Sanders isn’t Holding the Democratic Party Hostage. I AM.

Writing

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-d-rosenstein/bernie-sanders-should-not_b_13913148.html

Here’s how delusional the Establishment is, they think that they don’t have to examine their behavior after suffering the most devastating and humiliating loss in modern history to a racist man who joked about sexual assault on film. And apparently it’s mean to even suggest otherwise. They also think it is mean to even suggest that they lost and have to give up some power to the people in the party who suggested that their tactics weren’t going to work. They think it is being HELD HOSTAGE when their working class says, “hey, you have to represent us.” WHICH IS SANDERS’ JOB. This is just his job, it is the job of representatives to say, “you have to represent the people, and I’m going to push you to.” This whole article is a transparent attempt on the part of party elites to tell the working class members of the party that they aren’t allowed to talk. These are classic silencing tactics and there is no reason why we should listen to them. They think their platform was “the most progressive in history” and never ask who it was the most progressive for? I don’t remember there being a whole lot in there for the poor, even though we tried to push that in there, and I seem to remember several people telling me I had to accept this to “Stop Trump” or else. Well, they failed to stop Trump, so I’m not sure what excuse they have to keep me quiet now. And they think that all the Sanderistas are independents who aren’t actual members of the party. Despite the fact that this has been proven to be false several times.

So, allow me to pop some bubbles and bring them up to speed on the actual hostage situation they are now in.

1) You lost. You lost big and because you lost, the elements of the party, which are the Sanders folks, now get to take the party over because that’s how the game is played. You can whine about it. You can fight it. But this is inevitable. And it ain’t a hostage situation. This is a hostile takeover and the name of your enemy isn’t Bernie Sanders. The name is Heather Raffin and if you were real feminists you’d give a bitch credit. There are a bunch of me around the country who are sick of you failing to represent us. Who are sick of being treated poorly and who are sick of people bullying us into supporting a party that not only doesn’t represent us in any tangible, meaningful way, but is also actively oppressing us while expecting pats on the back in the process. We DON’T HAVE TO DO anything for you. You need to explain us why we should help you.

2) I’ve been a card carrying Democrat since I was 18. I’ve registered voters. Caucused for you. Increased turnout. I come with a veritable army of working class people that will follow my votes with me and if I leave the party, they will decide what to do themselves like adults, but I promise you that they trust me a lot more than they trust you. TEST ME and see what happens.

3) Your platform was not the “most progressive” in history. It was progressive FOR RICH PEOPLE. It had no tangible benefits for the poor. For that, you have to go back to FDR and LBJ, but you don’t remember that because y’all don’t remember your roots. Well, your working class hasn’t forgotten. We remember and we pass that shit around through oral history. And we are taking the party back for their rightful owners whether you like it or not. You can get out of the way or you can fall. The choice is yours, but don’t blame it on Sanders. You brought this on yourselves.

4) You fucks have been running around laughing about how funny it is that white trash like me will die under Trump. You’ve been doing nothing while my friends have to worry about their baby dying. You have sat back and passed symbolic legislation that puts the poor in more danger while exploiting our labor and expecting pats on the back. This makes you my enemy, not my ally. According to the laws of MY PEOPLE, I have everything I need to justify using everything in my arsenal to take you out. And yet, here I am kindly giving you a warning about what is coming for you if you don’t change your tune. That’s because, unlike you, I have a sense of honor and dignity. That’s me being nice. You should be grateful we are being so kind. You are lucky you are getting this much warning after how you treated us. If I were you, I wouldn’t complain about it.

5) The Republicans are offering to talk about class and to deal with the issues the working class face, you are not. They’ve mentioned this to several Sanderistas in public while you’ve been publishing this bullshit. GIVE ME ONE GOOD REASON WHY I SHOULDN’T TAKE THEM UP ON IT?

That’s right folks. If you don’t change your tune, we have an alternative. In exactly a month, if the following conditions aren’t met, I will LEAVE the Democrat party and encourage the rest to come with me. I will re-register as a independent and support candidates regardless of their party affiliations who back the needs of the working class exclusively. I will continue to organize the working classes, and I will do absolutely everything in my power to take down what remains of the rich among the left who can’t pull their heads out of their asses and do what is right for the poor. From here on out, I am making it my personal mission to COME FOR EACH AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU RICH FUCKS THAT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE POOR. I CONSIDER YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR TRUMP’S PRESIDENCY.

If the following conditions are met within the next month, I will remain within the party and continue to try to work within it. NOW YOU ARE IN A HOSTAGE SITUATION. I hope now you’ve learned an important lesson about checking your fucking rhetoric.

1) You don’t have to make Keith Ellison the head of the party, but I want a Sanderista, and I consider the placement of Rahm Emmanuel as the head of the party a Declaration of War.

2) I want a party platform that includes the input of actual working class people with progressive economic policies that include things that benefit working families and large swathes of the population. I want this process to include actual consultation with the working classes and I want it working class led.

3) I want a microphone and exposure given to working class people similar to what was given to Diamond and Silk. http://www.diamondandsilkinc.com/

4) I want the rich members of the party to stop engaging in bigoted rhetoric towards members of the poor, including poor whites. I want them to accept a backseat role in activism. I want them to give up leadership positions to working class and grassroots activists and I want the focus of the left to change to problems of the poor.

5) I want the party to deal with voter suppression and to admit that there were problems during the primaries. I want the party to advocate for a national holiday for voters so that everyone has the opportunity to vote and I want the left to organize voter ID drives like they used to do.

6) I want the adults on the left to actually get the bullies under control. No more ruining the lives of innocent people. This means no more going after people’s jobs for tweets. This means no more purging of dissenters. This means that the college students are exposed for the brats they are. This also means that the left disavows and repudiates any tactics that puts innocents and the working classes at greater risk under a Trump administration.

THIS IS A START TO FIXING THE PROBLEMS YOU NOW FACE. You guys can fall in line on this or you can fall. I don’t care. We got three years before 2020 and I have the more compelling narrative on my side and the facts. You wanna underestimate us, go ahead. Every time you do, you make this much easier for me. You wanna try to purge me? Go ahead. You make this easier for me. Ignore me? Go ahead? You are proving my point. I suggest you take the deal I am offering you now and save the position you presently hold because we don’t even have to let you have that.

Trump got elected on your watch. So we don’t owe you shit.

This isn’t a hostage situation. YOUR ASS IS BEING RIGHTEOUSLY DETHRONED AND MY NEW NAME IS KHALESSI.

Sanders was as nice as y’all were going to do. You should have gone with him. Attack him again and see what happens.

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Sorry Not Sorry that I am Harping on the Disenfranchisement and Death of People

Writing
Have had multiple left-leaning activists try to silence me, since it seems it will continue and I have more important things to do, I’d thought I’d make some general statements so that you all will step your game up and at least make it  interesting for me.
 
