I had a couple of instances this last week where I was concerned that some latent racism long hidden by liberal, white guilt was surfacing. The first instance was when I attempted to rescue a lost pit bull. I understand the reputation that pits have and they make me just as nervous as anyone. As a matter of fact, if I wasn't half in the bag by the time I found this thing on my lawn at 4am, I probably would have let it be. However, I was so I decided to make friends with the dog. Turns out this dog was one of the nicest creatures I have ever seen. Fast forward through me bonding with the animal and making all sorts of plans to keep him and incorporate him into our family to me being woken up by the mailman who, after Herbert (the dog) escaped from our yard, he rescued from the neighbors. It turns out that they were trying to kill the dog with bats, hammers, large sticks, etc. because the animal supposedly bit someone. Then they came over to my place with the assorted weapons looking for the dog. I had to call 911 (yeah, thanks for showing up TPD...Oh wait, you didn't despite me asking for help against an agitated, drunken group of young men with weapons). Eventually Animal Control showed up and took the dog away. This was the final straw vis a vis these neighbors. They are a blight on the block (other neighbors think so as well); the house is filled with people of various ethnic backgrounds; drug dealers and gangsters come and go; they sit in the yard and drink all day, throw trash in our yard, and then stay up all night listening to bad rap or rape-rock. Ok, so I'm done. I've long refrained from vocalizing any sort of judgment about gangster/urban/street whatever culture, but now I'm going to say that it sucks. It's bad for community, it's dangerous at worst and obnoxious at best. I'm tired of kids (yes, kids) hanging out all day next door dealing and consuming drugs, drinking, and playing terrible music at unbelievable volumes. I'm tired of the scuffles, arguments, and generally antagonistic nature of the entire house. I'm tired of the poverty and ignorance. Are these my poor? I think not. My liberal White guilt is no longer enough for me to rant incoherently about the iniquities of big business and consumer culture while remaining silent about the soul-sucking ignorance of the large majority of the poor.
Ok, deep breath. So, after the incident with the dog, I'm acutely sensitive to the brothers from the barbershop hanging out in front of the bar listening to loud music, smoking weed, selling whatever, and generally accosting nearly every single woman who walks by. I've had many conversations with a friend about how she can't walk or ride through the neighborhood without brothers yelling at her. Everyday it's a new story. It usually turns out that she ignores them or says something flippant or dismissive, which then aggravates the men leading them to become confrontational and insulting. Still, my liberal White guilt dismisses these things as "cultural differences," which now that it's typed in front of me is woefully condescending. I don't hold brothers from the neighborhood to the standards that I would any other civilized human being because they are black, listen to rap music, smoke weed, and are gangsters (literally). If all of the aforementioned were true, but it was a gaggle of white guys, I would have no tolerance. Jesus Christ, is this institutionalized racism at its worst? I consider myself a self-aware, progressive individual, but I haven't thought all that much about this. It certainly warrants more consideration.
Back to my point, I was sensitive already to the culture around the barbershop, so when I was leaving the bar the other day on my bike I had a problem with my deraileur as I was changing lanes. A guy leaving the barbershop decided to try to intimidate me by slowing down, pulling into my lane (I was in the turn lane), then basically threatening me. I stopped riding, handled the situation, then rode on. This kind of thing happens all the time with motorists of all shapes and sizes, but it just so happened to be a brother driving some ghetto fabulous car with nice rims. And! As he pulled away he was driving without hands so he could count his rather large roll of cash.
This got me thinking: is something like the barbershop necessarily good for the neighborhood? Previously, my liberal White guilt didn't allow me to ask those kinds of questions. To dare question whether a black barbershop belonged in a black neighborhood was to be part of the culture of gentrification, it was to be part of the Whiteness that makes me so uncomfortable. But after the incident, I began to wonder (not without some guilt) whether a business that also serves as a social spot for gangsters and drug dealers is really the best thing. I genuinely don't have a feeling either way. I'm not sure that a cocktail lounge where privleged, fixed gear, white belt wearing hipsters congregate is necessarily any better (or worse). What this last week did was provoke some rather uncomfortable questions about race and class that I haven't found any easy answers for.
What really inspired me to sit down and rant about my week was this: (h/t to Everything is Terrible).
Watching that made me nauseous. It's the milquetoast homogeneity of White culture that I am ashamed of. It's not just them; if you took the same crowd shots of the Apollo, I would be equally repulsed (as much as I'd let myself acknowledge it). I see previews for anything involving Tyler Perry and I want to shoot my eyes out. I also hate cars, specifically new cars. I hate shiny new cars with Abercrombie polo wearing would-be jocks with white caps askew who, along with their skinny-pretty bleached-and-waxed girlfriends, treat people in the service industry like a lesser class of human. I hate the lawyers and judges, real estate agents (Oh man, do I hate real estate agents) and property owners who "flip" houses. Middle aged, bourgeois white people. People who look like they shop at REI. Anyone who thinks it's hip to be ironic. The fucking Tacoma Police Department. You know what? Fuck you you fucking pigs for everytime you harass a bicyclist for not wearing a helmet but you don't come when called. It's 911. Get your ass out here. Fuck corporate financiers who rob everyone blind. Fuck you Matador bartenders. You should be ashamed. Fuck you you tribal tattooed, gauged ear, heavy metal woman beating rapist who malingers between Hell's Kitchen and every other shitty hard drinking bar filled with Rock of Love skanks, PBR, and grape vodka drop shots. Fuck you you fat lazy fucks waddling around Safeway looking for a Kit Kat bar. That's right. Fuck fat people. Look around at our culture. Seriously. Stop and look. Being fat is a crime. The amount of shit you have to eat to get this fat is staggering. Those faceless corporate monsters who are stripping the ocean of fish and wiping out the rain forest are doing it so you can have a $2.99 Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's at anytime, anywhere. Your bloated corpse inculcates you in every crime of this irredeemable culture from the war in Iraq to rampant deforestation to the incidents of sexual assault against women. If you stopped sleepwalking through life long enough to put the Twinkie down you might realize that your being corpulent is a crime. So, get fucked you fat ass.
Fuck you Christians. Get off my fucking lawn. Double fuck you Michael Bay. Fuck professional athletes who rape and murder without consequences. That includes you, Roethlisburger. You're not off the hook because you are the white QB. You're a fucking asshole. That motorcycle accident should have taken your career if not your life.
I'm fucking done. Over it. This world fucking sucks from the hood rats parked in the street who refuse to get out of the way to let cars pass to the smarmy fucking judge with the bluetooth headset who thinks he's the cat's meow. Get fucked. All of you.
Edit: Jesus, sorry guys. Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed. By that I mean the side w/o spell check or a dictionary...