Monday, April 28, 2014

Labor For No Love: Cotton Picking, "the Negro" and Old World Racism

My Dad was born in Milan Tennesse in 1946. In his first five years before the family moved to Chicago he picked enough cotton that he swore he would always wear a suit when he grew up and Im proud to say he made that happen for himself.

My grandmother was the Help, and Pawpaw was the driver to the rich folk on the North Shore which entitled my father to attend New Trier high school which is essentially the 90210 or Hollywood High of the Chicago suburbs.

I know for a fact that black folk wouldn't be better off picking cotton because my daddy told me so from experience. But no rational person would agree to that disturbed, deluded, unbalanced kind of syphilitic thought anyway. It's not a serious suggestion. But anyone who cares to submit themselves to the life of threatening danger that accompanies living as a black/brown/poor working class person may discover some insights into American culture that were not previously understood. Above all the inequality that we all tolerate -- all the races of America combined-- is shameful, disgusting and evil. Fine. We who are rational agree with this sentiment.

It is also spiritually and mentally destructive and debilitating. The fear and worry of how to survive on inadequate pay, to stay out of the eye of predatory trigger happy police officers, out of the prison industrial complex. To maintain one's self respect even with the necessary daily comprises to one's conscience that are required currency to be paid the devils of dark side of America. These are deeply powerful forces at work in the status quo of this culture and cannot be lightly dismissed or derided. I doubt that people with white skin could endure one week in such fear, oppression and uncertainty.

The question that has lead us into new territory with the same old status quo is how to deal with this? This is no longer 1950, 1968 and the protest approaches of the past are less than adequate.How do we change the culture?

Question is, who is willing to take the stand? Is there too much compromise and coercion inherent to the American trade off with the devil of racism and economic disparity to ever free us from the demon at all? Are we to continue sleeping in the bed we have made knowing that we can never sleep soundly with the demons who are quite equally visible in the dark and in the light.

I have had something of a revelation though today. The kids today are far more sophisticated with their technology and communication. It may be that society will change simply because new people are here who have had less inferiority training than the rest of us. Because I'm an old. I'm already too programmed perhaps. Maybe the kids don't believe in demons in the dark anymore. And what you don't fear, you can easily conquer.

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