Mayor Bloomberg probably would not get Shirley Jackson’s: “The Lottery”; or maybe he would…

 

“…incidentally, I think, we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little…”- NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg

 

From the article: “The Lottery” Letters….. By Ruth Franklin; The New Yorker Magazine

“..When Shirley Jackson’s story “The Lottery” was first published, in the June 26, 1948, issue of this magazine, Miriam Friend was a young mother living in Roselle, New Jersey, with her husband, a chemical engineer who worked on the Manhattan Project. An exact contemporary of Jackson’s—both women were born in 1916—she had recently left her job as a corporate librarian to care for her infant son, and she was a faithful reader of The New Yorker. “I frankly confess to being completely baffled by Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery,’ she wrote in a letter to the editor after reading the story. Will you please send us a brief explanation before my husband and I scratch right through our scalps trying to fathom it?”…  http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/06/the-lottery-letters.html

 

        I am still amazed at how many people, as the article writer goes on to say, were “stumped” by the “symbolic meaning” of this story. I affectionately look back to when a Brooklyn teenager who was in love with all things literary (my sanctuary from the dangerous streets of NYC being the Brooklyn Public Library); sitting back in stunned and studied reflection after reading what remains to this day, my favorite short story (my apologies to all of my favorite short story writers; i.e. Guy  De Maupassant, Chester Himes and Henry Dumas, et al.) I was and continue to be deeply moved by the power and imagery of this story.  And unlike many of my White high school classmates, the story made perfect sense to me then, and even more so, now. But race, I found, is not the only barrier to “getting” this very interesting work of fiction. I recently had a conversation with a young (20 something) African-American English teacher; who did not “particularly care” for this “strange” story. And I fully understood and appreciated why, as our world views were framed from a very different view of the world. I came of age in a time when upon reaching a certain age as a NYC adolescent ,one was prevented, without explanation from visiting family members “down-south”, as our northern integrated schooling and socializing did not provide us with the requisite southern survival skills (the Emmett Till effect). There were back then, many Trayvon Martin like incidents; only without, a national protest and cry for justice movement; without the media attention; and without the perpetrators, be they police officers or their “deputize” White citizen members going on trial. The idea (I saw in “The Lottery”); that a segment of our society was essentially “selected” as objects to be sacrificed to some blood thirsty gods, so that these gods would grant the larger lottery wining society a period of human well-being and prosperity;  made perfect sense to me. I knew, the moment I reached the end of the story (I always look for the: “who am I” in the story?) That sadly, I was a member, unlike my White high school classmates of the ill-selected group. This view, or understanding of life has essentially made a permanent state of “Two Me’s”; one, living a life like any other American, and the other constantly aware, ever conscious, on guard and fighting the unjust sanctions and restrictions placed on, and against the other, less than a full American, me. That “fighting me”, is never comfortable with the status qua; with the ‘busy-ness’ as usual; never called a truce, and never signed a peace treaty. Which is why, to paraphrase  Rudy Crew, I am forced to change jobs so often; or to quote from a poem of Harlem based poet George Edward Tait: “If I wasn’t at war I would be in love”. I am not happy with the rules of the rigged lottery system; how some people are given extra winning tickets at birth. I don’t like the lottery’s death defining, for some, system. And the intensity of my investment to its dismantling is in  great part driven by the fact that the vast majority of lottery “losers”  look a lot  like me. Recently, I am deeply troubled by the number of Black hands in  places of power, that cynically and self-servingly deal out losing tickets to their own people.                    

History has always produced Lottery winners and losers. In the Americas it was the Native American people. European countries selected their fellow humans in Africa to serve as lottery losers so that they could realize material prosperity through suffering and exploitation. The European’s star colonial pupil, would continue the Win-loss of humanity game, with the horrible system of American slavery. At a later time the Japanese would choose the Chinese in Manchuria. The Nazi’s selected the Jewish citizens of Europe… And it continues to this day, where workers (lottery losers) in Bangladesh are forced to work for pennies in factories that double as health hazards and death traps; so that the “developed” world can make huge profits, while providing its citizens with an inexpensive clothing line.

Mayor Blumberg is a Lottery winner; and that is why he does not, and will never get the problem with “stop and frisk”. At the very least (best?), his words are honestly revealing of the twisted thinking of his lottery winning class. The “lottery” system, and the result of who wins (them) and who losses (the other), makes perfect sense to them. After all, (in their mangled understanding of Calvinist principles): “Why would God make me rich, and materially successful, if I were not good and worthy?” If you are “cursed” (‘lotterized’) with a Black skin then all of the discomfort, inconvenience, unfairness, low expectations, assumptions, assignments and assessments associated with your wretched state are all fair and valid. By your own hands you picked the wrong lottery tickets; by picking Black parents.

