philosofunk

what if the worlds/were a series of steps/what if the steps/joined back at the margin


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Imma Let You Finish…

For anyone who doesn’t understand the reference this posts title is referring to, please google “Kayne West Taylor Swift VMAs”. For the rest of you, imma let you finish your point, Gawker.com, but I’ve really got to call you on it this time.

Errrrybody in a fuss about the hot mess Donald Sterling made with his racist remarks that were privately made to his girlfriend over the phone. Apparently he is also known as a bigot and this is not his first foray into offensive speech. Does he deserve to be fired? I do not know. Apparently the NBA constitution is secretive and it is not necessarily a fire-able offense to make racist remarks. Perhaps he should be strong armed into resigning or publicly disgraced to such a degree that he cannot reasonably continue a public life where his wealth is garnished from the labors of people who he does not want his girlfriend to be publicly associated with. I’m more comfortable with that route because then maybe he can see the surmountable damage he did to himself instead of throwing the pity party bigots like to throw when their self recognized “politically incorrect” remarks are consequentially reprimanded for their offensive nature. Oh cry for me, white America, I cannot be politically incorrect. I’d like to not see that happen.

Gawker published an interesting commentary from a black male perspective on this matter. The author, Homeboy Sandman, feels that the Clippers players did not go far enough in their protest, thus being “cowards”, while also criticizing Black culture for selling out the integrity of the Civil Rights Movement, a movement based on purposefully bearing the brunt of making ones own life uncomfortable as a result of protesting he status quo, by instead opting for the more comfortable route of “getting paid”. It is a struggle to get through he article because of the angry tone and the lack of insight as to what got us here (as previously noted I am White, but I am using “us” as a more general term for people interested in racial power dynamics). Homeboy Sandman felt that the Clippers should have wholesale refused to play on the basis that profits from their team would be going to their teams owner, and that their protest of refusing to wear their jerseys was instead a light weight cop out. If you are able to stay with the article long enough he eventually admonishes everybody for being a coward since most of us humans will forsake bravery for comfort.

Now, back to why I chose this articles title in making a reference to the Kayne West/Taylor Swift incident. West interrupted Swift to call MTV out for its mass suckage when doling out awards. Everyone with ears knows Beyoncé is the queen (sorry Bay but I can’t bow for anybody but the real Queen Bitch, the Supreme Bitch, Lil Kim). He was right but also drunk and it was a little embarrassing. In this instance, everyone with a political conscious knows that Sterling’s remarks were offensive. But to turn around and call the players for this team cowards is going too far. I’m a White lady with all my white lady privileges going for me in my white lady life. It could be embarrassing for some to watch a White lady call out a Black man on a race issue. But here I go (without Hennessy, fortunately/unfortunately).

I agree with Homeboy Sandman that shit doesn’t get done enough because people opt for comfort over challenging society. But this is where I wander on the stage during his speech. The actions taken by the people of the Civil Rights Movement were brave and remarkable and heroic because they refused to let the unnecessary hardships of institutional racism continue with a blind eye from comfortable White America. The actions were symbolic that Black people have rights equal to White people and all the other shades of people to have a level of comfort that is the quality of life we expect here in America. Homeboy Sandman is right that many burdens are still here, but his accusations that the players are cowards for not violating their contracts so they “can get paid” are offensive. In part, the Civil Rights Movement could be read as a movement so Black people could get paid, something which still hasn’t even been achieved due to educational barriers, unequal opportunity for middle class/upper class jobs as a result of these educational barriers, and discrepancies between White wealth and Black wealth. The players did what they could do to protest their bigot of an owner while not jeopardizing their careers or violating their contracts, something which could have long-term negative consequences for them and their families. In my opinion, do I think those in the Civil Rights Movement would have wanted the players to point blank walk off the court, giving Sterling a bit “Fuck you”? I cannot speak for those people, but I am going to take an educated guess that those brave people would have wanted the players to preserve their standard of living for themselves and their families, something which those brave people were working toward Black people having the ability to do (in that there was not a high enough standard of living to preserve, thus why they opted to make their sacrifice any consistency in their lives for a time in order to achieve a higher level of comfort for Black people down the line). I think that if the players had walked off the court point blank they may have left themselves open to attack from bigots for acting immature (an attitude I do not share, I am just speculating what the bigots would say) and violating their contracts.

