Jemele Hill, Sean Spicer and the 3 Things We Have to Learn, Unlearn and Relearn About Living in America #HometownChat

doc-speak

#HometownChat – “Smart Community, Special Service, Civic Dreams”

Every week there’s a pop culture story that rises above all the news chatter. Recently it was Twitter comments by ESPNs Jemele Hill that sent shock waves. Her online post regarding how things played out in the Presidential elections might help us learn, unlearn and relearn things about living in America.

Then there was Sean Spicer’s cameo at the Emmy Awards. He was given a warm reception considering that he undermined reality (lied) when he served as Press Secretary. Hill’s take on white supremacy was met with threats of being fired. But Spicer’s take on inauguration crowd size might have been worse.

How do we explain Hill getting thrown to the wolves while Spicer gets to reinvent himself as a paid speaker? Some point to a double standard or bias. Others think Spicer has more people defending him while Hill’s squad gotta lay low. At a minimum we see the inter-play of facts, opinions and analysis.

We sift through opinions and analysis in order to resolve the facts. It’s like when I first migrated to America over 35 years ago, I had in my mind smooth sailing. But over time I’ve had to do a second and sometimes third take in order to breathe new life and add more woke to my dreams. I now realize that:

  1. American history tells the events while social activism tells the story.
  2. There’s usually an undercurrent of race and an undergarment of hope below the surface.
  3. It’s not everybody who represents the people that really speaks for the people (and vice versa).

We might come to understand American history by certain key dates. There’s Independence, Emancipation, and Obama’s elevation as the first African American U.S. President. But these dates also line-up with key periods which might be seen as Community 1.0, Community 2.0 and Community 3.0.

But it’s the kind of social activism in these periods that help us understand the events of history and the essence of the American story. What we find today is the idea that what went around before has returned to center stage. The events in Charlottesville Virginia are a good example of that reality.

When you look at historic events more up close and personal there’s usually a running thread that gives life to the story. Even from the beginning, the American story has had an undercurrent of race. The founding documents had Blacks represented as not fully human. That’s still taking time to unwind.

michaelbennett

The killing of unarmed black men that keeps ending with ‘not guilty’ verdicts spawned a Black Lives Matter movement. This has even spilled over into the NFL. But through it all there’s the undergarment of hope that’s led to progress made. Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ was one example of hope over skepticism.

Every so often there’s an unforgettable moment that makes us say ‘hold up, wait a minute.’ For some it was Michael Brown. For others it was Trayvon Martin. When certain officials speak out on these cases you get the feeling that not everybody who represents the people really speaks for the people (and vice versa).

Here we are in 2017 seeing things play-out that seemingly takes us back 100 years. It feels like the inciting of a more pissed-off union than us pursuing a more perfect union. We can’t always rely on what various officials say. So I’ve had to learn, unlearn and relearn some things in order to know the real story.

Tip: Sometimes life is about turning lemons into lemonade and other times about seeing history through the social activism grade.

Talkback: How does the undercurrent of race or the undergarment of hope affect the way we see American history?

Tracks: James Brown – Living in America – https://youtu.be/c5BL4RNFr58

French Montana – Unforgettable –  https://youtu.be/B54PgHTa08M

Advertisements

What the Olympic Games & Presidential Campaigns Say About The American Dream in ‘Spaghetti Gymnastic’ #HometownChat

doc-speak

The America I’ve come to know isn’t quite the America I first knew. Some of this is from a false image of ‘streets paved with gold.’ Now that I’ve emigrated here for 35 years and seen the streets, I’ve come to my senses. So let me explain using a couple top stories from the Olympic Games & Presidential campaigns.

The dust hasn’t quite settled yet in Rio. Many athletes have returned home to big cheers. That wasn’t the case for Ryan Lochte who’s doing damage control. Meanwhile, the Presidential campaigns have been like a roller coaster of fact checking. So how do the Games & Campaigns jibe with the American Dream?

The Games were exciting. The Campaigns have been mind-blowing. This might seem absurd but who really feels Lochte was robbed? And who really thinks that the best way to handle immigration is to build a wall? What we’ve learned from these situations is the difference between straight-shoot and street truth.

As we look at the Olympics through the ‘media engine’ we see a commercial bonanza. But when we look through the social lens we might wonder about the ‘citizen effect.’ It is the citizen effect that tells us the street truth. For some communities the American Dream feels less like a commercial bonanza and more like ‘spaghetti gymnastics’ because:

  1. They feel like they’re competing against a system of inequities.
  2. They’re faced with setback after setback of event injustices.
  3. Their emotional sanity is challenged by repeated inconsistencies.

A recent report revealed American towns where local authorities use excessive enforcement to balance their books on the backs of citizens. The net result is a build-up of animosity and distrust. Then after a while the pressure cooker boils over into skirmishes and civic disturbances that catch officials by surprise.

olympics-rio

Much attention is given to what’s happening on Wall Street. It seems there’s so much on the line. Others are pretty concerned about Front Street in support of small businesses. But maybe the folks on Back Street USA feel left-out or overlooked. Maybe the word on those streets gets lost in ‘campaign hustle.’

Some might say building a wall is a closed-door old-school approach. Others might see it as a gated-community ‘Wall Street’ kind of solution. Either way, in local communities it’s seen as another way of speaking over or speaking around the real issues and not addressing chronic social injustices.

It’s hard to explain to those on Back Street why folks from the other side of the tracks can catch a break but they don’t. That’s how some people felt on social media regarding Lochte. If it wasn’t for video he would have been believed. But even with video, folks on Back Street USA get the short end of the stick.

These days political campaigns can put us through ‘spaghetti gymnastics’ in trying to separate straight-shoot from street truth. Yes, straight shoot might be unscripted and happening in ‘real time.’ But it pulls us in conflicting directions. Street truth is what Dr King gave us 53 years ago with ‘I Have a Dream.’

So while the American Dream is alive and well in Olympic stories, it feels out-of-reach for others. We celebrate those who made it to the biggest event on the world stage. But for folks whose streets aren’t paved in gold, there’s a potential disconnect with the Games, Political Campaigns and living in America.

Groove-tracks: James Brown – Living in America –  https://youtu.be/c5BL4RNFr58


Aerosmith
– Dream On – https://youtu.be/qzTZ76vhnKk