 

The following are pretty representative of the kind of messages I get on the regular.


“I’m not trying to shut you up but I don’t understand why you harping about class so much, aren’t there more important things?”

“Aren’t you engaged in class warfare?”

“I think poor white people should just stop whining”

“We understand you are emotional right now, should you be writing this stuff?”

“Most people already understand this stuff, do you need to keep talking about it?”

 


Here is my response:

        1) I’m not just trying to reach the people you think are worthy of speaking to, and that construction is so elitist, I suggest you reflect on it for a while.

         2) I’m “harping” on it because I am still seeing Establishment elites making that claim and the problem with that claim (AS I HAVE MADE CLEAR THROUGHOUT MY WRITING) is that it lets the rich have a scapegoat and lets them off the hook for what they did to us. It also provides the left with a nice bit of schadenfreude when they see Trump fucking over the poor, which makes them feel like they don’t have to actually help those people, even though those people are dying. I know this because I’ve seen them post a bunch of times about how funny it is that we will suffer under Trump, and they continue to do so. I explain all of this in these posts.

         3)  If you REALLY cared about bringing socialism to the people you’d spend your time doing what I do, which is trying to help poor whites understand that they are ALSO oppressed and need to work with their families and neighbors to challenge the power structure. The fact that you self identify as a leftist but don’t get why that matters suggests to me that maybe you should be spending some more time learning from me and reading and a little less time gaslighting me and wasting my time. And I will add that NONE of you has been a more successful activist than me, so I’m not sure why so many people assume they have the right to tell me what to do.  I don’t try to go around bragging about my accomplishments because it wasn’t how I was raised, but I challenge you to find someone our age on the left that has done more work to successfully challenge the power structure. Maybe instead of lecturing the person who made it possible to talk about class on elite campuses, and the person who demonstrated the ability to close the achievement gap with culturally relevant pedagogy, and the one person that came from the poor that also has the research and analytical abilities to lay this all out, you should try to learn from me. You know why I’m not a household name? I was so surgical with stuff at Stanford that no one even knew what I did until they started researching my work years later. If you graduated any time after 2006, and you are first generation or low income at an elite institution, there is one direct line you can trace back to the supports you have now. And like all the roads in Rome they lead to one bad bitch. The reason you don’t know this is because I do my work to empower others and get stuff done, not to be cool on social media. Still don’t believe me? Go say my maiden name on the Stanford campus to any administrator that was there between 2006-210. My actual students will happily vouch for the rest. So please stop telling me what to do, unless you are, I dunno, Pope Francis or something.
               4) I’m a big girl and I’ll decide what is worth my time, if the left doesn’t like it I guess they can try a little harder to silence me, because these bullshit little messages that attempt to guilt me aren’t working. You want to actually help the poor? Then maybe you should be doing something worth your time, and actually help us when we speak instead of telling me how to talk.
            5) I’m talking about this because the media narrative matters and it matters that we have evidence. For many years, rich people have heard what I said and denied it with the words, “but you don’t have evidence.” Considering that we are talking about the death and disenfranchisement of people, I’d say that’s a pretty distasteful response. Now I have the evidence and they can’t deny it on empirical grounds so what do they do instead. They gaslight me and then try to co-opt me by turning my focus elsewhere. One wonders what could possibly be more important than getting to vote and not dying, but let’s talk about what a dick Trevor Noah is instead.
       6) I’m glad you have finally come to understand my value in solving other problems, perhaps if you had made such an offer sooner and had offered me math and science classes in high school that co-option strategy might have worked. Unfortunately, we are far past that point and I’ll write about whatever I want. Because the day that Trump got elected on your watch was the day a new sheriff came to town and she is a harpy cunt who doesn’t care what you think.






        

     In the efforts to gaslight me, some have asked if I am stressed. OF COURSE I’m stressed, I’m a human being and not a robot. You’d be stressed too if you were trying to do all this stuff with what is going on in the world. But let me tell you something else, I’ve always been stressed. The last nine months were the first time I experienced life that wasn’t stressful. So I’ve been stressed the whole time and you know what? I’ve managed to accomplish quite a lot in that time.
        You don’t think I was stressed when my 3 grandparents died my senior year and I still managed to get FLIP off the ground, put on a theatrical production, graduate with a high GPA and speak at a pro-immigration rally? That was pretty stressful. Going to school hungry as a kid after having not slept so I could protect my body was pretty stressful too.  Closing the achievement gap and teaching anti-racist pedagogy at a title one school while my body literally fell apart was also stressful. I’ve been stressed and I’ve still managed to do lots of things very successfully. So if you are really concerned about my stress you will fight with me to change those things because no one should ever have to be under the stress I’m under and then have to contend with the feelings of the people who supposed to helping her on top of it.
       I posted this knowing there would be social costs for a reason. One, I wanted you all to finally see the kinds of messages I receive on a near daily basis. The left has gotten away with doing these things because I have taken their bullshit for the team, but it has become quite clear to me that they don’t care about the team at all and that they don’t deserve to be in charge. I kept silent about the voting suppression that happened in the primaries during the general election at the request of other leftists. I’ve been quiet about class because other leftists told me I was racist otherwise. I have kept my mouth shut about the sexual harassment and abuse that left leaning partners and classmates have done to me over the years to help keep the team together. I’m not doing it anymore, I’m not backing down and I’m not shutting up.
          Someone complained that I don’t provide actionable solutions, so I’d like to take the time to re-state some possible solutions that are a better use of your time than telling me how to talk.
1) Feeding the homeless
2) Learning from the homeless, from the poor, from women, from Black people, first nations, and queer people
3) Elevating those voices by promoting them where and when you can and that includes social media but also at the dinner table
4) Spreading and shouting the truth and learning to be open to criticism
5) Reading
7) Reading to illiterate adults and kids
8) Calling the women in your life to telling them you value and love them and will fight Trump’s assault on them
9) Supporting progressive businesses with your money
10) Helping to organize unions
11) Helping to organize the working classes and giving them the opportunity to be read and heard.
12) Getting involved in local civic organizations
13) Learning about local politics and becoming engaged in them
14) Talking to vets and listening to them, then lobbying your politicians to meet their needs
15) Organizing or participating in boycotts
16) Focusing on raising your kids to be better people and to be strong enough people to make the world better than the one we are giving them
17) Volunteer in classrooms, help teachers with the grunt work of teaching, advocate for higher pay
18) Demanding affordable housing
19) Fighting for paid leave for all
20) Working to change male culture so that we have healthy masculinity and men worthy of the title “American.”

 

                You don’t get to kill and exploit us and then tell us when we can talk about it. My friends don’t treat me this way and I don’t care about your opinion. If you want to be down for the struggle ahead and you aren’t already on the team or poor, you are going to have to do A LOT of work to prove yourself to me and my people. I don’t trust you and I don’t know why you think you deserve it. You’ve been drunk at the wheel for years and I learned that you can’t trust delusional alcoholics to act like adults. I suggest that you recognize how effective it is for you to keep talking and shut up until you are ready to help us.

