Friday, April 1, 2022

3 Things That Had Me Feeling Old On The Internet This Week + Foolishness On The Radio

(This is strictly shallow humor.  I understand plenty people know these things, not everyone is going to know, and not everyone is even going to care to know for that matter, but some things I witnessed online this week have had me thinking to myself...)

1.  People don't know what G.I. Jane is?

2.  People don't know it was "California Love" &  "Nuthin but a G. Thang" that was referenced/sampled by Beyonce in her performance on Sunday

3.  People don't know about the time Stephen slapped Irene on The Real World Seattle (which seems like a massage now by comparison to the current televised drama) and how that was the original "slap heard 'round the world?"  All week that's what's been coming to mind for me when that phrase has come up, yet before reading a very few YouTube comments on the above referenced link, I hadn't noticed it mentioned in voice or text anywhere, which really had me befuddled, lol! I remember it being a big deal at one point.)

Those were my thoughts during these...dynamic... times, then I saw this on YouTube and was taken all the way back!



Writing the above reminded me of something that happened on Monday.  I was driving home from dropping my oldest two girls off at school and had the radio tuned in to our favorite local station, which plays R & B and other jams from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 2000s.  I mean they do not miss when it comes to broadcasting so much of the music that I grew up on and love.  Now, a lot of the actual commentary on the morning show is pretty basic and silly, but it's not such that I'd not tune in (as is the case for the morning show on another station here that I listen to from time to time, reggae and what's called Jawaiian music here.  The commentary coming from their morning show hosts can be atrocious).

 On the morning show for the  station that we're dialed in to 99.9999 percent of the time, they're cute, a bit unread, but cute and mean no harm whatsoever.  I get a good laugh from them from time to time.

Well, there I was driving home with my littlest one buckled in her car seat, and I heard that they were talking about the incident that happened on t.v. in America that apparently has the whole world talking.  Up to that point I was out of the loop, but I listened to try to figure out what all the hoopla was about.  They were sharing their views and inviting callers to share theirs.  The remarks were generally similar in nature, with most people speaking out against the actions that took place.  Then a woman called in and shared her thoughts, which were not much different from those of the others who had called. Then she said it:

"Not to be racist, but..."

Now, if you're black in America, you might know that when that phrase is used to introduce commentary, things are about to get real, whether what follows is about your people or other people in the country who get heat for just trying to have their physical body on Earth.

I perked up.  This lady--who to me sounded to be of Hawaiian ancestry  based on what I've learned in the past 8+ years about voice tones among the numerous cultures of people who make up Hawai'i--proceeded to tell the show hosts, me, and everyone else who was in earshot of the station something like, "Well, you know African Americans are violent by nature. That's what black people do."


(I honestly had second-hand embarrassment for this woman.)

I'm not naive, but I swear something about hearing that come from her mouth as I was driving among these beautiful mountains and trees touched me somewhere deeeeeeep in my soul.  

I'm not ignorant of the fact that this is a thing.  People believe this.  But hearing her say this live on the air on a station where I'm sure 90 something percent of the music that's played was written, produced, and performed by black people/African Americans AND the majority of the listeners likely are not black/African American (just given our low numbers here) threw my morning off.  (The hosts and everyone on the air there are of Filipino and mixed Asian/Hawaiian descent).  

I thought

1.Why did she think that was ok to say?

2. Is anyone else offended?  (I'm not easily offended at.all., but none of the callers after her gave a rebuttal to her statement. But to be fair, I really only ever hear one person call in to the show who I know is black.  BUT, that brought up the point that not only black people need to be offended by this.)

3. I'm SO glad I'd already dropped off my girls who could understand her remarks.

And it's point three that prompted me to take action on the matter.  The children.   

There are so many different people in Hawai'i in general. I mean, people come here from everywhere.  

When it comes to black/African American/black American people (whatever the phrase is these days that's supposed to categorize all of us), I've seen a few different.."groups"...that include but aren't limited to those who were born here, those who came and have been here on their own free will for decades, those like me who are here on based on free will but have only been present a few years, those who are here due to military, and those who were born and raised here and they have one black parent, but the other side of their family is considered "local", whether that be Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, etc.  

In regard to the latter group mentioned, the Black parent as an individual is sometimes the only connection that the child has to "the Black side" of their family, since that parent likely came here solo, had a child with a local person, and just sort of integrated into that family.  The rest of their family is back in Oklahoma or where ever.  So, these children have this black parent but they don't necessarily identify as black or really know anything about that part of their biological identity. Also, the black parent may no longer be in the picture, which makes things even more complex. 

(For five years we lived in a community here where these children were prevalent, and I personally had experiences with many of these children who were often confused by me, my hair, the familiarity they had with me despite their unfamiliarity with the bigger story of me.  Who was I? What was I? Tongan? Fijian? American? Black? Black or African American was never the first assumption.   A lot of them didn't "get" me, but they seemed to want to so badly.  They had no clue where I came from.  I'm just adding this to say I'm speaking from first-hand knowledge.)

Some of these children are out of touch with being black or being seen as black, yet they do know that's a part of them.   Thankfully they're being raised in a place like Hawai'i where everything is really just cool and laid back.  Typically.

But then this woman calls in to one of the most listened too stations in their area and tells them that they are violent by nature, potentially adding more confusion to the mix.

I had a very important video call that morning, but once I was home I had to send an email and ask  could the meeting be pushed back by 30 minutes. It was imperative for me to write the radio station since I hadn't been in a position to call in, be on hold, all that.  I was so flustered that there was no way I'd get through the meeting without writing and getting that weight off my chest on behalf of all of the people and children who may have been listening that morning and who--whether they knew it or not--were misrepresented in a dangerous way by what the woman said.

My letter wasn't an angry one.  The intention was for it to be informative.  I didn't threaten to never tune in again.  I wanted the people at the station to understand why what she said was baseless, inappropriate, and diminishing especially to the children of Hawai'i.    People are big on 'ohana (family) here, and in fact, prior to letting callers speak on air, the hosts let them know that "this is a family show" to hopefully keep them from using profanity and other obscenities.  Although this lady did not use curse words, the ones she did use were certainly not family-friendly. 

The show hosts--shocked themselves by what she'd said--gave the best rebuttal they could, but they really couldn't address it like it needed to be addressed.  Their effort is appreciated though.  

I've learned that people can be dismissive of racism toward Black people out here based simply on the fact that they don't have context.  They've spent all or most of their lives on these islands in the Pacific, see very few people of African descent, and the racism that many of us know from the contiguous US is not a hard issue here, generally speaking.  

I really did it for the children.  I'm from The South.  So was my husband.  And we're black in America.  We've heard it all before.  But these children deserve more care, concern, and respect than that.   

I sent the letter that morning but have not received a reply.  That's fine.  I just hope that my words helped them better understand their audience and know just how problematic that caller's remarks were.    

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