Friday, September 23, 2005

Because it is the Image of ourselves that we strive for, the rea lity comes second

This is an excerpt from Kozol's website where he talks about the outdated texts in the schools he had to teach in.  He brings up the point that this shows just how unequal the schools really were because, as he points out in the end, if schools were equal, wouldn't black have been beautiful.  But I take it in a different way;  Some of the most long lasting ideas that we have about ourselves are formed in school and molded by the opinions of the people we respect and encounter along the way such as parents, teachers and fellow students and peers.  By giving so many black kids such negative images of themselves, many are taught that the best they can ever hope for is being as bad as the expectations around them.  How do you fight back and survive when everything is arrayed against you, INCLUDING YOUR OWN SELF IMAGE?  You dont.  You cant.  Some do, and they are extraordinary people.  Imagine what they could have achieved if they had not needed to fight so hard to think of themselves as normal.
Kozol taught in a classroom in 1965 with textbooks so old that the newest one had been printed in the early 1950s. Often there were not enough to go around. They were filled with out of date facts, theories, and descriptions. One geography book had this description of Africans: "The black people who live on this great continent of Africa were afraid of the first white men who came to explore their land. They ran and hid from them in the dark jungle. They shot poisoned arrows from behind the thick bushes. They were savage and uncivilized."

The description continues with: "Yumbu and Minko are a black boy and a black girl who live in this jungle village. Their skins are of so dark a brown color that they look almost black. Their noses are large and flat. Their lips are thick. Their eyes are black and shining, and their hair is so curly that it seems like wool. THEY ARE NEGROES AND THEY BELONG TO THE BLACK RACE."

It is obvious from these two passages that the author looks down on Africans. Yet this book was once standard issue in the Boston Public Schools. This is not allowing everyone a fair chance. This is subjugating the African-American students before they are even old enough to think for themselves. The system breeds discrimination. If African-American children were given an equal chance, Kozol argues, then why wouldn't black be beautiful?


And the disease still spreads...

I cannot Stress how near and dear to my heart this is.  If you are in the struggle, let me know.  If you know how to get involved, pass it on.  This is a passage from the interview of Jonathan Kozol, Author of The Shame of a Nation.  It's all right there...I added the Emphasis.
Everyone who has read the book has said that is the story that made them cry. Mireya wanted to go to Boston University. She was eloquent, and her teachers said she was perfectly capable of going to a first-rate university. She said the school had made her take sewing the previous year, and when I spoke with her, they were going to make her take hairdressing. This was a school of 5,000 kids in South Central Los Angeles, with hardly a white kid in the school. Now, it turns out hairdressing and sewing weren't exactly required, but that students were expected to take two classes in what were called "the technical arts." But whereas at Beverly Hills High School that requirement could be filled by taking a class in residential architecture, computer graphics or broadcast journalism - things that perhaps have some relevance to college preparation. At Freemont the choices were sewing and hairdressing. Mireya cried and said to me, "I don't need to sew; my mother's a seamstress in a sewing factory." That's when a terrific student, Fortino - he reminded me of a sort of Latino Malcolm X, because he had this look of cynical intelligence in his eyes - said to her, "The owners of the sewing factories need workers, don't they?" And she said, "Well, I guess they do." And he said, "They're not going to hire their own kids for those jobs." Another student naively said, "Why not?" And Mireya said, "Because they can grow beyond themselves, but we remain the same." To me that was the most moving bit of dialogue in the whole book.
In the end, one could consider the deep seated levels of racism and segregation in this country as a way to keep all minorities the same; ignorant, uneducated, leaderless, poor, and indebted.

Shame of a nation...

Check Here for an interesting interview of Author Jonathan Kozol, the author a new book Shame of a Nation in which he postulates that America is an Apartheid state where the segregation of schools is so deeply ingrained across the country that it is a part of life.  If any of you have read this book, let me know about it.  Coming from the other side, as a parent of a small child gearing up for school in a couple years, I look at the absolutely miserable state our (St. Louis) city public schools are in compared with the county and I want to weep.  The question to ask me is, 'Are you going to send Cammy to a public school?'  My immediate answer is, pardon the french, 'FUCK NAW!'  Then you follow up, and rightly so, with the question, 'But how will the schools get any better if all the best and brightest opt out of the system and go private?'  To which I heatedly and sadly reply, 'I understand the problem but my Daughter will NOT BE SACRIFICED ON THE ALTAR OF PUBLIC SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT!'  So I short-change my daughter's future for an ideal??  How many other parents with the means face this question and decide how I do?  How many more parents arent even given the choice.
What about the schools?  Education is the biggest ticket there is for working class poor to rise to a higher level of prosperity and wealth.  Ive even heard arguments from some black thinkers that official Segregation was better in a way simply because we had to rely on ourselves and we were able to allocate the resources we had to improve our schools and our neighborhoods and what not.  Im not conversant enough in that idea to even discuss my opinions on it fully but it is interesting none the less.  What do YOU think?  Comment and let me know.  It is such a necessary conversation to have, not only for parents and teachers, but for communities, both white and black and latino.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Cause it's like that...

