Friday, February 15, 2008

I wanted to build on the theme of my last post, with the idea that the society we live in is sick. One of the clearest symptoms of this is the hostility that is housed in the language that has become part of the vernacular of our times--clear across popular culture.I wanted to address these issues because of the recent verbal abuse flung at Tiger Woods( and though he may make nothing of it, the larger Black community has and rightfully will. A white, female journalist in a joking manner--and I want to stress that --in a joking manner, said that he should be lynched. Ignoring the entire legacy of racism and lynching, this person now feels comfortable in making light of the dehumanization and murder of Black men. I posted a long time ago about the time that I was at a restaurant, when I was still in Lafayette, and a girl sitting at the table next to mine was on the phone with one of her friends and she was laughing and chatting and telling the friend on the phone that one of her other friends was just "so gay" and that she should just "kill him" because of it. The horrid part of it is that she was making fun-joking-as she said it. A bit of the carnivalesque? And this phrase "thats so gay" has become permeated throughout American youth culture. It is the privileged idea that you can ignore and need not respect the humanity of other people. This society has taught and teaches its children that the degradation and dehumanization of the Other is perfectly acceptable--that that which fits outside of the defined norm can be obliterated and degraded. This is unacceptable and I for one demand the recognition of my integrity- with no exceptions and no compromises. Progressive people must work to rebuild this society into a more holistic, egalitarian one and to rebuild it as one with its humanity intact, one with respect and dignity for all. More and more I am reminded of what bell hooks said--that the powers that be took Martin Luther King's dream of each person having their needs met and living with recognition of one's integrity and with respect and dignity--and these powers have hollowed that message out and turned it into something that serves the purposes of capitalism. "Each for what they can get. We all have the equal right to consume..." We must return to humanitarian values or else we are in trouble.

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