 

Only in the profession of K-12 Public Education (educating the children of color, and the children of poverty); can an amateur become rich by deforming and reforming a school system at the same time.

Why Judge Ordered Paul Vallas Removed as Bridgeport School’s Chief.

 Only in the profession of K-12 Public Education (educating the children of color, and the children of poverty); can an amateur become rich by deforming and reforming a school system at the same time.

My goodness, what is the world coming to? Does this mean that you might actually need to know something about public education in order to lead a public educational system? What’s next: Accountants that took a course in accounting; Engineers that attended somebody’s engineering school? Architects that graduated from a school of Architecture, and passed the certification exam. Attorneys that attended law school and passed the Bar exam? Medical Doctors that attended, and graduated from a medical school? I tell you, we are going fast to “hell in a hand- basket”. But it’s nice for once, to not see racial “privilege” and “exceptionalism” in play. I don’t know this judge, but I would gladly trade her for any one of the “fab-fib 5” who set us back on Voting Rights!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/29/why-judge-ordered-paul-vallas-removed-as-bridgeport-schools-chief/

 

Chickens staying home to be roasted….or stand by your stand.

 

“9 Companies Still Standing With Paula Deen…” 

 

        A few years ago I visited a farm, and I noticed that the chickens were walking around, pecking and eating whatever was on the ground; including walking and pecking behind other chickens (I guess that this was a form of natural recycling).  And so I ask the farmer: “It seems that the chickens are (literally) eating everything and anything on the ground.”  He sympathetically looked at this Brooklyn raised brother and graciously said: “Yes sir, they do”.  As “Lady Bubba” fights for her financial life, her business connections/endorsers are running away from her at Usain Boltian like speed.  Racism (in terms of endorsements) is bad for business marketing purposes; but not necessarily bad for business itself.  I am very interested in the diversity record of all of these companies in terms of internships, recruitment, hiring, promotion, presence in key top management positions and the percent of utilization of Black and Latino businesses and professional consultants.  Finally, I have a sneaky suspicion that the first group of chickens who swiftly flew the coop are aware or suspect that perhaps there is a follow-up group of racial offensive revelations to come concerning Ms. Deen; and so, “Let’s cut this chic(ken) loose now”.  If nothing else comes out; will time help, aided by the long-term memory challenged purchasing public to swallow, digest and forget her offensive words and attitudes?  That is the hope and gamble of the remaining companies.  These other 9 guys I guess; are just waiting, hoping and planning to peck on whatever in the end, is left on the ground.

 

“9 Companies Still Standing With Paula Deen…”  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/27/paula-deen-controversy_n_3511818.html

Why I found Judge Scalia’s rant helpful…

 

“Antonin Scalia’s Gay Marriage Dissent Is Dripping With Contempt And Sarcasm”
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/antonin-scalias-gay-marriage-dissent-is-dripping-with-sarcasm-2013-6#ixzz2XPbZNxGs

 

He helps me to understand that when you fail to fully appreciate the: “It’s over”; one can go, and act crazy. I wonder: “what’s his plan?” Invade, interrupt and personally stop every same-sex wedding in the nation? Old men in the sea of change (Ah, fond memories of my high school reading of Hemingway); may find it hard to see that time is not favorable to our most powerfully held, and perhaps sacred beliefs. Time painfully (and I think in some ways mercifully) moves forward. There is a quality of nostalgia that can produce either fondness or fear; separately, and sometimes at the same time. Alas, the world is constantly changing, and we (the old men) can’t ever seem to catch up. That is why I believe that rendering authority to history rather than ranting against it makes more sense.  There is no fool like a fool, out of time and out of his own time. It would be better to maximize time with seasoned words of advice and caution; after all the young, like we had to, will come to learn how not black and white is our grey existence. Scalia’s “commentary” pushed me to think about my own career experiences. I thought about, and was happy for Rudy Crew in his new position as a collage president. But this made me think about my conversations as a principal with him and Ray Cortines; and how qualitatively inspiring those discussions were. They, unlike the present crop of “drive-by” pedagogues playing at reform, and playing with the futures of children; spoke my language. Indeed, these two people were life long educators, committed to, shaped by and experienced in the craft of education. Those times, the culture, that understanding of educational leadership practice, is over. And as I listen to Judge Scalia spin hopelessly off point; I hope not to end up also ranting aimlessly in the sea of time, with no lighthouse, or land in sight.

When will we learn to duck?

