Friday, February 26, 2010

No one can Tapdance Hard Enough. No one.

Today I was on FaceBook and New Orleanian artist that I've known for over 15 years posted an article about how a well-known Native-New Orleanian rapper, named Juvenile, was arrested for possession of marijuana on yesterday. My friend the artist commented that he hoped they freed Juvenile soon. Minutes later, this cat starts talking some crazy ish about how he doesn't understand "this black community bullshit" that says we should free criminals and how it's the same thing that won't allow us to criticize Obama: since they are both black we are supposed to defend them.

He went on to blab, "Fuck them. Fuck Juvy. Fuck Mystikal" and basically fuck all lawbreakers. The last name was in reference to a local rapper who was recently released from prison after serving several years for raping a woman. He claimed that black people are happy that Mystikal is out and look for ways to justify the crime that he committed. Then he went on to make a people of color variation of the classic concern troll line, "Won't someone think of the children?!" His argument was that we can't expect for our children not to go to jail unless we lock up all of the black people that the government decides to call "criminals".

Now, I'm no fan of Juvenile's music. I honestly have no interest in becoming one, either. Still, this guy's bullshit really irked me. I mean, my eye was really about to start twitching after reading this tripe. I'm not friends with this cat, so I wasn't about to ask for his permission to quote him. That's why I've only provided a summation of his words instead of actual quotes. However, I can post what I wrote to him.
Wow! I don't even know where to begin with your comment! Do you not understand the difference between raping someone and adults voluntarily ingesting a substance? One infringes on the bodily autonomy of someone else. The other does not. The line between what substances are legal and which ones are not isn't based on some objective standard, so what do you think it's based on? Do you understand the history of drug prohibitions in this country? See, if we should just obey every law that this government sees fit to pass, then your ass would probably be a slave instead of walking around without a harness on your back.

And who said "we" aren't supposed to criticize Obama? That's a straw man argument. Plenty of black people criticize him and have been doing so since he stepped into politics. Maybe you and the folks you run with were happy that Mystikal got out of jail for raping a woman, but none of the black folks that I associate with seemed happy about it.

This "thing about the black community" that you don't get is the realization that anything can be criminalized and in a society where anything can be criminalized, anyone can be labeled a criminal. That includes you. Of course, black bourgeois values can lead some of us to believe that if we just tap dance hard enough, there's no possibility that we could also end up unintentionally involved in this country's "criminal justice" system. Believe that if you need to, but don't be surprised if this strategy doesn't work for you any more than it has for others who also bought into it.
I grew up with this guy's mentality. I was fed the same lines. As long as you followed the proper social conventions and didn't consort with that "other" class of blacks, you'd never have any problems--so they said. In New Orleans' heavily-stratified culture(s), there was a real sense of superiority among some communities of people of color. We know where and what it stems from, but there are still a lot of folks who'd like to see it maintained. In other words, the brown paper bag mentality is still in effect. After all, New Orleans is the place where it originated.

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