Race Wars

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.33.37 PM.png

Normally I don’t delve into this stuff because I’m spoiled by who I surround myself with, unless some rookie happens to get under my skin.

       For worse or for worse, Facebook has amplified a new range of voices. Shit, everyone’s a philosopher nowadays (why even go to school). I mean, it’s great that technology has encouraged a wave of intellectual awakenings, but watching people try to reinvent the wheel can be frustrating. Everyday now (or really every time I check the damn thing) people are sharing links and liking posts, positioning themselves alongside random internet gospel in an attempt to manufacture confidence in the beliefs they’ve duct-taped together. In discussions, all it comes out to be is a half-assed blurting of other people’s half-assed stuff to try and score ego points here and there in never-ending asinine back and forths (the equation for ignorance is half-ass^p, after all).

       The current trend is to invade discussions about solutions to racism. The banter usually boils down to talking about how we are not actually a post-race society; and how certain efforts are or are not successful at transforming us into that post-race society. On my view those efforts fall into a few different models: bruteforce solutions (over-compensatory), passive solutions (equilibratory) and role-modeling solutions (singular).

       On the brute force model, people attempt to manufacture equality by countering racism with anti-racism. Here, the plan is to force demands for equality down societies gullet through methods like protests and boycotts, thereby squeezing racism out of humanities butt-hole and hopefully reaping the benefits. One recent example is the Bay Bridge blockade. The other day my Uber passengers were unaware of why the Bay Bridge was being blocked off. I explained to them what the cause was, but they didn’t seem sure it worked. Of course, some will say nothing was accomplished (SF/Oakland is still seeing robberies in broad daylight, Flint isn’t now getting clean water and killer cops aren’t getting re-tried), while some say it served its purpose (by virtue of getting an aloof Uber-riding couple to talk about something other than getting drunk).

       Another example, Jada Pinkett-Smith was on record as saying she wants to boycott the Oscars. She wants to force the awareness of the blinding absence of minority representation within these kinds of events. Of course, some will argue avoiding the already all-white celebration is the right move (in order to avoid playing the token black woman and risk humiliation), while others will want to argue that merely being there helps to scrub away some of the white washing (Jada could be the one carrying the torch and she’d surely be a good fit to do it). I mean, can she (or the protestors) ever really win in people’s eyes? Jada, the people on the Bay Bridge, and others like them will always end up damned if they do (people will argue that nothing really changed) and damned if they don’t (people will argue that they did not help to bring awareness to issues at all).

       On the passive model, people try to create an idyllic piece of reality under the hope it will be embraced and dispersed by society itself. In other words, by behaving as if all things are equal and showing what equality can look like, the rest of society will follow suit and just make it happen. A popular example is Star Wars’ Black lead actor, John Boyega. On the one hand, he plays a Jedi (thumbs up…and spoiler?), while on the other he’s a servant and a galactic janitor (thumbs down). Some people say that Finn represents a billion(s) dollar invitation to Hollywood to put more minorities in lead roles, which will encourage the rest of the studios to catch on and do the same (emulating and propagating equality). Others argue that Finn is just status quo for Hollywood and that other studios will continue to mock minorities one way or another (sabotaging attempts at equality).

       A similar case is  Black Entertainment Television (BET), which is a channel (just like PBS, CNN and NBC) that produces its own content (just like Two Broke Girls, Big Bang Theory, and How I Met Your Mother). Yet, the channel is at once supported by a part of the community and also disdained by another. Some think it is necessary to keep the channel alive to maintain minority representation (else there wouldn’t be any to speak of; just having it up might inspire other bigwigs to put out more channels and content for minorities in a mostly white washed space). Some argue that merely having that channel running doesn’t do enough to provoke racial equality (citing endless reruns of syndicated shows and no unique, thought-provoking content; what good has really come of endless Lil Wayne music videos). Again, damned if you do (people say passive efforts carry some embedded racism anyway) and damned if you don’t (what examples of equality would there be if no one even attempts to show what it could look like).

