Thursday, December 18, 2014

Quick Update

I realize it's been a while...a very lonnnng while...since I've written an actual piece for this blog. I've been distracted with a project that I'm working on that requires a lot more attention than I thought it would. Please accept my apologies, but once things are in place, it should be a very exciting time for us all.

I hate coding HTML...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I'm Both Proud and Pleased to Announce the Launch of....


Radio212! For YOU, the Viewer!

Friday, December 05, 2014

#CrimingWhileWhite



As you may know, one of the responses on social media like Twitter and Facebook to the tragic grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, as well as to the countless stories of police abuse of power specifically against black men and boys, is for white people to contrast the treatment by cops.

The theme is for a white person to post their worst crime that they got away with, then attach the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite.

For blacks, a similar trope of #AliveWhileBlack calls for a person to post the most dangerous encounter with either the cops or a white person that they survived.

It seems sophomoric, particularly as most of the white folks end up posting things like shoplifting or driving while drunk, even getting pulled over by the cops and being sent on their way with just a ticket or worse, a warning.

As I was writing mine up (which was a little harder to figure out. I ended up settling on smuggling Cuban cigars into the States, altho there was all that public sex,) the realization of the power of this hashtag meme hit me:

See, I could smoke a joint in public. I could walk around stoned or drunk out of my gourd. I could steal a Playboy from a newsstand, or smuggle a cigar in my coat, or duck down an alley because I really had to pee, and I could do all this in front of the cops and you know what? I'd never be suspected of committing any kind of crime, and moreover, never even be subject to arrest much less a potential date with death.

My brothers and sisters of colors can't say that, they don't have that guarantee that even if they "behave themselves" -- which I'm betting they hear as "Be good little darkies," because how patronizing is it for white folks to tell black folks how to live? -- that even if they are model citizens and speak slowly and carefully and in modulated tones to a cop, they won't be arrested. They won't be thrown into a chokehold.

There's no guarantee they won't be shot. If the African American or Latino version of me ducks down an alley and a cop sees him, the cop isn't thinking that the guy just needs to pee really badly, and he's going to follow that Carl, and bad things are going to happen.

If a cop sees me standing there, back to the street, legs wide, he's going to assume I'm taking a leak and turn away, because the devil you don't know. If he sees the darker version of me, he's going to look down and see if there's something worth investigating, and even if he decides there's nothing more than an urgent call of nature, he may still decide to primp his statistics and arrest the guy.

If I'm driving too fast, the cop will pull me over and while he won't be completely relaxed until he's reached my car and ascertained I'm just a moron -- and yes, I've had cops yell at me to remain in my vehicle or keep my hands in view -- if this happens to the minority Me, he's not even going to relax once he's got my license and registration in hand.

It's a stunning realization once you start to put it in perspective, this imbalance in treatment by law enforcement officers. And here's the thing that I really want to stress: these are not random cops who are deciding to let me go while harassing a black man or Latino. In some instances, they really are all but KKK members (I know, I've dealt with a few NYPD brass who with a straight face will call black and Latinos "thugs and gang-bangers.") In most instances, these are the good guys who swear they aren't racist but who have had an institutional racism drummed into their heads from day one that a dark skinned man is scary and even subhuman.

The worst part is, they're right, they aren't really racist until they are out on the streets "To protect and serve". They forget the second part of that and are overzealous in the first. And that has to stop. And that's going to take all of us to read those hashtags and realize we have to link arms and stand up.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Bernie Sanders Speaks Truth. Sort Of.



I love Bernie Sanders. I want to have his babby. 

However, I think he needs to step back from this. His agenda is too easily co-opted by moderates and conservatives. It's a nice counterculture statement of values, to be sure, but in the current environment completely unworkable. 

I've been thinking about Ferguson and the rioting and protests across the country.  

And then I found this quote from MLK, Jr: 

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride towards freedom is not the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than justice

When people riot for politics, when people organize for politics, they inevitably have either been subdued (Occupy) or placated (the Rodney King outrage) by some sop tossed towards them to make it a little less painful to be subdued.  

And then I remember that the Boston Tea Party was not regarded highly by colonial Americans. Indeed, until we achieved independence, the entire Revolution dangled on a thread in terms of public support. But it succeeded because it was outrageous to think it would.  

I love Bernie Sanders. I don't think he's right on this, at least with this current nation.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanks

I know, I've been one poor correspondent, and I've been too too hard to find, but that doesn't mean you ain't been on my mind...

2014 was a tough year for everyone. I feel grateful and fortunate that I skated past a lot of crap but what I did endure was enough for two years.

I'm still not working but I have enough to live on. I haven't really pursued a job but then I've been working on other projects around my world.

I'm grateful to the Smithsonian for using seven of my photographs this year. I'm grateful to the Ocean Conservancy for using one to promote sustainable fisheries. I'm grateful to my old employer for being more than fair with me on my way out the door, and for the friends I made while in his employ.

I'm grateful for my health and my extended family, which grew a little this year in the Old Country. I'm grateful for those closest to me who helped me bridge the gap from miserable job to the quietude of self-employment. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have stopped out and gotten some of the kruft out of my personal life: you know, the kipple that builds up because you get home from a job too tired to fix this, paint that, build the other.

I'm grateful for the advice I've been gifted with and the motivations put in front of me. We all need a carrot or a stick and I'm pleased to say that I've eaten more carrots than splinters.

And finally, I'm grateful for you, gentle reader. Often, I'll see echoes of something I've written in some of the strangest places and I know that, while I have a tiny readership, you are influential. I feel good about you and about this blog.

Thank you, all. And Happy Thanksgiving.