Monday, April 10, 2006

in their little bow ties

We'll begin today with my reasoning behind why I refer to the Nation of Islam as the bow tie nazis. Having grown up in Atlanta, I'm very familiar with the sight of, on random street corner, the small group of black men, usually in grey suits but always in bow ties. They always look so sharp standing there, ready at a moment's notice to approach the passersby with a copy of The Final Call. I'm guessing it's still the same paper. But why Nazis? Out of dozens of times that I've been sitting at an intersection peopled by NofI members, I have only once in my life been offered my own copy of The Final Call. The one copy I was offered was in Charlotte where Momma and I lived for a while. That was probably the one time I saw them in Charlotte. What made me different from the drivers that do get offered the paper?

I saw some more of the bow tie nazis (btn) yesterday. It was sort of refreshing, escpecially when I got that old look that I remembered so well. All it takes is for them to peak at my white face staring back at them, and they calmly step back onto the sidewalk and turn to each other. These guys were different though.

In Atlanta, I was used to seeing the btn regularly. Growing up in south Dekalb, you get used to being the only white person at the grocery store or the library. The btn were always young adults, possibly college students. Yesterday however, they were all 10-14 in my estimation. They wore the suits and the little bow ties, and they looked so adorable. One little boy held a megaphone, though he didn't use it while we were at the intersection. Additionaly, several of them carried pies in what looked like grocery store type packaging.

It isn't that I mind being snubbed. Honestly, I can take it, especially in light of our country's history regarding race relations. As well, religiously based racism even seems different to me than just outright ignorant asshole racism. Being from the South, I'm well aware of both. And while there is no difference in the evilness of either, the difference isn't there to discern between levels of evil so much as to suggest that some things are different for how they get there. This also gets back to being raised a certain way only to grow up and find that you are fighting with yourself over ideas that clash based on a grown up awareness versus childhood indoctrination.

I digress, so we'll get back to the story.

I was once again snubbed for my whiteness. This time, while still humorous, it was different because these were kids. They haven't yet had a chance to confront life as it is. I imagine the NofI to be similar to any other cult in that the kids don't know any different, are not at all aware of what "the world" truly is and what it truly means and holds for them. Many of these kids may never leave the NofI, just as many kids will never leave the JW's or the Baptist church, though many kids will. And full on indoctrination in the church only prepares kids to stay there and not for a real life in the real world.

I just realized that I'm making the old "S" word arguement against religion, which isn't what I mean to do. I can understand that parents are going to teach their kids their religion and want for their kids to grow up and stay true to that religion. I plan to teach my kids my own views on life. But I can look back to what I thought of "the world" as I grew up only to find myself questioning all I'd ever been taught. When I finally moved out and was really on my own, life wasn't so black and white as I'd been taught. Every didn't fit into either good and christian columns or bad and nonchristian columns. In fact no one person fits in any one column. Some christians lie and some atheist don't.

So as I watched the youngsters, the next gen of btn, I laughed and thought to myself that I was missing one more copy of someone's religious propaganda. That thought was closely followed by the thought that these kids, so young, already knew that if you checked, you wouldn't have to waist the steps if the car held white people. I don't feel hurt or offended nor do I care. I know that if a group of black men or boys occupy a street corner and are wearing neat suits and little bow ties, they don't want my white ass to get a copy of their paper. I'm sure I'm the devil, possibly Jewish and responsible for some of their misery.

1 comment:

contemplator said...

The great reinforcing thing about indoctrinating kids is that when you do things as a kid that probably exclude the groups you're meant to exclude, and people treat you funny, it's taken as proof that the adults are "right" about the excluded groups and we all bond (sink deeper). So if you were to yell at those btns or try to change their minds, either course of action would just reinforce what they're being told by the adult btns. If you just ignored them, the line would be that the white man doesn't care--want proof? Did that white guy care if he got your info or not?? See?? Indoctrination is a powerful horrible thing. Your kids are really cute, by the way. And I didn't expect your wife to be so petite--just because of the roller derby entry, LOLOL.