       On the singular model, though, an individual places the burden on herself to encourage change with both passive and bruteforce methods. In other words, this is the “do work” solution. See, I was watching ESPN and Marlon Wayans was actually asked if he would boycott the Oscars (his friend Jada already said she would). Besides saying he wasn’t invited (in a joking way), he said that his primary concern is putting his head down and producing, writing and creating content. In this case, Marlon believes he carries the responsibility as an individual minority actor/filmmaker to represent other potential minority filmmakers (proving it is possible to succeed) and also help others to become creators (making others succeed). He is a classically trained actor (some would call him whitewashed) who produces pretty dumb movies (some would call him an Uncle Tom). No matter what, people are going argue about whether he is doing good or bad for equality. But no one can say he he hasn’t put in the work to demonstrate and encourage success (look at the commercial for his new movie and it is minority actors in the spotlight). Marlon wants to earn his right to get invited to the Oscars and decline if he so chooses, and is helping get others to the point where they can get invited to shows (and decline). Quite frankly, he doesn’t care what people think about his efforts, because he’s actually seeing a payoff (financial, familial and sociological success). There is no damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t in this case, because he has become who he wants to become and is helping others become who they want to be. Who can argue against that? 

       If you’re reading between the lines, the only “model” that matters is the singular individual effort a person makes towards ultimately becoming who they want to become and also helping others do the same. Talking about other people’s efforts (whether bruteforce or passive) does society no actual good (talk is cheap, after all). Each of those people on the Bay Bridge, Jada, John, and Marlon all have shifted society forward in some real way (look into Boyega’s eyes here and tell him he’s an Uncle Tom hurting our chances at equality). If you ask any of them, they’ll tell you they have seen change come about through their efforts and have seen success occur. I’m sure the dude said something like, “be the change that you wish to see in the world” not, “argue how SOMEONE ELSE is right or wrong without ever doing shit yourself.” I mean, maybe I haven’t changed the world by wanting to become some Mexican-Salvadorean,  Latino Honor Roll every year, ADHD researching, salutatorian (Kelly!), news article writing, Cal graduating double majoring, fitness coaching, businessman, tutoring, blogging kid from the Mission, but at least I’ve proven that anyone from the hood can do cool shit, too. There’s just no way I’m gonna let a sideline Facebook troll tell me I haven’t tried to put up my end of the bargain in this thing. 

 

Advertisements

Can’t Play With Em

FullSizeRender

Everything goes from 0 to 100 clicks real quick. Case in point:

So just yesterday news broke on everyone’s feed about dudes going all C. Columbus on some playground. Like, some dudes showing up on their cloud-based ego-mobiles demanding everyone read their declaration of this-is-our-play-ground-for-an-hour-because-we-paid-27-bucks. Really though it was a couple dudes who were showing off some crumpled piece of paper hoping that would be sufficient for shoo-ing everyone away for a private soccer-sesh. Of course (of course!) it didn’t go over well with the regulars.

First thing is first: let’s do the devil’s advocate thing (got to; wouldn’t be a big picture without it). Imagine it’s your birthday party and you want to have a function with your peoples. You want a party without strangers eating up all your food and hitting on your sisters and cousins and what not. That’s totally relatable to anyone. Like weddings. No one likes fifty people crashing their weddings and pillaging shit. Of course, we would get angry if someone just started trying to be the center of attention at our wedding. Shit won’t fly. Hell, there’s all those Dodgeball/Softball leagues that rent out park space too and no one seems to get rally-crazy with those. So maybe everyone’s just being irrational and getting riled up for no reason, since it has always been fair-game to rent out space after all.

But in this case we’re talking about a small, tucked away soccer field and a soccer game. Usually, people want others to crash the game and challenge the field. If you go to any basketball court hoping to play, you’re gonna have to challenge winners. I mean, I can’t even fathom showing up to Rucker Park with a damn piece of paper asking for an hour of private games. Think about that shit…But seriously, if you show up asking to play a game at a public park, you should expect to play the public. Everyone plays together. Like back in Kindgarten. Sharing is caring.

Of course, we have here an example of a group of people trying to do the opposite of playing nice with others. It’s like that movie Johnny Tsunami with the Urchins not wanting to share the fresh powder with the Skis (watch the movie if you have no fucking clue what I’m talking about; Shan Tsung is in that too). Anyway, it just seems messed up that one group of soccer fans wouldn’t want to just play with another group of soccer fans. Especially when one particular dude is claiming to be part of the community (of the mission or of soccer fans; whichever), but then is so willing to pay 27 bucks to segregate himself and his buddies from the community (of the Mission and of soccer fans; both).

