Activism, Bill Cosby, Blackish, Boyz n the Hood, Corona Virus, Education, End of the world, family, Family Matters, Friendship, Gentrification, George Floyd, Happiness, Joy, Ku Klux Klan, Love, Lynching, Nature, Police, Politics, Slavery, Social Awareness, social media, success, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, Trust, Wu Tang Clan

Ignoring Privilege

Globally racism does exist.  Some areas of the world it’s not as bad as others, some countries it is not as oppressing as it is in others.  There are even some areas of some countries that it is better than other areas of those same countries.  In the United States of America there are areas that are not as racist as others.  In the United States of America there are areas that the racism is not as blatant.  In the United States of America there are systems that permit and allow racism.  In the United States of America there is a system of racism that presses throughout the entire country.  It is the acceptance, the feeling, and even the thought that where you live is progressive toward racism that allows racism to be a real problem for everyone, everywhere, even in your neighbornood; even the privileged.

I have thought for much time about Bill Cosby.  I have always loved “The Cosby Show”, I grew up watching “Fat Albert” on Saturday morning, and was entertained by Bill’s “Jell-O Pudding” television advertisement.  In 2014, when things begin to go downhill for Mr. Cosby I first thought that it couldn’t be true.  While I was in college I saw spectacular college athletes who I knew fairly well who were most definitely going to play professionally at their sport.  I saw how they were scammed by females who were “out to get paid”.  Being clear, I want to make sure I am understood: anyone who is offended by another should be made to feel comfortable to express the offense and be empowered to hold the offender accountable.  However, there are also “groupies” who tell lie to get a payoff; these “groupies” make it more difficult for the ones who were legitimately offended get justice and empowers the offender to offend.  That is what I thought was going on with Bill Cosby, comedy groupies.  ‘Why were all these women all of a sudden “jumping on the bandwagon” 30+ years after the alleged incident,’ I thought?  When it came to the point that his guilt could no longer be denied I then understood the heartache that Lance Armstrong fans may have felt when the winner of 7 Tour-De-France’s in a row (with half as many testcies as I have, and I’ve had a vasectomy) cheated in the dirtiest sport in the world.  I was horribly disappointed.

Can you separate the art from the artist?  Let me introduce Salvador Dali: one of the most rotten, misogynistic, condescending men to live.  He was a brilliant artist, has been given a pass, and his legacy is not tarnished.  Yes, I understand that he lived at a time before everyone knew what all your “friends” have eaten for dinner and what time their bowel movements come on, so it is easier to make the separation between the actions of the artist and the ingenious art they may have produced.  I would separate Bill Cosby from his art.  Especially, “The Cosby Show” where the Cosby Family can stand as a proud emulation for black families to strive toward, give black families a goal and a purpose on television.  I still have a problem with Bill Cosby’s career trajectory.  In “Fat Albert, there is a hyperbolistic harlequin of the differences between black and white, even as a joke, so it can be accepted by mainstream white America; this is called being an “Uncle Tom”.  Here’s the problem with that term, Bill Cosby had to play the game in order to get to the point where he would be able to share the positive image he ended up presenting through the action of success with the caricatures seen with “Fat Albert”.  The systemic racism that Bill Cosby needed to endure and even play into brought him to “sell out” for many years in order to pioneer a positive view of black families in America.  I credit Bill Cosby to setting up the arena for three shows and a movie that appreciate greatly and has carried on the legacy of Bill Cosby; a legacy that will most likely not be remembered because of another disgusting legacy he brought on himself.

The shows, and this movie all take on the and present issues that the black community needs to endure.  These shows and this movie, a lot more than “The Cosby Show” could, attack these issues in an unabashed manner because of the path “The Cosby Show” tread.  First, “Family Matters” presents a solid black family that endures problems of racism at times.  It was this show that exposed me to the awareness of the these problems, I began feeling sad at the times when “Family Matters” chose to discuss the real issues that are present throughout the entire United States.  Soon after, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” presented a revolutionary show that combined amazing comedic writing with the different worlds of which they forced Will to live.  How he was able to navigate the code switching and his awareness of how to tightrope issues, but still show his naïveté.  The Fresh Prince expressed the concerns black families deal with more often than seen in “Family Matters”.  Next, “Boyz n the Hood”, where we follow a young black man wading through his life, the pain and loss of his world; the pain and loss is shown through the systemic racism in the black community.  Again, although I respect and enjoy this movie, it makes me sad to acknowledge how treacherous a world in which I am a part of is.  Most recently, “Blackish” continually shows it is not afraid expose how systemic racism plays out in the Untied States of America.  Without “The Cosby Show” laying down the acceptance of the black family existing in America, “Family Matters”, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, “Boyz n the Hood”, and “Blackish” would not exsist.

