Racism and Prejudice in Daily Conversation

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Racism no longer exists!

-Some Earthling from 7510

Astute 1960s music aficionados will recognize the aforementioned, 7510, as the year that Zager and Evans said, “If God’s a-coming, he ought to make it by then…”

That’s right, over 50 years ago our dear singers predicted that 7510 would be the year of Divine judgment!

Personally, I believe that we are being judged daily–by our own conscience.

That’s assuming that we have one.

Anyway, I find it kinda eerie that while Zager and Evans titled the song, In the year 2525, they don’t say much else about that year–other than to wonder “if man is still alive…”

In fact, it appears as if they simply opted not to complete their thesis about what 2525 might bring.

I shudder at the thought!

Anyway, this post has very little to do with that song other than to illustrate how much farther, as a society, we have to go in order to become more advanced in our thinking; I pray we get there before 7510 because 2525 is beginning to look like a freaking wash!

Ok, so after watching and listening to a whole lot of people talking about racism these days, I decided to put in my proverbial two cents by offering a couple of suggestions on how to avoid racist/prejudice talk in your daily conversations.

I might even throw in a little story.

And so…

In essence, if you are interested in having a genuine conversation on race–or anything else–with black folks, please refrain from saying any of the following:

  1. “Racism does not exist.”
  2. “You’re being overly sensitive.”
  3. “How do you know <insert complex, intellectual, technical, little-known, sophisticated topic here>
  4. “How did he/she/they get a better grade than I did?”
  5. “How did she/he/they get that job, house, car, thing?”
  6. “Family doesn’t mean much to Black people” (Said by some foolish ass congressman, very recently.)
  7. “That’s not racism!” (An easy out for people who are uninterested in learning about racist remarks and behaviors.)

This list is not exhaustive.

While some of the above points are blatant, others are very subtle yet highly offensive. In fact, I’m NOT even going to include the REALLY blatant shit that people say.

That said, I am willing to offer a more slick example of how prejudiced beliefs and attitudes slither into a daily conversation. (This is an example of my 3rd point from above)

For your consideration:

Once upon a very recent time, LadyG was having a conversation with a couple of co-workers about travel.

During the conversation, Lady G stated, “I’d like to go visit Findhorn someday.”

To which one of the co-workers, a white female who fancies herself to be very well versed on just about every damn thang, inquired, “What is Findhorn?”

To which LadyG replied, “It’s a beautiful community in Scotland where they have been known to grow gigantic vegetables by working closely with spiritual beings that inhabit the land.”

Before LadyG could complete her sentence, her co-worker had whipped out her iPhone, looked up Findhorn, and was instantly amazed at how accurate LadyG was in her description of the joint.”

“Hmm,” dear co-worker responded, “And how do you know about that?”

To which LadyG shot back, “I’m just nosey as hell.”

-THE END

Granted, the average person in Georgia has no clue what Findhorn is–never mind where it is.

Hell, some of you are also probably wondering how I knew about it.

Let’s just say that I am an avid reader who loves to learn about new people, places and things.

At any rate, it’s not so much that she asked that question, it’s more the way she asked the question.

It was clear to me that she didn’t think it was possible for me to have any knowledge about a subject that she did not already know about.

Who was I to know so much about something that she had never heard of?

Now, I can hear someone in the ethers saying, “How is that racist, she’s just a know-it-all.”

True dat!

She definitely was a know-it-all!

But here’s the thing…do you think she would have asked a white woman or man the same question– with the same kind of undertone?

Would she have been completely amazed that another white person could know about Findhorn?

I’d wager that she would not have asked another white person that question–at least not in the same way.

She asked me with an air of suspicion–disbelief.

Now, if, in fact, she had asked another white person, it would have been out of genuine curiosity–a “tell me more” kind of situation.

Trust me, as a black woman, I know the difference.

I’ve experienced this, or something like it, more times than I can properly count.

Seriously, I could give you a thousand other examples; including the one where the white male student asked my Political Science professor how I got a better grade than he did on an essay exam. It should be noted that the professor, who was also white, was the one who told me what the guy said.

Oh! What about the time a white co-worker told me that I was not “black… black.” By that, she meant that I was not like “regular black people”–whatever that is.

Or, the time my white Biology professor told me that I was one of only two black students to ever get an A in his class. Why did he feel the need to tell me this?

Oh yeah, what about the white English professor who stopped me after class one day to ask where I was from because she could tell from my writing style that I couldn’t be “from around here.”

Whew chile…it’s tiring y’all!

So, I think I’ll stop here and encourage anyone who is ready to have a polite and meaningful conversation about anything that I mentioned in this post to drop down in comments so we can chat.