This is from an article posted on the GNN Network which is a good place to get yourself real pissed off.  But here, just a good view of the though processes of our nations policymakers about drugs and our War on Drugs...Enjoy! =0)
"Most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, jazz musicians, and entertainers. Their satanic music is driven by marijuana, and marijuana smoking by white women makes them want to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and others. It is a drug that causes insanity, criminality, and death - the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind."
Harry J. Anslinger (1892-1975), first Commissioner of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics, widely considered the first United States "drug czar"

"What really drives the battle against law enforcement and punishment is not a commitment to treatment, but the widely held view that, first, we are imprisoning too many people for merely possessing illegal drugs; second, drug and other criminal sentences are too long and harsh, and third, the criminal justice system is unjustly punishing young black men. These are among the great urban myths of our time.
The idea that our prisons are filled with people whose only offense was possession of an illegal drug is utter fantasy."

John P. Walters, Director (Drug Czar) - White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Why I love her so much...even when she doesn't flap...

The following is a conversation my beloved Mielita and I had today.  The weirder I get, the more unflappable she becomes...although every now and again I'd wish she'd flap but mostly I'm in awe of her no-flapping policies and her ability to stick to them in the face of horrific wierdness and toxic levels of nerdosity. 
Raquita: did you take your meds this morning 
Benticore: uhhh...
Raquita: what you mean uhhhh?!?!?!
Benticore: I didnt NOT take them...
Raquita: Didn't not?
Benticore: In theory, if everything is energy on differing wavelengths, then the only difference between solid objects and air is the frequencey in which the object vibrates.  Futhermore, if all energy vibrates at certain frequencies, one would postulate that thought represents energy.  By thinking, we create energy that is different from the everyday objects that surround us only in vibrational frequency.  This morning, I thought about taking my pills.  From an energistic standpoint, I DID take my pills.  The energy formations and vibrations may not have been on a level that you could detect but one cannot deny existence of a thing simply because one cannot see the thing in front of them.  The question of whether or not I physically ingested the pill is irrevelant.  In energistic frequencies, all manner of tasks have been accomplished, their results measured and calculated, props and daps distributed accordingly.  So you see, when I state that I didnt NOT take the pill, all may be elucidated and verifies under simple scientific reasoning.   So NYAH! 
Raquita: about no
Benticore: I put forth a valid scientifically based argument and all you can say is about no??  I blame the schools, racial bias, gender inequality and George Bush.  You should strive for more erudition in your attempts to refute my devastatingly ingenious theorums and hypotheses 
Raquita:  :P
Benticore: sigh...Im such a nerd.... 
Raquita: but I love your nerdyness more than you will ever know and if I wasn't listening to lecture I'd have wrote back more 

Friday, September 09, 2005

Welcome to the Police States of America! Papers please...

 Welcome to the New state of things.  This happened today amid tons of Katrina coverage and government blustering.  What this means to the future of dissent in this country is downright terrifying.  I cant think of a worse thing to happen to 'America', the idea and dream of what it could be.  Keep your eyes open.

RICHMOND, Va. - A federal appeals court Friday sided with the Bush administration and reversed a judge's order that the government either charge or free "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla.

The three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the president has the authority to detain a U.S. citizen closely associated with al-Qaida.

"The exceedingly important question before us is whether the President of the United States possesses the authority to detain militarily a citizen of this country who is closely associated with al Qaeda, an entity with which the United States is at war," Judge Michael Luttig wrote. "We conclude that the President does possess such authority."

A federal judge in South Carolina had ruled in March that the government cannot hold Padilla indefinitely as an "enemy combatant," a designation President Bush gave him in 2002. The government views Padilla as a militant who planned attacks on the United States.

Broader implications for America
Padilla's attorney said his client would probably appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, adding that the 4th Circuit's decision could have grave implications for all Americans.

"It's a matter of how paranoid you are," Andrew Patel said. "What it could mean is that the president conceivably could sign a piece of paper when he has hearsay information that somebody has done something he doesn't like and send them to jail - without a hearing (or) a trial."

The administration has said Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, sought to blow up hotels and apartment buildings in the United States and planned an attack with a "dirty bomb" radiological device.

Padilla was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in 2002 after returning from Pakistan. The federal government has said he was trained in weapons and explosives by members of al-Qaida.

Padilla, now in a military prison in Charleston, S.C., has been in custody for more than three years.

