Lovelle Mixon x The Wire x Residential Cesspools

Graphic by Kevin Weston and Arturo Tejada.

Below you will find an excerpt to Kevin Weston’s and Aurturo Tejada’s
artist’s statement, titled “Hating Lovelle Loving Obama.” They write,

As artists we were trying to provoke thought and raise questions. Lovelle Mixon is a product of this society, just like our current president….

…People are going to demonize Lovelle Mixon for what he did. In this society?s eyes he was a rapist, a thug, a murderer, a cop killer. He was all of those things.

What Mixon wasn?t, even before he committed these brutal murders, was a human being. No one?and I mean no one?gives a fuck about the Lovelle Mixons of he world. If he died at the hands of another black man (which is the case for most murders of black men) there would have been barely a blip on the radar screen. Because he was a convicted felon?constitutionally he was a slave (read the 14th and 15th amendments carefully).

…The Graphic is intended to raise questions, not answer them.

Below is an excerpt from the transcript
of the above David Simon interview. I have posted
it because I think it is relevant to the this discussion about
East Oakland, Capitalism, rape, Lovelle Mixon and
the post crack urban economy.

DAVID SIMON: Right. You see the equivocations. You see the stuff that doesn’t make it into the civics books. And also you see how interconnected things are. How connected the performance of the school system is to the culture of a corner. Or where parenting comes in. And where the lack of meaningful work in all these things, you know, the decline of industry suddenly interacts with the paucity and sort of fraud of public education in the inner city. Because THE WIRE is not a story about the America, it’s about the America that got left behind.

BILL MOYERS: I was struck by something, I forget where I read it, that you said. You were wrestling with this one big existential question. And you talked about drug addicts who would come out of detox and then try to steel jaw themselves through their neighborhood. And then they’d come face to face with the question, which is?

DAVID SIMON: “What am I doing here? What am I doing here?” You know, all the same problems that a guy coming out of addiction at 30, 35, because it often takes to that age, he often got into addiction with a string of problems, some of which were interpersonal and personal, and some of which were systemic. The fact that these really are the excess people in America, we– our economy doesn’t need them. We don’t need ten or 15 percent of our population. And certainly the ones that are undereducated, that have been ill served by the inner city school system, that have been unprepared for the technocracy of the modern economy. We pretend to need them. We pretend to educate the kids. We pretend that we’re actually including them in the American ideal, but we’re not. And they’re not foolish. They get it.

DAVID SIMON: Again, we would have to ask ourselves a lot of hard questions. The people most affected by this are black and brown and poor. It’s the abandoned inner cores of our urban areas. And we don’t, as we said before, economically, we don’t need those people. The American economy doesn’t need them. So, as long as they stay in their ghettos, and they only kill each other, we’re willing to pay a police presence to keep them out of our America. And to let them fight over scraps, which is what the drug war, effectively, is. I don’t think– since we basically have become a market-based culture and it’s what we know, and it’s what’s led us to this sad, I think we’re going to follow market-based logic, right to the bitter end.

BILL MOYERS: Which says?

DAVID SIMON: If you don’t need ’em, why extend yourself? Why seriously assess what you’re doing to your poorest and most vulnerable citizens? There’s no profit to be had in doing anything other than marginalizing them and discarding them.

When I learned that Lovelle Mixon killed three Oakland
Police Officers,
Sgt. Mark Dunakin, Sgts. Ervin Romans,
and Daniel Sakai, 35, and one John Hege, was on life
support,
I was sitting in the living room, working on a blog post.

I was devastated because I knew that this could conceivably
mean grimier policing in Oakland, California.

To that end reached, I out to a woman that runs an organization
in New York City, that I would like 100 Visionaires to be based on.
She mentioned that she operates without a permanent place, so I took
it upon myself to help her find a permanent location. (Trust
I soon learned that, in order to be helpful, it is important
to
ask folks what they need instead of assuming
.) My heart
was in the right place, my process was a little janky.

Personally, I knew that I had to do something after Oscar
Grant was murdered, after Rihanna Fenty was beaten publicly and
now after Lovelle Mixon killed four police officers
and was murdered himself. Doing something was my only option.
Otherwise I would begin to feel like a victim, and you know that,
God willing, we don’t do that in 2009.

I decided that I was going to try and meet with Bob Kerry,
President of the New School, of which I am an alum, to
see whether he could introduce me to someone in the Bloomberg
administration that could help us secure a permanent location
for the aforementioned non-profit. ( Mind you, this is right before
all the protests started happening, I have a post coming
on The New School student activism later this month).

So I got fresh and dipped and went to the New School, and
who was walking out of the building as I was walking in?
Bob Kerry. I stopped him, and told him what I was interested
in and he told me to make an appointment with his assistant.
I am unsure what, if anything, may come of it, but it felt good
to move from thinking to doing, instead of just complaining
and feeling paralyzed
.

