Social commentary

The rest of the country knows three things about Richmond. Can you guess what they are?

At the risk of casting against the boulders what tiny reputation I might have built for myself as a burgeoning journalist, I will abandon nerdmusic-dom for one hot second to take a shot at what they call “social commentary.” Undoubtedly and justly you find this laughable, but I certainly don’t mind because although you may not, my many nieces and nephews swear they love me unconditionally.

So I spent the last six weeks traipsing about the United States. Currently I am home in my parents’ house which means two things…

1. Since they do not quite have the same sort of Dub and early Hip-hop collection that Pinson has, I will have to put off my final diaspora article for an additional week.

2. I have had a chance to reflect, amongst the yelping of my many nieces and nephews, on my trip.

Truthfully, I haven’t done too much of this “reflecting” business, as it sounds a bit dated. However, since there has been a slew of “What is Richmond known for slash Gwarman2k8 tours Richmond” posts, and for 45 nights my stage banter consisted of this…

“I love Richmond, all ya’ll should move there. You can come stay at my house. (laughs all around) We’re The Great White Jenkins and we’re going to play a few more songs.”

I thought I’d use what little reflecting I have done and chime in. As for the stage banter, that was it. You might think that I could be more clever and funny, but really all I did was blabber about Richmond and all its superior qualities. Thus, I was inundated with Richmond comments, pro, con, and curious quite often. Turns out, in quite an extensive sampling of the country, our city is known for three things…

1. Avail is from here.

2. It is really, really hot.

3. It’s a bad place for Black people to live.

Truthfully, I am proud of the heat – even more proud of the humidity and love, with all my heart, that those namby-pamby, pantywaist, candy-ass west coast poltroons melt under the same sun under which I blossom. The Avail business registers in my personal book as a neutral. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard an Avail song, I certainly haven’t seen them play, don’t really roll in that scene, and although I’m sure they are great, I don’t hold any sort of positive or negative emotional attachment. I’ll just leave it at that. I’d rather people be stoked that Bill Robinson or Douglas Adams or Edgar Allen Poe was from here, but we’ll have to go with Avail.

Hopefully no one will argue that, at the very, very, very least, Richmond used to, not very long ago as well as the hundreds of years before that, be a horrible place for Black folks to live. No arguments, por favor. As for the current state of things, I’m going to hold off comments mainly because I’m not Black. I will say that to my untrained yet curious eyes the “history” that we put so quickly behind us doesn’t seem too much like history. Also I’ll just go ahead and beat the dead horse and just say again that having a massive statue of Jefferson Davis in the middle of the city doesn’t help our rep. Hell, reputation-schmeputation , I would safely say that it might hurt inter-race relations quite a good bit. Anyhow, obviously this is an issue that isn’t going away soon and has plagued the city for a long long time. All I’m saying over here is that people know it, not just us. It is far and away that character trait of our city that proceeds us, and it bums me out. I have no interest in being a passive member of a city whose reputation is racial injustice, past and present. Anyhow, let’s be proud of Avail as they have made their name great, let’s soak up that heat and laugh at the left-coast losers that have bottles of water packed like bandoliers around their body, and let’s do a thing or two about fixing our shit.

All my love,

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Matthew E. White

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