I found this book after seeing Dr. King’s response to the question, during the Memphis garbage workers’ strike, of what it would take to prevent or call off his Poor People’s March on Washington: the answer was to implement the recommendations in this report.
First, let me say that this book is not, and should not be, an easy read. But it is a crucial read, in my opinion. Other reviewers have taken pains to point out that the title seemed a bit confusing, to them. I did not find it confusing, probably due to the fact that my father was called “The Professor” by his cultural cohort: fellow Black men of the Vietnam generation. So, I felt right at home with the idea of homelessness, which pervades this important work, when I started the book. I think that my Dad and the author would have gotten along very well, and I wish my father were alive now to meet him.
While the book itself was important, if a bit earthy, I personally found the interview and list of references most interesting, after the book itself. That is likely in part due to the many similar gut-wrenching memories triggered for me while reading the experiences of a man similar in many ways to my own father, a light-skinned Black man in DC, experiencing alarmingly similar events in roughly the same historical period.
The author is clearly well-read and working to raise points that are not only ignored but also feared by our system. The facts the author presents relating the slave trade and 1860’s market prices to current structural components of our American capitalist system are both taboo and inconvenient for those who benefit from our current economic arrangement. These are highly important things for all of us to look at squarely in the face, and to begin to shovel our own shit, as so much of the book does in metaphoric and literal terms.
Let’s #EndHomelessness, #EndPoverty, & #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our Public Domain Social Infrastructure:
#PublicDomainInfrastructure 4: (
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport )
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !
This post also discusses some of the background issues I experienced while reading the book and writing the review.
March, 12019 HE
How sad that the contents and conclusions of this report are still relevant, and still ignored, today, 50 years after it was released in response to the riots in Newark and Detroit of the “long hot” summer of 1967. I found this book after seeing Dr. King’s response to the question, during the Memphis garbage workers’ strike, of what it would take to prevent or call off his Poor People’s March on Washington: the answer was to implement the recommendations in this report.
The report was commissioned to find out what caused the rioting, not how to prevent further riots. The clearest distinctions between those who actively participated in the rioting and their neighbors who did not, at least at the start of each riot, was the trigger of having witnessed or experienced police brutality. But what primed that trigger for action was the underlying anger, poverty, constant discrimination, and despair to which the Black community in particular was subjected over a very long period of time.
The report called for various measures to be taken which would have improved the lives not only of members of the Black community, but also everyone else in the nation. Measures like the elimination of sub-standard housing in inner-cities, building new schools, health centers, and community facilities, and introducing a guaranteed minimum income would help all citizens, not only those bereft of resources and hope when they were freed with only the clothing on their backs, unable to melt into White American society. From the disrespect by police, to the lack of garbage collection in inner-city neighborhoods, Black Americans were fed up with White America’s deliberate disregard for “the realities of life for many poor blacks” in the United States. This anger, combined with the criminalization of poverty (which was just beginning to kick off the era of Mass Incarceration), the lack of Black faces in [the media, police, highly paid professions and other areas of potential] power, led to a sense of hopelessness and fear that non-violent resistance would never break down a system which was inherently designed to break down the Black community. Ideas like the War on Drugs, brought back by Reagan after the Carter years, and Law and Order, parroted by both right and left, muddied the discourse around solving the problems that led to the riots, instead creating a cloud of convenient reasons to blame inner-city Black communities for their problems while ignoring the structural issues that had created and perpetuated the problems since the slavery era.
The conclusion drawn by the report, above all, was that the entire nation needed education and “a richer portrait of life in urban areas” and to hire many many more Black police officers.
I think that many of the issues of perspective mentioned in the book by the author in his analysis of the report and its time are now beginning to be looked at again, as the discussion around White Privilege becomes louder and more mainstream. That discussion is a necessary but insufficient part of the solution to our current problems, which go back to pre-existing problems pointed out by the report. Please read this book on the Commission report (and also see Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin), and then, write your reps!
Pages I found especially relevant included:
P. 6: 1966 result of creation of ghettos by the 1930s-50s urban renewal aka Negro Removal all across the USA
** P. 12: What a contrast: only 1/100 white people thought that blacks were poorly treated in the USA…
***Ribicoff P. 37: recos…
P. 100: “in the ghetto” last garbage collection (if at all), police disrespectful, school & housing dilapidated
P. 228 (and the answer to that boot-straps baloney:) discrimination and segregation prevented many blacks from following the same patterns which had been followed by immigrant groups, and limited blacks to all but the lowest … jobs
Let’s #EndPoverty & #EndMoneyBail by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4:
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting for ALL!!!!, Walk !
March, 12019 HE
the aim: Fully Inclusive Equality.
The Goals (allowing each person to contribute fully):
1. Each person, as a child, must learn to swim (or at least float).
2. Each child must learn emotional/psychological self-defense and physical self-defense to the greatest extent possible, in a Gandhian context.
(1 and 2 are part of the pre-Adulthood criteria: http://meowdate.dreamwidth.org/6177.html …)
3. Each child, at birth, receives half a hectare of land, non-alienable. He or she may rent, lend or swap the land, but always remains the owner. Where ever the location, it should have a well and be arable.
4. Fresh water for ever person (free!)
5. Each family should have a book in the local public library, containing the autobiography of every adult in the family (which means that each person needs free time and the means to write his or her autobiography).