Which brings me back to Lovelle Mixon.
I haven’t said anything about the incident because I was
unsure as to what to say. About a month ago, I did a podcast
with Faith of Acts of Faith blog. Near the very end she
made a comment,
that struck me about the neighborhood
that Lovell Mixon was murdered in, being a residential
cesspool. Now,
I am pretty talkative, but in that moment I was
silent. I knew that I had something, but I wanted to
choose my words carefully because of the nature of the topic.

After the podcast, I watch the Bill Moyers interview with
David Simon, the creator of The Wire. For the record, historically,
I had always thought David Simon was trafficking in Black
death. After seeing this video I realized that Simon may
love the hood as much as I do
. Perhaps what I found to be
more relevant was his critique of capitalism
and the fact that he understood that the dope game was a perverted
capitalist economy (I would argue that the dope game is
capitalism at its core), and that the corner kids in The Wire
don’t believe the hype, they know that based on history,
the American Dream isn’t for them and that the corner is their
destiny. Peep the transcript,

DAVID SIMON: They understand that the only viable economic base in their neighborhoods is this multi-billion drug trade.

BILL MOYERS: I’ve done several documentaries over the last 40 years. The first one I did was about the South Bronx, called “The Fire Next Door.” And what I learned very early is that the drug trade is an inverted form of capitalism.

DAVID SIMON: Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: To pacify these people who don’t have any economic-

DAVID SIMON: Absolutely. In some ways it’s the most destructive form of welfare that we’ve established, which is the illegal drug trade in these neighborhoods. It’s basically like opening up a Beth Steel in the middle of the South Bronx or in West Baltimore and saying, “And you guys are all steel workers.” To just say no? That’s our answer to that? You know, the economic model does not work. And by the way, if it was chewing up white folk, it wouldn’t have gone on for as long as it did.

When I write (most of the time), I don’t write to win, I
write to educate.
I imagine that there is a clear
between the posts that are educational and just some
funny
stuff or personal matters that I want to share.
That being said,
I know how to win arguments, I have
been trained
academically to do so. Consequently,
winning arguments isn’t relevant to me on this site.

What I am interested in is sharing the critique that
I have of the world for the purposes providing
information
that may help work towards a more
just and sustainable
democracy.

With regard to Lovelle Mixon, I had incredibly mixed feelings,
and it makes sense because his case is one in which
class, race, gender, alleged rape, the prison industrial complex
,
and the Oakland police state are all intertwined.

Let me be clear. Victims do not have an excuse to be perpetrators.
Every person is accountable for their own actions AND as a community
we are responsible for one another, especially our most vulnerable.

I will say it again.Victims do not have an excuse to be perpetrators.
Every person is accountable for their own actions AND as a community
we are responsible for one another, especially our most vulnerable.

I was once a little Black girl in East Oakland. I have every interest
in having an alleged rapist investigated, identified, evaluated,
and treated as such.
A person who has raped people is sick
and needs to be treated or locked up and dealt with.

Before he was an alleged rapist he was a human being.
No one was born selling crack, owning slaves, pimping
women or consuming black death as a form of entertainment
.
The young man who told me two Sunday’s ago that he wanted to “stick his
dick in my butt” is a human being as well. He is sick,
and needs to be dealt with, not coddled or ignored. It is a public
health and public safety issue.

That being said, I have been thinking a lot about our
personal, local and global willingness us to see that
we are all responsible for the world that we have.

I have been thinking about the fact that we create the
conditions in our society, that no one magically creates them for us.

I have been thinking about our rugged individualist tendencies
and how these tendencies fail to take into consideration that
we are all connected. Always. (The piece that I am writing about
Hip Hop, Globalization and Sustainability will further underscore
that.)

Human beings cannot live in a residential cesspool.
Sewage is the only thing that dwells in a cesspool
.

Calling a neighborhood a residential cesspool is frankly
the language that an outsider would use.

Calling a neighborhood a residential cesspool
eliminates a neighborhoods past and leaves very little room for
transformation to create another future.

I remember my East Oakland, CA pre and post-crack,
and I remember my family pre and post-crack as well.

Pre-Crack, Oakland was a city in which you could leave
your front door open and go to the grocery store. Folks
would never think of doing that now, it would be down

right stupid because you would get jacked
.

Pre-Crack Oakland has been on my mind recently, as
a month ago, I went to Kalamazoo, Michigan and was enamored
with the fact that it reminded me of pre-crack Oakland.
There was an arts scene, mixed class neighborhoods,
some well off white enclaves, a college area with the
requisite college scene, a bustling downtown that
was pedestrian friendly, Black working
class neighborhoods with owner occupied
homes and some neighborhoods with beat down
housing projects.

