Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Kansas City Negros Would Never Fly...

I heard some great news: the students of a central school in Cooperstown, NY voted to change the name of their mascot from Redskins to anything NOT blatantly f***ing racist. This is great news, and for a change, the public commended them, instead admonishing them for being affected by the liberal mainstream media and school system, bent on corrupting our children that the world is older than 6,000 years, guys who kiss guys are humans, and woman can do math! [GASP]! This is progress.

Usually, any time people complain about the names and mascots of the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians, Florida Seminoles, Atlanta Braves, etc, people would tell the complainants to stop whining, because, “It’s tradition and you can’t change tradition”, even when the complainants are the indigenous people of the US, like even before the US WAS the US. The “it’s tradition” argument would be valid, except that it was once “tradition” that I would be only consider 60% of a human being, and 100% the live property of another person, who would have “traditionally” raped my female relatives routinely. After that got blasé, it was still “tradition” to force a brown fellow like me to eat, drink, go to the bathroom, and get educated in sub-par (sometimes subhuman) allegories of my former owner’s facilities. That went out of style as well.

This idea that we can’t change something that’s been done for years would also be valid, were it not a complete counter to what ALWAYS happens in history. This is the same type of argument that people make about changing the Constitution. I can give you 27 reasons why that argument has more holes in it than a brown guy reaching for his wallet in front of a bunch of cops in NYC...too soon?

I think what makes me wonder about the whole racist mascot thing is why is it taking so long for this progression to happen? There would be NO way that there would still be a Cleveland Niggers, or the Florida Fighting Mandingos, or the Atlanta Railroad Chinks or the Washington Spics. There would be SO much uproar. Even product names that were BLATANTLY wrong are gone...except of course for Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, Eskimo Pies, Chiquita Bananas, Land O’ Lakes...OK, so Nigger Hair Tobacco and Darky Toothpaste don’t exist. I guess we have a way to go on that front as well...

Anyway, why do these teams and mascots still exist??? I shouldn’t complain. Rome wasn’t built, then subsequently destroyed, then rebuilt in a day. I should be happy that things are changing. One day, Washington will have a less racist, more fitting team name, like The Washington Politico-Corporate Incubi, or the Cleveland River Fires or something. Whatever, I’m not big on team sports anyway.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Besouro

I have a friend named Besouro da Folha. He was one of the first people I met when I moved to Rochester. At first I thought he was a little odd, but after a few weeks, I could tell he’s one of the kindest, bluntest, strongest people I know. Besouro is in peak physical condition. He studied to be a trainer, and I’m pretty sure he’s got a few certifications under his belt. If he doesn’t, it’s because the exam makers were jealous of him exceeding every test they could throw at him. He’s a passionate animal lover. He hardly drinks. He is a vegan. He survived my telling of The Worst Joke Ever®. Of all the people in Rochester that I met, Besouro HAD to be the most physically and mentally fit. So much so, that in our circle of friends, we decided that during the robot uprising, we would harvest Besouro for meat when our food supplies run out. That is much we love Besouro. We would f***ing eat him.

Well, Besouro was diagnosed with leukemia last year. Of all the people, Besouro. I was dumbfounded. Friends jumped into action. One started a Fundly account (http://fundly.com/budburdickisvegstrong). Another few had fund raising rodas (Google it, non-capoeiristas) to send to him for his medical bills. His brother and I put on a party with a raffle and performers to get capital for his treatments. He has gone through a few treatments of chemo, weeks and weeks in the hospital. They tried bone marrow matches, but it is very hard to find a match. I would give my entire leg if I knew it would help (by the way, offer is still out there). There has been a myriad of well wishes for Besouro from all over the world. Everyone is pushing for Besouro to beat this cancer.

One day last week, I read Besouro’s blog, and after reading his latest entry, I learned a sad fact: the fucking leukemia has not remissed. He’s going through more chemo as I type this. Everyone hopes that the next steps his doctor makes will be steps toward finally beating this disease that afflicted the most undeserving person I know. It hit me that no matter how many well wishes, he might not make it.

I’ve lost friends and family before, some to auto accidents, some to violence. I actually held a stranger in my arms as I watched her gurgle her last breath. Not one of these nearly disturbed me as much as losing a close friend who is like family who is younger and more active than me to an illness. I hide it well, but as positive as I try to be, I can’t shake this thought. He’s in treatment again. I hope that this is the one that kills the killer. I hope this time, he gets out of the hospital and revisits his doctor to hear good news. I hope all the well wishes weren’t for naught. I hope everything goes back to us joking about the robot apocalypse again. I hope that this pit-burning emotion I have will be proven silly and pointless. Because right now, I feel selfish for wanting my friend to live beyond me, of only to make my well wishes to him come true.

