Today’s Word is… CAPITALIST

[Editors Note: So yeah, been a while…let’s see if I still remember how to do this]

I’m rooting for everybody black…

What I love most about black people is how much we love US.  Problems exist in our community like any other community but it’s still ours.  When one of us wins, it’s like we all win.  Fictive kinship, it’s why your grandmother has a picture of Obama in the living room like he’s a blood relative (and why you need to explain to her that we is not doing this Biden shit…but that’s another topic for another day).  It’s why Black Panther made 1.3 billion dollars.  It’s why I watch Family Feud and root for the black family like they’re my own.  It feels good to see someone like us win, because we know how damn hard it is to do so. It’s also tribal mentality, because behind every black person excelling there’s some racism trying to pull them down so even if you don’t bang with homie like that (Woods, Tiger) you feel compelled to defend and ride for them.  And then there’s where fictive kinship and tribal mentality collide; with the notion of “black capitalism”.

Society as a whole struggles with capitalism, most view the rich as aspirational and not as the problem.  They’ve deluded themselves to think that they aren’t successful because they aren’t working hard enough and that eventually it’ll pay off.   It’s two-fold with black people because not only as rich black people #goals but we’re also careful not to critique too harshly especially around (white people) company.  We view the Oprahs, Diddys and Hovs as one of us, white people don’t give a fuck about Jeff Bezos. There’s also the sentiment that once THEY get to the peak they gon take care of the rest of us.  So last week when it was announced that Jay-Z and the NFL would be entering a new partnership, the reactions split between wait, wtf and fist pump.  Once again comes the fictive kinship, Hov having a seat at the table means *we* have a seat at the table. People believe he couldn’t dare sell out Kaepernick (even though he sold “Occupy All Streets” shirts and kept the profits, convinced Dame Dash to sell him his share of Roc A Wear for $22M when he knew there was a $200M offer on the table, willingly became the face of Brooklyn Nets as they drove people out of Brooklyn for the new arena..but he’s made some documentaries.) there has to be some larger scale plan.  Jay Z in a room with a bunch of white 1%ers? I’m riding with Hov…but the reality is, he’s a billionaire in a room with other billionaires. He’s not an outsider.  He has more in common with them, then us. Sure he agrees with us that police brutality is fucked up but he’s also of the belief that if we just bought our own hoods then we wouldn’t be in this position.  Or you can look at it as simply, the NFL was in need of serious PR with black people, were willing to pay a hefty price for it and Hov was right there willing to take the bag.  Immoral? Yes. But also, just capitalism.

What’s better than one billionaire? Two…especially when they’re the same hue as you…

Rooting for everybody black is great when it’s award shows and movie casting, but when you expand it to capitalism, it’s not quite the same.  Capitalism exists as a heirarchy, to have winners and losers.  A black billionaire isn’t much different than a white one in that they’ve gotten there destroying competitors, overcharging customers, underpaying labor, tax loopholes, etc…there’s not many honest ways to a billion dollars.  It’s not how the system is intended to work.  To exist as a privileged class, there must be an underprivileged one being exploited.  So, with all that being said why do we love black 1%ers so much?  Maybe we’ve convinced ourselves it isn’t so bad and that we can do it too if we don’t sleep and grind everyday.  Or maybe like rooting for that random black family on Family Feud, we know there’s no net benefit for us and it’s just cool to watch.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… TWENTYTWENTY

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So they say the three things you’re not supposed to discuss publicly; religion, because well touchy subject.  Salary, because they want to keep wages stagnant (the other day a colleague casually mentioned they lived in the Seaport district [apartments start at $2500] and I almost responded, “the hell are they paying yo ass?”), and politics, because like religion, it’s considered a touchy subject.  This always sounded white as hell because only white people can chalk up the 2016 election to “difference of opinion”.  Over here tween Normandy and Western,  if you voted for Trump, you the opps and I need to know this so I can treat you accordingly.  But since we folks (and hi random person who clicked a google link) I will break this politics rule and make a confession:

