“Days of Glory”: The African Soldiers of WWII

Buy this product at Amazon.com! Director Rachid Bouchareb, his 2006 French breakthrough, Indigènes, introduces the African soldiers of WWII—the African soldiers of WWII? Harold Hyman in Paris (2007) should make people ask themselves why such a question mark appears in the previous sentence, “because the reconstituted French Army of 1943 was essentially l’Armée d’Afrique, in other words, the colonial branch of the armed forces which escaped the dismantlement of the French Army on the Continent by Hitler.”

So, kids, don’t feel sad that this juxtaposition of “African” “soldier” and WWII feels so strange—to celebrate these soldiers means the French would have to acknowledge their necessarily savage colonial past. Also, to really explore the lives of these African men means exploring a psychologically unbearable situation (by “mainstream” standards) where slaves were fighting for their masters—and, in the extreme case of the Senegalese soldiers—as dramatized in Rachid Bouchareb’s other film The Colonial Friend (2004)—, their masters literally slaughtered them right after they helped win the war.

But these massacres are often too much to take for the properly assimilated “regular” person. I really appreciate this shot from the film, a little bin marked “censure” in an office. Your self-proclaiming, meat-and-potatoes, revisionist, non-historian of supreme whiteness would surely laugh at the concept that a love letter between a soldier and his girl would be completely censored—made non-existent. This laughter makes one completely unprepared to imagine that thousands of these little maddening details follows people “of color” to this very day. I daresay the computer programs are yet to be written for neo-Stasi 2.0. Some white people lose it in a matter of minutes being the only Caucasian person on a crowded elevator—while massive psychological edifices have stood for hundreds of years for non-whites—especially Africans.

Rachid Bouchareb, Indigènes (Days of Glory)

My captive hope is that it is not too ignorant to regard Jamel Debbouze as the Chris Rock of France. You can see how adorable he looks in this shot. Harold Hyman describes him as “the impish one.” I’m surprised to know that he was in Spike Lee’s 2005 film, She Hate Me—but I know very well about his work in Luc Besson’s Angel-A (2005).

Jamel Debbouze, Indigènes (Days of Glory)

So, while I am attacking my ethereal ‘properly assimilated person,’ let’s go for those who are quick to claim that, “Hey! It’s only a movie.” Harold Hyman writes:

The screening of Indigènes in early fall, also made political French history. Chirac, under the celluloid spell, instructed his government to hike the “native” veterans’ pensions, which meant aligning them on those of French veterans. Commentators, always eager to cut down Chirac, derided his “sentimental governance”, but recognized the correctness of his decision. Public opinion certainly followed Chirac. More concretely, a few tens of thousands of very old foreign veterans of French wars will get more Euros in Africa, North and West, and Madagascar—no small matter in the Third World. This pension problem started off this way: these Black, Arab, Berber, Malgache, and even Indochinese veterans were pensioned in a special and unfair way. Those who, when the colonies gained independence in the 50s and 60s, gained a new nationality and lost their French one, saw their pensions frozen at its level of the moment, and dissociated from all subsequent revisions pertaining to ordinary French citizens’ veterans pensions. The French Treasury paid these foreign natives, but at the date of independence rate. This differentiation was not strictly racist because natives retaining full French citizenship got full French pensions. The gap in pension levels, however, began a gulf over the years. Even though in the early 90s, some “purchasing power” adjustments were made by the French government, the unjust differentiation remained, in its form.

Rachid Bouchareb, Indigènes (Days of Glory)

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The Psychological Terms Related to Oppression

Buy this Book at Amazon.com! Over the last two months some Web-browsing moments happened that revealed very useful terms that all relate to oppression here in the rasx() context. As a poet, it seems to me that it is not enough to say that a person is ‘oppressed’—or ‘I am oppressed.’ What is useful is to be more precise and express more detail. The following terms help me be more detailed and focused:

Cognitive dissonance

Cognitive dissonance: “In psychology, cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling or stress caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a fundamental cognitive drive to reduce this dissonance by modifying an existing belief, or rejecting one of the contradictory ideas.” These are my personal memorable moments of cognitive dissonance in the form of questions: How can one friend disappoint another friend with one’s success? How can one friend cause another to reject her when both agree she is helpful toward the friend’s specific needs? When two friends pass each other in the street—clearly in view of each other—why do they not recognize each other? With these questions, I could only see two responses: (i) redefine what a ‘friend’ is or (ii) pretend this dissonance did not occur and continue with the old definition of friendship. Of course you know that I won’t like you when you choose the second option—with yo’ punk ass (and your 3,000 FaceBook “friends”).

