Saturday, May 13, 2006

When Ignorance is in Session, So is Self-Hate

This Article was written as an attack on the youth at the school I teach in and below is my response...

This is just another excuse to victim blame and criminalize youth. Of course the media will always pull the "pull the race card" phrase, clearly illustrating the fact that it is harder for some to accept the reality of institutionalized racism being alive and well, even by those affected by its internalizing factor, such as the black reporter himself. Colonization has run so deep as to cause us to alienate our own children, which is why they retaliate, even in ways that are self-destructive, only because the cause of their alienation seems to manifest itself everywhere and in everything. Many choose to blame our youth and look over the fact that youth of color are denied almost all the choices they have rights to (jobs, education, adequate health care, safe homes, justice) and are only perpetually left with means to live that continue to place them in stereotypes, these are not choices, these are tools of oppression.
It is easier to run away into the Oakland hills and pretend the problem is not there, that is the American Way. Make it to the top, and fuck the rest. The result as we see here is not only that we begin to turn against each other (divide and conquer) but that the problem continues to exist, and instead of healing the situation, healing those surviving in a world that continues to demonize them, instead those who have "made it out" adopt the oppressor's role and take steps to further stay in denial of the issue and push them along the sidelines. The mentality adopted becomes "they are not my problem" and so our youth are expected to either rot in jails, mental institutions, or "find some trouble" in the ghetto "but not in my neighborhood." Is it not true that these young people are the shapers of our futures? To not invest in them, is to not invest in our own futures. And so investing in our youth is an act of self-love, and those of us who criminalize and demonize our youth must stop to think what are the factors that have caused us to internalize self-hate. How is it that having a school open up in your neighborhood is viewed as an undesirable act? How is it that a school brings "trouble" and not assets for the residents themselves? The failure is to see that the "trouble" stems from the neglect of our youth's lives, not the institution that attempts to work with our youth and their families to work against the real problem. Our youth have seen young family members pass away, have been born into poverty, have been born into economically neglected neighborhoods, have been born into a state of violence, a war directed against them by the very institutions that claim to defend equality for all, and yet we are not all given those equal opportunities from the moment we come into this world, this battlefeild. But even in the midst of this war I've seen our youth find ways to cultivate love and hope, something most adults have difficulty identifying today within themselves. In a society that teaches them self-hate, they have found it in themselves to resist by becomming active in their own education and the education of others. I have seen them plan and talk about the future well-being of their people, the least they need is for their own people to turn their backs on them and give them one more reason to turn backs on themselves. If our young generation have turned their backs on themselves we can blame the oppressor, those who control resources, but we must also remember that the blame is to be put on ourselves as well, for not taking action to truely and genuinly understand the severity of their anger and the strength of their love, so that we may be better positioned to ourselves become assets to our own communities and agents of change.

14 comments:

with my nappy headed ass said...

I fall in line with you, honestly. This is what I feel, I feel that people put our youth down as they struggle to deal with more and more and are handed less and less in the way of education. What are they supposed to do when no one believes in them? When even their elders are spitting the rhetoric that the people who hate them spit?

They always find new ways. Every last one of my little cousins (9) wants to go to college and I hope that they are all able to make it, because the odds are against them and even people in our own communities have given up on them.

drydock said...

Bullshit. Violence is way out of control in Oakland. The fact some neighbors what some action on this issue, like the other 90% of Oakland, they get greeted with race-baiting by this ding-a-ling principal. The guy should be immediately fired for lacking the necessary leadership in addressing the number one issue facing Oakland right now, which is the out of control violence, and particularly young people's role in it. Equally dingy is the idea that the majority of people of color who want more done on the violence issue are sufferering from "internalized racism".

For the one or two people who might read this and not know about the situation in Oakland, we are on almost record setting homicide clip this year.

