Tag Archives: racism

POP. 1280 by Jim Thompson

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I decided to keep the pulp fiction train going with another classic. POP. 1280 by Jim Thompson is a story takes place in a small, racially segregated, god fearing town called Potts County. Nick Corey, the High Sheriff, is known to the townsfolk and his wife as the easygoing moronic lawman that’s too cowardly to arrest anybody. What nobody knows is that hidden underneath his goofy exterior lays a mercilessly sinister and manipulative personality. One day Nick gets tired of the corruption in the town and decides to do a little vigilante work which opens a can of worms. Nick’s other problem is that he can’t quite keep it in his pants. Eventually the juggling act is set to blow up in everyone’s face.

Besides being a classic pulp that beautifully weaves murder, sex, and betrayal, POP. 1280 is a biting satire of American culture. There are several scenes in which lawmen debate the issue of “Nigger” politics and law with an air of total sincerity. The hypocrisy of Christian brotherhood is hilariously depicted when a character is literally assaulted with a bible. Thompson cracks the mask of the good American citizen which then breaks away, piece by piece, to reveal the true American character: animalistic and absolutely shameless. But Thompson doesn’t get on a high horse. His critique of society is almost a concession to the amorality at the core of our being.

You want some pulp? Here it is. Pop 1280 takes no prisoners and makes zero apologies. It’s crude, vulgar, and sadistic as hell. For a tiny pocket book of merely 215 pages, it’ll grab you by the throat and drag you through the woods. It’s funny. I laughed out loud multiple times. The murders are always personal. Like all of Thompson’s writing, this one is deeply psychological. It puts you in the passenger seat alongside a charming psychopath. What a ride…what a ride. Who are we going to run over next? The suspense is killing me.

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Pimp by Iceberg Slim

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Pimp by Iceberg Slim is a savagely honest autobiographical story by a man who was fully immersed in the cut-throat world of pimping. Iceberg lays bare the disgusting world of prostitution in all its ugliness and allure in his own words. He begins the story of his life in the 1920’s when America was radically different from now. It was a time when the race divisions cut deep into the social flesh of this country. Iceberg grows up fast to the realities of racism, destitution, drug abuse, and crime. By his late teens, Iceberg is out on the streets turning out young girls into prostitutes.

This book is dripping with the sleaziness of the streets. It’s a deeply psychological and graphic account of how the pimping game works behind the scenes. You can feel his mind at work, scheming on how to get the most money, how to break the most hoes, and keep it all together in his head. His words cut the reader’s brain like a switchblade that had been used to chop a line of cocaine. Iceberg doesn’t tell his story asking for forgiveness. It’s not a plea for help. He tells it because he lived it, and it’s a story that should not fall into obscurity. Pimp isn’t just his story; it’s a part of American history that will always be shamefully brushed under the rug.

Pimp is the book on American pimping. This book is perfect for anyone who enjoys biographies, crime literature, noir, minority literature, and radical American history. While this book gets plenty of readerships in select circles, Iceberg slim is a bit of an underground writer. He is an amazing writer who creates fire out of printed words. Still, because of his back ground, style, and subject matter, the literary world has denied him access into its pristine halls. It’s alright, this book, like its writer, is rough enough to survive outside in the cold streets.

Iceberg Slim smoking pipe

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Your iPhone and 2,000 Rioting Chinese Workers

The footage above is of a riot at the Foxconn facility in Taiyuan, China on September 24th, 2012. It’s been reported to have started at the overcrowded dorm rooms (eight to ten people may share a room). The horrid working conditions have been driving workers to the edge. Several have even jumped to their deaths out of desperation, but instead of improving work conditions, Foxconn decided to go with suicide nets. I’m sure this was the more cost effective route.

This isn’t the “social safety net” most have in mind.

