Sunday, November 30, 2014


I watched Fredrick Wilson II’s rant on the black man taking some “personal responsi-damn-bility,” (posted below) in the wake of the Ferguson/Michael Brown tragedy and I stepped away seriously considering what he had to say. It’s a call from Fredrick to “his people” to stop blaming, take a good look at where they are and fight their way out by succeeding; by getting an education and finding empowerment. He wants them to stop doing the things, or appearing to do the things that are more likely to get them killed or seriously injured. I suppose I could argue either side.

But see, it’s not up to me to argue either side. I’m a sixty-some-year-old white guy living in a country that has been forever run by forty- and fifty- and sixty-some year old white guys. Any black guy who cares even a little bit about what I have to say about racism is wasting time. But just as Frederick Wilson claims that legions of black guys over relatively recent years have created a perception that scares the cops and the white public into responding too quickly with violence, I claim that legions of white guys have created a perception that if you aren’t a white guy, you’re gonna have a lot harder time getting a break and we will do whatever we have to do to keep you “in your place.”

Neither is always true, or even true most of the time, but perception, as Frederick says, is often reality.

So I give it up to Frederick. It’s for the black community, and every other minority of course, to find the best way to help itself and its members lead long and empowered lives.
But in like spirit, I gotta issue the same spanking to white American males. I’d include white females but we’re doing a pretty good job of holding them back also. When a white man who is very close to me asks in all seriousness why we don’t have a TV channel exclusively for white people like we do for blacks, I’m as close to speechless as I get (which is actually not that close.) Jesus, for all of my childhood and a good part of my adulthood that’s ALL we had. Tap your helmet. And speaking of helmets, when some white guy – and it’s always a white guy – asks me if we have to rename the mascots of ALL the NFL teams because we don’t want Nordic folks to be offended by the Minnesota Vikings or people in the meat packing industry to go off on Green Bay’s mascot or cattle ranchers to cringe when Dallas’ football team comes on TV, I wonder if they know how ignorant of the real issue they sound. I don’t think you’d create a lot of ill will walking up to a stranger in snakeskin boots and a George W. Bush hat and calling him cowboy. But I don’t know anyone who isn’t an avowed racist looking for a fight, who would walk up to an American Indian they didn’t know and call him a redskin.

This bigotry stuff ain’t rocket science.

If it’s incumbent on minorities (and guess what, very soon we’ll ALL be minorities) to step up and take responsibility for their reaction to racism, then the same has to be true for us. We, all of us white dudes, should make a habit of walking into Barnes and Noble, heading straight for the “History” section and demanding to know why The Autobiography of Malcolm X isn’t there. When the clerk tells us it’s in the BLACK History section, that’s time to get seriously and loudly indignant. It’s fucking HISTORY, man! It’s ALL the shit that happened! Same thing for women. Latinos. Asians. Everybody. Half the responses to this rant should be about the folks I left out in that last sentence.

You know, a whole lot of white racists who won’t call themselves racists, WILL and do call themselves Christians (and this is not a knock on Christians; it’s a knock on racists). Many are the kind of Christian who believes there will come a time when they stand before the pearly gates to make their case. Up or down. It’s called Judgment Day. Hard to imagine the gatekeeper going light on a history of turning one’s back on political reform that keeps poor people (high percentage of minorities) away from decent jobs and health care and opportunity just because the guy with the idea for that reform was black. Hard to believe the gatekeeper won’t have been instructed to look for folks who, knowing that resources like food and medicine and housing and wealth are FINITE, took as much as they could get anyway. The gatekeeper might simply be instructed to ask and record those men’s definitions of “enough”.

I noticed that the majority of Hoo-zahs for Fredrick W II’s rant came from white people, declaring “Here’s a black guy saying what I’ve said all along.” Go back and watch it again; that isn’t what he’s saying. Clarence Thomas is the black guy saying what you’ve been saying all along. Nothing.
Many credible brain scientists will tell you that humans are hard-wired for racism; that throughout evolution the safe group has been the familiar group, made up of beings that looked like us, and that’s how we learned to gather. But the brain is evolving too, and it should be smart enough by now to understand that evolution doesn’t have a nurturing component. Evolution doesn’t CARE. It’s up to us to comprehend and appreciate simple cause and effect. If you’re a white guy who believes black men are scary and prone to criminal intent, answer this question with the same earnestness with which you’ll approach the gatekeeper. “Did my actions on earth make it harder for any group of people to get a fair shake?” If you think you’re going to need a different answer, there’s still time.

