All posts tagged Jamaican

An African American Jamaican Explication of London by William Blake

Published November 28, 2015 by lorijss

An African Jamaican Explication of London by William Blake

Cities are notorious for insinuating dark and dreary emotions from internal corruption and oppression. London by William Blake paints a dark portrait of London as a city in desolation. Even though he may be writing about the environment at present, the depressing imagery of the poem can be applied to not only London but just about any corrupt city in the world. Not only is this poem a depiction of his time in London but a premonition of what’s to come. Repetition and juxtaposition are the most powerful devices that Blake uses as through this he is able to paint that haunting and sorrowful picture of gloom in every stanza. This in turn adds to the poem’s universality towards human suffering.
Repetition is at its strongest when he is repeating not necessarily words but dark emotions:
In every cry of every man
In every Infant’s cry of fear
In every voice, in every ban
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear: (5-8)
Here Blake is emphasizing the intricate reasons for every expression of grief. I think the repetition of ending sounds in words at the end of each line such as “Man” and” ban,” “fear” and “hear” represents the crying calls to be heard or for social consciousness.. “The mind-forged manacles I hear,” is him simply stressing the oppression that stems from political, economic and religious corruption. This line we see its universal application, it’s as if Blake is urging one to break free from the shackles of slavery, obviously in this case it would mean mental slavery. The speaker hearing these “mind-forged manacles” ears are tuned to the clanking of the chains tied to each person’s foot as they walk under the captivity that elicit their cries.
The description of these appalling conditions allows flexibility in interpretation. When he states “how the Chimney sweeper’s cry,” one can even imply that this sound of a cry is enough to seep into one’s soul; so this is more than hearing. “Every blackening church appalls” is stating that the conditions that the people are under while cleaning chimneys tells us that the church is allowing people to work under these appalling conditions by not being proactive about it at the time Blake is writing the poem. Here he is highlighting religious corruption or hypocrisy. There is a premonition of death because the chimney smoke can get into your lungs, thereby shortening your lifespan through respiratory diseases. This could mean that the smoke from the chimney is “blackening” the skins of the fair-skinned child workers. We see the juxtaposition here, “blackening” could symbolize the moral decay of the church. It could also mean that the skin of fair-skinned workers are “blackening;” they are now toiling like the enslaved Africans, including children, in the British colonies. Except now the conditions are a result of the Industrial Revolution. I think the word “blackening” in this poem leaves room for that sort of racial interpretation.
The last stanza serves as a reminder as to what it’s like walking the streets of a gloomy London all day. Then what that boils down to as the day nears its end. The dark tone seems to have been building up from bad to worse. When a reader subconsciously ties blackening from previous stanza with “midnight” from last stanza, there is another juxtaposition. Day fades into midnight as if to say day is “blackening.” What makes this very effective is what he describes after the scene is set –prostitution. This “blasts the new-born Infant’s tear,” could mean new born babies are born blind because of a parent’s venereal disease (Baym et al). It may mean that the prostitution doesn’t make the person fit to be a parent and so when the child is growing up he or she shed “tears” as a retaliation to their parent’s unfit parenting. Some might not know who the father of the child is given that history of prostitution. The missing parent causes an infant to cry as they suffer more without two parents. The line “Plagues the Marriage hearse” tells the apparent undermining of the sanctity of marriage. Married people engaging in prostitution as a way to make ends meet shows the deep rooted social issues Blake is letting his readers become aware of.
The strength of this poem lies it’s effective use of repetition of the word cry, and allowing the word “blackening” to be interpreted through different lenses. Its application goes far beyond just London, it is universal and represents that common human experience of suffering. Perhaps the repetition is Blake’s way of telling readers that the conditions described, repeats itself in the present day by day but that this will become the very history that will repeat itself in years to come. The speaker’s repetition of dreary emotions is a catalyst for change. Granted the cries doesn’t fall on deaf “unempathetic” ears, social awareness leads to social change. This may be what the speaker was trying to imply by ending the poem on such a gloomy note that these conditions, if we don’t nip it in the bud, will become a catastrophe.
Works Cited
Blake, William. “London.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 9th ed. Vol. D. New York: W.W. Norton, 2013. 132-33. Print.

Baym, Nina, and Robert S. Levine. “London.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 9th ed. Vol. D. New York: W.W. Norton, 2013. 132-33. Print.



