Categories
Texts

Minority Bitches Drive the Social Divides Further

The New York Times ran an opinion piece by Ekow N. Yankah titled “Can My Children Be Friends With White People?”. The author deliberates why the real friendship between White and Black kids (and adults) is highly unlikely, commits himself to teaching his sons to never trust a white person, and generally disseminates the idea of racial mistrust thanks to, you are right, Donald Trump.

Unlike that Black man, I prefer to refer to people with a capital letter signifying that “black” and “white” is not about the colour of their skin but a general term for a group of people when it is for some reason necessary to bring forward their racial ancestry. Unlike that man I do not use the term African-Americans because Black Americans are not Africans, not all of them are descendants of people from Africa, and Black Americans are the same as Black British or Black Cubans. Stressing the skin colour is not the best way to refer to people. However, this is both scientifically fine (human beings are anthropologically classified into races, though people may choose to feel and be united despite the race factor) and acceptable by the very group in question (Blacks refer to themselves as Blacks). Today, race and phenotype can be treated with slight differences in various countries. But if Black people refer to themselves as Black people or African-Americans instead of Americans, who am I to contradict them.

The whole point though is not in the way that would be appropriate for calling whole groups of the population. The point is that minorities do everything in their power to divide the countries further. And they start by teaching their kids, inbreeding social divides in the little ones, making sure that when grown their “boys” treat people with another skin colour, ethnicity, language or sexual preferences with distrust, fear, contempt, and hostility.

Mr. Yankah speaks about racial wounds, about the hurt of all sorts. And it sounds quite earnest. We all know about recent history, about today’s politics. He knows it from within. The Black Americans live through it every day. But the reason they do is not only in White politics (and surely not only in the White House politics). It lies somewhere mid-way, where the Blacks deny their children the right to decide for themselves if the Whites can be their friends. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were as many Whites denying their children the same right in relation to Black friends. But the liberal political correctness and moral lynching of anyone with another opinion shush the potential authors of “Can My Children Be Friends With Black People?”. It would look bizarre, borderline, crazy. Why doesn’t “Can My Children Be Friends With White People?” sound crazy to the polished American public?

At the end of his piece, Mr. Yankah states apologetically that “there is hope” and “we can declare that we stand beside one another against cheap attack and devaluation; that we live together and not simply beside one another”. Nice offer to the White people to stand together and fight together after rejecting the idea of friendship. Way to unite for the common good — tell your opponents that you need them to help you but you don’t actually want them as your friends.

This does not stop with only the Blacks vs Whites. In the same manner adopted kids of gay parents could be taught to not try to be friends with straight kids; children of American Indians should be told to hate the White kids due to even more substantiated historical reasons; or even boys may be instructed to hate the girls to the point of totally avoiding them just in case. This is bad education — it leads to social division instead of social unity. Not that this unity is undoubtedly achievable or even wholesome. But at least this is some ideal the human race should strive to achieve.

Mr. Yankah has every right to care for his children’s well-being and to freely express his opinion. His children have every right to think differently and learn to find friends by shared interests, common passions, even coincidental oddities — not by the colour of their skin, the eye shape or the gender (should I say gender identification?).

And when those children make friends with other kids with a different skin tone it shouldn’t be just for pretense, it should be for real. When you pretend to be someone you are not, you subdue your own personality to the point of either hating it or hating the others. When you are made to subdue it you definitely hate even more. That is why real friendship must be based on real foundation instead of superficial political correctness. And this is why real unity is achieved when all sides of the human spectrum are treated as colours of the same rainbow, not separate rainbows.

Minority talk is good to a certain point only — when it helps defend the rights of minority representatives in a better way than when this minority is not recognized or even oppressed. At other times, minority talk is dividing the nation, underlining the differences instead of similarities. It is somewhat okay when all the participants of such talk are adults, but counterproductive when kids are instructed in terms of minority divisions and taught to act according to such divisions. This would never stop the social tension and rifts between various groups. This would hurt those kids just like some political grievance has hurt Mr. Yankah. He was bruised and decided to immunize his children in the worst possible way — by planting mistrust in their minds still open to the world. No denying that the world can be quick to bruise those kids in its turn, but isn’t it too much bruising?

There is only one way I can understand Mr. Yankah’s mistrust. It stems from the very medium where his piece was published. The New York Times cunningly manipulated the title. What came out online as “Can My Children Be Friends With White People?” is published in print as “Can I Befriend White People?”. The liberal press is dividing the people and the nation at the same time as it declares how divisive the new administration is. But what is the difference then between the author, the newspaper, and Trump with his supporters? Each is serving the interests of its own minority group — the hurt Blacks, the hurt liberals, the hurt conservatives. They are hurt for many reasons, one of which is that their parents taught them all to mistrust the others, to keep together with their own minority, and to carry this pain into the future.

