Monday, June 13, 2016

My thoughts on 'men' who don't date black women

My thoughts on 'men' who don't date black women

One of my favorite virtual venues to go to for interesting videos is my friend Laala's Facebook page. Laala, by the way, is a Black woman in her30's who I know because 20+ years back,  I was a middle school teacher in East Harlem, New York City and she was one of my students.

At any rate, I came across a video that Laala shared titled "
My thoughts on 'men' who don't date black women" For some reason it intrigued me. I probably should explain that interest a bit, but I think that if I simply paste in, below, the exchange I had with Laala on her page, it will be pretty clear.

Do I think he’s authentic? Well, I think that because this is a man posting YouTube videos, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
But, first, yes, I do think that Jaxn is authentically portraying the way he’d like to be seen and understood and appreciated here. And I do think he’s posting messages that he believes in pretty much as far as anyone who posts messages for public consumption does.
But he’s creating and posting within a niche, a zone that’s his demographic and cultural sweet spot, or perhaps comfort zone would be a better way to put it. And so, I guess, that however he really is, he’s tempered that to whatever extent he feels is necessary to continue to be credible and popular as an icon that appeals there. Nothing wrong with that, but because Jaxn has established himself as a media phenomenon, he has motivations beyond simply being, or being himself, he has to be a media self when in the media and we, his fellow humans, would be wise to be aware of and understand that because I think it very much speaks to how our species has adapted to life driven by the social media we’ve developed to drive it. Come to think of it that was a great question, Laala, because I guess, the state of being authentic has shifted somehow to include the possibility of being YouTube authentic.
As I, a member of a far different demographic group than Jaxn, look at his videos I see an articulate young Black Man who has adopted a stance (and I think Stance is very much a dominant part of the message of content creators like Jaxn) that comes off as Angry- not howlin’-at-the-moon,  pissed off at the World, but still, in a measured way, Angry. He presents himself as someone who sees and understands, living in the World surrounded by those who don’t and who make the World a lesser place because they don’t. And it’s his job, his enlightened, self appointed job to set them and everyone else straight about some things and to make the World right through the act of doing that.

And I’d like to add that this stance of Jaxn’s is damn effective. What results is some very compelling video and when you factor in his choice of themes and his delivery, it’s easy to understand why they have so much appeal.

His messages? Hmmmm. Well, they apparently are relevant and resonate deeply for the audience to which he is directing them. And no doubt it's easier for me than his audience, by far, to take a couple of steps back and look at his messaging objectively. Let me take a stab at it... First, he's a contrarian, he likes to select themes that I suppose are central to the concerns of his young, Black, audience... and that alone, I guess, is a good part of the message... his saying "Here's something that we don't often bring up to a conscious 'let's talk about and examine THIS' level, but I'm doing that now, ready or not!" and then he follows that with his own view on the issue, one that I guess is somehow very different than the common take on it. And that, being what sets him off from the others, the rest of the pack, what makes him special and worth paying attention to. And then there's his personality and the way he uses it to articulate and deliver that opinion.

In this video, for instance, we see Jaxn in his car, seat belt across his chest, talking directly to us about Black Women. In the 90 seconds this video runs he explains that "some Black men have said they  prefer to date White women or foreign women or Hispanic women or whatever, but  "As a man, my only request is that you leave Black Sisters out of your ignorance!" He goes on to strongly state (and there's almost an implied threat in his voice, a daring of other men to question his right to take the moral high ground of defending Black women) that a variety of stereotypical,  negative things that Black men may say habitually about Black women are unfounded and reflect their own shortcomings... "Unfortunately for you, it's not against the law to be stupid, so you have every right to miss out on good women because of some kind of misguided preconception you have." and then, if there was any doubt that Jaxn is a knight in shining armor driving around in his car keeping chivalry alive and killing dragons that need slaying, he points out that Black women have been so instrumental in supporting Black men, as they've kept their community alive, that only an ungrateful cad would reflexively do other than shine the pedestal they deserve to stand on in order to further his own, selfish ends... something like that. 

It's a very obvious message, but it's so calculated and so well delivered as an undeniable and necessary truth, that who could argue with this guy? Even I fell in love with him. 

What about the production aspect of Jaxn's videos? Well, if I wasn't a fan before, this clinches it. Imagine the creative self confidence, the unbridled chutzpah behind this series. This guy talks one-on-one, directly to a camera he's set up somewhere a few feet in front of him - he's in his car, we can see the seatbelt across his chest - he delivers his pitch in his impassioned, sincere tone... he's authentically Black and he is articulate by anyone's standards, certainly by mine. It's an impressive performance he puts in and to add to the unabashedly reductivist aesthetic, the low/no production values, the 'What you see's what ya get!', no artifice, no prettification, here! look and feel of it all, Jaxn has edited his performance with a heavy hand, excising just those bits that he wants to let stand, leaving us with a series of brutal jumping cuts strung together that result in his 'straight from the heart on his sleeve' message to a world that needs to hear it. This is a talented man who has leveraged today's ubiquitous, low cost, Everyman's technology to produce some very affecting work.

By the way, do I feel like an outsider who has no business spying on the washing of dirty laundry by members of a community of which I am most definitely not a part? Of course I do! But this is YouTube and there are no curtains, no signposts up to inform the innocent or the nosy busy body away. This is the public forum where eveyone sees everybody's everything. Ever been to Jones Beach on Labor day? It's incredibly crowded and you're surrounded so closely by nearly naked bodies of every flavor that you can read the tags hanging out of their underwear, tell the color of errant pubic hairs, and overhear whispered intimacies, no questions asked. 