But let me make it personal, in the last year---

I personally know:
1. A co-worker who was shot
2. A guy who was beaten so bad that he was in a coma for months and is now permanently disabled.
3. I had a friend beaten by a group of teenagers.
4. I witnessed a mugging of an immigrant mother be some teenagers
5. I witnessed 2 other violent fights/assaults.
6. I know of several other victims of violent assaults, including a co-worker who was put in the hospitol with fucked up body parts.
7. I had an attempted assault on myself by a teenager.
8. And I know several other second hand stories about violence from friends and aquantices

Blaming the media is more bullshit. The violence is real. The media may sensationalize it, but the violence is still happening to real people.

Tigera Consciente said...
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Tigera Consciente said...

Ok, this time without the typos (hehe)...
Violence among our folx IS real. But the ways in which the media and mainstream institutions expect us to response to that violence has done nothing to solve the problem of violence. Closing down a school would only take away one of the much needed resources for our young folx. While many of us have witnessed, experienced, known close ones who have experienced violence, there are not many people who are doing the work to contribute to solving the issue of violence and those underlying causes that incite that violence. Criminalization has never proven effective. Statistics show that the institution of the death penalty, along with other measures that enforce laws (three strikes for example) have done nothing to decrease the level of violence in any city and in some cases has increased the number of violent offenders. But this is how the media, and those who think along the lines of mainstream institutions, want us to respond to violence: lock them up, or make it easy for them to get locked up by marginalizing them. The only thing that statistically has proven to decrease the number of violence is to offer adequate employment opportunities. Regardless of the fact that the U.S. is a first world country with top CEO's that earn as much as $280 million, Wall street and Corporate Amerika will not employ all of its citizens due to fear of inflation. Priority has always been about wealth, capital accumilation, and like I said "fuck the rest". So we are left to scrounge around for minute resources and tiny crumbs being thrown at us.. often to the point where we will become violent against each other to get our hands on those crumbs. Criminalization only individualizes the problem and ignores the societal and institutional issues that give rise to the problem. It does nothing to solve the problem and only supports the prison industrial complex for the profit of few and at the expense of tax dollars. Our prison system is the MOST populated in the WORLD... even China!
While it would not be wrong to cast blame on the media for suggesting solutions that don't work and while it would not be wrong to also cast blame on corporate amerika and the government for perpetuating, contributing, and systematically instituting the framework for the marginalization of our youth and people of color, I am not suggesting that we ask them to provide the solutions. That woud not make sense being that they gain from the problem and institute the measures that create the problem.
I am not suggesting that we ignore the issue of violence either, but find a different way of approaching the situation. Also, we are talking about our youth here.. The phrase "it takes a village to raise a child" is very much true. A village can also destroy its children by marginalizing them, criminalizing them, and neglecting their rights to adequate education, health, and justice. So I am suggesting that we educate ourselves about the real underlying causes of our situation. Drylock, if you are pist off enough to want to find a solution to the issues of violence and poverty (as I am) I would invite you to pick up on some of the learning resources we are in the process of creating at our "Radical Women of Color Think Tank" (link to the right on my blog page). You are welcome to come in and explore different perspectives on how to understand and respond to the issue of violence and poverty, violence, and the marginalization of people of color. There are already some books listed there that I would reccomend you to look through. Instead of depending on the very institutions that perpetuate the problem, I suggest we act as autonomous communities to respond to the issues with real solutions and with the intent to question the legitimacy of these mainstream institutions along with the U.S. itself.

Tigera Consciente said...

Oh, and nappy.. because you love your cousins so much, I'm sure you will do everything in your power to defend them and blast off anything that stands in the way of them making it to college so in the future that can "stick it to the 'man'!" They need folks who will care enough to take the risks necessary to beat those odds, feel me?

drydock said...

Thanks for the reasonable response to my post-- I appreciate it. I care about Oakland and its people and would like to see solutions to its problems and people reach their potential. I'll also look at the resources you mentioned.

I agree with a lot of what you said. I too, oppose three strikes, the death penalty, and in general cops/prisons as solutions. I think jobs and implementing alternative strategies to the whole drug war thing would help a lot.

However let me say two points I didn't like.