Am I oversimplifying the issue? Yes! This is a blog, not an academic book. Is Homeboy Sandman oversimplifying the issue? Yes! But I don’t think he can hear me from his soap box.

From the article, “Let’s step it up. If every NBA player who wanted to stand up against racism vowed not to play until the Clippers’ owner resigned, it would be announced that he resigned before you were finished reading this. If he didn’t want to, someone would make him. If we boycotted every night spot that spins music about how much we love killing each other and taking and selling drugs, every single one of them would have new DJs by next week” as I have already noted, Chief Keef is a rapper Homeboy Sandman would clearly take issue with. My mother gave me some unique insight on Chief Keef and what he is doing after she read my article; he is reporting from the front lines. Rap and hip hop can be read as story telling, accounting what one knows about one’s surroundings and the stories of others in one’s life. Do the kids in Chiraq “love killing each other”? I can’t speak to what they love or do not love. They are killing each other, over the weekend four people died and thirty five people were injured. Is that an action people love to do? Imma let you finish Homeboy Sandman…but I think your statements are inaccurate and grandiose.

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The World is Round, Like an Orange

One week ago, my most beloved author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez ascended into heaven (Remedios the Beauty, anyone? Hopefully he was not naked and wearing only a sheet) and departed our Earthly world. Marquez cracked my adolescent brain open with One Hundred Years of Solitude, a book that to me is of epically Biblical proportions. His last work Memories of My Melancholy Whores is also a personal favorite of mine because of its frank discussions on mortality, sexuality, and what it is to be human. Gabo, as he is affectionately referred to by his fans, was a man who changed lives with his writing.n

Somehow I acquired a cold this week, I suspect from my Friday night spent in several packed bars (thank you, friends) which means I get to binge watch television as I feel like my head is a block of cement that cannot interpret words on a page, making reading even simple text an exercise in futility. A perfect opportunity to explore Netflix, I usually go straight to the documentary section because documentaries are my jam. Lock me in a room with documentaries and memoirs for the rest of my life and I will emerge a pale but very well informed wrinkly old woman. One can dream.

Documentaries are noted for being hit-or-miss. Amongst the ones I watched yesterday, Imposter was so chillingly good I watched it twice (a tale about a young French man assuming the identity of a missing Texas boy which takes a twist I will not spoil, go watch it!), Addicted to Fame (the bizarre account of the last film Anna Nicole Smith participated in before her death, because I have a small obsession with Anna for some reason), and Big Boys Gone Bananas! This documentary is an extension of the original documentary it is explaining, http://www.bananasthemovie.com/, something documentarians occasionally do such as when Nick Broomfield made a second Aileen Wuronos film to explain the impact of the first one. Big Boys Gone Bananas (BBGB) was a bit of a miss for editing and story-telling, however I stuck with it because of the curious nature of the content.

The documentary is centered around the court cases, civil attempts, and harassment Dole Foods has levied against the filmmaker of Bananas, a man named Frederick Gerreten. The film asserts that banana workers experienced the health effects of sterility due to working with a chemical pesticide DBCP, something Dole Foods took serious issue with, to the extent of harassing the film maker, issuing court-sanctioned information mandates to be read at screenings of the film, and general work to discredit any and all things the film said.

In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabo writes a particularly beautiful, eloquent, and profound account of what many South American peoples faced during the reign of the banana republics. Gabo writes in the style of magical realism, a uniquely South American genre where fantastical occurrences are a part of everyday reality. To illustrate the point of White capitalism’s effect on South American towns and society as a whole, he attributes divine powers to the (American) gringo who runs the banana operation, John Brown, such as declaring all banana operations cease until the rain storm stops, at which point there goes clear skies to rainstorms for months on end. The analogy Gabo makes is that capitalism had such power of local populaces it seemed the decrees came direct from the heavens themselves. When the workers strike, the banana company slaughters them in a public square with military machine guns, dumps the bodies on to a train, and then disposes of them into the ocean. When the lone witness returns to Macando to report back what he saw, no one will believe him imploring only that there never was a massacre and the banana company complied with the demands of the workers, who had peacefully left Macando, so there could not have been thousands of dead bodies rotting in the sea. Until his death the character is regarded as a crazy man. Gabo clearly demonstrates the depravity and power of the companies that wrecked havoc on South American life exploited.