(the same Goals in Spanish:)
Un programa de Igualdad y Salud para Todos
Las Metas (para que todos pueden contribuir lo mejor):
1. Cada quien, de niño, debe aprender nadar
2. Que cada quien de niño aprende defenderse
3. Que cada bebe, al nacer, recibe .5 hectarios de terreno, que nunca se puede desprender. Se lo puede alquilar o prestar, pero siempre sigue esta persona como dueño o dueña del terreno. Que sea donde sea, será con un poso de agua y capaz de agricolar.
4. Agua potable para cada persona
5. Que cada familia tenga un libro en la biblioteca publica, con resumen del autobiografía de cada persona de la familia (eso quiere decir que cada quien tenga el tiempo libre y los recursos para escribir su autobiografia)
Gregorian Date: Tuesday, 9 September 2014
MEOW Date : Saturday, 9 September, 12014 H.E. (Holocene Era, aka Human Era)
Click here for English…
“ -Fuera lo espera un chófer con un coche oficial.
Prefiero ir en metro. ”
Como el subsecretario Salvador Martí del Ministerio del Tiempo, ojala que habîan màs funcionarios que nos darîan el buen ejemplo de usar los transportes publicos. A menudo, la falta de transporte publico llega hasta faltar las citas medicas y legales, con consequencia de perder los procesos judiciales que no han de perder, si la persona endeudada hubiera podido llegar a la corte para defender sus derechos.
A corto plazo, otros estados de los EEUU podrîan seguir el ejemplo del estado de Maryland, que ha prohibido las acciónes civiles por parte de colectores de deudas ya pasado la fecha limite segûn el tipo de deuda. Mientras tanto, a largo plazo, reconstruimos nuestra estructura economica para crear la igualdad en vez de crear la pobreza. Los dos puntos de vista, corto y largo plazo, nos urge.
“ -An official car and choffeur are waiting for you outside
I prefer to take the Metro.”
Would that more of our public officials, like subsecretary Salvador Marti of The Ministry of Time, set the example of using public transportation. Lack of transportation often leads to default judgement on an expired debt which could have been avoided, had the debtor been able to defend in court.
Over the short-term, states could follow the example of Maryland, and prohibit lawsuits on all expired debts, while also rebuilding our economic structures to create equity rather than poverty, over the long-term. Both short-term and long-term approaches are needed, urgently.
Let’s start to #EndPoverty by improving these four parts of our Public Domain Social Infrastructure, the #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4: (1. #libraries, 2. #ProBono legal aid and Education, 3. #UniversalHealthCare , and 4. good #publictransport )
Read, Write, Dream, Walk !
May 7th, 12018 HE
This is an off-the-cuff post, as I need to get this off my chest in order to concentrate on the book (A-Train…) I am reviewing and the one I am writing, but this cuts into both like a hot rusty knife. The jagged edges left from the taunts of the kids in kindergarten and 1st grade of how I must be white because my mother is dating a White man, and my skin is so light, I look like a little wild indian.
Of dark-skinned girls saying how I had “that good hair” while not letting my play double dutch with them, and of feeling grateful to the one girl who “took up for me” in school for a short while.
And for another short while there was my mother’s Jewish roommate Susanna, the 18 year old who took me everywhere, while my mother was out with her White boyfriend every weekend, and often weekdays as well. The one adult who never said “stop asking so many questions!” Yet the one adult who really showed the fear I lived with: a NY police officer pulled us over and she looked at me
-don’t say anything smart alecy, because this cop is going to think you are my daughter, so he is going to think I’m dating a Black guy.
A that moment, I knew. There really was no place for me in this world, and there never would be.
Through all of the moves to different projects and evictions, through sleeping in cars, begging to be let back into the school program I’d been in before … then even while staying in a Black professor’s apartment as she traveled to Africa, grateful to have a place to stay that week before my internship, I knew I had no place in this world. And I knew that it would always be that way: too light-skinned to be included by most of my fellow Black people, even within my own family (“you know M. only tolerated your mother because she was so light-skinned” -thanks, Uncle…), but always reminded by the white folks, like my first day of school in VA, that I am a “nigger,” and nothing will change that constant outsider-ness. Not even fleeing to another religion.
But I can try to help make this world a place where skin color and connections matter less. A world where no one ever sleeps on the street or fears for his or her safety, and thus a world where who you were born only means who your friends might (or might not) be, but doesn’t mean you are out on the street or fear for your safety.
So I work and I walk: I work for the Universal Basic Income that Dr. Martin Luther King called for, so that no child, black or white, ever has to fear the police just because of skin color, and no person ever has to sleep on the street for any reason, or go hungry, or come with hat in hand to ask anyone else for food, clothing, shelter or money for basic needs (and yes, a basic phone is also a basic need, as is free decent Public Transpo and Universal Health Care).
And I walk because a car (which I will admit to having fears of driving due to my PTSD, but I could usually keep that under control enough to pull over, back when I used to drive) also divides us economically, and any car takes money from public transportation. Yes, I am also lucky to be able to walk. And grateful. Ok, back to reading and writing…
Destinie (Shira… ? really?)
Back-posting this so it shows only to my Readers… Written on Monday, March 11th, 12019 HE…