01 September 2011 ~ 20 Comments

A Man Of Our Time

http://youtu.be/Gu_uD11SIDg

Watching this video, and reading the comments people have left in response to it, makes me sick.

Black men, particularly African American men, have been “losing it” for centuries, and the result has generally been death or incarceration.

“Losing it” is tantamount to a surrender, at best, and a suicide attempt, at worst. It’s especially troubling for me because I could feel every emotion that guy felt. Every single one!

Make no mistake about it: Loco is an angry black man, too, that has come this fucking close to losing it my damn self on many occasions. Both here in Japan and back  in the US.

Only difference perhaps between that guy and me is, rather than let that pressure build up to a combustible level, I’ve learned to open the valves and release it, little by little. Sometimes I do so here on my blog. Other times I read. I might release it in conversation with my students or friends, or in the bedroom, or even in the gym with a basketball.

Sometimes I breakdown and shed tears when none of those other measures will alleviate the stress of keeping it together.

They say men aren’t supposed to cry. I don’t subscribe to that foolishness. I could put up a tough front if I need to but inside I’m sensitive and vulnerable. I’m moved to tears by the heroic, and by the tragic, by the courage of humanity, and by its wickedness. I absorb it all for not only is it fertilizer for creative thinking, but I believe it’s what the Creator intended for humanity.

Days like today are tear-worthy.

Like war, events like this bring out the absolute worst in people, and they say and do the most god-awful shit. It’s like the sun’s energy focused through a magnifying glass at a colony of ants…only we’re the ants and there is no sun, only a pervasive all-encumbering darkness, rich with hate.

To these hate-mongers, whether they’re aware of it or not, I want to say something.

To the people that think that this MAN is an animal cuz a misunderstanding lead him to let his emotions get the best of him, well, you’re in good (so to speak) company. Thomas Jefferson, a slave-owning rapist and one of the forefathers of the US, would agree with you. He said:

“To our reproach it must be said, that though for a century and a half we have had under our eyes the races of black and of red men, they have never yet been viewed by us as subjects of natural history. I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind. It is not against experience to suppose, that different species of the same genus, or varieties of the same species, may possess different qualifications.”

Yeah, I know, he was highly intelligent, a man of his time, but doesn’t it make your skin crawl to know that a rapist with thoughts and actions like these had anything to do with designing a multicultural society in a brave new world?

Hitler, another man of his time, had similar ideas.

And, just so my point isn’t lost: any person of ANY RACE  is capable of committing crimes against other people, and justifying them with some ill-conceived notions. And if you think men of our time (of all races, yes, even Koreans and Japanese) are not capable of doing what this man did or the equivalent or worse, then you have been walking through life with blinders on, baby! Try reading the Newspapers, books, or even the sick thoughts of our fellow men and women on Youtube and many other places on the net.

Mankind hasn’t evolved much, and sometimes I think we’re a handful of incidents from sanctioning yet another holocaust / ethnic cleansing.

And to those folks out there who like to place all the blame on blacks for our current status, here’s a letter I often think of when I find myself doing the same (as I’m prone to do occasionally.)

The letter is dated August 7, 1865, and was written by Jourdon Anderson, once a slave in Big Spring, Tennessee, to his former owner, Colonel P.H. Anderson, who had written to the ex-slave in Dayton, Ohio, where he had resettled with his wife and children. The colonel had written to persuade Anderson to return to Big Spring and work for him as a free man:

Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdan, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can …

I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy, – the folks call her Mrs. Anderson, – and the children – Milly Jane, and Grundy – go to school and are learning well … Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.

As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my freedom papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshall-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you.

I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to …

Please send the money by Adam’s Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for our faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises for the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense … Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire …

Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

Of course, Colonel Anderson, a Man of his time, never paid Jourdon Anderson what he owed him for his labor.

