearful gossip-mongers, the lunatic fringe, the calamity-howlers, the fascists, the ersatz patriots, the hate-smiths, the grubby demagogues screaming for the crackpot.

VARIOUS VOICES(in hushed tones): He's a communist! What's his religion? He's a fascist! He's a liberal, a bleeding-heart, a do-gooder! He reads too much. He talks just like a college professor! (in loud voice) I'm 100% American! 200% American! 300%! 400%! 500%!

(Music cue: Julius Fucik's "Entry Of The Gladiators")

SNAKE OIL SALESMAN: Six-hundred percent, that's what my snake-oil is, six-hundred proof!

NARRATOR: Amid the clang and clatter of clashing ideology is still heard the voice of the hoaxter, trying to destroy America, in the name of America. But the multitudes that once listened to this voice of doom, dwindled down to a mere handful. For no hoax, by whatever name it is called, can measure up to the shining truth of the human decency we call freedom, of the human hope we call liberty. Dictators come and dictators go. In the better world of the future, dictators will fall not at the point of a gun, but at the point of the truth. For we can win our fight, without going to war. The free countries of the world, with their material might and their spiritual hearts, can prove that there is no victory over the mind, when it is ruled by a whip and a gun, and that freeborn men and women, under God, will ignore the loud shout of the big lie, and listen instead to the quiet voice of the big truth.