“As the social is devalued along with rationality, ethics, and any vestige of democracy, spectacles of war, violence, and brutality now merge into forms of collective pleasure that constitute an important and new symbiosis between visual pleasure, violence, and suffering. The control/punishing society is now the ultimate form of entertainment as the pain of others, especially those considered disposable and powerless, has become the subject not of compassion but of ridicule and amusement. My emphasis here is on the sadistic impulse and how it merges spectacles of violence and brutality with forms of collective pleasure that often lend support and sway public opinion in favor of social policies and “lawful” practices that create zones of abandonment for youth. No society can make a claim to being a democracy as long as it defines itself through shared fears rather than shared responsibilities, especially in regards to young people. Widespread violence now functions as part of an anti-immune system that turns the economy of genuine pleasure into a mode of sadism that creates the foundation for sapping democracy of any political substance and moral vitality that might counter a politics of disposability more generally.”
“O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.”
“Buddhist practice pulls both ways. From one perspective, it is a discreet activity, something we DO. From another perspective, one which tends to emerge more clearly with time, it seems less something we do and more something we ARE; less a piece of life and more all of life. The good news may be precisely that our lives will never ‘work out,’ no matter how well we arrange the pieces or play the game, whether of career, relationships, or indeed practice. Buddhist practice is especially recalcitrant; it just won’t ‘do’ what we want, at least not for long, because what we want is the problem.”
— Henry Shukman, “A Matter of Misdirection”
Sixteen, alone, 23 hours a day, in a six-by-eight-foot box
At any given time, about 100 teenagers are housed in solitary confinement at New York City’s Rikers Island. Most of them are are locked up because they can’t afford bail.
Our new investigation takes you inside the debate over solitary confinement for teens, and the toll it takes on the thousands of minors held in isolation around the U.S. everyday.
And watch our new animation illustrating one former inmate’s story of 300 days in solitary confinement as a teen.
America became white—the people who, as they claim, “settled” the country became white—because of the necessity of denying the Black presence, and justifying the Black subjugation. No community can be based on such a principle—or, in other words, no community can be established on so genocidal a lie. White men—from Norway, for example, where they were Norwegians—became white: by slaughtering the cattle, poisoning the wells, torching the houses, massacring Native Americans, raping Black women.
This moral erosion has made it quite impossible for those who think of themselves as white in this country to have any moral authority at all privately or publicly. The multitudinous bulk of them sit stunned before their TV sets, swallowing garbage that they know to be garbage and in a profound and unconscious effort to justify this torpor that disguises a profound and bitter panic - pay a vast amount of attention to athletic : even though they know that the football player (the Son of the Republic), their sons!) is merely another aspect of the money-making scheme. They are either relieved or embittered by the presence of the Black boy on the team. I do not know if they remember how long they fought to keep him off it. I know that they do not dare have any notion of the price of Back people (mothers and fathers) paid and pay. They do not want to know the meaning, or face the shame, of what they compelled - out of what they took as the necessity of being white - Joe Louis or Jackie Robinson or Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali) to pay. I know that they, themselves, would not have liked to pay it.
There has never been a labor movement in this country, the proof being the abseence of a Black presence in the so-called father-to-sons unions. There are, perhaps, some n*****s in the window; but Blacks have no power in the labor unions.
Just so does the white community, as a means of keeping itself white, elect, as they imagine, their political (!) representatives. No nation in the world, including England, is represented by so stunning a pantheon of the relentlessly mediocre. I will not name names - I will leave that to you.
But this cowardice, this necessity of justifying a totally false identity and of justifying what must be called a genocidal history, has placed everyone now living into the hands of the most ignorant and powerful people the world has ever seen. And how did they get that way?
By deciding that they were white. By opting for safety instead of life. By persuading themselves that a Black child’s life meant nothing compared with a white child’s life. By abandoning their children to the things white men could buy. By informing their children that Black women, Black men and Black children had no human integrity that those who call themselves white were bound to respect. And in this debasement and definition of Black people, they debased and defined themselves.
And have brought humanity to the edge of oblivion: because they think they are white, they cannot allow themselves to be tormented by the suspicion that all men are brothers. Because they think they are white, they are looking for or bombing into existence, stable populations, cheerful natives, and cheap labor. Because they think they are white, they believe, as even no child believes, in the dream of safety. Because they think they are white, however vociferously they may be and however multitudinous, they are as speechless as Lot’s wife - looking backward, changed into a pillar of salt.
However —! White being, absolutely, a moral choice (for there are no white people), the crisis of leadership for those of us whose identity has been forged, or branded, as Black is nothing new. We - who were not Black before we got here either, who were defined as Black b the slave trade - have paid for the crisis of leadership in the white community for a very long time, and have resoundingly, even when we face the worst about ourselves, survived and triumphed over it. if we had not survived, and triumphed there would not be a Black American alive.
And the fact that we are still here - even in suffering, darkness, danger, endlessly defined by those who do not dare define, or even confront themselves - is the key to the crisis in white leadership. The past informs us of various kinds of people - criminals, adventurers and saints, to say nothing, of course, of popes - but it is the Black condition, and only that which informs us concerning white people. It is a terrible paradox, but those who believed they could control and define Black people divested themselves of the power to control and define themselves.
"On Being White…And Other Lies," James Baldwin