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November 17, 2008

The Tables Have Turned

Definitely read this Newsweek article by Rick Perlstein about the election as seen from Watts. This part is especially interesting:

The corner of 116th and Avalon, where it all started, is quiet now, unmarked, virtually unmarkable: it's hard to imagine its placid beige and sky-blue stucco bungalows as the epicenter of anything. It takes five minutes for anyone to pass by—a clutch of cute kids, escorted by a crossing guard, on their way to school. It's where they're heading that history is being made now. The line at the polling station closest to 1965's ground zero is longer than anyone can ever remember.

Seventy-seven-year-old Maurice Banks has been here since 6 a.m. He remembers the riot—"every bit of it." He didn't really disapprove. "People fought for things when things needed to be changed. It was a rebellion." Unbidden, he adds: "Right now, you don't need to fight for it. You're gonna have somebody that's going to fight for you. Someone you can trust."

Get ready to learn an important lesson about life, Mr. Banks: those at the very top of society can betray you even if they look just like you. I know you don't believe it, sir, but this is something our people have learned through hundreds of years of bitter experience. Our time here has schooled us in what truly matters in this world.

Wow. This feels great! Maybe soon the only roles white people will be able to get in movies will be as the de-sexed voice of ancient, homespun wisdom!

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at November 17, 2008 08:37 PM

With Biden on one side and Hillary on the other Obama may be the first prez to come with trainer wheels.

Posted by: Rob Payne at November 17, 2008 11:00 PM

Ayup. (I'm practicing!) One of the less-talked-about bits of white privilege is knowing that the rich aren't shafting you because of your race--they're just shafting you.

Posted by: will shetterly at November 17, 2008 11:36 PM

You know, sometimes I despair of humanity. And then I come to this blog.

Posted by: empty at November 18, 2008 12:28 AM

You are one cynical prick, Schwartz.

Posted by: JW at November 18, 2008 01:09 AM

What could be more informative than a Newsweek article on Watts by Rick Perlstein.

Posted by: darrelplant at November 18, 2008 01:58 AM

Whenever Americans talk about their government or political system they sound like the characters in an old Henry Fonda Western.
Which taught the lessons once taught in Civics classes, a subject now abandoned because nobody knows what "Civics" is.
The lessons, sad to say, had been learned and passed on. The harm done can't be undone.

Posted by: donescobar at November 18, 2008 10:07 AM

As Pete Townsend sang, "I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth." Yes, as a white man I can assure you that I've been screwed over by other white men in power for my entire life. The difference is that the screwing generally started when the amount of my wealth was determined. With skin color the screwing can start right away.

Which is not to deny the rationale for race and racism in this hierarchical society. There was a great essay over at Truthdig months ago about how the drug war (ratcheted up by our first black President, Bill) helps to devalue a part of the working class (African Americans) in order to keep a reserve underclass which will keep down all wages. You know, much the way that having illegals with no rights working overnight at Walmart keeps down the salaries of the upright citizens who work there during the day.

This whole monstrosity works by keeping everyone stratified and teaching everyone to hate and fear those in the stratum below you. Race, religion, whatever it takes. BOHICA. Bend over, here it comes again.

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at November 18, 2008 10:10 AM

I forgot to say in my earlier post that Mel Brooks understood this--remember that great scene in "Blazing Saddles" where he mocks our common gibberish?"

Posted by: donescobar at November 18, 2008 10:23 AM

Schwarz, the magic caucasian!

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at November 18, 2008 01:16 PM

Nah, it's not that they betray you, necessarily. It's just that no one, unfortunately, is going to fight for you. It's like the song says:

Il n'est pas de sauveurs suprêmes
Ni Dieu, ni César, ni tribun.

Yeah, the tribune in not going to help, unfortunately. The producers have to help themselves, if they care. It's one of those things.

Posted by: abb1 at November 18, 2008 02:33 PM


Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 18, 2008 03:01 PM

Hypocrisy is the politics of America and Ignorance her soul.

Posted by: donescobar at November 18, 2008 03:33 PM

With Biden on one side and Hillary on the other Obama may be the first prez to come with trainer wheels.

Yeah, Biden could be his, like, Svengali. Oh, and Obama's not so hot at speaking off the cuff, either.

As someone still capable of feeling abject shame over things that happened in middle school, I truly admire your ability to completely obliterate any memory of the recent past.

Posted by: gil mann at November 18, 2008 08:35 PM