At the very least, it’s just a few dudes being selfish and all Angelica Pickles with shit. I wouldn’t go so far as to start hella rallies and break windows at Dropbox. I just think some people have it in them to not play nice with others. Maybe this little incident is all it will take to help those dudes grow a pair of balls and be competitive with other soccer fans. Maybe they’ll be more open to playing pick up games with people outside of their circle. Just have to help bully-types turn a new leaf. It’s like when that bully Torvald from Hey Arnold was all feared and shit. He only knew how to be one way (distant and anti-social). But eventually got along with everyone because Arnold was willing to get him on his football team. Sports can bring people together, but it just takes that awkward confrontation to get the ball rolling.

But maybe those assholes never watched Hey Arnold.

And maybe I’m not being harsh enough. After all, this is an on-a-silver-platter case-study for gentrification. You know, person with money (or homie with the 27 dollar piece of toilet paper) tries to force others out (who either don’t have 27 bucks or do but don’t feel the need to have to pay 27 more bucks than they should). I’ve already said my piece on this, so I’ll appeal to my previous opinion. Stepping back from the issue, it’s not necessarily dude-in-cap’s fault, or even Dropboxe’s fault (already seeing those boycott jpegs…). The fault lies on the person or group that OK’d the transaction (the park rental). That is, it’s either Park and Rec’s fault or whatever silly app that promoted this thing that should get blame.

You know what though, fuck it. It’s Saturday. Rally at Ed Lee’s.

Top 5 Reasons (insert blog name here) Should Shut The Hell Up

blog
 
 
Top 5 Reasons (insert blog name here) Should Shut The Fuck Up
 
 
Shots bout to be fired. You know what’s good. It’s a hot summer. BOWBOW.
 
 
 
1. Brunch
 
 
 
Ok, all these weak ass “bottomless” brunch lists all sound the same. Boring as hell. Wannabe fancy shit. Boring. Come fuck with my Safeway, 10-bucks-for-a-fat-ass-bottle-of-Cooks BRUNCH. Unlimited for real. No 3pm time-limit weak shit, either. All day mimosa, son! On deck! No reservation needed (hell you really don’t even need clothes, to be honest). Just head to the fucking park and pass out if needed. No need to buy filling ass artisanal gluten-free French toast either (interferes with the drinking part). Just hit up that there Safeway and you’re golden, every day of the week. So suck on that.
 
 
 
2. Burritos
 
 
 
If I here y’all say Tacqueria Cancun one more time I’m gonna walk on over and snatch your MacBook, pussies. We ain’t no Burrito capitol. We out here eating hella different shit. The fuck is a burrito, anyway? Bunch a bullshit you could just get in a taco, like with a normal tortilla, but somehow the flour tortilla just elevates the experience into a bloggable phenomenon. Like you guys really spend all day wondering what famous person just ate a burrito where and shit. Lame square bears. Be productive. Like, eat some oatmeal. Y’all ever eat oatmeal? That right there is something to blog about. How about a top 5 favorite oatmeals? Why’s that not a thing yet? Because it really should be.
 
 
 
 
3. Art
 
 
Nope, those fake ass 3-D pictures are not poppin. Wack. Those silly maps y’all be makin of the city? Wack. Leaving little bullshit stickers and drawings and whatever other bullshit on the ground and taking a picture of that shit and pretending Van Gough blessed our city and that obscure little area and posting it on your blog it’s a worthwhile thing? Wack. Throw some doodles on that bitch. Preferably my doodles. Can’t even compete with my Goku doodles. Wanna take your little three-d pics of my Gokus and Vegetas? Nah you can’t. Suck my dick.
 
4. Honestly Just Fuck You
 
 
5. Innovation
 
 
Weak as fuck. Talk about cool shit for once. Talk about how over at Samy’s on 24th and Bryant they got a mother fucking office space in that bitch. In a liquor store! That’s some innovation shit right there. Something positive in the Mission. A god damn start up right smack dab next to the beer and chips. We gon make it for real. But no instead you gotta talk about some new ugly ass bar with whatever dumb sounding food and boring ass craft beer. Really don’t care about your favorite stupid NY burger-bagel-pizza-taco-toast-horseshit fusion shit. Eat some oatmeal.
 
