Saturday, November 25, 2017

No I won't chill!

       A week or two ago, I read an article by an African American writer on MTV. The article addressed Meghan Trainor's hit "No" and its use of what is called "Blaccent" in one of the lines, "bu lemme stop you dere"! I did not immediately understand what the fuss was about. I pondered about how African Americans took offence in everything that white people did, their corn-rows, hip-hop culture, Oscars being "so white", etc. The ignorant asshole in me felt it was self-victimization that made them be so protective of their culture. Boy was I wrong!

       I knew of a few cases where innocent people of color were shot by the cops in America, their crime being their race. I knew it was unfair. I saw an episode of "Scandal" address this issue and a few pop stars like Beyonce standing up against such oppression. I still didn't get what all the brouhaha was about! I even went ahead and wrote an ignorant post about how "Cultural Appropriation" was just a careless phrase thrown around because people who wore Corn Rows were actually paying homage to black culture. (Oh how ignorant! )

       My ignorant opinions strengthened in my mind when I watched the series The People vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story. The whole OJ case was turned into madness when the "dream team" lawyers of OJ "dealt with the race card from the bottom of the deck"! OJ was "not guilty" because there was a maximum number of African American jurors who were convinced by an African American lawyer that OJ was framed because of his race. This enraged me. (There were parts of the series I gave a miss, which was a mistake!)

       My views changed completely when I watched the documentary OJ: Made in America , another series on the footballer and his fall from grace. I picked this one up because it had 100% Rotten Tomatoes ratings and was mentioned in the top 10 movies list by TIME (At the time of writing this post, it was not yet the 2017 Oscar Winner for Documentary feature!). First of all, what a show! Well written, without any bullshit thrown around. The story is well detailed, you can see all the hard work that has gone into making this wonder. There is nothing hidden, everything is laid before your eyes to see and form your own opinion. Unlike a few shows that force the writers' opinions on the viewers, this one tells you the story as is.

       As much as I want to continue pondering over what a well made docu-series it is, I would like to get into the more important part of the series, race. Here's the thing, what other shows on OJ did not show was the history of racism in that part of the world. Without this context, isolating just the OJ trial completely misrepresents the fact (unintentionally) and paints a very different unfair picture.

This series depicts in black and white, all the unfairness that was heaped on the black community that came to America to find a home. The community faced violence from the police force, the same people that are there to protect people, turned against them due to nothing but their race. Their homes raided, their brothers and sisters beaten up, shot for no crime committed!

       Rodney King beaten up caught on video, the footage being broadcast to the world everywhere did not grant him or the community, the fairness they deserved. The violence against them did not end there. Racial discrimination and hate took a whole new turn, when a 15 yr old, unarmed Latasha Harlins was shot dead at a Liquor store by the South Korean store owner Soon Ja Du. The videotape of the incident clearly shows the little girl trying to buy Orange Juice with some change in her hand. There was no attempt from her to steal anything (the contradictory was stated by Soon Ja Du in her defense). To add insult to injury, Soon Ja was only fined and sentenced to probation and community service. No prison time was ordered! Why was Latasha's life not valued? A murder does not warrant even jail time? That's the highest form of bigotry.

       The series helps people like me, the ignorant crowd see why OJ Simpson's acquittal was not just a win for him but a huge victory to a community that was prejudiced against for a long time. It details the complete picture, the sense to understand why African Americans are in opposition to white people appropriating their culture, why they are so protective of what is theirs.

       It helps us understand why "Women's March 2017" being a peaceful strike received flak! As well-intended as the march was, it did draw some ire. As much as we would like to think that the world has become a better place, it hurts my heart to think that there are people that are treated unfairly unreasonably. Now I truly get why Kendall Jenner's Pepsi ad was met with so much criticism.

        In the many many unfair problems created by humans, I was able to realise why racism is an important issue not just in the US but everywhere. Racism is everybody's problem, it is not specific to a nation. In India, there have been instances of people being beaten up and tortured because of their race and ethnicity. In fact, in the place where I live, I have witnessed Gabourey Sidibe, an award winning actor made fun of on social media (by the way, here's her response to her haters!). Some Indians relentlessly feeling superior to her as they think their brown skin makes them better somehow. And making fun of people for their skin is "just a lighthearted joke, please chill". To all these people, why don't you look deep into your souls? You might just find a real human being in there!! Also, watch this series please. It might teach you a thing or two about being human. Not in the way that the baap of hyporcites, the bhai of the bhai's Salman Khan propogates, but in a real way that could bring some much-needed change in the world. After my tryst with the series I still feel I have a lot to understand about this whole racism thing but a beginning is always a good step to take!


       [  I didnt mean for this post to be much of a rant. But I guess that's where all the frustrations about the so-called "light-hearted racist jokes" lead one to. ]


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