[lbo-talk] Occupy the hood revisit

Chuck Grimes c123grimes at att.net
Thu Dec 15 18:13:14 PST 2011

I guess this is another sidebar. I've spent a lot of my working life in Oakland delivering heathcare and DME services to black families and young people. There is a street etiquette where it's on me, the white guy to convince people I am not on the regular menu of assholes. It only takes a couple of minutes or less and it's a matter of public courtsey.

Race relations are different in different parts of the country and different cities, depending on their histories. I can understand a sulking black community in Wisconsin. Out here, I suspect there is a lot more support for public employees since the immediate work force has been de-segregated ever since the 1960s starting with the local schools. Here there was a tremendous let down on Obama, but it mostly goes unsaid. Reasons vary. Perhaps there is some race loyalty, but mostly it seems the standard fare of the lesser of evils. And the lesser of evils means a lot more to African Americans.

There is also the right to vote which is a solid issue in many parts of the country with a lot of state voter laws requiring picture id, no same day registration, proof of residencey, felony convictions elimenate voting rights etc. So just the right to vote is still an issue, never mind vote for what?

There was a brief discussion on DN this morning with the NAACP and Common Cause who petitioned AG Holder to start looking into these state laws. He finally got off his police butt and made a speech in defense of voting as a civil right---while he railroads through prosecutions (of Muslims) that should have been tossed the minute he took office. And of course Wall Street is off the table...

Meanwhile Quan is an outright racist. She wants to take the credit when the credit is good, and shove the bad off on the temporary appointed black chief, Jordan. The last chief quit over these duplicities. There is already a recall effort against Quan and it started with several thousand signatures, before the recall supporters could get an official date to begin.

Dellums only ran for one term, before his income taxes scandal came up so he didn't run again. People in Oakland are fed up with this bullshit. If it isn't the cops killing black kids, it's somekind of official corruption, and if not that then attitude problems like Quan's...

And then, in the back of my ancient brain are all the cross-current political forces that are trying to pull the OWS apart. Occupy the Hood was a great solution. Bring those issues to the front. The black block and violence v. non-violence was another. There are class issues within the black community, folks on the hill v. flat landers---which is literally true in Oakland. And then the latino issues of language, culture, class, immigration and assimilation v. integration.

I mean some of this is funny. Yesterday Antonio the private owner of our business partnership with public service (me) bringing up the rear was apologizing for his Spanish. He couldn't roll his R's. Funny because he was totally assimilated and didn't know Spanish. Ceasar (used to be Peruvian) came to his rescue with relatively high class (more Castillian like) Spanish as spoken in South America. The customers were from Mexico which is looked down on by South Americans. Ceasar was very gracious re-interpreting Antonio's occasional clumsy translations.

Oakland is a very complex place/history/time... Met an interesting black lady today who had been a tap dancer in her youth into her thirties, and a dance teacher in her retirement before she had a stroke. Now she teaches tap from a walker! We were talking about practice. Practice is perfect for stroke, because the more you use, the more you get back, which is not unlike dance. She is only four months into recovery. In a year she very well might be back into a slower version, which is good for students so they can follow.

Something is wrong. I am having too much fun. I suspect they are going to fire me for being happy.


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