Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Friday, July 17, 2009

How Things Change

Does anyone not remember the Obama slogan of “change you can believe in” when the junior senator from Illinois was running for President? The things that he had to do and will have to do to make that true must be astounding.

If I were ever to run for high office, Lamont would be the first person that I would have to have knocked off. He knows more about me and the dirt that I used to get into more than anyone else in the world, including lovers and family members. There are things that we love about each other and things that we hate. That’s why we can go around not speaking to each other for months if not years and pick up right up at the same spot that we were arguing about and not miss a beat. It’s like time doesn’t pass for us. One of the things that we will fight over is how I like to go to Fire Island in New York and he’d rather lose a foot than go.

Lamont thinks that as a black man I should be ashamed to go to such a place that doesn’t seem to welcome people of color and that he for one wouldn’t spend a red cent or a minute trying to get there. Whereas I have always believed that if you want people to accept you, you have to make yourself visible and let them know that you exist. That’s why I have never been afraid to go anywhere to make my little non-political, political statement.


The last video that I did was on Fire Island and I must have shot about an hour’s worth of stuff, much of which was edited out because I wanted to hit the 10 minute maximum that they have on YouTube. The clip above was part of the video that I left out and although things said were done in jest, they still kind of bother me and I’m not quite sure why.

The “black man, black man,” reference from Designing Women is a line that I have used myself on people. The “black boys are delicious….” Line from Hair is something I’ve heard before from other black people, well from one other black person and he used to wear t-shirts with The Brady Bunch or That Girl on them. Does that count? I’ve never seen That Girl so I don’t know. Anyway, maybe it was the “people of color on the dock,” that disturbs me. Funny how when I was growing up and a little before that, we used to be called colored people and Negroes. Then it was black people and Jesse Jackson got people to use the term African Americans. Now it’s people of color. Oh how things change.

That brings me to the incident at the Valley Swim Club a private swim club that advertised open membership in the suburbs of Philadelphia. 65 children from the Creative Steps Day Camp, which consists mainly of black and Latino kids, showed up at the swim club late last month after their dues had been accepted and were turned away after hearing some perhaps racist remarks. Their money was refunded with the original explanation of, "There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club," from the management. This was later changed to there being a safety issue and the club was unable to accommodate such a large number of people.



Now, after that story was taped and with the hue and cry of racism in the air and that faint whiff of litigation, the Valley Swim Club has invited the children back. Apparently the safety issue is no longer a concern to the club when compared to pending law suits and condemnation from the govenor and senior senator for Pennsylvania; two fellow gym members may I say.

My, how things change.

11 comments:

  1. ...the comment of "Isn't it nice to see people of color on the dock" sounded sarcastic and bitchy. Makes me want to shove "her" and her 4 lbs of wig into the water :)

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  2. Curio - Exactly.


    RunningMom - That's what I thought initially but then I thought maybe I was being too sensitive since he was cracking on everyone and he looked like Big Bird and there were only about 5 black people not in drag there. But afterwords I thought, "but then again..."

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  3. You are exactly right...I think visibility is the key to understanding.

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  4. NAMjA - Hallelujah, a fellow convert.

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  5. I love this line,Whereas I have always believed that if you want people to accept you, you have to make yourself visible and let them know that you exist", even though you talk about bumping people off. LOL

    Can I just say that I am no niave by any means, I know that racism still exist in this day in age (although it is surprising how in denial people are about this fact). Still, it makes me sad, more than anything, to see it with my own eyes.

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  6. One Man - Damn, you must be fun at your house checking for hidden clues and mysteries. I think if we were related you might have slapped the cuffs on me already.

    As for racism, it really is sad and makes you feel angry, but I'm still not sure that what the club did was racist or just show how badly they are managed.

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  7. ^ For me the incident at the club was a racist one. And I am one of the last people that will cry, "racism" over most things. I tend to see the obvious things that get people (read Al & J. Jackson) worked up as merely stupid. It's the subtle things that imply a belief in another groups inferiority based soley on race that raises the hairs on the back of my neck.

    So despite the media hype surrounding this incident I will say this: "Change the complexion" said it all for me. Had that comment not been made folks could have argued anything but racism.

    I also agree with your worldview of making your presence known as a learning tool. If all people see is what's in the media, then their ideas on any group are going to be biased. Is it annoying at times to be an ambassador for a group?
    Hell yeah, especially if you're not trying to and just want to go out and not be the spokesperson for whichever group. Anyway, I like how you look at things.

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  8. So if we want the real low down dirt on you our contact person should be Lamont is that correct? LMAO! I know how that goes my best friend has the goods on me as well.
    I do agree with Lamont about that Fire Island issue, it hasn't changed much over the years and so very few of us attend or are invited by others. Your photo spread showed good times and unity so maybe it is a different millieu.

    I remember when I was a Negro, Colored. Black and now African American.

    I am absolutely appalled at he behavior of tose folks a the Valley Swim Club, under no circumstances should those children been subjected to that bs!
    I heard somewhere that some celebrity plans on helping the kids out.

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  9. I am beginning to think that the old ways of viewing race and racism are outdated on both sides. Yes, there are legitmate instances of racism that EVERYONE no matter the complexion should be up in arms about, but there is also this specter of the past clinging to our day to day lives that disallows any one to be an ass without "people of color" crying racist.

    I believe you are absolutely right to say that increased visibility and exposure to other cultures increases both their and our abilities to be accepting, but there is still a need to know ones parameters and when that visability is a good idea and when it could be potetially hazardous.

    I think the more I think about race in America the more confused I become. Things most certainly have changed I'm just not sure whether its really foward promotion or a lateral movement. Hmmmm.... You really gave me something to ponder with this one.

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  10. KST - Thank you and I think you are right too. There are far too many things that set people off for perhaps the wrong reason altogether, especially when you sit down and think about all the other possible reasons for something happening. But like you said it's sometimes the subtle things that you have to look at to make a determination. For me that was when the wife says that he's "...a tolerant person," like as if having black skin is something to be tolerated like how you tolerate loud music from the neighbors late at night, an inconvenience.


    Chet - Actually I saw a movie last week where they referred to the island as Fire "Cracker" Island and in a way I think they are right. But I also think people don't have to be invited to go anywhere they want. After all Disney doesn't put a sign up in black neighborhoods telling people to "come on down." People just go.

    Speaking of which, it was Tyler Perry of Madea fame that has come to the aid of those children who tried to swim at the Valley Swim Club. He has offered to pay for tickets 65 of the children to go to the water park in Disneyland or Disney World for 3 days before the end of August.

    Now I don't care for much of what I've seen Tyler Perry do in entertainment, but my hat's off to him. That is true family.


    Ingrid - I don't think that I have ever been one for color blindness. But "crying racist" has never been my thing either. I believe you have to show people how black you are, or how white you are or whatever it is that you are so people can see you for who you are and not what others perceive you to be.

    Sure there will be differences but all sides will never see the similarities that we all have unless someone is will willing to step and say, "I'm here." It's like the Act-Up demonstrations from the 80's or 90's, you have to show people that you exist otherwise you won't.

    Those children were treated miserably for whatever reason, racism or not, and that should not be allowed to stand.

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