My grandma called them [archaic slang for brazil nuts]
At four years old, it crushed my soul
So I show up at the rallies
Joining #BlackLivesMatter (you don't answer)
The damage makes me wanna rampage
We are not the fancier dancers anyway
(*indifferenting = actively being unconcerned regarding appeals for redress of injustices and changes of behaviors)
Chords and lyrics scrawled in chickenscratch. Words in this initial version are (c) to me, I suppose.
For the full context, this song is a response to a joke going around on email about a billionaire, public housing, and a black family.
The book I mentioned at the beginning of the video is Learning to be White, written by theologian and minister Thandeka, with a summary here and here, available for purchase here.
The draft of the my email response included: I had a tiny chuckle, but then... Just. No.
First, I love you, and I always will.
And I'm feeling SO truly exhausted trying to work against the tide of systemic racism and white privilege still being regularly leveraged into subtle or overt power plays. Despite being exhausted, I am choosing to respond to this because silence can be interpreted as complicity and I can't be complicit to this, or else the many hours I volunteer each week toward achieving racial equity gets lost in a slurry of mushy integrity. To see this email in 2016, even from you, disappoints me, because these email jokes circulating among whites serve to normalize our broken (systemic and interpersonal) state of race relations. I want our nation and world to be whole, and this works against that goal, instead of serving it. Despite the multi-dimensionally fouled-up and divided state of our nation and this world, I want to invite you to begin with a vision of social wholeness.
But this "joke" needs to be addressed as part of that vision. The latter half of this joke has so much energy in it, that from my perspective, it is obviously seeking to "wink, wink" it's way into re-asserting white supremacist culture.
The phrase "public housing vacated by a black family" has so many implications.
1. The Obama family have been living on the taxpayer dole, as if being elected president didn't also confer residence at 1600 Pennsylvania to all of the previous presidents. Nobody would've made the statement that the Bush or Reagan (or Clintons, even) were living in public housing.
2. This grossly reinforces the trope of black families living in public housing. We get enough of that on TV media, and any time this trope is just glibly put out there, it entirely ignores a history of oppression and mass incarceration which have been destroying black families since the drug war ramped up in the 80's, and of all of America's history actually.
3. While this is supposed to be funny, gentrification (in which developers encourage wealthy folks to move into neighborhoods formerly poor) is a really ugly deal and has gotten much worse in the last few years. Really near where Stephanie and I lived in Oakland, the situation for working-class families and elderly people is becoming dire, with triple the number of formerly-homed people now living in tents under bridges, many who've been priced out of rentals in their life-long neighborhoods by people with luxurious amounts of wealth.
4. Given Donald Trump's obvious appeal to the brazenly racist (and now xenophobic) Southern strategy, and his characteristically indifferent constitution-be-damned statement the other night suggesting that 'stop and frisk' should be implemented upon 'the bad people' in Chicago, to even consider him taking the place held by the Obama's is the profanest of insults.
To everyone reading, I encourage reflecting on what kind of social state you want to leave for your grandchildren and descendants. Each of us who are white have a choice to make: to either affirm and entrench the privileges we get just for appearing in the skin we live in, to ignore the privileges while continuing to benefit from them, or to recognize them and work against them. This is a truly difficult effort because it requires deep self-examination, and re-formation of self in relationship to others. Seeing ourselves in this way is often very uncomfortable and sometimes quite painful, but not anywhere near as painful as seeing your child gunned down dead in the street.
In case the connection between this joke and daily police shootings of unarmed blacks isn't clear, this joke suggests a second-class status upon black people. It's easier to kill somebody when you perceive them as less-than or sub-human. Implicit biases have have been drubbed into each of us, including police officers. Try this test to find your score -- I was not pleased with my own results, but they're an indicator of decades of inculcation through the media and the culture I swim in: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html
I've likely belabored my preaching well beyond the simple point of "racism stops with me," and I do so because I thought I've been argently clear on where I stand on justice issues: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154266186911077&id=747121076 So it confuses me that you included me, unless you wanted this joke affirmed, weren't thinking sensitively about the impact a joke like this might have on people who read it, or were hoping I'd engage with an extended diatribe. I'd actually prefer that the forwarding of messages like this grind to a halt among such circles, rather than just choosing which people are not "safe" to send to.
This is a great bonding game that is exciting to play, while at the same time doesn't require much (read as: any) deep sharing or social risk. I post it here, because the only part that remains resident in my brain is usually "Dinosaur Scramble!"
game is called 'Zoom.' The idea of the game is that there is a ball/wad/field/amoeba of energy that gets passed around a group of players who are standing in a circle, facing inward. This game is good for groups between 8 and 20, but could be played with less, or more.
The different options for passing the energy are as follows:
action directed to a person next to you, following the direction as
initially started by energy holder; the person 'zooms' both hands in
Blocks a zoom and changes its direction; the person turns slightly to
face the person who just passed the energy to them with a zoom,
crosses hands over their chest and says 'zorch'. The person who just
zoomed the zorcher must now zoom in the other direction
A person who has received the energy passes it to a person across the
circle; cannot be to a person directly next to the 'whoosher'; The
person raises both hand back behind their head, then points both at
the intended target while saying 'whoosh'. The receiver acknowledges
the energy transfer by in a completely refreshed tone, 'Aaaaahhh,'
and bringing hands up to the face, and wiggling hands and body while
moving hands down to side. The person can then zoom or whoosh again.
The person with the energy looks pointedly at a person across the
circle and yells 'dinosaur factor.' Both people pretend to be
dinosaurs, moving towards the center of the circle as if facing off
in battle, then retreat, switching places in the circle. The person
who was challenged now has the energy.
The person with the energy yells, 'scramble' and everyone runs around
yelling, and finds a new place in the circle. When everyone returns
to the circle, the energy is claimed when someone yells, "That
was a scramble, bitches!" Dinosaur
Same as above, except instead of yelling, each person becomes a
dinosaur. Energy is claimed by yelling "That was a dinosaur
The energy is thrown into the center of the room with the word
'splat.' The energy is claimed by the first person to mime a pick up
motion and yell “Grab.”
Much thanks to my friend Taylor, who shared this sometime after learning it from the theater department at Pitt.