Saturday, September 08, 2007

2008, Black Cultural Decline, College Plans & Iraq

I saw a spectacle a few months ago at work that has been bugging me ever since....

To make a long story short... (and without providing too much detail) a rap group brought their tour bus to my workplace in an effort to promote their album and their tour stop in St. Louis. This particular area is a mixed, but more upscale area. The young men were advised to move on, but before they left, they signed a couple dozen autographs.... who were the fans flocking the tour bus? All young black women, with the exception of a couple of young men. But there was one woman in particular that bothered me... an older Black lady...probably in her 40's and she was with her teenaged daughter. Now keep in mind, (without naming any names) this particular rap group was one of the more raunchy, rough around all the edges groups. But the mother was more interested in getting attention from the group than her teenaged daughter.... it was disturbing to watch. Aren't mothers supposed to be setting positive examples for their daughters? It just brought to mind how mainstream rap has become. It has seeped into every nook and cranny of the society, especially within the so-called Black community.

This is why I am glad to see efforts by Black women (like the blog What About Our Daughters) to push back against the influence of rap culture on young women... But these efforts are still few and far between.


I am going to try to get myself back into school in the near future. I wanted to start this Fall, but I believe I waited too late. I am meeting with an advisor next week so that I can possibly (fingers crossed) get the enrollment process started. I still have to finish my essay for the application.

I really thought that I was done with school after earning a Masters last year. But for a Black man- particularly a Black man who did not come from privilege- a Masters is not enough. Employers are looking for people with more specific skills, and the more prestigious the institution the more likely it will be that you will get an interview.

And I have found through life experience, that being Black tends to mean that you have to have more than your White counterparts just to be considered an equal. This is true with education, in the workplace, etc... I always feel like I have to compensate for my brown skin. This is why I have never been (and never will be) satisfied with my college experience...or with myself, no matter where I go to school or how hard I had to work to get there.

I remember reading an article from a year or two ago...which stated that a White male with a felony conviction has a better chance of finding employment than a Black man with no conviction. (I believe this study was done in New York). White privilege is huge. I try to explain it to White friends/co-workers...but they just don't understand.

I can recall a situation several years ago when my employer picked me (out of a staff of about a dozen or so people there at that moment) to clean the office toilet (which was literally full of crap)...even though I was a veteran worker at the time and there were plenty of new staff members who could have done the job. Better yet, they could have called the Housekeeping crew to do the job. I was also the only negro there that day... I will never forget that incident... I punched the wall and busted my hand the same day. That's the kind of thing that stays with you. This is why I stay pissed off 24 hours a day (yes probably in my sleep too).

So I will always feel "vulnerable" to some degree around "bosses" especially White bosses, no matter how much education I get. But I do still need to go back into the classroom, just to be able to compete with the rich kids who's parents put them through the top National Universities in the Country... and who ultimately are beating me out of jobs.

I hope to get more foreign language training under my belt... something that will be useful and will look good on my resume. I recall that I was precluded from taking foreign language in High School because the Counselors would always block my efforts to take more challenging courses...saying that I didn't have the right pre-requisites or that a score on a standardized test a year earlier was not high enough (despite the fact that I kept a good GPA in the last 2 or 3 years of High School). I ultimately graduated with a 3.5 average. I believe that the Counselors at my Texas High School might have been a little racist towards the Black students...(at least to me).

But if I could have gotten the foreign language that I needed then, perhaps I would be in a better position now.

The 08 Elections

Well, the campaign season has officially kicked off. It has been really interesting to watch what has been happening on the Republican side. Most some of the surveys that I have seen... prefer none of the above. It's fun to watch the Republicans scramble for some kind of savior who will stop the ship from sinking. Meanwhile, with Vitter, Craig, Doolittle, Abramoff, Ted Stevens, and the rest of the gang... it is like watching Goliath fall in slow motion.

But despite all of the troubles with the Republicans, the Democrats are so bad that winning the 2008 Presidential election will still be a challenge for them. This is especially true if they elect Hillary Clinton to be their candidate. Let me put it this way... the two top candidates on the Democratic side (top candidates as of right now who were annointed by the corporate media) are two of the worst candidates for a General Election- the candidates being Clinton and Obama. I am not saying that those candidates are not qualified... both are (although I don't like Hillary). I am simply pointing out that in a National race against a Republican...either of those two candidates could spell disaster for the Democrats. A Republican might have an easy time with either one. Hillary is too divisive, and doesn't fit the John Wayne image that voters want...especially in a dynamic time when the image of American strength is important. Obama on the other hand is the wrong color for most White voters. I don't believe that I will see an African American President in my lifetime.
So these inherent issues would provide the Republicans with an opportunity.


Iraq & The Surge...

General Petraeus will be reading from his Bush Administration script next week as he will try to convince the Congress and the American public that the U.S. mission in Iraq requires more time. The truth is...the U.S. is not leaving Iraq and never planned to in the first place. This is all smoke and mirrors. That's why I laughed several months back when the American people fell for this nonsense...thinking that the the Iraq issue would finally be resolved. I predicted then that we would be right here where we are right now...

I have stated all along that (although I would like to see a reduction in the U.S. forces there) I know that in reality, there will be troops in Iraq for many years. I knew this when the invasion began in 2003. But even back then I didn't believe that Iraq would be as bad as it ended up being.

