Angela goes on yet another HULK SMASH rant

Here's the situation--the website oaklandlocal.com published an article titled : "75 Percent of Juvenile Arrests in Oakland are Black Males, says report", which I urge all five of my readers to check out. All right, I'm just messing with you--I do know that I have more than five readers on most days except today. Zero readers. I would be upset if it weren't for the fact that a whole lot of stuff has been going on in this country lately, and most of you probably have a lot better things to do besides read my crazy rants. Back to the subject at hand: I had a pretty good idea of what the article was going to be about, and since I have an extremely bad habit of reading the comments posted on articles like these (yeah, I know; I need to stop doing that), I figured I would probably get pretty P.O.ed by some of them. Wanna read a few? No? Too bad, I'm spreadin' the sufferin'!









I’d be scared to death to be a teacher at a Oakland school. Even though these people are only teenagers there mentality is not. These kids are savages (YES, HE WENT THERE!) ready to fight or even kill for anything. Counselors won’t help. Removing them from society and incarcerating them sadly is the only option.




I hope the efforts of the (sadly, race-based) achievement groups bears fruit. This kind of personal involvement and honest leadership usually does (again, sad that race is used to separate boys out into groups by OUSD).
What the article wanted to say: black boys are arrested and expelled at a higher rate through no fault of their own, but because the police are not properly monitored – code for the race card. Flawed or nebulous reasoning and the umbrella lie to just ‘blame society’, are trotted out yet again. Thud.
Understand how race-based policy (born of a political correctness and a willful, perpetual, self-disenfranchisement) always fails to help, and often harms, the group it intended to help. From affirmative action to racial quotas, weak public policy (aka race-based) will always have the inevitable effect of diminishing or destroying any positive return. Look at the numbers.
So here again we have a baseless ‘fact’ being repeated and even cosigned by ‘leaders’ in education. In lieu of a factual, demonstrable foundation, or anything beyond meaningless arrest stats (to spin), the are told that the problem with young black boys is actually “… combination of social, economic, and historic societal factors that Black communities in Oakland have been underserved for generations, and we’re seeing that culminate in these arrest records…”.
Talk about meaningless. People are getting paid to inculcate the exact fantasies and obfuscations that have left young black boys isolated and hamstrung. One wing of the culture says to despise education and any non-black neighbors and classmates. The other (smaller) voice prompts them to work hard toward their goals, be a man people can look up to and respect, and to strive for excellence. One wing trumpets all the victimizations and defends all the cultural lies. In doing so they provide the exact excuse-structure many young boys (of any stripe) are susceptible to. Stop trying, the inherent message implores, because you were ‘underserved’.
The restorative and preventive justice practices mentioned are a good idea. I have seen the program plan and intent. The problem is that it will be unequally applied, and it takes a backbone to make it work. One boy (let’s say White), commits act ‘A’ and gets suspended. The next boy (let’s say Black) commits the same act ‘A’ and is sent for a restorative justice session with a counselor. DO you see a problem with that? Unequal justice being perpetrated all in the hopes of, not solving a problem, but trying to make the expulsion numbers look better.
As bad policy most often does, it will end up hurting the exact people it was meant to help. Black boys must be (by necessity it would seem to classmates) treated differently. The kids hear the message the educators are so clearly sending: something about black boys requires a different standard or expectation of behavior. They cannot (the inference is) be expected to learn and behave the same way as the Asian, Latino, White or whatever-child who grew up next door to them. The perpetual self-disenfranchisement comes full circle – now everyone believes it.
To add insult to injury, the call is now for more oversight of the police. There are already more people ‘overseeing’ the police than there are police investigating homicides in Oakland. OPD is a dysfunctional mess, and they are losing good people. Adding bureaucracy is the ‘instead of a solution’ solution. It is the cop out of public policy. When no one wants to address the big (aka real) problems, spend more money and create/blame a racist.