Misattribution

Misattribution: “This paper focuses on one memory sin, misattribution, that is implicated in false or illusory recognition of episodes that never occurred.” No better example from my life of misattribution is recorded for your benefit in “Lisa Spiro Protects ‘Postmodern Blackness.’” I could not have been more wrong about what actually occurred between Lisa Spiro and me. Read the comments below the article to see how this error on my part worked out—but I can guarantee you that these errors don’t always end so amicably. I know you know a friend or three that to this day will not speak another person based entirely on misattribution. When we mix misattribution with the next term (below) we have some serious hell to burn…

Learned helplessness

Learned helplessness: “Learned helplessness is a psychological condition in which a human being or an animal has learned to act or behave helpless in a particular situation, even when it has the power to change its unpleasant or even harmful circumstance. Learned helplessness theory is the view that clinical depression and related mental illnesses result from a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation (Seligman, 1975).” When we hear the term “learned helplessness” we often have visions of people slumped over with lips hanging, scraping their shoes over the ground moaning like a cartoon ghost. We forget that people can ‘proud’ and helpless—‘arrogant’ and helpless—loud and helpless. Chris Rock made a fortune making fun of these people. But this shit really isn’t funny and that’s why so little gets done in “the ghetto.” The World is a ghetto.

Locus of control

Locus of control: “…is a term in psychology which refers to a person’s belief about what causes the good or bad results in their life, either in general or in a specific area such as health or academics. It can either be internal …or external (meaning they believe that their environment, some higher power, or other people control their decisions and their life).” It is way too easy to relate this term with subject of oppression. But it is important to reinforce the “obvious” that we often forget. Whenever you hear a member of a traditionally oppressed group giving advice about how to handle “the real world,” just pay attention to where the locus of control goes. What is really slick is when a mufukka will give up their internal locus of control based on a get-rich-quick-scheme that requires religious ass kissing. This desire to get rich quick leads to the next psychological disorder…

Impulse control disorder

Impulse control disorder: “…a set of psychiatric disorders including intermittent explosive disorder (hot-headedness), kleptomania (stealing), pathological gambling, pyromania (fire-starting), trichotillomania (pulling one’s hair out) and dermatillomania (skin picking)… Impulsivity, the key feature of these disorders, can be thought of as seeking a small, short term gain at the expense of a large, long term loss.” The LAPD depends heavily on impulse control disorders in teens and young adults of color in order to justify excessive force. The disorder of choice is intermittent explosive disorder. When you try to see the world from the view of a child in Afghanistan or Iraq you could say that intermittent explosive disorder is the American way—so it should be no accident that a brother without proper Old School Africa training has quite a temper. Some kind of meditation practice (with a diet that stabilizes the ‘blood mood’) is not an option. It is a requirement.

Absence of Formal operational function

Buy this Book at Amazon.com! Absence of Formal operational function: “The formal operational period is the fourth and final of the periods of cognitive development in Piaget’s theory. This stage, which follows the Concrete Operational stage, commences at around 12 years of age (puberty) and continues into adulthood. It is characterized by acquisition of the ability to think abstractly, reason logically and draw conclusions from the information available. …Some two-thirds of people do not develop this form of reasoning fully enough that it becomes their normal mode for cognition, and so they remain, even as adults, concrete operational thinkers.” Black psychologists, like the late, great Dr. Amos Wilson, argue quite successfully that this advanced stage of cognitive development is systematically suppressed in Black children in particular and all traditionally oppressed social groups in general. I call this ‘keeping it real’ because being stuck in a meat-and-potatoes diet of the Concrete Operational stage makes the ability to think in abstractions impossible—this is very helpful when you are a member of small elite trying to control a large population.