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 6: The Boiling Frog

Writing

Introduction

The Establishment has forcefully pushed the explanation that Clinton lost due the fact that “working class whites” voted for Trump because they are racist. I was surprised to hear this theory, because as a poor white person, I know that the rich always vote for Republicans and the poor have very consistently voted for Democrats. This holds in exit poll data back into 1984 (we’ll talk about the income data and exit polls in general in a separate post, but that data can be found here). This year, Clinton only won those making 50,000 a year, while losing the other income groups.

exitpolldata

Some have noticed that Trump won more uneducated voters, and called these people working class. This seems strange for two reasons

  1. Trump also won the educated white vote.
  2. Only 30 percent of the country has a BA and BA’s are no guarantee of social status in a country where there is limited social mobility

More detailed contextual information is here. After seeing these arguments, it was suggested that Clinton won the cities, where the poor are assumed to be nonwhite (there are in fact, poor whites in urban areas, I used to be one), while Trump won rural, white voters living in poverty. This theory will be deconstructed by looking at the precinct by precinct data. That data, which goes beyond exit polls to actual vote totals,  can be found using this link. Please subscribe to the LA Times for being kind enough to make big data accessible to everyone.

What the Exit Polls Show

The trick to getting people to accept oppression is to do it slowly over time. It works like boiling a frog, if you throw a live frog into a boiling pot, it’ll jump right out. If you put the frog in the water and then boil it, the frog won’t notice what has happened until it is too late. Today we are going to talk about the evidence and factors that suggest this has been happening to the poor in our electoral system. Now, much has been written about the declining middle class and that is real and important, but people much better qualified than I am have already tackled that in a lot of detail, so today I won’t be talking about that. It’s not personal, I just can’t do everything. I do suggest though, that middle class people start asking some tough questions about what the rich has been doing to them and the poor, because as we will see, the real beneficiaries are the rich. This might explain why so many MIDDLE CLASS people felt the need to vote for someone new, like Trump, and I hope someone will take that discussion on, or perhaps the theory that these people believe they can one day become rich and vote against their interests holds for the middle class. It definitely doesn’t hold for the working class, who have continued to vote for the Democrats for a very long time.

I’ve already proven based on the exit poll data and precinct by precinct numbers that the poor didn’t actually vote for Trump.  You can see the neighborhood data here which shows that even in California, you can see neighborhoods broken up by income next to each other where the rich clearly voted for Trump while the poor went overwhelmingly to Clinton. California is not an anomaly, their poor aren’t less poor and the only area that seems especially liberal is the Bay Area, which has a larger number of immigrants, members of the queer community, Jewish people and Millenials in their upper classes. This pattern, where the rich vote for Republicans and the poor vote for Democrats holds as far back as I can trace it back, except for the Reagan anomaly in 1980, though it is worth noting that Reagan won by a landslide and the MOST poor group was the only group the Democrats won. Even in extremely white neighborhoods the trend holds. This holds even in the areas we think of as liberal, and even in urban areas.

So what explanation explains why the Democrats lost, if its not the Rust Belt Revolt? We know that turnout was lower this year for the Democrats. It however, wasn’t universally lower turnout for all income groups.

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This data comes from the Roper Center at Cornell, but it could be cross referenced with other data.  Broadly, the data shows that the number of poor people who make up the electorate has declined, while the rich have increased. Now, in case you don’t want to go through that data and want an easier way to see the visual change over time, I’ve made a chart.

voteshareovertime

This is the percent of vote share (so what percentage they made of the electorate over time). The poor have a dramatic decrease, while the rich have a dramatic increase. In 2016, they very nearly intersect. I defined class by income and adjusted for inflation.

In 2016, 26 percent of voters made more 100,000 dollars a year. That’s the upper 20 percent, but they represent 26 percent of votes. In 2016, half the country was making less than 30,000, but those making UNDER 50,000 only represent 41 percent of the votes. The rich were actually over-represented while the poor were under represented, and this is true even when we allow 50,000,  to be the marker instead of 30,000 (I wanted to account for high cost of living locations). You’ll notice that the exit polls stop breaking down the working class numbers into discrete categories in 2012, this isn’t because people aren’t making less than 50,000. It might because the lowest numbers of the income status weren’t statistically significant enough to separate out anymore. This is not because of inflation, things haven’t changed THAT much since the 80s.

In case you don’t believe this, here’s the median income numbers over time.

 

incomeovertime

The poor have increased, but the rich show a pretty dramatic convergence.

Frankly, 1980 isn’t even far enough to adjust for inflation because things haven’t changed that much in terms of median income. What has changed is the number of the rich. This might explain while those making 100,000 claim to be “middle class” because in comparison to the rest of the upper class, they do make much less.

So we know the rich voted for Trump. We know that they made up a greater share of voters. We also know that the share of poor voters has decreased over time, even though there are now more poor people than there were in 1980, and even though we have a higher threshold for “working class” than what HALF the country makes.

What could have caused this outcome?

1) Voter Suppression

When I first started looking at this data, I thought there was no way those in power could have gotten better at voter suppression since Nixon to such a significant degree to explain the gap. But voter suppression was a major factor this year. Voter suppression disproportionately impacts the poor and is very targeted at them. Many of the same tactics the Republicans used in the general were used in the primaries, which may have contributed to Sanders losing the primary despite having broad working class support in places like Kansas.

Now, lets take a look at the people who didn’t vote, which again, was the poor. Here are their reasons.

reasonspeopledidntvote

2) Health

A large percentage of people say they don’t vote because they are too sick to do so. Mortality has increased over the same amount of time that this shift in vote share has occurred, but it has only happened for one group. And that group is very specifically poor whites. We also know that Trump won counties with poorer health, AND that turnout was lower in those areas. This means that the establishment has been blaming people who either were dying or too sick to vote. They’ve been doing it while mocking them too.   I don’t know how everyone else’s moral code work, but I happen to think this is pretty monstrous behavior for the people that claim the moral high ground.

3) Working Conditions

You’ll notice that another top reason is scheduling issues or work conflicts. Work has changed dramatically for the poor in that time. Contrary to popular belief most of the poor are actually working but that work has changed. It is more fractured, during more irregular hours, and people are also working more hours. People are also working multiple jobs and families need at least two incomes to survive. 

Election Day is not a national holiday and businesses aren’t really required to accommodate the poor with voting, many of whom couldn’t make it even if they did because of the hours they are working or because of family commitments.

