Monday, January 15, 2018

Black Baby Bodies and You

Gird your loins. Our annual day of silly rhetoric is upon us. Google Doodle, which is now comically consistent in its "inclusive" policy (you'd think it would occur to someone over there it would serve their own cause to, ya know, lighten up for one minute and recognize an achievement that doesn't serve the diversity narrative) reminded me first thing this morning, with a standard icon of the cause, the hopeful, innocent black girl.


Black children became kitsch icons as a result of the civil rights movement. Objectively the average black appears relatively child-like to the average white (though the more respectable he is the more he can't bear to think it). Blacks' child-like nature--otherwise a justification for racism--blends seamlessly into the romantic narrative of black suffering, already psychologically originating in large part in whites' impression of blacks being the superior savage, unhindered by the neuroticism arising from higher awareness.

Likewise black children are more children than yours; more vulnerable, more innocent, more the "hope of the future". Naturally an earnest liberal whitopia will be full of such iconography. Here in Portland a recent mural went up.



Watching the cliche take form I was struck by the tyranny of this imagery. The future belongs to the worthies, the black and brown children, who look on hopefully. The "Spirit of Atlanta" welcomes the world with a spirit of triumphalism:


The over-representation of "diversity" in advertising and municipal art represents a direct assertion to white Americans that the future is not theirs.

But the past has to be hearkened, even for those who hasten the future, and the glorious past for civil rights is getting fainter in the growing miasma it's engendered. Civil rights is a mythology in progress at the same time it remains a political movement (some would say now the proverbial racket) and now a movement with a new challenge, maybe, on the horizon in the form of the alt right.

I've long thought it works in black advocacy's favor that the King family has the unusual arrangement of holding the rights to his recorded speeches, for which it apparently charges a significant fee, thus limiting our exposure to them.

What impressed the earnest and the angry so much back then (if it indeed did) sounds comically dated now. The musical delivery, the pomposity, the earnestness all sound--to me at least--as if they come from a fundamentally remote time, with a commensurately remote understanding of the present. All of this while the substance of the civil rights narrative in the sixties, examined in hindsight, is revealed as hopelessly naive, its egalitarian assumptions disproven and its promise openly betrayed. That must explain all the hopeless air that fills its rhetoric now, its open flight from objective argument.

So let the Megaphone belt out the shrill kitsch. I can take it if they can.

But as for us, as always, we must think of the children.

1 comment:

Caleo said...

I haven't been reading your blog for long, but I just wanted to say you're a very good writer, and your perspective is appreciated.
It's rare to come across an articulate white guy with blue collar roots and sensibilities.
I was introduced to your work through your interview with Kevin Grace on his now defunct podcast.
Also enjoy your contributions to Luke Ford's chatrooms, or whatever it is he's doing there.