Gabo was barred entry into America for a long time because of his noted advocacy for communism and outspokenness against American capitalist interests. While watching “Banana Boys Gone Wild!” so close to recent death I could not help but be reminded of the banana worker slaughter. It really was true, these companies really do things like that and get away with it. The scene in which a statement from Dole Foods refuting the filmmakers point was legally mandated to be read was absurd. If it was not true that these people were exposed to dangerous chemicals, why would Dole Foods care about what some silly documentarian composed a film about?

To me personally, this translates into a first world problem. I love bananas. I love banana bread and pancakes with bananas and chocolate chips (!!). As an American who cannot escape living in capitalism, everything I consume comes from a violence against another person. As I have mentioned before, sometimes I send this blog to one of my friends who has wildly different political views than me. He sometimes gets exasperated with me and all my theoretical inquiries about what goes on around us because, in his view, “All you can do is carve out a space for you and your family and hope for the best”. This is sound advice for the practical of confronting the world and dealing with the necessary evil that one has no control over. But, to me, that does not mean we have to forget about the banana workers.

Long live your good soul, Gabo, may you have a good rebirth.


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Christie and Me

Last week was Easter, a usually peaceful and family oriented holiday for those who practice Christianity. My family and I are not Christian, my parents were raised Catholic and converted to Tibetan Buddhism which was what I was raised, though during my childhood I was treated to Easter baskets and have fond memories of Easter like visiting my grandparents and throwing eggs up to the ceiling to crack them, an unusual Easter family tradition. Unfortunately for some families in California, Easter was not so peaceful this year.

To back track a bit, let me explain why I as a white woman have such an interest in combating racism and white privilege. My last post on Chiraq and Chief Keef admonished the state of violence commonplace to many Black Americans. I sent the post to a friend of mine who has wildly different political views than mine and told me that I have “too much white guilt”. Indeed, many other white people do not understand my undertaking of joining the fight against white privilege and many people of color are also inquisitive and surprised at how dedicated I feel.

 When I was little, I had a Korean friend named Christie who was one of my favorite people in the world. My mother is a very socially conscious person, and her intent in raising me was to follow in that vein. I have absolutely no idea how this conversation started, I could not have been more than seven at the time, but somehow we got to talking about race. The area I grew up in was mostly white, but I had friends of other ethnicities, a friend named Josie who was Black, a friend named Ihina who was Indian, so I understood that people came in colors other than white (or peach, as I affectionately call my skin tone). What I remember of this conversation with my mother was me saying,

“But Christie is white” because Korean people have light skin complexions which to me at the time was similar to my light toned Polish complexion, to which my mother said,

“But not everyone thinks that” which I am assuming was followed by a bit of a more nuanced explanation of what race is. The tone of the conversation had to do with why people would not like Christie because she was “not white”, which broke my heart because who on Earth would not like Christie? She was sweet and fun and smart and played a great game of hide-and-go-seek. This then prompted the devastating thought, which has shaped my worldview ever since, that because there were people who would not like Christie on the simple basis for what she looked like and who she was born to, there were people who only liked me because of what I looked like, and if I did not look the way I look (blonde hair, blue eyes) then they would not like me.

This was a lot for a seven year old to take in. It would go on to influence my defense of my love for hip-hop/rap despite being a suburban white girl (many of my fellow female peers saying to me “why do you like that its sooooooo misogynistic” to which I would roll my eyes because the rocknroll their parents were fans of surely did not champion feminist causes) and my general suspiciousness of other white people who insist “I am not racist” only to go on to make subtle (or blatant) racist comments. Whiteness is a club, there are rules, regulations, specified correct patterns of speech, to which I say fuck it all while looking like an Aryan princess (tall, attractive, blonde hair and blue eyes). People often get confused as to why I am so adamant about challenging this social structure that serves to bequeath the world to me. My rejection of these codes of conduct run further than what I am willing to examine in this post, but surely I will explore them further at some point in the future.