Multiply that by the millions of African slaves (my great-grand parents, grandparents and to some extent my parents as well, for slavery’s progeny- peonage and prison labor- went on well into modern times) that were similarly robbed of everything (culture, language, religion, history and labor) and you have the true birth of a nation, and the true birth of a nigger, and the root of this black anger that these hatemongers like to attribute to the nature of black people.

Nature played no role in these crimes against humanity. Unless it’s being suggested that such crimes are the natural inclination of the criminals in question.

When one race strips another race of all the things that make a people a people over the course of several centuries, and then deny them recompense (while handing it out to other groups,) then it stands to reason that that people will have some issues that will take some time to iron out.

Right now, we’re ironing them out, slowly but surely…but it’s an ugly process, just as the process of birthing a nigger was ugly!

When I watch the behavior of the black guy in this video, as well as other issues African Americans bring to the world stage, I think of this ironing out process which undoubtedly will go on for several more generations, at least. What keeps me hopeful that, someday, as Martin Luther King said, we shall overcome, is the promise I see in some of the youth of today, youth born with the knowledge that they too could be President of the US, or ANYTHING they put their minds to. Also, in the fact that this wild man left the confines of his homeland and went abroad to become a citizen of the world and to share his wealth of experience and knowledge with peoples of other nations. Even the inclination to do such a thing is an improvement against what I’ve seen in my lifetime.

I’m sure he regrets his behavior, and though this violent outburst may (and probably should) cost him his livelihood and perhaps even his Visa, I don’t think that this should reflect poorly on any other black person living in Korea or anywhere else in the world, no more than the Columbine murderers, George Bush (another murderer) or Sarah Palin should reflect poorly on white people everywhere in the world, or Subway Perverts (Chikan) or gya-ru (Japanese girls in black face makeup) should reflect poorly on Japanese people…the inclination to do such a thing is the true ugliness that even I am guilty of at times.

Personally, I think he probably just got fed up with people harassing and disrespecting him when he’d done nothing but show them respect and tolerance. But, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.

We’ll probably never know, but at least one fact should be unquestionable:

He is a MAN of our time!

Loco

Who is this guy, Loco, anyway? Click here

 

 

 

 

 

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20 Responses to “A Man Of Our Time”

  1. Dochimichi1 2 September 2011 at 6:07 am Permalink

    Great article, every word. Seriously, at first my reaction at the video was the same as many ppl’s – like, what’s the matter with that guy? But taking step back I can totally understand how something like that could happen. I can’t understand of course – (South Park’s “i get it that i just dont get it” episode ;), well, and can at the same time, being a woman etc. I know, it’s not the same – but I can understand that feeling of small tiny little things gathering into one big massive issue – gender, race, whatever, and totally ripping your roof over sometimes.
    I wonder, how did it end – I mean, when he realised it was a misunderstanding…
    The quoted letter was amazing, literally wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Reminded me “To Kill A Mocking Bird”.

    • Locohama 2 September 2011 at 10:24 am Permalink

      Thanks DM! Yeah that letter was deep, right? It always helps me keep focused and appreciate what my ancestors have sacrificed (involuntarily) so I could enjoy ful human status in a country where we were once chattel.

  2. Fernando 2 September 2011 at 7:43 am Permalink

    I have little patience for trying to rationalize his anger and feel that you do yourself a disservice in trying to equate much of anything you do with this man’s behavior any more than a bullied schoolkid would in stating his sympathies for the Columbine killers. After all, are we going to go on spiels trying to “explain” Virginia Tech through the lens of how Asian men have been emasculated and marginalized from their manhood in Western society and made to feel as somehow less manly? I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody already has, but it would be missing the point.

    That all said, the true animals, as you imply in your piece here, are those idiot commenters taking this and extrapolating it for every single black man they meet for their sad inferiority complexes and insecurities just because this one other idiot (I’m sorry, but, man of his time or not, I would call him the same thing no matter what his color) couldn’t keep his temper in check.