Padilla first released last October
Padilla, a New York-born convert to Islam, is one of only two U.S. citizens designated as enemy combatants. The second, Louisiana native Yaser Hamdi, was released last October after the Justice Department said he no longer posed a threat to the United States and no longer had any intelligence value.

Hamdi, who was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2001, gave up his American citizenship and returned to his family in Saudi Arabia as a condition of his release.

Luttig, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court, was joined in his opinion by Judges M. Blane Michael and William B. Traxler Jr.

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

George Bush doesn't care about black people...

Kanye West uttered those words on National TV Friday (NBC) and, amoung most black people, uttered a fact that has been blatantly obvious for years.  I heard Obama talk about Kanye's point, shift it, and polish it until it shined with a health PC glow, saying the Bush doesnt have much sympathy for the economically challeneged.  I'd put the two together.
Here are a couple of things I've been hearing through the media that have made my eye twitch...
Dont use the word Refugees on Americans cause we don't like the image it evokes...
I've heard this stated a lot of different ways in a lot of different media channels in the past few days.  All I can say, as I shake my head in disbelief is 'Are you fucking serious?'  I can understand why this might offend or disturb delicate American self-images, the 'Pull up the boot-straps, Can-Do' American Gusto still a thick veil pulled over the eyes of the priveleged as they gaze upon the 'Lazy, unmotivated poor'.  But there are a lot of things that America as a country does that doesn't offend simply because we aren't forced to deal with it.  Calling them refugees is technically correct and, more importantly shoves the whole ugly mess right under our noses where it's stench cannot be ignored.
What made Nawlins so special was it's mixture of cultures where you had the French quarter right next to the less well off.  If they rebuild, they might not keep the same mix that made the place so great.
Am I losing my mind or did you just tell me that the reason why you love New Orleans so much is because you can mingle with the ridiculously poor and downtrodden black populace that rings the city but not have to actually care who they are or what they do?  I wonder if the hundreds of thousands of poor bastards that have fled the city really thought it was so charming, seeing their abject poverty shoved in their faces time and time again by a partying touring populace.  Maybe I'm wrong.  It just made my eye twitch.
Thats all for now, I promise there's more

Friday, September 02, 2005

Hell on Earth, it's bricks laid by our own hands...

Katrina...back when Bill 'He's black enough' Clinton was in office, some of the right winded among us wondered if a less than high moraled woman (who really was just pimped by a Tripp) would bring down the presidency.  Now we know that it is Katrina that has ripped the facade of America off of it's rotting infrastructure to reveal how badly we've become, as a nation, as a society, as a bunch of people living in the same geographical region.  I pray that Katrina will represent a paradigm shift in the thinking ways of Americans but I also pray that the costs wont weigh so heavily on the poor, the downtrodden and mostly black population.

There are numerous things to think about and pray about when it comes to this Devastation.  New Orleans comes first to mind, more so because I'm a city person and thats my sister city (St. Louis).  So many poor black people there left to fend for themselves, demonized as looters, attacked by gangs and ignored by the National Gaurd.  But thats just the city.  It gets most of the press...I got an aunt down near Biloxi.  The country side, the rural areas.  I can't even fathom the dead, the dying, the hunger, the thirst.  That anyboyd, ANYBODY should die of thirst in this country speaks volumes about our attitudes towards the poor and the depth of racism and bigotry still thriving in ALL parts of this country.  My wife went from Angry (she saw the AP pictures of the black kid 'Looting' a store for food and a white couple "Finding" food in a store and nearly lost her mind...I cant blame her) to despair at her inability to help.  Go to to see the juxtaposed pictures for yourselves.  People who loot TVs are crazy when they live in a city that wont have power for 3 months...but people looting grocery stores and pharmacies are doing what they have to to survive.  If a bunch of people break into a fast food joint, chances are they're doing so to may cook some food, find something to eat.  That there are reports that people are being turned away at gunpoint by the National Gaurd just serves to worse the sitch.

Send money to Red Cross, or United Way.  That will help.  But will it be in time?  If you believe that America can be a great, wonderful place, or if you think that it should at least be a fair place, do some research, as heartbreaking as it may be, discover the cold, hard, ugly facts that both political parties are equally to blame for leaving us in this state and we, The People, are even more to blame for letting them, and make some decisions.  Start thinking about a world were food prices double and triple because gas is so expensive, where state funding for social programs is cut back even more as the war in Iraq deteriorates into Civil War and the government spends more money on policing its poor than feeding them.  Start thinking long range about the way our world is going to change and how we must change with it or die underneath it.

It's hard.  It hurts, and nobody wants to think about a future that might very well be much worse than what we can imagine, promises from a futile, co-opted government notwithstanding.  But please.  Think, plan, be prayerful, be vigilant and be ready.

(God gave us free will so we could save each other...)