The young men in this picture have been identified as members 
of a North Oakland gang.  Source: The Bay Citizen

And here's my response:
"These kids are savages ready to fight or even kill for anything." Really? I find it interesting how people view young African American men, especially when the few interactions they ever have with them is what they or read in the media, or what they THINK they are seeing when they pass these young men on the street. I live in Oakland, and even more importantly, I'm a middle aged, disabled woman who has to use a wheel chair to get around because of severe arthritis. I should be an automatic target for those "savages", right? I mean, really...how could I defend myself against all those young, super-humanly strong men with nothing more on their minds except doing drugs, committing crimes, and listening to rap music? I don't stand a chance, right?

There might be SOME who (and I'm giving the benefit of the doubt here) fit that description. Notice that I used the word "some" in the previous sentence. What does that mean? Most?  All? No, this is what it means (definition courtesy of dictionary.com):  “at least a small amount or number of people or things”.It does not mean "most" or "all", and I used the pronoun specifically for the purpose of steering the conversation away from absurd generalities. Language, both written and spoken, profoundly affects thoughts, attitudes and behaviors. Let me explain how this relates to the issue of describing African American young men as "savages".

I moved from Sacramento to Oakland almost three years ago, and I can tell you right now that I've had a lot less trouble being out and about here than I did in the Capitol. Young African American men have pushed me in my wheelchair across crowded streets; picked up things for me when I've dropped them; taken items down from the grocery stores top shelves when they saw me struggling to reach them. Yes, they were wearing hoodies and sagging pants, and some of them smelled of that "whacky tobacky".  But they were always extremely polite ("Here, Ms. Lady, let me get that for you"), never asked for any money in return (which often happened in Sacramento); and, most importantly, never threatened me in any way at all. Quite the opposite, in fact, when a babbling old crazy guy approached me in a way that seemed inappropriate, a group of young African American men promptly told him, "Leave the lady alone, man!"

This is anecdotal evidence, of course. But what concrete evidence and personal experiences do you have that backs up your claim that they are "savages"? How many personal experiences have you had where you didn't automatically become tense and nervous because of your preconceived ideas? And if you had some bad experiences that verified your summation that they are all "savages", does that mean that each and every African American male is nothing more than that? Really? 

My son is African American (as I am), is a lifelong geek who was consistently on the honor roll throughout elementary, middle and high school; never had behavioral issues in class; used drugs or worn baggy pants; he read Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" when he was in the 6th grade; was 1st cello in the All City orchestra and won a scholarship in music to the Berklee College of Music, where he graduated.

Despite all that, he was twice handcuffed and put in a police car for the crime of arriving too early at a friend's house and sitting on the porch steps waiting for them to arrive (he was on the bus, and he didn't see the need to go all the way back home.) He couldn't believe the police would try to take him to juvenile hall because he wanted to go roller skating with his other geeky friends and arrived at the designated meeting place too early. Luckily for my son, his friends (who were of all different races) arrived in time to protest and explain to the police what was happening. This is the type of behavior that comes out of believing that African American males are "savages". Even the innocent have to endure the consequences of your prejudgment.

And let me head off that "bleeding heart liberal" accusation right now because I'm sick of it. Before I became too disabled to continue working, I taught MANY young African American teenagers and young adults who had problems with writing and reading and how to use the English language much more precisely and efficiently. I have never cared about where they came from or what they did before they came into my classroom, My job was to help them do something that their grossly and unjustly underfunded schools could not, and that was to teach them how to write in a logical and concise way that defies most pedagogical techniques. (I don't why writing skills are not taught like that in schools; the knowledge certainly exists in academia, which is where I learned it.)  I never tolerated BS or excuses in my classroom, and they knew it from the moment they walked in. I taught kids who came in through the Educational Opportunity Program from Compton, East L.A., Hunter's Point, "Deep" East and West Oakland, the Oak Park and Del Paso Heights areas of Sacramento--young people who came from "broken" and/or "bad" homes. Some had committed crimes. I didn't care. My job was to teach them so they would be successful in college; I wasn't trained to be social worker. And they understood that.

