I Promote Divisions?

I am not a crime-fighter. I am not a super hero. I am man with a vision and goal. When one does the anti racism work that I do then one will know that some people misunderstand words and phrases because those who operate within the fabric of the system do not see the birdcage for what it is. It becomes difficult to explain that despite whether or not one may believe that words like “white privilege” is real, it becomes even harder to deconstruct the belief that there is a system of advantage that other have been born into.

As I look over the landscape of the Latinegr@s Project, I do see how I got here. There are a number of people who are glad that we exist and we promote ourselves and the education of others. I am not making this up when I say that more slaves ship landed in Central and South America than it did in the United States. Yet, Latinos refuse to see how they fit in to Black History Month and some African Americans do not even understand that we are closely related in more ways than just sharing project building space.

Michonne is a major
character within the series.

I have been told more than once by more than one person that the things I do and say promote division and that perhaps I am drumming up controversy for the sake of getting attention. I disagree. I am very open in my opinion and criticism of all forms of oppression when I see it. It is not my fault that a company like McDonalds decided to air commercials of African Americans dancing while eating chicken. I cannot possible be the only one who has an issue with this. I have the right to express that and the right to say that The Walking Dead comic book has more Black people in that the television show.

This is not me whining. This is me pointing out things for others to digest. The beautiful thing about living in the United States is that I have the right to say anything I want and others have the right not to listen to me. But, if one is to engage me on any one of these topics, please understand that I know what I am taking about. I did not coin the phrase White Privilege, you can thank Dr. Peggy McIntosh. She is a feminist and white woman. She coined the phrase because believe it or not, it exists! So much so, that there is a conference about it.

Which brings me to this idea that I am promoting division amongst people. That is absurd. Divisions of people already exist an yet no one wants to discuss this. It is like saying this makes it real and being quiet makes it all go away. I promote education and pride within people. We all need to hold and adhere to what we are and what our culture is because it will become lost. I also point things out because there are a plethora of ignorant people out there. Think about Linsanity that has take over New York and just about any sports channel.

I don’t think this is funny.

Here is a story of a guy who got cut by thee NBA Teams and then lands on The New York Knicks only to become an overnight icon. This is something that we would normally see in the movies. Jeremy Lin becomes the most popular Asian man in the United States since Bruce Lee. The best part about this is that he was born in this country and yet we see the ignorance of people come out. ESPN fired someone because of it. Not to mention the random things and pictures I see on Twitter that I do not consider to be funny at all. The sad part about it is that black and brown people alike make stupid ass racist comments. I guess 400 years of oppression give us the right to push others down?

Which leads me to my final point about the Matrix. Morpheus said it best: The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it. That system, my friends, is the system of Oppression.

I will let Tim Wise take it from here:

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Black History X: The Bird Cage

I laugh. I laugh at the ignorance of others and realize that at some point the American Education System has failed so many. I laugh because my sarcasm just does not cover the range of things that I could say to people who just do not know their history nor do they know what goes on around them. This is not limited to the young people in this country either.

What am I talking about? Is Black History Month the issue? Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t but my issue is that ignorance is not constrained to just one month. It becomes prevalent as we get close to and into months like this. This really is a month of reflection on where we have been and where we are going. Instead, I feel we live in a world where people actually believe that racism is not an issue anymore. I am not even talking about white people.

I understand that most white people do not understand the intricate system of oppression. I get that they do not see white privilege. I see why they do not understand the black and white paradigm or why the color blind ideology is negative. I expect the responses from them because they are raised in a world that is made for them. But what about our people? What about Black and Latinos who have been white washed to believe that racism is a distant memory that they see in black and white news reels where they see black people being hosed by firefighters in the south?

I have often talked about the color blind Latinos. This is nothing new. The whole idea being lighter skinned in the Caribbean and South America is to obtain a high social standing. We have pretty much the same thing here in the United States when it comes to how black women are viewed. The concept of beauty is to be as light as possible (and as skinny as possible). African Americans should not feel that because Obama is President that we have gone through great strides in “solving” Racism.

On the contrary, racism is at the heart of the issue in the GOP political debates. While it is not being directly said, let’s think about the tone of things being said and what we are willing to let people get away with. Newt Gingrich, who is known to say bigoted things, can come out and say that “Spanish is the language of the Ghetto” and where is the uproar? Sure, Newt will say that Mitt Romney fabricated such a statement which begs the question, even if Mitt did, how is this ok to even lie about?

I can use tons of examples of how Newt views the working poor (who are seen as black), but the one thing that is my absolute favorite is how Mitt Romney is now considered Latino. We as proud Latinos are so eager to claim anyone and of course we should because most Latinos are just as prejudiced against African Americans as white people.

What gets me is that most people don’t see the things that are blatantly in front of them, which brings me the the Birdcage Analogy.  A few years ago I read an article by Marilyn Frye called “Oppression.” In this article she talks about the oppression that women endure by the hands of men. I have often believed that if one group of people are oppressed then we all are. Even though she focuses primarily on women her Birdcage Analogy fits racial oppression very well:

Consider a birdcage. If you look very closely at just one wire in the cage, you cannot see the other wires. If your conception of what is before you is determined by this myopic focus, you could look at that one wire, up and down the length of it, and be unable to see why a bird would not just fly around the wire any time it wanted to go somewhere. Furthermore, even if, one day at a time, you myopically inspected each wire, you still could not see why a bird would have trouble going past the wires to get anywhere. There is no physical property of any one wire, nothing that the closest scrutiny could discover, that will reveal how a bird could be inhibited or harmed by it except in the most accidental way. It is only when you step back, stop looking at the wires one by one, microscopically, and take a macroscopic view of the whole cage, that you can see why the bird does not go anywhere; and then you will see it in a moment. It will require no great subtlety of mental powers. It is perfectly obvious that the bird is surrounded by a network of systematically related barriers, none one of which would be the least hindrance to its flight, but which, by their relations to each other, are as confining as the solid walls of a dungeon.

Grasp the power of this analogy and realize who the bird in the cage is. There needs to be a general understanding of the system of oppression in this country that is not limited to just people of color. When you do not see the wires of the cage then you do not realize that you are trapped. Like the bird, people think everything is ok in their world and automatically resist the urge to step away from it. Kinda sounds like The Matrix, huh?

It is only when you can step back and see the cage or the system as whole do you realize the grand scheme of it all. The only way to see the entire birdcage is to educate ourselves to these things. Let’s not forget the people who own the birdcage are apart of that system. They may not see it that way because the system has been that way for years and they are just doing and benefiting from such a system for centuries that they have no idea that it even is a cage.

I get tired of the unwillingness to understand the need for Black History Month by hearing such a question like, “Why is there no White History Month?” Very simple. Every month is White History Month. The fact we even have to be given a mere month to keep the masses aware that Black people did contribute to this country is just another part of the wire in the cage. Just like when the Tea party wants to ban any mention of the founding fathers having slaves from History Books because it gives a negative view on them. Perhaps the fact that Arizona can ban Mexican Studies should suggest that many people wish to have a color blind education. The funny thing about being color blind is that you see no color but we are are Black and you cannot hide that.

No More Excuses.