Wednesday, July 17, 2013

White People, Please Cease Using the Word "Cunt", as in Ann Coulter Is A *Bleep*. I Thank You In Advance For Your Kind Cooperation

On the Subject of Using Curses That Describe or Indicate Feminine Persons or Anatomy

While I am still comfortable and have successfully resisted the pressure to stop saying the word ''nigga'' I may be able to wean myself from the word ''bitch''. I used wean and bitch in the same sentence purposely; a "bitch" is a living creature by definition, not a hateful thing/woman/person etc . Like "nigga", the word "bitch" can be used in many different contexts yet it still remains true that the correct and proper use of the word indicates a female canine. As my feminism increases in strength I do believe that I may one day reject it as a term of emphasis.

This thought leads me to a term, a curse word that I find prominent only among whites and it drives me unto distraction: "cunt". I actually read an article that I shall have to track down again, plotting out the word origins of the word "cunt", its lingual heritage and forbears. "Cunt" and "cunny" are words that date back to Middle English and they both were words to indicate or  describe the vagina. Yet, even in the Middle Age they also were be used as curse words.

Here we come to the crux (no that isn't punny: crux means "crossing" look it up!): this is an ugly word. This,in my book, is a Bad Word. 

Today I  ran across a quote by Ann Coulter posted on one of my political Facebook pages called The Everlasting GOP Stoppers from an article she wrote saying: "Perhaps Someday blacks will win the right to be treated like volitional human beings. But not yet." This is a shocking statement for all that it reveals about her, about the GOP, about how blacks are seen in this nation by conservatives. But then again one examines the source and reasons that actually it is not at all shocking. Ann Coulter is rather openly racist, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-semitic, un-feminist and generally hateful to all who are not WASPS. 

So, naturally, the comments on this page devoted to leftists expressed  shock and outrage. 

Over and over people deplored her sickening racism and reached for the deepest expression of their contempt, so that scrolling through one read the word CUNT! in capital letters many, many times. 

Ann Coulter is a despicable human being, there is no question. Yet, must we call her that word? Why is that when people need to express extreme censure against a woman they reach for feminine curse words, that one in particular? Bitch, at this point in time, has become rather lukewarm, rather a low level curse. Once hip-hop appropriated the word it nearly sanitized the term,  in a somewhat ironic fashion, just as they have with nigga. The offense still remains inherent yet it is not so offensive or outlandish  that it can't still be spoken in a primetime drama on the public networks like NBC, CBS or ABC. It's abrasive and rude, of course, but it has achieved a status of an "acceptable" curse word.

Yet, on the other hand, words like bitch and cunt which specifically are meant to defame all things female in particular are perhaps more hateful for achieving this level of acceptability. It simply reinforces a form of safe, everyday misogyny that everyone, male and female, can get in on. And this presents a danger with consequences that may not be immeidately apparent.

 I shan't pretend that my objection to "cunt" isn't primarily aesthetic because it is: it's an ugly word. The hard "C" sound crunching down onto the "un" and hard "t" create a sound like ice cubes crunching between teeth resulting in a particularly harsh glottal action. Yet aesthetics in this case served a higher purpose for me. Because I was initially offended by the SOUND of the ugly word then I began to think upon its meaning. To study it and to observe its usage. (Allow me to point out that this is one demonstration of the power  Conscious Glamour: those things of popular culture based in fashion or beauty which appear shallow and meaningless can serve a purpose that upholds feminist consciousness,  racial empowerment. It demands  practicing aesthetic principle  in a manner requires contemplation and concentration on empowering individuals,  to flip the script, turn the harmful energy around to forge meaning and positive usage for self and community as well. )

If we examine Ann Coulter seriously one cannot help but to come to the conclusion that she is a lightening rod for hate and  her words are literally repulsive..

Her brand of hatred is not even disguised, she openly submits it as  political thought, and she glories the visceral hatred that she inspires in her opponents. Yet, in the effort to describe just how horrible a person she is, they begin to play with her very own weapons. 

On the face of it (god! Cunt - on the face of it!! Oh you're so clever!! Shut up!Get your minds out of the gutter!) this gendered word doesn't really mean the female anatomy when it is used as a curse so it causes no real  harm does it? Do let's think on this: certainly the vagina itself is the very conduit of human creation and should be the last muse of foul, degrading language. Interestingly enough in my informal observation of its usage I discovered one other social indicator tied to its use, which is that it is primarily - though not solely -- used by white men. As I mentioned, this word has its origins rooted deep in Anglo Saxon/English lingual tradition  and has managed to evolve to the present. 

