20 Jun Africa as Answer for Black Boys

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By Rudolph Lewis who has posted a new comment on this Blog:

Dear Rudy,

I am reading this in Kenya, Africa and I am appalled. There are answers though and not just from the US government. These answers may rescue just a few but its important that we start looking for solutions. It only takes One Martin Luther King, One Nelson Mandela to make the huge difference for the many. But first we must make sure that that boy and that girl can become Nelson and Martin. Africa may offer some of the answers for the few.

I have a friend who is married to an African American living in the US. They are both doctors. They sent their son to Kenya for high school so that he could escape the negative influences that you have outlined. On top of that he was extremely intelligent and nerdy. He did not like sports at all. After four years he has graduated high school at the top of his class. He has grown into a fine confident young man and is going to college.

Many Africans in fact do this. They may live in the US or Europe but send their children back home for their high school education. In this way their children are able to grow up in societies in which they are just people and not Black people. And I can't tell you how liberating that is to have that everyday of my life. Some African countries have excellent education especially for those who can afford it. I did my Masters degree in the US and Kenyans always did really well because we had such a great educational foundation.

We have always seen the USA, Europe as offering educational opportunities lets start thinking what other places can offer other people. I went to Asia for the first time in 2005. It is incredible, I had a wonderful time and I just loved the food! Traveling has made me less significant.

We should start a purposeful exchange programme that exposes young African Americans and young Africans to something different something that will expand their horizons and shatter the boxes that they and their society have confined them. Even as you guys talk about the negative experiences of America, I know that my 2.5 years were some of the most valuable. I got to see what is possible and more importantly that I am but possibility.

Also please read the latest Vanity Fair its on Africa and there are many articles written by Africans. IT IS THE FIRST POSITIVE THING I HAVE READ ABOUT AFRICA FROM THE WEST FOR A LONG TIME. There is a lot of coverage on Kenya my fabulous country.

Love,

Betty

I think of the whole world as my playground.

Betty Muragori,

Kenya, Africa

Ans. Africa as Answer for Black Boys

Betty, I think there may be such organizational programs that send kids to Africa. Kam reviewed a film of such a program situated in Baltimore, Maryland. But I think that those programs are of short duration because they are expensive comparatively and thus their impact is mediated by a return to the same urban environments, which they had been plucked out of.

But, you are right, a broad perspective of the world is indeed helpful to intellectual development. Often living in America's urban ghettos the world is tiny, restricted indeed, probably more than you imagine and the competition is fierce and violent. Often kids are restricted to a neighborhood of several blocks. Such neighborhoods used to have a great variety of persons and classes. Now, that has changed, especially after the 60s when segregation in housing was lifted. That was accelerated in the 80s. The poor and unemployed live in restricted zones. The well-off professionals live elsewhere. So the poor prey upon one another. The urban streets of America are mean streets. They are zones of double exploitation

And on them you must not show any weakness and you must be on the alert and be suspicious of all movement. One constantly looks over ones shoulder. I just moved away from such a neighborhood. Most of such neighborhoods are overwhelmed by ignorance, unemployment and under-employment, illnesses of every sort, and police forces. For young boys on the street and not in school the best way to get an income is to be involved in the drug trade, in some manner, often selling drugs to men and women the age of their parents or to their parents. For older men it is in the selling of stolen goods. Or it involves scavenging abandoned houses for metal or other salable items.

For women (old and young) it is prostitution, standing or walking the streets looking for a john. This kind of sexual work is far below the minimum wage for such economic activity. For such women are usually hooked on crack and some on both crack and heroin. And so they have to work doubly hard as they continue to sink farther and farther down the ladder of humanity. Some of these women are mothers and grandmothers.

For kids living in such an environment of unemployment, vice, and violence from within and without, the imagination, the broadness of mind and possibility are stunted, to say the least. This corruption however is merely a rougher moral mirror of that which exists above. In many of these urban centers are black politicians who make the laws, black cops who police the streets and they are no less humane than those with white skins. Matter of fact, they may look down with even harsher eyes embarrassed. In any case, the law is a lawless element among other lawless elements within these depressed communities.

Teachers will tell you that they cannot teach the kids that come out of these environments. They are not lying. For the teachers do not live in such neighborhoods. And the problems their kids bring into the classroom are multitudinous. Teachers are a foreign element like the cops who come into the communities from well-mowed lawns and two-car garages. They come in to do the white mans work of programming. I suspect that you and most African university students see little of this life that I'm describing to you. It is probably the same with many of the black middle who are natives of the land.

Few of them have any understanding or knowledge what that life is and how it came to be that way and that their class of people is culpable and responsible that such a life has been heaped upon the black poor in our urban centers. They have all kinds of ideas for reform and social welfare, outworn a century ago. They will go back to the polls tomorrow and they with vote back into office the scoundrels responsible for creating such a world for my people. But that is the life we are now forced to endure. They blame the poor for their own poverty and they are just as ready to punish them as the KKK was a generation or two ago. The only difference is that these post-industrial KKK (blacks and whites) are much more sophisticated. There are no crosses burning on the lawns; there is no inflammatory language. It is all very professional. But they closely observe the ones they want to abuse. There are cameras (blue lights flashing) on every other corner, snapping pictures of every activity.

So, yes, I have only hope for the few. The prison industry yet grows by leaps and bounds. Like the Nazis of the past, soon, they will look for more efficient ways of disposing of this disagreeable element in our midst. Who knows what it will be. This is a fiendish lot we are dealing with; they are exceedingly imaginative when it comes to cruelty as we see now in Iraq, and with Abu Ghraib. This will come sooner than we think, if the social and religious philosophy which brought all this into existence does not change, for this approach of locking up and throwing away the key is becoming more and more expensive. The personnel of these prisons will become more and more expensive.

Excuse me, I did not mean to go as far as I have. I suppose we can rely on the false hopes and the well-meaning to bail us out with the aspirations of Obamas, Fords, Mitchells and other bourgeois elites.

Rudolph Lewis


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