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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Yoyo and the Beloved Bukkake Party

Category: Short Story
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  • Hello cct,

    Yes, I’ll bite. You try to push the envelope a little. Show “ignorance” of both races…lice-infested hair? Odd…You preach some with the Toni Morrison story ... they learn something at the end, though it seems the narrator had it all figured out from the beginning.

    However…it’s a typically American solution to the problem of race in America, and it’s a little one-sided: Blacks need to love America, choose to be American, pull themselves up. We all have struggles. Not everyone owned slaves…Be not resentful… However eloquently you write it, it’s the same story—-“Conform! Get over it!”

    The poorest white colonial never had his name taken from him, and while he toiled, America thrived by slavery. That poor white colonial, in his poverty, could call the name of his father and say that he came from such and such country, and give that name to his children. Is that not power?  Or do you take that for granted? (I won’t assume you’re a white American)

    Poverty does not make us equal, and identity is more powerful than money.

    Should I forget? Am I making excuses?

    Do you think I dwell on remembering or do I live?

    I tell you, I die every night, and every morning I am born again. For Toni Morrison and her family to be so lucky that fortune served their thinking so well.

    Of course blacks have a history in America. And yes, blacks since the age of slavery have kept their integrity, albeit by rebellion. You can’t call them animals for that. You can’t call them animals because they chose to die in order to live. 

    I hated AP American Literature. Every book we read every quarter every year had “nigger” in it. You read about King Arthur’s court, a “nigger” shows up. I complained to the teacher. She said there was nothing she could do. That’s how it was. America and its literature.

    I resent America. Rightfully, I hate America. You have no right to tell me or any Black to choose America and laugh. Definitely, do not patronize me with a rags-to-riches-alleged-mind-over-matter story about Toni Morrison. I can tell you about the black no-name next door who had his prayers answered.

    But some don’t get the chance to laugh, and not because they couldn’t smile. By your philosophies, blacks would still be enslaved, though smiling.

    What you left out of your story and what is continually left out of conversations of race in America is the accountability of America in the history of and place of the American Black today. It’s not important to you because you haven’t been on that side of the coin. Or maybe you have; I won’t assume you’re a white American.

    It’s a difficult conversation even in the black community. Some blacks don’t want to be seen as victims. Some blacks also fought against Nat Turner in defense of their masters. Of course, after they caught Nat, blacks free and enslaved (mostly free because it wouldn’t come out of anybody’s pocket) were massacred, smiling or not.

    I find no weakness in one demanding what’s owed to one. America’s revolutionaries took what wasn’t owed to them, so why not demand or take from them what they owe to me?

    Should we forget and laugh anyway? Is that of a greater mind? America would say yes. And, yes, that thinking serves America. I say no.

    I have consciously chosen NOT to be American. NOT to love America. I’M STUCK IN AMERICA. Am I less of a thinker because I choose to be disgusted by America? Am I an animal for choosing not to laugh? For dreaming of being in a place of my choosing, where my blood was not forced. Not at all. In fact, by choosing to resist. By choosing to encourage Black Americans to prove to no one but themselves their value (breaking the slave-to-master mindset) is an idea greater than this country. In fact, it’s partially the thinking that created this country. Our wonderful American revolutionaries chose not to laugh, and we sit in America today, for it. Some happier than others.

    So, where do we stand. I know me, what I am capable of. I know my strength, and I refuse to allow you to pass America’s abuses against my ancestors, against my grandmothers, my grandfathers, my mother, my father, my brother, me…I refuse to let you pass America’s accountability on to me when you’re able to accept it (Again, I’m not assuming you’re a white American)

    I do applaud you for getting “nigga’” right as opposed to “nigger.”

    PS: I love people. I hate America.

    Posted by Van der Riese  on  12/22  at  08:20 AM
  • I don’t understand anything you have said. Sorry.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/22  at  04:17 PM
  • Expected, and the reason why I continue to speak. Eventually, someone will.

    Posted by Van der Riese  on  12/22  at  09:09 PM
  • Oops! Forgot…No apology necessary, Yoyo. Most won’t understand.

