So I read this article, “Chicago Boy’s Letter to Santa Asking for ‘Safety’ Goes Viral and Receives Reply From Obama,” and it got me thinking about one of the many things that grinds my gears, about the society I live in.
The article speaks of a young man, named Malik Bryant, who wrote a ‘Dear Santa’ letter, telling Santa a little about himself and ended with the simple request for “safety.” For the woman collecting the letters, the letter “stood out from the rest” of the ‘Dear Santa’ letters, the children sent in to the organization.
This propelled the woman to add the letter to the organization’s newsletter, which prompted a post on twitter, by some “famous” person, reading, ‘Every year, my friend Michelle does a Letters to Santa drive. This is a real letter from a kid in Englewood, Chicago.’ Malik’s letter went viral and the rest is history.
In all, the letter got a whole bunch of media attention for the organization involved, and got Malik national attention, a Wii, a new computer game and a perfect PR reply from the POTUS! How incredible?!
“You mean to tell me, if Malik dares “to be bold and creative, work hard everyday and care for others”, as the POTUS suggested, a stray bullet is less likely to endanger him?”
A young Black man from the mean streets of Chicago, requests safety for Christmas, because as his mother mentioned, it’s “too dangerous for him to play outside”, and he gets a Wii and computer game. All the while, the people who helped his “story” go viral, get a hell of lot of free PR, compliments for their selfless deeds and respect for helping another “poor, Black child, growing up in the ghetto.”
Obama even wrote him back, telling Malik, “Each day, I strive to ensure communities like yours are safe places to dream, discover, and grow. Please know your security is a priority for me in everything I do as president. If you dare to be bold and creative, work hard every day, and care for others, I’m confident you can achieve anything you imagine. I wish you and your family the very best for the coming year, and I will be rooting for you.”
Is that not the biggest load of crap, you could say to a child who asks for friggin safety? You mean to tell me, if Malik dares “to be bold and creative, work hard everyday and care for others”, as the POTUS suggested, a stray bullet is less likely to endanger him?
And with those chances being heightened with the current virtual martial law state in Chicago, thus, increasing the likelihood of street and police violence, what is the point of working hard every day? Will that increase the life expectancy of Black and poor Chicago youth?
The article, literally suggests that, the electronic gifts given to him, somehow helped Malik’s request for safety, because it gives him something to do in the house, to avoid going out onto the dangerous streets of his neighborhood.
So, my only question then, is how does that suggestion correlate to the First Lady’s campaign for healthier kids and increased outdoor physical activity? Do Wii games now offer benefits considered equivalent to those offered from outside physical activities? #Ijs!
“Personally, identifying as a part of the proletariat, I don’t need no high siddity Black folk (or any folk for that matter), who diligently pulled themselves up by their pretty (or not so pretty) boot straps, to blend into the nation’s illusion of elite individuals, trying to tell, MY story”
I mean, can anyone else see the appropriation of the “struggle culture”, lived by poor Black people, from economically sufficient Black people?! In other words, has anyone else noticed the amount of Black and Brown people who have money and a hell of a lot of security, stepping in to tell the story of “the po’ Black folk”, facing daily hunger, violence and poor housing conditions?!
I will be the first to say, this so-called movement we’re building, will only be triumphant off the backs of the Black and Brown proletariat (which is just a fancy way of saying poor folk)!
That is, in fact, the number one reason the Black Power Movement and for that matter, the Civil Rights Movement, weren’t as successful as they were meant to be. Such movements, similar to the Progressive Movement in the early 20th century of American history, were led by privileged classes, seeking to morally correct the status of life for unprivileged classes.
The key to this “Movement’s” success is in Chairman Mao’s Red Book! The revolution must be led by the peasants, in this case, the nation’s poor. As a Cultural Revolution article on the University of Washington’s site states, “To Mao the revolution had to be a permanent process, constantly kept alive through unending class struggle.”
Personally, identifying as a part of the proletariat, I don’t need no high siddity Black folk (or any folk for that matter), who diligently pulled themselves up by their pretty (or not so pretty) boot straps, to blend into the nation’s illusion of elite individuals, trying to tell, MY story!
Congrats to those of you whom made it out of the hood and have no intentions of ever turning back! More power to you! But you see, growing up poor/ working class, then turning your back on it, to become a social elite, makes you just that; socially elite. You, by definition, are no longer socially or even, philosophically connected to those who didn’t make it out or who decided to go back to where they came from.
“Thus, it is my undying goal to see all of my peoples make it. Until they do, I haven’t made it. I am not on top, unless we’re all on top.”
You are what you worked hard to be; elite. You no longer bear the burden of being poor, working class or economically insufficient. As such, it is difficult for me to honor your audacious attempt at telling, my story. People like me, are from the gutter. And we’ll always be from the gutter, fancy cars and rings, or not! In the hood we like to call such people, “hood stars”!
Any hip hop, sports or comedy fans out there, can correlate this concept to the careers of people like Jadakiss, DeSean Jackson or Tracey Morgan. They’re rich, even wealthy, but still dedicated to staying true to the hood. Not because they have no insight for anything “better”. But instead, because they’re only understanding of “better”, is for where they come from to get “better”, as opposed to leaving where they come from to find “better”.
There is no righteousness in being at the top alone or better yet, with people who aren’t really for you or your success, but rather for what you have to offer them. Thus, it is my undying goal to see all of my peoples make it. Until they do, I haven’t made it. I am not on top, unless we’re all on top.
I say all of that to say this, attempting to tell the story of this little boy seeking to simply be “safe” for Christmas, is difficult unless you can identify with the story. I mean, truthfully, we never even found out what he was asking to be safe from?
His mother, according to the article, asserted that safety request to be in regard to the street violence outside. However, he could have been asking to safe from anything, including street violence, police violence, peer violence or even home violence.
So no, I can’t tell other people how or what to identify with. However, I can and will make a blanket statement that, those who are not currently poor, can only empathize, not internalize, the struggle of the current poor.
If it were a poor person, that wrote this article, or who shared his letter, I find it hard to believe they would have decided that the best thing they could do to respond to his request was help make it go viral and buy him some electronics. #Ijs.
“In such, the only people who should be telling the story of those who are in the gutter, are those who are still in the gutter.”
It is difficult, especially in the unhealthy society we reside in currently, to internalize the struggle of another, unless you have and more importantly, continue to face that struggle. Otherwise, you’re just another adult, attempting to relate to a child by telling them your memories of being a child. All that child hears is “Blah, blah, blah” because well, you’re not actually a child anymore. So, all you have are, memories.
In the same way, that we have found peer educators to be some of the most influential and motivational sources for people seeking recovery, we need peer advocates and leaders for the poor, disenfranchised and marginalized. That advocate, inherently must be as poor, disenfranchised and marginalized, as those they advocate for. It’s the only way to fully and truly paint our picture.
In such, the only people who should be telling the story of those who are in the gutter, are those who are still in the gutter. If you’ve made it out, then tell that story, the story of the person who made it out. Speak for yourself and the people who identify with you, and no one else!
And for those of us, still in the gutter, we must continue to prolifically raise our fists, voices, and powers!! We must write, speak, fight, institute and reinforce OUR own stories! We must be our own movement, motivating and working side by side with allies and sympathizers.
Inherently, WE are those who have lost the most and face the reality of continuing to lose the most, and thus, the ones with the largest will and strongest motive to fight, until, well, until there is no until!
In solidarity, Power to the People!
**Originally Published: January 3, 2015