It must have been the second or third week of Summer Bridge, a program designed to ease incoming Berkeley freshman into the rigors of college life by having them arrive a couple of months early and enroll in summer courses. I, a goofy seventeen-year-old-virgin kid who had literally never kissed anyone save for my family members on the cheek, was laying in my dorm room’s top bunk bed, watching TV with a cute girl whose name I don’t remember. I really need to reiterate that not only had I never been in a position close to this, but I had literally no clue what to do at all. It was never discussed that we were into each other, but it had been pretty flirtatious, so when she casually walked in (everyone kept their doors open in those first weeks to be social) and said she wanted to watch a DVD I nearly fainted. I really don’t remember all the details, though, because it was over 15 years ago. All I know for sure is that we were laying there, essentially in pajamas, in the top bunk… Alone.
The next part I remember more clearly. There was no talking whatsoever minutes after I put the DVD in so I, not knowing what I should do, put my arm around her a little. It wasn’t like full snuggle, but kind of a touch-so-you-know-I’m-touching-you type of thing. She didn’t move or react at all. Dope? I actually wasn’t sure. Life would have been much easier had she swatted me away, or if she welcomed it and maybe snuggled in. No response at all left me in an even tougher position. How much was I supposed to do? In all honesty, I didn’t want to do anything at all. I wanted her to turn and like just tell me she liked me or something and then make a move on me so I wouldn’t have to make any more moves. But that didn’t happen.
So, after maybe an hour of inching closer and closer with no response, I was basically fully spooning, with my arm wrapped over her chest. At this point I was like if she didn’t get it by then, then I was out of options. And that’s where I left it. As soon as the dvd ended, she basically just got up and left. I’m sure there were words, but it’s so long ago, I can’t remember them. I was just like what the fuck just happened?
Fast forward a week or two, we hadn’t talked at all. One day I saw her walking hand in hand with a football player. I, being a little hurt at seeing this, brought up the whole ordeal to a dude I was friendly with later that day. I told him about the night she and I had and at some point he interrupted me.
“Why didn’t you just whip your dick out?”
I’m pretty sure that was the first time I had ever heard that come out of someones mouth. I actually couldn’t believe that was his line of reasoning. I don’t recall what else he said after that, but he did mention that he bet the football player had whipped his out and that’s why he got her.
I tell this story because I have heard of dudes whipping their dicks out HELLA times since then. That may have been the first, but it was certainly not the last. I think I may have heard some guy suggest it to another as recently as a few months ago. I swear this is actually something some people say out loud out of their coddamn mouths. The logic goes that nights like mine were wasted effort. I could have figured out if she was “down” right away and saved myself the trouble of not only that night, but the future embarrassment of seeing her with someone else. There’s also the idea that a woman may really want something to happen, but if you’re not bold enough, then she might never know.
There has never been a day that I considered whipping it out as a litmus test for a future sexual encounter. Truth be told, most men wouldn’t do that either. That doesn’t mean that it’s not an issue. Obviously it’s incredibly problematic that there are some men who think this is a good idea. However, what’s even more problematic is how many men hear about it leading to sex. Let me be clear, I am not blaming women who enjoy the whip it out technique, I am saying that those dudes who get away with it talk about it. They brag about it. I haven’t only heard it as advice, but I’ve heard it as part of a sexual story. And I don’t just mean I’ve heard it as a success story. I’ve heard it described just as often when it fails. It’s bragging if it works, and it’s like a funny aww-man-well-I-tried-my-best if it fails. There’s no, “guys I fucked up and whipped it out.” It’s always so weird to be in the room when someone talks about it. Because it’s always that guy who is such an idiot and an asshole but he always has an audience. I must admit, though, that I’ve laughed at times, or been disgusted at times, or just sat silently at times. Problem is I’ve only considered how much of an idiot the dude is and not at all considered what the woman on the other side of the equation is feeling.
This week the #metoo campaign allowed me to understand the flip-side of whipping it out. It was actually horrifying. I had to stop reading after a while. The frequency with which it occurs, the emotions, the graphic nature of how each of those encounters went down, it all was too much. But why? I have heard those stories from the other side for years. Why was it different now? Because, as I said above, I was no longer looking at it like “this guy sucks I’m not gonna kick with him,” but instead I was looking at it like “holy shit that poor woman! I have no idea how I would handle that or what it would do to me.”
