#MikeBrownNotes :: Closure, Spectacle, And Trust


A tendency to perceive a set of individual elements as
a single, recognizable pattern, rather than multiple,
individual elements. “Universal Principles Of Design,” Written By William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler


What once was the logomark for “OWL’s Asylum” may have looked like two distinct shapes crossed by a third, is really five distinct shapes that play on the perceptions in what is known in gestalt psychology and design theory as closure. Closure references the act of seeing disparate elements as one element although they are, well, not one element. This behavior does not only occur in graphic design, but also in socio-psychological realms. Closure is also what is referred to when discussing the underlying forces that cause us to lean towards uses of stereotype. It also causes us to allow those into our inner circles based on shared superficial qualities.


The spectacle appears at once as society itself, as a part of society and as a means of unification. As a part of society, it is that sector where all attention, all consciousness, converges. Being isolated–and precisely for that reason–this sector is the locus of illusion and false consciousness;the unity it imposes is merely the official language of generalized separation., The Society Of Spectacle by Guy Debord


As my logo is simply a symbol, not the actual writings or the team behind them, nor even the brand, which is simply another form of symbol, so are the symbolic gestures of those that we often trust. The notions of trust, and the symbols we used to convey that sentiment, can often fall into two camps of thought: those that believe that the symbols we use as a standard are confining our behavior, and those that believe that these symbols, our language, as it were, is a living and breathing cultural form.



Organized terror against black Americans(e.g., in the form of actions by the Ku Klux Klan and other antiblack groups) and state-sponsored unequal protections for black Americans by whites (or even by blacks who held a negative view of the value of black life) also signaled how much people inside or outside political institutions could be trusted to act on behalf of blacks’ interests and protection. Even blacks who internalized racism could act in ways that were adverse to black interests (Woodson [1933] 1999). Moreover, blacks who did not challenge their subjugated status in society were referred to as “good,” whereas those who contested their status were referred to as “bad” (Hartman 1997).

Trust In Black America: Race, Discrimination, And Politics By Shayla C. Nunnally


I agree with both major schools of thought with reference to linguistic language construction. On one hand, I do believe that many proponents of a cultural hegemony will work to restrain the thinking of its less empowered members through strictly enforced rules of syntax and denotation. On the other, I believe that culture and language are dynamic and creative elements that are constantly in motion, growing and pushing the boundaries of collective conscious. A Prussian philologist, Wilhelm von Humboldt, is credited with a notion of language being inextricable from an individual’s or their social circle’s worldview. United States’ President Barry Obama reflects this notion while exposing his own worldview with a term he chooses to use in his address at this years Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual Phoenix Awards dinner.


Obama states, and OWL quotes,”In too many communities around the country, a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement. Too many young men of color feel targeted by law enforcement. Guilty of walking Black, driving while Black…”


My initial concern is the use of the term, “mistrust”. Possibly a result yielding from a love of words and years of writing and editing, but my first response was to ask why Daddy Barry decided to use the word “mistrust” as opposed to “distrust”. While there is a “gulf of mistrust”, the locus of control here is not with the “young men of color” or older men of oppressed racial class in this society. It is with the “law enforcement”. There exists a much smaller “gulf of mistrust” in communities outside of the US Black community in the minds and hearts of US “law enforcement”, in fact, I would be willing to wager next week’s entire check on there being many more US Whites that trust and feel a sense of security from US “law enforcement”.


The term “mistrust” implies a condition of suspicion based on assumption as opposed to experience. The US Black community does not have a “gulf of mistrust” existing in their minds with respect to US “law enforcement”, they have a well founded mountain of distrust for US “law enforcement”. The US “law enforcement” has a “gulf of mistrust”, a sense of suspicion based media portrayals as well as a deeply entrenched racial antagonism of a magnitude so large as to earn the labels, “historic” and “systemic”. In the use of the term “mistrust”, Daddy Obama reveals his weltanschauung, his ideological and cultural world view.


It would appear that Daddy Obama, the self-proclaimed “mutt”, believes through this assertion that US Blacks have unfounded fears and suspicions of US “law enforcement”. Maybe y’all’s daddy has forget about Aiyana Jones, that is if he even ever knew about her, since he fails to address any US Black Women in this particular dialog. Perhaps, y’all’s first Black President who is not really a “Black President”–even though the tone of his skin really is the only reason 95% of the voting US Black population supported him at the polls– does not know about Rekia Boyd who was killed by Chicago police in the state that allowed him to become a junior Senator. He simply has to be oblivious to what is going on in his state if he thinks for a second that US Blacks “mistrust” US “law enforcement”. It could have occurred that Barry overlooked the details of Sean Bell’s murder, Oscar Grant’s murder, Amadou Diallo’s murder, or the countless others killed, tortured, and executed as a process of maintaining the racial stratification and socio-political order.


Maybe Obama has decided to put the blood spilled by US “law enforcement” in US Black communities, yet I wonder how he could possibly forget his own Harvard alum, Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr., or could he?

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