Tuesday, September 27, 2011

These children that you spit on As they try to change their worlds...

There are always going to be conservatives - those who, by definition, believe that society is working just fine, that we should not struggle so hard for new things. New developments, they argue, may be at odds with the natural and right order of the world*, or they may be good things that will come about in their due time if we only wait for the good timing of the good people running the town.

'P1190968' photo (c) 2011, peter - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Of course nothing is perfect, they reassure us. So when we replace one system, we'll just get another imperfect one to replace it and we'll have to ask, why oh why did we ever waste so much time and energy? Because, rest assured, that system will be just as bad as - if not worse than - the one that it replaced.

It is understandable that the rich and powerful beat this drum. It is their livelihood that is in danger if the world were to turn upside down and every person demanded what was theirs to have. The only reason it's unsurprising that women and minorities and working class white males add their gongs and timpanies and harps and bongos and shakers and tom-toms and djembes and horns and keys and cymbals and whistles and chimes and congas to the deafening cacophony is because history has shown this to be the case time and again. The house slave is elevated above the field slave for the master's own manipulative purposes. The white sharecroppers often side with the white shareholders, not just because of their shared skin color (which is a component), but also because they are afraid of losing what little they have, not to mention losing the remote possibility that they may one day be rewarded for playing according to the rules and see a plentiful harvest in their days.

It all reminds me of teaching in the public schools. I wasn't the best. I wasn't anywhere near what I wanted to be as a classroom manager. A few managed to do all right, though. Some of my colleagues managed to excel. But at a great price. The odds were stacked against our students and they knew it. Whereas white kids in the burbs had a pretty good idea of the options in front of them, most of our Latino and African American students did not see a correlation between what we were offering in the classroom and what few options the world offered them after they left campus - whether for the day or for good.

Largely as a result of this disconnect, I think, and as a growing disconnect between the black young male and his environment (wherein many of the older would-be role models are incarcerated) male black students almost routinely envision themselves as pro-basketball stars. Against impossible odds, this is where they hope to be. The ONLY place they can see themselves. The very system comprised of systemically isolated and ostracized individuals within larger, but forcibly broken communities - made of impoverished youth and women, imprisoned and blackballed men, and a tiny sliver of very wealthy athletes playing for even wealthier white men - this system should not be questioned because it means the end of an impossible dream.

This dream will only be realized for 1 out of every 1,000 of those who are enthralled in it. For the other 99.9%, they are simply victims in its horrible wake.

As odd as it may be for the police state apologists to recognize thus, however, they are in a similar, fantastic and fatalistic predicament.

*c.f., Slavery, Apartheid, Jim Crow, the need for universal health care

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