Archive for February, 2016

The Great American Lie

Posted in Grumblings on February 16, 2016 by chemiclord

There is this ideal in American society that can be pretty easily summed up as this:

Your success, and your failure, is determined nigh exclusively by the amount of effort you put into your chosen task.

If you are not successful, it’s simply because you didn’t work hard enough.  If you’re poor, it’s because you don’t work hard enough to make money.  If you have a shitty job, it’s because you’re not working hard enough to find a better one.  Basically, there is near infinite room for advancement if you’re willing to apply yourself to that advancement and are willing to do whatever it takes to get there.

It’s a neat ideal, and the idea is a comforting one.  Too bad next to none of it is true.  This is “The Great American Lie.”

It’s tied to the concept of American exceptionalism, and in many ways is the centerpiece to the collective delusion that the United States is just, like, the greatest country in the world in every way, ya know?

That’s not to say that the amount of effort you apply isn’t significant.  But it’s but one factor in many, and possibly not even the most important next to the simple reality of knowing the right people.  It can very easily be argued that having the right people going to bat for you is the biggest factor in you getting that well-paying job rather than someone else (who might even be more qualified)… or even knowing that well-paying job has an opening at all.

Americans even know this.  We bandy about buzzwords like “crony capitalism” and complain our leaders are in bed with special interests.  We gripe when shamed political or business leaders deploy their golden parachutes and land in better situations then they were before.

Then we turn around, and spit on the homeless person on the street and tell them they just need to work harder (usually while denying them jobs or assistance because they’re homeless and obviously a junkie that can’t be trusted or some other excuse), willfully ignorant to the fact that perhaps if one or two things that had nothing to do with our talents was different, the roles would be reversed.

We perpetuate the lie while we boo and hiss when that lie is exposed.  Why?  Because it’s convenient, and if there’s anything Americans love more than anything, it’s convenience.  It’s easy to blame those underneath us for simply not putting forth the effort.  Because to think otherwise would complicate our lives, forcing us to take stock in our good fortune and even (gasp!) having sympathy for our fellow man… compelling us to (GASP!) maybe even… help those less fortunate than us.

It’s also silly.  There’s nothing wrong in accepting our good fortune.  You don’t need to give your every spare dollar or every free moment helping the needy and the poor among us.  But the very least we can do is regard them without scorn, and try not to actively obstruct their own paths upward.

It’s only by facing and confronting The Great American Lie that we can even begin to make it The Great American Truth.

On Reverse Racism…

Posted in Grumblings with tags , on February 1, 2016 by chemiclord

So, I got this shared with me today…

I immediately accepted two things:

  1. That people in the halls of higher learning prove to be colorblind even as they strive to be inclusive.
  2. That the cries of reverse racism were going to scorch the Internet.

Initially I felt this was incredibly tacky decision and I have a sneaking suspicion that the University of Connecticut didn’t exactly get a gauge of how their black students would approve of this, much less their student body as a whole.

In a way, I still think this is a tacky decision.  Even if the technical definition of reverse racism is a non-sequitur, you don’t exactly do any racial divide favors by creating an exclusionary environment of any cut.

Then I remember a happening at my place of work, and a co-worker (who yes is black).  She accidentally left a convenience store without paying for a fountain drink.  Now, that in and of itself wasn’t a big deal… the people who run the store knew her, they knew she was good for it.

But when she returned to pay for it later, she got this joke:

“Man, you’re lucky.  Your people have been shot for less in this country.”

That was disturbing on two levels; first that someone felt absolutely comfortable making such a joke while having no reason to be (even if my co-worker didn’t take offense)… and second, that it’s true.

That is the society that black people, and other minorities, have to try and trudge through every single day.  Even when they’re not being shot for carrying a BB-gun or otherwise outright murdered by police, they face a society which looks at this carnage and tries to make a joke out of it.

In that sense… I dunno… maybe it can’t hurt for black people to have a place all to them where they don’t have to deal with the majority bullshit.  Even if it seems counter-productive.

If stuff like this dorm is the worst us “crackers” have to deal with in regards to our racial struggle in this country, we’re getting off pretty damn light.  Perhaps we just need to let it slide.