Racism: old, ugly, and inexcusable

The Florida Folk Magic series is set in the fictional town of Torreya 53 miles west of Tallahassee in the “other-Florida” world of the panhandle of the 1950s when the Ku Klux Klan, police officers, church elders, city fathers, and your next door neighbor were hard to tell apart. The sunshine state advertised itself as a playground and that’s what northern snowbirds saw. Residents, especially African Americans, saw it as a world of terror.

Unfortunately, racism is still with us in the new century. Progress has been made since the years when these stories are set. But inequality still exists, hate groups still urge Americans to return to the Jim Crow era, and even the discussions about how to bring about quality change are often divisive. This trilogy of novels was written with the hope that the voices for love, trust, and true equal rights will prevail. – Conjure Woman’s Cat Website

During the 1950s, it never occurred to me that the racism I saw around me during the Separate-but-Equal, Jim Crow era would still be suffocating our country, ruining lives, and causing violence 70 years later. I’ll confess that I was naïve in my outlook then, but I thought we as a people were better than that. I still hope that someday soon, we will be.

I have no intention of spinning the good, the bad, and the ugly of politics here or engaging in a discussion in the comments about whose fault the resurgence of racism debates is. What I see in the news and in social media is making things worse. Charges and counter-charges are not an informed debate, much less a route toward a united country where racism is no longer an issue.

To some extent, some of the news outlets are at fault because they are selective in what they show since what they show supports their agendas. Those who watch different networks and/or view different online news sites get radically different versions of the news. When news organizations have agendas, that is, loyalties to one political party or the other, we all end up with corrupted versions of what’s happening in our country and the world.

As a former college journalism instructor, it saddens me when reporters and their networks/newspapers throw objectivity out the window. Bias is the first indicator of a newspaper or news channel that cannot be trusted. Yet people are trusting them and basing their opinions on horrible reporting.

The social media further disseminate these erroneous and twisted views. People believe what they hear on their selected news outlets without bothering to check other sources for more information, much less alternative views. Most people–as evidenced by their social media comments–don’t seem to realize that many programs on CNN and FOX are not news shows, but opinion shows. Yet, these viewers think they’re getting real, objective new coverage.

Among other things, racism is being perpetrated for ratings and votes

To my mind, that’s like yelling fire in a crowded theater. One-sided coverage about nasty white cops is fueling the fire. One-sided coverage about black crimes is fueling the fire. This isn’t dialogue, it’s propaganda. It’s making people fearful of each other rather than bringing them together.

I saw news stories like this during the Jim Crow era. I don’t expect to see them now. But, political parties and sullied news organizations are doing all they can to ensure that the United States remains racist. This approach is old, ugly, and inexcusable. Blacks and Whites deserve better than this. Instead, we’re being fed propaganda that keeps us at odds with each other.

The best question I can ask is: “Who is profiting from the discord?

I think we need to find out and vote them out of office, stop buying their products, and stop seeing them as saints with words of wisdom. They are morally, spiritually, and ethically bankrupt.

Malcolm

 

 

 

 

Seriously, why do I need to know everything right now?

We’re living in a right now world.

Of course, it’s always now.

But the now I care about is the now I can see, hear, taste, touch and smell.

  • skunkIf I’m enjoying smelling the roses in my side yard, I don’t really need an “urgent” text message from a friend saying, OMG I just ran over a skunk on Interstate 75. (Unless the skunk or the smell of the skunk caused a car wreck, this information can wait until later–or possibly never.)
  • When I turn on CNN, I see that the words “BREAKING NEWS” are always on the TV screen even if the news happened a week ago. The primary breaking news on CNN is that a bunch of talking heads are telling me what they thing about the news rather than covering actual news. (I got fooled by this at first and though some hideous events were happening over and over again.)
  • Looking for interesting posts on Facebook, I don’t need to see status updates that look like this: “Good one.” “Oh no, look at that chick’s ugly dress.” “What a bunch of crap.” “Yikes, the killer is getting away.” (I took me a while to figure out that the people posting these updates weren’t necessarily crazy–though that’s possible. They were making comments about some TV show they were watching, you know, like were were all watching it together.
  • When I’m busy defusing a bomb that somebody left under the hood of my car after watching the movie called “Speed,” I don’t really want to get a slough of voice mail messages from you saying stuff like this: “Hi Malcolm, this is Bob, just calling to see if you’re still alive.” “Malcolm, I know you’re not dead, please pick up.” “If you don’t answer your GD phone when I call you, why do you have a GD  phone?” (Bob, the Earth circles around the sun rather than around you.)
  • When I’m watching an exciting episode of NCIS, I don’t really want my local network station to preempt the the show with five minutes of emergency “JUST HAPPENED” commentary about a dead skunk on the Interstate with on-the scene coverage from reporters saying, “This is Bob Smith standing next to a dead skunk a mile south of the Highway 53 exit for Calhoun. It smells really bad. Back to you at the station, Susan.” (Meanwhile, I missed the stunning conclusion of my program and have gotten back to the network feed in time for a Preparation H commercial.)
  • Let’s say I just ran over a skunk on I-75. You send me a text message: “7132 hh lol”  (First, I need to remind you that looking at text messages while I’m driving is illegal in Georgia. Second, I need to remind you that I hate text messages because typing is a lot more trouble than actually talking. Finally, I have no clue what that gibberish means anyway and think maybe you’re a troll or a hooker.)
  • I try to avoid Twitter because most of it’s gibberish from people who think I care about what they’re doing right now as opposed to what I’m doing right now. When you say, “fantastic sex with my hooker BF is happening while I tweet,” I want to respond with “TMI.” (Actually, I don’t want to respond at all and will assume you’re insane, arrogant, or are having lousy sex that leaves you time to be on Twitter.)
  • If you just discovered minutes ago that a Hollywood star most of us thought had been dead for years has just now passed away, it really means you just now heard of it and think that my life will be changed forever if I don’t know about it immediately. (As it usually turns out, the breaking news in this information is the fact you just heard about it even thought it happened last week.)

