Pride: By Any Means Necessary?

There has been a viral video going around of a comic talking about how “Everthing is So Great but Nobodys Happy.” In the video, comedian Louis CK shares some appealing common wisdom.

Looking through his channel on You tube, I came across the following video in which he backhandedly addresses racism, arguing that being White is way better. Here is the video:

Regardless of his intent, it’s impossible for me not to associate his comedy with “White Pride.”

I’m a Jew, which makes me white to everyone but White people. I don’t associate White Pride with my heritage, but with the people who spray painted swastikas on synagogues in my home-town. A quick search of the phrase White Pride” online got me to the White Pride Archives: News for People Who Love Their Heritage. Without even looking at the site, I have a strong sense that what’s inside is racist. I associate the term White Pride with bigotry.

I have a very different association with the term Gay Pride. I associate Gay Pride with very positive assertions of equality.

We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!

Perhaps the positivity of pride – be it Black Pride, White Pride, Male Pride, Women Pride, Jewish Pride or Gay Pride – is directly related to the weakness of its possessor? If a group with a lot of power has a lot of “Pride”, its bad, but if a group with little power has “Pride” its good?

Amanda Hess, writing in last week’s City Paper, reported on a criminal attack in which two transgender men were beaten by a group of Lesbian women. The attack was apparently motivated by a sense of betrayal; one of the transitioning men was a former Lesbian who was now too good for that identity. It is impossible to defend the attack, but given the difficulties of Lesbian life it’s pretty simple to see how Gay Pride morphed into these criminal actions.

I’ve been thinking about slippery moral slopes recently, because I’m creating some Dance on the subject. Where are the crossing points for certain ideas – like pride. I listened to the rap song “Break the Grip of Shame” by Paris yesterday. Embedded in the song is a speech by Malcolm X which proudly declaims:

“We declare our race on this earth to be a being. To be a human being. To be respected as a human being. To be given the rights of a human being. Indivisible and binding. And we intend to bring it into existence by Any Means Necessary.”

Pride is a moral stance; an assertion of worth. The communal sense of self that Pride provides perhaps only remains positive when not divorced from other aspects of a moral life.

Judson Laipply

I know this isn’t high art, but Judson Laipply’s “Evolution of Dance” video on Youtube has over 90 MILLION hits. They say that the dance Revelations by Alvin Ailey has been seen by more people than any other dance on the planet. But I’m pretty sure more people have now seen Judson Laipply’s history of dance — ironic, isn’t it? 

I actually enjoyed watching it myself, and went to his website to check him out. I found that he is actually a motivational speaker. He describes himself as a cross between Anthony Robbins and Robin Williams…. I enjoyed his description of how he came up with the idea. You can read the whole thing on his site. The short version is:

“I had already begun to explore the understanding that life is change. I felt that this was a first step to creating the life you want by understanding the simple idea that life is change. So I wanted to do something to make sure that message stuck in the minds of my audience. I milled this over in my head for about 6-9 months when I was finally hit with the idea of how much dancing had changed. I began to think about how funny it would be to visually see all of the dances and thus the idea was born.”

In case you haven’t yet seen it: here is Jud’s Evolution of Dance.

I have had a number of discussion recently about the European acceptance of change in the arts, and an American pull towards a bizarre, hopeless, ‘preservation’ of the arts. I appreciate that this man understands that dance – as a field – reflects an ongoing, unstoppable, change. I think it’s funny, too, that his first name is Judson. For the uninitiated, or uneducated, I recommend a pilgrimage to the Judson Memorial Church. Or at least a few minutes reading up about it – maybe here.

I actually wrote this post in April and posted it on Bourgeon. But it doesn’t really belong there. Bourgeon is not supposed to be a site for random me-ness. It’s hard to get material regularly, though, what with having a job, training, dancing, etc… so I had posted it simply to get some fresh material up. 

If you haven’t been to bourgeon, please check it out. If you are an artist of any sort, and would like to publish something on bourgeon, please contact me. I’d love to hear about it.