I love to play Spades; I’m not referring to a general affinity either, I have an earnest love for the game, it’s euphoric when I’m winning and still manages to bring a smile to my face if I’m losing. When and if ESPN6 or whichever derivative of the channel hosts a tournament it’s written in blood that I’m not attending work that day and my son may need to arrange another mode of transportation from kindergarten.
As much as I love the game there is one frustrating aspect; the classification of rules from region to region, it always seems as though everyone has some idiosyncratic take on the guidelines I’ve come to love which in turn wastes 10-15 minutes of time that could have been spent actually playing. With all the family rules and interpretations it’s a wonder I’ve found any commonality when playing with new partners or competition but there is one thing; if we are playing with New York City rules the 2s are removed, specifically the 2 of hearts and the 2 of clubs. It is in fact the first thing that is done to the deck of cards once they’ve been unsheathed from the box. The first dealer sifts through the many face cards and the four suits and removes the aforementioned and unnecessary cards, after all we don’t require them and they are not a part of the game. I understand that, like many of the rules there is a reason and justification; I welcome that conformity. I vehemently detest the conformity that’s made its home in the annals of our society concerning the ever controversial topic of racism and the continued neutering of slavery’s significance in American history. There is a revisionist’s version of history being built as a house of cards, with what is supposed to be a representation of all peoples and ideologies; unfortunately I find that unmeasurably far from accurate. Sure there are cards that represent the struggle for gay rights, the historical significance of the holocaust, coincidentally half the deck is devoted to the challenges of grasping an entire world within the clutches of capitalism and the conflicts which have ensued. Quite a house of cards, almost Scorseseian in its scope; if you allow me to add racism in 2014 to that House of Cards, now there’s a problem; as I’m trying to ‘play the race card’ as it’s referred to I find that the required card isn’t in this deck; someone has strategically removed the 2 of clubs. Much like a game of Spades the 2 of clubs and the 2 of hearts have been removed from the history’s deck, there will be no ‘playing the race card’ or adding slavery to that house of cards, at least that is the conformity we are conditioned to approve and be satiated by, but why should we?
Why should we be met with a stern rebuttal or wither in the breeze of the whimsically naive inquiry, ‘why does everything have to do with race’? This isn’t a simple yes or no, pun intended; the answer does not lie within the black or white of the answer spectrum. It’s much grayer and with that comes a brutality that simplicity does not allow. No, everything for everyone is not about race but when you are Black in America the specter of racism surrounds us as viscerally as the color of our skin. If that’s a debatable concept then you are either tragically oblivious or one of Will Smith’s children. The fact of the matter is the term has become cliché to a large degree for a vast many reasons, two of the most prominent affecting each side of the ethnic line being embarrassment and conditioning.
Delivery is important when attempting to convey a message, usually I’m very particular about the words I use in my writing as well as the way I use them. For this topic I’ll admit I’m far less subdued, discussions with my contemporaries and the twitter conversation below have attributed to the surrender of my usual tact.
Yes, @GarnerBussell is white, in case you were wondering; he seems like a very nice and respectful man. For those unfamiliar with @stephenasmith he is a successful Black Man in America who has been historically fearless when threatened with the spotlight of controversy for speaking his mind. I agree with Stephen A Smith’s rebuttal and I harbor his sentiment, the more we confront the truth the better the world can be. The truth of it all being that on a general level White people are embarrassed about racism and seek to make it a non-issue through silence almost in unison we have a tendency to allow it because we are conditioned to feel grateful that we are no longer outwardly oppressed to the degrees of slavery or the Jim Crow south. Both of those tendencies will solve nothing, indeed there will be silence for a time although there’s always silence before a powder keg explodes.
I won’t begin to demand things of white people or the structure of society as if I have all the answers, I surely do not and I surely cannot demand from others if I will not demand from myself. Those demands must be placed on the Black population (I don’t utilize the term community purposely) and our reluctance to outgrow our conditioning. We need more men and women to acknowledge that the topic is not comfortable, we all need to acknowledge and drive home the damaging truths and consequences that were slavery. If this house of cards is to be built then it cannot be built without the infamous 2s. There is depravity, brutality, anger and shame among the defining characteristics of slavery; it’s difficult to discuss and more so to own. The ownership goes both ways in that regard, we must own it as victims and they must own it as our tormentors. I personally see how that becomes difficult with the images we are bombarded with, we are promised equality we are afforded a ‘fair shake’, our President is even black; those images are misappropriated and callously under developed although effective in forcing us to believe that we made it through four centuries of being disassociated with the identity of basic humanity unscathed and alright. The truth is we did not. We are irrevocably scarred and demonstratively retarded in our progression as a cohesive people. Who would want to own that injustice, the line would be brief to say the least.
We are past the want now, I suppose we always were past the want but now more than anytime I can recall in my short lifetime we are here at the need. We need to own our history, own our victimization the same way the Jews owned theirs at the hands of Hitler and the Nazis. There is no challenge or threat to comfort when the Holocaust is mentioned; the notion of building this house of cards without that suit is ridiculous. I chuckle to myself as I imagine a history book without a third of its text devoted to the horrors of Hitler’s angst and historical sadism. There are over 30 museums in America alone specifically geared towards Holocaust awareness and enlightenment; there is 1 museum devoted to slavery in the same regard. The naïve or self-deflecting scholar will blame that all on racism, that’s too easy and it changes nothing. I respect and envy the forefathers of the movement that brought the Holocaust to the heights and cultural significance it holds to this day; ownership goes along way and someday perhaps we can claim similar ownership and ensure this house is built with all the cards, even the 2s.