Sunday, February 3, 2013

Attacking the Root (On Violence in Oakland)

     Rise In Power to the Kiante Campbell, the young man who was murdered in the middle of First Friday, on February 1st, 2013.  May his spirit forever reside with our ancestors.

     Colonial Violence, or violence of the colonizer.  This violence results in an annihilation of the body of the colonized, the psyche of the colonized, and the culture of the colonized. This kind of violence is rooted in the very structure of colonialism and occurs across multiplel domains: economic, cultural, psychological, physical, and spatial.
     Fanon proposes that its colonial violence and its trauma that leads to the second form of violence- that from the colonized's side. This violence is an attempt on the part of the desperate, frustrated and alienated colonized subject to retrieve a certain dignity and sense of the Self that colonial violence had destroyed......Pramod K. Naya

     Violence in Oakland has been at the forefront of the news in Oakland lately. (Well crime is all they ever report on in the Black Community)  But now the city says its serious about stopping the crime and its a "state of emergency" says Council member Larry Reid.   The Chief of Police has made it a point to appear at numerous shooting scenes in the past few weeks with news cameras. The local churches have came out in support of a contract to pay a police consultant $250,000 for advice on how to bring crime down, as well as millions more for new police academies.  As usual, i'm quiet sure that the homicide rate in Oakland is on track to reaching its annual rate of well over one hundred murders. So lets talk about stopping the violence that all the community members, activist, non-profits, public officials, gentrifiers, and church members are so concerned about.
     While continually fighting against State sponsored terror, I am constantly confronted by community members, worried about violence, who ask me, "Your so worried about the police killing our people...when are you gonna do something about about all this black on black crime!?" Like these two issues are not different symptoms of the same disease.   Nevertheless, Pac expressed this thought clearly when he said, "They say its the white man I should fear, but its my own kind doing all the killing here."    Anyone who is truly serious about stopping violence in the community is going to have to start with the root and ask themselves, "Where does violence come from?" They should also ask themselves why are none of the solutions working that our leaders in the community come up with? Without a doubt, the violence that plagues every inner-city community across the country is a direct result of local, state, and federal governments not prioritizing and providing resources to solutions that have been proven to prevent crime. Instead, they create an outrageous budget with our money, allocating millions to militarized police departments, prisons, and wars, at the expense of our schools,  jobs, housing, and all sorts of desperately needed social programs that are always on the chopping block.  Austerity measures are what causes crime.  A city, state, and country that under-serves certain segments of our society, and then blames the consequences of this under service on the under-served themselves is what causes violence.
     In the most recent copy of the Oakland Post, there is an article describing how the City of Oakland just sent back $600,000 allocated to them to provide training for the unemployed because they could not think of anything useful to do with the money, but ironically they can give a quarter million to one police consultant.  The Oakland Unified School District closed five schools last year. with plans to close thirty more.  One of the schools, Santa Fe, is currently being rented to the City of Emeryville for $500,000 per year. The Oakland Unified School District has a track record of ushering in gentrification by closing schools and turning our public schools into charter schools. The attack on public education in Oakland wrecks havoc on our communities and is directly connected to violence.  Prescott Elementary, which has been in the Lower Bottoms neighborhood for over 40 years is currently battling to keep  Vincent Charter school from taking 8 of their classrooms, which the School District is offering to them because they say the school has unused, nonacademic space that is not being used , which is untrue. Some of the unused space they are proposing taking is a teachers lounge, a space used for one on one sessions with academically struggling children, portables used by an after school program, and a Pre K space.  (I have alot more details on this subject for a future blog post) Prescott served over 1200 hundred students at its high point, now it only serves a little over 200.  Anybody who is concerned about stopping violence in Oakland is going to have to start by addressing the attack being waged on education in this city.  It is a fact that educational opportunities prevent crime.  So why is Oakland closing so many schools, if it is concerned with the violence of the city? This is only one example of many, which demonstrates the hypocrisy of the City of Oakland when it says it is concerned with stopping violence, but all the moves they make suggest otherwise. (For anybody who wants to address the School Board about these issues, good luck at finding their next meeting place which is not on their website. Due to a "suspicious accident", where a janitor left a water faucet running, which caused so much water damage that OUSD Main Office on 2nd St. will not be opened for a year, and consequently all the departments are at separate locations throughout the City of Oakland)
     So now the question is...Who really is concerned about stopping violence in Oakland? Is it our elected officials  who control a massive budget that should be used to really stop violence or the Oakland Police Department? The Church surely thinks so.  Is it gonna be stopped by a "Silence the Violence" movement where a bunch of us get together and try to  sell our c.d.'s to the community?  I am a firm believer in Malcolm X's ideology of the social aspect of Black Nationalism, which stresses that we ourselves are responsible for the critical task of ridding our communities of all the vices that hinder our complete liberation, because nobody else is going to willingly do this for us.  For this reason, stopping the violence in the Oakland Community rest in the hands of those who truly want to see a society where violence and death is not a reality for our community.  Therefore, we are gonna have to be very creative and come up with a strategy to divert the hundreds of million dollars  being misappropriated and wasted by our public officials in Oakland,  into our schools, employment,  housing, and all other social programs which will transform this city, provide hope for our communities, and silence the violence once and for all.

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