Frankly I think this word may even present whites with the same burden of black rappers who have glorified and raised the word  "bitch" up to their own queenly standard.

Why does it matter? It's just a word. If you've ever argued with the Millennials regarding their ease and comfort with words that are considered foul language to many a Boomer then you have heard them say nonchalantly with a shrug "It's just a word. I mean it isn't that deep. You can't hurt anybody with just a word. We've taken the words and made new meanings." It's the New Age argument of Sticks and Stones and many a generation has been lectured by parents on that school yard rule.

The hurt is that words absorb deeply into the psyche and effect the way we view ourselves as individuals. The most extreme and dangerous consequence is that words teach hate and produce more Ann Coulters,(the Joan of Arc of Haters)  who are at risk of becoming utterly desensitized to the humanity in their fellow human beings. Once one can equate the word "cunt" to a tall,skinny, white woman it is only a small step to apply it to all women. At some point words incite action. And god forbid that women should have to experience the limitations and abuses that have imprisoned an entire gender over the centuries. We are standing in a moment of enlightenment where women's consciousness is being raised all over the world. Tragic, doesn't even begin to describe what  loss of this consciousness, a return to the Dark Ages would mean. This Age of Feminism has in its hopes and possibilities of freeing women from being seen as only useful for the reproductive organs and it frees males as well from the chains of expectation and tradition once equality is embraced.     

But that is an extreme consideration of the potential of damaging words. However the risk of devaluation of female life is a battle that women
fight against daily. That is real.

Ann Coulter is a deplorable human being but let's not call her a "cunt" please, I beg you. The vagina has been maligned terribly in speech yet it is the female anatomy that is integral in the creation of more human beings.

Also it's a damn ugly, horrific sounding term that grates in the ears and presents a visual image of something foul, deep, dark and nasty. Allow that image to fester in the mind and the negativity of the curse to marinate too long in an unhinged mind of one who is inclined to disrespect women, and  you may have created a perfect formula for pure misogyny, a person entirely unable to see the humanity in women at all.

White people - all people - stop saying "cunt."

Them Ole First Time Teacher Blues

I. Me!! Me!! Me!! I Know The Answer, I Know!! 

When I woke up this morning I was like "Damn! I gotta go to SCHOOL today!! Ugh!" I was going to visit my teaching mentor's class to observe his teaching style to help me tighten my own skills. But as soon as I step on a campus my whole body got kind of relaxed but excited at the same time, the way you do when you're returning home. I have spent such an insane amount of time in schools throughout my life that I think at this point I truly wouldn't know how to do anything else. I started at age 2 and with the exception of a two year hiatus when I worked on the Hill straight out of college, I didn't leave school until I was nearly 30.

When I went to Professor Smith's class today I was even mad that he wouldn't call on me when I knew he answer to the question and nobody else did. Then I remembered that I was visiting in my teacher capacity to learn teaching, not to punk the little students who are still learning; after all, I've been studying history far longer than some have been alive. 

II. Adjunct Science and the Crying Game 

Oh! But why did the department chair tell me that the university has instituted a policy that adjuncts are not allowed to work full-time hours: the don't want to have to pay for ObamaCare. Aint that some shit? School teachers are probably more at risk for illness than any other field than doctors and it's not like we have sick days or anything. 

In my head I began a contentious, outraged confrontation with the University which for some reason took on the character of Robert Deniro in Goodfellas with his thick, impenetrable New York accent.

The University was like, "Work sick you nerdy punks!!"

"Saint Sophia will save you!!" said the University. "If the chick was really all that wise then she should teach you all how to buy some hand sanitizer and some echinacea. Get outta here with that health care nonsense! You act like we're some kinda rich institution or something!!"

"Look! I don't wanna hear it!! " the University bellowed interrupting my arguments and concerns. "Get over yourselfs! You are what you eat!! Don't tell me you can't afford to eat. What, we pay you don't we?!! Stop acting so uppity, there's plenty of nutrition in Ramen! Hundreds of dollars a year you earn, so get it together!! Mind over fucking matter!!" 

Heartlessly he continued ranting at me: "You feel like you don't matter? Precisely!! Get outta here with that socialist nonsense!! Pull it together, you fucking malcontents, this is all in your head! Now get the fuck outta here!" And with that the University slammed the door in my face, ending the conversation. 

Well I thought to myself, they say the best things in life are free which I hope to discover is true but my previous life experience assures me that that fantasy is indeed in my head. We are certainly free to find other jobs, well paying jobs whose demands less stressful. More rewarding job that earn fabulous money.

