Saturday, July 2, 2011
It is a tough subject to write about but I am going to give it a shot because I caught a glimpse of something on the TV and it sparked my imagination and has made me get off my ass and write something. First of all I was listening as a couple of lovely women were on television talking about an event they were attending that was turning out to be important culturally. The event is the Essence Magazine fair in New Orleans. Various African American luminaries have made the trek to hot and steamy and always lovely New Orleans to share their vision of what life means to us and how we can make life better and what we need to focus on to accomplish as much. It made me think about something I have always grappled with as a women of mixed race. Where does one pitch their tent (psychically and physically and emotionally) without offending? I know the one drop rule but there is more to it. We were raised in a white dominant place (Canada) part time, the other part in Hollywood. We, my family (Mom, sister and myself) had a year and change in the ghetto of Detroit Michigan that was unforgettable. It was so frightening in fact, because we had prior to living there, we had been in Vancouver Canada which still today has a .005 percent African Canadian population who by the way I am related to. We would see a brown skinned person and lo and behold it would be cousin “so and so” or Aunt “what’s her name” or uncle “you know who”. When we migrated to America it was to Detroit during the race riots of 1968/69. So things were very violent and angry and loud, we were not complete sheltered princesses mind you, my family presided over three night clubs and we as tiny children were exposed to many violent fist fights. But I digress, what I have noticed about our personal (family) racial identity is that it is weird. It is different and awkward. Our(my sister and I) racial history started in a place devoid of color almost then progressed to Laurel canyon in Hollywood more diverse and certainly colorful. Yet, I adopted as a rebellious gesture against my parents whom I absolutely disliked growing up, my rebellion was to embody as best I could, to become a hippy. I wanted to be Joni Mitchell with the blond hair and everything including her long bad ass list of fabulous lovers. I sang her songs knowing every lick and lyric and wanted so badly to morph into her that when I did finally become friends with her (if one calls what we are friends) I was surprised to find out she wanted to be a woman of color herself. Not me exactly but she spent decades being chased and chasing a lot of men who happened to be African American both for professional reasons and other mystical magical stuff. How ironic? So race is up for me as I listened to the young women talk about how wonderful it is to be in celebration of all things African American and how healing it is to listen to our luminaries further inspiring us. It made me happy to be me and sad too…As I watch our President and his lovely Wife face thinly veiled racism as they do the best job they can governing this country and say what you will no one would have succeeded as well as they have done. It is a thankless huge undertaking with endless pitfalls, being president today in America. When will they be celebrated for the good they have done? Both of them thank goodness for Michelle Obama addressing diet and obesity in our youth, which is vital to our surviving in the very near future because there is a correlation between proper healthy nutrition a child has early and how much better they do in classrooms and the better they will do in society, nutrition affects comprehension and health. Better nutrition and education and watch the percentage of first time crime offenders in the African American population drop, clearer thinking perhaps? What is a haunting and disturbing trend in the direct correlation between performance in schools due to poor nutrition (low) coupled with low to zero employment opportunities upon completion of high school if they complete, creates the likely hood of crimes being committed which fills up our prisons. As the prisons fill up with our young men and women who mainly are suffering from either drug related crimes or in poverty related crimes as this vicious cycle is perpetrated in the media as a deficiency on our race as a whole, which then justifies the “White Elite” into not wanting to share the pie. The top wealthy 1% who possesses 99% of the world’s wealth happens to be 90% White or maybe 97%, not to be a conspiracy kook but it makes one step back and say “What?” Something awfully sinister is cooking and has been for 200 years and it isn’t looking good for those on the lower economic scale. I include all not just people of color; woman and their children are clumped into the lowest economic group. Another irony is that the people who are most sensitive to race and want to take the presidency away from Obama on the basis of his race the people who did not elect him in the first place, a majority of them would suffer if the Tea-party, right wing conservatives get their way. I will call some of them (Koch’s)the hyper rich folks who want tax cuts and smaller government, the same folks who cut civic programs and collective bargaining and want teachers and fireman to pay for the upper class to flourish. I am torn and confused and saddened by this I feel like a victim of the “Black is bad” propaganda of the 60’s and seventies” we had in every media outlet. I personally am a recovering hate my heritage child still because I wish I had had an earlier positive exposure to my African American heritage it would have been so sweet and peaceful and rich. Today I am always open to learning everything I can about who I am and where my ancestors were, including my Chinese and my Scotch/ Irish. I am glad we care, keep going people, we are a lovely hugely important group of souls who have survived unthinkable atrocities and injustices, still today. I just want to encourage the lost and confused to choose a better way and to ask for help and to educate them to facilitate and create better everything. Let’s empty out the prisons of our rank. Let’s not fall into the traps set to destroy us. I suppose the start is with early education…Come on lets all get smarter.
Posted by Rae Dawn Chong at 3:42 PM