Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Million Man March

(This is one of those blog posts I started a while back and never completed.  In revisiting it, I have a few additional points that I want to address in a subsequent piece about the film "for colored girls")

I just read an article that commemorated the Million Man March from fifteen years ago.  Wow, cannot believe it has been that long!  But I am dismayed by the conclusion reached by the author...some of the same old tired complaints that pit black women against black men and the uselessness of massive social movements:

1. The Massive Exhale C-O-N-spiracy: So yet again, another disgruntled black man refers to the work of black women produced between 1985 and 1995 as anti-male.  This is so tired.  And so untrue.  I am not sure why black men get so sensitive about less-than flattering, yet realistic portrayals of some male characters.  As if to suggest that there not any men that are abusive, destructive, unfaithful and absent because everyone is loving, steadfast, supportive and honest.  Are you for real?

Can we put to rest the myth that there is some nefarious conspiracy by black women to bruise the collective black male ego?  When white TV writers can only seem to fashion stories about troubled drug dealers (i.e., The Wire), I don't read any major complaints.  I mean, isn't that negative as well? 

I spent half of my college years engaged in this debate and I always found it ironic that whenever a black woman gets celebrated for telling her truth through artistic expression, she gets accused of male-bashing.  Yet that was also the era that gave rise to gangsta rap and the video vixen, and I do not recall that those artists received the same level of condemnation...

(Except, there was condemnation against gangsta rap, led by frightened white people.  When C. Delores Tucker, a black woman, railed against misogyny in hip hop, she got ridiculed.  Other black critics were dismissed as disconnected and prudish.  And given the state of hip hop these days, maybe we should have listened.)

And now the most prolific producer of black art is Tyler Perry--a man whose most celebrated character is Madea the drag grandma.  I am not hating on Perry, but it seems odd that in the search for so-called positive black representations, we have settled for live-action cartoon characters and superficial morality plays.  Whatever...

(And this is where I will direct you to my upcoming review of "for colored girls", directed by none other than Mr. Perry).

2. Million Man March #fail:  OK, so I am going to debunk my own skepticism about this march and proclaim that yes, in fact, it was a good thing.  At the time, I disagreed with the call for men to come to the Mall alone to atone for their collective sins because I felt that it reinforced the sexist idea that men controlled the destiny of the black community (I was a bit over-the-top with my feminist rhetoric back then).  I felt that in an age where women had more options, the salvation of the black family and the community as a whole would come from equal effort--and that quite frankly it was a sad state of affairs to acknowledge that men had been missing in action for so long.

In revising my view of the MMM, I was wrong.  Black men did need to be summoned to the Mall because they were not getting the message in church, at home, the barbershop or in any other institution that they needed to stand up to take care of their responsibilities.  And that call to come forth on behalf of a community plagued by social ills ignited some of those brothers to return to their communities with a renewed sense of purpose. 

Some black men went back to create businesses.  Some black men went into the classroom and began to teach.  Some black men went to school and got degrees.  And though he has not said so directly, I believe the MMM planted the seed in the mind of a certain POTUS that yes he could...

Anyone who thinks that this effort was a failure was not paying close enough attention to the results.  No, it did not produce whole-scale change, but it was a start and sometimes a start is all that is needed.  Sure, the momentum and emphasis of that day was misplaced on the leadership of Louis Farrakhan, but that is only because he was the sensational aspect of it all.  In much the same way that Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck draw the attention of the media to the Tea Party, larger than life media personalities tend to obscure the layer of real work that goes on beneath the surface of a movement.  The success of the MMM is that a million men got together in order to take a stand.  And then at least half a million of them went back into their communities to do the really hard work of becoming better fathers and husbands, workers and doers--better men.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Lost or Found Ground?

I am not happy with the election results, but eh, it is 2010 and most people only vote when there is a Presidency at stake.  No need to worry because many of the folks who stayed home yesterday will probably go to the polls in two years...

Yeah right.

I don't know how else to say this without seeming so monumentally pissed, but if my generation does not wake up and get serious about something, we will continue to fail at everything.  EVERYTHING!

We failed because I read a statistic (and I am still looking for verification) that said only 4.7% of African Americans voted yesterday.  Only 10% of young people under 30 voted yesterday.  And these are the main groups of people who complain about getting screwed all the time.  Well, yeah, that happens when the people in power have your permission to screw you when you don't show up to vote.

I read an article about three interesting newcomers to the political stage (two others were not mentioned, but I will mention them here): Susanna Martinez (R), governor-elect of New Mexico; Tim Scott (R), elected to Congress from South Carolina; Alan West (R), elected to Congress from Florida; Nikki Haley (R), governor-elect from South Carolina; and Marco Rubio (R), senator-elect from Florida.  See a pattern here folks?  These are all brown Republicans...guess we can't make the argument that the GOP is full of racists  especially when the Democrats were trying as hard as they could to disavow their brown candidates.  And guess what, each of these folks were elected from the SOUTH (ok, so New Mexico is the Southwest).

This is a bit stream of conscious, so bear with me...but I see the ground that we lost yesterday as typical.  The fact that the GOP got to reclaim the House is not that upsetting, although it is for me personally because I really like and respect Nancy Pelosi for her balls (I wish I had a third of her guts).  I am upset that the Democrats got beat again because they were playing checkers when the game is chess.  Are we going to learn?

a. Apparently, the Tea Party is not as racist as you claimed since at least 5 Tea Party candidates who won yesterday were people of color.  Yes, there was Sharron Angle, but it seems in all of the attention that was paid to her stupidity, these five snuck in under the radar.

b. Running away from Obama didn't help.  Embracing Obama didn't help.  So maybe you need to grow a spine and stand up for what YOU believe and not worry about Obama.  Maybe this election really was about you.

c. But since we are on the subject of Obama, please clean house.  NOW.

d. And as for those folks who stayed home, well what can I say?  You disappoint me.  I hope the next two years work well for you.  As for me, the next two years have offered me a challenge--how to convince you never to sit out another election again.