Thursday, September 29, 2016

It's Not Achmed

No, he doesn't actually look like me... 
except for the chromosomes... 
and the pigmentation... 

The Issue At Hand

Again. It's not Achmed I worry about.

And, for the first time, I feel I need to add I'm not worried about Jamaal - I only use that name as it is likely Black/Urban/African-American enough that "not-racist" racists will get the point.

I am worried about the pissed-off white guy who looks like me. The guy who doesn't like the direction the country is headed and worries about "what it's going to be like in 18 years". The mechanic who plans to join a militia and states, in no uncertain terms, there will be a revolution to take the country back when "your patriots overthrow the government" after HRC is elected.

A Faulty Premise

OK, First: Take it from what? Or from whom? No one took anything from you.

You handed it over in a gift-wrapped package when you decided the you wanted to be afraid of a world that didn't look like the one portrayed on Leave It To Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show, Gilligan's Island, or The Brady Bunch.

You tied the bow as soon as you didn't want to acknowledge there was change occurring around you.

The problem with the worlds created for these shows is that they are one-dimensional. I'm not talking about the empty building fronts and thin plots. I am talking about the lack of interaction between people of color and the main characters. Each of these shows creates a false universe from the viewer's perspective. The main characters are all white, straight, and unoffensive.

Few characters smoke or drink and no one has bodily functions beyond eating. Sex is right out. Sexy can be OK, though, but not too much (just ask Ginger). Even those with problematic traits (Otis on Andy Griffith, for example) are seen as lovable comic relief figures and are treated with patience by all.

The Brady Bunch's Peter meets sportsball star Deacon Jones. 
Peter is not frightened because Fox News hasn't begun broadcasting. 
(That and Deacon Jones was forced to wear a cardigan sweater)

This artificial world has the camera looking at a specific view - and it is not the view from the other side of the tracks. You know, the side of the tracks where 'they' know 'they' need to stay - because that is where 'their' churches, schools, stores, restaurants, bars, and homes are located. And that world doesn't leave much room for non-white role models. Well, there are the Harlem Globetrotters... but they fall outside of this made-up world. They are part of the real world. The public world.

So, in this artificially produced world, there are a few speaking roles for people who aren't white. There is one in Leave It To Beaver (a maid), one on The Andy Griffith Show (a football coach), three on Gilligan's Island (a Hawaiian cast as a Pacific Islander, an American Indian cast as a Pacific Islander, and a Japanese/Hawaiian cast as an Asian Indian - not counting any of the later one-offs), and three on The Brady Bunch (sportsball star Deacon Jones and two children - Asian- and African-American adoptees). Even I Dream of Jeannie cast a Burmese actor as an Arab. (if I missed any - please let me know!)
Not the minority you were looking for... 
Italian-American Vito Scotti playing a Japanese Sailor on Gilligan

There are minorities if you look hard enough, but they are cast as set dressing with only a handful of speaking parts. There are no interactions outside of crowd scenes (so long as they stay to the back) and occasional nods of recognition. There are no issues with someone trying to drink from the wrong fountain, go to the wrong movie theater, try to get your hair cut at Floyd's, or sit in at the Five and Dime. There is no friction, no protest, no MLK, much less BLM.

At least those hippies on Scooby Doo and The Partridge Family came into contact with minorities... Scooby and the gang encountered minorities as both good guys and bad guys - and as white guys in costumes. The Partridges were really inclusive. They had people of color AND non-Christians... They even showed up in Detroit to help out Lou Gossett and Richard Pryor (with the help of the Black Panthers).

The Times, They Are a'Changing (Maybe)

There are still issues with how television hasn't changed much. For a long time, the minority roles were often the main family portrayed as "all-Americans" - The Cosby Show, The Jeffersons, etc. Not much room for a modern day Chico and the Man or Sanford and Son. There are some outliers with Modern Family, Glee, and others. Surprisingly (or not), the Disney Channel may be one of the best in this area as they recognize the marketing need to be more inclusive. I won't even touch blackface/whitewashing here as others have covered that far better than I could.
Wizened Elder AND Environmental Activist 

Either way, I can't help but think that this mental creation of a pre-racial America can only come from the segregated world of popular TV. In other words, a world in which minorities are seen and not heard. It was a world with no BLM. A world in which American Indians were seen as a lost people, at worst, or wizened elders and environmental activists, at best. A world in which everyone went to the same church.

