There is nothing wrong with diversity so long as it is based on something entirely human like dignity. Sadly, there are many groups of people who no longer admit this. Earlier this week I was watching videos of Doseone, Eminem, and Eyedea at Scribble Jam — a freestyle battle rap contest from the 90’s when freestyling really meant rapping right off the top of your head. Anyone can tell you it isn’t easy. Doseone might disagree but he is the exception that proves the rule. You can watch 10 of his battles or freestyles and not hear anything similar. He’s also got a good sense of humor. The act takes skill, to put it plainly.
Jazz also takes real talent and knowledge of an instrument. The instrument has to be an extension of one’s self. In rock, metal, country, folk, and other genres where classical training and playing isn’t common, that level of skill is usually not achieved. But with jazz a mastery is definitely common. While the following regards judgement, it can still be taken to mean the characteristics inhered by one who has mastered a craft or skill:
“Whether the frame of reference is music, sports, medicine, or warfare, judgment implies a sense of timing and proportion, a feeling for the relations between the parts and the whole, a painstaking attention to detail which is nevertheless careful not to let details obscure the larger outlines of a performance, a willingness to improvise if necessary, an ability to combine spontaneous feeling with disciplined forethought, a kind of controlled exuberance, and most important and elusive of all, an ability to communicate the inner meaning of an activity to others so that they become vicarious participants. Judgment also implies an understanding of limits – of one’s own capacities, of what the occasion will bear, of the narrowness of one’s victory over competitors, of the fine line between success and failure, victory and defeat – and it is this recognition of limits, I think, that invests judgment with a moral quality and entitles us to discuss it under the heading not of prudence, with which it clearly has a lot in common, but of virtue.”
-Christopher Lasch; “The Communitarian Critique of Liberalism”; Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal; Spring/Summer 1986
Everything Christopher Lasch here describes suggests there is nothing more vital to a person’s practice or craft than their ability to undertake it. Jazz musicians understood this, and so in times of racial conflict, racial barriers were eroded by mutual respect for mastery and judgment as musicians. With all the racial turmoil that continued up through the 90’s, non-black/latino rappers like the aforementioned garnered respect by proving their ability to freestyle and present their art. I hope you can see where I am going.
While talking big about tolerance and diversity, the left does seem to miss this. It seems they suggest that a priori, all people are just the same and should be treated as if they are special, respected in the same way someone who has proven themselves, and loved less like a stranger and more like family. It all strikes me with the same prejudice of people who walk up to kids and act superficially happy or enthused. Some of the kids see through it. Some of the adults see through the fervent tolerance. I have multiple times. Whites welcome or seem polite simply because they don’t know anything else to be. I’d rather it be awkward, which it would probably be with someone who isn’t white or a white with more than a handful of common sense.
In lieu of appreciating diversity done right, there are two very recent movies that I’d like to point out as concrete and more or less realistic examples of diversity based on something truly human. Really, I’d just like to point out a scene in each. Both are worth viewing.
The first is Hell or High Water, written by my boy Taylor Sheriden who also wrote Sicario. Hell or High Water is about two brothers robbing banks to stop the same bank from foreclosing their family’s ranch. There are really two scenes I can talk about here but there’s one that’s specifically anti-capitalist/banks, and the other bears a touch of misanthropy. I’ll go with the first.
While sitting and talking, one individual (I can’t remember) talks about the history of America. Land has traded hands by way of theft and war. This has gone on so long and continues in the present. The only thing is it is now committed at the hands of banks. The first time I watched the scene I was moved to excitement — a hard feat for a movie to accomplish. Not only did it honestly deal with how America’s history is brimful of blood and oppression, but it stated the plainly obvious truth I swear to Bill Gates I wish people would understand these days: we are not really at war with each other, whatever race any of us happens to be, we are at war with our oppressors — the wealthy. Specifically bankers and investors. Those are the enemies. All this talk about racism and sexism and bigotry is at most a distraction, and at least the means by which our real oppression continues.
The scene gave light to a moment I hope every day for: people realizing that their unity should overlook race and sex, and should instead aim to make a real effort at attacking capitalism and the wealthy elite, the ownership class.
I guess there isn’t a scene in the second example film. The whole thing works, except the side story about interracial love/marriage. Free State of Jones makes the point I wish every leftist media outlet would make: we are all slaves, we are all niggers, we are all treated like property — and thus our energies should not be wasted fighting one another, but instead fighting those who are willing to legalize theft and rob people of their livelihood and property. I dare say with a heart full of regret that that may be the most libertarian thing I have ever said, and may the Good Lord let it by my last. But the point remains that state actors and those who have power do not mind taking what they can from anyone they choose. And so if we shall ever stop them, we have to put aside race and sex and move towards such a battle with all the velocity they do once they’ve legalized some terrible and irrational policy.