Amadou. Sean. Lovell. Oscar. Aiyana

Photo Courtesy of Thomas Hawk @ Now Public

(Young African American man, hand cuffed in police car, January 2009 after Oscar Grant Murder Protest in Oakland, I wish I knew his name.)

Amadou. Sean. Lovell. Oscar. Aiyana.

Oftentimes, when it comes to personal violence and race and structural violence and race, I turn to other writers, better writers who can capture how I feel.

Baldwin understood? and articulated the purpose of the police, arguably better than anyone else I have read.

This is all I can offer today on the Oscar Grant verdict, protests, looting and subsequent media coverage.

I hope that it helps.

Similarly, the only way to police a ghetto is to be oppressive. None of the Police Comissioner’s men, even the best will in the world, have any way of understanding the lives led by the people they swagger about in twos and threes’ controlling. Their very presence is an insult, and it would be, even if they spent the entire day feeding gumdrops to children. They represent the force of the white world, and what that worlds real intentions are, simply, for that worlds criminal profit and ease, to keep the black man corralled up here, in his place. The badge, the gun, the holster, and the swinging club make vivid what will happen should his rebellion become overt….

…there are few things under heaven, more unnerving than the silent, accumulating contempt and hatred of a people. He moves through Harlem, therefore, like an occupying soldier in a bitterly hostile country; which is precisely what, and where, hie is and is the reason he walks in two’s and three’s. – from Fifth Avenue Uptown

And here is another quote,

The projects in Harlem are hated. They are hated almost as much as policeman, and this is saying a great deal. And they are hated for the same reason: both reveal, unbearably, the real attitude of the white word, no matter how many liberal speeches are made, no matter how many lofty editorials are written, no matter how many civil rights commissions are set up. – from the essay Fifth Avenue Uptown

One one hand a Mehserle verdict was a slap on the wrist. On the other hand, white police, historically, have rarely been charged with? nor found guilty of killing Black people, unarmed or otherwise.

Amadou. Sean. Lovell. Oscar. Aiyana

Baldwin? “They represent the force of the white world.”

Thoughts on the verdict?

*note. it wasn’t until I began to look for photos for this post that I found myself crying inconsolably. It’s a combination of working really hard, lack of sleep and seeing these images of uncut Black rage.? The pictures made it real.? Feelings of survivors guilt. I do my part, and I am grateful for all of the gifts that I have. Looking at these images reminds me that I escaped a real serious East Oakland fate. I am a human being. How could I not feel something. I am from Oakland. How can I not feel something?

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?

When Did Being Smart Become Acting White?


The first thing that struck me when I walked into my
into my
college prep high school was the
smell.
It smelled of new paint, new carpet and
new books.

Books so new that they had never been used yet.

In fact, I stopped by there last August
and it still retained that new school smell. Creepy.

The public middle school that I came from?
There wasn’t anything particularly NEW about it.

The biggest difference between the schools were the money
spent on each student and the students attitudes towards learning.

Regarding the cost difference, the public school was “free”,
but we all know nothing is free. The prep school was $10K/year.

Regarding the students, there was a mixed bag.
Some dudes, came to play, get at girls, and the young ladies did the
same. Others guys came to both learn and socialize as well.
And then there were some known d-boys just passing the day
by until the could grind when the sun went down.

Now that I think about it, it was kind of bugged out to be in
middle school, with cats that were known to sell cracks,
but then again, thats Oakland/Chicago/Philly/Newark/DC….

I thought of this contrast in experience when I read the new
Will Okun post where he discusses being a teacher
and the frustrations that go with the territory
.

Full disclosure. Will reached out this morning and requested
feedback on his post. I started writing an e-mail response
and before I knew it, I realized that it was way too long,
and that it would be a better blog post instead.

He used Dead Prez’s song, “They Schools”, to
illustrate his point.

Will goes on to quote a veteran teacher speaking
on what it feels like to teach middle schoolers.
She states,

?We are not teaching them about their lives or their communities because it is not in the curriculum. Instruction is driven by standardized testing. We are teaching testing, not knowledge. No one hears these kids, nor do we try. There is absolutely no respect for these students. These middle schools are like prisons where the spirits of our children are slowly crushed, and I have been an unwilling participant in the destruction of young lives. Simply being witness and not speaking out daily makes me feel the soulful guilt of a thief,?.

Almost every school that I have been in since high
school has been small-
350 to 450 students.

(In fact, that probably underscores why law school, which
was approximately 1500 people, was so difficult for me).