I don't know that I agree that Fredrick Wilson is one smart young man, I just couldn't figure out how to post this without the banner.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Big Truth

On Friday, October 31, the fourth victim of the Marysville Pilchuck High School shooting, lost her struggle for life. 

The Big Truth

Her name is Shaylee Chuckulnaskit. She’s fourteen years old, described in glowing terms by family and friends as a “shining light.” The light has gone out. Shaylee Chuckulnaskit is dead. Killed by yet one more “school shooter”, a term that has become in relatively recent years as common as “most likely to succeed” or “class clown.”

One more school shooter, one more dead classmate; a headline on the AOL news site for one day, then gone. Shaylee Chuckulnaskit doesn’t matter. Her family and friends are forever broken-hearted, left to wonder why and what could have been while the American public, from an action point of view, doesn’t give a shit.

We have allowed the National Rifle Association, along with a frightening number of talking-point-driven disciples to promote an argument so foolish, so outrageously absurd, that it almost sounds like an argument (See Adolph Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, et al). They trot out ex-soldiers and police officers, the two groups who should know best the dangers of putting firearms in the hands of the public (and many of whom do) to trumpet the Big Lie that guns equal freedom. They get firearm embracing “tough guys” to call anti-gun activists “pussies.” Well, tell you what: pussies, properly employed, are quite nice, and it’s impossible to BE one.

The next Big Lie is that it’s really not about guns, it’s about mental health. They spew that vapid assertion in the same breath they use to crush any legislation that would fund the slightest increase in mental health services that could begin to address the issue. Plus any honest mental health specialist would tell you that the likes of Ted Nugent or Joe the Plumber or George Zimmerman or the guy who shot the black kid in the convenience store parking lot because his music was too loud, would be the first to lose their gun ownership rights because they carry a gun in hopes of having the opportunity to prove they need to use it, which is fucking crazy.

Truth: Ted Nugent probably isn’t going to shoot anyone; neither will Joe the Plumber. Other Truth: We have no idea who will. Other Other Truth: We know what he’ll use.

Recently I got into a dust-up on Facebook (I know better, but I’m doing it again) with an ex-serviceman who said I had no right to tell him what kind of weapon he could use to protect his family…and that I had an agenda. He intimated that because he is ex-military and I’m not, he is more qualified to pontificate on issues regarding firearms than am I. Well sorry my friend, but I don’t ask race car drivers to make traffic laws, and I don’t ask people with a philosophical love for an instrument designed for the sole purpose of putting holes in things, to decide on how large the holes or how fast we can put them in, because when we put holes in things what is inside leaks out, and way too often what leaks out is blood.

DUH! that I have an agenda, but if I and other anti-killing activists can get enough voters together, then I WILL have the right to tell him what kind of weapon he can use to protect his family. Once again to Gandhi: There is so very little we can do and it is so important that we do it.

This problem has a generational solution, which means I’m not going to be around to see it solved. Self-styled tough guys will call the likes of me “pussy” and gun manufacturers will continue to trumpet the notion that forefathers they can’t even name, meant to pave the way for a nation of thoughtless cowboys. Conventional wisdom will have to change which means someone with a far more powerful voice than mine will have to lead the call to disarms. It may be the voice of the parent of a slain child whose sound will somehow rise above the wails, or more likely, the parent of a shooter, with the courage and the grit to hold the Big Truth up for us all: If your philosophy trumps your decency, you have a fucked-up philosophy, and worse, a fucked-up allegiance to that philosophy.

I part ways with my liberal friends as they peel off to find reasonable arguments for gun ownership that go one inch beyond hunting for survival. I know it will have to be gradual, we have made guns so available to the disenfranchised and the bullied and those in other ways kicked to the curb, that we now feel the need to arm ourselves against those we have armed.

Maybe I’m delusional, but somewhere down some distant road, I have to believe I hear that voice…

So goodbye Shaylee Chuckulnaskit. Your name now disappears into the sea of the slaughtered. Wouldn’t it be fitting if members of your Tulalip tribe - once called savage by citizens of a savage nation – the tribe who spawned both you and your killer, were to find a way to lead that savage nation to grace.