1. People in Oakland are tired of the violence, myself included. The fact that some neighbors are pissed off is legitimate, though their solutions maybe myopic. I find a lot of lefty rhetoric particularly around race is fairly poisonous to finding some progressive (vs punitive)solutions such as the principal dimissing them as racists. Solutions demand some leadership and like you alluded to, very few people seem to be offering much of anything.

2. The kids have agency. They can make the choice to not engage in violence. We should expect and demand that of them.

PS I'm glad a caring person such as yourself is involved in education.

skyscraper said...
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skyscraper said...

thank you for this brilliant and passionate analysis. i too get very frustrated that the society is so lackadaisical about changing the real roots of the situation of poverty, crime and marginalization and that those who have the power to change things around, simply choose to escape these fundamental problems of the power structures and societal ills by shutting their eyes on them and moving 'to the hills'.

that's why it's so hard to hope for revolutionary success of the struggles of the oppressed - because our own people 'who have made it' betray us in large, unvelievable numbers. i despise such people even more than the white supremacy itself, for their complacency and complicity with the oppressor.

"To not invest in them, is to not invest in our own futures." - oh, but 'they' do invest in their children [white, privileged children, as well as POC privileged children, that is]. in their own children. and ignore the rest. because in their own children only do 'they' see the future. we are not their future. we are the trash and scum of the society that needs to be kept in surveillance, poverty, out of their neighborhoods and politics, in prisons and institutions. because that's the only way for them to 'cope' with the problems brought on by the 'uncivilized' and 'savageous''colored' people. out of sight--out of mind.

and why would we NEED schools and access to education, if we're not capable of ever getting 'civilized' and 'proper', right? why would they invest in schools to educate us? no, instead they'll spend as much money [and even more] on keeping us under the foot of oppression. and in the meantime, the cost of war on iraq has climed up 5 billion within the last month.

FIVE. FUCKING. BILLION. A. MONTH.

let's see: how many schools, libraries, resource centers, healthcare, good food, non-profit community projects could that money have funded????????????

Maxjulian said...

Ya'll said it but just to chime in...

So, folks criticize our youth, want to criminalize them, etc, as if the problem originated with them. Certainly we need to protect ourselves from them crazy niggas, right, but who protects us from the people who created them? The thing that can't be admitted is that our youth are reflections/mirrors of the violence that is done them. Our youth have been created in the image that the society has of them. We have a racist, criminal culture, a criminal government that compulsively murders and maims - physically, emotionally, intellectually - the non-white body. Its insane for anyone to talk about the "realness" of the violence happening in Oakland without first speaking of the violence at the root, branded on all the Oakland's in the US. The resources NOT committed to the schools, the jobs; the capitalist swindle, the inbred selfishness and callousness that allows people to starve and die right next door and is taught side by side with the A,B,C's; the ways in which we are forced to exchange our soul/culture for what's called an "education." This and so much more is the real violence. I'm truly sorry that anyone is harmed by street crime; but that is incredibly random in comparison to the systematic and thus more damaging Nazi-inspired, organized death and destruction heaped on niggas globally that clogs the minds of the Rumsfelds, Roves and Bushs and the people supposedly opposed to them. They'll march ineffectually to stop wars half a world away, but they won't stop the war on us right here.

Tigera Consciente said...

Drydock-I too, oppose three strikes, the death penalty, and in general cops/prisons as solutions I'm glad you recognize how these institutions are put in place to punish and marginalize (rather than look at the situation more holistically and find the root and cause of violence and poverty and eridicate that root). And I'm really glad you're willing to check out some of the resources we're building up (we need this).

I find a lot of lefty rhetoric particularly around race is fairly poisonous to finding some progressive (vs punitive)solutions such as the principal dimissing them as racists. His statement was being directed at the media actually. I think he was trying to criticize them for bringing the media into this, knowing that the media more often than not like you said, sensationalizes, and plays on the stereotypes attributed to black and brown youth. In other words, involving the media does nothing so solve the situation but instead brings in another racist institution in to a problem that is already attributed to racism because of the fact that these youth have been marginalized because of the families and hoods they're been born to.