Then there are people like those a part of The White GeNOcide Project (spelling theirs). Slogans include sentiments based off of fear that diversity is a violence to white people, fear of miscegenation and the destruction of the “white race” and other things. If you clicked the link above, you read about how these people put “pro-white” racist sentiments in Easter eggs (without the permission of the property owners they disseminated these eggs on) to unsuspecting small children who were just trying to have a nice Easter. Jesus Christ (forgive my blaspheme). This is a violence done unto small children, their parents, and the community at large. This is the action of a group of hateful, smug persons who believe that their radical ideas give them the right to disregard commonly held beliefs of social propriety because they must save their fellow whites. Their arguments run like many self-proclaimed revolutionary beliefs do, declaratory, self-serving, without intellectual rigor, and wide sweeping, “ONLY White countries are expected to be for everyone. ONLY White neighborhoods are “not diverse enough”. ONLY White people are denied a place to preserve ourselves.” (if you’d really like to test the limits of your stomach, here’s a link to their version of events).

From my understanding of the holiday, Easter is supposed to be a joyful day where the savior came back to Earth and his followers could appropriately celebrate. From my understanding of Christianity, all humans are God’s children and thus valuable. From my understanding of white supremacists, their logic and ability to run arguments regarding the perceived “supremacy” of people with a melatonin-based genetic mutation boil down to something about Darwinism, hegemonic notions of dominance which equate superior human content, and blurry feelings that manifest in to utter hatred. The academic term for this is “fear of otherness”. They seem rather drunk on their own belligerence, demonstrated by this recent action of attacking the thoughts of children on a holy day of peace. I wonder what they thought they were going to get out of this perversion of a children’s’ religious activity. That these children would go on to become a part of their Aryan army? That these children would think “Yeah! Fuck Diversity! Diversity sucks!”? That the parents of the children would go “My god, we’ve been wrong this entire time thank the lord that these people have demonstrated the error of our ways!”? It seems that their actions have played into the hand of people like me, people who think that these people are illogical, fearful, and because of the immense amount of hate they hold in their hearts, socially out of touch and socially awkward toward normal folks.

But more broadly, even though the actions of Project GeNOcide are extreme, the basic sentiments of white solipsism are prevalent, like my friend who believes I have “white guilt”. This is a problem related to identity politics; many white people who misunderstand why demolition of the white privilege system is necessary assume that the idea behind this demolition is that white people should be ashamed of being white. My comeback to this accusation of having white guilt is that no, I am not a “guilty” person but I am a proud Polack (Polska na zawsze!) who recognizes a socially unfair and unequal system perpetrated against many of my fellow humans. Too many white people do not understand why the fight against white privilege is important and assume that it is an attack on their identity, an extreme manifestation of which is Project GeNOcide. We don’t have to be ashamed of who we are, but we should not participate and perpetrate a system that equates the color of our skin to the content of our character. 

Admonishing these weirdos who are a part of Project GeNOcide starts with examining one’s own experience in the world and how one benefits from a system of oppression, humiliation, denial of dignity, and implied superficial supremacy. I alone am often unsure of how to participate in this battle as a single white person. But I have an idea that it starts with recognition of what I have and what others are denied, and that I would be denied if only I had been born a different person. Its not about the content of my character, its about the color of my skin.

Hey Project White GeNOcide, get off my lawn.


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Chiraq

Apparently this blog has become something of a study in violence. One of my favorite morning routines is to listen to NPR, which featured a story today that over this past weekend forty five people were shot dead in the Chiraq area.

Vice.com recently did a news podcast titled “Welcome to Chiraq” which was focused partly on the drill rapper Chief Keef and partly on the violence of the neighborhood known in Chicago as “Chiraq” due to the epidemic of unprecedented violence in the neighborhood. Additionally, CNN featured a mini-documentary series about the ills of Chicago last month. Chicago has become a kind of dystopian obsession for the American media recently. Certainly, for good reason. This is an incredible amount of violence, and a greater show of violence than areas of Los Angelos noted for gang activity or destitute cities such as Detroit. Chicago has a history of sordid affairs, noted political corruption, and racial tension, but this spasm of violence is alarming to say the least.

Which brings me to one of my passions, rap and hip-hop. Classic gangsta rap has been dead since ’94 with the deaths of our lords and saviors Biggie and Tupac, but in all seriousness the genre has not been particularly relevant for about twenty years. All hail Chief Keef, the once youtube sensation at sixteen who caused a bidding war within the widely speculated dead-in-the-water music industry all while being too young to legally purchase alcohol. In fact, Chiefy as I affectionately call him, is STILL to young to legally buy alcohol yet is widely noted as a successful heroin dealer and member of the 3hunna gang, a reference to their block, compromised of a group of fierce young men who are a part of the drill rap scene.