But there was something else, maybe something even bigger that struck me this week. It’s that “whipping it out” is different for man. Guys, dudes, fellas, there are many of us like me who think they’re “good dudes,” but have also “whipped it out” so to speak in the past. Maybe you didn’t go full Harvey, but you grabbed something that wasn’t yours. You said words that were hurtful, or threatening, or something you would never repeat to your sister. You got violent when turned down, or you cat-called from across the street This is important, because many of us think that if we would never date rape someone, we’re good. We think that if we believe in equal pay for equal work that there’s no chance we could make a woman feel like we’ve crossed a line. But I read the stories. You probably HAVE crossed a line. I know damn well I have based on what I’ve read. In fact, I’m stepping up to say #metoo. Not in the same way women have been using it this week, but in the way that acknowledges that some of the stories I heard made me consider my own actions and things I have been silent about.
I have a “friend” who once asked me to use BOOMTHO to do “casting couches,” like in the porn sense. I said WTF? No. But I also laughed to ease the tension.
I know a promoter who beats his girlfriend. I don’t consider us homies at all because of this, but if I’m in line outside the club, I’ll say his name if I see him so I can get in.
I’ve heard stories of bottle service girls and how certain big money clients prefer them, even after the club has closed, or they’ll “pull their business.” When I first heard about them, I just said to myself, that’s what they chose with that job, I guess.
I had one ex-friend who was the absolute worst with women and my friend John and I had to un-friend him, but there was so much before the tipping point (the final straw was him offending me, not the women) that we kind of thought was too much, but he was also a lot of fun. John and I actually used to joke “What Would (he) Do?” because it seemed to come off as confidence. But when it was just us two one day we looked at each other and agreed that we could never be like he was. Still, we let him around women who trusted us.
A girl once visited me in Korea (long ago) and I threw a hotel party in a room with 6 beds, and a dude who was cool with me came and when she layed down and I was still upstairs, he tried to jump into bed with her when he thought she passed out. I actually couldn’t believe it.
I’ve personally done a lot of things I thought were just “funny” but really weren’t, in the end. Beyond that, I’m so sure that someone may have something with me that I don’t even know about because I wasn’t thinking like I do now. Even the first story I told, while looking back at it, I wonder if I did something she didn’t want and I’m part of her #metoo. I’ll never know.
When #metoo began to take off, my mind went to these moments. The women of my timeline showed me something real: we all “whip it out.” Just because you haven’t put a roofie in someone’s drink, doesn’t mean you’re not guilty of being inappropriate. Or even worse at times, guilty of being complicit. Being 99.999% abuse free is still not 100. I can tell you this, 100% of the women I know well said #metoo. It can’t just be like seven mega-predators out there while the rest of us are approaching saint-hood. Really consider your actions, guys. I told my stories above not for women to hear, but for you.
‘Cause, see, I know why you “whip it out.” My first story? We’ve all been there at some point or another. Some of you learned after that whipping it out was easier than dealing with not knowing what’s up. Maybe you had homies who were getting laid and all you heard about them was that they whipped it out. Maybe you asked “What Would Jim Do?” and you did it and it worked one time. So you tried it a couple of times and it worked again. Success! Maybe it was just funny that time. Or maybe you didn’t mean anything by it. Maybe you get your butt grabbed at a party from time to time so you think it’s all the same. Maybe she was dressed oh-so-sexy and how could you do go on without whipping it out?
But you never considered what it’s like to be on the receiving end. Why? Because then you’d have to reconcile those feelings with your actions. It would be tough, right? You know why I don’t watch videos about how food is made? Because I would drastically change my eating habits if I saw slaughterhouse footage and I really like steak. Admit it, you enjoy what whipping it out gets you and you don’t want to consider what it may mean to anyone not you. It makes sense because we learned from our fathers who could live recklessly until their “daughter changed [them].” And they learned from their fathers who didn’t want women to have voting rights. So here you are, trying your best, thinking that sometimes women want it, so #metoo is kind of bullshit.
