On bullying, graffiti, Lou Reed and more
“When anyone asks me about character, I say look at the trees, maimed stark and misshapen but ferociously tenacious.”
-- Edna O’Brien
As she stands in that old, empty
And the wind blows in her face,
As her hair pushes past her eyes
She is wondering, “should I cry?”
The pain -- The pain she is feeling inside,
does anyone notice?
Does anyone even care,
should she tell someone if she dares
She thinks of those nights,
nights that set her apart
from the outside of her door
where there was light.
Mama, where’s mama? Oh yeah I forget
Downstairs so high off them
prescription drugs to even care
So she stares, she stares so hard out the window, trying to
feel someone's feelings; anyone
trying to feel for her,
but no one is there.
She can still smell the beer on his breath
And the smell of nasty cigarettes,
on his shirt and his chest,
and her crying to God,
make him stop,please, it will be best.
But no one hears her silence, it’s not very loud,
as he has his way with her
him feeling like a great man and proud.
She lays in a fetal position, all up in a curl,
She says to herself, how can someone do this to a little girl?
She flashed back to reality as the hot sun beams on her face,
trying to figure out, where was her place?
Where will it start, when will it ever end, and how can she tell Mama,
Daddy’s having another baby again.
-- Shacreesha Ginyard
Writing Workshop -- QUEST -- Oct. 2013
A conversation about bullying and recent events.
M - Bullying has become a huge problem. When the hell did this happen? I don’t remember any of this when I was in school. I raised my child to be kind to all, to treat all with respect, yet -- she’s being subjected to bullying. Her emotional status being affected constantly. She asks me, “Why don’t they like me,” and asks me, “Why do they always try to make me cry?”
How do I look at my little 7-year-old and tell her that it isn’t her that is the problem? It’s others, the others who feel hurt so they make her and others like her feel hurt? How do I explain to her that she is not to do it to others? That she should be the one to break that ugly cycle and yet I want her to stand up for herself but not to lose her kind self in the process?
They don’t know how fed up I am. The messing with my child big time and I’m not just going to sit there and allow the school to turn a blind eye to this behavior. This isn’t only for my child but all children who go to school only to be hurt emotionally and physically. School is supposed to be a safe environment for learning, not an environment full of hurt and pain.
C - Do we need to pull our kids? I am already thinking of homeschooling before I let my child in Mont Pleasant (Middle) School next year. This school district has been turning a blind eye for so long and the kids get away with too much in the area of violence. Schenectady schools need reform.
Tell your young daughter (that) people who are bullies are angry people and don’t want others to be happier than they are. Tell her she is what continues to make the world beautiful and sometimes beauty can be the enemy. Tell her to stay true to herself.
M -- This has gotten to the point where I’m telling my child to stall off but then she looks at me and tells me, “Mommy, if they hurt me 'cause they’re hurt, why should I hurt them more?”
Allegedly, the child in question has allegedly been bullied for 3 years and all the proper channels have been called.
“There is significant learning gaps among low income households as compared to kids from more affluent families.”
-- Kristen Gilibrand
And where will all this end, poverty and want and violence. Violence against 5-year-olds as a daily happening? How can we tolerate this? Even worse, how can we fix this? Remember the war against poverty program? What happened? And still the talk goes on and on about trivial and superficial matters, and the meetings continue on poverty, but they are only meeting. Remember this old motto:
“Those who meet are useless
unless they become those who act.”
-- Taken from a Church Billboard
“Here’s to it and for it and do it again
for those who get to it
and refuses to do it
may never get to it
To do it again.”
“Increasingly I found that I was angry at the entire field of social science -- which meant to some degree, that I was angry at myself. I resented that fact that the standard tools of sociologists seemed powerless to prevent the hardships I was seeing. The abstract social policies that my colleagues were developing to house, educate, and empty the poor seemed woefully out of touch, on the other hand, life in the projects was starting to seem too wild, too hard and too chaotic for the staid prescriptions that social scientists could muster. It struck me as only partially helpful to convince youth to stay in school. What was the value in giving kids low-paying, menial jobs when they could probably be making more money on the streets?”
