Coffee Log, Day 258

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I can’t know what it’s like to be a black man or woman in America and see Gillum or Abrams lose. In their respective races, Gillum was accused of ‘monkeying around’ and Abrams was told it would be a ‘cotton-picking shame’ if she won. To those who don’t know, Gillum was the black male candidate for Governor of Florida; Abrams was the black female candidate for Governor of Georgia; they were both running against white men.

How long does it take to put out the fire of your demons? And can you, even?

I grew up in the era of ‘code-switching’ as some kind of prescriptive answer. In school, anyone who wouldn’t talk ‘proper’ was called out. This was nominally raceless – the country hicks would get mentioned for saying ‘ain’t and ‘y’all’ – but like many American institutions, it disproportionately targeted black dialect.

Then I grew up in the birth of the internet. The birth of the internet meant the birth of memes and so many of the early memes were funny at the expense of stereotyped blackness. The leprechaun song, anyone?

And now I live and participate in the dominance of hip-hop as the cultural standard for the country. That should be a humanizing expression of American blackness at a large, visible scale. In some ways, it’s exactly that. But look at the lyrics dissecting a history of black trauma and then look at the white kids listening to those lyrics and thumping their heads (myself included) and you don’t see a bunch of white fingers rushing to push progressive keys on the ballots. If you did, maybe we’d have a couple more black governors.

I think this is what’s been going on: the white liberal community wanted its court jester.

No, Mr. ’90’s man, Clinton voter, Democrat for life, you’re not part of the lynch mobs; yes, you have a few black friends in your monthly office steak dinners; but when push comes to shove – when you could give your voice to advance the cause of black Americans whose oppression your skin is responsible for – you can’t be bothered to vote.

You want to revel in the products of a disenfranchised community and pretend that when it dances, it’s only dancing for you.

Novel Count: 6,064 words

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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“It seems like a lot of black artists right now, at least from a critical standpoint, are forced into either bearing witness or putting forward an ideology through their work, which kind of reduces it to documentation or protest signs. But you seem resistant to both.

Nina Chanel Abney: That’s my goal, to resist that stuff. Early on, when I was doing more portraits, I had noticed how so many assumptions are put on you. If I paint a black figure, it’s already read a certain way. It’s going to be assumed that I’m trying to do something different by painting a white figure. So I just try to create dualities and mix the races and genders of the figures. That’s my way of giving myself the freedom of being able to paint whatever I want without it being for a specific reason.” – interview of Nina Chanel Abney (visual artist) by IndyWeek (link)

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Coffee Log, Day 184

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro, Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

There goes August: running fast enough to trip itself.

I read an article about the ‘A-Team’ on NPR. Not the TV series, but rather the short-lived 1970’s experiment dreamed up to answer widespread migrant worker protests. It happened in California, mostly, and involved granting crop-picking jobs to white high schoolers for the summer. The act passed Congress on the heels of ‘They’re taking our jobs!’ It singled out the best and brightest, the most active white boys for the honor. Within three days of the first year, 200 kids had quit. Those who stuck out the six-day weeks at minimum wage talked about it like an earthbound Hell.

The privilege to walk away.

Not much has changed. Farm labor is still largely migrant labor; or, if you’re in Eastern NC tobacco farms, it’s seven or eight year-olds who pick all day and sometimes miss school. Regardless, it’s hard, unloved work given to people who are most desperate. Five centimeters past slavery, in other words. No wonder our country can’t stomach loading it on well-to-do white boys.

I sit in the shade. Cold tea, new book. September mentions herself in a nice breeze, we exchange calendars and contacts. Autumn ease, there’s not a cloud in sight. Somewhere west of here, another 28-yr-old man bakes until his skin comes off, blood on knuckles, only knowing the sadistic love of burrs and melon seed.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich; FINISHED!! Will have a review soon

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“The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.” – Cesar Chavez
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Coffee Log, Day 151

Hi.

Coffee: India Extra Bold Roast, Cafe Crema

The first rock concert I went to was Deerhoof. Their drummer beat a snare like it was a dusty mattress. The next rock concert I went to was Bomb the Music Industry! There were twenty of us total in the audience, the band played a long set and collaborated with the openers, I saw them two more times after. The best rock concert I’ve been to was Cinemechanica. When the drums hit at twenty seconds into Brain Tarp the whole room’s sweating; when they hit at forty, you’re impossibly alive.

I don’t listen to rock much anymore. The world changed. There’s not much room to hide a vital, hope-filled aggression behind the heavy wet rock of abysmal news. The 60’s and 70’s fought a battle they thought they could win. They won significantly, then their victories were purchased by the same powers they fought against. Every hipster cafe sells rainbow-colored bracelets and shirts that say ‘Girl Power.’ Meanwhile, the Equal Rights Amendment still hasn’t been ratified.

2018’s a cynical year. We’re aware of the wounds and see the maggots crawling out of them; no room for power chords, just electronic whimpers. But that’s a good thing. Sex, Drugs, and Rock&Roll were just a replacement Patriarchy. In the dead-grip vise of oppression, plug your ears with beats from your favorite rapper or wails from a folk guitar. Do the real, hard, honest, bloody work.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“We’ve got a paralyzed case of too much choice.” – Cinemechanica, Brain Tarp

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