I, too, am a different drummer

This system, capitalism, is literally driving everyone insane and then the crazy people who love it and force it on us all make more money off of our crazy.

Crazy begets crazy. And, then, at some point, everyone’s too crazy to do anything remotely sane. Like… leave.

I just finished reading William Melvin Kelley’s ‘A Different Drummer’. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do. It’s probably available in your library loan system, as it was initially published in the 1960s. Unfortunately, the tale is still relevant and chronicles the mentalities of your average American neighbor.

The ending was hard to read. I couldn’t get used to reading the n-word over and over and over, again, but I could wrap my mind around why it was there. The ending was impossible to wrap my mind around.

It began a deep confusion and wailing within me, because it was just incomprehensible that the Black people at the end would be so stupid. But, it’s not incomprehensible, at all, really. I watch people. I see how often we choose the stupid action over the smart one. I’ve come to almost accept it must be normal to do so, since I see that, in general, we choose the most unintelligent options, as a society, and no matter the hue of our skin.

That the victim becomes its own oppressor is the most stunning aspect of most victim/abuser stories.

Currently, in our culture, we are seemingly obsessed with superheroes. There are regular heroes (always a sacrificial lamb, if the signs outside of hospitals and nursing homes these days are to be trusted) and then there are superheroes. They are the preferred kind, because they aren’t truly risking anything. They have their own stories and reasons for why they do what they do and those stories don’t really have anything to do with us. It’s as if having super powers puts you in a bind — be good or be evil, but you have to be something other than simply alive. You have to be selfish. And, you will be celebrated for it, because we love outlandish narcissists.

The messages of ‘A Different Drummer’ are compelling, and the writer does a wonderful job of throwing our lack of completion into our faces. We are not superheroes, certainly. We’re not even regular heroes, most of us, which is why we’re constantly searching our environments for validation.

The story allows us to contemplate just how incomplete we are as humans, if we give ourselves the opportunity to do so. Surely, we can all see at least a part of ourselves in at least one of the book’s characters. But a part would be all we’d be able to see, because we’re only allowed a glimpse into the characters, themselves. The people we are allowed to see most fully are a child and a coward. This isn’t going to offer us as much introspection as we deserve, unless we think about the world we are currently co-creating.

After reading the book, I searched for reviews of it. I wanted to know what other readers had thought of the story. I found one reviewer who was disappointed in the ending and who thought we, the readers, deserved better. But, the ending was historically accurate. Should the book have shielded us from reality? I was curious about how that particular reviewer identified racially. It seemed like such an immature response that it could have only come from someone who identifies as white.

That’s the power of capitalism: it compels us all to objectify one another. Some of us are better at it than others. Practice makes perfect. What is better practice for objectifying human beings than slavery? Who has practiced it more savagely than the American whites? Even today, the ideas and flawed concepts that allowed slavery to become white supremacy are gripped tightly. The greatest export of America is racism and the vehicle upon which it travels most expediently is capitalism.

I found the author’s placement of ideas most Euro-Americans seem to consider radical (anarchy, Marxism, communism, desegregation, and true liberty) to be quite interesting. The book never delved too deeply into those topics, but can you write about white supremacy of the Southern variety without bringing them up?

The enslavement of my ancestors and the take-over of our land was and is the backbone of today’s capitalism. The racism toward my ancestors was one of the vehicles upon which that capitalism was allowed to spread so easily and globally. I can’t help but wonder if the racists of America understand this connection better than the anti-racists. I often believe they do, which is why they refuse to unhand the tenets of white supremacy. Even the “libtards” enjoy shopping and shopping, as we currently enjoy it, is not possible without the foundation of slavery. Call it sweat shops, call it exploitation, call it whatever you want… it is enslavement. And, we all enjoy it in one way or another.

What will become of the experiment known as America? Without racism, what happens?

Perhaps we shall find out in my lifetime.

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