The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Don Imus Flap

Interesting. Another example of the Michael Richards flap, really, where a comedian “goes too far.” In this case, by using the phrase “Nappy-headed ho’s” in connection with the Rutgers Women’s basketball team. Bad taste, certainly, but that’s Imus. Comedians often walk this edge. Now, one could make the case that black folks are simply being too sensitive, and there’s a part of me that agrees with that. But only part.
If a black DJ had made the exact same comment, I would have thought it tasteless, but the “nappy headed” wouldn’t have bothered me, although the “ho’s” would have.
Here’s my comment: it is normal for those with power to go unconscious about the fact that they have it, wield it, profit by it, and fight to keep it. I’m sure that for many, there is a sense of “oh, come on. Why can’t we just get over it and have fun…”
The reason is that in any underdog/overdog situation, the overdog ALWAYS wants to know why the targets of their “humor” can’t just “get over it.” You know? I don’t particularly think Imus is a racist—no more than human beings in general. Real racists are more careful about their speech in public. But you’d better bet that comments like that give aid and comfort to racists. Is that Imus’ responsibility? Not really. But on the other hand…
On a genuinely level playing field, all is fair. But when one group owns 100% of the radio and television networks, as well as all the media conglomerates, the talk of a “level playing field” is absurd. When I see black men having sex in movies, I’ll believe that there is something remotely approaching cultural parity.
Does any of this make Imus wrong? No…that’s a personal judgment, and not open to some kind of absolute evaluation. But what I enjoy about this flap is the fact that blacks, outnumbered ten to one, have organized sufficiently to affect advertisers and scare radio executives. Please remember that when I was a kid, these EXACT same market forces kept black dramas off the air, killed black variety shows, kept blacks in subservient positions—and in general, whites “never noticed” any of this stuff. And anything could be said about us, as any time, and “no one noticed.” And you could make movies like “Gone With the Wind” where blacks are happy slaves, thinking back with wistful memories of the days white folks took care of us…and that film goes on to become the most popular movie in American history.
Until you’ve walked in those shoes, you can’t really imagine what it feels like to hear a Don Imus say what he said. And while I think blacks over-reacted, it’s an over-reaction that is completely understandable, and one that is no worse than whites would have done, if the situation were reversed.
I supplement with multivitamins, the “Ultimate Meal” powder, and a few other things I play with (like Spiru-tein powder). But most of my nutrition I get from eating a general pattern of:
3 parts fresh fruits and vegetables
2 parts lean proteins
1 part complex carbs
This “inverted pyramid is flexible, which helps keep me from being too obsessive. The Warrior diet plan uses a similar scheme, where you start a meal with vegetables, go from there to proteins, then carbs. Drink a big glass of water, wait fifteen minutes, and if you’re still hungry, start over again. This is after fasting all day. However, if you eat ROUGHLY this way on your non-fast I.F. days, I think you are getting the point.
There is a point of maximum efficiency, after which a practice gives diminishing returns. I think with I.F. that point is about 36 hours. I’m experimenting with not eating between (for instance) 10pm Sunday and 8am Tuesday, giving my body a complete day and night of emptiness. The idea is that there are some growth and healing factors secreted at night (for instance GH) and that to the degree that I.F. works by convincing your body you’d better be one bad mamma-jamma of a hunter or your family will starve, it would make sense that sleeping on an empty stomach would have a powerful effect.
I like to break my fast with juice or fruit. If you want to lose weight, just concentrate on fresh fruit and vegetables, and proteins on your eating day. Add carbs back in as appropriate. Please be CERTAIN to eat plenty of FRESH food on eating day, and take a damned good vitamin. A fruit and protein smoothie would probably be dynamite.
I have to admit to being uncertain why people have such strong negative reactions to Hillary Clinton. Those of you with insight, please post. Right now, it feels to me that she’s just been attacked so consistently by forces on the Right that the negative myth looms larger than any reality: people were just terrified of Bill, really hated him in a way I’ve rarely seen. If you have objective reasons she shouldn’t be a presidential candidate, please offer them.
Me, I’m slightly inclined toward Obama because he opposed the war. It’s certainly possible that if he’d been in the Senate at the time he would have gone along with it. Or not. I can only go on the behaviors I see. And in this regard, I’d like to vote for someone I consider at least as intelligent and intuitive as I am. Until he falls on his face, Barack is looking pretty good.
I have an overview, a general sense of what the technology I first talked about in my book “Firedance” might be. Now this is general self-healing and personal progress, divided into two sections: maturation, and enlightenment.
1) Maturation can be measured in the degree of responsibility taken in the three major arenas of life: fitness/health, spirit/relationships, career/education. If you have all three in balance, CONGRATULATIONS! You are almost certainly an adult. If not…it is valid to question.
2) Enlightenment can be (in my opinion) considered the opening of that door of perception normally only opened at the moment of death, prior to that happy occasion. As the Sufis say, “Die Before You Die.” What would this mean? Dissolving the ego, eradication of all short-term selfish intents, dropping perceptual filters. Persistent non-dualistic thinking. IF this is true, it makes sense out of all world religions: they begin as genuine spiritual breakthrough, but are then interpreted by well-meaning but unenlightened people. They create rafts of rules, and those conducive to the creation and sustenance of an organization survive and are passed from generation to generation. But enlightenment is a solitary, individual thing—until the illusion of individuality is destroyed. NO organization is going to help you do this. NO religion governed by non-enlightened people can help you to enlightenment. Charles Johnson sent me a news article about Buddhist Monks leaving the monastery to get computer science degrees, with the idea of “bringing the monastery into the 21st century.”

