▼The Whites Have Become Black▼
You can't depend on your judgment [or eyes] when your imagination is out of focus
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culture has become the fashion — and black and white, boy and girl, operate in this language together; this
language, which is wholly false, which is a Jamaican patois, that’s been intruded in England, [that's] why
so many of us have this sense of literally a foreign country...Listen to David Lammy, an archetypical,
successful black man: if you turned the screen off, so that you were listening to him on
radio, you’d think he was white...It’s utterly outrageous, obviously, what you’re
saying. What you’re doing is you’re equating black culture with criminality...
You keep talking David about black culture. Black communities are not
homogenous. So there are black cultures. Lots of different black
cultures. What we need to be doing is...thinking about
ourselves not as individual communities...as one
community. We need to stop talking
about them and us.
DAVID STARKEY | OWEN JONES | DREDA S. MITCHELL
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I watched it live. I was sitting right there smilingly thinking of Toni Morrison and what she calls assumptions of degradation, vilification and illegality.
Angry later? No.
No. I'm not mad at "privileged" albeit culturally incompetent Historian/Broadcaster David Starkey for making one more stupid remark. He has been for a long time and thanks to Google, the intellectually curious can do their own research and learn more about how out of touch he is.
What I do want to thank him for is twofold. His remarks which have unleashed a worldwide debate, has added clarity and relevance—not that reality needed or needs i t—to the issues raised in my last installment: Cultural Competency & Consequences (Part II). "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away", as Philip K. Dick rightly notes.
Starkey—and I'm trying hard to avoid making fun of his name—said what too many ignoramuses albeit otherwise decent folks think but lack the courage to say in public. And evidence of that is abundant. Just Google the London Riots issue and Starkey's remarks and scroll down on virtually every page and you'll find the predominant rationale is reminiscent of the decision after the O.J. Simpson trial.
There are those who like to think that those who constantly invoke Martin Luther King Jnr. are Afrocentrics who just won't let go of the shame that gave birth to the Civil Rights era. But listen to King's words below, juxtapose it not just with Starkey's 2011 controversial remarks but also, the reality of everyday black people like myself who by the way takes a back seat to nobody when it comes to real everyday experiences (proof, legion), economic hardship, and crucially: the structural and institutional inhumane effects and consequences of deeply held prejudice and ignorance such as demonstrated above. Watch and listen for yourself and imagine, if you have the courage, discipline, acuity and integrity required to glare at, and embrace reality and truth; then ask yourself: what chance does the highly qualified black man or woman stand when people like Starkey are the stakeholders standing porter at the door of whatever success the former is pursuing?
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In a world with sometimes demoralizing injustice, it gets scarier when the diligent stops, lose focus and starts thinking of the fear, stupidity, and paralysis that governs culturally incompetent people like David Starkey.
How, after all, can you talk about a "profound cultural change" in Britain or anywhere in our globalized world as Starkey attempts above, when you're xenophobic, arguably perhaps, a closet racist, don't have knowledgeable black or "ethnic" friends irregardless of whether they have strong cultural connections to Afro-Caribbean, North American/U.S., Latin American, or Sub-Saharan African values, all of which matter, and at times, differ. And comedian Chris Rock would tell you, as I have witnessed disturbingly, recently — and I won't name names — there's always "at least one" out of touch black guy denying the reality on the ground.
Just yesterday, a friend right here e-mailing me privately wrote, and I paraphrase, "I was born in a racist country and I hated it...and sometimes I'm ashamed to be white". That friend is British.
I lived in Britain for years. I left Manchester because of violence directed at me. It is also true that the perpetrator happen to be Jamaican. But I'd opened my human experience to knowing and getting along with people from all walks of life and a quiet, serious, and highly professional colleague of mine who also happen to be Jamaican at the time always helped me keep things in perspective even as the violence escalated.
Britain in my opinion, has lost its way socially, culturally, and morally speaking, because of the decadence of strong family values. When the keys to successful parenting and other Judeo-Christian, Islamic and similarly positive virtues are ridiculed, intellectualized, secularized such that everything becomes morally relative, it then becomes OK to riot, loot, and proudly film it with all the braggadocio and violence that goes with ineffective, short-staffed and incompetent policing and tolerance of gangs. And that is why Tariq Jahan (father of hit-and-run victim of the riots Haroon Jahan, pictured below) is a rare voice of reason at a time when fathers, mothers, deadbeat or not, are missing in action; don't know what their kids are up to, and as I experienced myself back in Britain, witnesses don't speak to the police even where their lives are not at stake.
Not because of Black Culture (whatever that is) and/or musical genres people like Starkey and his ilk have refused and failed to invest time in understanding and therefore are condemned to keep harboring a dangerously flawed premise against, not just certain genre of music say, but "my people".
The self-confessed "racist"/misogynist who uses cuss words all the time and is involved in all sorts of dubious recreational lifestyles and yet once approached me critically challenging and questioning my affinity with Rap/Hip Hop is no exception. He too, and his ilk, know themselves.
At the time of writing, we have teenage 'flash mob' problems in my home city of Philadelphia too. And there, Mr. Jahan's refrain applies. And I'd put it this way: Go back to basics. Go back home. And understand, whether you're atheist, skeptic, agnostic or believer, nothing beats properly raising your kids, and even other kids who come into contact with you for the benefit of a more stable society.
Many people can quote the Biblical passage, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" or 教 养 孩 童 ， 使 他 走 当 行 的 道 ， 就 是 到 老 他 也 不 偏 离 。
However, what most don't know is that in the original Hebrew, if memory serves me right, the "he" in Proverbs 22:6 is actually replaced by "it". So, you have "it will not depart from him/her". Meaning ,wherever the kid (grown or not) goes, he or she will find it difficult to stay out of trouble or succumb to peer pressure, if you like. But then again, who pays attention to teaching such values when they're busy ridiculing and intellectualizing religion rather than erecting strong moral, ethical backed by legal barriers against gang culture and violence?
Cultural Competence is not properly acquired by reading, copy and pasting from Wikipedia. Experience, and a strong disciplined ability of a nation, policy-makers, stakeholders and the individuals seeking both to grasp and transcend Diversity know that self-critique, is key.
Understanding the mild, extreme, economic and other cumulative effects of your decisions, actions, omissions, and prejudices whether from a privileged standpoint or not on other (ethnic) groups within a community, nation, organization or context, is the beginning of real, non-academic/hands-on Cultural Competence.
That is why my Romanian friend tuning in and hungrily searching my Cultural Competence blogs or the white kid Googling and posting Yahoo and Wiki Answers queries on "how to know more black music and culture" as one teenager put it, individually, are a million steps ahead of the culturally incompetent and xenophobic (but unaware) David Starkey. And you see the latter's disease throughout the world. From Europe to China, and even amongst Americans (Tea baggers or not) who live in a perpetual 6 degrees to I-hate-Obama — because he's black and "different" and so let me ensure he fails as a bad "one-term president" while foolishly believing I love "my country" and want it to succeed" — loop.
Racism is psychologically contagious when exposed to wholesale cultural ignorance. Rest in peace Haroon Jahan. Your father and conscientious global citizens will continue the fight.
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Cultural Competency & Consequences (III)
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