    Posted by Van der Riese  on  12/22  at  09:35 PM
  • If you’re going to be bold and offensive, have the courtesy to defend your writing. It’s very annoying when writers “talk big” and then run behind a veil of “art.” I give you no more benefit of doubt, as I did in my first comment. You write this, but I live with this American ignorance every day. It is very serious and very sensitive.

    White readers may connect with your story, but you lost credibility with me in your first few lines with the description of “lice-filled” hair. Black hair is lice-resistant. The dirtiest have no lice. It showed me you acquired your sense of “black culture” from what you hear on the streets and see on tv because the only other black you referred to was a biography of Toni Morrison.

    Yeah, you got “nigga” right as opposed to “nigger.”  Most trying to write black slang often get this wrong, hence the understanding that Mr. Richards called his hecklers a “nigga.” (Though, when my friends call each other white trash, cracker, or honky, I never get the sense or justification to address them or any other white in the same way. Slave-to-master mindset? or do I neglect myself of an American-given right? Common courtesty, maybe? Oviously, you have to think less of someone to, in any way, justify using racial slurs against them.)

    Also, your narrator has no redeeming quality. I don’t know who your audience is, but the white narrator’s gross descriptions of his friend are not made less by the last line, the wise men writing, or his knowledge of a black author. If the narrator were black, perhaps, there would be some balance. If you’re just rehashing Ms. Morrison’s device, it’s been done. As it stands, all you have is a white guy whining and disgusted about something he doesn’t understand: Black guys. Just the same, he shows them the light? but your greasy, disgusting white narrator has no one to show him the light. Perhaps, you’re going for shock-value or connecting with other white Americans, which still finds nothing at the end, but I understand how this makes sense to you and why you choose to not understand or explain. I live in America, a nation built on ignorance, assertions of profundity, and ignoring those who don’t find them so smart (and no, you don’t understand me, though you think you do, and you think that you’re more learned. No…You’re on a regurgitative level. I don’t quote anyone).

    Posted by Van der Riese  on  12/23  at  10:36 PM
  • Do not confuse the author with the narrator.

    Do not confuse the people with their government or their ancestors.

    This brings to my mind an argument a friend of mine made against my position that all writing is good.  I argued that it was good because it can be examined and referred to - if the ideas it contains are bad, then they will eventually be recognized as bad.  My friend argued that before they are recognized as bad, they may have strong and very destructive effects.  I argued back that these effects are a necessary precursor to the human species learning that the ideas are bad, and if it were not for the writing, the lessons would not be learned.

    In any case cct has forced us to think about some issues which are clearly very important, at least to some people.  That makes it the story valuable to me.  I’m intrigued and confused by it.  But the language in the story was rich - the vulgar parts as well as the eloquent parts.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/24  at  12:09 AM
  • I have to disagree with you, although I thank you for discourse.

    I haven’t confused the author with the narrator. In fact, I’ve asked him/her, in so many words, “what are you trying to do?” Usually, if there’s no response, something’s wrong. That’s by my experience in matters of race.

    I’ve lived quite a bit in my short time, and I’ve made my mistakes as far as benefit of the doubt. I know what I’m talking about here, though that’s not what people want to hear, a sure thing about something bad. My complaint is not with the story’s vulgarity. He can be brash, he can be vulgar, but I’ve read enough misguided literature. I’m black. We don’t get lice. Our hair isn’t greasy. Don’t give attributes that don’t belong. It stinks of ignorance. The language can be good, but what is it called? You’ll have to pardon my language “a crap-filled twinkie.” I’ve lived this enough for cct’s story to be neither intriguing nor confusing. By this time, it’s insulting and rote.

    Neither have I confused a people with their ancestors or government. I live in America. I deal with Americans. I don’t write without experience, and I don’t comment without insight. I haven’t confused anything. I’ve lived. Present America and America past is not a separate issue. I remain nameless, as other blacks. Language-less, if you will. Nationless. My blood is forced, this is not my country. As you suggested, America thinks we’ve moved on, and that’s the problem. It’s a matter of experience, and this story’s kind of ignorance is very old.

