Wednesday, 26 November 2014

All My Trials

So much discussion about the non-indictment of Michael Brown's killer. It seems every cop is granted double 'O' status when they leave the academy. Fourteen children have been killed by cops since that fateful day in August. Lots of analysis; lots of punditry. My favorite platitude this week? "We live in a nation of laws" A lot of well meaning people have been trying to answer the question "Why isn't Darren Wilson being charged with ... something?" Here's my attempt at an answer.

Look around 
Past row houses in Ferguson Missouri
Down the long antebellum rows of cotton
Beyond the police line; the race line
The scarred line 
Jagged across Old Glory’s tattered furls
Look how it connects the money, the congressmen, the cops

And smell it … can you smell it?
The smoke, the tear gas, the rage
Ferguson is burning
Across the years, Atlanta is burning 
Resentment still settling
Like soot on sons of the south

Deep down in your soul
Your granddads Klan is tryin’ to be heard
“Lose your job?  … The colored man took it”
“High taxes?  … Shiftless welfare bums”
 “Angry? Afraid? … White privilege my ass!”

Do you feel it?
Drumbeats pulsing in your brain
Feel it
A familiar tune
Faintly rising to the pounding beat
Hum it with me … Sing it with me
This is our song
“Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton …”

Friday, 21 November 2014

Hannity Blames The President

FOX News pundit Sean Hannity says President Obama will be partly to blame for violence in Ferguson, if it happens.

When my back pain attacks with a flair
The discomfort is all I can bear
Til the kidney stone shifts
Then the agony lifts
Like when Hannity goes off the air

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Paying it Forward

I heard this shaggy dog story a few years ago. At that time, it was attributed to Jimmy Pattison, a notorious Canadian one-percenter. I don't know if that part is true. The rest, of course is.

Years ago I was down on my luck
Out of work, I would sleep in my truck
And I often would curse
“Things can’t get any worse!”
‘Til the sole of my shoe came unstuck

When I walked it went “Flippity-Flop”
So I stopped at the shoe repair shop
But the cobbler was brash
And he said “Without cash
I suggest that you skip and you hop”

It was later that day, I recall
On my way to the hiring hall
My old shoe caught a crack
And I fell on my back
There I sat and I started to bawl

But a limo pulled up in the street
A tycoon helped me get to my feet
Then he pulled out a roll
That could choke any foal
Rubber banded to keep it all neat

He said “Son, I was once just like you,
And this might be the least I can do”
He then peeled off the band
Pressed it into my hand
Saying “This ought to bind up your shoe”

Saturday, 1 November 2014

It is all men

In case you've been living under a rock for the past week, here is a link to a video titled "10 Hours Walking in New York City as a Woman". It's gone viral, as the say. The video documents the numerous catcalls and other forms of sexual harassment endured by a woman, just walking around town.

Disappointingly, but not surprising, the video generated a lot of controversy. "Most of these guys are just being nice." "It's racist! the white guys were edited out" "It's all in fun" and  "Boys will be boys". This is not to mention the hateful and ignorant comments posted by men who actually took offense at being called out for their sexist behavior.

I want to make the point right now that the responsibility for this anti-social behavior rests with all men. Not just men of color or white men or rich men or poor men or young men or old men; and it doesn't rest with women. The responsibility to treat women with respect lies with all men.

If you call after women on the street; stop it, you're not flirting and it's not harmless. If, while driving through town, your friends wolf whistle out the window; call them on it. They're acting like bullies. Most telling of all, if you witness street harassment and you're afraid to intervene, think about why. The purpose of catcalling is to intimidate. If you're intimidated, put yourself in her shoes. Most important of all; if you have a son. Teach him to treat women with respect. This is your responsibility.

There is no need to over intellectualize this discussion. I've seen too many online debates about this. "Is it inherent in our capitalist society", "Is it rooted in a particular culture", "Do we have to solve some other social problem before we can solve this one". All these discussions just detract from the point. Men are behaving badly and they should stop.

Here's a limerick that boils the issue down to its essence.

Out in midtown or up in the hood
Every "Baby, you're sure looking good"
Each "Hey Sweetie" and "Ciao"
Means "I'd fuck you right now"
Is there something I've misunderstood?