Young People of Buffalo

young man wants change

Since Common Core; a state-led effort in 2009 to improve English and Mathematical standards for High School students to be better prepared for college or the workforce, the percentage of students graduating from High School has dropped by five percent, to now, 53 percent. And less than two percent of the city’s budget is spent on economic development, culture and recreation, health and community services. Without the latter, and when you sprinkle in the former, what kind of economy will young people have to participate in? Who will give them jobs and offer spaces for them to rest their anxious and troubled minds? And what axioms will they respect, let alone, choose to follow?

Buffalo, the city that I love dearly,  is the third highest poverty-stricken city in the nation. Again, Buffalo, and despite what our local, optimistic politicians are saying and always waging their fingers about, is the ward of the the state and can barely afford to cover sixty percent of its operating budget. Income inequality is visible and rampant in Buffalo, as well—-the average household income in Erie and Niagara counties is more than twice as high among whites ($55,000) as it is among African Americans ($25,000) and Hispanics ($27,000).

This is very alarming. I cannot imagine such abnormalities continuing for another decade without there being massive uprisings and talk(s) of Revolution. Too much? Then, excuse my brassiness, common reader, I was not trying to provoke repressed inklings of anxiety and fear…..what I am getting at is, that, the more marginalized members of our city—especially, the young folks, realize that they are not apart of the gigantic brush of prosperity that politicians are always raving about, then the more likely it is for them to have discourse about Revolution.

“….Buffalo is experiencing a renaissance,” I’ve heard some people say, ” Canal side and infrastructure are on the upswing, in Buffalo.” Soon, those same people would typically add, ” businesses are investing in Buffalo. heck, we have Terry Pegula, the guy is single-handedly keeping Buffalo Hockey and Football alive!” Such individuals are often thirtysomethings living in the suburbs and driving fancy cars. When I would ask them about young people of color in the city who, maybe because of income inequality or subtle racism, cannot afford to share such sentiments, they often snicker and blame the short-comings of the said group on their parents. ” It’s all about the parents, bro,” I remember one white guy saying to me. ” If your parents didn’t emphasize education and getting a decent job, then so will the children.”

Naturally, it is easy to blame parents for the inappropriate behaviors of young people, but that’s just too easy and narrow-minded. Nowadays, parents have no control of what, someone, like a Terry Pegula does with his money and what communities or businesses he chooses to support. Parents, have no lobbying power nor the economic fullness to force businesses to stop gentrifying their communities or banks to stop circumventing funds out of their communities. And we’re not even scratching the surface. The socio-economic footprints of the many parents of young people, thesedays, were prescribed to them due to poor public policies, deindustrialization, capital flight, suburban sprawl, ever-more concentrated poverty, and much more.

Sure, parents have to be held under the same microscope of accountability, but so does municipalities, businesses, and government.  What I am getting at is, we are all apart of this exciting Buffalo—that is doing well and experiencing a modest recovery, that, we cannot, no matter how well we’re doing, forget about the younger generation. The reality that they inherited was not constructed by their parents alone….everyone had something to do with it.  Thus, personal, ignorant sentiments aside, it is our collective responsibility to reinvest in the city, both morally and financially.

If Common Core is choosing to make it more difficult for our young people to graduate High school, If politicians are electing to paint a picture of a more gentrified Buffalo, If municipalities agree to continue disinvesting in economic development, culture, and recreational centers, health and community services, then, whom amongst us will speak up?

Racism From The Bench

mississppie judge

a letter  Mississippi judge, Bill Welsenberger, accused of striking a mentally disabled African American man, Eric Rivers, has been charged with assault nearly nine months later.

On May 8, 2014 In front of Canton Flea market, witnesses claim Bill Welsenberger hit 20-year-old Eric Rivers, and yelled “run nigger run,” at him. On Thursday, Bill Welsenberger turned himself in, but was released on a $10,000 bond soon after.

If convicted on the felony charge, the former judge faces up to five years in prison or up to a $1,000 fine, or both. A trail date has been set for June 8.

Though Bill Welsenberger—-a racist who presided over cases with bias towards African Americans, even, on one occasion, illegally jailing Charles Plump over a “roaming livestock” misdemeanor charge—-voluntarily stepped down from the bench, is still being paid his annual salary of $45,000. An outrage to some—especially those Welsenberger disfavored—but the law maintains that only state’s supreme court or a felony conviction can officially remove a judge from the bench.

The latter is a good example of why some white people often find it difficult to admit that white privilege exist—–institutional protectionism, good lawyers you can afford, ability to post bail if necessary, disposable income–because they’re blinded by the perks of white supremacy, which favors them disproportionally than others.

One of the ways social privileges and handouts, of the few over so many, can be expunged, is to hold those who uphold the law accountable for their wrongdoings against the most vulnerable and underrepresented members of our society. Until June 8, people of color should be crossing their fingers on one hand while keeping the other un-crossed.

Silence In The Reign of Islamaphobia

Arab murdered

letter on February 10th of this year, three Arab students in Chapelhill—-newlyweds Deah Barakat and Yusor Mohammad as well as her sister Razah Abu-Salha—-were brutally murdered, with execution-style shots to the head. Later on that same day, a 46-year-old man, Craig S. Hicks was arrested and charged with three counts of murder.

For hours, no national media outlet reported the story—-as if their lives were unworthy of acknowledgement—-provoking the hashtag #Chapelhillshooting, which soon trended worldwide. Although, the students appeared to have been targeted for their religion, police officials are saying that “the motive for the shooting has yet to be determined—–” overlooking, either intentionally or not, that according to Hick’s Facebook page, he was both a fervent New Atheist, and gun enthusiast, whose page also was filtered with references to Bill Mahar and disdain for religious belief.

The lax acknowledgment by national media outlets, and the institutional protectionism of ignorance—-failing to recognize the byproduct of an xenophobic culture—-by police officials, is disgusting and leaves one wondering, do some lives matter over others, in this so-called egalitarian society that veils it’s hypocrisy behind the color of democracy?

President Barrack Obama, the guy who ran his campaign on “change” ——in the mist of a seven year war with Iraq, ignited by Islamaphobic propaganda—-has chosen to be silent on this incident, and not use his bully-pulpit to discourage any opportunist, who was waiting for someone to throw the first racial punch.

Josh Earnest, press secretary for the White House, had these words to say about the presidents lax response to the shooting, ” I know that this is something that the local law enforcement is investigating. I know that they, based on published reports, they have a suspect in custody. And I know that part of that investigation will include the circumstance that may have led to this act of violence and that will also include the investigation of questions about what motivation this individual may have had. So this is the very beginning of an ongoing local law enforcement investigation, and we’re going to await the results of that investigation before we say anything.”

The premise of why the president has not commented on the matter is because it’s under investigation. However, this current administration showed no such hesitation after a number of other high-profile murders. Here’s a selection of the presidents remarks after the Aurora, Colorado massacre:

” We’re still gathering all the facts about what happened in Aurora. But what we do know is that the police have one suspect in custody. and the federal government stands ready to do whatever is necessary to bring whoever is responsible for this heinous crime to justice. (Applause.) and we will take every step possible to ensure the safety of all of our people.”

The President explicitly mentions that the motivation behind the killings is still unknown, but tries to assure the frightened community of it’s safety. But the Muslim community are frightened, and has been since post 9/11, and they too, are our people—-woven in the fabric of the great American Republic—-so doesn’t it laments that they too deserve the backing of the federal government?