But you can't really know the rewards of teaching until you accept that you truly are a teacher. And there are many days that you may wrestle with that truth and try to suppress it. But in the end that delusion is merely wishful thinking. Because everything that you know to be true really is all in your head and you can no more live outside of that refuge than birds could swim or fish fly. Truthfully, its all in your head and there's no place else you would rather be unless it is inside a classroom.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Hurting Thing...

I used to think my mother and her girlfriends and my grandmothers were kind of crazy. They were all very emotional to begin with but some days in particular they would talk about how all the "hormones" were making it more difficult to be calm. And sure enough on those days they were the loudest, meanest, most tearful. Or they might be prone to attacks of extreme kindness and compassion.

I would see them holding each other in tight embraces as one sobbed and another patted her back. Praying prayers over each other's heads. Any news that came thru on days like this be it personally affecting or some distant event in the newspaper could cause them to behave intensely. "Why are you crying Mommy?"...."Because the Lord is so good!!" she would wail frighteningly. I determined that if this was God's goodness that I surely wanted to know nothing of it.

"Nanny why are you rocking? Why are you crying?" worry and fear and concern. Is it me? Was I being bad? "I"m sorry! I"m sorry! Don't cry!!"

"Ah Lord lord lord!! It's not you baby!' wrapping me up in a tight embrace and stroking me lovingly. "It's not you. It's not you. Lord lord lord..."' she'd wail.

In the hair salon the women would be moved to "testify". Standing in the middle of the hair shop, hands raised, shouting so loudly that I'd look on in fear, eyes wide open. "Ooohhhh LORD!!! I caint STAND it!!" they'd declare.

They looked like CRAZY women, calling on the Lord. Down at 15th Street where the women were harder, coarser they might call out with all manner of profanities. "And then this muthafucka tole ME...ME...I BEEN helping this ungrateful ass ....disrespectful...shameless ....That was a HURTING thing!!"

I remember that phrase so well: That was a HURTING thing. But sometimes it is a thing that defies explanation as well

And sometimes there was softer hurt. Quiet hurt that issued no sound. Just a silent woman trapped in an awful memory, reliving a terrible dream, sitting rocking herself in a corner as heedless tears fell down and down and down.

Every so often I'll catch myself behaving in this manner, feel the rush of those hormones which only act as a trigger causing one to feel hurt, pain or even joy that much more intensely. I'll raise my hand as I tell my mother a story of something that has touched me, for good or ill. I'll have that queer sensation of observing myself outside my body while acting as myself at the sametime. And I'll know that I too am a grown woman at last when I finally behave in that very manner I swore would never seize me.

That intensity of pain and pleasure that is so inexplicable, so frightening and foreign to anyone else but a woman -- a black woman. I rarely see this kind of violent emotion in white women. Always in a brown woman, a black woman I encounter it. I do not know why. I still do not understand these emotional squalls I simply allow them to pass through knowing as I do that there is no way to control them. Much like an orgasm it builds and builds and explodes. Often it comes up on you with the same provocation as does the orgasm wherein you find yourself curled up in your lover's arms and sobbing at the same time.

"What? What is it?! Did I hurt you? Why are you crying?" he says with palpable fear and worry in his eyes. Because he only means to provoke a shared joy and you have slipped away from him without his understanding.

"No baby it's not you" you say softly, reassuringly. Stroking the fear from him "It's not you. YOU didn't hurt me..." 

But he  wouldn't, couldn't understand. Or perhaps he would, if only you could sort the emotions into words. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Contemplating Hillary 2016

So conflicted in terms of Hillary Clinton. She's been one of the most important and amazing women for me personally, in terms of intelligence and visibility. From the moment she became First Lady when I was in high school I was fascinated by her passion, how she demonstrated her excellence and became such a Player in the political game next to her husband for sure but distinct from as well. She just captured my imagination so! I mean as an alpha female I just felt her. So a large part of me is thrilled for 2016 to finally see her get the respect she is so long overdue. God I can't lie much as I hate campaigning I've been considering work for hers (ALERT: Highly Unlikely. Campaign work is miserable!) But as a leftie who is utterly dissatisfied with the Democratic party which is now America's center-right locus; it is as if the entire idea of political leftism has died away.. However I am not impressed by any of the possibilities of the Progressive personalities in the game. For all, the questionable decisions that have me doubting Obama those same areas of controversy like foreign policy, intervention and war and of course everyone's new favorite issue, surveillance will all be the centerpieces and hallmarks of Hillary's reign. 

