Week Twelve Recap
Harlem Hammer Verdict
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A Judge’s Verdict: Mordecai Albert Jones aka Harlem Hammer
I’d be lying if I said I totally regretted letting myself getting talked into doing this. But I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t have any regrets.
In a lot of ways, it was fun. It’s an odd thing for somebody who’s spent his life trying to avoid the spotlight to let himself get recruited to be a judge on a national television show. I was told it would be an opportunity to help young people get a handle on these talents and abilities they had, learn to use them responsibly. That’s an important thing, something worth doing.
I also notice that aspect was pretty distinctly downplayed, if it got played at all. I may be missing something but only little Dragon Huntress seemed to get that part of it, from reading the commentaries. Still, I think we saw it happen. I’m good with that aspect of things.
We didn’t have that much influence over who won what, even though we were called judges. That may not have been such a bad thing. I’ve known Digger Downs for years, and I have to say time’s neither mellowed nor improved him. Seemed to me sometimes he took way too much pleasure in crushing the dreams of young people. Topper’s a nice lady but really did seem to favor the women a bit much in the competition. And I heard a couple of our young male contestants refer to Peregrine as a cougar. Got no idea what’s up with that. Still and all I don’t think our quirks and limitations as judges interfered too badly with anybody’s chances.
Not sure why some of our contestants got picked in the first place. Like that one young woman, Tiffani. Child couldn’t actually do much. I got the feeling one or two got set up just so they could get knocked down.Poor Diver’s ace was just too specialized for the show, though if she went into, like, marine biology or ocean rescue, she’d be a superstar. But then who’d imagine somebody with talents like Gardener’s or Earth Witch’s could actually turn them to advantage? I guess that’s one of the good things about the show, us getting to see how even some seemingly unimpressive abilities could prove to be seriously useful. And of course giving these kids a chance to find out for themselves.
And who’d ever guess that the little girl with the stuffed toys could hang in there so long? But then she had some serious powers. And she also seemed to have a lot on the ball.
I have to admit I was saddened not to see Ms. Mok go all the way. She is an upstanding young woman. She should go far next time. My best wishes go out to her.
As for how it all turned out – well, I have to congratulate Stuntman. He’s a young man with some genuine abilities, some genuine promise. He won fair and square, according to the rules. But I have to say I’m left with a bad feeling in my mouth. My whole life I’ve been against racism, but then I’ve gone and been against black racism as well as white. And folks don’t seem to want to hear that. Stuntman played the race card. I don’t see that’s a good thing. Maybe it was an honest mistake. But I also got to know that other young man, Rustbelt. He may not be the sharpest tool in the chest, but if there’s any malice in him it’s beyond me to see it.
Is always talking about race really doing black people any good? If we still have a problem with racism in this country – and we do, although anybody who says things aren’t a whole lot better than they were twenty, thirty, forty years ago is not telling the truth, whether through ignorance or something worse – doesn’t that maybe mean we don’t want to keep doing the same old things? only harder and costing a whole lot more money? And how does it help to bridge the racial divide if we go bringing race into each and every discussion, anyway?
Way too many people go quoting maybe the single greatest thing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ever said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” And then they turn right around and try to make everything be about skin color? Who does that help?
Actually I have a pretty good idea who it does help. But I’ve shot off my mouth enough. And I don’t want to go offending any of our sponsors or anything.
And while I’m busy making right-thinking folks everywhere mad at me. I’m not going to join the chorus of approval about this whole Egypt thing, either. We’re told these ace kids are going to fight some atrocities; they’re told that too. I surely don’t blame them for their idealism and enthusiasm. But maybe they should look a little deeper than just the emotions whipped up by the media and the politicians. Isn’t that part of using their power responsibly? Because what it looks to me like we really got is Westerners going over to beat some more dark-skinned Third World people – for their own good, of course. Maybe they’ll save some innocent people from getting hurt. That’s good. How many innocents are going to get hurt, though, as a result of their actions? So to those kids over there, I got to say: along with asking yourselves if maybe what you’re really doing is help exploit Third World people, maybe you might also ask, are you letting yourselves be exploited, too?
Of course, I don’t worry anybody’ll pay attention to anything I say. I doubt they’ll even bother to censor this or refuse to broadcast it. I’m just a crazy old black dude who won’t get with the program. Dissent’s freely allowed in this country – so long as you go along with the ninety, ninety-five percent where the supposedly opposing factions totally agree with each other.
Like I say, there’s reasons I’ve tried to stay out of the spotlight.
But like I also said, being with the show’s had its rewards. Made some good new friends. Seen some good kids get some kind of start in leading responsible, useful, rewarding lives. And maybe helped people see those of us who’re touched with the wild cards as real people and not just as freaks because yes, that kind of bigotry still goes on, too. Sure, in the course of the show you’ve seen a lot of us aces and jokers acting venal or back-stabbing or self-centered or just being fools. Just like you and your mom and sister and everybody else.
Meanwhile, it’s gonna be a real relief to me to get back to Harlem and the shop, and not have to address problems much weightier than Lefty forgetting to order in more motor oil, or Muhammad forgetting to clean his tools before putting them back in the chest.
Hope y’all enjoyed the show. And I hope some good comes of it for everybody concerned.