Thoughts on the Kingdom Day Parade and Obama…

I’m not going to front. I have never been to the Kingdom Day Parade. The times I thought about going I got this response from my bourgie black girfriends, “That’s real ghetto Browne, let’s just do brunch.”

Girl on 92.3 the Beat float.

Girl on 92.3 the Beat float.

This year I decided I was going, but then I decided I wasn’t because I had gotten drunk the night before.

Then I got hungry and my boyfriend refused to come with me to get food (because he was hung over,) so I had to go by myself. On the way to get a croissant I saw the 740 in the distance. It was 10:45 am, the parade started at 11am, but since the Compton Christmas Parade started late I assumed that maybe CPT would also be in effect at the Kingdom Day Parade.

 

I hopped on the bus, but not before I had a conversation with a guy named Mohammed.

“That bus saw me,” said Mohammed (he had just missed the 40.)
“Yeah, they are assholes,” said me.
“That never happened in New York,” said Mohammed.
“Well, a 740 is coming and the MTA is on regular schedule,” said me.
“Where are you on your way to?” said Mohammed.
“The MLK Day Parade,” said me.
“Me too!!,” said Mohammed.

Washington High School

Washington High School

He then went on to tell me that he taught martial arts and that I should come to his class, so that he could teach me to incapacitate a 300 pound man (I didn’t tell him I already have that skill.) He then started talking about god. As you know I’m not a big fan of organized religion. He said if I had a problem with god we better end this conversation right now and waited for my response, so I paused and asked, “Can I take your picture?” He said, “Sure.”

Mohammed

Mohammed

Then we had to stop talking because I’m not into god, but not before he asked me if I wanted to buy a CD to help the lonely wanderer cause.

I said “No.”

I didn’t want to give him my tainted secular money. What if there is a god? I didn’t want to get him in trouble.

On the 740 I met a woman named Noba. She had long dreads, like mine. She had a scar on her forehead. I had seen her around downtown LA. She told me she had brain surgery and was originally from Dallas, Texas. She said she had a lot of hope with JFK being President and then she was there when he got assassinated. She was a little girl, but she said it made a great impact on her life. She told me she was writing a book. There are so many writers in downtown LA.

Noba

Noba

I got off the 740 at Normandie and MLK and followed the people with chairs.

When I got to King and Western it was packed. This is a huge event. It is a nice event. I don’t even like the word ghetto, but whatever that word means or implies this event was not that.

Bret Harte Jr High

Bret Harte Jr High

I noticed that while there were lots of high school marching bands and very local political groups, but all of the big politicians where nowhere to be found. I assumed they were all at the Inauguration in DC. Almost all of my African-American friends are in DC right now.

As I sat and watched the Black Greeks; the Kappas, Omegas and the Deltas I wondered what would happen to them…the upper-middle class African-American person that follows the path of success, at least the definition of success as defined by corporate America.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

An upper-middle class black person never talks loudly. An upper middle class black person never gets mad. And an upper-middle class black person with any sense never brings up race. You wouldn’t want to be one of “those” people. And upper-middle class black also doesn’t play basketball. In fact the upper-middle class black person brags about how bad they are at it as well as dancing and any other activity of the “wrong” kind of black people.

Dance Group

Dance Group

How you talk in public, how you act in public, what you wear is all very carefully thought out, you think about what you are all the time, but you never, ever bring it up.

I long ago got thrown out of the “right” kind of black girl club for drinking 40s, being drunk and disorderly and calling people racist one too many times…but I still get to go to meetings on a guest pass.

Cowboys

Cowboys

You don’t complain about being the only black person in school. You don’t go home to your parents and tell your parents about the little girl who asked why your hair looked like pubic hair or told you that you feet had something special that made you run fast. You are an example and one of the privileged few and having a few jokes made about you is minor to having a cross burned in your front yard. And if someone is making jokes about you it meant you are not trying hard enough to fit in.

“Maybe you should take tennis lessons?” a mother of an upper middle class black child who complains.

Kappa Alpha Psi Queen

Kappa Alpha Psi Queen

In the past that part of success often began within the church and Black Greek organization, but with Obama as President who seems to be more secular will the path for the young African-Americans be a Harvard Law Degree and to use terms that are more palatable to the mainstream?

Omegas

Omegas

I know lots of my African-American friends who will be future leaders seem to be going that way anyway, but there is still racism and classism. And who is going to address that directly, at least who will address that directly who wants to gain a level of success?

I don’t want to take away the idea of what Obama means, but I do wonder what will happen to poor black people, poor Latinos, poor white people, poor Asian people?

Obama seems squarely focused on the middle class.

Cool Bike

Cool Bike

Obama is going to mean to a lot of people of color that we no longer have to depend on the base of the working class people of color in order to rise to great heights. There is no need to care about them at all, if anyone really cared about the anyway. Poor people regardless of race seemed to always be a project for people on the ladder of the traditional view of what is viewed as success. And with Obama as proof we know that they are going to vote for us and support us anyway as long as we are not actively vile to them.

Juneteenth Organization

Juneteenth Organization

My African-American friends who were Greeks and moved on to become attorneys, doctors, businessmen and businesswomen who were part of Jack and Jill and who grew up in the exclusive hills surrounding black enclaves or in white neighborhoods of various major cities I wonder about them. Yeah racism will never be over, but now will it be a complete abandonment of the people who are viewed as “ghetto” or “eastie.”