I’m not really feeling any of these people running in 2020

We’re less than a year away from Iowa and I’m largely meh on the field.  If the primary was tomorrow and I had to vote I’d vote for [REDACTED], but I don’t even think [REDACTED] even has a chance of winning the nomination.  If I so much as to tweet a candidate’s name I get a bunch of people (or bots) swarming my mentions and I almost fear for a 2016 repeat.  Someone had likened it to a Cheesecake Factory menu, where you just have so many options that you are either verklempt or just don’t trust anything.  Like you can’t be good at lasagna AND pho, one of them has to be off.  And that’s pretty much this 2020 Democratic field, they all can kinda maybe work but also just not be it. (Like, I really dislike [REDACTED] and think [REDACTED] brings absolutely nothing to the table but if they end up with the nomination, then what?). And so, we’re left with a crowded field of like 8 middle aged white guys in dress shirts with no ties, a handful of people we thought we liked more 3 years ago, and a bunch of possibles.  Since 1972, primary parties have averaged 10 candidates, we’re at 21?  Even the clown show that was the Republican primary in 2016 topped out at 17.  But when the bar is at least 35 years old, American, and smarter than Donald Trump, the Presidency is a Tinder profile.

Like that aforementioned Tinder, I feel like I’m forced to take what I can get because the alternative is this treasonous vapid circus peanut.  It feels like the electorate is in that same boat,  with the Alyssa Milanos  (does she still act, I feel like I only hear about her on Twitter) of the world pledging to not badmouth any candidate publicly. A little while ago, I made a joke about Booker’s make believe thug friend T Bone and  I got a DM of how dare I tear a man down and it’s people like me who are going to ensure a re-election.  Like, first of all he’s polling at 1% higher than me, and secondly that T-Bone shit is just funny.  The electorate as it stands now isn’t engaged, they’re terrified.  Like an episode of scared straight, people are flocking to [REDACTED] simply because they feel like he’d win in the general when he’s barely released a platform.  The same people who are retroactively annoyed by Obama’s centrist ways are seemingly okay with [REDACTED], who is 10x worse.

Behaviorial scientists believe that choice overload will ultimately lead to more disappointed, reluctant, unenthused voters.  Like most users on Netflix binge the same 4 shows rather than be overwhelmed by the catalog.  (Seriously, how many damn times can you watch The Office)  They conclude that even the most informed engaged voter will exhaust themselves trying to give everyone a fair look.  There’s optimists who believe a crowded field means everyone has a horse in the race and so they will follow more closely.  Personally, I’m waiting for the caucuses to clean some of this mess up.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… SPOILER

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For most of America by April 28, 2019 at 10:30pm, they will have either watched Avengers: Endgame or Game of Thrones or both. If you hadn’t you will have logged on social media and been spoiled by memes and reactions from either.  Or you been under a rock.  It’s hard to avoid spoilers when we carry around “the water cooler” in our pockets every day.  I’m in the middle when it comes to spoilers; I hate being spoiled and try not to spoil things for others but there’s also a sense of entitlement in “don’t talk about this huge pop culture thing because I plan on getting around to it eventually, and I can’t just log off for an extended period of time.” I’d make an exception for movies or if someone explicitly asks not to spoil it, or they’re literally in the middle of indulging.  When it comes to live TV it’s different; it’d be like not discussing the Super Bowl until Tuesday so everyone can have a chance to watch. But we live in a self important social media age and so everyone likes to believe the world revolves around their schedule. (Okay, maybe I’m not so in the middle).  

Narratively speaking, good storytelling is about the journey not the destination.  If the only thing that’s interesting about the story IS the twist then that is just poor writing (Yes Sixth Sense, I’m looking at you.) If you only read a book or watched a movie to just know what happened, you’d read the last chapter, watch the last 10 minutes, and never revisit anything.  I watched Game of Thrones a little late, I know there was a jaw dropping Red Wedding episode and people really was excited when Joffrey died.  I knew they was coming, I didn’t know when and when they did I was just as surprised as I would’ve been otherwise. Oh, spoiler alert. (Also, I feel like announcing the spoiler alert is almost daring the person to be spoiled, anyway).  While I can appreciate suspense and surpises, it’s not wholly necessary for my enjoyment.  I actually had Endgame spoiled for me, I didn’t realize I was spoiled until it actually happened in the movie at which point I made a note to block that person.  On principle.  But it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the film.