If the past is any indication of the future, these people might temporarily succeed on an institutional level, but they fail on so many personal levels. People who are able to put their pain and mistrust aside rise above the wrong lessons their parents might have taught them, and make the future look more promising. Minorities certainly enrich the nation but if left in their cocoons they do not shape a nation. Does Mr. Yankah want a divided country for his children or does he want a united nation?

Categories
Texts

Non-Consensual Hollywood from a Gay Bar Perspective

I remember going to a gay bar in New Orleans a lot. It was a lot of fun because of the music, the scene, and socializing. The downstairs was always packed on Sunday nights — not until late though, as most men retired early to have a decent sleep before Monday. But if you caught the early evening there would be plenty of handsomeness and even raunchiness to please your eyes. Sometimes a guy would take a free seat next to you at a wall table, start a conversation, see where it went. Sometimes you would cruise the bar and look at everyone hoping that somebody might look back. Sometimes they did, but it ended with just looking. These guys were either with someone or clearly not interested. But other times when you were standing in the middle of the crowd some hand would touch you lightly on the ass or pat you on the shoulder, and an inviting look told you that somebody else was interested in your company.

Most touching occurred only virtually by looking at guys, groping them with your eyes, making all sorts of things to them, and with them. You would hope that some of the patrons were making all sorts of things with you in their brief imagination as well. But there was always a chance for physical contact, lots of it actually — dancing with a guy who fancied you, touching guys gently to let you pass through the crowd, letting some drag queen squeeze your tits in her playful mode between the shows, and certainly that occasional climax of your longing when you felt someone’s hand was not asking you to let them pass but inviting you to a conversation.

It would be too quick to assume that conversation was only a pretext. It often was, but all of us being adults we knew what we wanted if we wanted anything with that hand’s owner. Nobody asked any permission to touch you if only this request was glittering in the corner of their eyes when they met yours. Permission granted. After all, it was just a gentle touch, a light pat, a soft squeeze. Wasn’t it why you came there? Not just that, but ultimately yes. It was a way to meet people, make friends, find lovers.

Not that everybody was busy touching other guys. Not that everybody would be reciprocating. Not that everybody would dare freely grope someone by their ass. But that was okay to try and receive either permission to proceed or a look of rather not. Everything was strictly consensual. There was no sex but it was — touching, kissing, groping, lightly jerking, and anticipating. Or looking for ways to escape the arms of your new friend if you suddenly stopped fancying him. You could just say no, and you could pretend you needed to go. Nobody would force you to anything — but some people wanted to be playfully forced, they longed for it.

White men, view from Bourbon Pub, New Orleans

I wrote a middle part of this piece about the current wave of sexual harassment scandals ripping through Hollywood. But I decided to omit some of it and rearrange it for several reasons:

I haven’t been a victim of sexual abuse and I don’t think I have ever been a victim of sexual harassment. Therefore, I don’t know what a victim feels, why they choose to keep silent, how they cope with the situation and people, and what makes them break their silence much later.

I don’t quite want to accuse the majority of accusers of being second-class mostly unknown celebs returning to the spotlight at the expense of more talented or more successful colleagues, and those men and women who speak out with substantial reasons behind their accusations.

I don’t want to defend the notorious Hollywood tradition and culture of sexual harassment, abuse, threats, intimidation, sleeping your way to the titles of best pictures, and flashing your dicks outside the shooting stage.

However, I also find it strange, suspicious, and bizarre that:

Most accused are men. Most accused are White men.

Presumption of innocence doesn’t work when it comes to celebrities.

Everybody suddenly claims that they have always known.

People are quick in their judgments and casting down their idols with ease.

I believe in several things.

I believe that the American judicial system is capable of clearing out the innocent ones and smashing the real villains. Mistakes happen, the mechanism is slow, and the fact that victims were silent certainly doesn’t help. But if justice is governed by the system, this system must be used instead of only the court of public opinion and allegations on social media.

I believe that men and women need to feel safe at work and at home, in bars and elevators, in dark streets, and in bright ballrooms. People need to know the boundaries and how to communicate with each other so that their “no” is not interpreted as “maybe yes”, and their “yes” does not turn into “no” years later. This is a painful process and it would be rather idealistic to expect people to achieve a foolproof level of personal relations.

