“How does a black person not get shot in America?”
“How does a black person not get shot in America?”
I have to concur.
“The Senate Intelligence Committee didn’t do its job. No one, not one person on the Senate Intelligence Committee, asked the question Attorney General Jeff Sessions needed to answer: How long has he been working for Donald Trump while secretly making cookies in a tree?!”
I needed that.
Oh. My. God.
Blogging about a podcast about a podcast – UNDISCLOSED: The Killing of Freddie Gray, Ep 5, Evidence: Knife, Blood, Van
For some very good reasons I have come to feel safest in poor communities of color or immigrants. The places I feel safe are often the places others that fall anywhere near my demographic slot in life feel unsafe.
Steinbeck gave good advice when he wrote, “If you’re ever in need… go to the poor… They’re the only ones who will help.“
But it is not only that. Rural Poverty is different than City Poverty.
And the generalizations end there.
I know there are markers that I look for in a new place. I’ve gotten good at moving quickly, swiftly, silently, and safely, into a new Hamsterdam
Vice is generally something I consider an asset in my safety.
Open-air vice — “Hamsterdams” (The Wire) — encourage insularity and secrecy.
To me, that means safety,
(Unfortunately the selection of cutlery is rather poor.)
But back to Hamsterdam Land.
In Hamsterdam, you are either trusted or not trusted.
And I know that at first I will not be trusted,
everyone knows each other. Newcomers – a strange face – stands out.
And Hamsterdams abound in America.
(Baltimore is the opposite of a Hamsterdam. There, you have the worst of both worlds. In Hamsterdam the cops don’t bother certain things and certain businesses. The cops are just crooked enough to overlook the vice, to not be the enemy.}
A Hamsterdam is amazingly self-policing.
The unwritten Code of Vice, a common secret, intermingled with young mothers and cautious grandmothers, children playing and singing innocently and happily, protected by all, keeps stupidity away as if through a fucking force field.
The downside of any Hamsterdam is something akin to living inside an airport terminal. Everything costs a whole lot and there’s no selection or competition.
If you’ve never had to start with nothing because you are running for your life, there are a few things no one can survive long without,
There is simply no getting around it.
And although the prices in Hamsterdam are akin to an airport, or Disneyland, the selection of merchandise is wholly unlike any airport or amusement park I’ve ever visited.
There is only one kind of knife sold in Hamsterdam, and it is, unsurprisingly, the knife a kid killed by cops would have.
(The resemblance, however, was a bit jarring.)
Seeing it on the screen really made me feel like I was straddling two alternative realities at once, and midway through the short Knife Exhibition video, I knew I had crossed some divining rod of understanding.
(I couldn’t guarantee it, but seeing as I like statistics and inhabit our modern-day Dens of Inequity, being a Bookie would not be an unrealistic hustle for me. Hypothetically, of course.)
Hypothetical Bookie Me says odds are at least 950:1 that not another soul in a mile and a half radius of me even knows what the hell Undisclosed is, and although I would not –
– hypothetically, of course –
be irrational enough to place odds on the chance that not a single soul in that same area has ever listened to even 60 seconds of UNDISCLOSED, I’m abnormally confident that no one around me even knows what a podcast is, let alone this one.
[AND NEVER THE TWAIN SHALL MEET]
A podcast, to my neighbors, is as foreign and abstract as this knife – the only knife anyone around me can buy (without bus fare) – is to the creators of a thoroughly intellectual (and awesome) podcast, a CSI Event.
But to me, to us, it’s just a knife.
It took the podcast and the knife for me to connect the two with the most basic principle of the knife and the absurdity of the drawers of knives and the dissection of them.
Within seconds all I could think of was aliens with anal probes and the hope of discovering the truth of the human species through our rectums. (And that is most certainly the first time that analogy has ever, ever, encroached on my imagination.)
Again, on its face, without the street knowledge that for my pacifist, vegan ass to be able cut a lime or tomato or onion or just tape on a box,
And if this didn’t happen to be the only knife I could get around here, if it didn’t happen to be my fucking knife, if the photo of the damn knife wouldn’t have pistol-whipped me into a connection of these two disparate realities, both of which I live in simultaneously,
I would have loved the drawers of knives.
I’m made for minutiae. I’m listening to UNDISCLOSED. Case closed?
That drawer of knives was to me a sudden, synchronistic metaphor for everything.
By default, not only are we ℘℘cheated out of something decent to cut our vegetables with, we’re also criminalized for that pricey limitation.
(And for me the guilt of the privilege of having options. But if I must be counted, count me among the poor. These are my people, mi familia, and it is the highest honor that they call me neighbor, friend, and family.)
The poor man’s BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE!
[On sale now in the housewares isle of a liquor store near you.]
Oh, and of course, the Blues.
“Hidden Figures” has given us all a glimpse into all the history we’re lacking, and I don’t think every scholar in America put together could make the point better than Leslie Jones does in this short clip.
Leslie Jones on SNL gave me more Black History on Weekend Update than I’ve had heretofore. And I’m pretty damn historically literate. And Weekend Update is pretty short and she only came in at the end.
Everyone should read Lies My Teacher Told Me, which emphasizes a vast amount of the lies, slights, and outright omissions fed to us through our history textbooks.
But one area Lies misses, probably in large part because the subject matter is so shamefully difficult to find in the first place, is the place in our history made possible by minorities. It is criminal that our Congress can’t manage to even bring to a vote a Sense of the Congress – a non-binding declaration with no force of law or any power whatsoever – resolution condemning slavery in the US, let alone apologizing for it.
As Columbia Professor Dr. Eric Foner, considered the foremost Abraham Lincoln scholar by most, so beautifully points out in (one of his three & I cannot remember which) Civil War and Reconstruction class, Americans would find it terribly odd to find an American Slavery Memorial or United States of America Slavery Museum in Germany, especially if they didn’t have a Holocaust Memorial.
That brings it home, does it not?
How do we manage to act so high and mighty, fellow citizens, when we ignore this part of our history? The fact that so many US citizens deny that racism even exists, let alone dare to acknowledge the fact – and it is a fact – that slaves built this country, is staggering to me. And yes, slaves did build this country. They built it with sweat, blood and with tears.
Here’s another fact, a single, simple fact, that unlike the fact above – a complicated fact drawn from a complex equation of many sources – is wholly undeniable and inarguable.
Yup, white people who whine constantly that racism doesn’t exist, or worse, the only racism is “reverse racism!!!”
So, now, I’ll leave my rant and deliver the promised funny version, where I learned & laughed. Thank you, Leslie Jones.
*It disgusts me to write “slave property” and I simply could not bring myself to use the census terminology and the term that was once completely commonplace, “property in slaves.” That was once a thing. A term no one really paid attention to, not even the most ardent Abolitionist, because it was just part of the lexicon. It was a true description of something so repulsive that anyone with even a stitch of humanity recoils at it. I apologize for using the term “slave property” as well, but to make the point I had to link the two words one way or another, because they were, in fact, human beings that were quantifiable in the same way a car is now.