Tag Archives: Blackness

Livestrong: Why the Cancer of Injustice Lives On

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Everything hidden in darkness must come to light. This seems to be a relevant saying, considering the recent phenomenon of racial and gender scandals in the media. That means bigotry in the NBA, new domestic violence reports, and growing evidence of racist police forces. But when light shines on an issue, do we look for the roots of the issue or do we just just follow the headlines?

Follow the patterns. We are fooled into thinking justice has taken place, when time and time again systems are simply punishing behaviors and people who got caught, instead of the thinking and philosophies that led to those behaviors. Instead of healing, we treat symptoms. We medicate. In a similar way, when we correct people–racists, abusers, etc–all we tend to correct is behavior. People then adopt rules: don’t say nigger, don’t hit a woman, don’t do this, don’t do that. We never correct the way the dominating culture thinks. There are systems of thought and control laced in our political, economic, and religious culture.  The monster you see peeking its head in recent scandals is only a symptom of the great cancer that lies in our systems of thought. If we never plan on attacking a way of thinking, that monstrous cancer continues to live–police brutality, racism (in the economic, judicial, and political world),  domestic violence, even so called abortion rights. The root of all our issues seems to be the ancient storyline: one group of people thinks it is superior than another, and essentially that they are more human–or that they are the real humans, and the others are not. The self perceived superior group either cannot see the others’ humanity or they undervalue that humanity.

Some people only see  only race, gender, or ethnic group. Today, whole systems of governance and socialization have normalized this view. The cancer seems to have been dormant, with a few complaints from its underclass. Today, however, the evidence is in the blood on our streets. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Renisha McBride, Janay Rice, and so many more.

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In pursuing the cause for these atrocities, we point to all the wrong things: the victims themselves, the racist cop, the scared neighborhood watch, etc. For me it boils down to one thing: were these victims seen as people. On the contrary, the personhood of each of these people seems to have been in question, or at the very least it had to be proven.

They tried to show Trayvon Martin was sweet and made good grades. They said Michael was going to college. Every one of those efforts is to make the victim more relateable, more human to the average white public–as if them being human was not enough! There is a gap in the viewed personhood of a white 17 year old and a black 17 year old, in a beaten woman and the man who beat her, in a daughter from the Hamptons and a daughter from Detroit. I will skip the cute stuff, and say why. The measure of humanity and personhood is often dictated by a few things:
1. Whiteness, and one’s relation to it
2. The male sex, and one’s relation to it
3. Economic stability

Somehow, if you fail in anyway to have a father, or to come from an economically sound background, or you look a little too different–you lose the function of the mass culture’s ability to relate to you as a person. Your personhood erodes. Your humanity is in question. Tommy, we see. Rachel we can vouch for, but Tamika must prove to me that she is deserving.

Some of the greatest atrocities done to people happened because some one  thought the other was a little less human. Once you are capable of thinking someone else is less than human, then you are the one capable of great inhumanities towards people. The Transatlantic Slave Trade, the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide, and so much more. Each of the people group victimized were thought less, just a little less, than full human beings.

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There is something particularly sick with a society that cannot see the humanity of those different from their perceived selves. The symptoms of that sickness shows itself in the numerous displays of injustice towards black men and women in this country. Yet, we have an opportunity. A major light is shining on issues we have always known, all too well in fact, but were unable to protest due to lack of evidence and following.

Now we have all the evidence of the cancer inside our country.  We have all the following of the general public. What do we do? We point only to the symptoms. We take a little tylenol for the runny nose. We point at the thinning hair here and there. We cut breats off. We tell the weak parts of the body that the cancer is their own fault. “Finger, you must let go of the past.” “Foot, well If you just looked like the hand, you know not so threatening.” We don’t get healing, we get quick fixes. We don’t call for justice, we call for  sacrifice. We sacrifice all the wrong people.

We let the cancer survive. We let the erroneous thinking, that is, the root of injustice live. We forget that it is living inside us. We do not attack the cancer itself, the harmful thinking that is the cause of the deaths of young people, the oppression of women, the imprisonment of minorities, etc. We let the cancer live. We bill it and we let it give commentary on the news.

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Beloved: Week 2 Synopsis.

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“Good for you. More it hurt, more better it is. Cant nothing heal without pain, you know,”

This week the plot thickens with the appearance of Beloved and many more themes and additions to the book. Here’s some things that we’ve covered, and some things we missed: 

1. The flesh aspect of this segment was very well exposed, with Beloved coming out of the swamp to start her new life in a physical body, and the physical characters throughout the text reacting to a new person in the house. The character dynamics between Paul D relationship with Denver and Sethe; Sethe and Denver’s newfound relationship with Beloved; and company to Denver as she finally felt the spirit’s physical presence.

2. Paul D and Sethe’s relationship seems to become more prominent, realizing that their storytelling of slavery is necessary in their relationship. Paul D’s disclosure on his experience as a slave to Sethe is what is bringing them both together, as Paul D brings another piece to Sethe’s story about Halle and his existence. Sethe cannot continue to think that Halle might be somewhere still alive, when this entire time she coped with the fact that he might be dead. Sethe’s openness to hearing Paul D’s stories is vital in the continuation of him remembering the past. Thus, having this couple feel as if their relationship is vital in hashing out their experiences.

3. Baby Suggs community scene in the middle of the woods was very important in the healing process for the characters in the story. Toni Morrison did a great job in vividly show a flash back and connecting it to the solution of the problems within the text, and the solution to loving Blackness in general. Loving ourselves and protecting the things that we cannot change. Such a beautiful and very important part in the text.

4. We also see that Beloved has some unfinished business with her mother. Whether it is positive or negative, Denver is beginning to realize that her sister’s visit isn’t to merry after all. Few scenes show how Beloved begins to get very territorial over Sethe and the things she has planned to ask and do to her mother. Is Denver beginning to become isolated all over again? 

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Things that were not discussed:

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The significance of Mister, the rooster.

In Paul D’s recollection of biting an iron, his grand memory of a rooster seemed to be very interesting. He states,

“Mister, he looked so..free. Better than me. Stronger, tougher. Son a bitch couldn’t even get out the shell by hisself but he was still king and I was…”

“Mister was allowed to be and stay what he was. But I wash;t allowed to be and stay what I was. Even if you cooked him you’d be cooking a rooster named Mister. But wasn’t no way I’d ever be Paul D again living or dead. Schoolteacher changed me. I was something else and that something was less than a chicken sitting in the sun on a tub.”

In this text, concepts of freedom, racism, identity,and self-worth bled through this paragraph. What was Paul D really trying to say? Was his being less than a rooster on a plantation? How did that rooster make him see hisself as a slave? Something to think about…

This Sunday our discussion continues covering our third segment of the text, (pg. 125-198 in hard copy, 205-317 in pdf) followed by another synopsis of Beloved!