I believe that the way to this better world should not go through witch-hunting of particular demographic groups, unsubstantiated accusations, and reverse actions on our admiration of someone’s talent.

I believe, however, that if one person wants to have sex with another person and another person agrees it is their private decision and their conscience as long as nobody forces anything and nobody pretends to be an innocent lamb later. So, casting couch is a thing that might co-exist with the fair casting process. Aspiring artists must have fair and equal access to their potential jobs which would not include any sexual favors to those in power. But the talentless artists have every right to get the job by consensually sleeping with producers or directors — after all, the public would easily see who has the talent and who is just a one-time oddity.

I believe that when parents of a 14-year old boy or a 13-year girl let them go to late-night adult parties unchaperoned knowing pretty well that adult parties come with alcohol and all sorts of adult things, the said boy or girl cannot put all the blame on someone else.

I believe that when everybody says they knew, they are in fact accusing themselves of perpetrating the crime. They — all this bunch of people pretending to be morally good — are nothing less than hypocrites, and accomplices. They kept up appearances when it suited them, they did not care about justice or victims’ rights. When it was useful to be friends with powerful figures they were. When it now became dangerous to support their former colleagues or friends they don’t. If you know for sure — say it right then and there. Sometimes actual abusers don’t make me as sick as all this nice crowd of people who knew but pretended things were fine, made jokes, and continued business as usual.

I believe that this business is dirty and brutal. One day you bring millions to the studios, another day your contract is torn, the projects are canceled, and your face is hastily substituted in the almost ready films with somebody else who has been luckier. The good thing is the studios do not retrospectively wipe you from the already released movies. Yet. But your career is effectively killed. All because the studios care about the money, and they cannot easily discard the public opinion about those who may either bring millions or can make them lose millions.

Finally, though not hopeful that Spacey’s or Piven’s careers can be reborn I am sure nothing would stop me from admiring whatever outstanding work they have managed to perform so far. They (and others) might be terrible people in life but they are undoubtedly great talents still capable of giving us aesthetical pleasure from their on-screen acts.

If one day I go back to that gay bar in New Orleans I am not sure if things are still the same after all these years. Do men still go cruising, do they still touch each other, do they kiss? Or are they scared this behavior is no longer safe even in their free time, even with the like-minded people, even with the mutual consent? Or maybe the world of gay bars is still intact, and people are still honest and open there?

It never hurt to touch other men there. It never hurt to find a polite reason to avoid talking to someone. It never hurt feeling that you were among your comrades in arms so to speak. And I now declare that every single man who has ever touched me, looked at me, spoke to me, danced with me, or made out with me (in or beyond the bar limits) did so with my heartfelt consent. Hopefully, other men will feel the same if I happen to revisit.

Categories
Texts

Hymne à l’amour

They cried, cried openly, and with open eyes watching her sing the hymn to love in memory of the beloved ones fallen in the city of love. It was a show, but it felt absolutely sincere. Nobody asked those people to cry on camera like nobody asked for a tribute. It just felt natural.

It is common saying here in Russia that American smiles are artificial and people don’t really feel what they look, that it is just a silly tradition. While the Russians are said to be looking grim yet being very hospitable and welcoming. I will not argue with either of the opinions. But when I was listening to Celine Dion and watching the whole audience stand and cry I realized that it is possible to feel and look the same, both sincerely, and that this is the best way.

I am sure there have been shows like this on Russian TV with moments of silence and some patriotic song to follow. But never have I felt touched or convinced, especially when I saw stony faces and unemotional singing. I cannot say that the Russians are so indifferent, cold-hearted, or reserved. They can feel deeply and prove it with action. Just like the Americans or the French can, I am sure. But we live in the times of televised shows and sometimes we need to be touched deeper than the level of state patriotism or state mourning. Sometimes we need to feel truly sympathetic and truly compassionate to the core so much that it might even push away the indifference and the spite, the disconnectedness, and the hatred even if for just as long as the song lasts.

I would say this and immediately entail anger with my words. When I was watching Celine Dion and her audience I felt that the Americans are a great nation in their own way. Ordinary people are great. They do their jobs in the daytime, and then they gather in the evening to show the whole world that they are united before the face of terror. Well, probably just like the French gathered after the attacks, clasped their hands, and listened to that piano man’s Imagine. They were not afraid to show their feelings, to cry and be there in that song, in that love, and with their love. Despite all the differences, despite all the daytime issues, despite even their politics.

