Bury It and Rise Above: Chvrches’ “Bury It” Video, Kishotenketsu, and Race

Chvrches’ Bury It video is a great example of something called Kishotenketsu, which I talked about last week. 

Here’s a refresher: kishotenketsu is a mostly Japanese story structure that doesn’t rely on conflict to creat interest. It has four acts:

Ki – Introduction

Sho – Development

Ten – Twist

Ketsu – Conclusion 

Ki – the three young people (animated versions of the band Chvrches: Lauren, Iain, and Martin) are standing on a rooftop looking at a pile of random-looking items they’ve gathered. Lauren raises her hands and concentrates.

Sho – Lauren lifts some of the items telekinetically, holding several up at once. Iain and Martin join in, making individual items spin or lift.

Ten – (animated version of) Haley appears on a nearby rooftop. Random items float up in front of her, forming floating stepping stones, and she walks across the gap between the buildings. She then shows Lauren, Iain, and Martin just how much can be done with their power, including encasing herself in a ball of light and flying.

Ketsu – Lauren, Iain, and Martin join her, and they fly through the city together, happily, fully, embracing their abilities/creativity/identities.

There’s no conflict in the video, although when Haley first appears, she’s introduced the way enemies often are in comics and animation. Animated Iain almost falls when he tries to fly, then catches himself and flies off to join the others, but nobody sabotaged him, and it was a moment, not the main plot of the story.

I believe the story in the “Bury It” video closely follows the kishotenketsu form, whether anybody on the creative team intended it to or not.

There’s one more thing I love about this video: the parent carrying a baby, who was endangered by Iain’s near-fall was a black father. In the past, that would have universally been a white mother.

Black men haven’t been seen as parental in popular culture until recently. Neither were white men, but it was far worse with black men. Little things add up, and every subversion of the “savage black man” and “not a father” stereotypes (invented to justify slavery in the Americas and conquest in Africa) is a good thing, in my mind.

Did I mention I love this video?

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Protesters in Charlotte Hugged the Soldiers Sent to Suppress Them

As I watch MSNBC’s coverage of the Charlotte, NC protests, I see protesters hugging the heavily armed and armored National Guardsmen who had been brought in to push them of the streets in half an hour when the curfew starts. 

I am amazed. 

When Jesus said to bless those who curse you … this must be what he meant. 

Something went wrong the prior night, and violence broke out. The protesters made sure that didn’t happen again.  It was clear the police didn’t have enough people’s to control the protests, but the protestors controlled themselves. 

The national Guard was called in to enforce the mayor’s curfew. 

They came in Humvees, wearing heavy armor and carrying assault rifles straight out of Iraq.

And the protesters responded with hugs. 

These protesters are so much better than I am, and so much better than the people they’re proposing against. 

All I can do is speak out where I can,  and pray for them.

Meat-Free Monday: Round Two Quinoa and Black Bean Burgers

Katherine made these yummy burgers from leftover quinoa,  and I can’t wait until we have them again. 

Ingredients: 

  • Canned black beans, rinsed
  • Slightly less quinoa than beans (3/4th the amount, roughly)
  • Teriyaki, for consistency and flavor.

Smoosh the beans and quinoa together thoroughly, adding teriyaki as needed.

Form into BIG patties and cook in a pan coated lightly in olive oil. Cook about 10 minutes on medium heat, flipping about halfway through.

These have a moist, soft consistency, a subtle quinoa flavor, and lot of heft. As big and hungry as I am, I could never eat more than one at a meal.

They taste great with flavorful sauces, sweet and spicy pickles, crisp lettuce and onion, ore whatever you like on your burger. 

Meat-Free Monday Recipe: Black Beans and Salsa, the Universal Building Blocks

Here’s what you  do: 

  1. Rinse three cans of black beans.
  2. Place in a nonstick skillet 
  3. Add three cups salsa or private
  4. Cook  on medium heat  (a low, slow bubble) 15 minutes or until thickened

So, why should you do this?

It gives you the core entree for several simple yet tasty meals, with minimal effort.

Black beans and rice 

Black bean burritos (with or without rice, veggies, or guac)

Cheeseless quesadillas (grilled and pressed in a skillet, but with no cheese. These beans are moist enough to hold it all together)

And when you’re tired of beans and salsa, you can turn the leftovers into black bean burgers.

What’s not to love?

Black and White

Becoming vegan was surprisingly easy. It was definitely low-risk.
Not like protesting in the streets.
It’s not going to get me fired, arrested, or shot
(Although as a 41 year old white man, that last one is pretty unlikely)

And I don’t know what to do about that.
I’m not willing to get fired, arrested, or shot.
(However unlikely that last one is)
I have a daughter to protect and provide for.
I have a wife I don’t want to leave.
And honestly, I don’t want to suffer.

So what can I do? What will I do?

We don’t live in a just world. Let’s put aside the shades of gray for just a minute and try to see the world in black and white:

Black people are far more likely to be arrested and incarcerated for selling drugs, even though white people are more likely to actually sell drugs

Black people are incarcerated at six times the rate of white people

Black college students have the same rate of getting jobs as white high-school dropouts.

Black men with no criminal records have the same rate of getting hired as white men fresh out of prison. It seems people expect black men to have criminal backgrounds.

Black people have been killed by police at over twice the rate of white people in 2015 and 2016 so far.
12% of the US Population, but 27% of the dead
306 out of 1146 killed in 2015
136 out of 561 killed in 2016
That’s almost a hundred people of all races, and 25 black people a month.
That’s almost three people a day, with a black person being killed almost every day.

