Sunday, June 28, 2009

Why Are All Those People Crying?

This post has been rattling around in my head since yesterday; however, in the spirit of full disclosure, I must reveal that my blogami, Mark, also addressed this topic in a post, The Death of Strangers, that I read before writing my own. Any plagiarism on my part is totally unintended. BTW, Mark's post includes a really great piece of photoart.

I've watched a lot of television in the last two days. I've felt a little sorry for Farrah Fawcett. She had the misfortune to die on the same day as Michael Jackson. Farrah was a star but MJ was a superstar, a cultural icon, a bit tarnished, but nonetheless, a shining star. MJ has excited the sort of tear-streaming, "I can't believe he's gone," drama that followed Princess Diana's untimely demise.

Good and grown men and women are holding vigils, mourning the death of Michael Jackson. I don't get it. There is something overdone and fake about it all. A lot of crocodile tears, offered more for the display of grief than any real feelings of mourning. I take it back; maybe Farrah was the lucky one, her family and friends allowed a bit more privacy as MJ's fans make a display of expressions of grief.

I grew up listening to MJ and his brothers. I was far more into the Jackson Five than I was into the Beatles. They were young black boys with cool clothes, big afros, and a soulful sound ; and they made a young black girl growing up in a southern town believe that there was a world for her outside of her own backyard. I suspect that I wasn't alone in feeling that the five brothers from Indiana spoke to me of hope and opportunity. I sang along with their songs and tried to copy their dance steps. When Michael went solo, I continued to be a fan. I still sing along with the radio, Billie Jean was not my lover, she's just a girl who says that I am the one, but the kid is not my son. Every time that I hear Beat It I start shaking my hips and tapping my feet. I cry over She's Out of My Life..

Of course, I am saddened by Michael's death, but I'm not in mourning. I'm saddened because his death reminds me of my own mortality. I'm saddened because he was a young man, who died early. I'm saddened because he struck me as a troubled person, who in spite of his success and fame, never found any lasting happiness. I think that he was a musical genius and I am saddened to see his creative force extinguished.

However, I just can't join the teary-eyed masses who engage in wailing and gnashing of teeth as if they've lost a family member. I confess that I am fascinated by this outpouring of what I dub pseudo-grief. I empathize with the Jackson family; I can imagine how overwhelmed they must feel, especially as total strangers try to claim the family's private grief as their own. Michael Jackson has left a legacy of music and memories that belongs to the ages, but the enormous sorrow of his passing is the rightful property of those who knew him and loved him as a person, not as an icon.

Friday, June 19, 2009

In the Absence of Profundity...WTF

After such a long absence from these pages, I feel an obligation to say something profound., nothing comes to mind. I've been working a lot of 10 to 12 hour days and that kind of work schedule sort of saps your profundity gene.

There have been so many things that have caught my attention during this month of blog-silence, things that have made me mutter WTF as if it were some ritual chant. Regrettably, most of them have faded from my memory, although there are a few standouts.

There is the young woman who went to school without her underwear on the day that pictures for the yearbook were being taken. Sitting on the front row of the bleachers for a shot with her fellow members of some club, she became upset when the yearbook was published, feeling that she had inadvertently flashed the camera. The young woman and her mother made much ado about the photograph, demanding that the school recall all of the yearbooks. The school declined to do so, insisting that the picture didn't reveal anything and much ado was being made about what was no more than an innocent shadow on the image. The mother and the daughter were all over the news, making certain that those of us who didn't have access to the yearbook knew all about the daughter's faulty memory. Why else would you put on a short skirt and neglect to add underwear, except you forgot?

Then there is the husband who decided to fulfill his sexual fantasy of watching his wife with another man, but neglected to include his wife in the planning of the event. Instead, he hired some guy to pretend to break into his home and pretend to rape his wife. Oh wait, if she wasn't in on the plan, maybe pretend isn't the right word. The wife called the police and her husband was placed in a non-pretend jail cell. I hope that the next stop will be divorce court.

These stories are just small potatoes in the WTF competition compared to the ongoing attack on Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. Among the nonsense spouted by conservative pundits has been comparing her membership in the National Council of La Raza to membership in the KKK. La Raza is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan organization focused on reducing poverty and discrimination, and improving opportunities, for Hispanic Americans. It's difficult to believe that any rational, thinking individual could equate an organization like La Raza with the KKK. Until La Raza starts burning crosses in the yards of non-Hispanic people, not allowing them to live in their neighborhoods, bombing their churches, and advocating for a complete denial of rights based on skin color, then it equals the Klan about as much as night equals day. Don't waste my time or yours sputtering about why do Hispanic people or other ethnic and/or racial minorities in this country need special organizations. It's really very simple. No, I'm not going to explain it to you. I've written about racial discrimination way too many times in this blog. If you don't get it by now, you're hopeless. Besides, I've reached a place in my beliefs where I no longer consider it my responsibility or the responsibility of any person of color to explain to the majority about racism, discrimination or prejudice. Work it out amongst yourselves. I'm in a tough love phase.

There are countless advocacy groups in this country that La Raza parallels: the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, AARP, The ARC of the United States, etc. I don't believe that the spouters of this garbage about Judge Sotomayor or La Raza believe it. They speak out of fear. This country is actually moving forward on matters of race, beginning to recognize that the bigotry of the past has no place in the 21st century. My message to Limbaugh and his dittoheads: get over it and find some real issues to focus on, like homelessness, poverty, genocide, famine, war....