YouTube is contemporary Anthropology... no apologies necessary! 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Police Taser Blind Man, Thought Cane was 'Samurai Sword'

Police Taser Blind Man, Thought Cane was 'Samurai Sword' 

We ARE in the midst of some sort of tech-driven, new media revolution! highfalutin', over romanticized claim? I think not! We we can see some powerful happening, something that will very likely precipitate an important change here. There's evidence aplenty on YouTube of the general population's displeasure with the police. It shows up so regularly there. These videos are dynamite, they show the ultimate recipients and symbols of society's invested authority  (purportedly), red handed in acts of misbehavior and violation of their sacred trust with the society that has empowered them in the first place. That's something that's not to be taken lightly!

And before I go any further and jump on the bandwagon of all those who simply resent the police for having authority in the first place, let's get that one out of the way. True, there are many videos posted  of people engaging with the police in ways that demonstrate (to me at  least) the behavior of 2 yearolds. People we might find ourselves waiting on line with, folks who otherwise are normal and dignified, who turn out to be loose cannons who simply can't deal with society having set up and turned loose a powerful "Daddy" to watch over them.

One see tons of such videos in which Joe Citizen asserts with some degree of condescension to a cop that he can't ask them what his is doing there; No, Joe won't show him I.D. without cause for being asked; or submit to a  search of his vehicle just for the hell of it. And even though, I'd say, more times than not, the civilian is technically in the right, what I see is more than just a grass roots lesson in civil liberties and constitutional rights being delivered to the man in blue, I see an adult working out some sort of deep seated issue, attempting to confirm an infantile assertion that absolutely no one has authority over him.

OK, having said that, we get to the main point here, it does appear from the large number of videos posted that the nation's police really do abuse their power so consistently that we have to conclude  there is something wrong with the culture of American Police. Hey, it's posted in dozens and dozens and dozens of YouTube videos that simply can't be interpreted any other way! Go take a look! 

You might start with this video titled "Police Taser Blind Man, Thought Cane was 'Samurai Sword" Really? Did these cops really think that cane was a Samurai Sword? Was there really a report filed with their department earlier that day (as they claim) to the effect that someone was wandering around brandishing a real Samurai Sword? And so, were they in fact simply doing their job?  (let's ALL clear our throats before saying it), protecting the neighborhood and not just looking for an excuse to taser somebody on a boring, slow afternoon because, hey, they'd  been waiting for an opportunity to try that thing out and demonstrate to themselves what bad-ass mothers they really are for such a long time? Hey, watch the video!

Man Arrested 60+ Times For Trespassing At His Own Job

How about this gem? This video reports that  a man was stopped 258 time, searched over 100 time, and arrested 56 times by police (within a period of 4 years) at a convenience store. That store, though,  had deployed a series of security cams on its property in order to document what it feels is unwarranted, profiling-based harassment of its employees.  It turns out the man mentioned above was subjected to the ministrations of the police while he was a legitimate employee of the store. And, oh, the charge filed against him to justify his being apprehended was trespassing although as an employee of the store he was supposed to be there. Typical? Probably not, but is the affront here that police would do this or is it that they feel (and apparently are justified in believing) that they will not be held accountable for this sort of misuse of power? Perhaps the issue is that under a system in which such things are possible, that it is fortunate that this sort of thing doesn't happen far more often. Or does it?

You know, I can just hear all of those folks who admire and accept the police for what they represent (ideally) say, "Yeah, but what about all of those videos that show the police being attacked while trying to help and doing their job? Why don't you talk about those?" I don't think that's a good question, I mean, it's only reasonable to expect the police to do their job no matter what, it's their JOB, after all. And we naturally hold them to a much higher standard than we hold the average, ignorant Joe Citizen to.... I think the important point in all of this is "What are proper and reasonable expectations for a society to have of its police?" And I think the standard we should hold police to is that they never misuse their power, and that instances of their taking abuse, themselves, or of doing their job, even when it's hard or dangerous for them to do so, even though we can sympathize or admire them for it, do not even the score for when they violate one of the most essential trusts in authority our society has ever established. On the other hand, realistically, the only population a municipality has to draw police personnel from is a group called "Humans" and they are faulted. But it really behooves us, all of us, to expect a high standard of behavior form police and when we catch them violating that standard, to document it, announce that in a public place, and hold the police accountable for their behavior and ourselves accountable for insisting they represent our highest ideals. And all of those YouTube videos are just that.

By the way, when I say "All of those videos" I'm referring to the veritable avalanche of videos of police in the act of misbehaving, of breaking their sacred covenant with society, that have been posted to YouTube, there's a ton of them. I think one of the reasons for that, I mean beyond the fact that we can conclude that this ton is representative somehow of a reality that, sad to say, actually does present itself to all of those CELL Phone video cameras, is that all of this makes people feel powerless in relationship to something that's important and simply sees like it must be corrected. When the citizenry must stand by and witness a veritable army of powerful, armed men to whom the benefit of a doubt in the eyes of the law is automatically awarded, the natural tendency is to want to do something and when activiely doing something is impossible, the act of bearing witness and sharing what one has witnessed as far and as loudly as possible seems very appealing, hence the very, very large number of "Look at what these cops did!" videos on YouTube.

Police Beat Homeless Man To Death (Graphic Warning)

Here's another video and the title pretty much sums up what it shows. As McLuhan (that "The Medium is the Massage" guy) would have pointed out, the fact that it was made and posted and has drawn as many views as it has (
749,973 this morning), really is the most important thing about it.

I thought that I was done with this subject and that I could go back to enjoying videos about electric guitars, and retiring in the tropics, and Big Foot, when the item above reached out from my screen, grabbed me by my collar and forced me to watch it. YouTube does that to me frequently and I really should get a video of it in the act of doing that and post it. Someday, for sure. For now, I'll simply share that this video is more on this theme and like all of them, it's good and important that someone went to the trouble to post it.