The guards had been bullying the workers continuously. “Bullying” is probably an understatement because it was enough to piss off 2,000 Chinese workers into brawling with these pigs. So who’s the bad guys here? I personally enjoy watching riots and tend to root for the home team. The authority figures tend to come fully equipped with the latest in hippy bashing technology. This automatically gives them the edge, further encouragement would unnecessary and thus somewhat ridiculous. A rioter has think outside the box in order to turn everyday items into potential weapons. I am a fan of ingenuity. Not everyone sees it this way.

David Barboza and Keith Bradsher of The New York Times offered their probable explanation for the explosive anger turned riot.

“Disputes involving large groups of migrant workers are common in China. In some cases, workers protest after believing that they have been promised a certain pay package and traveled a long distance to claim it, only to find on arrival that the details are different from what they expected. In other cases, workers from different provinces with different cultural traditions coming together in a single factory have clashed over social issues or perceived slights.”

I think they could be onto something. Workers heard of good pay being offered for assembling world-famous Apple products, only to get there and find:

-Excessive overtime without proper compensation

-The occasional 24 hour work shift

-Overcrowded living conditions

-Poisonous chemicals

-Factory explosions

-Asshole security guards

-Suicidal depression

Expect the unexpected.

As for their second reason, “workers from different provinces with different cultural traditions coming together in a single factory have clashed over social issues or perceived slights.” This explains everything! Why didn’t anyone inform Foxconn that Chinese people are racist against Chinese people? I can just hear the hate slogans: “We keep taking all our jobs!” Man, I’d be pissed, too. As persuasive an argument that David Barboza and Keith Bradsher make, I can’t accept this for one simple fact. How could they hit anyone if they all look alike? Fuck around, and you might end up kicking your own ass! No, this just doesn’t add up. David Barboza and Keith Bradsher are not journalists. They write anti-worker bullshit to reassure rich cocksuckers that they won’t burn in hell with the rest of the slave masters. Let’s hear it instead from somebody who actually works there.

This worker says she makes less than a dollar an hour. That means for the price of hiring one Mexican illegally, you could get a whole fleet of Chinese workers. They probably wouldn’t bring their own gardening tools, but at least they wouldn’t be blasting mariachi music, right? Give and take, my friend, give and take. Honestly though, less than a dollar an hour? Even hobos begging for change make more than that and on a slow day. So who’s calling the shots? Let’s meet the piece of subhuman shit himself. Introducing Terry Gou, Chairman of Hong Hai Precision (mother company of Foxconn). According to Forbes, he rings up for a net worth of $6.3 billion dollars.

“I give these many shits about my people.”

Apple has always modeled its corporate culture on having a somewhat hippy attitude. This most likely comes from founder, Steve Jobs, who is known to have dabbled with LSD and even encouraged others to fry balls in order to find groovy ways around creative obstacles. He is remembered for being a man of boundless ideas–that is, until he’s faced with the problem of human rights abuses in Apple assembly lines. It’s sort of weird seeing him go from guru to yabbering douche bag in under five seconds.

Straight from the horse’s mouth. The company knows what’s going on in the China factories. So what did Steve Jobs say in response to the suicide inducing work conditions? In so many words, he nicely said, “Fuck them. I’m rich, bitch.” At least that was my interpretation. Steve Jobs died a greedy $36.1 billion asshole. Anyone who can’t see that must be high on acid.

“Now get back to work or kill yourself.”

“Yes sir!” (Fatal explosion at Foxconn)

So what’s the point of all this? No, I’m not going to start advocating throwing away our iShit. I have all my music on iTunes, why the hell would I do that? Instead, I want you to remember the slogan, “Made in USA.” You have to remember it because it’s quickly becoming a relic of the past.