Neuro-linguistic programming

Neuro-linguistic programming: “NLP began with the studies of three successful psychotherapists, Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir, and Milton Erickson. Grinder and Bandler reviewed many hours of audio and video of the three therapists and spent months imitating how they worked with clients, in order to replicate or ‘model’ the communication patterns which supposedly made these individuals more successful than their peers.” This term is listed here for three personal reasons: (i) I think all living poets should at least know of the existence of NLP; (ii) I grew up with memories of my elder Black people being “oversensitive” to what they say (like calling someone “out of their name”); (iii) I assert that a subset (or ancestor) of NLP is Eriksonian Hypnosis and this form of hypnosis is recognized by the Ausar Auset Society (the mother of my third child was deeply involved with this group).

Consider the following article excerpt about Eriksonian Hypnosis:

Think about the following scenario: A child of say four or five years of age is carefully carrying a full glass of milk to the dinner table. The amateur parent of the child warns in a stern voice, “don’t drop that!” The child looks up at the parent, stumbles a bit, drop the glass, and spills milk everywhere. The now angry parent yells, “I told you not to drop that! You’re so clumsy. You’ll never learn!”

As unintentional as it may be, this scenario is an example of hypnosis, complete with induction, suggestion, and post hypnotic suggestion. The powerful authoritative voice (the parent), having created and utilized through indirect suggestion (“don’t drop that!), an altered state (trance), has issued a direct post-hypnotic suggestion (“You’re so clumsy. You’ll never learn”). “Post-hypnotic” because, if the child accepts the suggestion (and children often do), he or she will always see him/herself as clumsy. This post-hypnotic suggestion by the parent may well adhere to the directive in the future, sabotaging the child’s success.

We would do well to realize that in a sense we are all hypnotists, and that if we are parents we have very suggestible subjects in our care on whom our language may have great effects. We must learn to give our children positive suggestions.

The phrase “in a sense we are all hypnotists” reminds me that we know this “hypnotism” through memories of psychological abuse. In my very biased view, this “hypnotism” is what holds so many of my Black women in these lifelong struggles with self-image and self-identity. My brothers might have the same (or worse) but the sisters stuck with this means that we as an African people are going nowhere until this stalemate is over. In my terrible little alien world, it seems like every attractive woman ship passing through my night has this boyfriend/father they have been trying to defeat through relationships with people that are not this old boyfriend/father. I hate this shit so much I wrote a poem about it called “void this misogyny.”

Poisonous pedagogy

Buy this Book at Amazon.com! Poisonous pedagogy: “…a concept by which present-day psychologists and educators distance themselves from child-raising methods that were propagated in previous centuries. Poisonous pedagogy is therefore meant as an unequivocally negative term. It is an umbrella concept encompassing behaviors and communications that have a strongly manipulative or violent character, such as corporal punishment… The term poisonous pedagogy corresponds to the German Schwarze Pädagogik (literally, black pedagogy) introduced by Katharina Rutschky in her 1977 work Schwarze Pädagogik. Quellen zur Naturgeschichte der bürgerlichen Erziehung.” Through the power of misattribution (and other jokes from comedians) we as Black people can be led to assume that corporal punishment for children was a Black-only thing with some kind of Biblical reference to sparing the rod and spoiling the child—and when we see a man on the very soil of Africa beating his children (and his wife) with a stick we can assume that this is African tradition and not colonial, locus-of-control skills. Commemorating the very German Schwarze Pädagogik should prevent this.

“Rational Racism”

Listen to what Amos Wilson has to say about “Rational Racism” in the streaming audio presentation “Doctoral Warriors for the African Mind.” He strongly suggests that formal study of psychology helps to hurt as well as heal. It helps Madison Avenue sell as well as solve problems on Main Street.

“For Blacks in France, Obama’s Rise Is Reason to Rejoice, and to Hope”

Buy this book at Amazon.com! That writer working for the New York Times who writes about Blacks and our “hope” in “For Blacks in France, Obama’s Rise Is Reason to Rejoice, and to Hope” is either comfortable with knowing that this Black “hope” thing has been going on for hundreds of years or the writer is a poor student of American history (regardless of the possible white history degree with honors from Yale). These Times writers (almost all of whom would self-describe themselves as “white”) keep great company because even Cornel West speaks of the “tragic, comic hope” of his people.

