Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Am I Racist?

So they executed Tookie Williams in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, December 13th, as scheduled. Sad to see the brother go down like this (thanks a lot Arnold for not commuting his sentence to life in prison). Oh well brother Tookie, guilty or not guilty, your life was not in vain and you will still stand as a symbol of redemption for millions of us out there.

Today we had a gift exchange thing at the office and I'm pleased to say that my colleauge loved the tie and box of candies I bought for him. I was also well pleased with my gifts: a 50 pack of CD-Rs and an assortment of pens and pencils. A professor simply cannot go without these things (particularly a professor who believes in buying music and then copying them to CD-Rs for use in the car--why bother scratch up the originals?).

Anyhow, while on the way to work, I had to stop and pick up the other half of my colleauge's Christmas present and a nice little gift bag. The store I chose to go to was the Super Wal-Mart about 20 minutes away from my workplace. Now, the people in this little rural town where the Wal-Mart is located tend to be very country (i.e. redneck-ish) and, as such, they tend to be a little bit on the racist side as well (or so I've been told a few times). Usually, I have no problems with these people, as they either ignore me or look at me in a weird sort of "who the hell is this n*gg*r coming up in our store?" sort of way.

Now, I would (usually) consider myself to be a non-threatining type of black man. I'm not very tall, always smiling, polite, and generally laid back. The only intimidating thing about me would probably be my broad shoulders and massive chest. Today, I walked into the Wal-Mart, and was busily looking for the items I needed for my co-worker's gifts, when a very old man walked up to me and nodded. Ok, I nodded back. As I walked around the clothing rack, another middle-aged man nodded to me and said "how are you doing this morning?". At the end of my shopping excursion, a total of seven people had nodded at me or said good morning. All of them were what I'd consider to be "good old boys" (i.e. the big truck driving, John Deere hat wearing, NASCAR-watching, camoflauge as formal-wear type people who live in the mountains).

Being that I've become quite a bit jaded after understanding the true nature of contemporary racism in America, I question the motives of these people. Are they "nice" to me because they're afraid of black men? Are they simply not racist? Are they tolerant of black folks as long as they don't try to have relations with their sons and daughters? Are they trying to get over their own complexes about Blacks and being nice to me is just Step 4 of a 12-Step program?

On the other side of the coin, am I being racist toward them? Do I really need to question the motives of these people because they chose to be civil toward me? Should I be unfriendly toward them?

Last night, after talking to Pebbles, I realized that I've become a little bit intolerant. Normally, I have nothing against white folks, but lately I find myself calling them "crackers" when I believe that I'm not being treated fairly. Also, it seems as if I've developed a complex against East Indians. Nevermind that I share over 60% of my ethnic background with East Indians, nor that my dad's wife is a second or third generation East Indian, nor that some of my best friends here in the US come from said continent. I think I've gotten upset at a vast number of them as a result of my grad school experience. Many of the Indians I went to grad school with proved to be a most dishonorable set of individuals who cheated on exams and assignments with great vigor and got great jobs at the end of their time because they had access to a vast network of other Indians. For me, it sort of cheapened the whole idea of studying and working hard for what you want.

Bearing all these thoughts in mind, the big question of the day is Am I Racist?

Monday, December 12, 2005

To Kill or Not To Kill?

Well, it's finals week here for my students and I'm finally able to touch my blog again. The first order of business was to update my blogroll, ensuring that I added links for De Immigrant, Revolution Island, and SmallIslandGirl. Also fixed the link description for Stunner's Afflictions (i.e. I took the apostraphe out of Afflictions). Anyhow, how unnu week start? Mine started out quite well, with Ms. Pebbles flying down to Little Big City on the weekend. House feels like a home again rasta!

Anyhow, the gentleman pictured on this morning's post is Stanley Tookie Williams. For those of you who know a little something about the history of American street gangs, particularly the Bloods and the Crips, you'll probably recognize him as a co-founder of the Crips. I believe there was even a movie portraying his life story, where his role was played Jamie Foxx.

The question of the day is whether or not they should execute him tomorrow. Note that even though he does have a violent history and was convicted of killing quite a few people, he does appear to be reformed and has even become a strong anti-gang activist, publishing several childrens books with anti-gang messages.

I contend that maybe his death sentence should be commuted to life in prison with no hope of parole, as opposed to death by lethal injection. Why? Because the man is an example of how productive black people can be behind bars and perhaps his life does still have some merit based on the type of person he is now. Oh well, let's wait and see what Governer Schwarzenegger's office has to say later today.

So, what do you all think? To Kill or Not To Kill?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Rest In Peace Richard Pryor

And so the curtain has been lowered on the life of yet another icon of Black culture. Rest in Peace Richard Pryor. Your irreverent comedic antics and your ability to say things that most people thought about but never had the guts to say will never be forgotten. Rest in Peace brother.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Suspended For Speaking Spanish?

I was surfing the newspaper links a few minutes ago and came across a very interesting article about a teenager, Zach Rubio, who was suspended from his high school in Kansas for speaking Spanish to a fellow classmate (you can read the entire article here). Apparently, the youngster was outside of his classroom on a restroom break when a friend asked him for $1 in Spanish. Of course, the youngster, who happens to be bilingual, responds in Spanish and the two end up having a full blown conversation. Eventually a teacher overheard the two boys talking and sent them to the principal's office where they were suspended.

Honestly, I believe that these kids should be rewarded for their fluency in multiple languages instead of being made to feel ashamed of their cultural identity, especially when they were outside of the classroom and from all indications weren't being disruptive! Maybe because I speak Spanish and Patois along with the Queen's English I'm a little bit more sensitive to these issues than other people? I don't know, tell me what you think.

Have a safe and wonderful weekend all! I shall endeavour to ensure that I don't go sliding over snow and ice with all the bad weather we've been having lately!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Shooting at MIA

Haven't felt like posting much in a long time. Not much has been going on really, just winding down the semester and trying to make the best of the last few days before I head home to Jamaica for vacation. We've been having a lot of snow and freezing rain lately and the climate is becoming unbearably cold with record lows in the 20s (degrees F). Cannot wait to feel the warm Jamaican sunshine beating down on my ebony skin. Tired of wearing sweaters and jackets and gloves and hats. Winter has just begun and I feel like I'm trapped in that movie, The Day After Tomorrow. I think I'll eventually have to end up burning my math and computer science books to survive this winter what with the high price of gas and all!

So, I have a moral question for you. Today some guy got shot and killed at Miami International Airport by the Sky Marshals because he claimed to have had a bomb on his person. It turns out that the man was mentally disturbed (his wife said that he was bipolar) and had not taken his medication. If you're unfamiliar with the story, read the article by clicking here and tell me what you think. I definately feel that the Sky Marshals acted appropriately in this case, though you are all free to disagree with me if you'd like. The fact is that if a man says he has a bomb on a commercial airline no less, then he deserves to have his clock cleaned. If you know the man is mentally ill and has to travel for long distances, let the man take his rass medication before he flies! Anyhow, I'm curious to hear what y'all have to say.