At heart she's always a war hawk. She is always socially liberal but the Clintons have this magical ability for political expedience to come in at the last minute to support movements that are already fait accompli (See: rejecting DADT and the Clinton endorsement of marriage equality which was hella late). By 2020 America will be what Europe is now -- accept it and get over it,or prepare to be fighting your government non-stop because the framework and foundation are already in place -- cameras at every corner, listening devices at every public place and surveillance a daily fact. This is the world today. Oh isn't it Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Paine or some brilliant mind like that who discusses how government's role is generally AGAINST the people - forgive me for I am mixing most egregiously my contexts and Thinkers and their Thoughts, my bad. Somebody said some shit like that.

Anyway - the rise and reign of Hillary will be fraught with complications and serious compromises. The inevitable comparisons to Thatcher are well, inevitable. But Thatcher believed that there was "no such thing as society" and Hillary's life has been dedicated to building and creating an accepting, diverse society, her Village. Hillary Clinton is a bag of contradictions and complicated truths. Oh but I still love her so much -- even when I'm a little bit afraid of her. It's actually that element that makes her so wonderful -- the knowledge of her brilliance, that she is so sophisticated and so deep an intellect that you if you are wise you must fear her.She is always many chess moves ahead. I'm sure she would consider it a compliment, to be considered a fearful adversary and that is precisely how I mean it to be taken, in part at least.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Jigga, My Nigga --- WHAT DID YOU SAY? Examining CNN's Discussion and Ebony's Rebuttal on THAT WORD

Okay. So. I'm saying...I watched the special and I adore Don Lemon. I didn't think it was the most sophisticated conversation ever but still I appreciated that there was an open forum on the discussion. I didn't write an editorial immediately after wattching the special because I felt shamed by Don Lemon's editorial conclusion 

""Have you ever considered that you may be perpetuating the stereotype that massa intended? Acting like a n*gger. Stop acting like n*ggers and saying 'n*gga,' n*gga." 

And then I read Ebony Magazine's rebuttal by Michael Arcenaux And I gotta say that this is a perfect comeback. Arcenaux writes:  

 "I hope and pray I never catch Bill Cosby disease, because that brand of self-loathing and uppity point of view makes me want to bury my head in shea butter. If you’re really about going against the wishes of “massa,” why not do your part to discuss institutional racism? Wouldn’t that be far more of a worthy discussion on a huge outlet like CNN versus this trite debate?" 

Arcenaux goes on to discuss the Supreme Court decision knocking down the Civil Rights Act (a thing I personally told hysterical callers whocalled the Hill that this would never happen) he brings in Paula Deen and Trayvon Martin. He follows that right hook with a straight left to the nose: 

"The last thing Black people need right now is their own speaking down to them because the person doing the finger pointing can’t be bothered to get off his high horse to understand their culture."

I must say that Arcenaux wins on points and a KO. But I still got mad love for Don Lemon.

I use the word Nigga. I grew up with that word. For me to stop using that word with all the complex expressions that it entails when spoken among black people would be basically impossible. It was everyday that I'd be visiting my grandfather on 15th Street that someone would shout with a cheerful wave "Claude you cheap ass nigga how the hell you doing!!" 

Or he might look at someone and shake his head and say "That nigga's crazy" Saying it with bewilderment or love or affection or hate.

My grandmother rolling her eyes saying "I aint studyin' that nigga" -- talking about my grandfather. Which was a lie and we all knew it. They were the love of each other's lives. 

It is simply a word that has so many connotations when spoken between black people. Even now with my grandparents gone and my grandfather's domain of 15th Street disappeared from the Old Days I'll think it to myself or say in conversation to my mother. It's impossible to separate that word from my experience in life.

Which is not to laud the word nor hail it as a great thing. The word Nigga whether one likes it or not is a reclaimed word from the word Nigger. You know. That word hateful white slave traders and masters used. In a wonderful world both words would disappear and there would be no need for blacks to have a differentiation of a word that was more common than personal Christian names down South.

However there is an entire culture and history that inform the word Nigga. And though I recognize that I'm very nearly walking a double standard I don't appreciate how Hip hop made the word available to everyone who "feels" hip-hop. Hip-hop took the sting and the love and the brotherhood out of the word nigga, from the manner in which it had been used once exclusively among blacks  tho I know many would beat me down on this point and argue the opposite. Hip-hop gave a sort of bland permission to use it for non-blacks and therein opened the door for many a confused pale skinned soul to say "But I mean it in love!!" 

Do I know some white people, hardcore hip-hop heads, unlike myself, who have a pass in my presence to say that word? Yes. Yes I know white people who get the pass in my company. Because hip-hop commercialized the word it becomes nearly impossible to then put up doors that forbid certain folk not to enter.. Hip hop has given the pass on the word Nigga because all you have to do is buy the album. Pay up and you can be a nigga too!