But that’s just me.  For the masses, I would say most people don’t want to be spoiled (even if studies show that being spoiled has no affect on the overall experience but hey) and so there’s the spoiler commandments:

  1. Always lead with “did you see/watch _________” before just blurting a reaction or posting a meme in the groupchat.
  2. The theater bathroom is not the place to discuss the movie; piss, wash your hands and go
  3. It’s only a spoiler if you believe it.
  4. No one cares, California. Just log off.  Eastern Standard Time, ho
  5. If they tell you where they are, or you’re rewatching with someone who hasn’t seen it yet, don’t “oooh oooh this part coming up tho”, shut up
  6. Talking about what happened in the source material is still spoiling
  7. Use hashtags and spell them correctly for people who want to mute
  8. It’s not a spoiler if you’re like a season behind
  9. Reality shows and biopics don’t count
  10. If it’s a leak…don’t you fucking dare.
  11. Don’t be a dick about it.

-Stan-

 

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Today’s Word is… CONSPIRACY

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I don’t entirely believe that Stevie Wonder is blind.  I won’t go so far as to say I believe the moon landing was fake, but I can kinda see how someone doesn’t really believe that shit.  (They had live footage from the damn moon in every household in 1969 but I can’t keep a WiFi signal in a plane flying over middle America in 2019).  I believe there’s other life in the universe and they know Earth is trash.  I don’t believe the government killed Nipsey Hussle because he was making a documentary about Dr Sebi curing AIDS and cancer with Herbs de Provence and alkaline water.  (Even while Sebi himself died an old man and his “trial” he won 30 years ago was over him practicing medicine without a license and technically he was an herbalist and was not giving medical treatment)  What’s been most troubling in the time since his death is that for some people his death will forever be intertwined with Sebi’s.  Nipsey Hussle meant too much to be killed in his own hood by some dude with hurt feelings.  Although there’s been thousands of cases of misunderstandings and perceived disrespect leading to untimely deaths. Nipsey was too big for this.  Nipsey’s death hurts because he was one who was doing things right, he was literally hope, shot down.  And that’s a pill that’s too hard to swallow.  Senseless gun violence? Really?   Nah, it had to be the government.

While others have mocked those who believe Nipsey’s death was a conspiracy,  I can’t bring myself to fully.  Because well, I’m a black man in America.  I would never put it past the government to do shady shit and then gaslight us, because well they have a documented history of doing shady (Tuskegee, Eugenics, Black Wallstreet, COINTELPRO, crack, the Ferguson deaths, redlining, gerrymandering, police brutality) and then gaslighting us.  Regardless if conspiracy A or B is real, the anxiety and fear black people have in this country is.  Perhaps too often “woke” is ridiculed and dismissed as paranoid and irrational, when in reality we all are subject confirmation bias and give more weight to evidence that supports what we already believe.  Nipsey himself believed his documentary would put him in the cross hairs of some powerful people.   And so some of fans believe the same. But sometimes you have to take a step back and look at facts as presented and it appears this was just an avoidable tragedy.

There’s also proportionality bias and those who can’t process major events not having major causes.  Those are the ones where even I tap out.  9/11, Sandy Hook, JFK assassination, these can’t just be things that just…happened, there HAS to be more to the story.  And so you end up in a YouTube rabbithole trying to make sense of it all.  And that’s just a little too tin foil hat for me to even try to unpack.  Even as we live in a real time information age, people are probably more likely to believe conspiracies than to do research to disprove. Which is how we end up with flat Earthers, anti vaxxers, Trump voters.  2 out of 3 are damaging society as a whole (I mean flat Earthers are grossly misinformed, but I guess it isn’t hurting anyone) and we’re left wondering should we try and educate or just let them be “woke”, over there.  Who’s to say they aren’t the ones who are right and desperately want us to see the light.  (Well, again we live in an information age some shit is easily disproven). I guess all you can do is do your own research, form your own opinions and for the love of God don’t believe shit you see in a meme on Facebook.

