Monday, May 11, 2009

Learned Helplessness

¡Hola! Everybody...
I’m jumping right into today’s post...The following is in reference to a social networking site, Multiply, I frequent. There's a group there that uses racial epithets regularly, a clear violation of the site's terms of service. For details and context click here

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-=[ Learned Helplessness vs Change ]=-

“Culturally the Negro represents a paradox: Though he is an organic part of the nation, he is excluded by the entire tide and direction of American Culture... Therefore if, within the confines of its present culture, the nation ever seeks to purge itself of its color hate, it will find itself at war with itself, convulsed by a spasm of emotional and moral confusion.”

-- Richard Wright, Black Boy

[As part of society, we are ultimately the ones that determine what kind of world we envision. If you find the use of racial epithets acceptable, read no further. If hate speech offends your idea of a civil society, then please read my post and if you agree, sign the online petition (click here)]

The second vilest sin (second only to ignorance) I come across on a regularly basis is the notion that we have no power. The sentiment seems to be, “Well, sure it’s (<-- insert any form of getting reamed here) wrong, but I can’t make a difference, so why bother.”

Observe that the same negative defeatist attitude dominates both forms of thought. In psychology this type of belief system is called learned helplessness.

AmeriKKKa? This is your brain on cynicism.

Recently it was brought to my attention that a political internet group, Robust Debate, has resorted to using hate speech as a way to intimidate people of color and women. Racial epithets such as “nigger” and “boy” are common and women are often referred to as “bitches.”

I am a firm believer in free speech and that’s why I have taken the time to understand the First Amendment. There are limits to free speech. You can’t stand up in a crowded theater and yell “fire” without suffering the consequences because that would be considered a crime. However, I believe that even the vilest ideologies should be given the same freedoms as other speech. The 1st Amendment has to apply to all ideas, even those we find offensive.

My post, however, is not about the First Amendment. It’s really about the fair implementation of website Terms of Service (TOS). As many who read me know, I’ve been kicked out of a certain website so many times it isn’t funny. No, I don’t harass people, I don't cyber stalk women, nor do I insist people read my blogs. I've been banned mostly because of my ideas.

Because unshophisticated people often find my views abhorrent, I have a big problem with censorship of any kind. However, my post isn't about censorship...

If the owners of this site find my thoughts and ideas out of line and I'm deleted, that’s their right and choice, it is their site. But from what I understand, TOS also warn users against using hate speech. Websites are privately owned and they can determine what they allow to happen on their sites. If I get bounced for expressing my ideas regarding organized religion or the sexual development of children, then why isn’t an individual calling another human being a nigger or a bitch being treated similarly?

I’m asking that you consider this. There is no sane place in this world for hate. Do you think it’s right for some people to be held to one standard while others are allowed to use racial epithets without consequence? This is about fairness and everyone being held to the same standard on a privately-owned website.

And for those who say that there’s no use in speaking truth to power, I’ll leave you with a story that brings it home for me.

I was once marching in Washington, DC against some injustice, I forget which. At the time, I had been feeling very frustrated at the state of politics in this country. Less than half of those eligible to vote did, and one of the results was the re-election an incompetent to the Oval Office -- re-elected!

I was marching alongside this elderly African-American lady who had to use a walker. She was veteran from the peak years of the civil rights movement -- someone who marched in the South when they would let dogs loose on you if you had the audacity to demand equal rights. I asked her how she could continue the struggle in the face of so much failure. Her response will stay with me until the day I die:

With a smile that belied her rebel attitude, she explained to me that she didn’t risk everything because she hoped or expected win over those who disagreed with her or held formidable economic and political power. Rather, she recognized that -- as powerless as she was -- she was determined to use her courage and determination as a weapon to harass embedded power structures. Her goal was defiance she told me.

She also explained that she avoided discouragement because the moment she chose resistance as a strategy against slave mentality, she was triumphant. Nothing the power elite could do could ever diminish her triumph.

Finally, she emphasized that we owed it to both our ancestors and our children. We owed it to our ancestors, many of whom fought slavery and oppression knowing they would never see it abolished in their lifetimes. More importantly, we owe it to our children, who need to have the road cleared for their own resistance. Children who need the power of example of defiance in the face of hate in order for them to shake off the shackles of ignorance and passive acceptance.

So, the next time you say some stupid-assed sh!t such as, “What difference can I make,” remember that. Remember people died so you could walk around saying stupid sh!t. Whatever your decision today -- whether you agree with me or not, or sign the petition (or not) -- is irrelevant. What is important is if you are making a stand. I will not engage your thinking on this. If you act, you act; if you don't, you don't. This is about action (or the lack thereof), not talk.




  1. Fuckin awesome!!!!

    I swear ai was about to lose it this week after reading some of the bullshit expressed by obvious losers. I don't see myself as such and I will forever standup and speak out and up about situations as these.

  2. @Rippa: Yeah, I saw some of the responses and was amazed. There's a plague of ignorance and apathy across this nation... SMH

  3. That's why I don't mess with 'Robust Debate'.
    I'd lose my fucking mind and go crazy. To hell with that.
    I'll sign the petition though.

  4. Oh and now that I'm reading it, from what I've heard, I'm surprised RD wasn't shut down a long time ago.

  5. @Coco: Imagine ME as a member there! LOL! I was there as a member a while back. I posted a researched blog on racism, and not one -- NOT ONE PERSON -- engaged me. LOL When I saw it was all about regurgitating Lush Rimbaugh, I left.

  6. Damn Eddie this is good, more than good! You should have been the one to write the petition.

    I especially like what the older woman said, makes a whole lot of sense doesn't it? And it's inspirational.posting the petition and for posting these powerful words.

    Thanks again for

  7. @PBE: Thanks for bringing light to the subject and I think your wording was much better -- I REALLY think so. It was very tight.


  9. @H. Lewis Smith: If you notice, I included a link to a review of the book, "The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn't, and Why" in my post. While the book doesn't share all my views on language, it goes a long way in embedding the word in its proper historical context.

    As a nuyorican born and raised in the ghettos of NYC, my experience with the word is different from others.

    In any case, that's beyond the purposes of this post. the point here is about hate speech. However and whatever black people do to the word, or use it or not, has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

  10. For those interested, I'll repost the link I shared in the body of this post:


What say you?


[un]Common Sense