I love Jam Donaldson's blog, "Conversate Is Not A Word". Love it, love it, love it. It's probably not politically correct to point out the fact that I, as a fat, pasty European, often don't understand the ins and outs of the African American community, although having watched Comedy Central for a combined fifteen minutes or so over the past six years, I do know that there are comedians who seem to have made entire careers out of the fact that there are some differences between how white people see things, and how African Americans see things. (see also: Differences Between White People And Latinos, The and Lopez, George) The beauty of what Jam Donaldson does is that she passes comment on African American culture from the inside out, and is often highly uncomplimentary of its foibles, particularly when it comes to the lack of female empowerment. F'rinstance, here's some edited highlights from this recent post, dealing with Melanie Fiona's song, "It Kills Me" to give you a rough idea of why I think Jam is one of the most compelling bloggers around today:
Fiona’s song is basically, the desperate, pathetic woman’s anthem. Forget self-esteem, forget independent thought, forget doing what’s best for you, Fiona loudly proclaims about 15 times a day, every day, on the radio that, it’s really about a warm body.
And as if we don’t have enough problems with families in the black community, now here comes a woman who shamelessly declares that she also wants to have babies with this man, who admittedly treats her like dog shit.
At some point we must all take responsibility for the messages we are promulgating to our young people about life and relationships and choices. Can we be that surprised that our young women allow themselves to be treated poorly and then add insult to injury by having children with awful men in the name of “love” ? We wonder why our ladies come home with idiots and thugs who can’t string a sentence together or who abuse them or otherwise disrespect them? We wonder why so many young women blamed Rihanna. Well, I have one place to start looking for answers: the radio.
How about this one, about American Idol and its impact on modern goals:
Celebrity is our new religion. You don’t want to be the best, or the smartest or the most honest or the person who worked the hardest. You just want to be the most famous. However you get there, it’s fame that counts now. Those poor schmucks just want a chance to be somebody, anybody. America has taught us that celebrity is really the only thing that really counts. The only time YOU count.
How we have come to measure success has become so distorted and myopic. We have young people who are so starved for “fame” and “celebrity” and “easy riches” that their lives become solely a quest for what will make them a star. From Youtube to “Idol,” we are raising a generation whose only barometer for achievement is a lifestyle of celebrity and easy wealth. Fuck a job.
Whereas a generation ago, men and women were happy if they just achieved more than their parents: if they got to college or got a good job and had a family. That was success to them. Now, we deem ourselves failures if we’re not millionaires by 30. We are lost in what we see, what others have, what we don’t have, what we’re not. We don’t feel like somebody in our personal lives, so we go audition for “American Idol,” hoping someone will deem us worthy. Will make us feel as if we matter. Famous people matter, so we want to be them. By any means necessary.
Just as Barack Obama brings a message of hope to his presidency, I can’t help but watch “American Idol” and lament that this is the extent of hope for so many. We have lost those dreams of peace on earth and good will to men. Of family, of achievement, of community, of ending world hunger. To hell with all that. That stuff is hard.
We just want to go to Hollywood.
The comments section is always worth your eye time too, and it's fascinating to see that there are so many readers who seem to identify not only with what she's saying, but with the fact that there seem to be wider issues within the community that they want to see addressed. What makes her blog so damned readable is that I, as a man who watches a lot of daytime TV and lives in a state that - and I'll borrow Paul's perfect phrasing for this - is about as diverse as a tub of cottage cheese, only see an uber-magnified, over-emphasised, and, often, unflattering view of African Americans, and, post after post, she knocks it out of the park explaining why what we're seeing is wrong, particularly since so many in the community strive to emulate it.
In the comments section of a post about "teabonics" (the hilariously wonky speloing and grammer in sum of the signs what is held up at tea party rally's), a poster named Therren Dunham shared a jaw-droppingly accurate and beautifully researched dissection of the tea party movement. I'll post the comment in full so you don't have to go looking for it, but if you have a spare half hour, indulge your brain in the discussion that follows. It truly is a thing of beauty.
Folks, what we’re looking at are examples of society’s real losers.
These are the people who pride themselves in believing they are defending their freedoms by any means necessary, but cower and hiss at the images and ideology of the man who coined the phrase. They’re quick to question the citizenship and patriotism of their elected President but fail to appreciate that the first person to spill his blood in the cause of American independence was of African ancestry.
[BTW: if you are a child of an American citizen, that makes you an American, REGARDLESS of where you were born. Ask John McCain (born in PANAMA).]
These are the people who equate Ethan Allen with high-end furniture, and to them Paul Revere’s only meaningful occupation was to simply ride a horse in the middle of the night, yelling at people.
They fear the erosion of the Constitution, yet they likely couldn’t spell preamble (much less recite our Constitution’s verbatim) if a Tory held a musket to their children’s heads. They want more stringint rules for Immigration, but could not pass a citizenship test themselves.
They preach that this is a Christian land, whereas many of the founding fathers were atheist. They never seem to get that the original Pledge of Allegiance never had the words, “under God;” that was a 50’s write-in to stick a thumb in the eye of the impending Communist threat. Never mind that many of the people in those pics appear to be old enough to have recited the original POA in grade school.
(FYI: just because I happen to be a God-fearing son of a pastor and grandson of a deacon, doesn’t mean that I have to disregard historical fact.)
These are the very people who blame outside forces, non-sequitrs and social boogeymen (affirmative action, illegal immigration, quotas, and big government) for outcomes in their lives that were very much in their control (THEIR hyper-spending, THEIR adherence to dead industries and THEIR failure to take advantage of all the opportunities around them, i.e. MOVE to where the jobs are, and get the SKILLS to land one.) In their hearts and minds, the only acceptible undocumented worker scamming the government is a middle aged plumber without a valid license, who fails to pay his property taxes.
These trade-in-the-USA, keeping-it-real-fake patriots are the ones whining about the government on the verge of becoming a client state of Red China (while discreetly pledging their financial allegiance to China by buying their lower-priced goods from Wal-Mart), and driving Canadian-made Chevrolets and Mexican-built Fords while turning up their collective noses at that Hyundai (or, God forbid, that Mercedes Benz some liberal must be showboating in!), both of which are built by AMERICAN LABOR in Alabama. They’d rather be seen in a Dodge Ram built across the border than in a full-sized Toyata pickup built in San Antonio.
Never mind that the top-selling make in China is, of all brands, BUICK; what are the odds that in a few years, many of these people will be driving China’s CHERY vehicles? Or working at their dealerships? Even owning a store and selling one to YOU?
THIS is what the face of America’s failure looks like. It’s more than just a bunch of uncouth individuals with bad grammar. It’s the steadfast belief in a false premise by equally selfish and disingenuous people who possess no sense of what they’re talking about. The fear is not in ignoring these morons. It’s solely in continuing to lend them credibility that’s unwarranted.