Sh*t White girls say to Black girls

Published January 26, 2012 by lorijss

I was reading this blog post Not Everyone’s Laughing At “Sh*t White Girls Say To Black Girls” where a writer commented on the Sh*t White girls say to Black girls video that went viral on the web. So there was this debate going on in the comments section of the blog and I just had to jump in just because I read this argument that this dude Clive posted.

“I am going to say up front I don’t understand why some white people were offended by this video. I found it hilarious. Satires of life are great because there are kernels of truth to them, and the girl who produced the video clearly has a great eye for it.

But I do have some issues with the tone and implications of this article. While I get the author’s intent with this article to define privilege as an important factor in determining what constitutes a racist comment, she is missing the forest through the trees. White people do not inherently see black people as beneath them. Establishing that whites have ‘privilege’, as if society has a system in place to keep black people down and white people up, is both antiquated and ludicrous, not to mention self-defeating. Did that used to exist? Yes. But decades of affirmative action and government programs, and most importantly cultural changes, have created a white population that is not anti-black and denigrating towards African-Americans. Instead, it is, simply put, indifferent.

I know it is difficult to hear, but the only people holding back black people today are black people. Paranoid, imagined attacks from the majority culture and a desire to avoid ‘being white’ have led over the past few decades to the destruction of the African-American family, and mindset that learning and education are traits that should be avoided. The community has (generally) become an entitlement culture that blames everybody else for their problems, and then complains that people are ‘looking down on them’. Well guess what! That is not due to any sort of belief that blacks are ‘inferior’. It is due to a general disgust with what the culture has become: a slew of single parent families, rampant with crime and drug use. Italians, poles, asians, etc have all come to this country and have been discriminated against by the majority culture (at one point WASPs). Yet nobody looks down on them anymore. Why? Because they worked to make themselves something and have earned respect. It’s not racism, it’s realism- it has nothing to do with skin color or ethnicity. I would hire a qualified African-American in two seconds over a white person because I know he/she had to fight through the plantation mentality of his own community to become something, and I want to encourage that, because sadly, that is exception not the norm.

Take for instance what happened in 2010 at a poor inner city school in South Philadelphia. The school was comprised of African-Americans and Vietnamese immigrants; the Vietnamese students were working jobs after school and still getting A’s while the African-American kids were failing out and in fact beating the Vietnamese kids up for being too ‘brainy’. Can anybody say with any credulity that the MAIN reason these students are underperforming is because of the racist ‘establishment’? Or should African-Americans maybe start looking closer to home for the problem?

I get that it’s hard to grow up in a black community in this country and excel, or indeed, that it’s awkward to be the only black person in an affluent white community. But for Christ sake stop complaining about institutional racism, and how white people are racist for calling a spade a spade. ‘Microracisms’ only exist because many white people have (unfortunately) also gotten used to the image projected by the black community that blacks don’t do things like get an education or a white collar job. That is not because whites don’t believe that blacks CAN do this, it just surprises them because they see the opposite on a regular basis, because blacks have framed such things as ‘not-black’. As a result, when an African-American does get an education and work in that sort of job, there is an awkwardness because comments that would normally just be matter-of-fact jokes or statements about the difference of one’s appearance get tied to the black person’s community, and triggers the mindset that the white person is being racist. Of course, some comments may overstep the line. But I would say in general what the author is talking about is a paranoid, oversensitive way of framing meaningless comments.

If there is any sort of condescension from whites/asians to blacks it is because blacks as a culture expect preferential treatment because they are ‘worse off’. That mindset in itself implies one is above the other, and it is self-defeating for blacks. Idealistic white (and asian) graduates can spend years helping kids in the inner city, but the fact of the matter is NOTHING will change unless blacks try to fix their community values and start acting like rolemodels for their children. There would be no racial ‘privilege’ in this country if African-Americans just realized deep-down that they’re as capable as any other race to succeed, and started doing something about it. Articles like this do nothing to fix this problem, and only act as a sounding board for more ‘poor me’ statements that create unwarranted and unecessary indignation at the ‘establishment’. It’s well past the time to bury this immensly stale, 40 year old conversation.”

