Monday, April 6, 2009

Oh Racism, Classist Be Thy Name

I'm having breakfast this morning, listening to V-103 ("The People's Station" as they call it here in Atlanta), as I am wont to do. I love listening to the "Frank & Wanda in the Morning" show. I used to love listening to NPR, but I gotta level with you: Frank & Wanda - they're funnier. Those of you that aren't from Atlanta, hell, most of y'all that are in Atlanta and are of a similar background to me probably don't listen to Frank & Wanda and don't know the joys of "Girl Talk with Ms. Sophia" where I get to learn the important news: which contemporary-urban (pop) star is having what legal problems, etc. V-103, Frank & Wanda, they are in many ways an important organ in how people in Atlanta think. If you're a rapper from the South and you want to make it big, you gotta get on V-103. If you're a minister and you want to expand form the small-time congregation to a mega church (probably in Conyers), you gotta get a segment on V-103. Because V-103 is supposed to be today's vox populi.

But I know, and you probably know as well, that V-103 is not really a radio station with "the People" in mind. At least not the People in that proletariat, working-class, don't own a house that's worth more than a quarter of a million dollars, I didn't go to college, I've been unemployed for six months just like most of my neighbors. V-103 ain't referring to these people. They're referring to someone else and today I was reminded of that in a pretty ugly way when Frank Ski took a moment to deliver one of his little sermons.

Frank today wanted "us" to take a moment this morning and think about something big that he knew was going to happen in Detroit soon. Immediately I started thinking about the riots in the 60s. "Sure, Frank, people are going to start making a fuss now that the economy has gotten really outta hand and the people living and working in MI are really going to be up the creek," I thought to myself. But I was pretty well disappointed when I heard Frank say, "These people working in the factories have been making too much money.... The industry just couldn't innovate...."

That's right: the reason why the economy is in the shitter is because the workers are making too much money. This isn't a new line of thinking, in fact, this is the history of the United States. Frank Ski, at best, is ironically Uncle Tomming us today, at worst he is deliberately regurgitating the vitriol of the power elite in an effort to further sow discontent and malevolence among those at the bottom of the success ladder. Disgusting, Frank, that you would encourage those at the bottom to fight amongst themselves, for your own amusement, so that you don't have to worry about anyone from the bottom impinging on the material success that you have.

But that's the way those in the popular media are largely playing it. So much so that even Stephen Colbert had to parody it with his "Word of the Week":
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Keeping Our Heads
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

Unfortunately, the audience may not be getting the point here: we are being spoon-fed a nonissue with all this corporate bailout talk. Folks from Rush Limbaugh to Congress to even Frank Ski are creating a straw man argument that the super-rich (the power elite) shouldn't be given our tax dollars if all they're going to do is give themselves bonuses and not fix the real problem with their industry: paying the workers well.

What I've yet seen together in the same breath, but certainly in the show or on the same agenda at their meetings is this: "we need to cut back on the excesses of American industry: we need to get Labor Unions to stop unduly controlling how we pay people here, it's bad for competitiveness. Further, we need to close the border with Mexico because they are not only lower wages but they're also dangerous" (I guess because they can't get jobs any more and so a life of crime is the only way to go, maybe the natural state of affairs, 'cause ain't nothing more dangerous than a poor person).

As Tim Wise said, "Do we really believe that the only thing keeping bosses from paying people more in this country is the presence of low-wage, medium-semi-skilled labor from south of this artificial border?" (~5:30):

Tim Wise is pretty great to listen to, and so I'd like to share a full lecture he gave in Seattle a few years back, just follow this link

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