I'm a member of the second most protected demographic in the United States: a starchy white middle-aged male. I say "second most" because I am not rich. If I put on a MAGA hat I could easily pass for one of Trump's mindless minions (well...if I wasn't in my normal metrosexual/anglophile mode of dress which raises red flags with almost everyone, everywhere).
As a member of that protected demographic, it's probably not for me to say anything definitive about how people outside of that demographic might feel in any given situation...but since I grew up in a working poor mixed neighborhood in Detroit, I can use that past and my imagination for a bit of perspective...perhaps.
When we lived in Detroit in the 70's it was a given that the police were not our friends and they were generally to be avoided. The riots of 1967 were far from a distant memory and the general feeling was one of fear and mistrust. You only called them if you HAD to. Most of the time you settled things on your own. I carry that with me to this very day, that wariness, despite my protected status. My black friends had (and have) a much heavier burden, which in a lot of ways I didn't understand until we moved from Detroit to Warren, MI.
In my mixed neighborhood most of us got along, just a bunch of disadvantaged people coping with an inequitable economic system as best we could. Save one, none of my close friends were white and I didn't understand that that was the exception in this country and not the norm until Warren.
Warren is an inner suburb of Detroit and was white and prejudiced as hell...and it probably still is...I don't visit. It was my first introduction to what extreme prejudice meant. Coming fresh out of the city to this awful place was jarring, to say the least. I was an instant pariah. My nickname was n***er-lover. I got into a LOT of fights.
I didn't understand the hatred. Most of these kids had never even MET a black person...it was that segregated. It all came from their racist parents, from what I could tell. It was echoed even in my own extended family, most of whom were from a rural part of SE Michigan and likewise had little interaction with people of color. I called a couple of them out on their bigotry and was amazed at how they would try to deny it once it was plopped out on the table in front of them for all to see.
Ignorance breeding fear. Irrational and unjustified fear.
When I have told various comfortable starchy white people that I'm from Detroit, I have heard a funny little story fairly often...it goes like this:
"Oh...you're from Detroit? Karen and I went there once. We took the wrong exit and ended up in a really...um...uh...bad neighborhood."
"Really? How was it bad?" I would say, knowing what was about to come.
"Well...it was...er...really, you know...urban."
"How so?" I would say, with the beginnings of a wry smirk forming across my lips.
"Well...Karen and I were the only white people there!"
(Ah...there it is...)
"Yet you survived!"
"Yes...we asked a young man for directions and he was really nice and he told us how to get to Woodward and head North (or whatever)".
At that point I just usually sigh and go on talking with them about the usual banal crap that boring suburban white people talk about until I find a way to get away from them gracefully. Lawns and stock portfolios and such.
That fear though...
I'm sure some reading this will have lived that same story: "wrong" exit...middle of the night...etc. So here's the thing: that fear you felt...and far be it for ME, Protected Man, to say this with any amount of certainty...but that fear you felt is probably not unlike the fear people of color experience ALL THE FUCKING TIME...especially when they are around cops.
Chew on that a bit. Digest it a little.
When I was a kid I knew that the cops could crack my skull open with total impunity. I saw police brutality firsthand over the years and heard much more from my friends of various shades of non-white. I carry it with me to this day...and as a member of a protected demographic it is but a fraction of that fear that I suspect many...perhaps most...people of color feel around cops.
So when I hear that racist dog-whistle of "all lives matter" it makes my blood boil...because I want the people who say that to feel that fear...that sense that the skin they were drafted into could be something that could get them killed by the very people whose credo is "to serve and protect".
Think on that, my fellow comfy white people. Think on that a while.
Saturday, March 28, 2020
This is my new, and possibly final, album. I consider it the best work I've ever done and if I never make another album I would be happy to say that it all ended on this particular note.
Though I obviously have my own distinct sound and musical identity, I would say that major inspirations during my recording of this album would be David Bowie's Blackstar, Peter Gabriel's UP and Kate Bush's Ariel...at least in terms of all of those albums being eclectic studies in contrast and juxtaposition. Like those albums, each song has its own set of feelings and meanings and imagery...and I only hope that this album hits anywhere NEAR the level of artistry of those works. My goal is always to take the listener on a journey through dynamic peaks and valleys and leave them feeling well-traveled by the end of the experience. I want the experience to be impacting on deep emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels, and not just be aural wallpaper to serve as a mere backdrop.
I hope I have accomplished that goal, and I hope that people will take the time to actually LISTEN to this album...but that DOES take a certain level of commitment and an actual interest in music as art. If you have that, you may find this work gratifying. Many have said that it takes a couple listens to “get” what I do...and you may find that to be true as well.
I have made this album available on YouTube as a full album video with lyrics for free listening, as a free download on Noisetrade (link in notes on YouTube video), and as a paid download on Bandcamp (link in notes on YouTube video as well). I had planned on making some videos for some of these songs and to roll it out in a more commercial way, but given the times it seems wrong to me to do so. Above all else, I would would like my work to be heard and remembered. If something happens to me, I would like to know that people listened to and enjoyed my work on some level.