Never Forget

Virtually all Apple products are manufactured overseas by millions of workers like the ones at Foxconn then sold in the US at record breaking figures. What would those millions of jobs mean to Americans in hard times like now? When Apple was asked why it doesn’t manufacture in America, they gave a whole slew of how Chinese companies have out performed American craftsmanship and are more cost effective. On some level this is true, but it’s only possible by breaking the law. We have rights and regulations that protect us from things like “24-hour work shifts” and “less than a dollar an hour wage.” The solution has been to lobby (bribe) government officials in order to “relax” restrictions and create tax incentives for sending manufacturing jobs to other countries that tolerate labor abuse. America loses jobs, workers in other countries are exploited, you put the iShit on your credit card at marked-up interest rates, and the Board of Directors get their chubby little Christmas bonuses.

Forbes Magazine reports 39% drop in American manufacturing jobs since 1979.

Great time to be a CEO. Where can I apply?

It’s these same people telling us, “Hey, nothing personal, just business.” They claim fixing the economy isn’t their problem, as if the sky high unemployment rates had nothing to do with the millions of jobs strategically shipped overseas. Yet, they wish for Americans to continue purchasing their products, for police officers to arrest the thieves who would rip off their merchandise, seek copyright protection and tax breaks under US laws, and the security of the United States’ armed forces.

This should offend you.

These abusive economic practices hide behind deceptive terms such as “Free Trade.” It’s a global scam that amasses wealth in the hands of few at the expense of workers everywhere. Neoliberalism, as it is called, is transcending beyond Republican and Democrat party lines. Our government as a whole has been getting on the “profit over people” track. You have rights and interests as a worker. Those rights are being stripped away through a big business agenda who wish to have Foxconn conditions here at home.

The first thing you can do is simply be aware. Don’t rely exclusively on television to inform you. There are plenty of writers you can check out. I’d recommend Noam Chomsky as a great starting point. I hope you’ve enjoyed my introduction to Neoliberalism and Globalization. Now get back to your iLife.

Feel free to comment and question anything on this post. I’m always happy to recommend additional writers, books, and documentaries.

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Magical Realism and Black Literature Meet in Sula by Toni Morrison

 

Sula reads in such a wonderful manner, but when you stop and look back on what you’ve read, it’s somewhat disturbing. “Sula” is definitely an example of black literature, yet what sets it apart from other works is the thin layer of “magical realism” put over it. Magical realism is writing style which takes an ordinary story, and slips just a little bit of LSD into the punch bowl.

The story itself is about love, family, sex, and friendship existing within the backdrop of a 1920’s racially segregated American countryside. You follow a set of characters growing up. Some are children and they become adults, while others become older folks. Their lives feel real and Morrison does an excellent job of portraying their psyches twisted under the distortion of racism. Though the book takes place in the 20’s, it reads very modern and avoids an old time prose which turns off a lot of readers.

Sula is one of those really great books that doesn’t get talked about enough. A beautiful little book that has a lot of fucked up personal issues. It’ll swallow you in the lives of these people. Morrison doesn’t attempt to make life grander than what it is. She gives it to you as it is, an amazing experience that will one day end for all of us. I will be sure to read the rest of Morrison’s books.

Photo credit http://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/11346.Sula

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The Ugly Truth of Public Education

Before reading “Savage Inequalities,” if someone came up to me and said, “Systemic racial segregation continues to exist in our public schools today,” I would have considered this an exaggeration. We’ve come a long way from the days of “colored” bathrooms and drinking fountains. Reading “Savage Inequalities” has challenged this notion of mine.

Kozol takes an in-depth look at how the public school system in America, despite common belief, has remained largely separate and unequal. But his book isn’t simply a collection of disturbing statistics concerning the discrepancies of drop-outs, per pupil spending, class sizes, and other factors between white and non-white schools. Kozol personally visits the schools on both sides of the track. His interviews with students, parents, teachers, principals, and community organizers, give this book a deeply human and psychological dimension. His tone remains natural. You can feel his indignation at in justices he encounters as well as his sense of joy in meeting such courageous people.

