Another installment of Tales From the Dropbox! Episode 38 brings you my latest selection new(ish) type music that I am listening to as I toil away at the daily grind. I suspect that some of you will find this episode a little quieter than the usual mix of tunes likely to be found in these podcasts, but I was feeling a little pensive, and perhaps a little sad, at the time I compiled the songs for this episode.No explanation really, life is good, and I am still as excited as ever about the state of music – as art. The music industry is a complete shit show but there is a glimmer of hope as vinyl continues to remain stable.
Perhaps it was the whole Colin Kaepernick side show that inundated almost every sports channel I viewed this week that has put me in the mood I am in. Perhaps it is the social issue that lies at the heart of this unfortunate situation that still remains unresolved that has finally gotten to me.
These notes attempt to articulate the important social issue raised in this “freedom of expression” moment. I believe that the social issue of import is not the one being discussed. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the issue raised by Colin Kaepernick’s seated protest. However, as usual, my view is a little sideways. Many commentators, including me, could easily identify the logical flaws in San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand during the playing of the National Anthem as a protest against a country that “that oppresses black people and people of color … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
I do acknowledge that Kaepernick truly believes that the flag is a symbol of a country that he does not respect because it oppresses black people (his words, not mine). This statement of an issue that may actually be factual is a difficult proposition for Kaepernick to sell because he – the carrier of this message – is simply not credible. Why? Because the bi-racial Kaepernick is going to make, as a backup quarterback, $11.9 million this year as an oppressed person of color.
Many commentators have and will continue to point out the obviously misguided method by which Kaepernick choose to call attention to an important social issue. But, what will not be discussed is the really and truly important issue that Kaepernick’s action and comments as to why he was protesting highlight:
the perception held by a significant number of persons that America (the land of the free and the home of the brave) oppresses minorities and prevents them from becoming successful because of their skin color.
It is easy for news commentators and pundits (and really everyone else who is likely to comment on the issue) to dwell on the reality that people of color are subject to a widespread and prevailing negative cultural bias resulting in racial inequality which influences and impacts every aspect of their social interaction and ability to gain affluence (See, for example, Contemporary American Society Chapter 14). However, this focus is tired and lazy. We can continue to point out that racism exists, but what the F$&&##!! are we doing about it? Kaepernick’s “protest” as it is portrayed in the media will fail to address the power and role that the psychology of victimization holds in Kaepernick’s perception of oppression. The consequences of that psychology create and sustain the very perception we are discussing – that America is a racist and minorities will never be equal.
This psychology of victimization, a product of generations of minorities being taught that the “(white) man is going to keep you down,” is perhaps the key to breaking the hold that the perception has over the rational discussion of racism. Eliminating this victim mentality may also be the key to breaking the “power” of that perception in Americans, particularly when the perception that we are a racist society has become the reality. This is not to ignore actual racism exists and that people should rightly be pissed off and respond when they encounter actual incidents of racist attitudes and behavior. However, if we can eliminate the “false positives” then we can really target the elimination of the issue and focus our attention and action on those degenerates who continue to live in the stench of ignorance and intolerance.
Keep reading …the payoff is worth it. It’s not just psychobabble I’m positing. I’ve got the solution to the problem of racism in America.
The belief that people of color are oppressed in America is so powerful that examples of non-oppression (Kaepernick himself is an arguably successful wealthy bi-racial athlete) are ignored because they do not fit the perception. That is, perceptions of racial discrimination constitute significant risks to the psychological adjustment of minorities. Colloquially, we know this powerful psychological construct as “selling the myth” until it becomes the reality. As a consequence of racially biased perceptions, the successes of millions of persons of color are diminished. And not only are those successes diminished but those successful individuals are abused because of their success. Significantly, when a person of color is successful they are often, in turn, victimized by persons of their own color as being “too white” or not “fill-in-color” enough.