Some of you are my friends. I’ve SEEN you whip it out. Some you same people posted that they supported #metoo. Ok, bro. I challenge you to empathize and take a look in the mirror yourself. Lord knows I have and it’s tough to acknowledge. But how else are you supposed to actually improve? I’m actually writing this on a bus ride after a basketball game, and this shit was in my head during the damn game! Because it’s not easy to swallow what we’ve done. But, in sports, there are practice players and there are gamers. It takes a ton more effort to win a game. Don’t just post about it on facebook. Get in the game! I know it’s not easy to just speak up when it’s just us, but we have to at some point. At least challenge those who do those things one on one if the group setting is too awkward. I don’t have all the answers and many of the issues come from sexual expectation, gender norms, mating traditions, social expectations, etc. There is nuance at times and situations can be tough to read. All that said, you can learn a lot about how to proceed just by reading some more #metoo and talking to the women in your life in an open and honest way. Then maybe we can all stop whipping it out be the people we claim we are.
My old friend Josiah is the creator of and writer for a show on Comedy Central called “Legends of Chamberlain Heights.” It can be lazily summarized as a black version of “South Park” but if you understand it, it’s actually a very nuanced look at black culture. You should watch it. Even if you don’t fully understand what’s happening in the show, some of the themes transcend racial boundaries and become easily accessible tidbits of socially aware, yet comedic gold.
In the second episode of this season (titled “Chocolate Milk”), a white guy wants so desperately to be black that he uses a tanning salon to look more like Chris Brown. After his transformation is complete, life has never been better for the guy and he starts to neglect his friends and become an asshole. So, eventually, one of the homies purposely changes the setting on his tanning machine so that he looks more like Akon. At this point, life is miserable. Black and white people alike treat him like a second class citizen, a thief, ugly, etc. until he’s almost fully broken down emotionally. Then, like a final blow, someone else comes at him with more negativity. He starts to lose it and begins breaking things and hitting people. His friends get scared that he’s going to destroy everything and they tell him to “take it easy.” The brilliance of the show is summed up in his angry response:
“WHY I ALWAYS GOTTA BE THE ONE TO TAKE IT EASY?!”
On Saturday afternoon I headed down to Pacific Beach in San Diego to meet up with my homie Keoni with whom I used to play AAU basketball back in high school. My brother, my girl, and I met him at a place called Shore Club, which was one of those spots with a long line that’s located right by the water. I’m pretty sure every beach city from daygo-to-the-bay has one.
Anyways, we had been inside for maybe three hours. I had bought trays of shots for the group. Nobody was causing a scene. The music was dope. It was just a great pre-fourth turn up… Until it wasn’t.
Literally out of nowhere I feel a hand in my pocket. I’ve always had super quick reflexes (it’s why I get stung by bees on my neck and hands so often. I feel it and smack without thinking) so my first reaction is to grab down on whatever is happening down there with the quickness. I whip my hand back up and realize inside my hand in a random white girl’s wrist, and her hand is full of my stuff. My phone, wallet, and keys are STILL IN HER HAND. It honestly happened so fast that I was confused at what I was seeing.
With her wrist still in my right hand, I grab my stuff out with my left and say “WTF are you doing?”
“You stole my stuff!” she brazenly yells back at me.
After years of being accused of things and knowing how this can end, I walk her over to the nearest bouncer and explain to him what happened. There are a few things you need to keep in mind here. First, the whole time it took from my feeling her in my pocket to when I got her to the bouncer might have been 10 seconds. He was very close and everything developed very quickly. Second, I had her wrist the whole time. My immediate thought was that if I let it go, it would be a he-said-she-said and the wrist was some sort of proof for my side as far as I saw it.
Back to the bouncer. I explained to him that I was being accused of stealing, but that her hand was literally on my stuff and — he gives her the slightest nod in the middle of my coddamn sentence! I look at him and tilt my head and say “oh you know each other?” and I walk away, looking for the next bouncer. Mind you, this first bouncer was black, so the when I found the next bouncer 5 feet away who was also black, I wasn’t surprised that they were looking at each out with an unmistakable unspoken communication that screams “I got you homie.”
I literally say out loud “oh shit.”
