On rocknyc And Racism In The USA
I’ve always been more comfortable discussing racism than sexism, as a man who hit his prime in the 1970s some form of sexism came with the owners permit, the aggressive pursuit of women was what we did and what was expected of us. Getting women drunk and having sex with them wasn’t date rape, it was seduction.
But racism baffled me. I was raised in England in the 1960s and I really didn’t know any people of color till I left to Lebanon and in Lebanon there were Black Arabs and White Arabs (remember: Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was a person of color -that wasn’t why he was assassinated), but there was no stigma and no slavery, I didn’t see any power struggle… it didn’t matter.
In 1975 I spent a year in the South Of France (long story) and became friends with a black kid visiting for two weeks while the Navy was in port. He told me that visiting other countries had revealed to him how racism worked in the Bronx, expressing delight at how myself and my friends were benightedly oblivious to it.
By the time I got into hip hop and completed my musical education, circa “The Message” in 1982, I had a better grasp of what was happening, beyond the bugaboo (which I ignored) that Harlem was white man’s grave. And over the years of listening to hip hop, and by the 90s Latin American pop, I remained both (hopefully) color blind in both the big and the small aspects of life. As an antisocial man, I don’t have many close friends. From 1986 to today I’ve had two best friends, the first was a Black-American with roots in Jamaica, the other a Black- American of African extraction. This isn’t a “some of my best friends are white” at all, rather, as an Arab on both sides of my family, I consider myself an asymptomatic person of color. I consider myself the other and I am drawn to other people who are considered the other.
The only time I have felt racist was in the mid-1980s when over a two month period I was mugged three times by teenage black men, once on Lower East Side where I worked, once in the Bronx after a show, and once in Queens, till one day a friend pointed out that I was crossing streets when black men approached. It took me a conscious effort to stop, but I did stop.
Also, culturally, I am a huge admirer of Black America -they made the Blues, Jazz and rock and roll… how couldn’t I believe they were somewhat superior to the rest of the world?
I learnt about slavery and systemic racism, while never considering myself a part if the problem, my admiration grew for people of color in the US. Life is tough enough and if you add racism to the mix it is simply much much worse. When I think about Sudan, Yemen, Ethiopia, places where children literally starve to death, I wonder what my life would be like if I was born there to a poor family, but I know what the answer is: I would starve to death as well. If I was born to a poor black family in Chicago or New York City, my trajectory would be the same as any person of color: poverty, no healthcare, no work, prison, and a short life. There is no superiority, on a personal level I don’t believe I am smart enough to fight my way out of it: if you’ve never been given a chance then you have never been given a chance and the proof is scientific and unquestionable: for Covid-19 contagion rate is 19% in New York State but 50% in the Bronx. When President Obama was elected I was overjoyed and, much like the way I claimed the invasion of Iraq would lead to democracy, celebrated the end of racism… but not so fast. Still, those eight years were wonderful on every conceivable level.
If there is a reckoning coming, I don’t feel apart of it. Myself and rocknyc have nothing whatsoever to do with racism, as a website and as an individual we just plain don’t give a fuck what your skin pigmentation is and abhor the terrors placed upon our black and Latino friends and families.
The US owes everything to people with different skin pigmentation than the prevailing white one. Without slavery, without importing Asian people to build the railroads, without stealing Texas from Latin Americans, without Semitic scientists running from Nazi Germany with blueprints for a nuclear bomb, the USA would be physically represented by Donald Trump and Michael Pence, haggard, old, incestuous with the same tired DNA making the rounds, doddering, and floundering in its white grace. Nothing is better for a country’s life than adding people from different parts of the world and assimilating them: taking from them and giving to them.
#blacklivesmatter not to some nefarious, welfare state loving, criminals populating the prison system, it matters to EVERYONE… without it expect more and worse Donald Trumps.
Nothing I’ve written about has been affected by anything that has happened this year. It has always been that way and always will.