28 January 2014

Habla Ifa, On NonViolence: Avonte Oquendo and Oshun's East River Speak - Part III

*originally posted by Jadele McPherson, a writer, performer and activist whom I'm proud to call my sister. Reposted with permission and slight edits by myself

Part III: The Rotten Apple of Elitism: A Divided America

Accountability. Genuine, means we can start with ourselves first, then them later. We know they ain't gonna report what happened,  they aint gonna tell the truth, they don't give a godd*&m, but when we start to do the same, we in trouble. Those of us fighting the good fight that is, pro-humanity. We come in all shapes and sizes, all professions, all backgrounds all ways of life, and we do exist. We ain't dead yet. So as Eyiboge tells us "Mientras hay vidas, hay esperanza" (Nope, I aint translatin', google it you overeducated fools that I care deeply about).

Just as in Trayvon's case, every person of color is Avonte Oquendo. For those privileged enough, myself of course included, to have attended elite {read: white} institutions of higher education, we have more responsibility to those of us who did not make it, regardless of our profession, to every student of color in this nation. Despite our debt and our traumatic experiences, for which there is healing, if you have not stepped foot in a public school in a black and/or Latino neighborhood recently you are committing a grave crime, a grave error. We need all of you, your talents and your voices, your stories -- our children need your touch and your embraces, they need to know your name and how you survive through all of this craziness so that they too can hop in a dream. None of us are Yaled or Andover or Exetered or Nightengaled or Latin Schooled or Wesleyed or Williamsed or Oberlined or Smithed or Harvarded enough to escape this social service.

For every one of us who attended such places, 100 people from the 'hood could have gone in our places-- not all would have the community in place to actually graduate, but certainly the raw talent and intelligence. You see we, black and/or Latina/o people and progressive whites in Generation X or Y or Z, have bitten the poisoned apple of success and elitism. We are Social Darwinists and Capitalists to the core, vacationing in the Hamptons, drinking Scotch and relishing in our social circles of privilege without extending those opportunities even to others in our same graduation class. That's not my responsibility...is it? The vast majority of people of color graduate to uphold a dangerous system of tokenism in this country from law to politics, to President to Orchestras to media to education and the arts to finance. 

The rest of us who give a damn argue each other down without a care about this person's approach and this school of thought and this argument, don't tell me you practice holistic community in every step of your politics, radical folks. I have experienced our wrath and have been guilty by the same token. No idea is good enough for us, we circle ourselves in our ideas so much, we.forget.to.truly.act. And what's worst we chastise those who do not share our radical fire, isolating the multiplicity that is our community.

{Sidenote: And this modern day self-righteousness that I see among artists and "community activists" can be checked by action. Who outside of your fellow pillars of similar ideas have you affected, and what have you done? All the books in the world don't mean anything unless we can create action and community that has witnessed y/our continuous transformation and radical ideas put into projects, that work.} 

Well, we can't save everyone Jadele, we can't save the world. WHAT?! You mean to tell me the top 10% of black graduates of elite boarding schools and let's say top 100 colleges and universities in the nation, plus top graduating classes of HBCUs together, cannot radically transform our educational system in America, but sharecroppers could? We must have forgotten the blood shed for us to walk through those shiny black gates, or is it Sallie Mae who troubles us? We all have debt (well, some don't) and busy lives, we all have fears and dreams to work for every single day. No one is talking about what is impossible or unhealthy, we are talking about reality, what a summer volunteering at a public school for those of you who now make $100,000+ a year could do for a young person is as the commercial says = priceless. Speaking of advertising what about an effective media campaign about education equality for all my ad/marketing buffs, or is your dollar earned from the multi-million corporations you serve enough for you? Not enough time after work you say, give it 265 days of Happy Hours and see what you come up with? Jeez. I mean it comes down to time, focus and creativity with the resources at hand, our ancestors created more with much less, and now that we have the world at our fingertips, we're handicapped by brilliance and technology. Unreal.

How dare you leave us measly salaried PhD and artists with the burden of social change. Who exempted you from a life of service? See it is not just whites who perpetuate the myth of a post-racial society, it is a whole lot of us "people of color". We better get it right. Today's radical warriors are as diverse as King imagined them to be and we have to create that sophisticated multicultural, LGBTQ narrative while pursuing an apologetic black politic. Si, se puede.

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