There are days when I want to throw away my cell phone, swear off Facebook and Twitter, and stop listening to the so-called breaking news that isn’t breaking.

If you just discovered something, please don’t call.*

–Malcolm

*Unless you think I just ran over a skunk and want me to know there’s a bomb in my car that will go off if I don’t keep going at over 55 mph in spite of the smell.

 

 

‘Internet Service Provider’ Cuts Old Line Before Activating New Line

Jefferson, Georgia, September 5, 2012—Never ask your Insane Service Provider (ISP) for whom the bell tolls. They’ll say, “Nobody, because the line is dead.”

In fact, the line is deader than King Tut, the dark ages, and Wells Fargo’s stage coach service between here and yonder.

When we asked Windstream why they de-activated the old DSL line at midnight when the new line wouldn’t be activated until a service technician stopped by our house 8-18 hours later, they had multiple answers: (a) because we can, (b) our DOS 3.0 computer doesn’t know what time it is, and (c) we didn’t want to enable your Internet addiction.

“Nonetheless,” they said, reading from a canned apology script, “your quality care technician is just about to get ready to head in your general direction via the westbound stage coach.”

I wondered about my e-mail messages while the stage was delayed while the driver changed horses in midstream.

As a novelist, my first thought was, “What if Hollywood sends me an e-mail asking if they can add more nude scenes to the upcoming blockbuster 3D IMAX epic ‘Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire’?”

As an ass-kicking reporter, my second thought was, “Without my highly dependable, accurate and objective Yahoo homepage, how am I going to know diddly squat about Prince Harry’s butt and the other asinine news of the day?”

Ever resourceful, I turned on the TV like I would have done in the 1950s when it still had a set of rabbit ears with tin foil streamers on top.

The Catastrophe News Network (CNN) was airing continuing coverage of a posse chasing a horse thief down County Road 1534 near Junction City, Texas. The Frantic Old Xanthippe (FOX) network was holding a séance with a panel of deceased 1930s mobsters about the value of legalizing Tommy guns in churches. The local random access channel was showing random re-runs of the “Newlywed Game.”

HOST BOB EUBANKS: “Bambi, if your new husband turned into a serial killer, would he track down your mother, your father or you ex-boyfriends first?”

BAMBI:  Hahahaha. Good golly, no, Bob. He’d start out with Wheaties and then attack my Frosted Flakes.

I considered making something up: “Enraged over Prince Harry’s butt on Great Britain’s new ‘Olympic Assets’ postage stamps, a horse thief in Junction City grabbed a Tommy gun and pumped a hundred rounds of hot lead into a box of Lucky Charms on the back of a stolen horse.”

But then, how could I live with myself, aping the techniques of my newspaper’s rivals at CNN and FOX?

I called Windstream a new minutes ago and, after pointing out that the latest ice age had come and gone since we last shot the breeze about our nonexistent DSL, I inquired about the location of “our” service technician.

“His horse was stolen by a desperado wielding a Tommy gun two miles west of Yonder,” the CSR said. “CNN, FOX, and Yahoo are already on the scene splashing fresh vids all around the Internet. Twitter is on fire about it. Oh, but then you couldn’t have known that.”

“You’re right as rain,” I said.

“One more thing,” he said.

“What?”

“Your inbox on our ten megabyte hard drive was overflowing, so we deleted everything. It was mostly spam, especially those fake Hollywood e-mails asking if you wanted to do any nude scenes with horses in a movie.”

“One day, humanity as we now understand it, will thank you,” I said as I reached for the flask of single malt Scotch in the Tommy gun drawer of my desk.

-30-

Jock Stewart

If your Internet Service Provider hasn’t capriciously turned off your DSL service today, you can be enjoying a darned inexpensive copy of “Jock Talks Satirical News” for only 99 cents in a matter of minutes or, otherwise, when pigs fly.