Who Are We?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Glenn Ligon Red Hands-silkscreen of enlarged photo from the Million Man March

I had a post cued up about this new book I'm reading about how women are portrayed in horror films. I'm reading this new book and I'm a big horror fan so I wanted to share that.  But after the past few days I realized that this country is giving any great horror film a run for its money.  Actually, I'm anticipating that some great horror films riddled with metaphor and some great reactionary art will emerge out of this whole raucous mess, but that's another post as well.  Curl up and settle in folks, I'm going to be writing a lot about what's going on and it's going to be long. 

I'm sad.  Genuinely heartbroken because of what's going on.  Black men are being murdered in broad daylight.  Us white folks like to pretend that black men are murdered by other black men in the dark of night with guns that were purchased illegally so what's the point of regulating them.  We make excuses and turn our cheeks when they are murdered openly by white police officers who are supposed to be protecting us.  Then, at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest, snipers come in and erase the "peaceful" from our minds so we can focus back on how #alllivesmatter.  Women are being raped and their rapists are actually caught (which isn't always the case) but they go free, out into the world to continue with their lives while their victims are forever changed and find it hard to even get out of bed in the morning, let alone continue with their college careers.  Women are still victims of domestic violence and when they come forward, their motives are questioned, or they're called "gold-diggers" so other women stay silent. Gay Pride, which is supposed to be an inclusive and joyous event is darkened by mass shootings.

I watch movies like "Suffragette" and shows like "Boardwalk Empire" and think wow, these things take place in the early 1900s (Suffragette in England, but still relevant) and they accurately mirror things that are happening now.  What's worse, is that people are creating counter-arguments to reason with you as to why these things are still happening.  When you say black lives matter, people counter with "all lives matter."  When people want to advocate beating women without coming right out and saying it they make it an "equal rights" issue. "Equal rights, equal fights" is an actual argument I've seen on social media.  When you want to celebrate Pride for being who you naturally are people argue, "why isn't there 'straight pride?!'"

Social Media.  Suddenly everyone is oppressed, right?  When something happens to a minority group, all of your straight, white friends are suddenly the authority on what is and isn't oppression.  A group of people who have had literally no experience with oppression are suddenly telling everyone what they shouldn't be offended by.  The fact is, whether you want to admit it or not, White Privilege exists. And when my white "friends" are outraged by things like Black Lives Matter, it makes me realize that they have no empathy.  They are not able to see beyond their own experiences. How else can you explain #alllivesmatter and heterosexual men complaining that there is no "straight pride?"  Other people rising up and trying to gain the same acceptance and rights that you have had your whole life does NOT make you oppressed.  I see a lot of white people increasingly uncomfortable with the challenge of the status quo.  Do you really think that your lives are going to be harder because your black brothers and sisters will be able to enjoy their lives like you can? How can you be opposed to this? How can you not see the inequalities that still exist?

Our country is on fire. We see videos of black men being murdered.  Videos of rapists bragging about what they've done.  We have a presidential nominee that advocates systematic racism and banning groups of people from entering our country based on religion and ethnicity.  These things are undeniable.  Something needs to be done.  WE need to do something.  Is this the world you want to live in? A world that is still stuck in the 20s, 50s, 60s where black people don't have the same rights as white people and women are nothing without a man to speak for them?  Racism, Sexism, Homophobia...these things exist.  Stop denying it, because that's only fueling the fire.
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