A great guest post from the wonderful Gale Mullings. Read her blog here: (link)
Shared experience has been the factor missing from the universal language of math or currency. Words, as much as math or currency, are meaningless without a proper contextual framework. The last child and first born American to Jamaican parents taught me this lesson early in life. I can still hear my mother asserting, “You’re so damn American!” when my behavior caused her aggravation. I had no idea what this meant but, given her tone, knew it was not favorable.
Our experiences, more so than what we learn in school, shape who we are and I dare say for many of us, growth becomes a process of unlearning. My father told me a story once of a chance encounter he had with a white man who was also educated under the English system. Fondly reminiscing, my father asked the man, “You remember all the nursery rhymes they made us memorize?”; only to be halted by the man’s apparent confusion. In that single moment, my father realized he had been purposely taught foolishness to keep him ignorant, igniting anger at his miseducators.
I excelled in academia with one major shortcoming. I hated history. I managed to get fairly good grades in this subject despite my disdain; which I now attribute to a remarkable mental gag reflex of sorts. With a limited ability to retain bullshit, I managed to regurgitate just enough to pass the exams without internalizing the brainwashing nonsense I was being taught, such as “slavery was an attempt to civilize Africans.”
A question mark is the most powerful punctuation yet so many people fail to utilize it. To the detriment of humanity, the masses continue to recite the nursery rhymes they were taught as children and remix bedtime stories to spoon feed their children. Instead of Jack and Jill, my generation learned Die Commie Die! Communist, I was taught, was a dirtier word than fuck. I wondered why communism was bad and without the proper contextual framework ironically equated the term with “so damn American”, since they seemed to have the same tone.
Today, socialism is the new dirty word. Conservatives have used this word in an attempt to discredit President Obama and terrorize Americans into saving the nation. From what, may I ask? Wikipedia defines socialism “ various theories of economic organization advocating public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with an egalitarian method of compensation.” Does that then mean we are fighting against equality?
If so that means in addition to being the other dirty word, liberal, I am also a socialist. By trade, I am a social worker and I have often thought the economic system lacked a sense of balance. From the onset of the economy’s nosedive, I have said what if we the (little) people just stopped? What if we said: “You know this just really isn’t working for me? Let me make it a little more tangible. Take any major corporation, Microsoft for example. Bill Gates is a world renowned billionaire. Some would argue that he deserves to be one of the world’s wealthiest people for his intelligence, innovation and hard work. True indeed but could the machine keep running without all levels of the operation? I wonder how much the lower level employees, whom most likely far outnumber the upper echelon, earn? What would happen to this capital generating operation if the middle and lower levels quit? Could the upper echelon of the company do it all by themselves? If the answer is no, then doesn’t it stand to reason that the proceeds should have a more equitable distribution?
I saw a comedian who joked that white racists are not bothered by the fact political correctness dictates they can no longer say the N-word because they are creative enough to come up with a new code. He related a story in which he heard a white person refer to blacks as “Mondays”. Being well versed in racist vernacular, he was surprised to admit he couldn’t figure that one out and asked for the context. The man replied, “You know, everyone hates Mondays.”
So as I hear the term socialist being aimed at President Obama, America’s first black president, I can’t help but wonder if this is the new code to replace the old dirty N-word and maintain the ever-so-slowly diminishing voice of the so damn American people who have the incredible ability to retain bullshit.