-- Sudhir Venkatesh
"Gang Leader For a Day"
An interesting sidebar on this situation: the gangs in Chicago insisted that all their aspiring youth stay in school and graduate.
“Sudhir, what’s the first thing I told you when you asked me about my job?”
I smiled as I thought of something she’d told me months earlier. “As long as I’m helping people, something ain’t right about this community. When they don’t need me no more that’s when I know they’re okay.”
But she’d been helping people for three decades and didn’t see any end in sight.
-- "Gang leader for a Day"
The woman who is speaking is a tenant leader at Robert Taylor Housing Project in Chicago, Ill.
Around the city
And while I’m still on my soapbox let me go on about the graffiti wall. Puhleeze, several residents feel as if the Hill was being targeted over the addition of a graffiti wall in Jerry Burrell Park. I am wondering if these are some of the same people who got out and marched against the pro gay billboards that were placed in your community. Again, they were placed for a reason, the high incidence of AIDS/HIV in those communities. The slogan, which I personally thought was marvelous was, “I am gay and I LIVE/or Play or Worship in your community.” People actually protested or marched carrying banners against those billboards. They were tastefully done and were in no way enticing or provocative. Things got so hot that the Damien Center moved down to the Stockade, and the Spousal Abuse Program also moved because they said their clients no longer wished to come to the Hill. They were afraid! And when it comes to crime guess who wants to be targeted with extra police protection? You guessed it. Same folk, different agenda.
And now Schenectady’s finest are parked on the verdant lawns of Mont Pleasant Middle School every day trying to get a handle on the anger and violence in that region.
Yet anyone seen any marchers and placards and angry people protesting against it? No ma’am, cause it’s necessary to have this to keep the peace. But also where’s the public outcry about our youth blatantly running wild? Oops, silent as the grave. This is an issue that everyone needs to get behind. Everyone, no exceptions. The continuation of don’t see don’t tell, or no snitching here is universally espoused. Maybe it’s time to specify and target areas who can use extra support. Support on every playing field. Maybe it’s time to grow up a little and maybe take a lesson from the civil rights issues, when we have no recourse but to arrest 14-year-old kids, then it’s way past time to come to grips, and talk about the major problems we have now. And believe me they are too big to sweep under any rug.
For instance, last Thursday Time Warner was at QUEST hooking up our fire and burglar alarm at 3 in the afternoon, 2 of their trucks and a security vehicle were all parked right at the side door, and, whoops, at about 3:20 or so, someone stole the computers right out of those trucks. Blatant and unafraid. The sun was shining and they were robbing us blind. Do you think that’s really okay? I definitely do not.
Lou Reed died. And, yes, I knew him, not well but enough to come home from work and find him and Billy Name sitting and rocking on my front porch. What a thrill. That was a time in my life, before QUEST when I was writing the music for a very bizarre play by Ultra Violet. I was on the perimeters of the Andy Warhol bunch, and very, very green. I even went several times to visit Ultra at her apartment overlooking Central Park. (Not Schenectady’s but New York City’s.)
She has a penthouse, enormous place with two floors. Actually the two top floors in that building. And all the roof space of the world up there. With trees in tubs, fountains, you name it, she’s got it. And yes, in her kitchen there is a pyramid stack of Campbell's Tomato Soup Cans. LOLOL. And if you don’t get it -- you should be truly ashamed. Mr. Warhol’s soup cans were icons in the art world.
I still have Ultra’s book and a pretty interesting one at that along with Bill T. Jones memoirs and various other missiles of love and learning and high jinks. All suitably autographed and inscribed to me. Of course with Lou Reed it was a record. Still hanging with the best though. My peeps at QUEST you have my heart in your hand. Treat it with respect.
Another update on Zoey, who I am thinking of calling Miss Bitch. She is a wild, wild woman who attacks those catnip mice with her mouth wide open screaming like a banshee. The other day we found her attacking my cane, hanging from the back of the chair. Batting it with her paws till it was swinging like a pendulum, and she was racing around it, bouncing and hissing and carrying on in general. What a joy to see, she has risen from the ashes just like so many of my kids.
Viva La Joi d’ Vivre
Ain’t Life Grand