RIP Nipsey Hussle.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… MONSTERS

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Here in Boston, our minds and hearts are with the family of Jassy Correia, a 23 year old mother who was first reported missing after getting separated from her friends at a local club, then tragically her body was found in the trunk of a car of the suspect in Delaware.  This coming just over a month after another woman, Olivia Ambrose was reported missing after getting separated from her friends at a local bar.  (Thankfully, she was found alive several days later, and tragically she had been taken and held against her will).  In both cases, I couldn’t help but be taken aback by the immediate reaction of “so where the fuck were her friends?” I’m sure people reading this right now had the same reaction.  I’m not even going to say that it’s wrong, just misdirected.  The only person responsible for Jassy Correia’s death is her killer.  Not her, not her friends,  not her babysitter, not the club. It’s the reality of rape culture, in a perfect world women wouldn’t have to be taught to travel in packs, never take your eyes off a drink, send locations to friends…but this world is far from perfect and if Jassy had not been separated from friends, she could’ve got taken in a uber, just snatched walking down the street, attacked in her home by someone she trusted.  We’re surrounded by monsters.

It’s a fear I don’t have as a man.  I’m far enough removed from the life I used to live that I don’t even think about other hoods. If my boy leaves the party with a random woman, I don’t fear for his safety.  Hell, I tell a nigga be safe he might get offended (when you think about it, it is ridiculous that we get defensive about that but hey, fragile masculinity or whatever).  Our monsters are the ones who are supposed to protect and serve but that’s a topic for another day.  I think about how I had the same curfew as my older sisters, the reaction to me dating in comparison to theirs and how women are raised to survive rape culture more than men are raised to fight it.  Even as someone who likes to consider himself as being raised with some got damn sense.

Jassy should be home with her daughter right now.  Olivia is going to have to deal with those horrifying 3 days for the rest of her life.  Women across the world constantly having to deal with living among the monsters.  As a man, I’ve had to accept that while I’m not a monster I fit the description of one.  While I’m in the party with good vibes and intentions, to her I’m still a stranger and possible monster.   I think about how men talk about the cockblocking homegirl, the girl with the RBF who ain’t trying to talk to anybody, the girl who is only there to dance with her friends and the mild inconvenience of not being able to get a shot off pales in comparison to her overall safety and comfort.  Screaming #NotAllMen to the heavens don’t erase the reality that there’s still men who are.  (Probably the main ones screaming #notallmen).  The energy used to show you aren’t a monster can be used to hold accountable the ones who are, and being aware and vigilant.  You don’t have to be a hero, but you have to be decent.  If not, we’re coming for you too.

-Stan-

 

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Today’s Word is… BEG

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I’m gon swallow my pride, say I’m sorry.  Stop pointing fingers; the blame is on me. I want a new life, and I want it with you.  If you feel the same, don’t ever let it go…

That’s that good ol fashioned begging R&B.  That I can’t eat, I can’t sleep shit.  Wanya made up a whole spirit to get his queen back.  We don’t even know what he did. But he sorry.  (probably a break baby…then again Boys II Men are too lame to cheat, he probably just ignored her call and overreacted).  Gen Xers lament that music don’t have this same level of vulnerability, today’s R&B is too passive aggressive, too prideful.  Because well, millennials are passive aggressive and prideful.  It’s not baby please take me back, it’s more like damn, I wanted to marry you one day. Welp.  The vulnerability starts and ends at acknowledgement that they might not be good at this love shit.  They aren’t going to DO anything about it, but at least they know now.  I could include myself in that same vulner-ish category (I mean, well, it’s been well documented here).  While millennials are flighty, we’re also lazy so that leads to a large number of couples breaking up, getting back together, breaking up again, getting a Tinder, remembering dating is trash, getting back together, moving in together, seeing their friends from college get married, wonder why they aren’t at that point yet, getting a puppy, one person really wants to get married, they getting another puppy instead, they break up and even though there’s two dogs, someone gets both.  Perhaps this generation doesn’t beg because there’s too many options (or at least the appearance of such).