Racial Equity In The Economy Means We All Win

Racial equity is a win-win proposal.


My cousin Ron and I often talk about the nebulous meaning of a “good economy” and how some people love to point to it whenever they want to brag about how well the country is doing.

We heard a lot of that during the previous Presidential Administration.

Back to my point.

Now, if we were to quiz these same people on said “good economy” they would likely be hard-pressed to give a coherent definition of the concept.

To be more specific, I would argue that the measures which determine what is and what is not a “good” or “healthy” economy are difficult for most people to practically comprehend –with the exception of the unemployment rate.

However, a few months ago, I ran across a study that pointed to a direct connection between discrimination and major economic loss in America.

No doubt, this fact is shocking but definitely not hard to understand.

Point blank, discriminatory practices in the U.S. have resulted in major economic loss for the country as a whole, and now is the time to turn these deep rooted practices around.

If we can do this, we will have brought racial equity to the table and we all win.

Sadly, there are those who will gladly accept this and future losses–to their own detriment–out of sheer hatred and stupidity.

But, that said, I’m convinced that more of us are interested in the well-being of the collective.


Here is what the study found:

According to Citigroup, as quoted in this article from NPR, the U.S. economy lost $16 trillion since 2000 due to discrimination and other broad reaching policies that were blind to racial equity.

The article goes on to count all of the losses:

  • $13 trillion lost in potential business revenue because of discriminatory lending to African American entrepreneurs, with an estimated 6.1 million jobs not generated as a result
  • $2.7 trillion in income lost because of disparities in wages suffered by African Americans
  • $218 billion lost over the past two decades because of discrimination in providing housing credit
  • And $90 billion to $113 billion in lifetime income lost from discrimination in accessing higher education

Today’s Black History Month Observation:

Despite popular public opinion, Black people are not asking for handouts, we are asking to have systemic filters removed so that we can proceed through and rise to our highest potential.

LadyG


I don’t want nobody

To give me nothing

Open up the door

I’ll get it myself

Don’t give me degeneration

Give me true communication

Don’t give me sorrow

I want equal opportunity

To live tomorrow

James Brown, The God Father of soul (1969)

Morgan Freeman on Black History Month

I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history —Morgan Freeman


You can’t extract the history of Blacks from the history of America; it is one and the same.

I am inclined to agree with Mr. Freeman–Black History is American History and should be included, in a substantive way, in our national educational curriculum, as well as the broader cultural lexicon.

According to DNA ancestry, my Black ancestors have been here for just as long as some of my White ancestors and even longer than others (Irish).

Clearly, black history has suffered in isolation for long enough. It’s time to bring it out and give it the honor and respect that it deserves.


Here’s a fascinating and very necessary project from The Atlantic that seeks to fill in the blanks of lost Black history in America.


Here’s a link for more great quotes related to Black History

Bring Back String Instruments–For Our Sanity

I’m not even kidding!  We need string instruments back!

Yesterday, my fifteen-year-old daughter, Lady J, and I had a conversation about the music that she enjoys listening to.  She even shared some of her favorite songs–which shocked me since Lady J, like most kids her age, can be very elusive.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to find that all of those songs had very gorgeous and complex arrangements–they were beautiful—they were lovely—I was touched by the melodies.

As I sat there listening to one song after another, I noticed two things. 

First, the songs were heavily punctuated with string instruments.

Second, they were mostly written, composed and performed by Japanese artists.

You might be wondering where I’m going with this…

You’ll see.

Let me begin by saying that I totally understand Lady J’s current taste in music.

Like her, when I was a teenager, I was mostly interested in music that evoked feeling.

The Late Great Maestro, Barry White said, “When I want to bring emotion, I pull out the strings.” 

I don’t know where I heard that, but, based on his musical catalog, if he didn’t say it, he would likely have agreed with it.

May his soul rest in power!

But I digress.

Back to Lady J.

As a teenager, Lady J has become aware of the importance of finding healthy ways to live and cope with daily happinesses (not a real word) as well as the occasional hazard. She has learned that certain music provides the perfect vehicle for the sound (forgive the pun) expression of a range of emotions.

Have you ever heard it said that someone or something “pulled at the heartstrings?”  

Now, I got no time to google the origins of that saying but I guarantee that it is related in a some circuitous way.

Got it?

Good.

Now comes the part where I have to confront my own emotions about the current state of music here in America–in the Year Of Our Lord 2021.

To be blunt, I am struck by the fact that my daughter kept sharing song after song by artists who hail from elsewhere. I mean, oftentimes my child feels like she has to “go” all over the world—albeit digitally— to find the kind of music that she likes.  

Now, before folks go off, let me check them right now.

