Identity Politics in 2020
The New Jim Crow: Tag, You’re It!
I love to do Improv. I have taken numerous Improv classes in the US and EU and, now, online. I find joy (and relief from the ugly times upon us) in playing with other people to create a spontaneous moment of shared and spontaneous fantasy in a spirit of playful joy.
Improv people talk about “making a safe space” where physical, emotional and verbal playfulness is neither violent nor hurtful. Until today.
I received a confirmation for a “drop in” class (open to all comers, play as you like) which is a blatantly racist, exclusionary and probably illegal notification which reads, in full, minus the Zoom link:
Thanks for your registration! This is a weekly drop in class for people of all levels (never done it before to advanced) so whenever you’re available, you can drop in! Just be sure you register for the class each week. Friendly reminder that this class is for Black people, Indigenous people and People of Color only. We are offering this class to help build diversity in the improv community which is overwhelmingly white. Improvisers are storytellers and who is telling the stories matters.
I am not welcome because I do not present myself (or because others do not perceive me as) this or that or the other. True, I could PASS for any of them by asserting that I am one or another of those designations, but why should anyone have to be black or white or, for that matter, green, to do Improv, sit at a lunch counter, attend a school, marry a loved one, live in a neighborhood of their choosing or be equally treated before the law or by an admissions committee of Improv Commissars?
Black Lives Matter. But movements that proclaim that they matter MORE than other lives are, in my opinion, dangerous, wrong-headed and, as social justice movements, invalid.
Social justice is never ultimately achieved by social injustice just as peace is never ultimately achieved by violence.
War is achieved by war. Violence is achieved by violence. Death is achieved by death. And racism, justified as social justice, is racism. What it spawns is more of same.
I am no stranger to social justice movements, nor am I any stranger to controversy inside and outside of those movements.
I was kicked out of my first social justice organization 62 years ago, when I was only 14. for questioning, in a public lecture/indoctrination session, the idea that the State of Israel had the right to relegate Palestinians to second class citizenship because, as the lecturer said, “not fully human” and I took vigorous exception to this blatant bigotry.
But, really, isn’t that where we are again, 6+ decades later where it has once again become de regure to exclude people because of racist qualifications (or disqualifications)?
It does not matter how wronged your parents or (great)x parents were. If YOU are wronged, band together with others to fix the structural problem and confront the particular event, Becoming a reciprocal racist fixes nothing. Ashville NC just voted to pay reparations to blacks for the long, hideous history of slavery. This is not even noble insanity. It is just barefaced, half-baked madness.
Jim Crow FOR some group is identical to Jim Crow AGAINST another group and the cycle repeats endlessly.
Look, I am Jewish. How much would Ashville NC or Yassar Arafat. Angela Merkel or the President of Russia like to pay me for thousands of years of vile oppression? How much do you, personally, owe the survivors of Pol Pot in dollars and cents?
This is a logic of irrationality with hair bows applied of actuarial precision. It is social lipstick on the lips of a pig that should have been slaughtered long ago. Racism begets racism if glorified, justified and reified. It should be vilified, not dignified, no matter whose lips it falls from.
Yes, groups suffer under unfair and unequal conditions. We are duty bound to fix those problems to guarantee that everyone is, in fact, equal before the law and does have equal opportunity. But equal for some, not others, opportunity for some, not others, is not the fix. It is the problem and must be addressed systemically and particularly as such.
Oh, by the way, I will be investigating whether the Improv announcement I received violates FTC and other regulatory and statutory requirements. If so, I will make a formal complaint. If not, I will rely on good sense of the Improv group to see the vile impact of their probably well-intended acts.
What are you, personally, doing today to insure social and racial justice in your neighborhood, organizations, families, states and countries? How are you, personally, using social media to promote equality and fair play, along with the rule of law (racism is against the law in the US in a wide variety of venues and situations)? Can you do more? What more?
Make a resolve to do more and then, WAIT FOR IT….. DO IT!
If there were no Social Media, it would be necessary to invent a tool as potent and impactful as this one. Use it.
Yours in health and freedom,