These negative references to the supposed primitive nature of your fellow human beings must end, period. I could go on and on about how your perceptions have created bias in the educational system, but you probably wouldn't believe me. I could also bring up how the professed science-based sociological theories about "lack of parental values, guidance and responsibility" has done more harm than good for these students. You would disregard this as baseless accusations. Consider this, however, if you are truly interested in a solution to this problem: I've been with these young people, and they KNOW what you think of them. All that bravado you see? That's a facade to disguise the hurt. Sure, some parents have abandoned their children. But NOT ALL OF THEM are terrible parents. Many work in low paying jobs for very long hours because their children aren't the only recipients of an educational system that has forsaken them; their educational backgrounds are lacking, too. They want to help their children, but they simply don’t have the skills to do so. 

Furthermore, most of their time and energy is wrapped up in paying the bills each month.
I am going to say something unpopular and I refuse to back down from it because it is the truth: State funding formulas for public education favor the wealthy suburbs, especially here in post-Proposition 13 California. You know this. Higher property values means more available tax money for the outlying school districts--put that together with state and federal funds that “makes things equal” (such a laugh), and what we have is suburban schools who have access to resources that inner city schools do not, and an attending attitude of who is deserving of a better education and who isn't, as exemplified by “savage” comment. Public school funding has been “separate and unequal” ever since Brown versus the Board of Education, and it is getting worse. As I have read all too often, the fervent belief seems to be, why should taxpayers "throw more money at failing schools when the parents don't care about their kids anyway"?

And here's the often wryly coded, rarely voiced, yet presumptuous explanation for this belief: at the end of the day, the most African Americans can hope to achieve (if they aren't lucky enough to become athletes, singers or rappers) is to work in low level jobs, anyway.* After all, someone has to do them; there's nothing wrong with that those people doing manual labor. Certainly kids growing up in the suburbs can’t be expected to do that work. At any rate, that’s better than going to jail. They shouldn't expect anything more than that because, after all, they aren't very intelligent. Besides, who would wash the dishes in the restaurants, work as security guards, nursing assistants, stock clerks, or do janitorial work? They certainly can't expect to be high powered attorneys, bank presidents or hedge fund managers! There's "dignity" in hard work and they should be grateful to have a job. We all have our places in this society!

Right. And as I read over the responses to this article and many others on the Internet, it is clear to me that the perception is that we “savages” have been getting away with trying to get more than we deserve for far too long. It’s time to “take your country back”.  There’s a problem with that—we are Americans, too. I know what my parents wanted for me was the same thing those West and East Oakland parents want for their children—a quality education so they can have a better future. Even the terrible parents who have beat their kids and can’t get them fed, dressed and on school on time STILL want their kids to be well educated. Is that difficult to believe? Get over it. It’s true, even if their actions do not seem to support that belief.


As illogical as it may seem to you, those parents know that the great equalizer for their children is a good education. They didn't receive that themselves, but that doesn't mean they don’t want it for them. There’s even a rather self-centered logic for this: if their children are better educated, they will be qualified for better jobs than the lousy ones they have. This also means that their children will be in better position, financially speaking, to take care of them as they grow old. You may scoff or become appalled all you want, but this is a concern for inner city parents. They know their jobs working as security guards or licensed vocational nurses have virtually no pension plans, and Social Security can’t be relied upon. So they hope their children will do better so they won’t waste away out on the streets. After all, they can’t expect their employers to provide them with sufficient retirement benefits, can they? There’s not enough money available in this country to provide for everyone’s “golden years”, or so we've been told. You decide if that’s true or not. Be aware that there are societal consequences related to your beliefs.

* Don't go there with me about the President. There's always exceptions to these generalized perceptions. Exceptions serve a great purpose--they get society's attention (which isn't always good--look at the madness the President has to put up with), and the prevailing national conversation usually becomes focused on statements something like these:  "There's no more excuses! (i.e., you're lazy and/or stupid because you are not like the exceptional one), followed by, "He (or she) did it; why can't you?" or "Why can't you people be like him (or her)? And there we are again, back at the education funding issue again and education-is-the-great-equalizer that is somehow not equal at all, with the counter arguments focused on everything but the inequitable ways public schools are funded. We KNOW we can't EVER talk about that; no siree!
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Emotional Incest

Deep breaths. This is only part of your life. (Introduction)

On being plus-sized