We all were good citizens. Authority had a purpose. Order was there for a reason. Alphas were better than Betas. In many ways (and as a parent), I see parallels to the Isle of Sodor, a place where anything other than solid, serious, diligent work and putting order first results in "Chaos and Delay."
And how would Sir like his Topham Hatt? 
This is a world in which everyone could be happy and have little in the way of strife and disagreement. A world in which we didn't have to ask, "Can't we all just get along?" Because we were already getting along.

The Reasoned Response... no, wait... the Opposite of That

But just in case we aren't getting along and it appears that someone is trying to change the camera placement, I can think of no better way to fix it..., er, defend the Constitution... than to have an armed insurrection. It's not like there is a mechanism to modify/throw out the Constitution... Oh, wait... that would be Article V...
And maybe that is the thing. By the clarity of the complaints about how "They" are supposedly destroying the Constitution (in ways that the usual suspects can't actually do things), I can only assume that the militia member, the white supremacist, and the sovereign citizen don't recognize that in order to change things, they have to have a SOLID majority. Nationally. Of course, many sovereign citizens don't believe the current form of government is legitimate.
Either way, maybe this is part of why the Bundy Family, the 3%ers, the Oathkeepers, and others feel the only way to affect change is to haul out their AR and act offended. They act offended because they do not understand the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and History. They act offended because their view of the world is incorrect, based on a one-dimensional view.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Editorial Restraint

Part 1 - In Which I Recognize My Limits

For regular readers of my Facebook feed (Because I know this blog is anything but regular...), you may be wondering why I have recently covered Kaepernick, the Election, LGBTQ issues, Anti-Islamic sentiment, minority rights, and women's rights issues and NOT DAPL (other than the one link related to something totally different but in the same vein), the reason is simple. 
I don't feel qualified to do so. 

Part 2 - In Which I Place Matters Into Context

While an ally of the tribal members attempting to safeguard their heritage and history (two different things) while protecting their (and our) environment, I do not feel comfortable speaking to the issues as a whole. 
Why? because I am a white guy in the West. I have spent most of my adult life within a short drive of various tribal lands - Northern Arizona, El Paso, Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and now Arkansas. I have seen people treat tribal members poorly. A much more ignorant me treated tribal members poorly once upon a time. 
With time has come the knowledge and respect of the various cultures and the importance of giving them the right of refusal regarding corporate work on tribal lands. 

Part 3 - In Which You Find Out The Upshot

I will say I support the collective voice of any tribe when someone attempts to take the tribe somewhere it does not want to go. I support their right to control what occurs on tribal lands. I support the right of activists to prevent damage to their sites of importance - religious, historical, and archaeological. 
I do know that as a white guy in the West, I do have a voice. I also know that I am far enough from tribal politics that I should censor myself for fear of misspeaking and saying something that is culturally insensitive. 

And so I leave it to You, Dear Reader

I have many friends who are tribally-affiliated or have worked with the tribes across this country. I will let their voices speak loudly and clearly as I know that my own voice will not add clarity. 
Now. Go and Speak.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Missing Things

Wow... this has been an intense few weeks... 

After finally allaying the fears of my friends that something was wrong, I started to slowly dip my toe back into the pool of Facebook.  It was a good, albeit weird, few weeks. I stepped back, took a few breaths, and realized that I don't have to do Facebook. Especially at the level I had been Facebooking. Keep in mind that I am someone who - for several years - had been telling friends in the museum field, "You HAVE GOT to be on Facebook!"

What an ass.

You don't have to be on Facebook. You don't have to be on any social media if you don't want to. Yes, these things can help to get certain things done. But they are tools. Tools have purposes. They vary from platform to platform. They vary from user to user. Figure out what you want and then use it.

