Ephemerama #27

So what’s going on with race in this country? Why does it seem all of the sudden that there’s police shootings weekly, and then shortly afterwards there’s the obligatory “Black Lives Matter” protest; and afterwards that followed by the equally obligatory police or “good heart(ed)” “All Lives Matter” response to the response. I think much of what is occurring nationally is linked to economics and to a lesser extent on the environment. It’s the subtle glacial force I’ve decided that’s driving this response and the response to the response.

In my research for this post I read in a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition that was quoted by Bernie Sanders during this years Democratic Party debates which stated that 50 percent of black wealth was whipped out during the last recession due to the real estate bubble collapsing. The targeting of minorities for subprime mortgages is one of the lesser reported but most egregious examples of malfeasance from the Great Recession. Similarly according to the Economic Policy Institute during the last 20 years the top 1% wage grew 138% since 1979, while wages for the bottom 90% grew by only 15%. The confluence  of general low wages growth nationally along with pernicious and racist financial product targeting in Black and Hispanic communities seems to me to have poured gasoline on the embers of Americas race problem. Add in census data which suggests along with a shrinking middle class – recent reports show that the middle class no loner represents the majority of Americans – that the country will with in our lifetimes become majority-minority, present racial tension seems inevitable. The hopelessness that occurs from reduced income seems to lead to tensions racially as people look for explanations such as “othering” to explain their life’s predicament. Sprinkle in some opportune demagoguery from Donald Trump and all of a sudden the power keg explodes. Economic stagnation I believe has combined with demographic change to produce existential anxiety among whites and appealing calls for dramatic political and policy change among the nations minorities. I also believe that environmental changes seem to be playing a role in racial tension nationally. High food costs linked to environmental impactors, like hotter years, more and more devastating severe weather events and the decreasing amount of pollinators for crops, I think influences these tensions. A report from Science Magazine back in 2013 noted a historical link between severe weather events and racial ethnic tensions in every region of the world.

I don’t fully understand all the forces at play that have lead to racial tensions nationally though I suspect simplistic explanations are not the answer. The election of Barack Obama or raciest police and private citizens, or Americas obsession with guns all feel like simplistic explanations. Macro and more subtle factors feel more plausible explanations. Ultimately of course its a little of everything but addressing economic disparity among blacks and whites and perhaps most importantly between lower educated and more educated whites would be a good place to start. Less raping and pillaging of the earth might help as well.


I have a thing for drag and dance crew performances. Its one of my guilty pleasures. I was sitting the other night on the back porch with my housemates and was introduced to a couple of Puerto Rican drag performers. Not to be out done I shared with them some drag queens I liked from RuPaul’s Drag Race and from the ReQuest dance crew only to discover that they both have more content then I realized. Here’s a small sampling of the drag and dance-crew bounty I discovered. First is Pipiotha Lakoa followed by Cindy Ross – both from Puerto Rico – and ending with a new video from Parris Goebels, founder of the ReQuest dance crew.

 

 


Okay that’s about it for this post. Next I think I’ll show progress on my latest piece The Hotness in Concert #3. Here’s the drawing for the piece:

Anthony Smith Jr., Hot in Concert 3, 24 x 36 inches mixed media drawing, 2016

Until next time be well!

 

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