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Personal White Noise

May 15, 2011

Minding my own business doesn’t always go as planned. Over breakfast at the EC (see The Emerald City), where I hang my morning jacket, I was planning on returning some favors of recommendation for former colleagues via linkedin; over my black coffee I got a dose of morning racism.

I’m at the handy dandy computer updating the cafe’s facebook photos and an acquaintance, Ken, of mine is sitting near the windows on his phone. Directly next to me sat a curmudgeonly stranger pouring over what looked liked those widget symbols for typing text that no one ever uses. Not intentionally, but due to intimate space I was overhearing the conversation Ken was having about “when you deal with me you better have some common sense,” and I couldn’t help but laugh a little. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop; I just couldn’t help but hear and relate.” Ken’s conversation was a little funny but he didn’t mind my laughter, after all he knows I’m a comic. “Loud mouth nigger,” the stranger to my left says under his breath. I completely stopped. Truly, he didn’t just say that.

Here I enter into my own interior monologue, a button “A” button “B” scenario. Ken didn’t hear him. Do I just ignore him in hopes that he’ll just go away or do I hit the “A” button and say, “What did you just say?” Ken keeps talking and just for sake of clarity let’s give the stranger to my left a name, Hitler’s Widget or H.W. for short. Well, next thing I know H.W. get’s a little louder saying, “Fuckin’ loud mouth nigger talking loud in a cafe.” “Wow,” I say and get up from my seat to go and meet Brian in the back. “Do you know who this old racist is out here calling one of your customers “nigger?” “I don’t know who you’re talking about,” says Brian as we walk out to the floor together. We both sit at the computers near H.W. Nothing is said for a moment.

Here I recall mention of “project paperclip” from The Rise of the Fourth Reich by Jim Marrs.

minus the swastika, reverse the black and red, that's the symbol on H.W.'s bag... wow

Only a moment passes. Again with the comments now no longer under his breath and very directed at Ken over and over again with the n-word. Ken is now aware. Attempting to difuse the situation without direct confrontation I say, “Hey Brian, have you seen Whoopi’s new musical, White Noise, it deals with fascists.” Jumping right in H.W. says to me “I’m not a fascist, I’m just proud.” Well, I must’ve mispoke. To be more clear I say, “I think you’d really benefit from seeing it; it’s all about white supremacists. You’d love it.” H.W. replies, “Oh, so you’re gonna sell out to?” Dumfounded, hearing Brian now ring in, “Hey buddy you just need to leave now,” to which H.W. replies, “I need my refill first.” H.W. keeps going on and on “I had an inkling about you people, that you were going to be nigger lovers,” to which Brian replies, “Really man? We live in the 21st century; look at the city you chose to leave in. You’re really going to be like that?” Proudly, H.W. says “I’m going to be proud of who I am and” goes on to say something about the black agenda while Brian hands him his cup and tells him he just needs to get out. He says one more thing to me and by now my fight or flight is soaring and I’m shaking with fury but I manage to articulate a portion of my argument, “Anyone who has ever been affilliated with any sort of my minority should be capable of empathizing with acts of prejudice.” Here I get my first look into his eyes. “Blah, blah, blah, blah,” he says as a broken record on top of my offered sense. After he stops I just look at him, “It’s easy for the ignorant to dismiss knowledge.” After all they’ve been doing it for many years. As he leaves the cafe his bag swings over his shoulder and I see the image of the bird bringing the reich to mind. “Nice image on your bag buddy,” I sardonically deliver. “Thank you,” he says and leaves the space.

It will always prove difficult to reason with anyone when their head is filled with nothing but their own personal white noise, static in the music of life.

What an image. Personally, I prefer the phoenix as in the summoned mythical creature famous to me from the final fantasy video game series. Sadly however, there is no grand summoned beast to battle the monster mentality that is alive and well today. There is only you and I. As the EC staff, Ken and I go over our disbelief concerning what just happened I can’t shake synchronicity. Having just seen a show dealing with this topic days ago, the subject, already on the forefront of my mind, was thrust into my face with no fourth wall.

The lines I find most relevant from the show (see White Noise) come from the scene between Dion and Eve where they exchange every derogatory term in the book only saved by Dion’s differentiating Eve as unrepresentative of her race as he remains, “smart enough to know the difference.”

To think I considered saying nothing to H.W. in hopes that he would just go away. Rationalizing with a madman may seem futile but ignoring ignorance does not offer any solution. Such people must know that now they are the minority. They must be made to feel this reality. So, if ever you consider to press button “B” to mind your own business just remember that addressing prejudice of all colors is a responsibility for anyone with a voice.

It’s not a game people, but everyone can play their part. Speak out against the hate whenever it arises; this is one of the great steps to creating the rebirth of human consciousness. This rising need not happen through ashes of war but through an awakening of our own potential for continual growth outside of the machine.

Are you making noise?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2011 18:31

    Racism is a very complicated issue, and when you live and work in a liberal town with a bunch of artists, it’s worth being reminded that sometimes it’s black and white. I don’t mean racially black and white, I mean right and wrong. I forget periodically that there are people out there, like this guy, who categorize and hate a large group of people and it’s just fucking wrong, no two ways about it.

    It’s a natural human tendency to think in terms of us and them. To identify with a set of descriptors, I’m a geek, I’m a man, I’m white. It takes extra effort to identify with people that do not belong to the same groups that you do, but it’s worth it because excluding all other groups, thinking of them as other, enables humans to achieve the worst of what they are capable.

Say something to Nick.

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