    • Locohama 2 September 2011 at 8:32 am Permalink

      Who was rationalizing? I was responding to the people that rather than use words like idiot, like you have (which is entirely appropriate) default to words like savage and barbarian and animal, which are not, and paint the whole race with that brush, which you cant no more than you can paint the whole white race with Sarah Palin and the Columbine murderers. The reference to slavery and reperations and a restoration of African American history is in response to a comment that one person made about blacks always lagging behind and having contributed nothing significant over the course of h\uman history (ARGHHH!!!!) THAT was my point. Please dont get it twisted! TBut you’re right of course, I should ignore those iduiots who clearly are not worth even trying to reach. Thanks for the shout”

  3. Orchid64 2 September 2011 at 9:29 am Permalink

    It’s hard for people who have never been treated with prejudice and seen people like themselves objectified and diminished in popular culture can’t understand the pressure emotionally that builds up. I believe they also do a great job of selective observation and only see a particular group as acting out in these ways. I’ve seen Japanese people go ballistic in Japan before. In fact, I’ve seen two men on separate occasions totally lose it because someone scratched their car and a few others get into a fistfight because they tripped over each other getting off a crowded train. ANYONE can lose it, but somehow the action is generalized as racial only in particular cases (black folks more than others).

    The fact that these incidents are related to ethnicity (sorry, I refuse to use the word “race” when talking about skin color variations – we are all one race that comes in different shades) when they are commented upon reveals just how racist people are. They aren’t saying, “that guy lost it and it was totally inappropriate for him to do it,” but rather tying it to his skin color. The notion that you as a black man should somehow behave in a more stellar fashion because you have to be a “positive example” also reveals that you are aware of the prejudice which is applied to you. It is similar to the expectation that I, as a gaijin, have to be more perfectly behaved than the average Japanese because we are all judged by the behavior of the worst of us. This standard does not apply to the majority ethnicity, only to the minority, and is incredibly prejudicial.

    There is never any excuse for bad behavior of any kind, especially acting out against strangers when you don’t know the language and can’t be sure of what was said. I’m a big advocate of being “the bigger man (or woman)” and acting the way you would like others to act rather than in kind. However, we can judge other people to elevate ourselves or we can learn something from how they react. I think ultimately we can learn that society’s oppression and slander of people has consequences. This man never would have reacted as he did had the context for such a response the “n-word” not existed. I’m sure that the obvious lesson, that you shouldn’t assume something is being said when a foreign language is in play and you don’t understand it, has already been learned by the man on the bus. There is little chance he’ll ever act out in such a case again.

    • Locohama 2 September 2011 at 9:59 am Permalink

      Ah, Orchid! . Thank you for making my day with your words of wisdom, once again. You are, quite simply, a breath of fresh air!

  4. Meg 2 September 2011 at 11:00 am Permalink

    I am sorta speechless by all this–and once again realize how little I know of others experiences. I find the outburst frightening and upsetting and the comments really damn depressing…….as usual Mr. L you give me food for much thought. I love the way you never shy away from the difficult topics not for showing us your vulnerability. Your writing is always beautiful ! Thank you !

    • Locohama 3 September 2011 at 11:32 am Permalink

      Thanks for the shout Meg! I wish I did have the courage not to shy away from difficult topics all the time. Unfortunately, I shy away more often than I engage. I think that the preponderance of responses I get that indicate people are pretty much settled in their stereotypical and , IMO, lazy thinking about issues like these keeps my enthusiasm to get into it at bay. But, comments like yours are encouraging!!!

  5. Momotaro 2 September 2011 at 1:22 pm Permalink

    Loco, great post. I’m glad you’ve learnt how to let out that steam in a way that doesn’t involve violence and I assume that you feel the better for it too.

    A short fused person is a short fused person, it is sad to see people attribute things to race, when there is tons of evidence in front of us everyday to show us that these so called attributes are social constructs. Of course physical appearance differs, but there is no evidence other than tripe construed by racists to suggest that things differ otherwise.