I remove the concept of “hope” from my dialogue about what really matters in the world not because I am deliberately trying to make me inaccessible to properly assimilated people but because the concept of “hope” works too well in captivity. Me need freedom. Although most of the overweight people who have dismissed me years ago (when they were slim and fine) would assume that I have replaced the word “hope” with the word “hate,” no lady my replacement for “hope” is the power in the word develop.

So let’s try this: Obama’s rise is reason to develop. Does that work for you? Should not young people who would expect to working behind a cash register see Obama and have reason to develop beyond the service class? Fat-ass mufukkas too, too often hate themselves with a passion (but somehow expect you to love them) should not “hope” to be physically fit they should develop ways to get with fitness. You see why I can’t seriously “monetize” my Blog? Talking shit about fat people and the stock of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. just made me lose almost all of the online readership of the United States. Of course, the use of the word “white” in a sentence does not help business either—unless you are down with stuff white people like.

So while all of this fascist bullshit is going on in the United States, I did not expect an article like “For Blacks in France, Obama’s Rise Is Reason to Rejoice, and to Hope” that says stuff like:

To this may be added Cran’s findings that the percentage of blacks in France who hold university degrees is 55, compared with 37 percent for the general population. But the number of blacks who get stuck in the working class is 45 percent, compared with 34 percent for the national average.

Buy this book at Amazon.com!You see, when I read a Blog like Black Women in Europe, I mistakenly led myself to the conclusion that the educated (and properly missionary trained) Black woman in Europe really has no limits. I mean… just look at Antony and Cleopatra (just look at Ayaan Hirsi). Should I regard Black Women in Europe like Black Enterprise Magazine—a Potemkin Village of “Black progress” (damn it, now I just lost almost all of the readership of English-speaking Europe)?

So, while I am losing readers, let me go further and say that Barack Obama support shows me many things the writers of Black Enterprise Magazine find uninteresting (or unprofitable):

  • Remember the Chris Rock joke about people being surprised how well Colin Powell speaks. “He speaks so well!” What Chris Rock is saying is that these people are revealing their ignorance about Black people through their sincere, well-meaning fascination. What is heart breaking for me is to see how many Black people—especially the people who might actually give birth to other Black people (Black women)—are sincerely captivated with Barack Obama. I am arrogantly confident that you have no idea how deeply hurtful it is to me to have an African-descended child looking up at me like I’m some alien from outer space while holding her mother’s hand. Children are the truth—which why so many of them are abused by adults who lie to themselves…
  • Displaying Barack Obama support is an opportunity well-meaning white people have been waiting for… I am not bringing this up to “complain” about these enthusiastic “white” people. I bring this up because I often sense an ‘expectation’ of a certain reaction I am supposed to produce because it has been made clear to me that I am in the presence of a ‘special kind’ of Obama supporter. Sorry dude: until actions in office distinguish, here in the rasx() context Barack Obama is no different from Bill Clinton. He might even be no different from John F. Kennedy which is better but still not enough to revive a civil rights movement to pick up from the elementary place Dr. King left off…
  • Barack Obama is an official excuse for people of color who socialize in very white environments to “engage” their “friends” on “issues of race.” Great for you. But for the rest of us colored people who emerged from very colored environments (some of us educated without debilitating assimilation), engaging people about “race”—especially with people who would consider themselves “newbies” is extremely uninteresting (being stuck with grown-ass newbies can delay personal development). Sadly, we super-bad colored folks are an ostracized minority, trapped between two “worlds” of white ignorance and black-ass-bombastic-prideful ignorance. Boo hoo. Weep weep. Just to help you with whatever uncaring Hollywood sarcasm you might have.