Me: Clive, I can understand what you have to say but I can tell that you are of European descent and don’t truly understand (and will never truly understand) what it is like to be African American or African descent in the United States. You seem to have a genuine concern but even has you talk about whites, not all whites fit your descriptions “That is not because whites don’t believe that blacks CAN do this, it just surprises them because they see the opposite on a regular basis, because blacks have framed such things as ‘not-black’.” Why should it surprise whites (when blacks seemingly step up in life), this is contradictory, the only way it would surprise whites is if whites were usually subconsciously thinking of African Americans as lesser and “inferior.” Even if African Americans perpetrated this notion of inferiority,(and African American do not) whites do not do any justice when they agree also. It’s like someone telling them self that they’re ugly and another person saying yes it’s true you really do look ugly. This obviously doesn’t help the situation.

You seem to be making generalizations about the African American community. For example, you argue that the African American community itself projected an image that blacks don’t do things like get an “education” or a “white collar-job”. You ignore the responsibilities of whites in perpetrating this very notion, one way in which whites can perpetrate this very notion is by simply believing that blacks simply don’t get an “education and white-collar jobs.” Just the simple act of whites believing these notions contributes to its perpetration, multiplication, &endurance in society today. These negative notions of African Americans have originally stemmed from whites themselves, historically, and its continued existence continues to be harbored by present-day whites themselves. Whites in the 21st century do no justice by believing and accepting(not even an ounce) what their white ancestors have already done. Whether or not it may appear to present day whites that blacks themselves portray this supposedly negative, anti-progressive “image” of themselves. This “image” is really what whites make of it.

Again, regardless of the “image” that you claim blacks have themselves perpetrated, the root cause of this supposed “image” is from that of the dominant socially, culturally, and historical, ideology of whites. Yes it’s a “plantation mentality” that stemmed from whites and your arguments seem to elude this important point that this “plantation mentality” was orchestrated by whites themselves over a very very long period of time. The truth is: even if some African American subcultures appear to not believe in getting an “education” and “white-collar jobs” this very ideology was perpetrated by whites themselves, over the course of history, to benefit themselves at the expense of blacks. Whites being the majority, during slavery and decades after slavery was abolished, have impressed this belief &ideology upon blacks that blacks are too inferior to actually get an “education” or a “white-collar job.” Some African Americans, keep in mind not all, have used these views to validate themselves, internalized it, over the course of history and remember we are talking about 400 years of slavery and the decades following its abolition. This kind of view(I should have written internalization) has been passed down from generation to generation through subconscious socialization and still exists in some African American subcultures. The issue now, is where to draw the line between white responsibility and black responsibility. And since whites are privileged have the most social power, due to the backbone of slavery, then it would appear that whites would have the most responsibility.

Clive: “@Lori-Ann- Those are fair points. I have never debated, and do not debate, that the inception of the “inferiority complex” blacks have for themselves today was created by whites centuries ago on the plantation. In fact, I would say we probably only disagree about who has the larger impetus and power to change this mentality today. Although it is fairly clear this mentality is recycled constantly by whites and blacks, which has kept it alive, out of the two factors that can help break this cycle 1) societal help through transfers, affirmative action, media campaigns, etc and 2) blacks as a community actively working to break out of the ghetto, rebuild families, and acquire education- I believe the second to be VASTLY more important. 1) is important for confidence building and a leg up, no doubt, but 2) is what actively effects the change.

This is going to sound asinine (although from what I gather, at least 80% of the board already loathes me, so whatever), but regardless of what someone has done to you, at the end of the day the responsibility is one’s own to move past it. White’s were horrible to blacks. Whites get it. They have apologized, and over the last 40 years they have tried through government programs and resocialization to try and make up for it in whatever way they possibly can. No, it doesn’t fully make up for it. But nothing ever will. Whites can’t give blacks good lives on their own. At a certain point- and that point is now- blacks have to accept that the old society that actively discriminated against them is gone and has been gone. They’ve got to forgive the kid who bullied them in middle school and bury the wounds.

