Friday, April 25, 2008


I guess I should have called this "NOT FILING TAXES WHILE BLACK." But you get my drift.

Back in the early 1990's Wesley Snipes was pulled over by the Los Angeles Police Department for "driving while black." I don't recall the whole story (I actually read the entire ACLU report on the incident) and I tried Google-ing it, but there are too many stories about his recent trial and sentencing, and the academic papers on "driving while black" only mention it briefly.

If my memory serves me, he was driving with a friend, another black man, in a relatives car. He was pulled over because the car fit the description of a car used in a robbery. Even after the officers recognised him, they detained him because the car wasn't registered in his name! This was before cell phones, and they couldn't reach the vehicle's owner.

Snipes was held in a detention cell. Of course, he was asked to sign many autographs at the station!!! I think he got a verbal apology when it was all straightened out. Something along the lines of "don't let the door hit your ass on the way out."

That was within a year of the filming of BOILING POINT. I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Snipes on the set of the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel. (He is one beautiful man, btw. There are some actors and models that the camera loves so much they are a disappointment to meet in real life. There are others, and Snipes is one of them, that the camera does not do full justice.)

Now, there are plenty of people discussing the legal ramifications of his suit. I am not qualified to do so. I do know several people personally that do not file taxes for the reasons Snipes asserted in his trial. But I do not fully understand it, despite several friends patiently explaining it to me. (One even gave me a DVD! It is just too complicated!)

Anyhow, I want to discuss the fact that Mr. Snipes is a black man. And there are too many people still in power who are racist. Period. I used to know this guy, a black man, who told me that in the South "a black man with his head bowed is a nigger, and a black man with his head up is a threat." (Sorry to use the "n" word, which I would like to see disappear from all lexicons, but I am quoting.)

Some years back Snipes was going to purchase some land near the Nuwaubian's. As a white person, and a very pale, blonde (well, when Our Lady of Loreal wishes me to be) with blue eyes, I do wince a little bit reading that I am "the devil" in the Nation's literature. But really, I think given the history of slavery and oppression in this country, it is understandable. More understandable than white people who are racist against black people. And as for the rest of the Nation's beliefs, they are no more out there than Scientology.

And let's not forget that Scientologists actively attacked the U.S. Government, specifically the treasury, and have had many on-going wars with the I.R.S. Regardless of the "Church's" propaganda, they didn't add the cross or claim to be a "real" church until they needed tax-exempt status. Tom Cruise and John Travolta need not fear persecution for being part of white man's "cult."

Black or white, like so many cults, the sexual appetite of its leader was the hidden monster. (This is a whole other post-- on why the clergy of so many religions, the Catholic Church being the biggest, the Mormon Fundamentalist Church being the most recent, have leaders that molest children, or engage in other types of sexual exploitation.) Malachi York was convicted of child molestation, and the compound near the land Snipes was thinking of acquiring, was shut down.

But Snipes, even though he never professed (as far as I could tell from Google search hits) to be a follower of Nuwaubianism, immediately it was assumed in the media that he was. Guilty of trying to buy land while black, I suppose. Snipes eventually purchased land in Florida (where he was convicted). Too bad. Jeb Bush doesn't seem that far from a white sheet and burning cross. (Although the Bush family seems to be pretty tight with Arabs. But I think that has to do with wealth. The Uber-rich seem to be a race unto themselves, regardless of colour or nationality.) And, I'm sorry, maybe it is a stereotype, but it sure seems like half of Jebby's white constituents still use the "n-word", and not because they are singing along to rap music.

And brother Bubba up in the White House seems to be making it clear that no one is allowed to mess with his war money. Look at what happened to that pesky Eliot Spitzer, and he's a white man! Make no mistake, those little "economic stimulus" checks don't even cover an-about-to-be-foreclosed homeowner's monthly mortgage payment. But they sure have everyone out there filing their taxes! Bubba has led the bankruptcy of our country, and he is going to make damn sure the IRS knows the coming and goings of all his peasants-- er, citizens.

I hope Snipes wins his appeal. If he goes to jail then I think every single lender and CEO involved in the Bear-Stearns bail out goes to jail, too.**


**And let Spitzer off the hook, too.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


My favourite television show of all time is Xena. (Yes, I do know that I am geek. ;o) In the show, Xena, a penitent former warlord, tries to clean up her old karma by using her skills as warrior to defend her former victims against her former colleagues. Xena wants to make amends and be a "good" person.

