Thoughts about liberal anger 6/16/20
Anger at something increases whatever that something is. I am living proof. A big part of me has always been angry, and the problem is I don’t know internally what I’m angry about. Externally it’s America and people, and this stupid ridiculous society humans have made for ourselves. I am sure that America is still one of the better places to live, but maybe not if I’m black? I am scared for my black friends and colleagues. They shouldn’t have to live in a world where they are made to live in fear of the organizations who are supposed to protect us. I am glad for the protests, even though I cannot health-wise participate. We have donated some funds, but I need to do more. This is part of me trying to have the conversation.
We have been lied to and hoodwinked. I had a textbook in the 80’s that tried to teach me that people protested in the 60’s, and then women and black people got their rights, the hippies cut off their hair and everything went back to normal. What a crock of shit. Obviously. I didn’t learn that stupid flag from that stupid Dukes of Hazzard car was not really the Confederate flag until a few years ago, and that it was the Virginia battle flag for that stupid treasonous country that southerners still wish were around, or still want “heritage” for. Heritage is bullshit. We’re all going to die. We might all die in an extinction. How’s your southern heritage then? I am not here to tell you that that flag was brought back into circulation in the 60’s by the KKK, so whether you think you’re racist or not when you fly it, it still has that connotation to many people.
The police brutality thing makes me fucking sick. Cops are 8-9 times out of 10 going to be overly aggressive assholes in most situations. It’s happened to me a lot, and now I think I survived probably only because I’m white. A cop made me get out and do the sobriety test when I was 18 coming from a party, because my make and model of car was wanted in another crime, but he didn’t tell me that part until after I passed the test, and he found out my car was the wrong one. A cop accused me of having drugs in the car in 1996 or so, at 11am in the morning, and I did not, but he didn’t believe me. He believed my girlfriend at the time, who was in the car with me. A cop came at me with aggression once when she saw my tags were several years old. What had really happened was that I was up to date, but someone had stolen several of my yearly stickers off of the plate. She calmed down and let me off with a warning after that, but she had started by coming toward me aggressively yelling, “Do you even have a license?” Once a cop thought I was on drugs because my sinus infection had my eyes watering, he had stopped me because I was actually 3 months late on tags, because I had a new car, and didn’t get the new form in the mail on time, and so I had forgotten, and assumed my month was the same as the old car. But he tried really hard to get me, asking me what was in the back, shining lights in my face. It was a dolly in the back. When I was working at The Cove and a drunk driver in 2011 hit a lot of our parked cars, one cop on the case told me to go ask another cop there about what the incident report number was, so I could tell my insurance, the other cop was a total asshole to me, and acted like he might arrest me. I was the victim. He never gave me the number. Insurance was able to figure it out. How many of us Beale St. musicians have been messed with by the cops? Many times I’m around them, and usually, they don’t care about me and I don’t need them. I have been helped by them sometimes. Like when I was loading out at 1am or something, and a cop stopped by my car while I was loading it with my stuff as it was parked on the street. He asked me if I was ok and if I needed help (that never happened before!), and I said I was fine, but then he waited until I got loaded in to make sure before he left. That was nice. That was about a year ago. About 5-6 months ago I was exiting the side door of Itta Bena where I work on piano. My arthritic hips were hurting really bad and I had my cane. 2nd Ave. is a one way street, and no one was coming. I have always jaywalked downtown on those one ways, in front of cops or whatever. For 25 years, they have never cared. That technically is me committing a crime, but they never cared about that with anyone that I ever saw. Often these streets are blocked from traffic anyway, or there’s too many people for it to be an issue anyway. This time as I was hobbling across the street with my cane, a cop from 500 feet away, parked, yelled at me on his megaphone, “Get out of the street”, and after that something else that came across mumbling, I didn’t understand it, but it ended with a redneck sounding voice saying “….with that cane, can’t ya?” So I was bullied by a country ass cop about having a cane? Oh well I use the crosswalks now.
I can’t imagine how any of those issues with cops would’ve went if I was black. If he’s already handcuffed and you’re the cop, your job is to get him to the station asap, not kill him. If he’s unarmed and running, your fucking job is not to kill him. I was honored to have performed on the piece The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed a few years ago. Now there’s just more and more people to add to the list. I am glad for the protests if they are getting finally enough political clout to get something done.
Now to piss off my liberal friends. I am one of the liberals, progressives, however you wanna call it. Guess what? The majority of Americans are. If the system worked correctly, the majority would be invited and encouraged and helped to vote and the politics would reflect that. And when they do vote, the electoral college wouldn't cancel those votes out. But here’s what doesn’t work for me. Telling people if they disagree with you, they can get the fuck out. Too many of my liberal friends curse out conservatives. That makes them dislike you more, and therefore makes conservatism stronger. It’s time you noticed that even though strong statements have to be made, strong personal condemnations do not need to be made until they are deserved. I deserve a strong opinion in the case of for example, fuck those police involved in George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murders. They can go to jail forever as far as I’m concerned. But as far as my conservative friends and family, who don’t know what I know, I’d like to talk to them and I’d like to listen to them. If I disagree with them, I’d like to ask why, I’d like to tell them why, and I’d like to continue to be nice to them and to give them love. I'd like to see if they know something I don't know. Sometimes I am surprised by an opposing viewpoint that differs from mine, if it's made well. It usually isn't, because we were all made dumb by our lackluster education system, but I'd like to give them the chance to be heard.
