Friday, February 28, 2014

Abilene at Light #8

Last Friday, as he drove up to Light #8 of the 15 traffic lights on his commute, he noticed a small figure on the median holding a cardboard sign asking for change. This person was a young woman, petite, bundled up like she was at a school bus stop, likely early 20s, though the stress and cold had aged her a little bit. “Oh, that is dangerous”, he thought. A young person, especially a woman, out on the streets is a vulnerable target for a myriad of urban predators, both natural and human. As he turned at the light to go home, he wondered, “I wonder if her family was evicted like when I was a kid”. He then thought, “F***ing idiot; why didn’t you stop!”

The following Monday, she was out at the same traffic light with her sign. The light was green this time, so he quickly turned, and it didn’t dawn on him to stop. He was glad the Urban Beasts didn’t get her. He then thought, “I wonder if her mom tried to off herself, like when I was a kid.” He then thought, “You MORON! you could have totally stopped!”

On Tuesday she was still there. He expected that she would now part of the scenery of his routine commute. At Light #8, the young woman with a cardboard sign will be peddling for cash. He would wonder something, “I wonder if she’s couch surfing”, or “I wonder if she’s pondered ending it all yet”, you know, like when he was a kid. He’d then chastise himself for not stopping. Until finally he did.

On Wednesday, he saw her, doing the “I’m really cold” dance that everyone who has ever taken public transportation in the dead of winter knows. Her face was deep red from being outside for so long. The wind was so strong that it hurt one’s face. Imagine being beaten up by a yeti with ice gloves. It was worse than that. He whizzed by her, and did his daily wondering, “I wondered if she’s hungry”. He then turned right at Light #9 instead of going straight, pulled into the first place he found that sold hot food, and ordered a feast for two. He then drove back up to Light #8 and found parking and handed the woman the food and FINALLY asked her something instead of wondering and guilt-tripping:

“Here’s some food, and this is the last of my money on-hand. I don’t expect you to go jumping into a complete stranger’s car, but if you need to get somewhere, I can take you. I know a few warm places in the city.”

“Oh, thanks. I’m fine. I’m staying with a friend who gets off work in an hour.”

“...Ok. Well take care, then. and be careful. What’s your name by the way?”

“It’s Abilene. Thank you for the food!”

No one can blame a young woman in a very vulnerable situation for not trusting a large man who offers her a ride. He just hoped Abilene’s eyes were flitting around for another reason as she spoke, and not because she was trying to concoct an answer, like he used to do when he was a kid. The sub-zero wind chill may be more appealing than the threat of being abducted. She was smart. Still...sub-zero wind chills can be result in the same morbid outcome. So on Wednesday, he finally learned something: Abilene was wearing an emotional mask, she was a very proud person, and she may not have trust in many people. Just like he was when he was a kid. The only difference is that it was never deathly cold when he was out on the street.

On Thursday, she wasn’t there. There was a piece of cardboard floating around the intersection, but it didn’t have any writing on it. It definitely wasn’t the sign that she had carried, but it looked as if Abilene at Light #8 erased all traces of her existence. As he turned and drove toward Light #9, he hoped that Abilene just moved to another block for the day or that she went somewhere warm that he suggested. He REALLY hoped the Urban Beasts hadn’t taken her. Never before has he actually wanted to see someone outside in the cold like he did Abilene at Light #8.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Black History Month 2014 Theme: F*** Black People

February is one of my twelve favourite months. it’s nice and organised into exactly four weeks (except for the damned leap years). It’s usually the turning point for winter, where the loss of hope I had in ever seeing grass again is found and rekindled, because March is just a few weeks away. Commercialised Homicidal Archer Baby Day is in the middle of the month, where people frantically run around buying up marzipan stuffed teddy bears and conflict diamonds in order to avoid conflict in their relationships. Because nothing says, “I love you” more than a highly pressurised piece of coal that is set in a precious metal, both likely mined by people who could never afford either, and even more likely lost a limb because they were accused of stealing them on the job. Enjoy your sweetheart cut!

The best part of February is that it’s Black History Month. This is the time of year when kids get to hear about a Washington other than the only white one. They eat pounds of peanut butter while watching old newsreels of Martin Luther King at the March on Washington. I get in on the fun by taking a shot every time I hear someone say, “When is there going to be a ‘White History Month’?” or “You have a black president; why can’t you be happy with that?”...I usually have severe liver damage by the 28th, much to the dismay of my physician. I’m so glad that this month, it seems the nation has decided on a theme for BHM 2014: “F*** Black People.”

At the beginning of the month, George Zimmerman announced that he was planning to take on DMX in a celebrity boxing match. This means that (1): DMX is no longer allowed at our black people meetings, and (2): George Zimmerman just out-OJed Oj in his celebration of getting away with murder. I’ve talked more about this before, but let me reiterate: the only way he could be more offensive is if the match were set on 26th February, the anniversary of the day he killed Trayvon Martin, and match ring were set up directly over Trayvon Martin’s grave, and the whole thing were satellite broadcast directly into the Martin family’s home.