 
Go ahead. Say something about there not being any Latin American Club margarita mentions here. Duds.

Two Crimes & One Punishment

sterlinghelladown

It seems to me that a breach of human goodness is a greater offense than a breach of privacy.

Recently, we had a situation where a certain kind of law was exposed to be broken, albeit only with the help of having to break another certain kind of law. By now, everyone has drawn an opinion about Donald Sterling (the L.A. Clippers owner) and his “alleged” voice recording. He has essentially been caught (hook line and sinker) practicing his best Leonardo DiCaprio cum Django and talking all kinds of racist gibberish. Now, some are obviously mad about the fact that this guy (an owner of a basketball team with mostly African-American players; it’s exactly as bad as it sounds) has been allowed to continue to prosper under his racist mindset. Some, though, actually want to make the argument that there is a second (potentially worse) offense; that the act of the voice recording is also punishable and maybe even more offensive than the actual racist content of the recording itself. I, though, want to say that of the two acts (the recording and the racism), racism is the higher-order offense, and also that the racism itself is the only act of the two deserving of punishment.

Firstly, there are some people who truly think the first offense in the Sterling debacle is the recording of the conversation (and not the conversation itself). Understanding that people care about privacy, I can see how a private recording of a conversation might be a crime all on its own. After all, no one wants to be recorded talking to their lover during the act, or simply telling their children a bed time story. It would be strange and seems obviously wrong (even potentially malicious). After all, everyone has a right to wipe their own ass in privacy without showing the world how the process works. It doesn’t make sense to want to show the world the things that do not concern or affect them without my permission. So, sure, intrusion of privacy, and subsequent exposure of private matters, is totally offensive.

But in this case, intrusion of privacy was used to expose a punishable offense of a higher order: racism. The fact of the matter is, by hook or crook, we have found a still-thriving racist. I mean, can you believe it, in this day and age, a still-fermenting germ of racism exists and has grown to reach pretty far up the social ladder. This guy is a billionaire and owns a basketball team and real estate. It isn’t hard to see how he could resemble a slave owner and his team resemble (through his perspective) his slaves. It, of course, is not the first time he has been exposed for having the mindset he does. He once led women to the locker rooms, allowing them to marvel at his belongings (or players, in non-racist speak). The commissioner of the NBA thankfully exterminated that germ in the best ways he could (exile from the NBA and multi-million dollar fines). In this case, we unfortunately got to see someone wipe their own ass (in private) with humanity itself.

See, the distinction is quite simple: one wrong doing was/is more wrong than the other. In other words, racism is a higher-level issue than privacy. If you’re racist, you’re at risk to affect the lives of everyone that comes in contact to you and even those at a distance (internet, phone calls, etc.). As we’ve seen, slavery became a hugely prevalent crime when that racism germ was allowed to grow and spread. Racism is an incredibly damaging offense that is still being tended to today (and will be forever tended to, it seems). There is still pent-up tension about what took place all those years ago, not to mention the different versions of racism that are thriving elsewhere (Palestine/Israel, South Africa, Mexico, etc.).

On the other hand, the biggest consequence of privacy intrusion is the complete exposure of one’s own individual total-sum of information. For instance, one’s credit card information, one’s private photos, and one’s home and belongings could all be taken through a breach of privacy. But in those cases, it does not seem impossible to recover from all the possible damages. One can call the bank and cancel their card, or become famous through the exposure of private photos (Kardashians, etc) or just use insurance money to re-buy belongings. In short, it seems much more easy to fix or at least recover from privacy intrusion than from racism.

To clarify, I think racism is a more damaging offense than privacy intrusion. It is clear that privacy intrusion on its own can be a crime, but if the intrusion merely served as a means to prove the existence of a more dangerous offense, then the intrusion itself cannot be interpreted as the actual offense. Sure, this might sound like Patriot Act jargon, but in this case, where there are actual people arguing that the recording itself is a comparable offense to racism, I have to disagree. Whether privacy still exists at all or not is a different matter. I simply think that, while it might be true that there seems to be a breach in privacy here, there is also a breach in human goodness. I think human goodness should be preserved more so than privacy, and if it means exposing a few racists in order to help exterminate racism and keep it from growing, I’m ok with it. I mean, I have to believe that most people would prefer to have a racist-free America than a tinted-window car. If you get a tinted window car, you might get profiled, stopped and all that jazz (even with those privacy-screen windows). Of course, if you ask for a racist-free America, you might not get stopped simply for the sake of getting stopped. That’s how I see it.