4) Decline of the unions and Civic Organizations

Unions and civic organizations like churches used to be a BIG part of the voter drives that increased the turnout of Democrats. As the share of voters from the poor has decreased, it has happened at the same time as the decline of the unions. At the same time we’ve seen a decline in poor white participation in civic organizations like churches. This matters because they are lacking in organizational structures that used to increase turnout, but it also takes away an important support structure for those that are struggling. This decline has been implicated in the health crisis as well.

 

5) The lack of mobility

Many people also cited transportation as an issue. It is a common misconception that the urban areas are the poorest. This was true before gentrification, but the trend of poor people being pushed out of the cities starts at the same time the share of voters who are poor decreases. Much of the poor is now living in isolated areas in the country just outside the cities. Being poor in the suburbs has it’s own set of challenges, there are food deserts, lack of public transportation, and lack of options for school attendance. It also is nearly impossible to travel around without a car. On the bus, it used to take me an hour and a half just to get out of my neighborhood and a minimum of two hours to get downtown where the better schools and resources were located. If you have to work, and you don’t have transport, just getting to the polling station on time is nightmare. And that’s assuming you don’t need a babysitter to do it or that it is within walking distance.

 

6) Increased hopelessness

Feelings are a little harder to quantify, but if we look at the exit poll data, and the reasons people didn’t vote, it seems that many people feel disaffected and disenfranchised. This is why the poor were more likely to vote third party and also why many didn’t vote because they liked neither candidate. A large portion of Sanders voters were white and working class, those voters felt marginalized by the Democratic party this year after the primaries. In fact, we know most of the poor falls into the category of “hard-pressed skeptic” which simply means that their oppression has made them distrustful of all government figures.  We also know that more poor whites are dying from drug related deaths. We can assume that they reasons they might do those drugs are similar to the reasons other poor communities do drugs. It is a coping mechanism. However, I believe it is significant that people are falling to opiod deaths, in my experience most opiod addicts start out as chronic pain patients or people who were in industrial accidents and had to recover. This might explain why we’ve seen a rise in disability claims too and it helps contribute to the  mortality increase. We also know suicide is on the rise for this group as well. 

 

Now, if people want to talk about WHY the rich voted for Trump, I have some speculation on that. I figure they voted for him because he was the guy looking out for their interests, and it is in their interests to suppress the poor. Now, obviously not all of the rich think like that, but if you are rich and also have been blaming poor whites and consider yourself a leftist, you need to think deeply about your behavior. Much of this information has gone under the radar, they’ve been boiling us so gradually that we haven’t been able to get out of the pot on time. Taken all together the answer to why Trump won and why the poor didn’t vote seems clear, doesn’t it? Oppression had a hand in oppressing people. It’s ok that you didn’t know this until now, it is also ok that you and the rest of the Establishment has been ignoring this data for weeks now and continue to propagate the narrative that the poor are responsible. Maybe you didn’t have the data, maybe it didn’t fit into your worldview, perhaps you’ve been busy mourning. It is ok, I am here to help you. I learned at Stanford that the rich only believe you when you have empirical data, so even though I KNEW all of this and have known for sometime, I have bowed to your request for empiricism. Now lets see if you really mean that.

You can’t kill people and then blame them for what your neighbors did to them. That is cruel and evil. The Left has got to stop demonizing these people and excluding them from our agenda. If we claim to fight oppression, we should fight it everywhere. I fight for racial injustice, and yet, too many of you have dismissed my concerns about the fact that my people are literally dying. It is NOT NORMAL for a group to have increasing mortality in the modern era, that is a sign that something has gone desperately wrong. We are in this struggle together or they will divide us up and conquer us, like they just did. That’s why Trump is president right now, that and the fact that the left has disgusted the poor so much that they didn’t want to risk taking time off work or away from their kids to vote for a candidate that has been actively disdainful of them. I know who you guys think the deplorables are because you keep claiming it was deplorables that voted for him AND that it was poor whites who caused him to take office. Who are the real deplorables here?

Now is the time to find out if you are redeemable.

If you are reading this and wondering why I’m not in a doctoral program, then you are on the right track. Here’s the answer. If there is even a shred of moral decency among you, you will start working on income inequality and you will stop mocking the poor. All of the poor. I’m not going to let you oppress people without a fight, just as I have fought for racial injustice over the last ten years. If you are down for the team, get down for the team.

 

got

Other pieces of this series can be found here:

How Mobilizing the Poor Might Have Changed the Election

Blame Trump on the Rich Part 1: Gridley and the Two Sides of the Tracks

Blame Trump on the Rich Part 2: Those Poor, White Mountain Towns

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 3: Beachfront Trumpers

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 4: The KKK and the two Neighborhoods Adjacent 

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 5: Los Angeles, the City of Angels and Very Fashionable Devils

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 5: Los Angeles, the City of Angels and Very Fashionable Devils

Writing

Introduction

The Establishment has forcefully pushed the explanation that Clinton lost due the fact that “working class whites” voted for Trump because they are racist. I was surprised to hear this theory, because as a poor white person, I know that the rich always vote for Republicans and the poor have very consistently voted for Democrats. This holds in exit poll data back into 1984 (we’ll talk about the income data and exit polls in general in a separate post, but that data can be found here). This year, Clinton only won those making 50,000 a year, while losing the other income groups.

exitpolldata

Some have noticed that Trump won more uneducated voters, and called these people working class. This seems strange for two reasons

  1. Trump also won the educated white vote.
  2. Only 30 percent of the country has a BA and BA’s are no guarantee of social status in a country where there is limited social mobility

More detailed contextual information is here. After seeing these arguments, it was suggested that Clinton won the cities, where the poor are assumed to be nonwhite (there are in fact, poor whites in urban areas, I used to be one), while Trump won rural, white voters living in poverty. This theory will be deconstructed by looking at the precinct by precinct data. That data, which goes beyond exit polls to actual vote totals,  can be found using this link. Please subscribe to the LA Times for being kind enough to make big data accessible to everyone.

Los Angeles, The City of Angels and Very Fashionable Devils

I’ve been very fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to teach a group of wonderful freshman to see what consultants apparently can’t see. I’ll be teaching at a small school in Downtown Los Angeles. The class I’m teaching is majority English Language Learner and mostly low income. I’ll share more information about the school after I reflect on the lesson, but let’s take a look at their precinct and the communities that voted for Trump in Los Angeles.

Here’s what the map looks like for the regions close to the school I’ll be working at.

losangelesmap2

Gee, you think that’s a trailor park in the Hollywood Hills? MUST BE!


Now, as you can see, the area I’ll be teaching in went deep Clinton. This is no surprise given the diversity and poverty of that area. It’s 85 percent Latino, and has the one of the lowest educational attainment records in the city. It is also disproportionately young and poor.

But what might surprise some, is that out in the Hollywood Hills, there is a little enclave of Trump supporters who are apparently very angry about manufacturing or something. I’m not really sure, they still haven’t been able to accurately capture the anger of poor white people in any publication, so I guess we’ll never know.