My experience in small school settings has taught me that
only when the school is small, will the transformative, soul bending
learning that needs to take place, actually occur.

I don’t cosign on the notion that children can’t learn
in environments where there are 1499 other students.

I just know that it is a formidable and damn near impossible.

I also know that publicurbaneducation
isn’t designed to create critical thinkers.

People say, kids need to learn, “In my day…I walked
ten miles…blar, blar blar.” I always respond to those statements
with, “If it were YOUR daughter in that school, what would you do?”

In fact, I have often wondered what schools would
be like if state or federal charters required that teachers and
administrators to live in the cities that they taught? What if
they were required to enroll their children in public school system
in which they worked as well?

Can we say “skin in the game“?

Black teachers and administrators had skin in the game
prior to integration. (The other side of That coin is the seperate
but equal learning
that was taking place, damned if you do…)
I always think of this when people talk about our fear of
being told that we are “acting white” if we are high
achieving. Prior to integration, there was no one saying that
“being smart was acting white”. There were no (or few if
any at all) white students in our schools for us to be compared to.

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Skin in the game and educational systems.

Acting white as a consequence of integration?

Nice combo, eh?

Oh, and I REALLY like the phrase “soul bending learning.”

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M Dot Does Dallas: Birthday Gristle Edition


If you would have told me last year that I would be living in
the Bay
and spending my born day in Dallas, I would have been like,
shut the f- up.

But I am, and its interesting.

The dope thing about coming
home is that you are around people that love
you NO
matter what.
They don’t care about a fancy job,
law degree, your career aspirations. They
just love you on g.p.


They are also obnoxious as SH*T, but hey, thats my fam.

Living in New York, I forgot what that felt like and I was never home long
enough to let those sentiments bubble to the surface.

Last year, Mean Sexy and I had a birthday jump off.
Our birthdays are a day apart.

I drove BL crazy last year. Buying balloons, schlepping Trader Joes
chicken and lemon grass fritters, veggie dumpling hor’d’eroes,

mixing a BIG -SSED Pot of Sangria.

Have you ever tried driving in a car full of balloons? Tons of fun!

Birthday parties are hard work.

And now we are at a new year.

I came to Dallas for this one and its dope.

Its warm, the Barnes and Noble is Big as sh*t and
its my first OU/TEXAS weekend. <<<---I just wanna see the Cowboys. As far as life in general goes, Im in a New/Old City, I got a new gig, and Sweet Jesus appears to be
positioning himself to be filing taxes
with me, lol.

Speaking of men, why your boy the graduate gonna e-mail me
last week talking about “I saw someone last week reminded me of
…..” I just looked that the screen like, you ain’t want me, but you liked
having me around and now you send THIS Messages?
I didn’t respond to his last e-mail in August talking about
“Can I asked what happened?”, so I hope he doesn’t
think that I am going to start doing so now.

My rationale has always been, MUCH to the CHAGRIN of N*ggas
that if you ain’t my DUDE then you can’t expect shit.
CONVERSELY, if I ain’t yours the same applies.
And trust, that led to some VERY disappointing summer holidays
for me.
But, my code was “he ain’t mine” so I had to stand by that,
nah mean?

N*ggas bugg me out with they unsolicited-Asperger-influenced
random-e-mails.

I guess he misses me and that is his way of communicating it.

Men. Go figure.

Back to life changes. In the grand scheme of it all, honestly,
I am just happy to be able to read a West Elm catalog
and go into Ikea without thinking about all the lovely
furniture that I had hobbled together for my BK apartment,
then gave
away when I moved.


I will say what was really helpful was talking to TMR
(the resident Katrinian), my momma, and my aunt about
how they recovered from losing mad sh*t when
they moved or just LEAVING ENTIRE apartments/houses behind.

With regard to the gig, it is with a non-profit, and they want me. So that
feels good. For the record, why do employers think its okay to
treat employees, temp or otherwise like WARM BODIES?


Talk about divesting in your OWN human capital.
CEO’s and Human Resources NEED TEACHIN’.

Any hoo.

After working in the M & A in an investment bank for the first time (for
a VERY short period of time) in my life
I realize that the only way I will thrive in that environment
is if a white
man with authority has a vested interested in my remaining there.
Otherwise, I can see myself- albeit talented, shrewed and hardworking,
getting FROZE the F*CK out.

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What new changes y’all going through?

You watchin’ college ball?

Y’all heard the new 9th Wonder?

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