Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Black Student Protesters At UCSD Share A Common State Of Offendedness As I Do

LA Times: Students walk out of UC San Diego teach-in

The tear streaming down the cheek of this female student in the foreground is not likely a staged event. 

From her perspective this is an impassioned response to a perceived threat and disrespect of her as an individual.  For her as a Black individual.  For the Black people in Compton California.  For all Black people.

Though I don't have the same sense of outrage in that I refuse to "superiorize" the actions of one group of White people I am none the less empathetic to her outlook on the situation at hand.  For her these "one group of ignorant White people" who did such a thing are her classmates who she must attempt to get along with, enough to share the same space for them to receive an education in an academic setting. 

Since so many of our past consciousness movements have taken place on campus - why not allow this campus be the site of the present day consciousness movement.

The Experience Which Brings Me Empathy

My experience is indeed different from these protesters who are pictured.  I have been to several "White weddings" where I noted that White people (at least some) have a great affinity for "Black music".  When you want to get a party started on the dance floor - this is what is played.  In fact one wedding that comes to mind showcased a stronger set of 70's/80's dance music from "Rick James" and other Funk bands that they put many contemporary DJ's to shame.  

Likely it is my growing contempt for "Hip Hop Voice Of The Street Pirate" music that is showing.  In as much as these dj's did not play this modern "Black music" but instead played the classics that I hadn't heard in a while I enjoyed the selection better.

I do recall two scenes that bring me to the point of empathy.  

I used to occasionally attend the "First Friday's Atlanta" parties.  (I am not even sure that they are still going on).  This was about 10 years ago.   As I was on the dance floor and making note of all of the 'Talented Tenth" Blacks around me I noted that in this particular venue - age 20 to about 33 - the same music that might have been played on the "rough part of town" was being enjoyed by the educated elite and young business professional class Blacks.  Even though the venue was 'upsized' to one of the fine downtown hotel ballrooms, the dress was more professional and certainly the educational achievement level and salaries where higher than the "rough side of town" I did not see a dramatic cultural difference being portrayed as evidenced by the music and the words contained within.  I recall distinctly thinking "If you put any offensive word said to a Black person to a nice beat - we'd ignore the words and dance to the beat".  

My second engagement in which I decided that "I am too old for this" was at a birthday party for a twenty something family friend.  It was merely a gathering at a local club that was open for business with its normal clientele.  I recall that a local radio personality from the local "hip hop" station was on the turn tables.  I particular 'Snoop Dogg' song that was popular at the time was playing.  This caused everyone to rush to the dance floor.

I stood on the side of the dance floor looking and observing everyone.   The DJ got to a particular portion of the song and then he started scratching out the words "Nig, Nig, scratch, Nig, Nig, scratch,......Nigga!!!!!!!!!!".    Upon hearing this I realized two things:
  1. This AIN'T the "radio edit" that he might usually play
  2. No one is going to respect me UNTIL I paint a line and not have them cross over it AS I WON'T CROSS OVER IT EITHER.
I left the party and went home.
It was like this radio DJ had no respect for me or anyone else in the place.  (There was a sprinkling of young White people listening in as well.  Maybe some of them were UCSD students who learned what black people like that day?)

This is not a "Blame The Victim" post.  I respect the sentiments of these students.
I think that if we really want to get to the root of the problem we need to hold EVERYONE accountable for the ignorant images and words that some people profit from. (and I am not just talking about money-wise.)

In a void of integrity and standards there is often a race to the gutter.

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