A few days ago, some University of Mississippi students celebrated the festive month by wrapping a noose around the neck of a statue dedicated to James Meredith, the first black student of Ole Miss. They also draped the old Georgia state flag adorned with the Confederate Flag, or as I like to call it, the American Swastika, because Mississippi. This is the same state where students burned Obama in effigy to protest a fairly voted presidential re-election. Let’s not forget the time during the 2008 election when they welcomed a group from the Ku Klux Klan to view a simulcast of a presidential debate. They also ratified the 13th Amendment in February 2013, 148 years later, not because it was overdue and it was Black History Month anyway, but because a few lawmakers saw the movie Lincoln. I could go on about Mississippi and her checkered history, but I already did that last year, and let’s be honest: if I expounded any more, I’d have a multi-volume book set. What I wonder is why this month? Could they not wait a month, or maybe do this in January? Maybe the Polar Vortex gave them a dusting of snow last month that scared them enough to stay in their houses. It’s no wonder they lost the Civil War. If only we had given civil rights activists ice machines...we’d have saved so many lives.

Lastly, Florida recognised BHM 2014 by reaffirming that murdering black teenagers is completely legal. Michael Dunn, the man who shot at a car of unarmed kids and killed Jordan Davis over an argument about loud music, was convicted of every charge the DA brought against him, except for murder. The lesson: If you shoot at black teenagers in Florida, you’d better damn well put them all down. While in jail, he lamented in letters how oppressed he was, and how much black favoritism there is. He even compared himself to female victims of domestic abuse. Oh Michael Dunn, you poor, white, Christian man. You’ve had it so hard. over 200 years of dominating this country’s government and industry, being born able to hold land and vote. Then along came these brown people wanting to be treated like physiological humans that they are, and wanting PAID for the work they did involuntarily for years, and people with vaginas wanting to be able to vote??? You can’t even rape a woman and blame it on her with blind immunity anymore. You can’t get a big group of your friends and kill a few black men any longer...unless you’re in Florida. I’m shedding a tear for your hardly slipping privilege. Jessica Williams said it best: “Stand-Your-Ground is like bleach: great for whites, but it’ll ruin your colours.”

It is fairly apparent that the theme of this year’s BHM 2014 is “F*** Black People”. The only people who get treated like niggers more than black people in this country are women, and I’m fairly certain it’s because gender oppression has been an institution in the world for so much longer. Thousands of years of practise make perfect. There is a week left in this month. Let’s hope that nothing else happens beside my routine police stop for looking like someone who did something somewhere. Let’s put a gag in Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan’s mouth, and maybe every southern Tea Party House representative. Let’s celebrate the month talking about Alvin Ailey and Twelve Years a Slave’s BAFTA wins and my crush on Mae Jemison and hold our giggles at the idea of someone punching Tyler Perry in the gut continually until he pukes. You know: positive things!

One more week, folks. That’s all I ask.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

No Really, What IS Pimpin', Pimpin'?

This week, I was given a compliment on how I dress at work. Someone said I looked like a “pimp”. I was at work. It took all my energy not to back-hand smack him like a pimp.

I like to dress just a LITTLE bit better for work, even though most people take the idea of “business casual” more to the “casual” side. I definitely stuck out in the sea of khakis and New Balance sneakers-donning code monkeys. Let me tell you: I had no idea there were so many varieties of shirts of wolves baying at the moon. Usually, the only people who wear ties at work are the senior managers and me. The first few months of work, I would even occasionally wear a three-piece suit, to look professional in a major engineering firm. i looked like a fat model for Joseph A. Bank or Men’s Wearhouse. People liked the way I looked. I guarantee it. Unfortunately, the only way their pleasure about my aesthetic fashion choice was to not to say I look like I’m dressed for success, but that I’m dressed like a sex trafficker. Thanks.

It kind of reminds me of the “life hack” meme. Why is it when a white dude does something ridiculously cheap, it’s a “life hack”. When I do it, though, it’s “ghetto”.
“You don’t need a plate for Chinese takeout! just take off the wire handle and spread out the box!”
“Use soda can tabs to hang more clothes in your closet!” 
“Who needs a Bluetooth when you can just staple your phone to your ear?” 
“Save on body lotion by using your own tears to lube when mastrubating!”
When Trevor* suggests them, #LifeHack. When Antron suggests them, #Ghetto. The truth is that they’re both cheap lazy bastards who don’t feel like washing dishes or running to the store.