Washington High School

Washington High School

Well at least it will be ok for us to play basketball now…

by Browne Molyneux

 

“Master Sergeant Vernon Waters: See, the Black race can’t afford you no more. There used to be a time, we’d see someone like you singin’, clownin’, yassuh-bossin’… and we wouldn’t do anything. Folks liked that. You were good. Homey kind of _____. When they needed somebody to mistreat, call a name or two, they paraded you. Reminded them of the good old days. Not no more. The day of the Geechee is gone, boy. And you’re going with it.” From a Soldier’s Story.

10 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Kingdom Day Parade and Obama…

  1. nice parade pics, I’m glad you ended up going after all. I’ve met a bunch of random people on the bus too, but generally because I sit on the back, no one pay attention to me, with the exception of dirty looks.

    Did Bustard ask you why it took you so long to go get a croissant ?

  2. He did call at around 12:30ish. He was doing work, but he couldn’t get too irritated with me, he went out one time and didn’t come back until the middle of the night because he was in jail, but I was also doing work, so I didn’t notice.

  3. Really thoughtful column, Browne. Miss working with you; you’re talented, lady, and incisive.

  4. I like how you did this post Browne, weaving in some current pics with your social commentary on class issues, it worked very well. By the way, your CPT is the equivalent of what we call Chicano Time, an expected tardiness. You have to factor that in for lots of events, and even expect the bride and groom to show up super late for their own wedding. That couple will never live it down, but we all expected it anyways.

  5. “I like how you did this post Browne, weaving in some current pics with your social commentary on class issues” El Chavo

    I’d didn’t even intend on writing about class, it just sort of happened on this odd journey. I have been thinking about the issues of the haves and have-nots with Obama though, but every time I try to bring it up people would look at me like I am satan.

    “You do think this is great? Can’t you just be happy? This is a nice thing don’t mess it up,” said my friend who lives in Marina Del Rey (she’s in DC right now) who lives in 500 dollar heels.

    I don’t think alot of people understand the ocean between the classes in the African-American community. It’s huge and it’s a big deal. The should you use the N word or should you not and what it means if you use it or not, the natural hair vs straight hair, rap vs neo soul…it’s really in my opinion within the black community, class issues.

    Are you being a “bad” black person, because you didn’t have enough money to live in a certain neighborhood and go to certain schools?

    And in reverse are you a “bad” black person because you did have enough money to live in a certain neighborhood and you did go to certain schools?

    Whose experience is more authentic and should it matter? Should everyone try to fit into a little box? Do we really need to be the borg in order to be successful? And which borg should we join if we do? Do we need each other or do we not? Is class the real connection between people or is it race?

    And if someone has the resources do they have a responsiblity to fight for anyone else? Is that too much of a burden for the talented tenth?

    And was that concept a flawed concept in the first place?

    Who is anyone to decide what another person should be doing?

    And what should everyone be doing? Is hanging out drinking a beer going to destory the world?

    Browne

  6. Beautiful and thoughtful post Browne, your quote from “A Soldiers Story” was the perfect end to your story. I remember seeing that fine movie of the same name “A Soldiers Story” with Denzell Washington and the incredibly talented actor, the late Adolph Ceasar.

    That story and your story both deal with an issue that we as a country must now face with Obama as President, and as someone said today about racial equality, “Now we can lay that burden down”. The issues of racial animosity are still with us,though I do think Obama’s victory has helped with that burden of race.
    Now the real issue, the issue of economics and class will have to be dealt with and this is an issue that is fearful and an anathema to the powers that be in our Capitalist money oriented society.
    It seems that anytime someone does bring the discussion of economic democracy into play the person is immediately criticized as a Socialist or of bringing Marxist theory into the discussion.
    Working class people have been conditioned to react the same way when they are confronted with the question of economic disparity and the social class structure, they go into denial and point to some other country in Africa or Latin America and how worse off and poverty stricken it is compared to us.
    And Browne your commentary on the Black middle class separation, physically and psychologically from their more proletarian brethren is a subject that we Mexican Americans also deal with, as a strange anxiety filled historical amnesia.
    How conveniently so many of our family’s forget the struggles of poverty, the ugly truths of criminality, race mixing, illegitimacy, abandonment, homelessness, and all those things that happen to people while in the struggle for survival.
    It’s curious how often, years later when a family has been moderately successful and the times are better and when it’s all about upward mobility, then the family history is revised and the truth is forgotten.
    “Our people aren’t Mexican, they came from Spain, we are Spanish or Jewish or German or French, anything but a Mexican. Or, “Our people were from the upper class way back then, my great grandfather was a rich man until the Mexican Revolution stole it from him.

    I once had a discussion with a prominent African American neurosurgeon concerning the class system, economics and the effect of desegregation on education and housing in the ethnic communities of Los Angeles.
    The Dr. and I agreed that the end of legalized segregation in housing, education, and employment, oddly enough, in reality exacerbated segregation and poverty.
    Whereas at one time in Los Angeles strict segregation mandated that the Black or Mexican American Educated upper and middle classes lived in their respective segregated communities, they therefore had goods and services provided that benefited not only themselves but the entire community as a whole. But when the ugly practice of political non-representation, legal segregation in housing, education, and jobs ended, then economic class distinctions became even more apparent.
    Segregation became based not on race or ethnicity but on economics and the “have’s” became more separate from the even more impoverished “have not’s”.

    The topic of economic democracy will become the focus of President Obama’s cabinet in the near future and that’s a good thing, for all of us.

  7. “Did Bustard ask you why it took you so long to go get a croissant ?”

    No, I have the guys in bowties take care of that business for me. They fax me at my girlfriend’s loft on Bunker Hill.

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