Bush wants to buy time and pass this disaster on to the next President. That way, it becomes their liability. If that President decides to pull troops out in any significant way and Iraq implodes as a result, then (as a way to shield his legacy) Bush would be able to say it was THAT Administrations fault and not the fault of his own administration. This is especially the case if the next President turns out to be a Democrat. This would provide Republicans with the opportunity (the cover) to blame any bad results in Iraq on the other Party.


rikyrah said...

I want to encourage you about education - I always think that's a positive.

In all your talk about being Black, it seems as if our elders were on the money, even though we don't want to admit it ("Twice as Good" and all that...).

There is a price to being Black in this country, and nobody REALLY wants to assess the price of it.

But, I completely encourage the school projects for you. It's the only thing that has remotely come close to enabling us to stay in the game on a major scale.

rikyrah said...

You are right about Iraq, but folks should be honest - let them fall into unfettered Civil War. Period.

Brian said...

Thanks Rikyrah...

Education is one of the few things that can't be taken away from you.

On Iraq:

I think there is a way that the U.S. could withdraw without a full-blown civil war breaking out.

But the U.S. should start a 2-3 year phased withdrawal (allowing a little more time if necessary). Training Iraqi's and making them self sufficient as U.S. troops withdraw. That includes training an air force, providing helicopters, equipment for a decent Army, etc. And encouraging some kind of political/religious & economic stability-- there is no military solution for Iraq. The pundits always talk about a political solution...but it really is Politics/Religion/Economics... Religion and economics are the primary forces driving the current internal fighting... it has little to do with what's going on in their Parliament. Most Iraqis couldn't care less about the political situation. Most Iraqis want to be able to walk to the store safely, have electricity in their homes, they want the religious fighting to stop, and they want access to employment (basic services, security, and a way to take care of their families). Unemployment in some places there is around 30-40%.

The religious leaders have never really been given a seat at the table... they can stop a lot of the violence & division. But they have not been given a seat at the table because the U.S. is scared to death of mixing religion and politics there (although they see no problem with mixing the two here... how ironic).

Once most troops are withdrawn.... or redeployed... I foresee a U.S. troop presence of 20,000-30,000 in Iraq for at least the next 10 years... likely even longer.

rikyrah said...

About Black Cultural Decline, I had to think about it. I went to the funeral of the family friend yesterday.

All in all, I hate funerals. Always have. That I went to the wake, stayed for the funeral, actually sat around in the church waiting for the family to come back from the cemetary (I can't do cemetaries) so that I could attend the repasse, should tell you in how much esteem I held this Brother.

Everything that I think we should uphold as a community, was buried yesterday with him. I wonder if that was some symbolism, but then again, I look at him, and the nearly hour long worth of tributes from people who flew in from all over the country for his funeral, and I think, no, those standards are worth it, BECAUSE of the positive that he put forth in the world.

But, you know, you and I have gone back and forth, about the cultural issues, and we can link it to the educational decline of us, as a community. I've written several times about how I believe we're letting ourselves down as a community by not holding ourselves to higher standards. That mother you described needed to be bitchslapped along with her daughter. And, we need to stand up and say, HELL NO, to stuff that, bottom line, is just no good for us as a community.

You and I both know, if every social program that we could ever remotely think of was fully funded TOMORROW...we, as a community, would STILL have serious problems, because of our cultural decline.

Brian said...

Regarding that 40+ year old Mother w/ her daughter... I don't know about a smackdown, but yes I wanted to grab the Mother and shake her, lol. It actually played out in my mind in slow motion. But I caught myself in time.

And sadly you are right regarding the fact that there would still be problems with Black folk, even if more social programs and support were available.

Until the Culture changes (and that has to happen from the bottom up and not from the top down), then no social program in the world will be able to help Black America. A social program can't help a situation where young men are wearing their pants down around their knees, showing their underwear... that's not a social program issue... that is a parenting and values issue.

You know how to hit the nail on the head Rikyrah...

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]I really thought that I was done with school after earning a Masters last year. But for a Black man- particularly a Black man who did not come from privilege- a Masters is not enough. Employers are looking for people with more specific skills, and the more prestigious the institution the more likely it will be that you will get an interview.

And I have found through life experience, that being Black tends to mean that you have to have more than your White counterparts just to be considered an equal.[/quote]


It is also true that SOME PEOPLE tend to put THEIR RACE in as "the problem" instead of considering some person or character issues that may be the root.

I personally made a decision to suspend the work on my masters several years ago and focus on INDUSTRY CERTIFICATIONS. The fact that I was the second on my team to pass a prestigious security certification AND ON THE FIRST TRY was enough to show that I can hold my own.

If indeed you do think in real life as you express on this board.....I am not surprised that you have the challenges that you report upon.

My personal theory is that I know my own worth. I am SELLING my services to those who choose to purchase it. I am ENRICHING myself via the experiences that I am presented with and in due time a "contract renegotiation" is due so that there is a resynch between value and compensation.

All the while I attempt to reach out to younger associates and advise them on their course.

Maybe you could use a mentor in your particular field who can allow you to stop thinking the WORST CASE scenario racially.