There is still hope for us here too. The Russians went in thousands to lay flowers to that bridge where an opposition politician was killed, and they came in thousands to the French Embassy. There are people here who wouldn’t come to the embassy to throw stones just like there are still people left here who would cry when disaster strikes and who would do it with their open heart. It is impossible to live in the country if you think that there are no such people around. It would be impossible to live here if all the tears and compassion were only there, in a video from some far-away television show.

I truly hope that the cream of the crop on both sides of the ocean can save us with their love. We should help them with our love. Make love not war is never out of the agenda, but maybe even more so now. If we let love in and win we may see better us in a better world, we would be more ready to face whatever comes our way, united in our love and in our sympathy. Make love not war between ordinary people every day, let your hearts win this battle with the cold-hearted brains that drive us apart. And then we would rejoice in the cities of love and valleys of pure thoughts. We would all be compatriots on this Earth – the planet so beautiful that it could not have been made for anything but love.

Categories
Texts

Are We Ready?

A correspondent of a Russian TV news broadcast sounded reproachful when he said that previous terrorist attacks in France haven’t taught the Parisians any lessons and that the French were not ready for the attacks of November 13. But is it at all possible to be ready for such acts? And why should people never be ready for terrorism?

Image source: @LesCartons

We always watch horrific videos and pictures from scenes of any terrorist act in dismay, especially if such acts happen in our own country, with our people or in some “Christian place”. I know that the last bit sounds ghastly, but I am sure that if we are completely honest with ourselves we can say that explosions in some Asian or African location do not evoke such sympathy or TV attention. Anyway, we are always at least somewhat compassionate and terrified wherever and whenever anything happens. We are people after all.

People are not naturally programmed to mourn and suffer for long. It is human to move on and enjoy life. We would certainly remember some things and feel connected to others, but days of mourning pass to make way for ordinary days. We might reflect on what happened and even reassure ourselves that lightning never strikes twice in the same place, that we are more vigilant and that measures are taken to protect good citizens from bad ones.

In fact, measures can be taken in some areas and lightning won’t strike in exactly the same place. But it will strike anyway. There will always be people who are artificially programmed to kill, kill demonstratively, kill under the pretext of some religious or radical belief. The modern world with all of its counter-terrorist forces, years of experience and training, security checks and internet transparency has not gone far from the world of the 1970s with its numerous hijackings, European radicals, and East-West confrontation.

If we think about it all this political mess does not really matter. As I’ve said, we will stop, mourn, reflect and move on. It is impossible to always mourn and stay scared. It is necessary to go back to our daily chores and joys. People tend to forget many things and their alertness slackens very quickly.

Going back to that reporter who said that the Parisians were not ready. I could ask the reporter if those 224 Russians who perished in the jet over Sinai were ready? Or if dozens of other Russians who died in previous terrorist acts in our country were ready? Were they? Is it possible to be ready to die any minute? Is it even necessary to be ready?

Credit: Xinhua/Li Muzi

Surely, we should all be somewhat prepared. It is vital to know the basics of behavior in case of an emergency, including that of terrorism. It is good to be ready to fight for your life, to help others, and even possibly to prevent things from happening. Just like I learned what to do in case of a nuclear war when I was in school. It doesn’t mean that I should go around with a protective suit and a spade for a dugout.

How could the Parisians have been ready? All right, there might have been security checks in public places like that club. But it is impossible to install roadblocks at every café, stadium and shopping mall, just like it is impossible to always stop fanatics from blowing themselves in public. We are not all psychologists, counter-terrorism specialists, paramedics or gun-carrying robots. Besides, terrorist attacks are planned to be unpredictable even with all the advanced intelligence. So, it can happen anytime anywhere. How is it possible to be ready for that and not go nuts?

We cannot all live in total fear all the time. If we did life would be miserable. That would be one more great achievement on the terrorist side. While if we manage to keep our faith in the future, our heads up and our life full then we can undermine the very essence of terrorism – instilling fear in the general public.

Should we let some bastards make us constantly frightened to go out of our houses, take buses and underground, fly planes and attend concerts? No, we should not. We can be ready to deal with situations when they happen. We should vote for governments that manage to provide better safety and intelligence without taking our civil rights from us. We must go on with our lives.

There is one more aspect to the problem. It is easy to manipulate a scared crowd. When we succumb to everlasting fear and “readiness” we let not just the terror inside our society but the terrorism and terrorists. Special agencies ought to be always on the lookout and prepared. When they say that everybody has to be prepared it means that the state is cancelled and it is time to hand out guns to people saying that every man for himself. Is it what that Russian TV reporter meant or wanted?

PS: I specifically chose not to post popular graphics with “Pray for Paris” line. To pray for what? Why pray? It is better to stand strong knowing that you are right than kneel and pray as if this would bring back the fallen ones. Let our enemies pray instead.