Whites aren’t indoctrinated in school or by (most of) their families about blacks being “inferior”. Whites aren’t born today in a society where things are “separate yet equal” or where restaurants, seats, and water fountains have “whites only” on them. And neither are blacks. That era is over- and white kids today have no conception of it, and are frankly blameless, because they didn’t participate in it. In the same vein, blacks born today are victimless, because they never personally experienced it. Discriminations developed by whites today are based on what they see- and it’s frankly not pretty or easy to engender respect for what one sees in the inner city. Indeed, after spending time in there for awhile, even sympathy goes out the window. The only way the issue will end is if blacks as a demographic take the initiative to change their situation. That will involve government help yes, of course. But it will require help from role models, ESPECIALLY black ones. And as an earlier poster pointed out above, families in particular. I know it’s complicated and not (apologies for the pun) black and white, nor are the solutions easy or overnight, but at the end of the day forgiving whites and moving on is the only way blacks are going to find a better world for themselves. It is the first and most crucial step. And there is nothing anybody else in this increasingly mixed race country can do or spend or feel to change that.

I’m done. Thanks for the discussion, though I’m not sure all of you are grateful. At any rate, to those who reflexively attacked me and my points, I hope some of what I talked about above regarding the uselessness of resentment towards whites someday speaks to you. To those of you who corroborated my statements, thank you for the support and perspective. And to those who engaged me with civility even when disagreeing thank you for the respect. Good day all.”

The end.

I would have to say, not bad at all. I would say about 60% of whites who try to articulate the points that he is trying to make would come off as blatantly racist& or  ignorant(stereotypical, prejudice, discriminatory). (You know in the future I would do research on this when I go get a Masters degree hee hee) So I could tell that not only was this person named Clive of European descent but have had ample experiences interacting with and living amongst African Americans. This explains the concerns he has about African American social conditions. In my responses I speak of African Americans has a distant relative of  African Caribbean Americans, African Jamaicans, African Trinidadians, African..etc. but that’s a whole other discussion. Anyway the experiences of anyone of African descent living in this country seem to have some similarities but also differences, differences can also be subjective. Bla Bla, I would have to point out that he doesn’t grasp the concept of socialization. Socialization is basically when a person is brought up to act or think a certain way. This means socialization knows not whether it is beneficial or harmful to a person, socialization doesn’t have to have anything to do with if something is right or wrong. Socialization is basically a puppets on a string concept, the strings are being controlled by the ones with power. Nah I don’t think that explains it well. Ok you have been brought up to think and act a certain way even if that way is working against you, or working to harm you, socialization has no morals. He mentions history but  seems to ignore socialization and it’s effects on the subconscious minds of generations upon generations, socialization is more powerful than it seems to be.Thus socialization is ‘the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained.Oh that explains the racial slurs and insults that exist today.

That’s basically the concept he doesn’t grasp well if at all because European Americans have been brought up to believe they have no culture and that other racial groups do but there’s(European Americans) is right, just, and normal. So the concept of socialization may be difficult to get across to many European Americans especially those who have been brought up in segregated white communities(usually upper or middle class and can go a whole year without actually seeing a black person in person. But dang it took me a while to really analyze and comprehend what Darron Smith meant when he radically stated that “all whites are racists” even today right now in the 21st century. Now that’s a whole other thing. Put it this way it may take another 300 years for us to reach true equality(sooner the better). yea put it that way, to truly do away with the specs of an institution that lasted 400 years, it might take a couple more decades. 

Like I said before the issue is really where white responsibilities start and end as it relates to the African American experience. Meaning where do you draw the line when you say oh whites are responsible for that, but African Americans are responsible for that. This is where it gets really complex. Of course African Americans should have some form of self-responsibility for their lives because I think that part of being a human being is having self-responsibility. Without adequate self-responsibility you cannot live a full life or realize your own potential. I believe that whites have much greater responsibilities (these includes, self, social, cultural, historical,political& economical responsibilities) because they are the ones that are dominantly in positions of affluence, prestige and power. Whites just have to realize it and know that all that affluence, prestige, power was inherited for the most part from their white ancestors and doesn’t have much to do with their “hard work” and “determination.” Whites simply have to be more willing, to be welcoming of multiculturalism and openly accept multiculturalism/racial and cultural diversity in their own personal and supposedly professional lives. Sociological statistics state that whites are the most racially segregated group in the US. You will find 100X more all-white, only-whites neighborhoods, schools etc in the US than any other racial group. Whites need to diversify their lives in order to melt away all these stereotypes and prejudices that they may have of other racial groups.Multiculturalism&diversity is the solution homies!