Fetishizing Exclusion

In my continued effort to be vaguely informed on today’s media, I listened to the new Solange Knowles album, A Seat at the Table. I’ve been a fan of hers since, you know, about forty-five seconds into the album. I didn’t even realize she wasn’t in Destiny’s Child. I thought it was three sisters. I’m really hip. So, the album has a number of spoken word interludes. It’s a good album, I loved a couple tracks in iTunes, going to listen to it again. But the interludes. Two of the interludes are her parents talking about being black in the United States. The dad’s is this really depressing, true awful moment. Then the mom’s is all about loving black culture and how loving black culture isn’t an act of hostility to white people. I mean, the second part is a point she makes, it’s not the whole point but I’m a white guy, what am I going to think about. Especially since I’ve now realized there being minorities on “The Brady Bunch” probably traumatized me in unknowable ways; but not enough to think Sleepy Hollow was an acceptable thing to put my name on, so I do have that going for me. But it got me thinking percentages. How much of black pop culture is popular with black people? How much of white? How many white people love NASCAR and country music? And how many white people hate NASCAR and country music? But then it got me thinking even more, after I finished listening to the album and heated up some IKEA Swedish meatballs. I’m that person, not all the time, but today I am that person. And someone on Twitter this morning did say the fear of white working class people is being on the same level as black people. Yeah, maybe, some definitely, but probably not overall. In the South, I’m sure, but not in North Dakota. Though there might be Hispanic people so… maybe it’s just them they don’t want as economically similar? I think it’s more complex in a worse way. White people love being racist. Before 2008, whenever you met a racist, they just loved it. They weren’t passive about it because Obama hadn’t been elected yet. It got even lamer then because you have the guilty white liberals (in the pejorative sense, not every white liberal probably not even every guilty white liberal—though many) deciding we now had a post-racial society so they could make all those bottled “smart” racist jokes. Seth MacFarlane’s greatest success, intentional or not, was predicting so many white people would want to make “slightly” racist jokes and get away with it. “Family Guy” is the most prescient television show of the last thirty years or something. So white people fetishize exclusionary things. I got off track, sorry. But the thing is that white people really like to hate each other, right? I mean, until the Soviet Union fell, we were supposed to hate the Russians, which was a lot of people (and generally mock the rest of the planet for being weak), we were supposed to hate people who didn’t have the same values—and as a life-long atheist, I only know about the divisions among white people in the Christian church from Martin Scorsese movies and Heaven Help Us and Joan Hess novels. But they’re there. So many divisions. Look at the Crusades—we went to war with the only people who ever had a decent empire. I didn’t do Chinese history, so I don’t know about theirs. But if you look at Middle East history, the Ottoman Empire was pretty whip. We’d be living on Mars by now if they’d gotten Vienna back in 1529. White people want to exclude. It makes us feel superior. I mean, I have a movie review blog. I have a comic book review blog—can you imagine how snobby and elitist I get about comic books? When I was in undergrad, I’d only drink wine of a certain Robert Parker score. Undergrad. It’s why “nerd” has become so acceptable since X-Men. It took a while, but nerd has become a verb. You don’t snob out on wine anymore, you nerd out on it because aren’t you so oppressed, don’t you need to defend your position. If it were all about the youth, it’d be one thing, but it’s not. They seem to get along, the ones who aren’t pieces of shit. But you can find some amazing teens to twentysomethings on Twitter. Smart people now, just going to get smarter. There are still some pieces of shit. To be fair, it’s not gender-specific. Lots of white boys and girls. But it’s people in their thirties and forties trying to adopt this nostalgia infantilization. It started in the nineties and it hasn’t gotten better. So there are so many things going on right now. But for the first time in the history of the world, we can find the best stuff. Unless you’re a piece of shit, of course. But for everyone else, we can fetishize inclusion. And look at all the great stuff we get from it—we’ve been stealing it for years. Okay, I didn’t mean to go anywhere hopeful with this post and it’s gone on really long. I have no idea why I’m so upbeat. Maybe because it’s “Luke Cage Day.”

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