Drill rap is Chicago gangsta rap about guns, drugs, pussy, cash, weed, loyalty to your crew, and murder. It is hardcore and unapologetic. The recent slang words of “turnt” and “ratchet” originate from drill rap of which many white people have appropriated with ignorance to the genre. With a long catalogue of enjoyable tracks, my favorite Chief Keef song is “Everyday”

Young Chop, a fellow Chiraq resident but unaffiliated with the 3hunna crew, is the master of the beats behind Chief Keef’s tracks. The beats invoke an haunting auditory experience, very dystopian and dark. Chief Keef’s work as a whole can be read as a perspective that is uniquely a product of the dystopian reality many Black Americans have been forced into living due to institutional racism, the causes/products of which include poor schools (stemming from our tax code giving areas of wealth better public schools while wasting the minds of lower income peoples), massive violence resulting from the drug war, mass incarceration of able bodied young Black men also resulting from the drug war), and the purposeful destruction of Black families (which is evidenced in the documentary “The Pruitt-Igoe Myth” if you are interested) amongst other problems. Denial of the dystopian reality perpetrated by institutional racism and white privilege are common defense tropes of white people uncomfortable with the violent reality many Black Americans live with.

A common criticism of Chief Keef is that his work is redundant, irrelevant, unintellectual and lyrics that are no more significant than “BANG BANG” (a common refrain in Chiefy’s songs). I wholeheartedly disagree with this, and not just because of my crush on Keef. However, the criticisms are not without merit. In “Kobe” he compares his alter ego, Sosa, to Kobe Bryant in enormity, a show of ego. Another song “White Bitches Love to Party”, an ode to us white women and our love of getting turnt, is not particularly profound. Taking one song by itself would be difficult to find enough substance to warrant an intellectual analysis of Keef’s work and there are enough of these tracks where it would be easy to dismiss Keef as “just another rapper”. However, if you listen to enough of his songs, I would argue that he is the Black, gangsta rap equivalent of Philip K. Dick. If you are thinking “What is this bitch smoking” I’ll answer you that I am stone cold sober in my analysis.

Chief Keef is not a stupid man. What teenager do you know who could not only survive but THRIVE in the heroin trade while living in one of the most violent, terrifying areas of America, and then come through it all with a multi-million music deal all while smoking shit tons of weed and drinking Sizzurp (a mix of codeine and Sprite)? Could YOU have pulled that off as a minor? I seriously doubt it. I am not trying to undermine Keef with his drug use, it has been studied and proven that more intelligent people are more prone to drug use/experimentation, only pointing to the fact that he is not six feet under or in prison but instead chillin’ in a Chicago suburban mansion despite his love for getting stoned while dealing with an incredibly stressful and very potentially lethal situation. Considering that he survived drug dealing during his adolescence, a period of time where the brain is not fully developed to comprehend long-term consequences, became a top dog in the drill rap scene, and was fought over by several record companies, he unarguably is of an intelligent mind.

So what do Keef’s songs say? What does Chief Keef want the world to know, aside from the fact that he loves no thotties (slang for ho)? The delivery of his songs show a world that is fraught with so much violence, so little options, and a short life expectancy that there is no room for things other than guns, getting
“high as fuck”, and fucking your brains out. The men in Keef’s crew and ‘hood live fast, short lives. There are no jobs that pay livable wages, for many the only feasible option to eat and feed one’s family is to participate in the multi-billion dollar drug industry, of which America has criminalized as a cheap cop-out to re-enslave Black men and further the degradation and abandonment Black people have suffered in this country. That the institutional racism America has perpetrated against Black people since before America was a sovereign nation is an affront to the dignity, intelligence, ability of Black Americans who have created not one not two not three but FOUR genres of music (jazz, the blues, rock’n’roll which was stolen by Whites, and rap/hip-hop). Keef’s music shows through an auditory experience the feeling of living in a harrowing situation, where there is nothing other than guns and drugs and no relief other than pussy and getting high.