The kids have agency.
Yes. This is something that alot of social scientists don't get.. that poor people AND youth have a sence of agency! The issue at hand here though also involves the fact that even when youth of color make the descision or feel that they do not want to follow the examples around them, there are usually no outlets or other people with hope who can guide them or give them hope. To many of our students, some of the people in this school are the only ones either expecting more out of them and/or providing the tools to build a clear analysis of the situation at hand. Also cycles are hard to leave. We've been operating for two years and some of our students are still going through the processes of leaving self-destructive cycles, and sometimes that means fucking up again and being held accountable by someone who actually responds. I've seen some students come a long way, and every day for them is a battle. Many of them have switched sides to fight this on the side that's gonna help them win.

Skyscraper-
lackadaisical.. I'm gonna make sure I use this this word on one of my finals ;)
oh, but 'they' do invest in their children [white, privileged children, as well as POC privileged children, that is] Yep.. and the internalized racism aspect of it really pisses me off... I think its poisonous that these privaleged POC don't see other POC youth as their future, knowing the work, sacrifices, and deaths that so many POC before them did to make it possible for them to have the shit that they have.. All to be able to take their shit and fuck the rest.. adopt the Eurocentric ideology of individualism.. I hope THEY decide to join the side that defeats the enemy and not themselves..

Maxjulian-
Certainly we need to protect ourselves from them crazy niggas, right, but who protects us from the people who created them?
I think the people who created them are crazier than the niggas who've gone crazy off this shit! Fuck I'm gettin ready to go crazy maself!
You make some really good points Max. Young gang members often compare the structure of their gangs to the structure of the government. The president, his closer homies he'll trust most (the cabinet) the heirarchical structure of gangs, even voting privileges. Some of them see the U.S. government as the biggest baddest gang and they're right, I mean look at them, the president's got the whole army behind him, a whole country practically sumbitting to every descision he makes (yea.. the system of checks and balances are a joke), AND he's got gangs in otha countries on lock (puppet governments), and they're whole purpose is obviously to accumilate wealth and protect foreign (corporate) interests... hmmm no wonder our youth don't think its such a bad idea to form gangs for the purpose of controlling territory and wealth (drugs.. which the U.S. govt. actually benefits from directly and indirectly) with guns and violence...

Maxjulian said...

TC: Exactly! The US Gov. is THE badass gang that acts like the parent who says, "do as I say, NOT as I do." No, niggas are supposed to quietly submit, get high, Tom, go into the service or go to jail when they bad niggas.

What gangbangers do is exactly what THEY want us to do - go criminal; why you think they never use Co-Intelpro tactics to defeat THEM? They've already converted the jails into Third World profit centers with corporate slave jobs available for pennies on the dollar. Why create real jobs in the community when you're moving the community to the "inside?"

They use these democratic institutions - the Presidency, the Congress, the Judiciary - as illusion, as mystification. We know they don't work; they only work as a magician's tool to fool folks into thinking that through those means we can achieve liberation. It ain't gonna happen. We are gonna do it ourselves, through communicating, organizing, refusing to pay war taxes, bartering, withdrawing our energy, money and spirit from this system more and more.

with my nappy headed ass said...

Great comments from everyone. I really enjoy how you bought the capitalist aspect into it, because a lot of this centers around money. I used to live in the projects and the one thing I noticed about all the thugs was that had they wanted 2 or 3 things which fell in line with money, power, and respect. That's the same thing they promise the President, only these men/boys would never have a chance to be President. So they enact their own governments in their communities.

You cannot flaunt the spoils of capitalism in front of a people who don't have any, and tell them that they just have to wait. Or tell them that earning that money stops at "legalness" or "no blunt force", when it's obvious that it doesn't in the way that our country enacts violence on other people.

skyscraper said...

word, girl!

skyscraper said...

"and the people supposedly opposed to them. They'll march ineffectually to stop wars half a world away, but they won't stop the war on us right here." - truthfully spoken. you're so on point here, maxjulian! this fake-ass, selective, hypocritical caring is just out of control; i wish they didn't even try to pose as ostensible human rights activists at all, at least that would have been honest.