Saturday, April 30, 2016

Jury for You -- Mea Culpa

I was teaching English in Thailand when the Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin cases happened.  I paid attention to the news and developments in the stories.  (Thanks to social media, it is much easier to learn the details of things that happen, if you have a diverse group of friends.)  Then I saw the BLM movement blossom.  I have many friends, many people I care about, who are black.  I would be outraged if they were treated in the manner that so many other black people are treated with stop and frisk and pretext traffic stops.  But what could I do while I am half a world away?

While I was going to “proctor” an exam in that school one day, the song F’ You, by Cee Lo Green, started running through my head.  That wasn’t so new.  For a week or so before that, the song had been popping into my head a lot.  It was happening so often that I went to YouTube to watch it and even got copies of the lyrics.  However, on this day, the lyrics in my head began to change.  I was hearing pieces of the revised lyrics, below, in my head.

I use the term “proctor” in quotes above because the entire program that I taught in was one massive fraud.  We weren’t allowed to fail students, and the students knew it.  They goofed off all semester long, and openly cheated on all the tests they were given.  If we failed them for any reason, it was just because we “don’t understand Thai culture,” and had to retest them until they passed.  So, actually catching and reporting the massive cheating during the exams would only make more work and hassle for us with no actual learning occurring.  Oh, the administrators would also make excuses for them even when we did catch and report the cheating.  It was best to find something else to do during those exams that did not include observing students who were cheating.  Since it was best that I not notice the cheating, I took the opportunity to start putting the thoughts in my head onto paper.  After a couple hours, I had them finished.  I guess educational fraud can lead to some good things, right?

During the weeks leading up to redrafting these lyrics, I had thought several times to myself that the nascent BLM movement needed some great songs like we had during the anti-Vietnam war years.  They helped to bring people together and focus attention in ways that could not be conveyed by other media.

I have refrained from posting these lyrics for a variety of reasons.  One, I’m not sure that they are good enough to be used by anyone.  I’ve also sanitized the F-word out for a few reasons.  I don’t care for superfluous use of the f-word.  I also think using the f-bomb will alienate a lot of potential white allies that are otherwise sitting on the fence about this issue.  That would mean that this song will have less impact, so, it’s sanitized.  Is this artistically good enough?  Well, thanks to the joy of blogging, that doesn’t matter.

Two, even though I feel strongly and have really chewed people out for some of the blithely and its-not-racist-because-I-don’t-understand-white-privilege comments that they made, I’m not sure that I had the right to be part of this fight other than to be a supporter on the sidelines.  This may seem silly now, but I have seen articles that said as much in the early days of BLM.

Lastly, I don’t have the connections to get this used.  I did send an email to Mr. Green’s management before I posted this.  So, who knows, maybe they’ll like it and record it?  (I tried to send an email when I first wrote this, but the internet gods were mad and kept crashing our connection.  Maybe I’ll have better luck this time.) 

If anyone would like to use these lyrics to record the song I want 2 things.  First, keep my name as the songwriter.  Second, I want a portion of the proceeds to benefit either BLM or to help under-resourced public defender’s offices.  Let’s keep the good karma flowing.

A quick note on the offensive words that I used in my version: it’s OK that I used ‘cracker.’  I know that it’s offensive.  As a cracker-American, however, I am allowed to use this word.  I also give my blessing to any of my brothers-of-another-color to use it too.  (Sisters too, for that matter.)  Peace, justice, and love to you all.

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