Stay strong, Besouro. The rest of you, help him: http://fundly.com/budburdickisvegstrong.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mississippi Burned

Listening to NPR this morning, there was an article where residents of Mississippi were indignant about the entire state’s role as the incorporeal villain of many movies. The latest of note would be “Django Unchained”, the spaghetti-style western where ex-slave Django traveled with a bounty hunter to rescue his wife from the Mississippi plantation Candyland, a site that “breeds” mandingo fighters for death matches, to the enjoyment of white onlookers. So it’s a comedy. :-)

It is somewhat true: Mississippi has been the Hollywood site of some very heinously racist things. “Ghosts of Mississippi”, “Mississippi Burning”, “A Time to Kill”, “In the Heat of the Night”, “LaLee’s Kin”, “Django Unchained” all took place in Mississippi. The people interviewed in the NPR article, both black and white Crooked Letter residents, were upset that their state has been so vilified. They pointed out that there are so many other aspects of the state beyond their despicable past.

I could see how upsetting it can be to be labeled something that you’re not. In fact, when I went on a business trip to Mississippi with my attractive, white female co-worker, the patrons of the restaurant we entered didn’t even need to open their mouths for me to tell that they thought she was a n****r-lover, and I was a dirty interloper on their pure race. 
I knew that look of disdain well. Unfortunately, this was farther from the truth. She was engaged to be married to a nice Yankee up north, yet they looked like they were about to go Emmitt Till on me and lord knows what on her. See? Misperceptions hurt people's feelings.

So if the people of Mississippi really want to stop being vilified so much, then they should STOP DOING VILLAINOUS THINGS. Forget what happened 100 years ago. Let’s go to 2001, when they officially adopted the state flag that had the Confederate flag emblazoned on it, 107 years after they changed it unofficially from a very innocuous one with a tree on it, and 136 AFTER the Civil War, where the Confederates LOST. The University of Mississippi, coloquially called Ole Miss, JUST changed their mascot, the Rebel, from a confederate soldier to a black bear, yet they still call themselves the Rebels, and the bear STILL wears a derivative of Confederate garb! A few months ago, there were riots on Election Night at Ole Miss because a black guy was re-elected President. Effigies hanging from nooses were burned. The MS legislature was the last state to ratify the 13th Amendment...THREE DAYS AGO, 148 years after its initial passage.That's not progress. That is pathetic.

These people whining about being typecast because of Mississippi’s past haven’t said anything about Mississippi’s present. This, in fairness, is an American tradition. We never want to talk about all the horrible things we did in the past to get to where we are. Half of my ancestors were slaves (I guess we’d call them “involuntary immigrants” now), and it’s a guarantee that half of them were raped, or I would not be here to waste your time. We hunted hundreds of species to extinction. We murdered entire indigenous nations, and moved the rest of them from their native lands to ones that were completely alien to them. We used Asian immigrants for railroad building in the same way we used blacks to build our crop and textile industry, just not under the veil of slavery. Once we were done building our railroad networks, we made laws to try to keep Chinese people out. During WWII, we were fighting an enemy who placed “undesirables” in concentration camps, all the while putting Japanese citizens and residents of the US into concentration camps! The best part is that we had a group of black pilots have the best flight record for preserving the safety of our US bombers, yet when they got home, they were still just a bunch of n****rs with no rights. They didn’t get medals for their service until half of them were already dead of age.

However, if anyone tries to bring up any of these dark spots in our past, someone cries, “It’s in the past, get over it!” The problem is that we ARE over it, and we’ll be more over it when everyone owns what being an American means. We did f***ed up s***. I catch flack for being black and including myself in the crimes of the past, but the fact is I was born in this country, for better or worse, this is my native land. My ancestors were victims, but some were perpetrators, and the only way to really understand history is to understand ALL aspects of it.

For this reason, I can’t cry a river for the people of Mississippi until they actually acknowledge their past. Romanticising your slave-laden Confederate past without giving attention to the actual slavery and brutal racism is NOT acknowledging it. Continuing to do that will only make the past repeat itself. If you don’t believe that, look at the immigration and voter laws that are sprouting up today. So the lesson: If you don’t want to be depicted as a bunny-killer, then STOP KILLING BUNNIES.


OK, I changed my mind. THIS is my Black History Month post.

Kal-El Can Suck It

For those of you who lost your virginity before the age of 21, this article may not interest you. The rest of you may read on.

Orson Scott Card, famed writer, was pegged by DC Comics to write the newest arc of “The Adventures of Superman”. Being primarily a Marvel man (thusly, a post-teen virgin), I would not give a rat’s a** about who is writing Superman. He was never one of my favourite characters. However, I have a problem with Orson Scott Card, because he’s a homophobic piece of s***.