    It’s a bit off topic, but I remember reading a post about one of your female friends coming to visit and targeting a random couple of Japanese dudes at a nightclub/bar and then taking them into an alley, only to laugh at their penis size. Could have been a fictional piece perhaps? Anyway I remember thinking at the time that that kind of thing could be interpreted as a form of ethnic superiority, similar to the psuedo-darwinism you encounter saying this race’s brain is better than the others and has evolved further and so forth. What do you think?

    As for the youtube comments, people who comment like that aren’t doing anything positive with themselves, just internet, TV and perhaps video games; however the positive people are usually out there doing something and don’t have time to comment on the internet and so forth. Just sitting around and doing nothing has got to turn you negative at some point from the lack of stimuli.

    • Locohama 2 September 2011 at 2:56 pm Permalink

      Can’t say that I feel better. I’d much prefer to go upside someone’s head sometimes, truth be told, But there are laws against it so i don’t, you know?. I truly believe though that some of these assholes I come across would benefit more from my foot in their asses than my patience and tolerance of their rudeness, ignorance and racism. So, don’t go thinking Loco is some kind of peacenik. I aint. I just prefer freedom to imprisonment.
      However, occasionally I elbow some fool upside the head when he gets carried away, and then i apologize like it was an accident, or I “accidently” trip them as they’re exiting the train…that kind of thing. Passive violence. It’s another valve. Always with apologies though, and never too conspicuously, so as to allow the “recipient” to convince themselves that it was indeed a mistake. Don’t get ti twisted yo. I’m no MLK.

  6. Jason 2 September 2011 at 4:21 pm Permalink

    Man I wish I had known people with your view of manhood when I was younger. I spent so believing that I shouldn’t cry that I’ve practically lost the ability to do it, even when I know deep in the shrieking part of my semi-concious mind that just LETTING IT OUT is what I need most, I can rarely do so… If I ever have a son, I’m definitely going to try to get him to read your writing and other stuff like it Loco.

  7. JoScoMac 2 September 2011 at 4:49 pm Permalink

    I had actually passed on watching this video when it went viral as I figured it would be pretty much what it turned out to be. The guy is an idiot, he is black, other idiots see it and comment, they are white. Anyways, as I tweeted earlier, a lot of this stuff comes down to not knowing history. Black people in North America know why they are there, white people who go back more than a couple of generations generally have no clue. But I have been able to piece together at least some of my family’s history, let’s say they didn’t come for the real estate and business opportunities. Bit of a shock when you realize you descend from starving German refugees and dispossessed, ethnically cleansed Scottish Highlanders. And those are just the ones I know about. Surplus to requirements. But I am a white guy, after a few generations we can just forget about it – We are upper-middle-class!!! And can then feel superior to others. That’s a lot harder to do though when you realize you’re only there because someone fought through oppression and injustice (that is not being melodramatic, just a fact), and makes it easier to see the point of people still dealing with it. Hehe, no idea if any of that will make sense to anybody, but your feelings came through loud and clear on the blog, so happy to add a comment.

  8. the idler of march 3 September 2011 at 12:58 am Permalink

    Hmm. The racial stereotyping occuring here I see as equally being on your part, Loco. All we know from the video is that he attacks some older people on a bus. The rest (desire to improve himself by moving abroad, long history of toleration in the face of insults, straw that broke the camel’s back-type scenario) seems to be just conjecture and a desire to empathise with somebody you want to believe is in a similar position to yourself, potentially incorrectly. You’ve chosen to align yourself with him on account of your racial similarity, in the way that most others have chosen to align themselves against him because of their racial difference. To the racist commentators he’s an archetype of a barbarous inferior race but to you he’s a mascot for the long history of mistreatment and injustice against black people.

    If you view it as somebody with no interest in taking sides on the race debate, what you take away from the video (though it sounds like you know more about the back story) is that he mistreats some people, one of whom is a woman. The feel I get from him is that he’s not naturally a violent guy, but at the same time he’s got plenty of time to think about what he’s doing in that situation, and he should have stepped back for a second rather than just indulging his anger. I can’t be in his shoes but it seems to me a physical response to a provocation which was purely verbal is pretty difficult to justify normally, let alone if your targets are women or older people.