    Perhaps our misunderstanding comes from my not having the benefit of philosophizing the matter, but I thank you again for your comments. As far as the author, I applaud good intentions, but it’s time to get it right.

    Posted by Van der Riese  on  12/24  at  05:48 AM
  • Perhaps you are right that the author and the narrator of the story can both be referred to with the same pronoun as you have done, but I looked up Bukkake at Wikipedia and found this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bukkake#Sociology which suggested to me that the author might be inconsequential to what the story shows.  Whether cct intended to or not, he has put the narrator into a position of false or even ridiculous confidence.  Your challenges in the comments are apt for the narrator, as well as for anyone who doesn’t see the foolishness of the narrator.

    The author may identify strongly with the narrator, and if this is the case, then too bad for him (or her).  On the other hand, the author may be hoping that many have the same kind of reaction that you had, and in order not to obviate it in others, has chosen to play dumb.

    Anyway, I do tend to give the benefit of doubt way too often.  Cheers!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/24  at  07:47 PM
  • Gosh, you think I don’t know the narrator is ridiculous? or that he’s not ENTIRELY to be trusted? You insult me, Dave…You insult me. wink

    I read the same definition, and while I agree the author is playing dumb (I know that because I understand him and the story, as I’ve said), you’ve misunderstood me. You’ve connected with him on the level I spoke of. I did not say that white readers would connect with him as a racist. I intentionally left that for readers of my comment to assume. The connection I expected would be “confused,” as you said, and “intrigued” if not finding the thing profound. 

    Am I offended by his narrator’s ignorance? By the ignorance of his friend? No. I live with it enough to have developed a thick but thinning skin, but this story attempts to develop into some higher meaning.

    While the narrator is still obviously ignorant at the end,  the overall, as regards to preachiness and Toni Morrison, settles on the suggestion that there is ignorance on both sides, but we need only to return to greater minds. His story is of a “Beloved Bukakke.” It’s not all supposed to be ridiculous. The Bukakke is the ignorance. The Beloved is the less. And the Bukakke is not a Bukakke at all. Get it? Yeah.

    The narrator is not trying to be ridiculous when he speaks of Toni Morrison’s being of a greater mind. We’re supposed to get something from that. He’s not being ridiculous when the two joining raises them to a level of consideration. He’s mimicking Morrison’s Beloved, as he said he would. The point being that the two ignorants need only to turn to a great mind for understanding (The narrator is only aware of this because he’s been cultivating his mind at university, see) Anyway, Toni Morrison is American, so that joins US, and he talks about African-American and white American literature being one… The narrator hides some of his preference in the ignorance of his narrator, and I pick up on that. The two are ignorant, but who, the more?

    My complaint with the story is that it never reaches the higher meaning intended. I’m not confused by the devices or the writing, which I find a little hack-rich. The author’s playing dumb only gives him more credibility than he deserves. He’s being unobvious to trigger these types of discussions, but I know the story rehashes the same old, we’re all ignorant, the will is greater than the tools you have, etc. It preaches to blacks, a little to whites, and the reference to TM is supposed to impress both black and white.

    Stand down, is what I read because I’ve been told to stand down since pre-school.

    It’s difficult to explain to people not sensitive to it the subleties of racism. Yes, I responded as if the author was as ignorant as the narrator, and the author DID feel he’d nabbed one. But I’m not discussing the ignorance of his characters, I discuss the undermining ignorance of his convention. That makes OUR debate, Dave, a little moot. But I’m used to being misunderstood.

    I ask the author, is a Nat Turner less of a mind than a Harriet Tubman? Is a Thomas Paine more than a Nat Turner or less than a Harriet Tubman?

    So, no. He wasn’t expecting my response, and you also misunderstood my responses or you would have taken more from my comments than Angry Black Woman. angry 

    And yes, an author needs far-reaching branches to have far-reaching fruit.

    Posted by Van der Riese  on  12/26  at  12:01 AM
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