In the aftermath of a BART police officer killing a young Black man outside West Oakland BART station, the public transportation agency is scaling up its violent engagement towards low-income residents of Oakland by using $2.7 million to fund a new fare enforcement regime to require “proof-of-payment” and hand out fines.
Burnout Family is a group centered in East Oakland. The FBI recently handed down several indictments against them recent. But the ability to gather and organize communally and politically is one of the most important conditions for a people to determine their own lives. Organization allows for the distribution of resources, the gathering of minds, the support of specific community needs, and the ability to collectively make decisions about how a community is to survive. In this light, the gang injunction is a potent legal weapon for the white supremacist establishment to suppress and ultimately destroy communities of color.
Pain bridges from generation to generation in descendants of the transatlantic slave trade.
Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS) posits that centuries of slavery in the United States, followed by systemic and structural racism and oppression, including lynching, Jim Crow laws and unwarranted mass incarceration, have resulted in multigenerational maladaptive behaviors, which originated as survival strategies. The syndrome continues because children whose parents suffer from PTSS are often indoctrinated into the same behaviors, long after the behaviors have lost their contextual effectiveness.
Part 4 of 4 | See Previous Post
In the United States, Africans aren't Black.
Black Americans and Africans are two distinctly different groups. It's difficult for people to understand this because of our shared complexion and origin, but Black Americans are their own people.
Black Americans have an experience in the United States that is specific to the transatlantic slave trade, not their origin in Africa. But African immigrants and first generation Africans have an identity outside of US slavery - especially because they have the privilege of knowing what country in Africa that they originated from.
Addiction is an interesting phenomenon to look at, because it reveals stark differences in the way a society treats its vulnerable, depending on what type of class or race they belong to.
We can say that someone with any kind of addiction is vulnerable in a way, due to the nature of addiction. Addiction is commonly understood as some sort of unproductive – or even counterproductive – behavior that an individual is unable to stop engaging in with their own will power. So addicts are vulnerable: they can’t stop what they are doing, so society has to come up with a way of helping them – or punishing them, depending on your stance.
But addictive behaviors crop up in many different ways, and they turn up across race and class lines. It is not surprising then when we start to see that not all addictions are treated the same.
What should we do with addicts? How do we treat addiction? Do we help people? Do we punish them? These are interesting questions, but for now, we are going to focus on the way that this society treats different kinds of addicts differently.
In a community, or even a society, there is a way in which everyone fits in. What do you do to contribute? What do you get for your contribution? Who are you? How do you relate to others? In the end, you have to take up space as a unique individual. This is your identity.
Many times, an identity is socially constructed and given to an individual. In a healthy society, this can be consensual. Society asks of you a contribution based on an honest evaluation of who you are.
In an unhealthy society such as this one, it is forced. To those benefiting from force and domination, identity seems as a default position. The privileged find themselves buoyant in their own societies and see themselves reflected back when they look into society. So they say to themselves, "yes this is me, and this is how the world should be," usually without thinking much.
It doesn't matter where Wilson was standing, where Brown was standing, who was reaching for what, how big Brown was, or what Brown did in the convenience store. All of these details were simply manipulated to produce a moral narrative for a show trial that was already rigged to acquit officer Wilson in the first place.
What does matter is the systematic pattern of violence, indignation, injustice, and exploitation that African Americans suffer under the American justice system, and the virtual immunity of the police while perpetuating this state of affairs. Or for that matter the extreme economic disparities that have characterized the American caste system for centuries - and let's not pretend that we don't have a caste system - which create the conditions for these gross distortions of the concept of justice.
In brief, Oakland and other cities in the bay that are in close proximity to San Francisco or San Jose - and the tech bubble those regions imply - are in a state of simmering turmoil, in which displaced wealth, which can't even compete with the extreme concentrations of wealth in urban areas, is flooding in, and lower income communities are finding themselves severely strained in their own neighborhoods, or otherwise priced out and displaced.
Needless to say, gentrification as a phenomenon has been happening for as long as capitalism has existed, and probably even further back in some form or another. But as a phenomenon it reveals the soft violence of wealth stratification and what it can do to communities.
Forming graduated tiers, wealth and power enjoys a freedom of movement in which it flows to the geographic and social objects of desire and overtakes them, displacing those of limited means in a lower tier. It is the process in which a stratified society settles onto itself as it changes, doing violence to itself.
Part I of 2 | See Later Post
People of color are mostly transracial. If not by our actions, then by how we're perceived. There are those who denounce their identities. Some people are inspired to assume the identities of others. Race isn't always concrete. And within some groups, especially the African-American community, acceptance is a constant negotiation.
Among Black people, skin color does not guarantee that people will perceive you as Black. For example, mixed-Black people and Africans often fail to recognize how often Black people reject them. For African-Americans, skin color and origin don't equate to race as much as culture. Despite their seemingly Black appearances, both Africans and mixed-Black people often fail to acknowledge their further proximity to actual Blackness (versus perceived). And in North America, especially during the Black Lives Matter movement, that mindset undermines the Black lives taken by police (and other forces) specifically because of their ancestral and cultural relationships to slavery within this country. This pattern has diluted the Black identities that deserve our utmost attention; and there are ways to align with Blackness without marginalizing those most affected by its consequences.
Communities of color fault white people for being colorblind, but we commit the same mistake by Black-washing entire groups as well - especially when Black people have their own unique culture and identity that deserves the same sacredness as other groups are afforded.
"My grandmother's grandmother was a slave. I spent many years living with her. I wasn't consciously processing how slavery impacted her life - but my grandmother was open about her feelings towards white people. Slavery passed down a trauma to me that people outside the African-American community fail to understand. We're 'trained to go' in the Bay Area - a lot of Black families here came from the South - we react instinctively to being made to feel inferior."
In line with this, prison therapist, James Gilligan, has noted that at the base of most violent acts is a presence of a profound feeling of disrespect. People tend to commit violent acts when they feel disrespected, and they don't feel as though there is any other way to gain that respect back.
But this is a society that doesn't hesitate to disrespect the disadvantaged, whether the disadvantaged in question are the poor, people of color, individuals labeled by the state as criminals, or other vulnerable individuals or groups. Oftentimes, on the part of those most vulnerable, the attitude that violence is the answer doesn't seem that unreasonable.