I’m just kidding, of course. Let’s take a look at that map a little closer.

countryclubtrumpers

Yeah, it’s the houses next to the Country Club. A satirist couldn’t make this funnier

Hm… that’s odd, do you think they allow trailor parks next to Country Clubs? Let’s see what houses sell for there. I’ll save you the time, it’s 23 million. How much did Trump win by there? 54 percent of the vote, with a larger turnout than the poor section too. For more information about this area, check out this lovely tourist information. It’s ok, you aren’t the only one who was surprised by how much the rich love the oppressor. Except, they did kind of tell you. Don’t worry, I won’t hold too much of a grudge if you guys start acting like you really do believe in empiricism.

notworkingclass

Trumpettes are white, but they sure as hell aren’t working class.

But maybe that was an isolated incident, let’s take a look at some of the other areas in Los Angeles that voted for Trump.

morecoastaltrumpers

Those special liberal coasts….

 

For those of you not familiar with Los Angeles real estate, the houses on the beach are extremely expensive.No, there are not million dollar trailor parks.  By the way, that little strip had higher RAW NUMBER turnout than the more densely populated, poor area I started this post with in Pico Union.

trumpersnotinthehood

How much do you think the houses sell for here? Just kidding, it’s the same amount as the other rich ones. I’d just like to point out that Trump won the rich neighborhoods with a higher turnout from the rich in EVERY case, as well as a higher percentage than  the middle class KKK neighborhood we talked about yesterday. I think I’ve made my point here.

Next week, I’ll be looking at how exit poll data has changed for income over time and we’ll start talking about the findings in the swing state of Wisconsin. Ultimately, we will also discuss the strange health correlations and what has been happening to poor white neighborhoods.

Read all of the other parts of this series here:

How Mobilizing the Poor Might Have Changed the Election

Blame Trump on the Rich Part 1: Gridley and the Two Sides of the Tracks

Blame Trump on the Rich Part 2: Those Poor, White Mountain Towns

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 3: Beachfront Trumpers

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 4: The KKK and the two Neighborhoods Adjacent 

 

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 4: The KKK and the two Neighborhoods Adjacent 

Writing

Introduction

The Establishment has forcefully pushed the explanation that Clinton lost due the fact that “working class whites” voted for Trump because they are racist. I was surprised to hear this theory, because as a poor white person, I know that the rich always vote for Republicans and the poor have very consistently voted for Democrats. This holds in exit poll data back into 1984 (we’ll talk about the income data and exit polls in general in a separate post, but that data can be found here). This year, Clinton only won those making 50,000 a year, while losing the other income groups.

exitpolldata

Some have noticed that Trump won more uneducated voters, and called these people working class. This seems strange for two reasons

  1. Trump also won the educated white vote.
  2. Only 30 percent of the country has a BA and BA’s are no guarantee of social status in a country where there is limited social mobility

More detailed contextual information is here. After seeing these arguments, it was suggested that Clinton won the cities, where the poor are assumed to be nonwhite (there are in fact, poor whites in urban areas, I used to be one), while Trump won rural, white voters living in poverty. This theory will be deconstructed by looking at the precinct by precinct data. That data, which goes beyond exit polls to actual vote totals,  can be found using this link. Please subscribe to the LA Times for being kind enough to make big data accessible to everyone.


The Largest KKK and the two neighborhoods adjacent

I remember my first week of Stanford like it was yesterday. I wish I could say they were positive memories but they certainly were instructive. During one of those getting to know you exercises, we talked about our backgrounds. I hadn’t been around rich people long enough to be self conscious yet, so I was honest about my experience around the other white kids who lived in very white bubbles.

“Well, I guess I can’t say I lived in a bubble. I’m proud to say I’m from Sacramento, which is one of the most diverse areas of the country! It’s great, I’ve always had diverse friends. I feel so lucky.”

After I wrapped up a characteristically eager defense of my ‘hood another girl spoke.

She decided to share with the group that she “had grown up in a different part of Sacramento than Heather and it was all white.” She wanted to make sure they didn’t make the mistake of associating us together and I never spoke to her again.


And I am so damn proud of my hood, y’all. I’m straight up North Highlands. You know how I know North Highlands is legit as fuck? Because when I used to tell my kids in East Palo Alto that I grew up in North Highlands, their response was “damn Ms. C is hella legit” and “that explains some things.” Being that I’m a poor white person from the hood, I was very curious to see if North Highlands had lived up to the stereotype that working class whites had voted for Trump. So I matched the voting numbers, and unsurprisingly to me, Clinton had won my hood.

I wanted to compare this to the red area of the map next to it in Rio Linda, but then I started looking at demographics and it turns out that I, yoga pants wearing, Stanford educated and green eyed, had actually grown up in a predominantly black neighborhood. And the truly funny part is I tried then to do the same thing in the projects I grew up in in Suisun, and it turns out that was also mostly black. Now, I had suspected this for years but the left kept calling me a liar or delusional every time I tried to explain why I talk and dance the way I do. Fortunately we can now close the book on that debate, we now know from data (since y’all don’t trust my lived experience), that poor whites live in black neighborhoods and that I’m apparently the only person accurately seeing things.

Small town America, with a side of the KKK

But after this fun little journey of self discovery, I still wanted to understand that little red part of the map better. I knew it well, it’s called Rio Linda. Rio Linda is the home of the largest KKK population in California. Rio Linda also has a reputation for being incredibly white trash. Now, I couldn’t compare North Highlands to Rio Linda because that could be explained by the minority numbers in North Highlands. So instead, I had to find a predominantly white community that went for Clinton. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look that far, because it turns out that the neighborhood my Black/Indonesian/Mexican/White sister in law is from is predominantly white. We call it Foothill Farms.

What happens when you type Foothill Farms, CA into Google images

 

Rio Linda had the good high school in the district, while Highlands (the one I went to) and Foothill often competed for most terrifying acts of violence and fewest numbers of books.

Rio Linda is about 77% white. Foothill Farms is 65% white, which you can compare to my neighborhood, which is just over the overpass and tracks from Foothill Farms and is only 20% white. North Highlands, which is where I grew up, has a poverty rate of 38.4 percent, which compares to the state average of 22% (California has the highest poverty rate in the country). Rio Linda is actually below the state average at 20 percent. Foothill Farms has a poverty rate of 25 percent. The Median Income in Foothill Farms is 38,000, while in Rio Linda the median income is 45,000.

So how did the poorer, but also white neighborhood with the shittier school do? Well, they voted for Clinton with 76 percent of the vote. Granted, the turnout was appalling, but the fact is that when people voted they voted for Clinton. Rio Linda has the reputation for being “working class” because it is more “rural” than North Highlands and Foothill Farms, but Rio Linda IS BETTER OFF relatively to the communities that surround it. Rural doesn’t mean poor, and it turns out that middle class people seemed to be concerned enough about their standing that they voted for a candidate who has promised to oppress their neighbors. Considering that the only time in my childhood that I remember seeing state sanctioned racism (instead of classism) directed at my friends was the one day I spent on the Rio Linda high school campus for summer school, I’ll let you draw some conclusions.

