Sunday, December 03, 2006

Some Thoughts On Astrology, Race, & The "N" Word

Some Thoughts On Astrology, Race, & The "N" Word

5:54 AM 11/28/2006 Tue

Well, by now, everyone's seen it, Michael "Kramer" Richards' meltdown at a comedy club out on the West Coast last week. Seems he just lost it after being roundly heckled by some Black clubgoers, and launched into a Nigger-laced rant, complete with a very descriptive aside about how, 50 years ago, those Black guys would be hanging upside down from a tree, with a fork in their rears. Then, we saw the almost tearful apology by the same man days later, on Dave Letterman's show, alongside his onetime co-star, Jerry Seinfeld (how does he manage that deer in the headlights look all the time?). Richards claimed that he has never used the "N" word before in his life (at least not publicly), that the "N" word just came outta nowhere in a fit of blind rage, and begged the forgiveness of the nation; he even went on the Rev. Jesse Jackson's radio show this past Sunday to atone for his sins. In light of this episode, as well as the convergence of other events - the return (sort of) of OJ Simpson, the Amadou-like shooting of a husband-to-be and his fellow African American friends out in New York City, the release and controversey of the "Borat" film, and, of course, the alcohol-assisted anti-Semetic broadside launched by Mel Gibson back in the late Summer, it gives all of us Americans, and especially us astrologers, yet another chance to seriously ask some hard questions, and to have the guts to come up with some tough answers.

The first question, has to be - are we all - despite all our mighty attempts to contain it - racist? How do we define "racist"? And is that, in an of itself, necessarily a bad thing?

The next question has to be - could all these events represent a sort of "unconscious collective" pushback against the notion - and now I think it could be strongly argued, a repressive philosophy - of Political Correctness?

The third question, has to be - why does the "N" word - Nigger - persists so strongly in the American Lexicon, far outliving other racial/ethnic slurs and epithets, like Kike, Spik, Dago or Gook? Even words like "Fag" or for that matter, "Fat" are considered taboo ("Gay" or "Lesbian" are the words envogue for those of a homosexual orientation/identity; and "Obese" is the word of choice among those who are overweight). Yet Nigger, in all its variations, hangs on. Why???

And, of course, the really Burning Question has to be - WHY is that we astrologers always seem to avoid such topics?

Let's try to parse all this out, one by one (but necessarily in the order cited above)...

But first, let's post the astrodata for the United States:

United States of America Jul 4 1776 5.10PM LMT Philadelphia PA; Placidus 12 Sag 19, Campion (Sibly Option)

As we all know, the USA has been from its very beginning a nation of many cultures and races, but has also struggled from Day One reconciling this fact and the implications it brings, especially in light the of horrors of Slavery and near genocide of the Native American Indians. In the years since, many steps have been taken to address both these "birth defects" of the USA, but the residue of these markers still remain, and manifest themselves from time to time.

I think it's safe to say that if there are two "Interracial" Signs of the Zodiac, Sagittarius and Aquarius would have to be it, and the USA chart is strong in both, with its Sagittarian Asc and Aquarian Moon in the 3rd House of National Mindset. Of course, we have to include the 9th House, where Neptune is placed, and here, along with the Moon VOC ruling the 8th House of National Scandals & Legacies, is where we see, lt least in part, the nation's hard time dealing with racial matters in general.

Additionally, we see in the 8th the presence of Mercury in Cancer, which is also Rx, and in opposition to Pluto in the 2nd House of National Values, who also happens to be Rx. Two planets in opposition and also Rx is a rather rare occurance; it suggests that both planets are operating on "two tracks" if you will - one, more known to the public, and the other, below the radar screen; in this case, all of this relates to the American mindset, way of thinking, way of seeing the world, itself, and communicatng all of this. It suggests saying one thing while actually thinking another; of intending one thing, but suggesting something else. Of course, the USA's chart is based on the Delcaration of Independence, a document declaring the intention of the original colonies to seceed from the British Crown, and set about making laws for and among themselves. In its orginal form (and the documents to follow, such as the US Constitution), only White male landowners were considered worthy of inclusion into the new American Club - and, as we all know, those of African descent were specifically kept out, deemed literally, three-fifths of a Human Being, to give Southern Slavers more clout at the ballot box.

Since the time of its founding, the USA has had a Civil War to end Slavery, Amendments added to the Constitution to address and protect African Americans, and additional moves made to end Jim Crow; legally speaking, the question of Racism has been answered. But, as the Richards incident clearly shows, this issue is something much more than a matter of legality; it goes right to the core of the USA's national psyche, and harkens back to Martin Luther King's plea, to "Save the Soul of America".

Recently, on the Pan Astrological Forum, while on another yet related topic, my colleague and good friend Sam Reynolds, a formidable astrologer and keen logician, made a powerful point about the USA's involvement in Iraq - he suggested that perhaps the real reason why we were there was because we as a nation had to satiate our collective bloodlust in the wake of Sep 11 - we did Iraq, because we could. I later pointed out to him and those reading along, that not only was he right, but that other prominent writers and thinkers, like Tom Friedman of the New York Times, said basically the same thing.