Voting Rights Act Ruling Prompts Action By States”…….. “Across the South, Republicans are working to take advantage of a new political landscape after a divided U.S. Supreme Court freed all or part of 15 states, many of them in the old Confederacy, from having to ask Washington’s permission before changing election procedures in jurisdictions with histories of discrimination…”

 “Rep. John Lewis, an Atlanta Democrat and civil rights activist who was beaten as he advocated for voting rights in the 1960s, called the ruling a “dagger.”

 “President Barack Obama said he was “deeply disappointed” in the court overturning “well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair.”

 

      When the left-wing of the bird(aka Ralph Nader, Smiley, West, et al) and the right-wing of the bird (aka Justices Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, ad disappointing) fly in to “help” you; immediately duck for cover, as you are about to get pooped on! It is now very clear that, YES ELECTIONS DO MATTER! But it is my hope that this “last kick (albeit dangerous) of a dying bull” will not be successful. For if this desperate judicial act of maintaining the illegitimate power of a shrinking demographic is their best shot, and then indeed they are in serious trouble. This may serve as a stimulus and vehicle to awaken Black-America out of its “post-racial”, “we have arrived” illusionary state. Rights earned and not protected in struggle; can be taken away, without a struggle. The next (2016) presidential candidate on the Democratic side will probably not be an African-American; and will surely not be perfect. We need to analyze candidates and elections in the context of a hierarchical, broad and comprehensive “things we need”; “things that are important” list. This list should include the very numerous, virtually unknown and important “below cabinet” appointments, and the (as we see in the SCOTUS recent decisions) the very powerful judicial appointments. I don’t know about anyone else, but I think that having a Black man in position of power on a court, who hates himself, and (by logical extension) hates those who look like him; is a very dangerous situation. Judge Thomas is perhaps willing to go beyond and below his White colleagues in proving his conservative authenticity. In the future we need thoughtful and caring Kagan-Sotomayor like appointments to this very important post.

      There is perhaps no one more disappointed than me by Mr. Obama’s wasted opportunity to do some meaningful and powerful work in education; as opposed to what we have: “Bush educational policies part 2, the: “leave some children purposely behind movie sequel”. But watching the horrible behavior of the Republicans during his two terms, and the right (wrong) side of the Supreme Court in action; I am definitely not ready to join the: “There is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans Club.”

 

“Voting Rights Act Ruling Prompts Action By States…….” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/voting-rights-act-states_n_3502062.html?utm_hp_ref=black-voices&ir=Black%20Voices

Polling Empathy and the Power to Call Other People Names

 

“Washington Redskins name: Washington Post poll finds most D.C. fans support it”

“We’ll never change the name,” owner Daniel Snyder told USA Today last month. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use all caps.”

 

The comments made by citizens in the article sound eerily similar to those made by some of those hard-core fans of the disgraced and discredited (tried, fried and failed) Paula Deen: “You see, the use of the “N” word is just a part of our endearing (enduring?) culture and heritage; we don’t mean no harm or insult to anyone”. The question is: Who gets to decide if a derogatory insult is just a “term of endearment”; the insulted, or the ‘insulter’? Well, it boils down to power (to call names, or to not be called names.) But after 5 years here (DC), how could I be surprised by the results of this poll? (Now are you going to believe your eyes or a poll?) This place is an odd mixture of pretend “northern liberal” progressive sensitivity, mixed with a corrupt urban neo-colonialism. The truth is that the bold disregard for the dignity and humanity of Native Americans is powered by something greater (although, this poll will surely be utilized as a tool of justification) than this poll. The bottom line is that Native Americans don’t represent a formidable voting block; a sizable product purchasing market; and the majority of Black people in this town who would be the best at understanding the pain of serving as a target of an offensive racial slur, are not interested. The one positive note in this poll: There seems to be a correlation between the level of educational attainment, and empathy towards the degradation of people who are not you. I have always said: The lack of education is the problem; Education is the solution; and I am sticking with that story…. It’s all about, (using all caps Mr. Snyder) EDUCATION!

 

“Washington Redskins name: Washington Post poll finds most D.C. fans support it”… http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/washington-redskins-name-washington-post-poll-finds-most-dc-area-fans-support-it/2013/06/24/84bc2d0e-dd03-11e2-a484-7b7f79cd66a1_story.html

The Affirming an Ignorance of History in Action

           “As Court Punts, Thomas Compares Arguments for Affirmative Action to Those for Slavery..”