I am not writing this to be used as a study in xenophobia because, as a black mother, I don’t play that.

I’ve taught my children to respect the beauty of all races, colors, creeds and cultures.  

However, I have also taught them to learn their own—especially when it comes to music.

But there’s a problem.

Excuse my “Southern-ness”–I know it’s showing–honey, there just ain’t that many folks round here making music that incorporates string instruments—or any other classical instrument for that matter.

That’s why my baby gotta go all the way across oceans to find the stuff that she wants, and I would argue, needs to hear.

But, why am I so bothered? I mean, regardless of where it comes from, she has found the music that she likes, right?

To answer that questions, I must take us back in time…

You see, string instruments were an integral part of my childhood. 

Hell, I even played violin briefly but I gave it up in order to become a majorette—Sheez! 

Priorities!

Anyway, during that time, in the mid to late 1970s, violins, violas, cellos and the like were EV-ER-Y-WHERE—Barry White made sure of that! 

The MAESTRO!  

Enough said.  

However, Barry, wasn’t the only one, string instruments were all over the place then, not just in Soul music (which, I know seems counterintuitive), but in just about any genre that you could think of.

Yes, that’s right, string instruments, the ones of classical music fame, were everywhere—not just at the “INSERT YOUR CITY HERE Symphony Orchestra.”

Granted, I know that violins and cellos were NOT invented in Georgia–nor were they played solo at the cook-out–but that’s not the point. Forget where and when string instruments originated, talented musicians, back in the day, made them do things that Beethoven never could have imagined.

Hell, we were shook by the Delfonics professing love over a wall of high-flying violins in LA-LA- Means I Love You.

And don’t get me started on Bill Withers telling us about a Lovely Day with classical violins, violas and cellos backing him all. the. way. up!

My loves, those kind of heavy handed string arrangements gave me all of the things that I needed to get my emotions out about:

My dying dog, Bones

My unrequited love for…What’s his name?

My very, very, very, serious relationship with…What’s his name?

Flat out, string instruments gave me, and so many others, a quick way to access our emotions about any number of things.

Anyway, you know what I mean.

I just hate the fact that my daughter can’t readily find the kind of mental and emotional tonic that string instruments provide in her own backyard without crossing oceans or sifting through the music of yore.

And so, it seems that the strings are notably absent, but I would contend that we MUST bring them back for our sanity!

This is especially important as we all muddle through some version of a lockdown.

We need string instruments to give us a healthy way to release emotion!

Now, in the midst of my rambling, I must say that I’m grateful that my dear daughter has sense enough to know that mess like Danileigh’s “Yellow bone what he want” is not a good lyric and I shudder to think about the “music” that is enveloping those words. 

Baby, I’m not EVEN gonna address that controversy—it would call for a different post.

Let me just say that if you’ve never heard that nonsense, do NOT google it and consider yourself and your ears blessed.

Moving on…

Right here, right now, I’d like to implore musicians in America to find a way to incorporate string instruments into your music! 

Do your part to help us get in touch with our emotions.

And if you are wondering, the previous sentence was my “call to action” for musicians from a passionate lover of music advocating for her dear daughter-and the rest of us!

Now, if you don’t get my point, consider this whole thing an exercise in academics–and keep it moving past this old woman–who is probably out of step with the times droning on about nothing.

I bid you Good Day!

Rambling Musical Commentary: Silly Fool, You Can’t Change Your Fate

It’s the witching hour…

Join LadyG as she shares a storytime about a family reunion, colorism, mama, Florida cousins, and her favorite R&B/Soul jams from 1979-ish.

**Post titles always include a lyric from one of the songs highlighted in the audio.

Interview with Nile Rodgers from Chic

**FAIR USE**

Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research.

Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. 

Rambling Musical Commentary: That’s My Jam

**Escapism alert!

Some adult language

Ok, seriously!

Enough is enough!

I have got to find ways to improve my mental wellbeing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still ALL about the cause and will continue my work…

But, as my dear friend, the other Lady G oft quotes, “The world is too much with us…”

She borrowed it from Wordsworth and I borrowed it from her.

And so…

In an effort to keep “the world” manageable for ME, I decided to do something fun on the blog by offering a rambling commentary on my musical posts, including “My Jams” which was a R&B series for years 1966-1996.

Join me as I touch on…

DJs

Record Stores

Cassette Tapes

8 tracks

45’s

LP’s

Reaganomics

GodFather

Soul Brother Number One

The Good Foot

The One

Hot Cuisine

Ozone/Teena Marie (Lady T)

All of that comes from this post.

Run Time: Less than 15 mins.

That’s My Jam

*FAIR USE**

Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research.

Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.