13 years ago, I was teaching sophomores in Springfield, MA.  The unit we were working through was about making speeches.  A black student “John” found a speech with which he felt passionate.  Working through the process of giving a speech, intonation, inflection, breathing, pausing, looking at the audience, John made an impassioned speech.  The speech was originally given by Bill Cosby.  Cosby was expressing, in a fervor, how the community is responsible for their youth.  “Why didn’t your mother know where you were when you got arrested?”  Because of how well John did with his speech I didn’t think much about the words he was speaking.  In the speech, Bill Cosby records something that the 4 shows and movie, including “The Cosby Show”, present: a meaning black father who is involved in his children(s) lives.  The more I thought of this speech, the more upset I became because I recalled how it made me feel to realize the racism I feel experienced in the those words.  I am of the most privileged group in this county.  I have been stopped and detained when I was out without my mother (or father) knowing where I was; I was getting into trouble.  Maybe I was just fortunate that I didn’t get arrested.  Maybe I was just lucky that I didn’t get hurt.  Maybe I was just white.  Eyes are less diligent upon me than if I were black.

The older I became the more aware I became of the systemic racism being exposed to me as I carried through the day.  I have written a book in which I describe several examples in which I have been exposed to this racism.  I am willing to take on the issue and express exactly how these racisms are presented.  As a while man, I can “let it drop” when I am confronted with the argument that “there is no racism in America, everyone has a chance to make something of themselves if they work hard.”  As a white man I can judge how ignorant the statements is, judge the persons as ignorant with an intrenched ideology, and not continue with the conversation.  As a black man, black woman, minority, or anyone who has been minimized in the United Stated of America ignoring the ignorance is not possible, it’s a fact of life that sadly is forced upon many.  Among many things that make me sad, the blinding racism that people are able to not admit entrenches the racism onto the footholds of the country.  As a white man I can walk away from this stupid conversation, as a black man, I have no choice but to endure the obstacles of which is my life placed upon me by hundreds of years of racism.

Wu-Tang Clan presents several ideas that force me to reflect on issues that depress me.  The Wu-Tang Clan acknowledges that the community has not done a good job of structuring a neighborhood to teach the young men (and women) how to be responsible for the intrinsic duties to each other.  The second skit points toward just one of the many examples of the systemic racism that fractures the black family, this system is not consistent applied in the white community.  Wu-Tang has presented in beautiful lyrical tapestry an image that greatly troubles me.  The art does not trouble me, but the words, what they describe.  I am continually bothered as I think more and more about it and try and wrap my mind around how this can happen again, and I think that this will be the last time until it happens again, and then it happens again, and again.  There are no words to describe how upset I am to hear of the murder of a man who was doing his part to be a father.  As a father, I know the difficulties of fathers who are involved in the lives of their children; couple that with those trouble and not being white.  The empowerment the police in Minnesota embraced was astounding.  Why is it that even now the names of the officers are not being exposed, to protect them against reprisals, why not arrest them for their protection?  To live in a time when you should assume that everything you will be doing will be recorded and think that those actions will be okay is appalling.  The fear, the anger and the distrust this creates between police forces, who overwhelmingly are good people that want to serve the people, is problematic and it is only going to get worse.  Arguments can be made that George Floyd would not want protesters to be violent, his family certainly has urged the people of the community to be peaceful, but want justice.  The gift of offering the 4 nameless officers due process and anyanamity is only a judicious hood reminiscent of another hood worn by a different Klan.  This country holds a history of ignoring due process for minorities, lynching, and State sanctioned police oppression highlighted through the Civil Rights Movement.  I do not cherish the history of my ancestors role in slavery, racism, or oppression, but I do not hold that to affect my personal role toward progress.  Georgo Floyd was murdered by anyanamous police who stood on the shoulders of the systemic racism that has been ignored and permitted.  What are you, as a white person doing to maintain status quo?

3 thoughts on “Ignoring Privilege”

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