He might not be spelling it out for the audience in words as eloquent as Philip K. Dick, but he is doing something smarter. Music has been conclusively shown to alter a person’s mood and perception of emotions. Listening to Chief Keef causes the vicarious experience of living in the Chiraq world propounded by Young Chop’s beats. You can feel the adrenaline of dealing when listening to

my second favorite Chief Keef song. Indeed, this song is about losing friends to the inner-city Chiraq violence, “I lost so many niggas/turned into a savage” and noting the importance of loyalty within one’s squad, “my niggas shoot for free/they’ll let you have it/my niggas do for me/no way around it”. Still want to say Keef has nothing to say?

Chief Keef has been attacked for being an indication of what is wrong with Chicago, rap music, young Black men. To those critics I say, you are missing the fucking point. There was no choice. There was no option. There was only the ability to become the fiercest warrior he could be. Was it right? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone can really answer that.

So, what can we take away from drill rap and what is going on in Chicago? In short, we got each others backs because America for so long, in so many devastating ways, has completely turned its back on us. Even if we’re fucking killing each other out here, at least the boys I run with will kill for me. I myself cannot answer for sure why this is happening now. But I suspect this is the sort of thing that results from long term degradation and purposeful ignorance of the violence White America has perpetrated against Black Americans for too long.


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Domination in Game of Thrones

**SPOILERS**

Errrrrrybody in a fuss today about last nights episode of Game of Thrones (4.3) which seems to be the norm with this show. I am a huge fan because gratuitous sex and violence coupled with a fantasy world that is plausibly similar to European medieval times is extremely entertaining, and I have a crush on nearly half the cast either in their roles or as people (Brienne of Tarth, Dany, Bronn, and Shae as roles and Jack Gleeson and Emilia Clarke in real life). That being noted, there have been many upsetting moments in the show for me such as the Red Wedding, the slaughter of the Starks, and all the rapes.

Rape should be a disturbing thing in general. However, it feels as though we don’t always treat it that way. I remember when Kobe Byrant was accused there was a lot of victim blaming relating to her profession (a hotel maid, because what low economic job holder would not want an unwanted sexual encounter from a powerful man like Bryant?) and her state of mind (was she crazy? Did she have a history of drug abuse? Does she deserve to be a victim?) There were also comments about how, since Bryant was good looking and powerful, he must not need to rape women, entirely missing the point that rape is not about sex but power. Recently we have the Steubenville rapists and the lament of what a shame it is to see the futures of good, smart athletic men go to waste because of a drunk girl (if you google Steubenville rape cnn victim blaming, there are many opinion articles exploring this topic that I won’t link to). 

There is a notion that we live in a “rape culture” because as a society we look for ways women can “prevent” sexual assault from becoming a reality for them rather than teaching our sons not to rape women, not to force their sexual parts into a woman’s intimate area violently, not to take away someone’s sexual agency and not to humiliate them. Adding to this, it is still difficult for Americans to understand how women can rape men (forceful fellatio for example of which I personally have one friend this happened to). American notions of what rape constitutes, who deserves to be recognized as a victim, and how we should hold the people who rape accountable are not resolved issues.

Bringing it back to Game of Thrones, rape is clearly acceptable as a societal practice. As a woman watching the show, it feels like nearly every  other episode contains a rape if not several (it has been clearly noted the extreme salaciousness of female nudity in the show, something I am not personally opposed to). Aside from Law and Order: SVU I know of no other show that contains sexual assault so commonly. In Sunday’s episode, while I was watching the episode, I definitely felt that Jaimie raped Cersei. I felt the same discomfort I get in the pit of my stomach from every other scene containing sexual assault in the show, heard “no”, “stop” and “its not right!” from Cersei. It should be noted that this scene is not even in the books and was crafted specially for the show.

The show’s writers, however, seem to disagree with me. Alex Graves is quotes as saying “Well, it becomes consensual by the end, because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

We know as adults that there is such a thing as women having rape fantasies and real life sexual encounters can sometimes be confusing because of sexual power dynamics. However, from the scene I watched, Cersei was so turned off by the idea of intercourse in a house of worship, next to her dead son, and from a man who is being unreasonably aggressive toward her, that there is really no conceivable way this was a consensual act. Dan Savage, a sex columnist part of the sex positive movement, believes that we should change the discourse of consent from “no means no” to “an enthusiastic yes!”. I agree with this. This is a frame of mind where everyone’s sexual agency is respected and domination within sexual dynamics would only happen in an open, agreed upon encounter such as sexual dominant/submissive relationships as opposed to “well she didn’t say no”. Cersei did say no more than a few times and the actress acted the scene as a revolted women who ultimately submitted to a sexual assault which some how becomes conflated with consent. Giving up during a power struggle is not the same as “ok, I’m alright with this violence happening to me and I like it because I am no longer flailing”. Some fans have interpreted her silence as ultimate consent, to which I say, this was not an enthusiastic yes which would have indicated consent but instead the acceptance of an attack that the victim is not poised to stop. Its kind of like saying a robbery victim felt that they were giving to charity because the thief who attacked them had a knife.

