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(en) US, [nefac newengland] e-Bulletin - Vol. 2, No. 4 - Tha Block Is Hot by David Samuels

Date Sat, 07 Mar 2009 21:25:46 +0200



samuelsarticle2-26-09“Either they don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about what’s goin’
on in tha hood.” For those who aren’t familiar, that’s a quote from Doughboy, a character
in the urban film classic Boyz N The Hood, who was portrayed by rapper / actor Ice Cube.
Doughboy was a small time drug dealer, the spawn of a cold & distant mother. He committed
a triple homicide to avenge the senseless murder of his brother, a promising high school
athlete. Since I have been involved in community organizing, that quote has stayed with
me. In my view, Doughboy’s words apply to the Left just as much as they do to the
“Establishment”. ---- I’m speaking from personal experience. I was a member of A Better
Way Foundation from 2006-2008. ABWF’s focus is drug & criminal justice policy reform.

In 2007, ABWF intitiated a project called the Clean Slate Committee, which is an advocacy
group for currently & formerly incarcerated individuals. During my tenure as CSC Co-Chair,
ABWF / CSC worked with a coalition of organizations to stop a proposed Three Strikes law
during the 2008 Legislative Session. I left ABWF / CSC due to my opinion of what was
occurring in both organizations, which I described in my “Livin’ Like Hustlers” post. My
former colleagues of course have a different viewpoint; it is what it is. While I worked
with ABWF / CSC I developed an extremely negative view of the peace movement.

I was struck by the reluctance & in some cases , outright refusal of some of these groups
to collaborate with ABWF / CSC on the Three Strikes issue. One organization said straight
up, “We support you, but we don’t want our name on your flyer. There’s no way that you’ll
stop Three Strikes after the Cheshire murders.” After a series of ABWF / CSC victories at
the Capitol, this group & others from the peace movement jumped on the bandwagon.

I was invited to speak at Hope Out Loud’s annual September 11 event in 2007. I said in no
uncertain terms that in my view, the peace groups step over the bodies of murdered blacks
& Latinos in Connecticut’s urban communities to protest Israel’s injustices against the
Palestinians, or the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan. I have nothing against the Palestinian
people; I think that their treatment by the Israeli government is an outrage. However, I
think that blacks & Latinos in the hood share a great deal in common with the
Palestinians. They are an impoverished, oppressed people who are persecuted by an
occupying force (the cops).

When CSC set up a table at the HOL event prior to my speech, we were treated coldly. Folks
glanced at our literature & walked away. After I spoke, our table was approached by people
bearing checks. Honestly, I would have preferred a commitment from those individuals to
get involved with the issues that we were working on over their monetary donations.

Up until the end of my relationship with ABWF / CSC, the peace movement’s day to day
involvement with the undoing racism work of both organizations was pretty much a big zero,
with a couple of exceptions. I’m not talking about North End marches with Cornell Lewis; I
mean the daily grind of working to change policies. Call me hardheaded, but I just can’t
let go of the fact that lefties will chain themselves to government buildings or lay down
in the street to protest the Middle East conflict & the wars, while turning a blind eye to
the carnage occurring right here in Connecticut. What’s up with that?

Photo credit: Michael Kappel on flickr ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-i-k-e/)
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