Finding Fault

 

helladownevictions

Topic has been beaten to death, revived and done over many times, but I did have a good discussion about what type of responsibility (ultimate or immediate) one should weigh as more responsible-er.

It is quite common to hear about people becoming resentful of their new neighbors. Whether it’s fair or not, I’m not sure yet. I’ve been going back and forth about who really holds the responsibility for the eviction of the middle-class problem, or whatever you want to call the disappearance of the local families and individuals in San Francisco. Ultimately, lots of different kinds of people are at fault; the more opportunistic individuals already living, or even native, to the city being the most at fault. That is, those San Franciscans who are successfully selling precious spaces in the city at increasingly higher prices, thereby trickling down certain expectations onto business owners (such as the one that people now living here can afford to pay more for stuff; $20 sandwiches, $15 PBR can, $300 dollar-a-month gym memberships, etc.), are the ones heavily catalyzing the shape-shifting of the city into one that fits snugly into the back pocket of the wealthy. Clearly, there is a real estate equivalent of a gold rush taking place within the city and the bidding wars for those precious spaces are tearing the city apart. Naturally, locals are increasingly resentful about the rise of living-space prices and the ensuing evictions. Some people seem to resent the newcomers moving into the city, while some would rather blame those who actually allow it to happen.

At first blush, some people might want to direct their resentment over the changes in the city towards the new neighbors coming in. In speaking with my friend, J, she admitted to blaming the “whitewashing” of the Mission on the newcomers themselves. That is, the evictions of loyal Mission families and the sprouting up of unwanted juice bars and random art galleries is totally the fault of the newcomers. She argues that, had these individuals not chosen to overcrowd the Mission, the local communities could have stuck together (and not disintegrate across all the greater bay area). On her view, the newcomers could easily have chosen to live or start business somewhere else, considering spaces in places like the Sunset neighborhood or even the Daly City outskirts are cheaper (and still mighty close to those hipcool Valencia Street bars). Basically, it does not make sense to want to crowd a place more than it already is unless you are simply trying to impose your greedy will on a situation (like forcing your way onto a severely overcrowded MUNI; making life harder for others, but at least getting what you want and getting to where you want to get to). It makes sense to want to resent the overcrowding on those who are ostensibly aware of the neighborhood and the dire situation, but still choose to compound the issue.

I would argue, though, that it would be somewhat irresponsible of those effected by the real estate rush to direct all of their resentment at the neighbors and none on the landlord. For example, my friend J lives in a building that is owned by a San Francisco family. Ironically enough, this family has a history of lucky strikes. They found gold back then and have lived off those profits ever since (even own a popular restaurant in the Mission). But now, in the second coming of the rush, they have taken notice of another opportunity to cash in. Let’s say J and her family pay approximately $700 a month for rent. J and her family are safe for now, thanks to the relationship between her mother and the landlord, but say the day comes when the mother and the landlord are no longer around. J believes the landlord’s heir would evict J and her family to make room for other, wealthier people willing to pay closer to $1500. In this case, it is clear to me that the blame should go to the landlord and not whomever actually moves in. It is a more clearly evil act to cash in on an opportunity that is guaranteed to betray people, whereas contributing to the overcrowding itself (as a human body taking up space) is merely a consequence of the evil act. In other words, it is worse to promote and instigate gentrification (as a landlord) than to play the role of a pawn (or newcomer) in the gentrification itself.

Now, those people directly moved or affected by the eviction problem have all the right to ration out their resent in any amounts and directions as they please. It just appears that maybe the greater share of the blame ought to be heaped on those eager to promote the availability of the Mission (all while undercutting the wellbeing of those already living here). The newcomers are merely the players in a game being refereed by the landlords. It’s a crappy game because the teams winning most of the time are the ones being protected by the refs.