Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Well, Knock Me Over with a Feather

I do not have the Internet at my house at this time, nor do I have a wireless dodad for my laptop so I can surf anywhere. I visit the Interwebs three ways: Via WiFi hotspots, using public computers, and on my Blackberry Pearl (a flip Blackberry). I tell you this because if I was anywhere but relaxing on my bed, reading the morning's news and blog postings on the Blackberry, I would have fallen over and hurt myself when I saw what I saw this a.m. on Alonzo Washington's MySpace page. There under an entry basically thankful for the support was one of my very first blog entries on this here blog, when I wrote about the blog war that had broke out between Alonzo and Bovine Comedy. I was absolutely blown away, first that someone was reading my little blog (Thank you, thank you!!) and second, that they would show it to Alonzo.

I used to think differently about Alonzo, but I have a whole new view. It ties in with my view on racism in this country, which is a complex topic and I have a complex view. During the course of my over education, I had opportunities to take anthropology classes. I see the race issue as more of a cultural issue, as well as an ignorance issue. People fear what looks different, what sounds different and is new or unknown to them. The amount of DNA that accounts for the difference in the way humans look is tiny! Right now, as I blog on a public computer, next to me is a Black teen. Our differences are small in DNA but large in appearance.

Racism, alas, is not dead in the United States. It's much less a problem than it used to be, and it is much less institutionalized in laws than it used to be. But it is still a problem. It is my neighbor, planning to find a private high school for his daughter to attend rather than sending her to Ruskin. He is making this choice not because of academics, but "It's too dark over there, if you know what I mean. (Wink, wink)" Oh, I wanted to hit him in the head so bad!! It's the difference in news coverage between a murder of a white person (particularly women) in a white neighborhood and the murder of a black person in a black neighborhood. Both are tragic losses to our community--especially the murder of a young person under 21 (what potential is wasted--you never know what people will grow up to be and do.). As long as there are people who think one group is inferior and defective in some way, and make judgements of individuals based exclusively on the outward appearance, there will be racism.

I don't believe in race and culture as an excuse. I'm right there with Bill Cosby, crying out for the Black community to reject the thug culture, to see education and achievement as good things, to have babies in intact families with mommies and daddies. Culture is not an unchangeable monolith. Culture is people, and people as a group can decide what is important to them. In fact, my own culture of pale, melanin deficient people has changed many views over the course of time.

All this to get to Alonzo Washington. Here is the punch line: Alonzo Washington cares passionately for this community. He cares that people are getting hurt and killed in this community. He sees the lack of effective leadership and action in the community with regard to homicide, especially in the Black community. He cries out for that community to reach out for help, to police themselves through giving tips and making changes in their lives. I know that when Alonzo has appeared on much of the MSM, he has appeared to make race an issue. It is one of many underlying issues to the crime problem, and we as a community are sticking our heads in the sand if we think otherwise. It can be overblown. And it can be seen by white folks as trying to deflect personal responsibility--people saying, "If everyone didn't discriminate against us, we wouldn't be like this."And when Black people pull this card out over and over, it just hurts them and their cause. However, to remove race as an issue; to say, "OK, we're done with that", well that is just as wrong.

Alonzo is not a race pimp like Sharpton or Jackson. Alonzo is here all the time. Alonzo is blogging, teaching, YouTubing. He does his comic books. He and his family live right here in the metro. He does not run in, do a quick presser, and run out. He is here. He is respected by the Black community. I respect him, due to his hard work, his commitment and his obvious love for people. Alonzo is bold, outspoken, up in your face. Alonzo is not afraid to tell you what he has done and what he does. That presentation strikes many Whites as bragging, which is not encouraged in the White culture. But it is no more offensive than Jared Allen's sack celebrations on the football field. Last I looked, Jared was White. And we loved him here and they love him in Minnesota. Alonzo's not perfect (none of us are)--sometimes, like all of us, he makes mistakes, says the wrong thing, steps on toes; but you have to look at the whole picture. Did Jared Allen's sacks mean less because he did a goofy dance afterward?

We have a murder problem in this city--in this nation. Too many of our young people are murdered, usually for stupid crap. Our young people don't know how to solve conflict. We need all hands on deck to teach people new ways to solve conflict. Those hands include people of different styles and races, that might make us uncomfortable as we see them work. That includes Alonzo Washington, who dare I say it, might be the man God picked out for the job of helping to change the people of this town to a better people who care for each other, to become people who, to quote the bumper sticker, "Turn to each other, not on each other."

God Bless you Alonzo, you are in my prayers.

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