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View From Here: Is Anyone Listening?

We were up on Tompkins and Willoughby last week, looking at the sheet-covered corpse of a young man said to have been chased and shot in the face in the middle of the afternoon, by more than one assailant. This is madness. This is so crazy you cannot believe it’s real. Tackling crime is one thing and dealing with social unrest is another and is the plan that only crime-fighting techniques and repression will be relied upon to quell a social discontent that requires social solutions and not a militarized response? Have they learned nothing from history or even from poetry about the explosive energy in a crushed dream?

I’m sure Mayor Bloomberg is an honorable man, having only the best intentions toward the African-Americans and Hispanics now in his care. He must feel, and therefore it must be true, that it is in the best interest of the child to have the mother leave her job and stay home like Anne Romney and raise thee children. But like Ginger Rogers having to dance backward in heels with Fred Astaire, the women affected by the center closings have a different degree of difficulty, working to raise their children without multimillionaire husbands and having to take handouts from the state.

And we see that the DOE and the UFT and the Federal government are all very much intent on helping inner city Black youth and bring to the struggle passionate and opposing positions, agreeing on only one thing: That Black people will never control their own education. They saw what happened during segregation, when Black teachers produced professors, doctors, engineers and more, using hand-me-down supplies and their love for their students. They’ll be no more of that. These folks who mean us only the very best have put a stop to that kind of teaching and the results are in: a 50% dropout rate and graduates unprepared to compete in today’s world. The overseers are content with dickering over how money will be divided and who will call the tune for the Black folks to dance to.

There are those who say it is a deliberate and targeted repression of Black people, but that would be calling into question the honorable intentions of the men and women who insist they have only the best interests of Black people at heart and it would be disrespectful not to take them at their word.

However, this business with the day care centers closing to save a few hundred thousand dollars each, seems counter-productive when the prison costs for the population of one block could exceed a million dollars, not even accounting for the lost productivity of a lost life. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a billionaire and he must know what’s needed to get ahead, and perhaps the toughening up under a regime of poverty and roughness is just the character-builder that’s needed by “urban youth.”


There is another thought that the center closings are like a magician’s ploy of concentrating audience attention on one hand while the other is busy elsewhere. But that would be cynical and unfair without corroborating evidence.

People have got to step forward and make this right, or “the street” will step forward and we don’t know where that will end.

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