Anyway, the idea of the word “pimp” as a compliment for a well dressed man is not new. I am not sure when it came about in mainstream vernacular. I would like to blame Katt Williams, but that is only because i want Katt Williams to shut the f*** up and just sit on the money he’s already earned perpetuating stereotypes and leave us all alone. There are plenty of songs about “pimpin’”. Too $hort made a career of singing about it. All my roommates had movie nights when we watched old gems like The Mack and Pimps Up Ho’s Down, all while listening to Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’”, both LP and video versions. It’s a very innocuous term, and I admit to being oblivious to its impact when I was younger. However, it needs some examining.

One problem I have with this term is the term itself. A pimp, as an occupation, is an agent for sex traffic. Various common requirements of the job are abducting girls as young as 12, beating the tar out of them if they don’t make their quota, keeping them hooked on any number and combination of drugs and alcohol to keep them docile and dependent, and the most important thing: forcing them to have sex with a variety of different partners who may or may not very high regard for hygiene or sense of their humanity, day in and day out. If one woman runs away or dies, there is no severance package or life insurance. A pimp just needs to find himself another person. It’s somewhat of a Kleenex-based economy: once one is used up, just pull up another one. Except make sure you mind-f*** the Kleenex so that she won’t run away. How is saying that someone looks like a person who would do such things supposed to be a good thing? How am I supposed to take that as a compliment? Hopefully this doesn't come off as a sex-negative rant. If there were a way for the prostitution industry to flourish where all parties were truly consenting and respectful ADULTS, and pimps were actually nothing more than agents who took 5% or something for promoting, then I wouldn't really care so much. The truth, though, is that there are hundreds of thousands of women, children, and even men kidnapped and forced into the industry. That is just in the USA. Pimps perpetuate this, so f***them.

Another problem I have with the term as a “compliment” is that is is disproportionately used to describe well dressed brown men and well dressed men who like to emulate certain brown men’s perceived subcultures. White men are dressed for success when they dress up nicely. I don’t think I ever hear, “Hey Trevor*, nice suit! You look like you’re about to go gorilla on some b****es and replenish your stable!” I hear, “Wow, Trevor*, nice suit! You look like you’re about to take on the world!” Black men who dress like Trevor*, however, are dressed like they are about to exploit women sexually for money. They could be wearing exactly the same suit. So Trevor* is about to be a captain of industry, but I'm about to establish an exploitative human trafficking trade. No.

I know that one rant from someone with maybe 20 followers on Twitter is not going to change all society when it comes to complimenting people. I do know that I can tell you all to warn your friends that should anyone say I look good and I look “pimpin’”, one day my less reasonable side will take over my motor functions, and I might  slam them into a wall and take 80% of whatever money they have in their pockets and scream, “HOW’S THAT FOR PIMPIN’, MOTHERF***ER?!” I think it’s only fair.

Too $hort sucks, anyway.

*No Trevors were harmed in the making of this article. I only know one Trevor anyway. I'm pretty sure he's doing fine...I should call Trevor...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Float like a Butterball

Well, it is official: George Zimmerman and DMX are to go head-to-head in a celebrity boxing match. I would like to let it be known that the African American Community no longer takes responsibility for DMX. We are not claiming him anymore. He’s yours.

The teenage boy in me who remembers being unjustly profiled and/or detained by police, store owners, department store employees, and lone women on the street in broad daylight relishes in the thought of George Zimmerman getting beaten to a pulp by a rapper who regularly acts like one of the many pit bulls he has owned. Of course, it feels like he will receive the justice he deserves. I’m quite certain that DMX would mop the floor with Goerge Zimmerman, who’s defense included his fitness trainer actually saying that he was kind of weak and pudgy. It’s an interesting defense to take, especially when he was able to pull a person out of an overturned car a week after his acquittal. Regardless, it is pretty much expected that Zimmerman will go down hard, unless of course DMX wears a boxing robe with a hood on it.

The grown man in me wonders why a man who literally got away with murder is still in the public eye, and seems to be profiting from killing a teenager who he should not have have been following in the first place. He’s been on talk shows. There was rumor of a book deal. He’s selling paintings. He has shown no remorse for killing someone after mistaking him for a criminal. He gave one half-ass apology to the Martin family, and even that sounded more like, “I’m sorry for your loss, but that n***a looked dangerous!”

The entire charade makes light of a very serious thing that happened. George Zimmerman killed an unarmed teenager, and he’s been laughing about it ever since. This is the latest and most despicable in a growing hill of actions that show that he is trying to become the 21st Century version of OJ Simpson. There is a grieving family, and the killer is making money from their pain. I would call this the most disgusting thing to do, but I’m sure Zimmerman can think of something even more offensive to do. He still hasn’t gotten a deal with A&E or TLC for a reality show called “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” or something.

The proceeds of the boxing event are supposed to go to charity. I’d really prefer that the Zimmerman/DMX match end with absolutely no viewers, and that he’s beaten to a pulp with no one to witness or care. Since it WILL make money, though, the only charity to whom the proceeds should go is the Martin family. I highly doubt that will happen.

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