Now I’m hustling. I see a group of bouncers on the other side of the room. There’s like four of them, all white. I look back at the first guy and the girl is now BALLING TEARS. Great. I get to them as quickly as possible and start to explain whats happening. I tell them that I think the first guy knows the girl and that I just need someone in the building who will listen to my story and be unbiased. Right then, the second black bouncer comes over and explains that he needs to talk to me outside. Mind you, it’s probably been about 65 seconds since the hand was in the pocket so it’s all happening so fast. Also keep in mind that this place is up like two flights of stairs so “outside” basically means “we want you to leave.” All the bouncers in front of me now pretend that they can’t hear my story. Like my words literally have no volume to them or something. The other guy repeats that I need to go outside with him. I yell out “WHY?!” It was probably the only word I said louder than necessary to simply be heard over the music.
I ask to speak to whoever is in charge. Of course one of them already is. He says that I now officially have to leave because I raised my voice and was being unruly. I can’t believe what is actually happening because my story is not being heard, nor has it been heard. I leave through the side while they’re still discussing how to remove me (I was never non-compliant or irrational). I come around to the front of the building and try to plead with the last two bouncers I can find. I tell them the story and I say that I understand they have protocols, so I guess I accept my fate, but can anyone do anything about the person who started all of this? That same black bouncer from earlier then comes around to the front and explains that I was ejected for being loud and unruly. They all proceed to ignore me.
So here I am. I’m outside and alone and upset. Eventually, everyone in my group realizes I’m not inside anymore and they come out find to me and when they do I’m hysterical. They’re all confused, having not had to deal with what I did. They’re asking rational questions but I’m sick of being rational. I just spent 20 minutes pleading with people every way I knew how, I’m done explaining. I’m angry. They’re trying to calm me down, I’m not in the mood. Eventually Keoni says, in so many words, that I gotta take it easy.
“WHY I ALWAYS GOTTA BE THE ONE TO TAKE IT EASY?!” I yell, through tears of frustration.
I tell this story not because I want revenge on Shore Club (but I wouldn’t be mad if they went out of business for any reason), but because I truly think there’s an idea that racism and privilege only come in the form of police brutality or white dudes who say “nigga” because they think it’s funny. In truth, there’s no shortage of ways to dehumanize someone. In fact, many of these things happen to people of color on a daily basis. But it’s the idea that these things have no bearing, or as Jason THE ASSHOLE Whitlock might say, they don’t affect me at the end of the day that is an even bigger lie. The fact of the matter is that they do. They lead me (and persons of color all over) to inherently behave in ways that assume fault within ourselves. We eventually begin to treat and think of ourselves as second class. Then, when we’ve been brought all the way down, we break. Let me explain…
As soon as the girl had her hand in my pocket, I didn’t think about getting upset with her, I thought about making sure I wasn’t in trouble. I thought of every way I would be assumed to be too drunk, too loud, too intimidating, not clear enough, and eventually guilty of something I didn’t do. It’s happened before. In fact, the first thought in my head was that I believed her. I didn’t believe that I stole something from her, because I hadn’t, but I believed her story that she was only in my pocket because she thought I had something of hers. A rational person should believe that she was lying, actually attempting to steal from me, and came up with a quick cover-up. But it was a place with like 40% black people and black people steal and white girls don’t, right? In a weird way, I was on her side, but also trying to protect myself. Even the first bouncer (who was black) took her side, maybe for other reasons, but it was enough to allow him the comfort necessary to kick out a fellow black man for no reason. Everyone in on the plot save the white girl and her believability.
What’s crazy is to consider the story was reversed. If I was at an all white-person party and was literally caught with my hand in a white girl’s purse, all her stuff in hand, and I accused her of stealing from me as a snap response, I’d probably end up AT LEAST getting questioned by the police. Even if I knew the bouncer or something, I’d still end up in trouble. The system, yes THE system, is designed to help her and hurt me. I am inherently dangerous, she is inherently innocent and in need of protection. As Hari Ziyad put it, “White women have been positioned as the epitome of vulnerability and virtuosity to the point where they can hardly do any wrong, despite having done so much already.” And what took me all of 12 years of life to learn was that no matter how I speak, or how clearly I explain myself, or where I am, or what I’m doing, her word will be stronger than mine. Not only that, but if there’s something else I’ve come to actually fear, and that’s the feeling of having nowhere else to turn. That night, I kept looking for ONE PERSON to actually hear me out. The feeling going from calm to panic as I quickly realized that there was nowhere to turn. I don’t think that girl has ever felt that feeling. She would just as soon sue the whole city of Pacific Beach than go to bed feeling wronged. And I don’t know that for sure, but I know that someone with the balls to put her hands in a man’s pocket and assume no fault would just as soon go the extra legal mile once she contacted the family lawyer.
