Tuesday, November 29, 2016

California dreamin'

In my youth California was the Golden State wherein good government produced what seemed like an endless series of great innovations that became de facto models for the nation's other states. But as I grew older, Blacks were increasingly excluded from that golden bounty. 

California became the state that delivered the first and most devastating blow to affirmative action, and never made an effort to develop a more judicially acceptable substitute, leaving it to Texas to assume that leadership role. It became the state of Rodney King, police brutality, O.J. Simpson trials, and Compton riots. And yes, it became the state of highest technology, but also the state that most actively excluded Blacks from opportunities to participate in that technology. 

So today, as this aging Black man sees it, California has become the New South. It's become the place wherein mostly White writers conceive the movies and TV shows that teach the nation new stereotypes about Black people that are just obscene variations of the Old South's old stereotypes. So once again Black people (and Black actors as in "Oscar so White") are either left out of the new digital fables, portrayed as cartoons in natural blackface, or portrayed as the embodiments of the White male's deepest fears of inadequacy when confronting menacing, powerful, dark skinned predators.

In this New South, the smug liberal digerati take great pride (and endless selfies), like the patronizing plantation Daddies of the Old South, of their personal good works for a few hundred "worthy" darkies, e.g., the lucky participants in Black Girls Code Saturday workshops or the even luckier recipients of scholarships at high-tech alt-schools, while feigning ignorance of the fact that their personal beneficence cannot scale to meet the needs of the millions of other Black kids who are still handicapped by the persistent evil legacy of hundreds of years of slavery and the decades of Jim Crow that followed. This attitude is a supreme irony coming from entrepreneurs who made billions via tech innovations whose defining characteristic was their capacity to scale into millions, nay billions of users. In my youth, I would have looked to California to provide national leadership in using technology to develop educational innovations that would scale to satisfy the unmet needs of the nation's millions. But no more. California has become the New South wherein, as Rhett Butler declared so many years ago, frankly Scarlett, it does not give a damn.

Roy L Beasley, PhD
DLL Editor