Once I got over that, I relaxed a bit. I now log in, look around, like, comment, maybe post, and then log out. I can get more done of other things now. Yet I get to stay in contact with those who are important to me (Sometimes that contact takes the shape of simply lurking your posts).

That doesn't sound so intense!

Only because it's not.

It was/is everything else. I would say nothing much, and then I stand back and look at the whole. I am feeling that the big exhale is coming up but that is just because I feel like I have been holding my breath for the last few weeks.

Something that has been a spectre during this time of year is the anniversary of my mom's passing. We lost her to ALS four years ago (until recently, my most-viewed blog). As close as I was to her, I felt that I was dealing well. Until this year. There have been a few moments these past few months when I caught myself finally realizing I miss my mom. So with the anniversary coming up, there are thoughts. Time does not heal all wounds. Good huevos rancheros help. That or magnums of Berenger while eating taco chips...

Compounding this was the passing of our cat, Merley (мурлыкать). We had this little guy for most of 20 years. He was the youngest of our '50 pounds of cat'. Merley allowed us to live in his house for the last six years, having lost his buddies Caramel and Tigger to diabetes and cancer.

As much as they were all our cats, Merley was mine. I was the one who brought him into the house the first time. I named him, I was the one whose lap he went to. When I moved to the new job in November, he came with me as my roommate (well, he and the fish). He was the only thing that got me through living alone for two months. He was my little buddy. He flopped on my chest. He groomed my beard. He woke us at all hours with what one friend referred to as "The Cry of the Demon Cat." And he was my furry little buddy.

The last couple of weeks saw age catch up with him. One night last week, Merley passed away in his sleep. He is now somewhere annoying Caramel and Tigger with his pouncing and cuddling. But I can still hear him messing around in the house. That or we think of the doors we no longer have to close, the litter box that is no longer in the way, or the food and water we no longer have to refill. It's the small things, but that still fails to lessen the hurt.

While this was going on, my soccer fandom expanded by one team. Through watching John Green's FIFA 16 series playing the Wimbly Womblys, I was introduced to the story of AFC Wimbledon. With all of the attention on Leicester's rise from near relegation to champion of the Premiership, AFC Wimbledon's tale has received short shrift.

Fourteen years ago, the local community created AFC Wimbledon in response to the previous home club being moved to the town of Milton Keynes (46 miles as the crow flies). Starting with tryouts in the city park, the locals took pride in their 'phoenix' club. Starting in the 9th tier of the English Football League System, the Dons were promoted 5 times in 9 seasons. Finally arriving in League Two of the Football League, they saw a few rough seasons, near relegation, and a brilliant run of great play this past season.

Two weeks ago, AFC Wimbledon finished their regular season in 7th place on the table. This qualified them for a four-team playoff to determine the final club to be promoted to League One. After a win and a draw against Accrington Stanley, they received a date with Plymouth Argyle at Wembley Stadium. FREAKING Wembley Stadium. A club with a home grounds capacity of 4,850 (half standing) playing on a pitch surrounded by 90,000 seats...

This week, the club formed in 2002 beat Plymouth Argyle 2-0 and earned their promotion to the same league with the MK Dons - the team that used to be the team from Wimbledon. Being in the States, I had no easy way to watch the match. Twitter and several news feeds gave me the lowdown - but I still yelled out when Lyle Taylor scored - eliciting a "Daaaaaaad!!!" from TheGirl - and sang John Green's "Akenfenwa" song after the PK in 90'+10', laughing and crying as I did so.  John Green - the guy who piqued my interest in the club was at the match and shared his experience in his vlog. At the end, I again started laughing and crying.

The Upshot

With the downs come a few ups.

I guess that is the point here. Nothing about guns. Nothing about being a liberal. Nothing about history - well except that bit about the Dons and their phoenix-like rise from the ashes.

This has been a weird Spring. Some house cleaning - mental and otherwise. Some drama - at home, online, in the world.

But there is good. Good for all of us. We just have to look for it. It doesn't just show up. Don't be lazy. Be active in seeking it out. Huevos rancheros, kitty hugs, or Cinderella stories. Be welcome to shed tears.

Just make sure to look for and embrace the happy.