But I, Rod Benson, have no family lawyer. I have to exit the building and go home and deal with it. And do it again the next time it happens. And again the next time. Eventually, you build up a tolerance to be able to deal with most of these situations so that you can just live with being yourself. Towards the end of that episode of “Legends,” they address that too. One of the newly Akon’ed dude’s friends asserts that he “hasn’t had a lifetime to build up enough stamina for all that niggyness.” Stamina is required, to be sure, and most people have no idea it’s there, deflecting each traffic stop, job rejection, youtube comment, or asshole who tells you the Black Panthers are worse than the KKK. But like any shield, it gets weak and eventually cracks, if even for a moment, showing the vulnerability of the person beneath. And that vulnerability usually comes off as anger.
I know that this can seem like it’s some anti-white girl tirade. I assure you it is most certainly not. I’ve always said in basketball when someone plays dirty or gets away with a foul, that I can’t be mad at them for playing that way. If the refs allow it, then those are the rules that day. I’m oddly not upset with her, personally, either. She’s just playing by the same set of rules she always has. It’s just SO upsetting to have to repeatedly play by a different set of rules than her. It’s upsetting to try to kiss the refs ass all game and still get tossed. And when you ask them why you’re being ejected, they tell you it’s because you didn’t take it easy. Eventually you get so mad that there’s only one sentence you can get out of your tired, broken soul:
“WHY I ALWAYS GOTTA BE THE ONE TO TAKE IT EASY?!”
I want to preface what I’m about to say by first saying I like Hillary. I mean, I like her more than any GOP candidate sans Rand Paul (who has dropped out). She has a list of social and political accomplishments that runs deeper than most, and an absurd amount of time spent int he public eye. From what I read it’s (correct me because I’m remembering) something like the second longest “public eye” tenure of all time. Pretty special. Truly, I know people who have worked on her past campaigns (some still do), and many others who have been personally touched by her or her family and have been encouraged by her personal and political perseverance. If I could have her over for dinner and a chat, I’m sure I would learn a great deal from her and have an amazing experience.
Ok. That said, I don’t want to vote for her if I don’t have to. I totally will if push comes to shove in a general election, but I’m just not high on her as the future president of this country. For MANY reasons, I’m just generally unimpressed. I have been since 2007 when she tried the first time to claim America’s highest political position (“people think if Obama is elected the skies will open and light will raindown… blah blah” – Hillary 08). Now I base everything I’m saying on either policy, past political decisions, and my general feeling for the good for the country going forward (call it an X-factor?”). So it should come to no surprise that I’m very excited about Bernie Sanders going forward. For reasons I’ll elaborate on later, he’s my guy. It’s a primary currently, and things can change, but I hope it all works out and he can represent our country for the next four to eight years. In the past, this would make me an informed voter with an opinion, but lately it makes me sexist, or so I’m being told.
It was probably a week before the Iowa Caucuses (which is literally grouping people up and doing a headcount to determine the future of the country, but whatevs) that anti-bernie rhetoric began to come out of larger media outlets. Expected fire as a presidential candidate, but what I noticed very quickly was that the tone was very different than other endorsements/attacks I’d seen in the past. It wasn’t so much of “she has a better plan going forward,” but more like “stop making fun of her because it’s sexist.” “You only don’t like her for reasons she can’t control.” “She’s doing the best she can, and she’s a BAMF, and you need to chill.” I mean these quotes were literally the theme of, or quoted from some of these blog entries and articles.