But I will leave you with this, it’s hard to feel racial resentment when

  1. You need your neighbors to survive and your neighbors look differently than you
  2. You don’t have anything to lose to begin with
  3. Your poverty and experience with your community helps you to understand that if you spend one more minute watching people being racist to people you love, you will burn the whole thing to the ground and therefore the way to stay out of jail is to just wait to take Driver’s Ed as an additional class so you can’t commit arson.

I was tryin’ to get out of there, not end up in lock up, but boy did they almost have me.

Tomorrow we will be talking about who voted for Trump in Los Angeles. We will talk about changes in exit polls,Wisconsin, and the curious health related correlations next week.

What do you know about da Highlands? For a taste of what I call home, check out this theme song.

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 3: Beachfront Trumpers

Writing

Introduction

The Establishment has forcefully pushed the explanation that Clinton lost due the fact that “working class whites” voted for Trump because they are racist. I was surprised to hear this theory, because as a poor white person, I know that the rich always vote for Republicans and the poor have very consistently voted for Democrats. This holds in exit poll data back into 1984 (we’ll talk about the income data and exit polls in general in a separate post, but that data can be found here). This year, Clinton only won those making 50,000 a year, while losing the other income groups.

exitpolldata

Some have noticed that Trump won more uneducated voters, and called these people working class. This seems strange for two reasons

  1. Trump also won the educated white vote.
  2. Only 30 percent of the country has a BA and BA’s are no guarantee of social status in a country where there is limited social mobility

More detailed contextual information is here. After seeing these arguments, it was suggested that Clinton won the cities, where the poor are assumed to be nonwhite (there are in fact, poor whites in urban areas, I used to be one), while Trump won rural, white voters living in poverty. This theory will be deconstructed by looking at the precinct by precinct data. That data, which goes beyond exit polls to actual vote totals,  can be found using this link. Please subscribe to the LA Times money for being kind enough to make big data accessible to everyone.

Lessons from the Coast: A Close Look at Oxnard, California

oxnard

Where the Trump Supporters are

Today we will be talking about beautiful Oxnard, California. Oxnard is on the coast of Southern California. Oxnard is about 77 percent white, and has actually increased in the percentage of white people since 2010. The BA rate fits the national average (3o percent) and the median income is 53,482.

Here is a map of how the City of Oxnard Voted

 

Oxnardmap.PNG

A sea of Clinton lovers surrounding those isolated Trump supporters

You’ll notice that Clinton won Oxnard. It is a sea of blue except for one tiny section that happens to be beach front property. Average home costs in Oxnard are 442,000, according to Zillow. Except for that little red patch where they are selling for 1.5 million and up. Sort of hard to call those Trump supporters, and he won in that strip by 60 percent of the vote, “working class” even if they are so profoundly white.

Tomorrow we’ll be comparing Rio Linda, known as the home of the largest KKK in California and Del Paso Heights, which is also a neighborhood in Sacramento with similar racial demographics. We will also take a look at who voted for Trump in Los Angeles. Then we will discuss how the turnout data in exit polls has changed for class overtime. Next week, I’ll be sharing a breakdown of votes in Wisconsin and some interesting correlations between the health data and voting.

 

Blame Trump on the Rich Part 2: Those Poor, White Mountain Towns

Writing

Introduction

The Establishment has forcefully pushed the explanation that Clinton lost due the fact that “working class whites” voted for Trump because they are racist. I was surprised to hear this theory, because as a poor white person, I know that the rich always vote for Republicans and the poor have very consistently voted for Democrats. This holds in exit poll data back into 1984 (we’ll talk about the income data and exit polls in general in a separate post, but that data can be found here). This year, Clinton only won those making 50,000 a year, while losing the other income groups.

exitpolldata

Some have noticed that Trump won more uneducated voters, and called these people working class. This seems strange for two reasons

  1. Trump also won the educated white vote.
  2. Only 30 percent of the country has a BA and BA’s are no guarantee of social status in a country where there is limited social mobility

More detailed contextual information is here. After seeing these arguments, it was suggested that Clinton won the cities, where the poor are assumed to be nonwhite (there are in fact, poor whites in urban areas, I used to be one), while Trump won rural, white voters living in poverty. This theory will be deconstructed by looking at the precinct by precinct data. That data, which goes beyond exit polls to actual vote totals,  can be found using this link. Please send the LA Times money for being kind enough to make big data accessible to everyone.

nevadacitygrassvalley

Rural, White, Poor and Voting in Mass for Clinton: Two Quiet Mountain Towns

Today we will be talking about two white mountain towns in the Sierra Nevadas of California. Much of my extended family lives in Grass Valley, California, so I spent some time in my youth with my white and mixed race cousins running around the beautiful forests. It is remote, rural and deeply poor. Nevada City could be its mirror, except it lies closer to the even more socially conservative territories in Northwest Nevada.

Let’s talk about Grass Valley first. Please note that all of my data for income and race comes from the census, which you can find here. Grass Valley is 89.4 percent white. It has a BA rate well below the national average at 23.4 percent. The median family income is 33, 325 and almost a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. Based on this data, who do you think won Grass Valley?

 Clinton won Grass Valley with 68 percent of the vote.

grassvalleymainstreet

Grass Valley, Main Street

When I saw this, I thought perhaps it was a fluke, and I had selected a city I knew well as part of a cognitive bias. So then I started looking at the rest of the map in that region, and even further up North in what has usually been a known socially conservative area of the state. To look closely at just one example, we’ll be looking at Nevada City.

Nevada City is 94.7 percent white. Which is five percentage points higher than the white population in Grass Valley, which was already nearly 90 percent white. It is more rural than Grass Valley as well, with a smaller population and significantly smaller density per-capita. It is also poorer than Grass Valley, with a median income of 23, 705. So to summarize, it is whiter, more rural, poorer, and in more notoriously socially conservative territory.

Clinton won Nevada City with 79 percent of the vote.

Clinton won the poorer, whiter, more rural, less educated city with almost ten percentage points. 

nevadacitychurch

Those damn evangelicals voting for Clinton (Church in Nevada City)

Tomorrow, we’ll be talking about an interesting neighborhood comparison on the coast of California, with a high education and middle class population. It is also majority white. Later we’ll be discussing some of the data in Sacramento, as well as exit polls over time and the fascinating correlations with health and the voting patterns of the poor.