However admirable that may be in helping people become “better” people, that has nothing to do directly with the intent of the Buddha, which was liberation from addiction to the belief in an external world, freeing us from automatic behavior patterns, and clarity of intent. As Jed McKenna said (in his wise-ass way) “they get you in the door with enlightenment, and then steer you to the compassion aisle.”
So what would Firedance have to say about this? I’d use a two-step process:
1) various techniques designed to bring subconscious crap to conscious level: journaling, dream-diaries, meditation, psychodrama, therapy, poetry, etc. Bring those emotions up, and anchor them into the body. Make your goals balanced between body, mind and spirit to find your emotional pus-pockets

This is followed by
2) Various applications of the “Fear Removal” technique, designed to clear negative emotion through physical motion. Yoga, tai chi, FlowFit, various aerobic exercises, weight lifting…anything done with conscious intent on breathing, and with the emotions “front loaded” and then taken through the Neuro Immuno Endocrine response (2nd wind) would do it. Better still if you are moving the body through Six Degrees of Freedom, to break the conditioned tension chains.

Of course, the more thorough each of these steps is, the better. If you do this—alternating between stirring the subconscious and aligning the body with your personal and erotic self-image…

Well, the idea is that what the Sufis refer to as “nafs” are kinks in the psychic wiring. Remove these fears and inhibitions, and the “energy” naturally and automatically evolves to the next level of Maslow’s hierarchy. Handle this stuff in the arenas of survival, sex, power, and emotion…and you have rooted your being in the solid realities of existence. Then, it will grow automatically into the higher chakras. Once you have mastered the basics of life, it is possible to move beyond automatic fears, and be ready to let go of the tools you used to gain clarity.
A real example: I have a friend who considers himself tremendously spiritual. Fantasically evolved, and a leader of others on the journey. This person cheated on his wife, betrayed his best friend, and sits on an absolute fountain of pain and fear…but boy, is he ever spiritual. He also drinks too much, and is quite overweight. The lack of connection with the basic realities of his being makes it possible for him to hallucinate about his personal growth. His lack of understanding of his own motivations makes it easy for him to blame others for his actions, and to feel little compassion for the pain of others. It is sad…and would have been preventable had there been any objective measurement of his progress.
I’m not offering an easy path. I’m merely pointing out that a path of personal growth rooted in the battle for physical health, emotional connection and service to community really can’t go too wrong. All the rest of this is just idle speculation…

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