One of these articles that first caught my eye was one entitled “Bernie bros, stop this meme: Your dumb joke about Hillary’s music taste isn’t funny — it’s predictably sexist” Go ahead and go read it. The author says that there’s a meme (I think it’s hilarious, but I guess I’m sexist) that is unfair to Hillary because women’s taste/knowledge/authority in music has always been marginalized by men and that there’s societal pressure on women to capitulate in numerous ways regarding a variety of issues. Another article that went viral was one called “An All-Caps Explosion of Feelings Regarding the Liberal Backash Against Hillary Clinton” Honestly, much of the same, but much angrier and less music focused.
So let me take a step back for a second. As a black man, I remember the 2008 election feeling like it was bigger than electing a president. It was about making/changing the course of history. I was awoken by a phone call in the dead of night (I was living in France at the time) to alert me Obama had won and I watched the Chicago rally and cried. It was a moment I wouldn’t trade for the world. But looking back, although everybody got swept up in the ideas of hope and change, Obama’s skin color was a large part of that. To elect a black man president was the biggest sign that there will always be hope and that the country had already changed, regardless of what came next. It was irrational, sure, but not unimportant. Obama’s actual time in office would serve to remind us that there are political shackles and that sometimes change is slower than we like. But in my mind, just putting a coddamn black man in that seat was enough.
Why am I saying this? Because I feel like we have reached another point in our history where a new version of hope is being offered. The difference is that it’s being offered in completely different ways by two different candidates. Bernie Sanders is offering the promise of complete political reform and revolution, breaking up of the big banks, and defending of the “little guy.” Hillary Clinton is offering something much smaller politically — to continue where Obama left off, essentially — but larger socially: the opportunity to put a coddamn woman in that seat. This has created a problem.
It is my opinion that the idea of “putting a coddamn woman in that seat” has begun to blind some people to the issues at hand. When I say some people, I mean some feminists. I need to be clear that it is not all feminists. Just some. But a rowdy bunch who I’m sure advocate for and actively promote real change on the front of gender equality. Still, that voice is the one that drives articles like the ones I posted above. To quote the latter article: “SO, YES, I’M EMOTIONAL AND I’M YELLING. BECAUSE THIS IS FUCKING EMOTIONAL FOR ME. I WANT A FEMALE PRESIDENT AND I WANT PRESIDENT HILLARY CLINTON. I WANT BOTH OF THESE THINGS BUT MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE I WANT WOMEN TO HAVE AN EQUAL FUCKING FAIR SHAKE. I’M SICK OF THIS STUPID BULLSHIT DISGUISED AS POLITICS, MASQUERADING AS POLITICAL OPINION.
SO FUCK EVERYTHING. I’M WITH HER.”
Girl. I hear you. But you wrong, sister. Hillary isn’t getting an unfair shake because she needs to keep her hair together and wear makeup while Bernie doesn’t (although I agree that’s BS). She’s not getting an unfair shake because of societal pressures on women to appear more youthful and in touch and smile (also BS). She’s not being asked to whip and nae nae because she’s a woman and she has to “play the fucking game” to get where she needs to (although I acknowledge that many women have to and, again BS). True liberals (not the independent, the confused, right wingers, or people don’t care either way and won’t vote) don’t like her policy compared to Sanders. I mean really. I know that sounds CRAZY. I know you think if she had the same stance as a man she wouldn’t even need defending, but it’s just not true.
One thing I found hilarious was that the first article I listed basically said that the meme was a sexist representation of how “female music journalists, fans and musicians themselves deal with these false and stupid assumptions all the time.” I’m actually pretty sure that women do face all those issues, but the meme has nothing to do with that. It has to do with Hillary playing the game TOO much. Pretending to enjoy youthful things that makes her look out of touch.
You say she has to play the game, feminist? I say no. I truly don’t think she does. Her pandering to the youth is a bit newer, but her changing of opinion on important issues is something that has followed her for LONG periods of time. Many people (regardless of their political affiliation) have seen this for years. Take the time to watch this:
In case you didn’t watch, Elizabeth Warren takes the time to explain Hillary in a nutshell. Hillary’s very smart. She cares. She understood how a certain bankruptcy bill would negatively affect families after Elizabeth explained it to her in the 90s. She took that info to Bill Clinton who vetoed the bill after it passed in the house and senate. She took credit for having brought it to his attention (as she should), then as senator of New York, voted in favor of the same bill due to political pressure and money from lobbyists/donors. The question is, in any other election cycle besides the last two or three would this be a problem? No. So why has it been lately? BECAUSE BERNIE SANDERS IS ATTACKING HER ON THOSE ISSUES EXACTLY AND PEOPLE ARE LISTENING (how’s my all caps game? strong. I know.)