Personally, I’m admittedly too proud to beg, at least at this point in my life.  I’d fight for my wife, I’d fight for my family, a girlfriend? Girlfriiiiiiiiend *Soulja Boy voice*  It gets a little more dicey.  Frankly, I just don’t believe it works.  Even when it does, you never get the same person back, never get the same relationship back.  Begging is easy when it’s a surface issue, like infidelity.  You fucked up, you know exactly what you did wrong and how to fix it.  Apologize and behave from this day forward. Problem. Solution. Now, it’s just an “up and down” in your relationship story.  (and no one loves telling that story more than a man who cheated and got forgiven.  He”s gonna bring it up in every birthday post, every anniversary, if you die first it’s going in the eulogy). Never mind whatever issues led up to the infidelity or even acknowledgment of the fact that you might not even be ready for this relationship you just lost because it’s now simply about the cheating.

When it get’s more difficult is when the issue isn’t something surface, but foundational.  I’m not happy, I just can’t do this right now, how do you beg to be with someone who just feels like the timing isn’t right?  (Spoiler: You don’t, they just don’t want you).  It’s one thing to be left when you clearly violated the relationship, it’s another when they just don’t want the relationship anymore.  Damn trying to get them back you’re still taken aback by the fact that they decided they didn’t want YOU anymore.  It’s a different blow to the ego than I got caught cheating.   Sure, you can just swallow your pride and accept all blame like Wanya, and now you’re in the same position as the cheater, fighting tirelessly to fix a relationship while the other person holds the leverage.  And you didn’t even do anything wrong, you just don’t want to lose this person.  Maybe they’re worth it.

I’ve had relationships end and deep down, I knew if I just called, begged, made a gesture, forgave things would work themselves out…Hell, there were times I did.  It worked for a few more months, but over time I was still me, she still her and our issues still our issues.  Or I found myself being the only one truly invested in keeping the relationship togehter.  Then there was times where I just…let it go.  You leave and the door locks behind you.  Breaking up, making up and begging only prolongs the inevitable.  Sometimes things have just run their course, or you want different things, or no matter how hard you try there’s too much baggage and the slate will never be clean.  And that’s ok.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… GROWTH

Over the past few days, the internet has been abuzz after Liam Neeson, while promoting a movie that’s basically like every other movie he insists on making, made a confession:

“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody–I’m ashamed to say that–and I did it for maybe a week,” he told The Independent, “hoping some ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could, kill him.”

For those keeping score at home, as I write this February 5th, 2019, it would and should be Trayvon Martin’s 24th birthday, but instead he was followed, harassed, provoked and killed. It was also less than a week ago when Jussie Smollett, was allegedly followed, harassed, provoked and attacked, thankfully still here to tell the tale. Or you know the long documented history of lynch mobs being started by well, an allegation from a white woman. I mean, not that there is ever a good time to confess you was strolling the neighborhood hunting black people, but I mean, he picked the WORST time. What he was attempting to accomplish in this (hopefully) career suicide statement was that he was blinded by vengeance and “primal” rage and after some cardio and therapy he can say he’s past his racist ways. Now, as a black man, I can say I hope he has changed. That he’s truly remorseful, that he has grown since then. But also, as a black man… Fuck you. All them movies since Taken are trash anyway.

People should grow and mature for growth’s sake but too often I feel like people are only apologizing with the expectation of being forgiven. When they aren’t, you see how sorry they wasn’t (see Hart, Kevin). Liam Neeson has to hold this L for the rest of his career, and we’ll see how long it takes for him to feel like black people are overreacting. Louis C.K. was sorry for about a year. Aziz Ansari, 8 months. It goes beyond celebrity, however. We are all about 10 years into this social media era. 10 years of self documentation. We are also in this receipts era where all you have to do is trend on Twitter and some people with too much time on their hands are going to dig through your old tweets for anything problematic. I’m able to be nuanced about these things, I joined Twitter at 20, I’m sure I’ve said some shit I would take back a decade later. However, I was still old enough to know better about most things. When I was 20, I thought wallet chains were cool, drank Vodka, and wore t shirts over polos. I wasn’t cracking rape jokes and bashing black women for clout. Like with Neeson, do I hope these people grew and matured for their own sake, yes. Do I still judge them, also yes.

What needs to be understood about growth and problematic actions of the past is that the society at large is not obligated to let that shit go. Nor does admitting it under the guise of well we all do ________, we all need to change. It’s accountability without being accountable. The same way white people all believe racism exists but never believe they themselves are racist. And so, Liam Neeson, his non apology and his particular set of prejudices can all get the fuck outta here.

-Stan-

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