    I think that bringing up this kind of topic for debate and having people argue both sides helps people realise the nuances in subjects they previously thought were cut and dry, so all credit to you for that.

    • Locohama 3 September 2011 at 8:32 am Permalink

      Thanks Idler, I said “I think he probably…” But I could be wrong. Maybe he;s just nuts. And, he was a teacher so the rest was just expanding on that idea in a positive way…, I think the airwaves are filled with enough negative shit. But again you’re right. He could have gone to Korea with a alternative motive. Racist will be racist. To the racist I am barbarous too, Syouganai. To me, we are all a bit barbarous,Soem are just trying not to appear so harder than others. Thanks for the shout!

  9. sigma1 3 September 2011 at 3:39 pm Permalink

    That was an amazing letter. It conveyed a profound sense of dignity given what he must have endured on a daily basis.

    “If you fail to pay us for our faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises for the future” (nods head approvingly)

    This is what gets me with much of the discussions about reparations or in my country’s case land settlements – it’s not just about compensation for land taken, or in the US’ case, labour/life force extracted, but about whether trust can be truly to enable constructive relations. As if the compensation (in NZ’s case – has there been any in the US at all?) was really close to “true value.”

    Even the mainstream views tend to something along the lines of “hey we learned our lesson – if you would just let us off the hook you know it won’t happen again…don’t be greedy/stroppy/uppity now.” Any rational person IMHO would respond with not only “have you really [learned]?” but also “I don’t know about that – show me something that hurts if you really wan’t to be trusted.” It is amazing that in the West many people can totally understand why the Chinese and Koreans are pissed at the Japanese, but then when the same logic is turned inwards, “we” expect ourselves to get a pass, and the blame for social distrust is put on to individuals, or when convenient, other groups. Of course what “we” did was merely “mistaken” or “misguided” but what other groups did or continue to do is “savage” and “barbarous.”

    Not sure why I am going there. Great post augmented by an excellent letter.

  10. Kaley 3 September 2011 at 6:26 pm Permalink

    This is really awesome, and I was hoping to see you comment on this as you and him are in somewhat similar situations. It is easy to see, even after being in Japan for just two short weeks, that there is definitely a strong division between “us” and “them” at times. When I’ve encountered Japanese people they have been nice, friendly, helpful. But when I pass them on the streets I have gotten looks of being ignored. I smile, wave a bit, say hello in Japanese to them… and nothing but a head turned. It is hard, definitely, to adjust to that. And if you do not find ways to deal with it, things like this can happen.

    It made me sad, the video. I thought what the guy was doing to be shameful, but I also hurt for him. Because I know for him to react that way, there had to be pain. There is always pain like that with those outbreaks, even when they happen in the US. Upon turning the video off (because, quite frankly, I wasn’t able to finish it) I did a bit of research into the Korean and black relationship. And the history isn’t good. While this man may of not been insulting him, I’m sure it has happened many times in the past, I’m sure jumping to that conclusion isn’t too far of a leap.

    I like this. I’m glad you wrote it. And I’m glad you were smart about it. Perspective is everything and history tells more than the present. People need to remember that.

  11. Ring of Fire 12 January 2012 at 9:43 am Permalink

    That is a fantastic letter, thanks for exposing me to it. One of the problems with reacism and prejudice, is that they seem to make understanding the world so much easier. If we can learn something about the greater whole from each individual (whether it be wisdom about race or gender or all of humanity), then whith each person we meet, the wiser we can become on the subject of humanity. But fortunately and unfortunately, every person is their own animal and we must start from scratch everytime we meet someone new.

    One of the few things we can sometimes learn about the whole from an individual is culture and how that culture affects its people. Knowledge about the broader culture where people were raised can often help us better understand individual actions and intentions. But even then there will always be exceptions. This article is a great peice of insight into the culture of black men raised in America, I think. So thanks.


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