Her problem is that Bernie has been on issue for decades. Do I agree with EVERYTHING the man says? No. I’ve never agreed with 100% of anyone else’s thoughts because my own life is specific and politics is a game of generalities (unless you’re super rich). But the man has been consistent AF. Like so consistent that it makes ANYONE who “plays the game” look bad. It’s just the man’s strength. Seriously, click that link. It’s kind of incredible how he’s never strayed from his message. Which, BTW, is one of many reasons the whole ‘bernie just says what you want to hear’ argument is trash — the man has always said the same thing. We just want to hear it now. It’s like he’s been wearing the same outfit for decades and that shit just came back in style. Hillary just simply can’t beat him in that arena. AND IT LOOKS BAD WHEN SHE TRIES. Don’t believe me? Watch this:
Further, does anyone remember that thing from a couple years ago? If only I could recall what it was called… Well anyway since I can’t- PSYCH IT WAS CALLED OCCUPY MFING WALL STREET. Yea, that. The point of all the marching, yelling, tear gassing, etc was not so that hippies could sleep on the steps of Goldman Sach’s. It was so that we could do our best to try to bring about change in that area. Bernie saw this as his clothes coming back in style. So boom, he threw on his pants of socio-economic justice and told us he’d like to be president. You think liberals aren’t going to love hearing that? You’re higher than the guy asleep on the steps on Goldman if so.
So what you see are people who want authenticity, wall street reform, income equality reduced, etc and then you have Hillary looking very hypocritical and even disingenuous at times when she claims to want the same thing. It has nothing to do with her being a woman. I mean really. It doesn’t. So many of the feminist articles go into how for her to be the first female president she will have to do all of those things and play the game to break through. I couldn’t disagree more. Know why? Because I WOULD VOTE FOR ELIZABETH WARREN IN A HEARTBEAT. WHY? BECAUSE SHE HAS NEVER FLIP FLOPPED OR TALKED DOWN TO HER VOTERS. I know a presidential run is different. It’s larger. It’s tougher. But Mrs. (Ms.?) Warren is like Bernie on the issues and has never (from what I’ve seen) been a political opportunist. She doesn’t have the authenticity problem. I can literally only name Bernie and Warren as politicians who have experience both in politics and staying on message.
Anyways, it’s not right to call those who support Bernie (or make fun of Hillary in a non sexist manner) “Bernie Bro’s” because many are women. Many are feminists. We aren’t sexist. We aren’t part of a larger problem. We just like another candidate more and for legitimate reasons. Most of us don’t mind your opinion either. That’s why we have a democracy, tho. Some of us aren’t into the idea of a “well-you-want-a-lot-of-things-that-just-aren’t-possible-so-just-vote-for-me-and-we-will-basically-do-what-we’re-doing-now” type of candidate. We just aren’t “settlers,” and it doesn’t mean we’re sexist.
Note: Excuse any errors as it’s late and I’m in Korea and my foot hurts. Valid excuses, all of them.
I don’t remember what I told my mother, but it must have been a lie, because my curfew would never have allowed me the time to go out to a party. The midnight carriage-to-pumpkin life was a big part of the reason many kids never saw me at parties (or any social gatherings outside of athletics for that matter). But that night I was in a car with my homies on the way to what we were told was a “party by the cliffs.” I really don’t remember who I was with, how we heard about this “party,” or what our intentions really were (I didn’t drink or anything), but I remember I felt this crazy sense of freedom and excitement at the possibility of just being there. When you’re 17 year old virgin who never even has to opportunity to party, this makes total sense.
After I had hiked down the flights of stairs, I headed down the sandy beach towards the cliffs we knew our peers would be located. I never made it.
As I approached the gathering, a small group of kids stopped me. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing here?” one of them said. It was a kid named Cyrus. We weren’t friends, but I wouldn’t have called us enemies. I barely knew him outside of whatever classroom environment we had shared in the past, so it was odd that he came on so strongly.
“What are you talking about?” I asked, confused.