Now, of course, I do not expect the highly educated writers of the New York Times to locate the possibility of taking one step forward and two steps back in celebrating a revival of the Négritude movement. Being wowed by neo-Négritude is like being blown away by Terence Trent D’arby because you never heard or felt James Brown. You people outnumber me so at least you have a lot of places to go this weekend in low-cut denim pants—and I’ll go take a pleasant solitary walk or somethin’…

But I do expect the handful of readers of this Blog to remember the life and death of the negritude-era poet David Mandessi Diop. Also, for more Obama details of his last trip to Europe from Black Women living in Europe, see “Barack Obama in Berlin: How we in Germany experienced the visit.” And, of course, the latest sexy critique of “monetizing” a Blog comes to me as “Blog Pimping, or: Who Do You Want to Delight?

Brown Sugar Is Broke

Buy this Book at Amazon.com!One of the problems associated with being of African descent after the birth of Columbus is that your resources and surplus have been plundered (often before you were born) and you are eternally close to the edge of poverty. Bob Marley said, “They make the world so hard every day you got to keep on fighting.” Even when you think you have money—you can even be a millionaire—being Black means that you have more than a few crazy cousins who don’t have a dime. For too many of us there is no middle class—too much extremism. Now let’s DJ mix Chris Rock in this mufukka in “Chris Rock—Wealth”…

It should follow that when the freelance writer(s) behind Brown Sugar announces she is broke, it should—statistically speaking—be no surprise. However, because of the Hollywood-ization of human consciousness, what Brown Sugar has announced is indeed rare—and followed up by posts like “Dollars and Cents—My Bills” and “Dollars and Cents—The Soap Debacle” takes it right out of the ball park.

You see, ‘traditionally oppressed’ peoples like we Black people, have trouble with shame. I grew up very close to Hollywood in LAUSD schools where shame was avoided at all costs. Some thugs from my neighborhood were even willing to kill to avoid being ashamed. There were three areas of shame that pushes weak-ass Black buttons: (i) having skin packed with melanin and being reminded of it, (ii) having head-hair that does not dangle when shaken and (iii) being materialistically poor. The super-sad irony for modern Black people (born after the rise of crack cocaine in the 1980s) is that there is no shame at all about being “spiritually” poor—just materialistically (this is the essence of “keeping it real”).

The Brown Sugar woman has, to my knowledge, violated iii—which is huge. She has admitted publically that she has no money. Now here are some random points I have collected over the years about this situation:

  • Most Americans “hate” math—but math in particular and the sciences in general ‘protect’ Black people from racism more than the non-sciences. The previous sentence says that we need more real Black people in the sciences. For some reason I am still operating under the assumption that there is more job security in a sciences-related career (Dr. James Hansen may disagree with me—and almost certainly because of politics I could lose my sources of income tomorrow). Brown Sugar probably does not want to hear this math shit and I am past tired trying to relate to people who pretend to respect (but not implement) what is being said here so let me move on…
  • There is a real, tactical reason why seasoned Hollywood veterans deliberately pretend to let you know that “everything is fine.” This is done for business reasons because market value is based on perception. You can’t reveal that you are having any trouble because it makes it harder to negotiate price or even reach talks for the next deal. So it is better to pretend that you are doing an obscure documentary in Tibet instead of hiding out in a 400-square-foot studio in Culver City. What’s sad is when these real business tactics become a way of life—a thoughtless habit of lying.
  • Non-Black people may wonder why Black people seem so ambivalent or even cold toward so many “of their kind” in financial or other deep troubles. The issue for Black people like me is triage. I have blood relatives in similar straights so the burden of support is often filled to capacity. There can even be deep complex webs of anger woven by the self-described victim of sudden impoverishment because we are not helping them enough. This often pisses me off because me and my homie started in the same f’ed up place and the help that I received was very little in the way of material support. It is the non-material support that my person values most. But this metaphysical talk is often dismissed as a bunch of bullshit by the penniless one. This deeply angers me… another one is lost to the real…

So, to keep this real, do send donations to Brown Sugar to instantly gratify the situation and drive it towards a classic Hollywood ending… “keep hope alive”… By the way, according to technorati.com, Brown Sugar has a higher authority and higher rank than kintespace.com! So she and her crew has gots to be doing something right! This is just a temporary thang!