Holla my nigga!! Ya heard me?

That said I don't LIKE it that way. It is a complex term. When I hear white people, yea, verily, even the ones with the White Pass, use the word I can't explain why on some days the shit pisses me off. I can't guarantee that inside my heart I won't hear you, my pale skinned homies, mean the OTHER word. 

In my heart N-I-G-G-A belongs to my grandfather and 15th Street. To DoorShaker and Wally whose name was spelled W-I-L-E-Y. To Geechee. To all them niggas who was hanging out on the corner eating soul food and yes godammit fried chicken too!! You cannot break me down, you racists who mock fried chicken!! I cannot be BROKEN by that mockery and niggardly,small minded thinking. Get out of here with that! 

The niggas that I knew, from that old generation long before hip-hop  knew things about life, about America, about love and money and God the spirit of survival. And they taught those lessons over plates of food heaped high with fried chicken and greens and gravy and biscuits and all the recipes that Paula Deen has profited from which came from the people who slaved in massa's kitchen. Those niggers.

It's a deeply layered complex emotional word. Perhaps it is for the best that  whites and blacks who wish to be respected and respectable, as Don Lemon's point of view expressed,  to never use it ever. It comes from the ugliness of Nigger. Can any word ever redeem the hate and destruction of souls that litters its history? Is there any penance that can ever wash the blood of evil and the roots of cruelty from all the word nigger entails? 

But does that stop the joyful laughter at a family meal when somebody gets called out hard "Nigga don't you EVEN---!!" And everyone is falling over themselves, tears streaming down at whoever was just busted on. Oh that's my FAMILY's word!! 

My family, my blood is BLACK.

Arcenaux makes such a strong point in his essay that he un-shames me from Don Lemon's shaming speech of the Respectable Negro. But again these are dynamics that are old as slave ships between black folks. This argument, discussion, debate if you will is not new. The tension between the Respectable Negro and the Street Nigga has always been.

Oh at times I long for respectability. But that's not where I came from. We weren't respectable negroes. The preacher on Sunday preached in my family's faces about the evils of gambling and sin and greed and partying. And it was known he was talking to my family members who owned and ran the juke joints. We were highly educated however; and I still feel a frisson of glee when I meet a respectable negro in my hometown whose academic achievements pale in comparison to my family's. Ah but exclusion breeds envy. So perhaps my own feelings on this tension between Respectability and Street are all too clear. Perhaps the complexities are only in my own head.

We were the non-conformist. So is it non-conformist or utterly conformist to have a love and respect for N-I-G-G-A as a word? 

Is it utterly shameless to use it, to know what you mean and to whom you are speaking and why you called them that name over a table of delicious soul food? When it's your blood? Your family whom you adore and who can never, ever, EVER be that OTHER word? People whose dignity and soul will never be degraded by THAT word N-I-G-G-E-R because you would protect them with the last drops of your own strength.

It's a loaded discussion. I don't think Don Lemon is WRONG however. The slave massa's most important intent was to cause divisiveness among slaves. To divide and conquer. In our present day the words N-I-G-G-E-R and N-I G-G-A are still dividing us bitterly. Yet hip-hop has conquered in its way,  taking the sting away by commercializing it and re-making it as a cheap, easily accessible commodity. Blackness for sale again. What's new? 

Complex, you see. Bittersweet. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sightless Doings Inside Flightless Nights

Times are strange. Everything is upside down. People will say to me "What are you doing now? What are you DOING?" in that way that suggests that if they don't see the doings and if they don't hear about the doings then you must exist in oblivion. I'm doing Life. All the crummy little details.Some  not so crummy but  of no interest or importance to anyone beyond myself or family. Sometimes you have to live life quietly out of the stratosphere. It gets scary to look up and think that all your friends are whizzing about Up There and you're all by yourself Down Here on Earth Alone. 

But then you start to notice the little things closer to you on the ground. There's all kinds of things to learn. I get worried because there's so much I want to know and learn and it seems that there's so little time. And then sometimes I have this sense of intuition that says "Do this now. You'll be too busy later." Will I? What will I be doing Later? WHEN is Later? Why do things feel so lonely? Because you're living and learning and doing, and those lessons and doings are for you alone. Lessons especially made for you and no one else. If someone doesn't see you being taught it doesn't mean you aren't learning? Just because someone doesn't see or appreciate your work doesn't mean you didn't do it. Just because you don't FEEL as if you are flying doesn't mean that you have no wings