Being of the land of “free speech”, I could care less what Card has to say about homosexuals and their impact on society. He has some pretty standard bigoted views. However, I don’t understand how a company in an industry that is usually on the forefront of progressive and controversial views would think it is a good idea to hire this man. Marvel was created the first superhero comic with a black protagonist. One of the first female superheroes with her own book was Wonder Woman, and she wasn’t baking cookies at super-speed.  She was beating the s*** out of hardened criminals! DC re-imagined the ORIGINAL Green Lantern, Alan Scott, as a gay man. Both comic giants have been ahead of general society when it comes to social issues, from race to homosexuality to drug use. And even though their track record for drawing women with little more than dental floss as a costume is not that stellar, powerful women in comics have started to come up. Google Alias and Ultra. Trust me.

So why the hell would DC hire a man who has promised to violently overthrow any government that legally allows same-sex marriage? This is a man who is a board member of the National Organisation for Marriage, a group who actively tries to tear apart families. He said that the notion of gay rights is a myth back in 2000. He often writes about the (false) connection between homosexuality and paedophilia, a common trope of the religious right. In 2004, he wrote a whole essay about the “threat” of homosexual marriage, because as we all know, gay marriage always destroys society! Just look at all the countries who have legalised gay marriage, who are doing better than us socially and economically. In the states where it’s legal, they’re getting extra revenue from all the new marriage licences and subsequent wedding planning, hotel bookings, agent arrangements, etc., and the  governours are all, “Oh no, what are we going to do with all this money!”

I really don’t understand how a man who hates gay people would want to write about a man who regularly dons bright spandex clothes with his underwear outside his pants and and a big flapping red cape. That is about as ridiculous as an organisation that makes its members wear a uniform that consists of khaki shorts, a sash with a bunch of hand-sewn badges on it, and a handkerchief around the neck, yet bans gay members...ohhhhh...

Card is a man who hides behind his religion to justify his repugnant bigotry, and then he screams at you for being a bigot against his religious views when you call him on it. This is a new tactic of the a**holes of the social world. Truthfully, though, it is about as valid as Newt Gingrich dressing up in blackface and doing a Stepin Fetchit routine, then accusing a black man who tells him it’s offensive to do so that HE is racist. Why is this such a big deal? Because whether we want to believe it or not, comics and other media DO affect how some think. In general, though, that affect is positive, contrary to what your local conservative would have you think. I read a lot of comics as a kid, and I know that lots of what I read made me see the real world in a different light. Unfortunately, I didn’t try to see the world with ruby quartz glasses, but I could tell that comic writers wrote their views into this parallel universe for everyone to enjoy. Look at the entire premise of the X-Men...don’t watch “X-Men 3”, though. Look at the moral dilemmas sewn into the recent Batman stories. Look at the recent Civil War series. Reality begets fantasy, and the writers and artists make it entertainment. Having a known bigot write for the most powerful superhero in the DC universe is disconcerting, as whether he intends to or not, his views WILL bleed into his stories. Noah Berlatsky also brought up a few very good points: one is that there is a fine line between the superhero and the supervillain. The conundrum of Superman is that he is forever fighting for the greater good, yet he is doing so using vigilante tactics. The Klan thought they were enacting tactics greater good as well. That begat a LOT of strange fruit in sycamore trees throughout the South. So what happens when Superman, who works for the “greater good”, deems that gay marriage is NOT good? Does that mean he’d have to violently act out against Alan Scott, you know, for his own “good”?

It will likely not come to that, but I know I will not know what will be happening with Superman, or any DC hero for that matter, until Card is dropped. There are already a few petitions imploring DC to get rid of Card: one on AllOut.org and one on Change.org. Public outcry is still rising. Hopefully, DC will feel the pain in their pockets and break their contract with one of the Grand Wizards of NOM. Until they do, Make mine Marvel.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

V-Day Plans: Because Flowers Are Stupid

Joyous Buy-Me-Flowers-Or-You-Get-No-Sex-Today Day to you! What do you have planned? Did you make a reservation at some trendy bistro? Did you order flowers and pyjamas online? F*** THAT! Flowers die, chocolate melts, and if she eats them, she won’t want to wear those sexy pyjamas. If you really love your woman, then take her to a onebillionrising.org event. This V-Day, throughout the world, there are One Billion Rising events: art shows, live bands, happy hours, all out parties, etc. Proceeds go to a good cause: fighting violence and abuse against women everywhere. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, until it is finally not true: women are the n****rs of the world. They are blamed for crimes committed against them, sold into hard labour and sex slavery, treated like they are less than human, and that is just in the US!