I'd like to suggest a similar explanation, albeit a potentially explosive and unpopular one, as to why the word Nigger stays with us in the American Lexicon, as we move into the 21st Century - its because we want it to. We NEED it to. While the word has been a staple among Black comedians and Hip Hoppers in more recent years, in truth "Nigger" has always been with us no matter who said it. In fact, it is perhaps the only slur or epithet to have morphed into several variations on a theme down through the centuries: Nigga, Niggaz, Nigras, and so on; and then there are "Wiggers", that is to say, urban Whites who affect Black urban codes and conduct; "Sand Niggers", meaning a racial and ethnic slur on those of Arab descent; "Nigger Lovers", which is to mean Whites who are friendly or in some other way close to American Blacks; the phrase "Nigger Rich" suggests a variation on the Noveau Riche theme, American Blacks coming into large sums of money for the first time; famed photo journalist Gordon Parks wrote a book called Nigger; Gangsta Rap began with the emergence of the Compton-based Niggas With Attitudes, and so on.

Simply put, Race - and by this I mean, specifically, the struggle to reconile our White and Black halves - are something more than just a psychic, or moral, or legal, or for that matter, astrological thing - it's something that is hardwired into our collective body-political DNA. It is who and what we are, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The recent moves by Jesse Jackson and others to get Black folks at all levels of the social ladder to end the use of the word Nigger is most likely to fail, because they fail to grasp its essential meaning in the American historical context. We astrologers who study Mundane astrology, particularly as it relates to the USA, understands well the American NEED for competition, both externally against other nations, and perhaps more importantly, among ourselves. "Nigger", historically, meant that no one could fall as far, go as low as those who were deemed from the start losers in the Great American Skin Game. This is why, in times gone by, and even today, if the Richards incident is any indication, that a White person at the bottom of the ladder was still better off than a Nigger - and, like Richards, who was under duress, that night at a comedy club, such a person can resort to the Nigger Defense as a way to find solace that their fall from the higher rungs of the social ladder contains within it a consolation prize - they ain't Black. And far from the notion that Blacks themselves use the term as one of endearment, upon a closer listening, it's meant and used as anything but; Chris Rock perhaps summed it up best when he said that he loved Black people but hated Niggas. He was talking about the losers of American life, who happened to be Black. Perhaps even more to the point, on this score, Rock also said that White folks wouldn't want to trade places with him, and he's rich! He was simply saying that all Americans, no matter what their color, no matter what their origin, knew very well - that to be Black, even today, means to be up against it, so to speak.

I find it fitting that this national discussion, such as it is, was sparked as the result of a comedy club standup act gone wrong involving a once popular TV star who is now at best a has-been; Comedy, as we all know, is a psychologically saavy way for Human Beings to look at both themselves and the world around them in ways that we never could in the "straight" world. It is perhaps the last holdout on the landscape of Political Correctness, where characters like Archie Bunker or Fred Sanford couldn't exist - and if Borat is any indication, Candid Camera, Borat's progenitor of sorts, would've been toast as well. Perhaps this whole thing is a collective signal that we might need to prune back the PC Movement just a little, if for no other reason than its potentially pernicious tendancy to push underground those parts of ourselves we don't like - and we all know what happens when such a thing occurs. Like Jung said, any part of ourselves that we try to hide or supress, has to emerge somewhere in our world, somehow. The Richards incident, I suggest, is a textbook example of the Collective Unconscious' struggle in this regard.

Going back to the astrology of the Richards incident itself, we have to note that transit Uranus was squaring the USA Asc - a shakeup to the American body politic indeed - while a month before, SA Uranus=Pluto, yet another signal of turmoil, upheaval, "a whole lotta shakin' goin' on". Of course, this applies to the recent 2006 Midterm Elections where the GOP were turned out of Office, but it also applies, I think, to both the Richards incident, as well as the other incidents of Racial import following on its coattails - the OJ Simpson reemergence, the Jamaica Queens shooting, yet another Rodney King style police beating caught on camera phone out in L.A., and so on. Seen in this way, these "eruptions" are hardly an accident (especially when you consider the astrology extant at the time of major racial and social upheaval in American history - Uranus and/or Pluto are always present in the astro-measurements. Hmm...). Whether Richards himself is actually a racist isn't the question to me, as his outburst is only a part of that collective body-political reality of Race and what it means throughout American history - and that such an outburst can happen almost at any time, just lying beneath the surface, almost fighting to get out (remember that line in "Full Metal Jacket"?).

But what is conspicuous in its absence, even now, especially now, is the collective silence in the astrological community on these and related matters. I've written a bit about this tendancy in the past, and it seems, that I might need to write a bit more, especially as it relates to my contemporaries in the field, the 20, 30 and early 40 somethings who aspire to be the next generation in Astrology. It would be a very unwise move on their part to ape their Baby Boomer counterparts, and pretend that such things don't matter in astrological considerations, only "spiritual ones" do. As we all see with regard to the "Clash of Civilizations" and the Islamic World, such things DO matter, and we astrologers had better get with the program, quick - or, once again, we risk falling behind the curve, yet again, being relegated to the back of the closet where the weirdos of Society reside.



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