click here for pt 1
It’s my fault I fell off the wagon.
I know the tendency is to blame others for everything and ignore one’s own culpability. But I take full responsibility for what I’ve allowed to happen to me.
I should have known better!
From the moment that first potentially negative feeling I had about Japanese people and culture revealed itself for what it was, I should’ve been, at least, on Yellow alert (no pun intended).
The feeling was a relatively benign one: envy. And, like upon seeing a weed in your rose garden, if you know better you know you had better get to work on eradicating all traces of it immediately or its pretty much guaranteed there’ll be more to follow.
Should’ve known it wouldn’t be long before envy’s evil twin, jealousy, would show up on the scene, eyes greener than the green-eyed geisha’s.
Sure, there are darker forces of the human psyche, but not many pollute and pervert the thinking process as effectively as these two.
But, I didn’t pull the weed.
Even when I felt this Jealousy for Japanese starting to tamper with the feelings I thought I had resolved about white people, I didn’t.
Maybe because I was dealing with an entirely different race I thought that everything would be different. Maybe I simply didn’t realize I was looking at warning signs of troubled times to come.
Til this day, I’m still not sure why I didn’t get proactive immediately. It’s not like I didn’t have experience with this kind of thing. I did. Jealousy and Envy had revealed themselves to me as triggers of racist feelings many times over the course of my life. Not only within myself but within friends and family, as well.
Something extraordinary happened in New York during my my last years at LIU. Something on the level of Obama’s ascendancy to President extraordinary, as far as race in America, and in particular in NY, is concerned. There had already been black local politicians in New York City. Assemblypeople, Councilpeople, even a Borough President. But, the position of Hizzoner, top dog, the Mayor, the political face of New York, had always been White.
Until David Dinkins came along.
I was just getting politically active around this time, and Dinkins was actually the first politician to cut through my apathy and open my eyes to the political landscape in NY (go figure). He was the first to draw me to a voting station. The previous mayor, Ed “how am I doing?” Koch, was very charismatic and in-your- face with most everyone, a prototypical New Yorker, and thus was pretty popular. He’d been mayor since I was a teenager. But, Dinkins came along, with his laid back style, and had a calming effect on people at a time when racial tension in New York was intense. I think that was a factor in his miraculous victory. That, and he had juice (meaning power in NY politics, meaning he knew where the bodies were buried and he knew how to get the money, having been a player for many years.)
His calming effect and aura of traquility wouldn’t last long, though. You know how New Yorkers are. It was barely a year after his victory when the melting pot boiled over…right outside my window practically.
I was living on Eastern Parkway at the time, right in the heart of Crown Heights. Crown Heights was a melting pot commmunity but, aside from African Americans, made up only of ingredients imported from the so-called Third World…mostly the Caribbean. Jamaicans, Panamanians, Puerto ricans, Dominicans Trinidadian, etc… All Black and Latino.
Except for a little community, right in the middle of this ghetto, of Chabad Lubavitch Jews.
In this area, most of the homes, businesses and services are owned and controlled by the Lubavitch….conspicuously. And the stark contrast with the encircling community is harsh. There are also private security patrols as well as a private ambulatory service. It’s a wholly self-sufficient community within a community.
I viewed this phenomenon a little differently than most of my friends did, however.
While my friends held the most preposterous notions about Jewish people, tainted by the Trick Babies and their centuries-long widespread promulgation of Anti-Semitism (you all know what I’m talking about I’m sure), I saw this community for what it really was: The fruition of what my elementary school had attempted and failed to do (in many respects) when I was child.
My elementary school was founded by prominent Pan-Africanist of the time, educators mostly, who wanted to decolonize the minds of young African-Americans by systematically dismantling and removing all the oppressive ideas planted there by their former enslavers (whites) in order to, among other things, elevate self-esteem, deepen spirituality, broaden cultural references, shape social values, and heighten political awareness. In this, they were very successful (I benefited greatly from their efforts.]
However, the school, and the organization that formed it, had another goal. And, in this undertaking it was not-so successful. That was, to build a self-sufficient black community within, but without, the broader white community. A community able to sustain itself economically, to keep the economic power of black people within the community where it could do the most good for the community. To this end, a number of shops and businesses were begun: a book store, a food co-op, a restaurant, and even a carnival (which persists to this day.)
Essentially a black version of exactly what the Lubavitch Jews have done successfully in Crown Heights and in other communities across America.
When I walked through this Jewish community, seeing what my community had tried and failed to do (for a number of reasons) oh was I jealous! I just knew that if we’d been white, or hadn’t been brainwashed as a people to self-hate by whites, that we too could be enjoying the same success as the Lubavitch.
And, a resentment for them grew out of this jealousy. Why should they be able to do what we struggled so hard but failed to do? What’s makes them so special? It’s the preferential treatment they receive from the city, because they have the resources to line the pockets of crooked politicians, that’s why, I told myself, like many black people told themselves (and each other) in those days (and still do from time to time). Yep, my jealousy fitted in nicely with the resentment that had accumulated in the black community as a whole…
And it came to a head one hot August day back in 1991. An ugly head. The ugliest of my lifetime.
And, our first Black Mayor, already warding off racial back-lashes, was caught in the crossfire: Jews and cops on one side, angry blacks on the other, two dead bodies (one black, one Jewish) at his feet, and a race riot on his hands.
….to be continued