Seeing Black America – Part 2

I wrote Part 1 last month and this will be the second and final part.

Before I get into this part, there are a couple of asides I want to add for context.

My early upbringing was in rural Australia and I almost never saw anyone of another race except on television and this was generally from American TV shows. Even when living in a city for most of the 90s, almost everyone around me was White except for very few people of various “token” races in schools and who I would see around the city. Other cities in Australia such as Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane were more “diverse” but my home city didn’t become so until much more recently. I add this because it made Black Americans more of curiosity for me than they would have been for Americans and I did find myself naturally observing them more. As well as this, I was interested in asking them questions that perhaps Americans wouldn’t such as when I asked a girl why she was putting oil in her hair. I honestly had no idea at the time that their hair was naturally frizzy and needed oil to keep straight. After being told, I finally understood how the afro came to be.

The next aside is a show I came across while still at the university that I used to watch with my roommate. This was Chappelle’s Show which had stopped its run but was still very popular among students and the DVDs were passed around quite commonly. I ended up buying both seasons for my brother as a present before I came home later that year.

Chappelle’s Show is relevant because I believe it became something of a redpill for many White people though they probably weren’t conscious of this at the time. You could use any number of the skits as an example but the most eye-opening for me was being introduced to “keeping it real”. I remember hearing the audience laughter but this was of the few skits in the show that I didn’t find myself belly-laughing to and was instead quite perplexed.

“Keeping it real” essentially boils down to refusing to let something go whether it be an argument, an insult or any perceived attack on your pride. I believe the actual skit was “When Keeping it Real goes Wrong” and was a cautionary tale in a comedic documentary form. There were at least a couple of these during the shows run and all involved a black person getting into serious trouble completely of their own making. Comedy tends to exaggerate but one foot has to be planted in reality that you can relate to. I couldn’t at all relate to these skits. The Black audience definitely could though and nothing I’ve learned since has contradicted this observation. To be fair to Blacks, there are plenty of Whites who similarly lack the self-control and I even saw a fight between two a month or so back as of writing. The difference of course is that it tends to be found in those who… lack social grace. The more common it is, the worse for society.

I suspect that a major reason for the early demise of what was still a popular show was that the comedy cut a little too close to the truth. It also exposed many (who otherwise had no idea), to the rotten subculture that far too many (mostly) Black Americans embrace.

Anyway, from where I left off.

After I finished my semester of college, I had some time to travel around the country and was able to see a great deal of the east coast. Thinking back, I can’t remember what came first but I think it might have been Washington D.C.

In the nations capital, I was first surprised to see little Australian flags displayed through many of the major streets. I asked some locals why they were there but none had any idea. I later learned that Prime Minister John Howard was visiting at the time. It is interesting only to note that the elites who mock their fellow citizens in “flyover” states are generally no more informed about the world even when right in front of them. Many didn’t even know the flags were Australian. I was able to see a lot of the D.C. area including some of the Smithsonian museums. I didn’t realise at the time that D.C. had a high Black population but moving to the edges of the city made me immediately cautious as the buildings became more dilapidated. I didn’t venture further.

One day I was able to get a ride with a friend’s uncle to Baltimore as he headed there for work. What surprised me most was his stern warning to stay within the tourist area of the city. I was totally ignorant of the problems that city has and found it hard to take seriously not having experienced such danger anywhere before. Nonetheless, I followed his instructions and stayed within the tourist area and had a wonderful day. Years later, I finally learned what he was warning me about and was relieved to have been warned as I possibly would have ventured further had I not been cautioned not to. A television show called The Wire  while flawed, gives a good indication of what I had been told to avoid. I even saw video footage of a tourist being mugged about a decade later which could well have been my fate had I not heeded his advice. I have not seen or heard from that man since but I’ll always be thankful for his kindness and hospitality. I may one day write an entire blog post on the drive to and from Baltimore with him.

The city I ended up spending the most time in was New York which was eye-opening for many reasons. Once again, film and television had coloured my assumptions and New York is also one of the most overused settings for both. My time in New York was almost five years after the September 11th attacks and while the reforms of Rudy Giuliani were still in force. The city was entirely pleasant even in the areas I had learned were “difficult”. I was surprised to see Queens (which I knew from the film Coming to America), had been almost entirely gentrified. Much of the Bronx was too. Though I didn’t venture there at night, Harlem was also surprisingly pleasant. I understand the city is now reverting to the crime-ridden and uninviting way it apparently was in the 70s and 80s but I thought quite the opposite during my trip.

The only interesting experience I had there involved a visit to a public school that I was able to make. This was an elementary school and I had to go through a security checkpoint to get in. I was then shown a class of about thirty students, all of whom were black. The teacher was too. I read them a story by an Australian author that they happened to have on the shelf. They were a rowdy bunch but not poorly behaved or anti-social. The teacher was heavy-set and didn’t once move from her chair. I imagine she rarely did outside of lunch time.

So pretty boring and uneventful right? Well, yes. As I said in part one, I didn’t actually get caught in any bad situations. My visits to Philadelphia and Boston were pleasant as well.

I did see a friend in a part of Pennsylvania that was very close to the New Jersey border. This was notable because it was the first time I remember hearing a White American say the dreaded “n-word”. At the time I would have considered myself an anti-racist though I was never exactly progressive. I responded saying something like, “I’ve spent most of my time in the South and the first time I hear that word is from a Northerner.” The young people around me were uncomfortable but the young man explained the difficulties they encountered crossing into New Jersey where they were harassed or hindered by the Blacks that lived there. It had clearly got to them and I feel bad to this day for the tone I took with them. I didn’t have to live with the kind of problems many Americans live with. I still don’t.

My other travels were to areas that were majority white and they were uniformly pleasant. Many of these people were openly left-wing but they unsurprisingly lived very far from the kind of problems they helped perpetuate. These communities were all clean and safe in a way that many urbane areas of the United States are not.

I haven’t returned to the USA since and the way things are going, I probably never will. What I can see is that things have gotten considerably worse since I left and I don’t think anybody sees any positives in the immediate future. These small experiences helped me see many uncomfortable truths that are backed up by data and by the naughty people who dare to write about what are serious social issues.

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