Categories
Texts

Stop With The Kids

We’ve had quite a discussion with my English students today. They read this article on suggestions to legalize drugs in America to make drug use less criminal and more open to non-repressive methods of dealing with it. I asked them about their opinion and quite naturally received a negative answer – drugs cannot and should not be legalized in Russia. The reason? Kids will then try drugs for sure and become addicts. This kids-argument and save-our-children stance has become ridiculously predictable and even destructive to the point of harming those whom it is supposed to protect.

I asked my students why they thought that the legalization of drugs would lead to more children becoming drug addicts. The replies were also predictable – legal drugs mean easy access, besides, children don’t listen to parents and teachers who would say that drugs are bad for them.

Though I agree that kids tend to sometimes act opposite to what their parents tell them, I cannot simply let this argument fly. If we did then most of the parental education turned essentially useless. What is the point of telling kids what is bad and what is good if we believe that they will always and definitely do it their own way? What is the point of wasting time and effort if parents knew that this is all really wasted?

The thing is, it isn’t wasted and there is a good point in telling children right from wrong. They won’t always do it your way, they might disagree with certain things, be stubborn and require extra time and words, but talking and setting example works, or we’d all be addicts and criminals of some sort by now.

Good parents will set a good example. Even better parents will talk to their children and listen to them too. If a child knows that they can always come to their parents and discuss things if a child sees a positive image in their day-to-day life I see no reason why this child should definitely go the wrong way. Well, things happen and nobody guarantees anything, but it is better to try and talk, then try again and again.

Instead, adults prefer to spend their time in a more pleasant way than dealing with their kids’ millions of questions and those millions of options – some good, some bad – that children face in their early life. Unsurprisingly, many children stumble, listen to their friends, and even follow their parents’ bad example. Who else could they listen to if their parents are always busy or unfriendly? Why not try things that their parents do themselves?

My students reasoned that if drugs were legalized then it would be easier to get them. Is finding drugs impossible for people who want to get them now, I fired back as if I were one of the Democratic candidates we’ve read about. I was told that a few years ago chemical salts were sold freely everywhere in Russia. My answer, those salts were mostly bought by adults (otherwise we’d have known as this is such a TV topic). Adults are not children and can make their own decisions. So why stop adults who know well about the disastrous effects of such salts and still go buy them? Should we protect idiots in their right minds? And where does your save-our-children argument fit in now?

Yet it fits pretty well in all kinds of situations in Russian public and political discourse. The tricky thing is that in most of these cases nobody is really trying to protect children but rather use children as a soft spot in the public mind.

Another example was with the ban on the so-called gay propaganda. Obviously, only Russian politicians know what that is and are afraid that they might fall victim. But they are adults and still feel that it would be awkward to use grown-ups in fighting sexual diversity. Here comes the protect-kids-case and it becomes illegal to draw homosexuality (let alone transgenderism) in any bright colors just because some even hypothetical children might hear it and apparently (in politicians’ view) become gay. The fact that some of these children can actually be gay is not an acceptable reason as this would be used against you in terms of “you’ve just turned them gay with your words”.

One of the extreme cases of counter-productive policy (or, should I say, politics) of literally killing children under the umbrella of the so-called protection is when Russian authorities stopped sanctioning foreign adoptions of Russian children (specifically those with rare medical conditions) in the midst of rhetorical hostilities with the West. Television was used to prepare the public by showing reports about several former Russian children mistreated, murdered, or accidentally killed in American families.

So now orphans and children whose parents left them after birth because they couldn’t support those kids or because such kids had medical conditions or disabilities stay in Russian asylums without any hope of being adopted by willing foreign families. Some children die, some don’t get enough qualified medical help, some grow up as orphans. At the same time, many more kids who grow up with both or at least one parent suffer from child abuse, mistreatment, beating, negligence and, you’ve guessed it, bad example of parents who smoke, chain drink, and possibly use drugs. The number of children who die in Russian families because of mistreatment of some sort is surely much higher than the number of such deaths among Russians adopted by foreign families. Yet the save-our-children argument worked well and only in one direction.

So, when you hear this argument next time try and think who’s trying to protect whom? It might turn out that when somebody speaks about the urgent need to protect our children from some evil, what they really want is to either ban something or protect themselves (i.e., adults) from being adults and making sensible choices for themselves. It just so happens that cowards prefer to use children as a way to hide their own weaknesses or some evil political agenda. And no, I am against legalizing drugs in Russia but I can try not using children as a reason.