Blame Trump on the Rich Part 1: Gridley and the Two Sides of the Tracks

Writing

The Establishment has forcefully pushed the explanation that Clinton lost due the fact that “working class whites” voted for Trump because they are racist. I was surprised to hear this theory, because as a poor white person, I know that the rich always vote for Republicans and the poor have very consistently voted for Democrats. This holds in exit poll data back into 1984 (we’ll talk about the income data and exit polls in general in a separate post, but that data can be found here). This year, Clinton only won those making 50,000 a year, while losing the other income groups.

exitpolldata

 

Some have noticed that Trump won more uneducated voters, and called these people working class. This seems strange for two reasons

  1. Trump also won the educated white vote.
  2. Only 30 percent of the country has a BA and BA’s are no guarantee of social status in a country where there is limited social mobility

More detailed contextual information is here. After seeing these arguments, it was suggested that Clinton won the cities, where the poor are assumed to be nonwhite (there are in fact, poor whites in urban areas, I used to be one), while Trump won rural, white voters living in poverty. This theory will be deconstructed by looking at the precinct by precinct data. That data, which goes beyond exit polls to actual vote totals,  can be found using this link. Please send the LA Times money for being kind enough to make big data accessible to everyone.

We’ll be looking at few case studies that will demonstrate that the majority of poor whites continued to vote Democrat, as they have for decades, while the turnout and share of voters from the upper classes increased over time. Over several days, we will explore examples that demonstrate that it was, in fact, the rich who voted for Trump.

Today we will be talking about the town of Gridley. Gridley is a town in the NorthEast portion of the state, north of Sacramento. It has one of those cute founding stories that many of these former Gold Rush towns have. The population of Gridley is about 6,584. This makes it a small town that is mostly rural. Indeed, there is no real urban area in Gridley. As you would imagine, this town, like most of the towns that surround it, is white. In fact, it is 65 percent white. There are two sides to Gridley. Gridley and East Gridley. A set of railroad tracks divides the two. The median family income in Gridley is 29,957 and over 20 percent of the county is living in poverty. Houses in Gridley sell for $180,000, but right across the tracks in East Gridley they sell for 650,000.

Clinton won Gridley with 56% of the vote, but lost in East Gridley. In East Gridley, which is the “right” side of the tracks with the substantially higher housing costs, Trump won with 54% of the vote. You can also compare turnout numbers. The residents of the wrong side of the tracks only had 272 voters, whereas the haves in East Gridley had 506 votes. This conforms with the national data that demonstrates that the poor barely voted at all. 

The bottom line here is that in a town that is both rural and white there is a clear difference in voting patterns. The poorer portion voted for the Democrat, the haves in the East voted for the Republican. This is consistent with voting patterns in American presidential elections going back to 1984.

The working class white hypothesis, continues to be the only one being put forward in mainstream media. Given the paucity of data to support that and the abundant and growing data to support the fact that Trump was elected by the upper class, it seems like strange behavior for a society to claims to love empiricism so much. I’ll let you make up your own mind for now about why they seem to be clinging to this narrative so much. In the next several posts, we’ll be exploring exit poll income data changes over time, the representative cases of Sacramento, Grass Valley, Oxnard, Nevada City, and some interesting correlations with recent data about the health of poor whites.

The Bay Needs to Get Off Its High Horse

Uncategorized

Techie engineers have informed me no less than three times in the last week that the tech community is progressive and open and just generally has no issues with race/class/gender etc.

The Bay Area in the last decade has become the economic engine of our country, and there are people throwing rocks at Google buses much to the confusion of the “progressive” people on those buses, so since I speak both, I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain why people are so angry.

The Bay Area, like most of the rest of this country IS NOT progressive. I’ve personally witnessed several instances of discrimination, if not, downright hatred of a large number of the general public. It is frustrating and sometimes it has made ME want to throw some rocks, but I think that a lot of people in the Bay Area are confused and I’d like to help with that.

So, I will allow you to call yourselves “progressive” when you accomplish the following:

1) When you no longer have the worst public transportation I’ve ever been on. Seriously, for a bunch of environmentalists, our public transportation is embarrassing. I’m doing serious, permanent damage everyday to my neck because of Caltrain and the VTA buses are worse than the buses that we had in the ghetto in Sacramento. It is indefensible and embarrassing and the only reason it happens is because Silicon Valley is one of the most classist places on the planet.

2) When you stop one-way busing, stop sending your kids to private schools, stop drawing district lines so that poor kids don’t go to school with your kids and when you fund schools properly. Seriously, if you are so progressive and you value education so much, why are all of these things happening? Why don’t you want your children to go to school with poor and non-white children?

3) When start-ups have more than 8 percent female representation of founders, when internet forums are safe spaces for women and when girls are no longer talked out of engineering and science because they don’t want to hang out with people who demean them.

4) When you actually do something about the fact that you’ve made it completely impossible, not just for the poor, but also for the middle classes, LIKE TEACHERS, to live in this area. By the way, who is going to feed you when we all are gone?

5) When you treat soldiers with the respect they deserve. Stanford, Berkeley and the Internet didn’t happen without defense funding. You are all so excited to meet Condi but you’d spit on my brother if I would allow you to do so.

6) When I no longer have to ask able-bodied men to get up from disabled seating.

7) When you start treating the people who serve you, feed you, clothe you, and otherwise care for you, with some semblance of dignity.

8) When I see inter-racial dating beyond the White Guy/Asian Girl trope, and you when you stop acting surprised by relationships that deviate from that norm

9) When you make apps that actually benefit someone other than lazy, socially awkward rich people.

10) When you vote to raise your taxes to pay for all of the social benefits I just listed.

Until you do these things, you can shut up and go to work like the rest of us in the Bay Area. People who were here before you, tirelessly working to make this area so incredibly wonderful, who get up everyday to serve your children and you and do it in silence while you act like entitled, spoiled brats. That would be progressive, what you do currently hardly makes you any better than the Republicans who are at least honest about their prejudices and hatred. The reason people are throwing rocks is because you walk around talking about how wonderfully progressive you are while being blissfully unaware of all of the problems other people are facing. Its infuriating and while I don’t condone the rock throwing, and I don’t think it is effective, I do understand the anger and I also understand that the people in question were left with few options because you choose not to listen to anyone but yourselves. So, I hope, that you will finally listen to someone who speaks in your own tongue. Please for the love of god, get over yourselves, shut up, and get to work before I start encouraging people to get the pitchforks and the guillotines.

Don’t Be A Dick to Kids

Uncategorized

Because underneath my adorably dressed Stanford veneer is still the 14 year old who thought it was highly amusing to torture stupid teachers and who has seen every episode of South Park, I spent most of STEP getting myself into trouble and thinking it was fun to summarize every single class with a smart alleck remark. In my defense, one of my great strengths is synthesizing. That is my story and I am sticking to it. Anyway, after just about every class a comic was made or I whispered to someone that what we were learning could easily be summed up with the statement: Don’t be a Dick to Kids. I still firmly believe that, and it sounds really simple in theory but is apparently the great challenge of our time.

