Wednesday June 18, 2003

Pre-Ramble

I was going to write about how much I hate drunk people. And also talk about men more. But as you can see below I’ve said enough for one person today. Besides, everyone knows how much I hate drunk people. Especially drunk men who flirt with hardworking hostesses/waitresses and then curse about them vilely, simultaneously leering like an inebriated predator, when the young ladies’ backs are turned. Bastards.


Black Hercules

I read the worst book last night. “Black Hercules”, published in 1969 and written by Stuart Jason (one of the many pseudonyms of Michael Avallone). It was republished in 1976 as “Delta Stud”. The blurb hook was:

“The shattering novel of a plantation ruled by lust, greed, and incest–and the one giant who tore down its pillars of evil.”

On the cover was a photorealistic illustration of a large bare-chested black man. Hercules is the name of the slave purchased from smugglers who is of royal bloodlines. I just knew that at the end of the story Herk was going to go nuts and kick some opressor ass. I was expecting this to be a story of slave rebellion and violent revenge, if not justice. But it was more like … uh … oh hell. What was the name of that dumb movie with Ryan Phillippe and Buffy the Vampire Slayer? The remake of a famous novel I can’t remember the name of. There was a sequel that was even worse. Let me look it up. “Cruel Intentions” was the movie based on the novel “Dangerous Liasons” by Choderlos de Laclos.

It was similar to that in a way except the backdrop is a brutal slave plantation whose only “crop” is selectively bred “bucks” and “wenches” of pureblood Mandingo stock. Instead of the satisfying, rage-releasing 60’s black power tale of uprising that I was expecting it ended up being violent porn with the slave characters as chattle — sub/superhuman sexual savages and not much more than that.

The novel was more or less about two wealthy pre-middle-aged twins, Beauford (Bu) and Larkwood (Lark) Cottonwood, who inherit the best slave breeding plantation in Lousiana close to New Orleans. Having had incestuous relations with each other in the past starting at the age of 15, Lark has a strong desire to possess and have her twin brother, Bu. Bu, however, resists and sets his efforts on finding a wife for the purposes of producing one male heir for himself and the family name. A wife in addition to both his “bed wench” and mistress that he finds and falls madly in love with. She is Francoise, an octoroon whose mother has bred her to be a high scale mistress, apparently a tradition at one time.

To make a 224 page story short, Lark is bitterly resentful and hatches a dangerous plan where she gets Bu’s wife deflowered and impregnated by Herk. Bu’s mistress and wife give birth at nearly the same time in the same house during a hurricane. Lark switches the babies making it appear as if big, black Herk had consorted with Francoise, causing Bu to kill his mistress — the only woman he’s ever loved and been satisfied by — in a fit of rage. He then proceeds to hang Herk to the point of near-death, then castrate him with a hot knife and eviscerates him with a hook.

After three days Bu realizes what happened and that he had been tricked. And that’s pretty much the end of the story. And throughout, of course, there’s lots of graphic sex, much of it involving overly-endowed primally sexualized black men being used and discarded. The pillars of evil that were torn down were torn down by the dehumanized slaves, namely Herk, being manipulated like steer for his sexual magnitude, virility and genetic material.

Oh, Dr. Cress-Welsing, wherefore art thou with thy radical theory of color confrontation [1][2])?

And not one brutal, slave-owning, philandering white person killed. What the hell? Where’s the cheap Hollywood brand of justice? But you know. The one redeeming value of the book was that it did give some insight into the sheer inhumane brutality and hypocrisy of plantation life.


… which leads to a ranting mini-essay. A rantessay.

Someone needs to pay for that. And by “that” I mean slavery through segregation. I’m not talking about handouts. But somehow. Because it’s never been dealt with. And I don’t necessarily mean monetarily. But Jewish people, having suffered unbelievably during WWII, have had their pain recognized and have received apologies and some degree of financial remuneration and general recognition of their plight. Japanese-Americans who were interned during the same period have received apologies and recognition. Native Americans get some special considerations with regards to land and what they can do with it.

Black people, however, often get chided for bringing up the subject. Or met with rebuttals akin to “What racism?” and “Get over it!” My point is that there’s been no accountability and the riches gained on the backs of slaves are reaped and fully enjoyed by the ancestors of slave owners, traders and their economic accomplices but none of the moral responsibility. “This country is great because … well, we stopped didn’t we?”

And on top of that, modern America with no sense of redemption then makes racism a viable, legal entity with segregation and Jim Crow laws. I just read an article in the paper yesterday about a southern state giving honorary degrees to now elderly black people because when the public schools were integrated in their city the white community, school board and elected officials solved the “problem” by doing what? Closing down the public schools altogether and then opening white-only private schools for their children. This left nearly all of the black people in the town with no access to formal education. No schooling means no higher education, which means no middle to upper class employment opportunities, which means their kids are brought up poor and most likely unable to afford higher education and are trapped in a cycle of poverty. Or the African American community dissolved away as people went off to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Mind you, this wasn’t very long ago that Jim Crow laws were the law of the land. 40 or 50 years. My parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. were alive and lived through it. And suffered through it. The North wasn’t much more enlightened (I mention that because a friend of mine asked me about it a while ago). Lynchings were still a threat during the 60’s. While some aspects of our society were experiencing Woodstock and Happenings and tuning out, turning on and whatever, others were defending themselves from the Klan and putting out burning crosses or burying little black school girls.

The current Republican bastion of Northern California, Burlingame (and I’ll throw in the other wealthy Bay Area communities — Hillsborough, Woodside, Los Gatos Heights, Los Altos, etc.), was busy passing laws at the time to make it illegal to sell a house or property to Blacks and other minorities. They knew exactly what they were doing, what they wanted to accomplish, who they didn’t want associating with their children and it’s paid off for them and their progeny to this day. Still isolated, socially exclusive and segregated like a golf course at a Southern country club.

This, by the way, is why I quietly bristle when people say, “What do you need a Black movie/music award show for? Isn’t that just being divisive? ”

The cultural experiences of African Americans are much different than that of European Americans and is rarely reflected accurately or with depth by Hollywood. Aside from that, Blackness is as much an ethnicity as it is a race. (Yeh, I know. Arbitrary social construct and all that.)

There are Irish and Puerto Rican parades and other ethnic festivities and celebrations. “Kiss me. I’m Irish.”

Nothing wrong with that. But African Americans are questioned (which could lead to a whole ‘nother rant about self-perceived paternal, moral supremacy on the part of some) because the ethnic identity and racial identity are so interwined. Mainly because through the intentional identity-stripping constructs of slavery our pasts, language and culture were obliterated to us. For instance, I found a history of my mother’s side of the family and it goes back to about 1860. Nothing before that. Black people generally don’t have any idea about their ancestry before the 1860’s much less what African country their ancestors hailed from. (That also translates to no inheritances or other historically accumulated wealth from educated, landowning family members.)

I suppose that’s why you don’t see the Kenyan Achievement Awards on BET (among other reasons you wouldn’t see that on BET). Speaking of Kenyans, what’s up with them winning all those marathons? That’s absolutely amazing.

Anyway, now that was officially a rant. Wow. That’s enough smarm from me for one night. I’m going to abruptly bring myself to a full stop here. Please take any complaints to the management.

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