“Get the fuck out of here now, you stupid nigger, before we kill you,” he replied.
I stood there shocked for probably longer than I should have. Here were four kids I had shared classes with since eighth grade, approaching me for the first time ever, in a completely racist manner. I promptly left and went home and cried to myself. These people had seen me around for years and years and never once mentioned that they hated me, and that it was racially motivated. I had had run-ins with racist people or situations in the past, but this was so different. This was home. Was I supposed to never go to the beach again? Was I supposed to now stay away from certain areas during school? Why? Just, why? I never felt comfortable within 100 yards of any of those guys again.
So a few days ago, the President of the University of Missouri resigned over student action regarding his (mis)handling of recent racial tensions on campus. I kept tabs on the story, especially once the Mizzou football players became involved and refused to play another game until he resigned. That was an epic, brutally effective way to not only call attention to the situation, but to also get results. I felt elated that athletes had somehow learned that (for some odd reason) a University can’t survive without it’s major sports. I did, however, wonder what the resignation would really do to ease the tensions? If anything, I postulated, this could escalate further with no one in a position to actually handle the situation the way he should have. I expected there would be a ton of anti-blacklivesmatter rhetoric and conspiracy theories about how the whole thing is a hoax. I expected comments like this:
I expected these things because I’m used to these things being standard reactions from people who don’t get it, or can’t get it, or (and most infuriating) have no desire to get it. I never thought about what happens when these people who don’t “get it” believe they’ve been so wronged that they must act. I never thought that these people would take to the streets and to the campus and literally terrorize black students.
I won’t repost all the hateful messages or disturbing videos here but there are plenty of them. That said, one message was made abundantly clear: black students should prepare for a “school shooting” style massacre if they dare show up tomorrow (Nov 11). Students are scared, teachers are saying they will still administer tests, police are relatively unresponsive. It’s a mess. It’s a frightening mess.
Upon hearing about what has recently unfolded at Mizzou, my mind went back to that night at the cliffs. There’s an especially helpless, scary, cold feeling when the racism is in your home. These kids are students. They live on campus. They are part of the fabric of that community, and the hate has come to meet them right there. The portion of their lives that can be a refuge from all of the negativity and hate has now been taken over, like a cancerous tumor, with little option of how to proceed. The only options are seemingly like Chemo — as harmful to their health as to the problem. MAN my heart sank when I heard this. All of the feelings have resurfaced; I feel as they feel.
But I say all of this not because I can be another outlet for the information to disseminate, but because I need people to “get it.” Don’t say you don’t, or you can’t, or you won’t “get it.” TRY TO F&*$ING GET IT. Here’s what I’ve realized: people who don’t “get it” are liable to flip and become someone who acts in ways I’m not even sure they’re proud of. Like a lot of the kids I grew up with who had never lived anywhere else or seen a different way of life so closely that they had no choice but to understand it, the people who don’t “get it” haven’t experienced enough other things/people/ways of life to even understand that they don’t “get it.” Example: one of the kids from that night at the cliffs saw me at a bar many years later and apologized. He said he never felt good about it. It was one of the most meaningful apologies of my life. The other kid, Cyrus? He killed himself a few years later. He was obviously dealing with a lot in his life and I forgive him for how he manifested it towards me. We were kids. We all did things.
What I’m saying is it takes an understanding beyond the usual “I have a black friend” state of mind. I have many non-black friends (some very close) who don’t “get it.” Why? Because they tune me out when I try to bring it up. It takes an understanding that #blacklivesmatter is not some conspiracy to wage war on whites and police. I understand that your favorite politician may say it is, or your favorite blog, and they may be right about many other things, but that is patently false. Last year I had the pleasure of marching with these folks on a few occasions. It was peaceful, but deliberate. It was powerful, yet tame. It was necessary if even one more person “got it.” It takes an understanding that minorities of all kinds aren’t looking for special treatment, but maybe putting up with the usual racism in blog comments (how many times was I called a Nigger in my one youtube video that had a million views? I dunno, maybe a million times), social media, police interaction (yea, Ive been pulled over for no reason more times that I can count), general media portrayals, video game interactions, and institutions is cool, but when it hits home, we are forced to do SOMETHING to show those who don’t “get it” that we wish they would.