Book of the Month

Orion's picture

Simple Wisdom From A Southern Black Man

About two months back, I posted here about an encounter I had with a neighbor in my housing tenement.

This neighbor is a black man from the deep south. Country boy. 60 years old. Southern upbringing is all over him in his manner of dress, blunt expression, every bit of it. He gave some pretty good insight on Obama's re-election and people at this website seemed to like it.

He is still a regular source of introspection and cohesion. I just sat and listened to a conversation he had with someone else living with us during the day. I couldn't believe the simple brilliance I heard.

"If I need to know something, I ask it. I'm not too proud to learn. That's how I grow. By not being an asshole. Assholes are everywhere. It's not hard to be one."

How many times have there been simple questions about life that you really wanted to know? Did you go years of your life not asking them at all, because the possibility of asking them sounded like too excruciating an experience?

That "proudness" is the foundation of being an asshole - or a bitch, if your gender varies but the behavior doesn't. You are too proud to admit you are wrong or that you don't actually know - you have to save face by acting like you know when you really have no idea. When someone is mean, this is almost always what is going on.

"Life is to survive, not to get in your own little clan."

I don't even know how to add to that one.

"Your body is amazing. I look at that thing sometimes think, 'You know how to do this. I'll keep going and mind my business.'"

Imagine all of this being said by a man with a deep southern accent and realize how charming and brilliant it sounded at once. With all the bad news you hear these days, many people may have forgotten how amazing their physical presence in this world really is.

"I like kids. Kids are my life. I got something to offer kids. I tell them about my life and what I've been through so they'll know not to go through it."

I personally grew up in Seattle, in an affluent but extremely anti-social environment. People in this city don't talk on the bus at all, passive aggression is the norm. No one really engaged me as a kid before - I had to push to hear the sort of stories this old man seeks to volunteer with children.

This wisdom literally came out of this man, who is unemployed and seeking housing through a Section 8 voucher, during one every day conversation with the people he lived with. It made more sense than alot of the influential people we look to for guidance.

I have no idea if this adds or subtracts from you plight.

But I was going to do a blog on this subject from a white man's perspective:

It starts with this:

 

That is all I got right now.

 

Lynyrd Skynrd's reponse to Neil:

 

Orion is too young to know about this political/cultural exchange via pop song but you, Richard, and I are the same age so I hope your remember because the two songs deserve to be presented together when used in a political context.  

The point Skynyrd was trying to get across in Sweet Home Alabama with references to Birmingham and Muscle Shoals was that white Alabama like the rest of the South was/is not monolithic.  See Wikipedia for more on the controversy.  That section ends with something that needs to be better known:

In his 2012 autobiography "Waging Heavy Peace" Neil Young commented on the controversy writing "I don't like my words when I listen to it. They are accusatory and condescending, not fully thought out, and too easy to misconstrue".[5]

 

I took that Neil Young quote you posted and put it on my Facebook. Thanks.

As lefties, what do you all think of southern rock from that era like that? It really idolized that part of the country, I think, almost like a response to all the criticism the South got in the wake of civil rights.

Not a leftie and my favorite Skynyrd song is Gimme Three Steps.  There's nothing remotely political about it.  And thanks for the opportunity of posting it here. laugh  It is a lot of fun.  Check it out:

What your post and Richard's reply reminded me of most was another Lynyrd Skynyrd song, Simple Man.

 

Mama told me when I was young 
Come sit beside me, my only son 
And listen closely to what I say. 
And if you do this 
It'll help you some sunny day. Oh Yah! 
 
Oh, take your time... Don't live too fast, 
Troubles will come and they will pass. 
You'll find a woman, yea yea, you'll find love, 
And don't forget son, 
There is someone up above. 
 
Forget your lust, for the rich man's gold 
All that you need, is in your soul, 
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try. 
All that I want for you my son, 
Is to be satisfied.
 
Boy, don't you worry... you'll find yourself. 
Follow your heart, lord, and nothing else. 
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try. 
All that I want for you my son, 
Is to be satisfied.
 
And be a simple, kind of man. 
Oh be something, you love and understand. 
Baby be a simple, kind of man. 
Oh, won't you do this for me son, 
If you can?
 

Ya know Emma, I might just go ahead and do that blog.

I, of course, recalled Skynyrd's rebuttal. hahahahaah

I do not recall this song.

It brings me back to Foote and Faulkner and a number of other geniuses who proffered that the South must take their own time on things.

And it brings to mind the fact that Brown vs. The Board of Education (X2) did not work.

I viewed recently, a number of documentaries on this subject that I will include in my blog as links.

But my conclusion shall include a number of factors that really changed my mind; my very being so to speak.

And the core of our problems racially deal with the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The only President to deal with this Amendment was LBJ! A person I detested though less than Nixon.

And by today's standards, Nixon really was not that bad.

I will leave it at that until I finish my thoughts in another post, but I believe that things are better today than when I attended an all White school or all White schools from 4th grade until graduation from High School.

A strange circumstance until you check with the local Registrar and discover that Blacks could not even purchase a home with real money in a Northern suburb.

I shall expound later upon this subject although I have mentioned it scores of times.

Before you do that post I hope you will read Michael Lind's latest Salon piece.  It is as concise a description of how southern oligarchs have been successfully using social issues to divide and conquer since the beginning of the republic. That may be  why Skynyrd sang that Watergate did not bother them.  After all, the governor in the song was George Wallace.

 

 

Emma, that was the link that really got to me, no kidding!

I am about 75% complete, but that is the link I begin with!

Yes, you know exactly where I am going with this!

I have been thinking about old George Wallace because of Lindsey Graham. Wallace lost an election early on in his career because he didn't take a hard stand against the blacks. He promised himself that he would not be out n****red again in a election. Lindsey seems to be following the same play book with his attack on Obama appointments. He don't wantto be seen soft on the blackman in the oval office or he will lose to someone who will beat him over the head with their take no prisoners meanness campaign.

Thank you for all these comments, guys. I didn't expect to get so many for this.

I don't really like the title I used here. I couldn't come up with anything better. Any ideas?

The title was a good fit to your theme. I liked it.

Latest Comments