What is most striking about this book is what it suggests about American values. That we’ve created a system which sends generation after generation of children to ruin is embarrassing. Some of Kozol’s critics say he talks a lot about the problem, but doesn’t offer many solutions. Also, he points out several legal victories which have resulted in agonizingly slow feet dragging to enact the necessary changes. This in itself leaves the readers with a sense of futility. Perhaps Kozol feels that our lacking is of a more spiritual type and is better addressed by likes of Martin Luther King, whom he references several times throughout his book? If this is case, he fails to convey this with adequate clarity. I still give him his due credit because we cannot deal with any problem until we know it exists. For its social value and the much needed change this book may lead to, it is truly an indispensable book.

This book hit a deeply personal cord. I’m the first generation born son to a Mexican immigrant family. I entered an inner city school speaking only Spanish. At the time I was too young to understand the dynamics of racism but the psychological effects were understood. I was dropped into an all English speaking class without any language preparation. My language barrier marked as a target for hate and was encouraged by the teacher. Imagine being a kid in a place where you can’t understand anything being said. But there are a lot of messages that don’t require words to be communicated. It got to the point one time where I became so unstable the teacher couldn’t calm me down, neither could the principal and my father had to leave work to calm me down. Years later I now understand that I was having a stress overload, a first grade kid having a nervous breakdown in the middle of class. Now that I’m an elementary school teacher myself, these memories take on a new meaning. I thank my family for not letting me become the expected statistic.

I strongly recommend this book to teachers, parents, students, and anyone interested in civil rights. Kozol’s analysis is sure to leave a lasting impression and is an enjoyable read in general. It’s one of those books that make you say, “thank god this was a bestseller!” Here’s to the struggle for a better tomorrow.

Photo Credit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savage_Inequalities

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Bill Nye the Science Guy and the Call to Reason

William Sanford “Bill” Nye (the Science Guy) released a bold video entitled “Creationism is Not Appropriate for Children,” in which he confronts the idea of Creationism and the denial of evolution. He makes his argument that, “Evolution is the fundamental idea in all life science…” and that, “When you have a portion of the population that doesn’t believe in that, it holds everybody back, really.”

Hot off the press.

This short video hit a nerve, immediately getting millions of views. And the reason is not because the evolutionists finally had someone cool to rally around; it was for Bill’s message against the strange American social movement of anti-reason, a philosophical way of life that allows people to deny anything that contradicts their world view, no matter how reasoned or obvious. It’s a movement currently spearheaded by groups such as the Tea Party, a grassroots movement primarily for closet racists that can’t stand the fact a black man is president and see Mexicans as a problem, all the while hiding behind a brittle mask of patriotism. There is also the extreme right-wing Christians who wish to bring about a Christian world order and are so disconnected from human suffering that they’d support a man with the character of Todd Akin whose views on rape and women fit right at home in the dark ages. Their agendas are not based on sound reason or even humanitarian ideas. When you take away the rhetoric they are driven by simple ignorance, hate, fear, and intolerance.

Personally, I’m big on freedom and so I encourage people to believe whatever they choose. But this movement has gained enough momentum to cause detrimental effects at home and abroad. It is a cause of impassioned fanatics who don’t understand what’s going on because they are encouraged to dismiss information as they see fit. This jams the inner working of progress with wasteful infighting that has no end because it does not rely on basic logic. This has grown beyond a tactic of rallying people to cast their votes for a certain party. We are entering a psychological climate that is retrograding and self-destructive in terms of our intellectual and humanitarian advances.

 

I could be guilty of seeing more than Bill intended, but it was his closing statement that leads me to believe I’m not too far off, “And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future.”

The rational thinkers need to make their stand too. We can’t just sit around and watch this backwards social movement tear everything apart. The earth is flat, manifest destiny, government leaders of divine choice, racial inferiority, denial of evolution and the effects of pollution on our environment are all ideas rooted in the tradition of embracing ignorance. I encourage more people continue to take an active stance in the name of reason, and thus spark an inward revolution that will create a condition favorable for the cultivation of our minds and life.

 

Photo Credits

http://scienceprogressaction.org/intersection/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/fakepost3.jpg

http://other98.com/

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