Saturday, June 30, 2012

The NAACP: A Search for Relevance in the 21st Century

The question of "relevance" ever haunts the NAACP these days, and for good reason. As it is presently constituted, it is irrelevant.

Start with the name, NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It was in 1994, fully 18 years ago, when I wrote to the NAACP leadership, after attending one of their membership banquets at the Hilton in downtown Kalamazoo. I implored them to change their name to NAAPC - National Association for the Advancement of People of Color. Sounded like a no-brainer as we approached the 21st century. This particular membership drive was geared toward young people. I suggested: "What young people would join an organization whose very name - "Colored People" - insults them? The leadership rejected my idea.

Why does the NAACP persist in denigrating itself and the people it supposedly represents? Because the NAACP is a dancing bear - it dances for its supper.

Deep down, the NAACP knows it has not accomplished anything in years. Perhaps the leadership - Ben Jealous, et al - imagines there would be no donations to the NAACP at all, except those donations have come because of that iconic name. Unfortuantely, the very name - NAACP - has become synonymous with self-congratulatory fetes, and subsequent lethargy.

Recently, the NAACP passed a resolution in support of same sex marriage as a civil right. Many wonder why the NAACP would take up this issure considering the majority in the African-American community rejects gay marriage. All seem to agree, however, that is was an attempt to "remain relevant," (and cash in on what political pundits are calling an abundance of "gay money.")

There are bigger issues in America, like the resolution put forth by this citizen declaring the institution of slavery in America a Crime Against Humanity. Such a resolution in the hands of a once-august entity such as the NAACP, could help bring this nation to the brink of racial healing for which it so deeply longs.

Then there is Major League baseball and its system of apartheid (better known as "Jim Crow baseball") that has persisted since baseball's inception in 1839. And though this forced segregation ended in 1947 with Jackie Robinson's entrance into the Major Leagues, the achievements of those Negro League stars who toiled in that separate (but equal) league are whitewashed from baseball history as though they never happened. This, too, is a post in the structure that helps sustain the racial divide in America. We cannot change baseball's sordid past, but with the NAACP's help, we can correct it.

And what of this criminal justice system which consistently preys upon poor families in America? There is little pretense at "justice" there anymore - it is just "criminal" the way they squeeze monies from these poor families even as they drain them of their hope.

America's prison system has become a den of human rights abuses - none more egregious than its penchant for keeping men and women imprisoned who, anywhere else, would be free. Even China and Iran compare favorably.

Now they seek to privatize their prison industry - prison for profit.

Where prisons' goal becomes profit, it conflicts with the liberation interests of humans everywhere. The very trajectory is contrary to the course of justice set forth in the U.S. Constitution. And America's prisons beome plantations - people, once more, are made chattel. Who will speak up for these dispossessed?

Want relevance, NAACP? Change your name. Then, declare a moratorium on feasts and fashion shows. Get back to earning your celebrations.

Justice has been known to skip a generation - no fault of its own. It happens most often when those charged with protecting the rights of others go to sleep at the switch. Fortunately for us all, justice marches on.

Wake up, NAACP. You've been asleep too long. Justice is up ahead. If you try, you may intercept her at that next great moment in history. If you do not, you will go down as the biggest mat-head since Rip van Winkle.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Is Gay Sex Simply True Love Gone Awry?

At the risk of sound rude (and ignorant), may I take this moment to speak on behalf of the so-called "straight people" everywhere? We have questions:

How do we tell which of you is the man, and which is the woman?

And what is your story…anyway? Shakespeare wrote, "Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, others have greatness thrust upon them." Does that notion apply here? Certainly, some people are born gay, (I suppose), while others purposely seek a gay lifestyle, (I suppose). Still, there must be those who have homosexuality thrust upon them - by force, or circumstance. Simply put, we do not know who you are. And, if you come out of the closet, that can be scary too.

We can pretend that gay people are like the rest of us, but they are not, (unless we all are gay). I doubt that 1% of the world's people are gay. If they are, that would amount to roughly 70 million homosexuals on Earth, which is fine. (It is not like they can reproduce).

No one doubts that a man can love a man, and a woman can love a woman. We only wonder whether it is prudent to "do something about it."

When a gay man says, "I love him," we say, "Okay, but must you have sex with him?" A man can love a child, but he cannot have sex with that child. He can show his love for that child by taking the child to a ballgame, buying him ice cream, or taking him fishing. All the while, he must control himself. If he loses control and indulges himself in his love for that child, then that love becomes sick; it becomes a crime.

A man can love his sister, and she can love him back. But he cannot have sex with her - that is taboo. They certainly cannot marry and have children - that would be an abomination. Yet, both are grown. She may be a doctor, and he a lawyer. Intelligent, successful, and in love - yet, we are repulsed at the thought of them consummating their union. As a society, we would deny them the chance to lawfully spend their lives together as man and wife based on our revulsion at the thought of them coupling.

Fifty percent of the American people seem to want a constitutional amendment giving a man the right to couple with another man. Just this past week, the NAACP passed a resolution endorsing same sex marriage as a civil right. Yet, I doubt that one percent of the American people would consent to bestowing the same rights upon a man who wants to spend the rest of his life with his sister. Why deny a brother-sister couple the same civil rights, when given the choice, most men on Earth would marry their sister before they would marry another man.

The survival of any species is dependent upon its ability to produce offspring. That is the basic function of sex on this Earth - to insure the continuation of life. A man and a child can do that; a brother and a sister can do that. Two men cannot; neither can two women.

Why then this rush to wed one man with another? Who has convinced us that this is good, or necessary, or just?

If adult brothers and sisters want to have sex, no one can stop them. But, just because we cannot stop them, that is no reason to cheer them on. It is the same with grown men. If they want to have sex with each other, that is their business. But why do we, as a society, feel compelled to encourage this willful indulgence? It is as though we have conceded that since we cannot stop them, we should join them. Is that supposed to make us feel good about ourselves? Does our approval make it right? Or does it simply make us complicit in love gone awry?

Historically, incest and homosexuality have been condemned throughout all major societies. Today, both continue to be prohibited by custom or law in most societies around the world. More and more, however, Western societies - including the U.S. - while continuing to condemn incest, increasingly embrace homosexuality as a viable lifestyle.

Are we to believe a split has occurred, much like the split millions of years ago that sent apes in one direction and man in another - a split that insures one branch of this modern-day tandem makes it out of the trees, while the other does not?

Or, could it be that both incest and homosexuality are what they are, what they have always been, and what they always will be - not books to be read, but bookends - the extremes of our lusts, beyond which, sickness and deformity await mankind?