This isn’t to say that Oakland doesn’t have this now because it
does, but the post Crack violence residue, the always pending
threat of violence, that crackle in the air wasn’t there
in Kalamazoo. In some ways this the essence of pre-crack
Oakland. However, I was a visitor, and I would imagine that there are
some long time Kalamazoo residents that may disagree with me.

(Kalamazoo also doesn’t have the racial diversity of Oakland which
has a vibrant and visible South East Asian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Latino
communities.)

I wasn’t going to publish this piece. There is SO much going on in it.
But, when Samhita Mukhopadhyay initially posted about Lovelle Mixon
and it didn’t go very well but she turned around and posted again,
and the conversation and comments were inspiring. Based on her
courage, I knew that I had to take that step as well.

I realized that if I took my time, and thought clearly about
my intentions and was open to dialogue it would be fine.

More Reading:
-An Infamous Legend is Born and a Community is Under Seige
by Kevin Westin, New American Media
-Understanding the Dialogue around Lovelle Mixon, by Samhita

Mukhopadhyay
, Feministing
-36 Hours in Oakland NY Times


Why is it so hard to see the humanity in folks
?

What do you think of the Obama inspired image?

Didn’t David Simon drop some joints in that interview?

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Comments

  1. Ahma Daeus says

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    William Thomas
    National Community Outreach Facilitator
    The National Public Service Council To Abolish Private Prisons
    P.O. Box 156423
    San Francisco, California 94115

  2. Model Minority says

    William,

    It would be helpful if you shortened your letter.
    Gave folks 3 or 4 things to do to take action,
    peep change.gov.
    Built an online presence for yourself, even if it is just a blogger blog, for us to be able to refer folks who are interested back to you.

    Thank you for this.

  3. the prisoner's wife says

    it's hard to view the humanity in others because that takes work. it's easier to just put somebody in a box & label them, rather than admitting that OUR COMMUNITIES/COUNTRY/SOCIETY has had a part in shaping that person. we don't want to admit that our system is flawed, and by extension, we are flawed.

  4. M.Dot. says

    we don’t want to admit that our system is flawed, and by extension, we are flawed.
    =====
    Damn. Thats real talk.
    But peep game, if we are flawed, that simply means we are human, and imperfect, no?

  5. the prisoner's wife says

    that’s exactly what it means, but people like to pretend we are something we ain’t.

  6. BeautyinBaltimore says

    I think Simon brought Baltimore to the non black and non poor in a way that others can see it’s more than “it is just how black people are”. If anything, it is more of a seasoning process that produce what we have in Baltimore.

    m. Dot I’m still waiting on the Black Natalie Halloway. When a missing Black girl generates so much attention,love,sympathy and outpouring of support, then will we know that we have arrived.

    The only thing close, was that time a little Black girl was kidnapped by some people thought her family had money. They tied her up in the basesment but the little girl chewed throught the rope, got some kids outside playing to break the window to free her.

    From the way that story was reported, it came across more like,” look at those strong Black women, nothing can hold them back. Even as kids they are as strong and men”. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

  7. Model Minority says

    From the way that story was reported, it came across more like,” look at those strong Black women, nothing can hold them back. Even as kids they are as strong and men”. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

    ====
    I could certainly see that.

    At the end of the day, we arn’t human.
    Either subhuman, or superhuman,
    never just people.

  8. ActsofFaithBlog says

    Well just for the record let me clarify what I mean when I use the term residential cesspool. For those of us who grew up in predominantly African American communities during a certain time, when all the neighbors knew each other and you could pay out on the street and people still looked out for each other, those times are largely gone.

    As a female it had already started to deteriorate b4 crack flooded some of these areas and destroyed families. I remember feeling unsafe to walk down the street in broad daylight after the age of 12 – when puberty hit. It just wasn't being discussed. I wish it had and that people had stepped in because things only got worse.

    If as a female you have to fear for your safety and the safety of your children and the people you are most worried about aside from the racist white boogeyman is another Black person you are not LIVING you are trying to survive despite serious threats.

    This doesn't mean that you or people you know or members of your family may not be good people or living a life of dignity. This doesn't mean that you don't still hold Blacks in high regard.

    It does mean that you may very likely be on your own to fend for yourself. Being working class or poor has NOTHING to do with it either. It's OTHER BLACK PEOPLE WHO DON'T CARE that are the problem.

    Now if THAT isn't a cesspool, I don't know what is. It's the living embodiment of a demonic possession where people are doing the bidding of evil entities. It should be recognized and dealt with. If these people can't be contained then YOU need to GET AWAY from them.

    People with nothing to lose will not value your life or sanity.