If you’re wondering why your Facebook feed won’t stop blowing up with videos and reports of black men being shot down, it’s because it’s happening almost every day.

Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were just two more in a long list of black lives cut down violently.

…Now, back to the shades of gray …

I’m still not willing to get fired, arrested, or shot.
But I’m willing to put my voice out there.
I’m willing to keep talking and writing about it
I’m willing to sign petitions
I’m willing to write to my various elected officials
I’m willing to consider this the most pressing issue our country is facing, and vote accordingly (even if I’m voting for someone I otherwise don’t like)

I’m willing to LISTEN to people who have LIVED this experience
I’m willing to admit that I’ll only ever know ABOUT these things, that I won’t ever KNOW them.

I’m willing to admit that I DON’T and CAN’T have the answers to these ongoing atrocities, and to LISTEN to black voices as they speak up:

  • Campaign Zero has outlined extensive, comprehensive solutions that address the problems of police militarization, community distrust, and disproportionate impact on the black community from a number of angles.
  • The black police union in St. Louis have started something powerful. They’ve released a 112 page report of what’s wrong with their department, and they’re calling on their chief to quit. This is a radical and almost unprecedented action, breaking the “blue wall” that shelters violent police officers and penalizes police who speak out. If other police groups join in, this could be the start of real and lasting change.
  • Also, be sure to pray for Officer Nakia Jones, who just called out the police responsible for Alton Sterling’s shooting. Pray that she isn’t harassed, doxxed, fired, assaulted, or worse.

I’m willing to admit how privileged I am to be in a position where I can choose to play it safe, and admit that it’s because I’m white.

I’m willing to say “Black Lives Matter.”

Because black people aren’t safe. And too many people treat them like they don’t matter.

And I’m willing to say their names, or at least a few of their names:
Alton Sterling
Philando Castile
Eric Garner
Sandra Bland
Tamir Rice
John Crawford III
Freddie Gray

And hundreds more.

Twelve Word Lagniappe: Black Rice

640px-Blackricecooked CC by ElinorD

Picture by ElinorD, Creative Commons

Heartier, tastier, and healthier than brown rice, it makes incomparable stir-fries.

I tried black rice for the first time this week. Katherine cooked it with some sugar snap peas, broccoli, and English peas in a stir fry with a simple soy and teriyaki sauce. I wished I’d taken a picture. Green vegetables swam in a mountain of purple-black grains like little Scrooge McDucks.

(Exactly like that, including the striped onesie)

Yum! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

In addition to literally being the best tasting rice I’ve ever put in my mouth, black rice is one of the healthiest. Studies at LSU found that black rice is comparable to blueberries in its antioxidant content (that’s what gives it the purplish black color). It has a low glycemic index and has tons of protein.

And I didn’t have to seek out a specialty store and spend big bucks on it, either. I found it at the Picayune, MS, Wal-Mart, right above the white and brown rice.

I highly recommend you give it a try. Use it anywhere you’d use brown rice. Use it in stir fries or other Asian-inspired cooking. Or just make yourself a bowl and go. You won’t regret it.

Race is a four-letter word (Part Two: A Tale of Two Wal-Marts)

The whole country’s been talking about race lately, and I think we all know why. I’m certainly not immune to this myself.

Like most Americans (at least those of us in the “flyover states”), I simultaneously loathe and frequent Wal-Mart. I hate the ugly, run-down stores. I hate that the employees are underpaid and undertrained … and, as such, are generally very little help. I hate that the corporate ethics are more Machiavelli than Jesus.

But we have just sacrificed a large portion of our income so that the wifie can stay home with our little one, and that means we have to tighten our belts. I’m now in the same boat as the majority of Mississippians: I lack the economic privilege to get snippy about shopping at Wal-Mart.

I live within easy driving distance from two Wal-Marts, which I’ll refer to as “Highway 98” and “Highway 49.” For some reason, I usually prefer to go to Highway 98. I never gave much thought to “why.”

I was getting my list together to go to Wal-Mart the other day, and my first instinct was to go to Highway 98, even though it was farther away. Even though it didn’t carry some of the rarer items I like (KerryGold free-range cheese and butter, for example) that Highway 49 does.

And it occurred to me that maybe this was a matter of race. You see, the Wal-Mart on Highway 98 is a little newer than the one on Highway 49, but it isn’t really cleaner. It doesn’t have better selection. It’s not closer. But it is “whiter.”

Don’t get me wrong: in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, you’re not going to find any all-white or all-black establishments, other than a few barber shops (except for churches. But that’s a rant for another post).

But different parts of town and different stores have different apparent ratios, different unspoken “feels.” I think that’s the case with almost every town in America.

And I have to wonder if that’s part of the equation.

So what do I do? I don’t know if this is ideal, but I decided I wouldn’t darken the door of the Highway 98 Wal-Mart unless I was already out that way (it’s near Sam’s and Target and such) or I was after something Highway 49 didn’t have in stock.

Highway 49 is my Wal-Mart. Whatever reason I had for wanting to go to Highway 98, I won’t be acting on it.

I’ll always be white, and I’ll always have a white American’s viewpoint. I’m not ashamed of my race or ethnicity, but I will not insulate myself from people of other races or ethnicities.

It’s a small thing, really, the choice of which store to shop at. But maybe it’s a start.