Xena was the only mortal who could fight with and negotiate with the Gods. Even after she gave up her evil ways, Ares, the God of war, was still in love with her. And a little afraid of her. The show was campy. The show was low budget, and the effects were unbearably bad. It's main audience was lesbians and 8-year old girls, and a few men with a crush on Gabrielle, her sidekick/lover. But Xena had a fierce heart. She was un-apologetically powerful, regardless of whether she was using her power for good or evil. There are few female role models like her.

I identify with Xena. A lot. Especially her quest for redemption. In my life I have seen and done many things that the "average" person has not, except perhaps in books or movies. Not all of those things were "good." In my quest I do not carry a sword, but rather a pen (or keyboard, I suppose). And I do not try to defend so much as translate. And to shine a light in the darkness that I know so well.

Xena spent her time roaming the earth, looking for people who needed defense against injustice. Protection that only a former predator could provide. I spend my time roaming my thoughts and feelings for their origin. I have had to develop a self-awareness that borders on self-obsession. I must always be looking for the pillaging warlords: the addictions, the unhealthy desires, the angers, the disappointments, the anxieties. My former colleagues. Those things that wreaked havoc on my world. And led me to do bad things.

Which brings me to the myth of the "good" person. What exactly is a "good" person? Is it someone who has never done anything "bad" or behaved badly? Because if that is the case, I am definitely not a "good" person. And Xena, well, she should have just gone home to Amphipolis and taken up bartending. (Although there is another post, trying to live in the "normal" world when one has been a Warrior Princess. )

Or is Xena a better person because of the fact that she was once "bad" and is now trying to make amends? And where is the line of "bad" when one can no longer turn back? Where one can not ever hope for redemption?

Xena had much clearer lines drawn for her than the rest of us do. A warlord pillaging and burning a village is a pretty clear villain. But what about those marauders inside of us? Many of the behaviours that I have had to squelch in myself are just more-extreme-than-the-average-person's, or less damaged person's, responses to the same situation. However, my motivation for avoiding certain behaviours is often because of the suffering I feel, not because of some noble or rational reasoning.

Which leads me to another line of questioning: Is someone "good" because they do things for the right reason? That they never behave badly? What is badly? Where is the line drawn in the sand of good and bad? How much do we take into account those things that we cannot know about the other person? Or those things that we know all to well?

The further I travel down the path of self-awareness, the more difficult I find it to condemn others. And I do believe that what is present in one of us is present in all of us. The truly enlightened will say that all of us have the potential to be Mother Theresa or Hitler. But there are limits.

I believe that all behaviours come from a desire to feel good, or to feel like a good person (which is essentially the same thing). If that is true for me, that must be true for the people that I think are truly evil. And if I were to have met "bad" Xena in the real world, I don't think I would have admired her at all. Even after she turned "good." And Xena is nowhere near a pedophile, or serial killer, or fascist dictator.

But just confining the question to everyday behaviour: how someone treats a waiter, as the old saying goes; or, how someone expresses their anger; or how well they perform their job. Is it someone who is always cheerful? Always happy? Always doing something for others? Always behaving in a way that everyone finds acceptable?

If the answer to any of those questions is "yes" than there are no good people.

In the show Xena's main nemesis was Callisto. During Xena's "bad" days she had killed Callisto's family. Callisto was not able to forgive Xena until after Callisto was dead, and by then Callisto had wreaked such a vengeance on Xena-- killing Xena's son, for one thing-- that not until the second to last season was Xena able to forgive Callisto. And only through extraordinary circumstances. Callisto had been rescued by Xena from Hell (Tartarus) and had become an Angel. And Callisto's soul was to be reborn as Xena's daughter. (I mentioned the show was campy, right?)

When it really gets down to it a "bad" person, or a "nasty" person or an "evil" person (pedophiles and killers and rapists aside) is really someone who does something bad to us. Personally. That person who treated us so badly-- that ex-spouse, former friend, angry neighbour-- might be considered "nice" or "good" by other people. And something I know all to well is that we might be considered the bad, evil, nasty person by some people, and the best friend to others.

I started writing this piece because it seems like lately the Universe has been on a quest to point out my bad side to me. Every time a friend or acquaintance relates to me a story about something someone has done to them that is "bad" it is something that I have done in the past. And the crappy things that other people have done to me lately, if I examine my own karma, I see where they have done nothing to me that I have not done to someone else.

We are all Xena, and we are all Callisto. We are all innocent villagers and we are all also pillaging marauders. At the end of the series the only redemption for Xena was that she willingly sacrifice her own life so that the souls of some of the people that she had wronged might go free.

Perhaps sacrificing the idea of the "good" person is the only way to set our own souls free.