              An inadequate, incomplete or a failed educational experience has consequences…very often causing bad things to be said, or to happen. Alas, contrary to a popular saying; there is no bliss, no sanctuary, and no safe place to be found in ignorance. Ignorance can cause suffering, pain and death; starting with the “owner” of that ignorance; and then reaching out to harm others beyond themselves. How does one emerge from High School, college and a law school experience, and not fully comprehend the terrible, violent and vicious dehumanization of the American Slavery Institution? It fails badly as a metaphor, and contemptuously spits on the spirits of those who suffered under that horrible system of human capitalization. Whatever problems exist with the current actualization of “affirmative- action” would surely have been traded by our enslaved ancestors for their experience of daily degradation, and the denial of their fundamental rights of person-hood. For sure, there are many credible methodological and ideological critiques of “affirmative-action” that could have been rationally and respectfully argued; (making a sound and sensible argument without offending your audience should have also been learned in the before mentioned educational settings). The irony of the entire event is that it is the affirmative-action of Judge Thomas’s black skin that allows him a special license and preference to get away with such an insulting remark; a remark that would have caused an uproar if spoken by one of his White colleagues on the court.

“As Court Punts, Thomas Compares Arguments for Affirmative Action to Those for Slavery..”

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/06/supreme-court-affirmative-action-fisher-texas-thomas-dissent

City of not so brotherly and sisterly love……..

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”…   Genesis 4:9

“You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw…” Exodus 5:7….Then the slave drivers and the overseers went out and said to the people, “This is what Pharaoh says: ‘I will not give you any more straw. 11 Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.’” 12 So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw. 13 The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, “Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw.” 14 And Pharaoh’s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed, demanding, “Why haven’t you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?”…Exodus 5:10-14

 

Philadelphia, City of Brotherly/Sisterly Love Indeed! Schools not serving as a place of learning; but rather as a place to hold children for a few hours a day …This is at the heart and art of planned disenfranchisement and underdevelopment; oddly this expression of “school reform” brings back the old memory and meaning of “Reform School”: Children just serving out a 12 year (if they don’t drop out earlier) sentence….

 “Budget Cuts Reach Bone for Philadelphia Schools…..”

 “…When a second grader came to the Andrew Jackson School too agitated to eat breakfast on Friday, an aide alerted the school counselor, who engaged him in an art project in her office. When he was still overwrought at 11, a secretary called the boy’s family, and soon a monitor at the front door buzzed in an older brother to take him home. Under a draconian budget passed by the Philadelphia School District last month, none of these supporting players — aide, counselor, secretary, security monitor — will remain at the school by September, nor will there be money for books, paper, a nurse or the school’s locally celebrated rock band…”

“I am worried sick,” said Lisa Ciaranca Kaplan, the principal, whose homey school in South Philadelphia serves 410 students, speaking 14 languages, all of whom qualify for free meals. “How do I relieve teachers for lunch if I have no one in the lunchroom? I’ll be the only person in this building who’s not in a class.”

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/17/education/budget-cuts-reach-bone-for-philadelphia-schools.html?ref=education&_r=0

Antidote to the “Poison Pills” Plan for the Immigration Reform Bill…..

 

Antidote to the “Poison Pills” Plan for the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

“Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) unveiled an amendment on Wednesday that some argue could bring down the comprehensive immigration reform bill by putting in costly and difficult to reach border security requirements.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/12/john-cornyn-immigration-amendment_n_3428949.html

“As Detroit seeks an out-of-court resolution to its financial crisis, emergency manager Kevyn Orr continues to lay the groundwork for a potential Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing..” http://www.freep.com/relart/20130614/NEWS01/306140146/Analysis-Kevyn-Orr-laying-groundwork-potential-Detroit-bankruptcy

  

Memo to: Congressional Black Caucus (CBC); and all progressive members of both houses of Congress.

Re: A Creative Positive Progressive “Pill”

When: Now!

Where: Detroit!

 Since it is clear that the Republicans are seeking to sink any sensible approach to Immigration reform by means of strategic obstruction. Put your own: “Creative Positive Progressive Pill” into the Immigration Reform Bill. Start by transforming Detroit into a dynamic economic growth zone; that would strengthen existing communities, and attract new residents. This “Pill” would include a Job training, and Job creation opportunities for the chronically unemployed adults, and in particular young people of that city. Help to stabilize and revive the city by not reducing the honestly (and in good faith) earned pensions for retired city workers.  Also include a housing reclamation, small business development and an improved and resourced public education system. Since there are no advocates, or bills planned that would significantly assist the poor and unemployed, (right now, it’s all about the middle class!) Perhaps this is a way to get them some notice, as these communities languish, without attention, in depression like conditions. Who invites people to a “messy house”?  An enhanced city of Detroit would become an excellent place where people both inside and outside of the U.S. would love to settle and prosper.