If you disagree with something said online, by all means, counterargue. Make your point. Say the facts. Say the truth. Say what’s real But if you insult, condemn and angrily challenge the others, even though your anger is righteous, it’s going to make more of what you don’t want in the world.
Watch the documentary on Daryl Davis, or listen to the podcast. A blues pianist who happens to be black, happens to be really smart, and happens to have convinced over 200 KKK members to change their mind, quit the organization, stop being as racist, and start trying to change their lives for the better. How did he convince them? Not by calling them racist, I guarantee you that. Just by being friendly and asking questions. He definitely took some chances that I can’t even imagine. If he had cursed them, blocked them, tarnished them on social media, etc., they would still be KKK members. I want to take his lead and decide, if a black man can talk to the KKK members, until some of them say he’s one of them, and until they say he’s not like the others whom they thought were inferior, and then they eventually realize no one is inferior and that they’ve been lied to, and then they change OF THEIR OWN FREE WILL. That’s how people change. Not by me telling them to change.
Politics can change by protest, by the politicians realizing that ok, now over 50% feel this way, so we need to change. When there’s that 51%, only then are they are going to change at that political level. So some of this needs to happen. But people aren’t going to change personally that way. People are actually not going to change personally until if and when they want to, by their own decision, and therefore if you’re cursing at them on a social media post, you are making them less likely to come to my side of thinking, and more likely to keep thinking how they are.
Like all Democrats and liberals, I do not like our president. He’s the worst in my opinion. So many issues. I don’t have to go into it here. Is he going for some authoritarian bullshit? Maybe so. Does it need to be protested? Hell yes it does. Does it need to be called out and hopefully worked on at a social and political level? Yes. But does badmouthing and cursing a guy who lives for that type of conflict actually do any good? I don’t think so. I think it gives him more fuel. I think he got elected partially because of your anger. Right wing people see and hear your anger against them, and decide to dig in and vote more often. He lives on the conflict that we’re creating for him. I don’t have the answers, but I do know that personally being nicer to people would help.
Nobody wants to hear my spirituality. You’ll think this is bullshit, but maybe I think the same thing about you, so tread carefully here with me. I will no longer stay silent. What we think about, we bring about. We, individually and as a collective, bring about whatever we focus on. I don’t want to talk to racists, but I want to talk to someone who may have a latent unknown learned racism that they haven’t figured out on their own, and see if I can just say my opinion without getting mad at them. I had latent unknown and learned racism. I’m white. Of course I did. I know that now, but I didn’t know that at 6 years old when the other kids were saying the N word to me. How could I know? I know my dad who put that flag on the truck he later gave to me, was not racist. It meant the south or being a country person, to him. He had not been told of the racist implications of why it was out of circulation for 100 years until the KKK brought it back. And people have a right to decide what something means to them. I just think in that case, we don’t need the flags and Confederate statues put in government symbols and public places, because of the racist implications to our African-American people. If you wanna have it, I don’t care, but don’t force me with the government to have to look at that.
I will be nice to people whom I disagree with. I don’t know if we can work this out between all of us, but I will try. Black lives matter, women’s rights matter, gay people’s rights matter, everybody matters. Racism was written into our systems, and even though we may be less racist, our systems are still almost as equally racist, or violent, or unfair depending on which cases we’re talking about. We need to raise awareness, educate, let people know how we feel while also letting them feel how they feel and see if we can come to a common ground somewhere. We can protest and change politics and legislation, but on a personal level, I’m not mad if we disagree. What if the policies of someone I am debating with might keep the system how it is? I might tell them that I think that. Telling them to go away or to fuck off guarantees that I just possibly entrenched someone for life into believing in those negative policies. If I can convince him that I believe in something different, at least I’ve planted the seed of something hopefully better. Maybe it will grow, maybe not, but it definitely won’t if I come at the person with anger. I get it. I can be angry. I am not generally angry about the state of things. I am generally tragically sad about it all, but can be made to come to anger pretty quick. And it feels such a rush to speak out of righteous anger, but it’s the wrong move. It makes things worse.
Another leader to mention. Thich Nhat Hahn, Buddhist teacher and meditation leader. He was in his ashram in Vietnam and saw his fellow monks whom he lived with, murdered by soldiers right in front of him. I don’t remember if it was American soldiers or not. Look up your own history. He forgave the soldiers immediately. I read in one of his books where he knew that the soldiers had been led into wrong thinking by their leaders, the thinking that these people were so wrong that they had to be killed. They had been lied to and hoodwinked by their generals and their administrations. So he saw the murderers of his friends as victims also. Immediately. That's heavy. Then he created hospitals for war victims all over his country, and saw patients from all sides. Martin Luther King Jr. nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize. That’s the spiritual standard of forgiveness and understanding. I am not that spiritual, that peaceful or that forgiving. But if a black guy can approach KKK dudes with friendship and curiosity, and a spiritual leader can become one by really and truly forgiving his enemies, I can try to talk opposing viewpoints, even if they are tragically wrong.
That’s all. Much peace and love to you all.