Ray Rice is just a symptom

I’m not nor­mal­ly one to beat upon a string of ide­o­log­i­cal adjec­tives when mak­ing a point, but late­ly it seems necessary.

Racist patri­ar­chal cap­i­tal­ist soci­ety trains us to think that the lim­it of knowl­edge is obtain­ing max­i­mum mon­ey — the most admirable goal; and then does all it can to pre­vent minor­i­ty groups from achiev­ing it. Racist patri­ar­chal cap­i­tal­ist soci­ety trains us to think that we are not peo­ple, but human resources; (celebri­ties are not even human — they exist only as a brand, a prod­uct) and then does all it can to make minor­i­ty groups appear gener­ic & cheap. Racist patri­ar­chal cap­i­tal­ist soci­ety trains us to think that objects sold in the mate­r­i­al world will sat­is­fy our desires, and, fail­ing that, objects pro­vid­ed in the vir­tu­al world will do the same; and mar­kets to every­one so they will become more racist, more patri­ar­chal, and more cap­i­tal­is­tic. Racist patri­ar­chal cap­i­tal­ist soci­ety trains us to think that its par­a­digm is the only paradigm.

Ray Rice is a vic­tim of racist patri­ar­chal cap­i­tal­ist soci­ety. It has made Ray think he is a prod­uct shaped and reward­ed for his strength and skill at vio­lence. It has not reward­ed him for empa­thy, com­pas­sion, or wis­dom. It has sup­port­ed this train­ing by cov­er­ing up his vio­lent behav­ior out­side of the game he was paid to play. Ray Rice is a tone-deaf, unre­pen­tant abuser — but he didn’t have to be.

Janay Rice is a vic­tim of racist patri­ar­chal cap­i­tal­ist soci­ety.  Orders of mag­ni­tude more a vic­tim than Ray. It has made Janay think that she should silent­ly accept and ignore being abused by her hus­band. It has not reward­ed her for auton­o­my, assertive­ness, or wis­dom. It has sup­port­ed this train­ing by blam­ing women for every­thing that hap­pens to them: rape, vio­lence, stolen cell phone pho­tos. Janay Rice is blind to her oppres­sion, but she didn’t have to be.

I am not assign­ing all blame for the behav­iors of Janay & Ray Rice to racist patri­ar­chal cap­i­tal­ist soci­ety. Despite what they have been trained to think, they remain capa­ble of healthy choic­es and healthy behav­iors. The tec­ton­ic weight of racist patri­ar­chal cap­i­tal­ist soci­ety has just made it much hard­er to be a healthy per­son and much eas­i­er to behave like a racist, patri­ar­chal cap­i­tal­ist. That’s why it’s so eas­i­er for police to shoot & kill than do actu­al police work. That’s why some men think they can hit peo­ple & some women think that being hit is okay.

We are ani­mals first. We respond to what is in front of us. We are out­raged at Ray Rice, the NFL, Janay Rice, the police of Fer­gu­son, MO. We react to stim­uli as we have been trained to do. We are sapi­ent sec­ond, and rarely. Though each indi­vid­ual is and should be called upon to be less racist, patri­ar­chal or cap­i­tal­is­tic — play­ing whack-a-mole each time we see an egre­gious exam­ple of our racist patri­ar­chal cap­i­tal­ist soci­ety does lit­tle to effect change. Change requires action. Effec­tive change requires know­ing where to act, and how. We can go on iden­ti­fy­ing the symp­toms, or we can try to end the disease.

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