Maybe you don’t have time to lobby Congress or start petitions or completely undermine an entire patriarchal system of degradation and misogyny that has been in place for thousands of years, but I’m sure you have time for a drink, so go do something that will support people who risk their lives to give women a voice and power. Go to OneBillionRising.org and find out what’s happening in your area. If you’re in Rochester, I’ll see you at Skylark Lounge tonight, 40 S Union Street. :-)

V-Day: Because flowers are stupid.

I Was Christopher Jordan Dorner

Unless you have been living under a rock, or been looking at other stories in the world that DIDN’T involve guns and Americans and murder, you surely have heard of Christopher Jordan Dorner. He was an ex-LAPD cop, ex-Navy man, who went on a killing spree, vowing in a manifesto to kill more LAPD officers and specifying a few who may or may not have been targets. His tale ended on 13th February, where the cabin where he he made his last stand went up in flames, and all that remained were the charred remains of who authorities speculate are Mr. Dorner.

Before I continue, let me just say f*** that dude. That said, I was Christopher Jordan Dorner. From 1992 to 1998, I was the authority hating, machine-against-raging, youth who claimed that armed revolution was the only way to get justice in this land. I had good reason to feel this way. For the 9 years prior to my militant stage, I lived in one of the whitest parts of upstate New York, where I was the black student population of the COUNTY. Needless to say, I got beat up and berated a lot. My godfather and  uncles would get routinely stopped by police when they visited. My mother would get harassed by the local law enforcement nearly weekly. A grown man of authority did some things to me that I’d prefer not to mention, but I’ll say it left a long-standing distrust of people of authority for quite a long time.

When I moved to Baltimore in 1991, I went from being the blackest kid in the school system to being the whitest kid in the school system, so the beatings continued. My way to remedy this, since I was a weak little fata**, was to do a 180 on my persona. I tossed out all my hair band albums, bought up as much angry hip-hop as I could, and found the most militant poetry to quote. My poor a** couldn’t afford a leather jacket and a turtleneck, but I wore nearly all black everything to make up for it. I was ridiculous. I saw no beauty in anything light or white. Kathy Ireland repulsed me. Why isn’t there a Kathy Swaziland? Why are Frosted Flakes just “great”, but I have to go Cuckoo for Cocoa Pops? I would drink dark roast coffee so that my incisors would not be so oppressive with their whiteness.

I HATED anyone with a badge and a gun. However, being a black teenager in Baltimore, they definitely gave me a reason to hate them as well. I fit more descriptions than I can remember. Since I never dabble in any type of crime beside a little bit of public soapboxing, I was always let go, but the regular harassment simply fed into my position that BPD stood for both Baltimore Police Department and Black People’s Destruction.

In 1998, I finally softened on my hardcore beliefs, thanks to living overseas for a summer. I learned about the decency of human beings, and realised that there is not a global plot to eradicate all the brown people in the world. The plot is against POOR people. It doesn’t matter what colour they are! Police, for the most part are people who dedicate their lives to keeping order, and there are really only 4 or 5 bad seeds that make the news who make it bad for everyone else.

Back to Dorner, in his manifesto, he spoke of the racism and sexism in the police force. I somewhat understood that part. If you look at the police department of any major city, there is a long history of them subjugating the powerless. New Orleans, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Houston, all are guilty. There have been cleanup efforts, but really messed up things still happen. Stop & Frisk JUST got deemed unconstitutional in an appeals court a week ago. New Orleans was getting better, but then Katrina happened and set them back about 20 years. LA is famous for its many brown-people beatings. Hell, they shot two innocent people in a blue pickup truck just looking for Dorner! It’s enough to make a guy go crazy!

No matter what, though, a murder spree is a coward’s way to “fight the system” as his many Facebook fan pages claim he was doing. He wasn’t fighting anything. He was excusing despicable actions with lengthy rhetoric. If he really wanted to take on the LAPD, He could have done it the way I did: be better. I busted my a** to be better than the people who I perceived as the enemy. I got myself out of poverty. I educated myself on more than just extreme diatribe. I made it so that when I had a chance to bear witness in a court of law against someone, I had a credible enough background that there was no doubt I was the bearer of truth. Fighting Violence with violence does nothing but create a Moebius strip of death and destruction. At some point, you have to take the reins of your predicament and drive it to a better place, no matter whether someone put on that negative path or not. Whining about it does nothing, and hurting people not directly involved just makes you the bad guy. So yes, I was Christopher Jordan Dorner at one time, but then I GREW THE F*** UP.

This counts as my Black history Month post, right?

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