I went to poor schools where I got the message that I either didn’t belong or would amount to nothing and I am white and female, so you can imagine how terrible things are for the boys of color. For a lot of my friends, school was another site where they were alienated and cast out of the mainstream and unless you are insane and relentless like I am, if someone tell s you that you are unwanted enough times you are going to stop trying to win their affection. This is the fundamental underlying principal for why most poor kids don’t want to participate in school. They don’t have resources, are told that it is their fault, or given the impression that even if they work hard they will be undervalued and then are told, sometimes directly, that there is no reason to expect them to succeed in school. Given that this is the situation it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that perhaps they will stop performing in school. The thing we forget about our schools is that they are not isolated institutions; they are in fact reflective of the society which built them (which is of course true about all institutions). Context matters, social structure matters, and nothing exists in a vacuum. We talk often in America about students as if they exist in a vacuum with completely free choice. They do not. We talk about schools as if they exist in a vacuum with completely free choice. They do not. And we talk about communities as if they exist in a vacuum. They do not.

The weird thing about all of this is that when privileged people have children they seem to understand this and use it to advocate for their own kids. If they truly didn’t believe resources matter then how come they spend so much money on giving their kids an edge? If they truly believe that culture and context doesn’t matter, then how come they work so hard to make sure schools are not integrated? If they truly believe in personal responsibility how come when it is one of their kids it is literally everyone’s responsibility but the child’s? Now obviously, not all well-educated and well-resourced people believe this, but enough of them believe that our school system is designed to reflect that reality, in that the schools of privilege get additional funding from parents who didn’t want to even out funding with taxes, and schools are zoned in such a way to keep other kids from benefitting from those resources. In the poor schools we have zero tolerance policies because apparently when a poor child makes a mistake it is because they are adults with perfect decision making abilities, but when a rich child makes a mistake it should be a learning opportunity wherein they are praised for learning and growing. Zero tolerance policies and their disproportionate existence in the poor schools is just one example of how this all plays out. You can also look at the discipline policies at some of these charters they keep acting like are the answer to the situation, and when you look closely at the data what you see is extremely high attrition and discipline policies that are only fit for preparing kids for prison, not for being full members of society. I am optimistic that it is not the intention of charter operators to do this, but that is the end result, and I am not so naïve as to say that these practices don’t reflect a fundamental belief about how poor children should be treated.

My philosophy on education is really simple. What was good for my privileged friends at Stanford would have been good for me. None of those parents question what is good. They know what is good. You can walk into any well-resourced school in America and you will see a community that provides students with a rich education that involves art, music, critical thinking, lots of practice with writing and reading, access to lots of extracurricular activities, support services (including mental health services) and on and on. Teachers speak to students with respect and love and students receive the message that they are full human beings who have rights. No one worries about test scores and kids receive individualized educations wherein their strengths are validated and supported. If we were really serious about equity the only discussion we would be having is the discussion of how to make our poorest schools look like our richest schools. And how to train a teaching force that is not only as well-qualified as the teachers at the best public schools but also has a firm commitment to treating students like they are in fact part of American society.
This is really simple, but the game becomes complicated when people try to hide the underlying assumptions that build our system. Then we get on the road to distraction, and instead of correcting the fundamental inequities we play around with little details. When poor kids don’t perform we change the tests, or prep the tests, or punish the kids or punish the teachers, or punish the community, instead of doing what we need to heal the community. In the best case scenario this distraction stems either form a misunderstanding of the problem or an attempt to tweak what little details we feel like are in our control. We’ve abandoned the dreams of Brown v. Board of Ed. The ruling to enforce integration based on race was destroyed by the ruling that says schools didn’t have to equalize funding based on class. I can’t tell if that is because we don’t realize that or because people have lost faith in our ability to actually correct these problems and enforce that dream. But separate and equal is still inherently unequal. In the worst case scenario this is happening because the people with power are racist and are trying to hide it. Reading and my own sense tells me that the vast majority fall into the “idealistic but misinformed”, the next largest group is the folks who understand what is going on but have given up on grand change, and the smaller percentage is the racists. I refuse to give up on that dream. Brown v. Board of Ed was paid for, literally, in blood. Is our generation scared of getting dirty, of sacrificing? I don’t think so. I think our generation just doesn’t have clarity of mission. We can do this. There are even more of us who believe in these ideals than there were in the 50s and 60s.

But there is no app for that. That is blood, sweat and tears. That is hard labor and dedication. That is an overwhelming sense of love and justice. We can have that, we just need to turn off some of the noise of the people older than us who are having arguments about things that don’t really matter and insist that we have the only discussion that does matter. That discussion is: “How do we ensure our education system reflects a fundamental belief in the rights of people to pursue happiness and to embody their full humanity?” Anyone who tells you the fight is about something else is either wrong or lying to you. We know this, in our hearts, but we have to trust this fundamental belief, and believe in it so fiercely that there is nothing that will distract us. We can do it. But more importantly, we have to do this, because there is no other way forward.

I often refer to myself as a foot soldier for a cause without naming the cause. This is because I usually hang out with other foot soldiers and we know at some implicit level what we are doing. But I never see this cause named in the reform movement or anywhere else. This fight isn’t about test scores. This fight isn’t about who controls our schools. This fight is not about pedagogy. I hate it when people talk about poor kids like they are a problem we have to solve, if we just tweak a few variables perhaps they will learn to love being at an institution that has been a site of society’s hate for decades. Those kids don’t want that. What they want to is to be given their full humanity. The want the same things the privileged kids have, the choice to live their life and be fulfilled, happy, functioning members of society. They want to be human beings in the most liberal, highest order sense of the word. Is that not what the entire Civil Right’s battle is always about? Expanding our definitions to be more inclusive, to recognize every human beings rights’ to humanity? The battles aren’t happening in the courtroom anymore. They are in our streets, our homes, our schools. That is the cause I am fighting for, the rights of my people and people everywhere to realize their full humanity in a nation that promised them that. In a nation that uses their bodies so that someone else can have that. That is what this is about, and I will settle for nothing less. I will settle for nothing less than my students being treated like full human beings. The whole of human history is the story of that fight. Everything else is details and distraction, and I pay attention to those in so far as they get the job done, but fundamentally, at the end of the day all of my energy goes into fighting the bigger fight. That is what, after all these years, gets me up in the morning. It is, by my estimation, the only fight worth having and it is something I will spend the rest of my life striving for, because we aren’t even close to that goal, but everyday people make the choice to get a little bit closer. It is a choice. I made mine long time ago and I will live and die by that choice. And that is ultimately what will be my realization of humanity, so if I can do just that, I will do what I what I was supposed to do. I will be fully human too. If you want to liberate yourself, liberate others. So long as one of us is in chains we will all be in chains.