Friday, July 4, 2008

A Social Outrage

Well, at least I thought so.

This is going to be a somewhat politically incorrect post, with no attempt to be anything other than straight truth as I saw and observed. This post creates racial profiles and makes not attempt to be "color blind". I shall not try to keep from offending people, because anybody who is offended by what I shall say shall more seriously offend me than that type of people already have. I must say that that was very refreshing.

Alright, so I was invited to attend the Independence Day Celebration at Independence Hall in Philly this morning. Before the celebration, there was a breakfast where I was given the opportunity to meet Mayor Nutter and talk briefly with him. I find that I liked the man's personality, ideals and sense of humor very much.

The ceremony was the most horrendous mockery of a celebration of our country that has ever been seen on public television, and I had second row seating for the whole thing.

Complaint #1: Sunoco sponsored it. I have no problem with companies supporting a celebration like this instead of the money coming from private sources or taxpayer money. Not that I see any money at all necessary, why can't business "donate" equipment for the 6 hours it takes to set up, have a program, and take down stuff? Why do they need to be reimbursed for contributing to the community like that on a day that should be above others in the recognition of the need for a greater awareness of community and what we can all do to make life better for each other out of our own free will instead of communist compulsion. But I got off on a tangent there, sorry. Well, Sunoco put their logo on everything. Signs, name tags, banners, podiums (thankfully not the main podium). That definitely annoyed me. Is there sense of patriotism so small that they will only agree to support something like this if they can get their publicity and advertising (distastefully from my artist's perspective) plastered everywhere. Why can't they give out of their own bounty that the people supplied them with, without all the ugly logos and publicity. Has the recognition of the birth of our country come down to a publicity stunt for an oil company?

Complaint #2: The speakers. Most would call it "politically correct". I call it absolutely disgusting. Every speaker, save one, gave a lecture on civil rights and how all the injustices of the past are coming to an end (but only if we elect a black man to president) and how their is more racial equality being shown in events like these (Nutter very clearly and intentionally brought to attention how many black mayors had come before him, but it was also interesting to note that there was only one white person who was given the opportunity to say something other than a token sentence or two) . Nutter highlighted his initiatives to make sure that "people of color" have more opportunity for educational advancement, and spoke of how the politics of the past were now coming to an end with Obama as Democrat nominee and himself as mayor. A (black) woman with the President House Project spoke of how George Washington held slaves, and about how he signed the Fugitive Slave act, demeaning one of the most loved men in our nation's history, and also tactfully ignoring how Washington freed all of his slaves. There were others too. We are supposed to be color blind, we are supposed to be the society that doesn't care what color your skin is, but here they were highlighting their black culture in a celebration that is supposed to be representative of the feelings we all are supposed to share and express. (please note that I have restrained myself from my rants on BET, and other such equality hypocrisies) No speaker highlighted the true cause for our presence that day, which (in case from watching it you have become confused) was to honor the signing of the Declaration of Independence 232 years ago.

Complaint #3: The music. I sat there and watched, and the only word that came to mind was: Irreverent. The program said that the agenda was to "feature patriotic songs". During the opening, they played country guitar music. Oh, there were two songs. They played the national anthem (black singer) and then moved on to "Somewhere over the Rainbow". Now I shall boldly call "stupid" whoever thinks that "Somewhere over the Rainbow" is a patriotic song. A nostalgic and wistful song of dreaming for the ideal country, but never patriotic, they distort and demean the meaning of the word. All this was turned into another "civil rights" as well as a cultural statement when it was sung by "Patty LaBelle's Boom Boom Choir", very black, very obnoxious choir who sang the song so that you could not understand the words, and any beauty that you remembered from Judy Garland or some other artist singing it was lost. I proudly say that though there were cheers from around me, I did not applaud or smile. I call it disrespectful junk that disgraces a ceremony of that repute (although it fit in rather well with the other disgusting motions they went through). Later, the same choir sang "He's Got the Whole World". It is a very nice song that paid tribute to God, but was sung just like the other. With no attempt to put any beauty or dignity into it. They were dancing and bouncing to the music, screaming all the time. I did applaud that time, because instead of paying attention to the bouncing people on stage, I was more focused on the sign-language translator. She got as much into it as the singers did, but she was a more dignified (white) person going completely out of character and going along with the beat. She was very entertaining and amusing and therefore, even though not as dignified as the ceremony deserved, worthy of applause. The other patriotic song was played as people filed out of their seats to go home. I think it was America the beautiful. Oh well.

Complaint #4: The wanton disrespect of the military, by not only people in the program, but also the crowd. Symbolic of the willingness of the soldiers who were serving, there was a brief ceremony where a soldier reaffirmed his oath to serve his country. This was met with token applause from the crowd. (and he got almost no introduction to the stage) Both spectators and participators made it clear that this sort of thing was not politically correct or welcome at this event.

I shall not be participating in any future ceremonies of any kind hosted in Philly, especially by Mayor Nutter. The words that would best describe me this afternoon are: outraged, disgusted, incensed, and disappointed.

Again, you don't have my apologies if you are offended. Call it revenge? :-p


S. Lacy said...

Hi, this is Sasha Lacy from the PHAA board. I just wanted to comment on what you said about the "Welcome America" program thing. I saw it.

I agree with you about what you said about the showy music and the excessive discussion of civil rights. But I just want you to know where they're coming from.

First of all, prejudice against blacks is not something that happened 50 years ago. It's happening NOW, and very often. It's not over. It is a proven fact that blacks with clean records have no more of a chance of getting a job in America than a white person with a criminal record. A black with a criminal record has almost no chance. And this is AFTER civil rights.

There's racism everywhere. I don't know if you heard about the big lynchings a few months ago. My dad was pulled over by the police countless times for absolutely nothing. My mother used to get tortured in school for being a "half-breed." My grandmother, who was barely black, walked dejected out of restaurants when the waiters refused to serve her. And this was AFTER civil rights.

I'm not trying to weep and moan over problems. I'm just saying, I can see why they made such a fuss over their rights. Because they don't yet have all of them, regardless of popular belief. I agree with everything you said about the music and speakers and song selections, I'm just saying, they aren't trying to be as self-absorbed as they seem. They really have had hard lives. And they're so proud of Obama, even though it makes me want to throw up. So I'm not excusing what they may have done, but I'm pointing out that there's more to their motives than plain arrogance.

I have a lot of conspiracy theories, but I do notice that the "tolerance movement" is going out of its way to make minority groups feel accepted. I guess they are doing the same thing for blacks, and of course, they jumped at the chance. This won't be the last of this kind of thing. Next time, the group might not have anything to do with color.

Sorry that this is so long. Feel free to disagree.

Also, Washington freed his slaves in his will... after he was dead.

Somnite said...

I can understand and completely agree with all of what you have said. I now must go against what I said in my post and say: I am very sorry that I have written a post that could be understood or translated as bigoted or racially demeaning. I meant it purely as a protest against the people who put on that program and the type of program that they put on.

I have known people of colors and races that I would be proud to call my friends, I have roomed with them, eaten with them and laughed with them. I truly believe (or maybe I only hope) that any sort of black/white judgments will die out with our parent's generation. I know of no teenagers (though I am sure there are many out there) that I would term racist or prejudiced. It gives me hope.

However if these feelings do not end with a new generation in power, then as I am pursuing politics it will be one of the things I fight against most.

I still must maintain though (because I truly believe it and cannot say something other than what I truly believe) that wherever these people were coming from it is understandable that they would put on such an event, but it is in no way excusable or acceptable to me.

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