Come on Game of Thrones writers, I know you can be intellectually more rigorous better than the position you are justifying.


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Oligarch’s Paradise

Tonight I flipped through the channels to find something to eat my supper to (I don’t say “dinner” because of my working class Irish/Polish roots) and to my delight, “Dangerous Minds” was playing on Showtime. In this film, a white former Marine teaches high school to economically disadvantaged and mostly non-white students where violence is everyday commonplace. The students navigate many impossible situations, such as getting kicked out of school for being pregnant, dealing drugs to have enough money to eat, not having enough to eat, growing up in poor schools which did not foster literacy, and living under the threat of death. Coolio, a rapper whose career peaked in the 1990s, wrote the song “Gangsta’s Paradise” which is featured in the movie. The song samples Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” and is a beautiful piece of music for both the sound and the clear, eloquent message and delivery.

This song starts out with the lyrics “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death/I take a look at my life/and realize there’s nothing left”. This line is obviously powerful as it invokes one of the most significant Biblical passages and shows the sadness of a life lived where so many limits impose “nothing left” but self-destruction. The song continues to outline why he has chosen the life of a gangsta, “Or you and your homies might be lined in chalk/I really hate to trip but I gotta loc/As they croak, I see myself in the pistol smoke”. According to RapGenius this passage means that while he does not like to “trip” or become angry/violent, he only sees his only death unless he is preeminently violent, “loc” being a reference to the gun he must carry on his person to prevent his own life from being taken. He also empathizes with his victims, but unfortunately cannot bring that to a positive fruition because “I see myself in the pistol smoke”. In my previous post, I explored a little bit what constitutes a violent act when physical harm is absent. This song demonstrated that for people the American society has relegated unimportant, people who are economically disadvantaged, people of color and the intersection of the two, there are few options giving a person liberal agency to choose the course of their lives. For many, the choices are the prison system, the cemetery, or for those youths who want out, the military which could equally result in their death. Is this a violence perpetrated by a society? Yes. How can a society, a non-agent actor, perpetrate a violence against people without decreed actions of physical violence? As with my previous post, a violence does not have to be physical. The American society has a history of enacting policies, such as Redlining disproportionate drug sentencing laws (longer sentences for crack cocaine possession over powdered cocaine to which crack cocaine use is the more chosen form of the drug for low income peoples because of the low street cost), and perpetually broken school systems in areas of prominently non-white racial demographics. In “Gangsta’s Paradise”, Coolio demonstrates the apathy, despair, anger, and ultimate choice of acting in a physically aggressive and violent way as a means of survival. For anyone who has seen “The Wire”, Omar is another embodiment of this phenomenon, himself living in a Gangsta’s Paradise of heroin ridden inner city Baltimore.

Recently, we learned that this country is an Oligarchy with democratic features, not a classic Democratic Republic To us common folk, this is not really news or surprising but it is nice that there is finally firm political science evidence for our long held suspicions. Between the recent Supreme Court decision on campaign finance, corporate personhood and welfare, and complete and total reign of the banking elite to steal from the common folk, the Oligarch’s Paradise goes far beyond what Coolio discusses in his song. Drafting wars, financing private prisons, buying congressmen, and no fear of prosecution for white collar economic crimes, the Oligarchy really got it made. Unlike Coolio, they do not live in fear for their lives nor do not they live fearfully of repercussions from the people they do violence against nor do they have any empathy for the people they chose to commit crimes against. American violence at its finest and most powerful, the last line of “Gangsta’s Paradise” “Tell me why are we/So blind to see/That the ones we hurt/Are you and me” is simply not applicable to them. At least Coolio’s character in the song could recognize what he was doing was morally objectionable.