Tag Archives: society

America’s Negro Cracker Problem: none of us are free

Part two in a series.

There’s a rising tide on the rivers of blood
But if the answer isn’t violence, neither is your silence

– Pop Will Eat Itself, “Ich Bin Ein Auslander”

When all is said and done, nothing communicates the racism and knee-buckling stupidity of all-too-wide swaths of our nation quite like video. So if you don’t trust me to tell the truth about these folks, maybe you’ll trust their own words.

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America’s Negro Cracker Problem: Ich bin ein Auslander

Part one in a series.

Listen to the victim, abused by the system
The basis is racist, you know that we must face this

In 1991 Pop Will Eat Itself produced one of the most damning comments on racism in society in the history of popular music. “Ich Bin Ein Auslander” was specifically aimed at anti-immigrant racism in Europe, but over the past 17 years it’s been impossible for me to hear the song without mapping its penetrating, undeniable truth onto our American context. Our black auslanders aren’t recent arrivals (although many of our brown ones are), but they nonetheless remain social, political, economic and cultural outsiders, and whatever progress they may have made in the several hundred years since they first arrived in shackles, only a fool can believe that the basis is no longer racist.

I said some time back, as the presidential election lurched into overdrive, that the heavy racist stuff was coming. Read more

WordsDay: The hegemony of poetry vs. lyrics, part 2

A couple weeks I go I offered up part one in a series on poetry vs. lyrics, noting from firsthand experience the differences between the two. In brief, I’ve always felt like it was wrong to call rock stars poets – even if their words are fantastic, as they often are, the very nature of bending words to suit a song structure makes what they do a very different thing from what poets do.

In that piece, I looked at the song version of “Hegemony,” which I penned for Fiction 8‘s most recent CD, Project Phoenix. “Hegemony” was adapted for music from an existing poem, which I wrote for my most recent book, Chained to the Gates of Heaven (a book that is in search of a publisher, by the way – so if you know somebody….)

In this installment, Read more

WordsDay: the hegemony of poetry and lyrics

Reach out and touch me now
Aphrodite said
You aren’t the only one
with armies in your head

We’re fond of calling our great rock stars poets. Dylan is a poet. Springsteen is a poet. John Lennon was a poet. Jim Morrison (*gag*) was a poet. And so on. Certainly the first three (have) produced some marvelous words, but as a poet – forgive me if I call myself a “real” poet here – I’ve never quite been willing to accord their work the status of poetry. This isn’t necessarily a slam – their work isn’t architecture, either. Read more

WordsDay: the art of the possible

In case you’ve been off-planet, the dumpster fire that is Election Season 2008 is in full swing. While this can be entertaining if you’re cynical enough, it’s a process that can exert a warping effect on the perspectives of even the best among us.

In times like these, it’s often helpful to turn to the wisdom of the ages. Today, then, we offer a collection of insights on politics from some of history’s more astute observers of public life.

Enjoy. Read more

Even better than the real thing: mass media and manufactured beauty

Give me one last dance
We’ll slide down the surface of things

You’re the real thing
Yeah the real thing
You’re the real thing
Even better than the real thing

I figured out a long time ago, even before I began encountering grad-level feminist critiques, that our media’s stylized construction and portrayal of female beauty was problematic. It’s bad enough that unattractive people don’t appear in movies, on TV or in magazines unless the narrative expressly requires someone unattractive, and sometimes even that isn’t enough. I mean, the star of Ugly Betty isn’t really ugly.

But it goes beyond this. Read more

Can the center hold?: a response to Pastor Dan

Pastor Dan has an absolutely must-read piece on faith and politics over at Street Prophets, and while I feel wholly inadequate for the task of matching the depth of his analysis, he raises a number of issues that got me to thinking. So to use a sports analogy, he’s just crushed an overhead at me, and I’m going to see if I can get a racquet on it in hopes of lobbing something weak back over the net.

For starters, his thoughts on the history and function of civil religion are spot-on, and as I consider how dramatically our culture is changing, they lead me to an obvious conundrum. Read more

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