This is the central issue in the psychology of race – the perception of racial oppression is an expressed manifestation of the “crab in the bucket syndrome” i.e. a metaphor used to describe the mentality and behaviors of individuals belonging to or identifying with a particular community or culture, who ‘hold each other back’ from various opportunities for advancement and achievement despite incentives and expectations for collaboration. (See Miller, Carliss D., “A Phenomenological Analysis of the Crabs in the Barrel Syndrome”, Academy of Management Proceedings, Academy of Management (January 2015)).
This observation is not new. As noted in a 1994 story on how young people are unable to escape their circumstances this metaphor predominates as the student’s inability to be “successful” is correlated to their social circumstances – like crabs in a bucket – because their social influences hold them back. (Shanker, Albert, “Where We Stand: The Crab Bucket Syndrome”, The New York Times, June 19, 1994)). The psychology of victimization is powerful and when fanned in the flames of discontent, e.g. #BlackLivesMatter – the impact on young people of color is powerful and continues the self-victimization cycle preventing reasoned discourse and action aimed towards ending racial bias. Why? Because these movements falsely imply that they are oppressed by the “masses” when they are not.
To that end, the practical consequence of this “crabs in the bucket” phenomenon is two-fold: the oppressed perpetuate their thinking that they are oppressed and the oppressors blame the oppressed for being oppressed. There are a large number of studies that suggest that this blaming the victim occurs by way of ‘racial micro aggressions’ – i.e. racism that is so subtle that neither victim nor perpetrator may entirely understand what is going on—which may be especially toxic for people of color. (See DeAngelis, Tori “Unmasking ‘racial micro aggressions’,” Monitor on Psychology, Vol. 40 No. 2 February 2009.); See also, Sue, Bucerri et al., “Racial Microaggressions and the Asian American Experience,” Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, Vol. 13, No. 1, 72–81 (2007)).
So, back to Kaepernick. Yes, racism exists. However, it does not mean that African Americans are oppressed in America, or by Americans, or even by white people. Nor does it mean that Kaepernick’s perception that America is a racially oppressive country is entirely inaccurate. What this latest discussion of race issues should engender in the aftermath of Kaepernick’s misguided effort is the acknowledgment that the issue is complex psychologically, that eliminating racism in America is worth discussing and taking action, and that all persons – all Americans – have a role to play in ending race based discrimination.
If we are going to end the cycle of self-victimization and re-victimization that fuels the fire of Kaepernick’s viewpoint – then stop talking about the speech issue or identifying that racism is bad ( really are we that freakin stupid?) and focus on making things better by taking the appropriate action. Nothing will ever be accomplished by merely sitting on your ass. (See Colin Kaepernick, supra.)
Change always starts in the same place – with each of us deciding that race is not going to play a role in the actions we voluntarily choose to make i.e. to treat each other with love and respect. Stop blaming. Stop looking at every obstacle to success as an obstacle created to F__ you over because of your skin color. Stop being racist.
It really is simple – be a good human. Put that plan in action. It will eventually be all right.
P.S. Bet you thought I was going to write about the 1st Amendment, eh? I have got you covered…check out track 14 by the Dead Kennedys. Talk about freedom.
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #38:
- Field Mouse – “Over and Out” (Episodic)
- Cotton Mather – “Never Be It” (Death of Cool)
- The Orange – “Such a Drag” (Sharing Vitamins)
- AJJ –“American Garbage” (The Bible 2)
- Dead Ships – “Big Quiet” (Citycide)
- Porch Lights – “Nothing Means Nothing” (Street Gaze)
- Ricochet Rabbit – “Blow” (I’ve Been Here Before)
- Preoccupations – “Anxiety” (Preoccupations)
- Asylums – “Missing Persons” (Killer Brain Waves)
- Blossoms – “Misery” (At Most A Kiss)
- Angel Olson – “Shut Up Kiss Me” (My Woman)
- The Rifles – “Time in Hand” (Big Life)
- Hockey Dad – “Hunny Bunny” (Boronia)
- Dead Kennedys – “Halloween” (Plastic Surgery Disasters)
- Dollyrots – “Because I’m Awesome (Acoustic)” (Pledge Music B-Sides)
If I were one of the things, I’d be American garbage a most beautiful thing … But what’s in between where are your ideas you sit around and dream for next Halloween