Thursday, May 21, 2009

Yes, it does!

this is what i love about obama being in office. most people i've said that to think i'm very wrong to feel this way.from anti-racist parent:

This photo from the White House Flickr account shows a young boy rubbing President Barack Obama’s head. Reportedly, “The youngster wanted to see if the President’s haircut felt like his own.”

Having a self-identified black man in the White House matters. Yes, it does.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Last night Vincent & I watched a new PBS Independent Lens documentary: Crips and Bloods: Made In America.

It was about how/why gangs got started in LA, how they’ve evolved and the conditions that keep the South Central LA community stuck in the cycle of gangs, drugs & violence. It also highlights the work that is being done to try to make changes . . . and the work that has to be done from outsiders in order to make change possible.

On the website, there is a map where you can hover over the different things like liquor stores, crime, home ownership & homelessness, gang violence, schools, prison statistics, employment, grocery stores, health clinics, hospitals – the information about the disparities of what is in South Central compared to more affluent areas of LA is disgusting.

The map also highlights some historical events that happened in South Central.

Definitely worth checking out if you get the chance!! You can check out a preview, look on the movie link above & on the top right of the screen. AND you can also find out when it will play next on your local PBS station – my station is going to show it again this Sunday, so it’s likely that yours will be showing it sometime soon as well.

From the director:
I made CRIPS AND BLOODS: Made in America because I was interested as a filmmaker and as a resident of Los Angeles in investigating why gang violence has been going on uninterrupted in Los Angeles for over four decades. I could not understand why this is going on in America and why no viable solution has ever been put into place. And it did not make sense to me, our country defeated Nazi Germany and Japan simultaneously and in less than a decade but we can’t stop gang violence. It made me wonder if as a society we would find a solution to this problem if instead of poor African American teenagers it were affluent white teenagers who were killing each other.

Kumasi, one of the principle characters in the film says this, “Part of the mechanics of oppressing people is to pervert them to the extent that they become their own oppressors.” I believe these young men involved in gang violence are carrying out their own extinction and the very sad truth is that our society is allowing this to happen. I hope people who view the film see these gang members as human beings caught up in a tragic nightmare and not as the animals and demons the media has made them out to be.

I believe people should see this film because this is a human rights issue that is happening inside of America and it’s happening every day in many of our largest cities—but it happens in silence. These young men are dying in silence and they are being incarcerated in silence. More people have been killed due to gang violence in Los Angeles than the long running sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland, yet very few know this fact. Young children in South Los Angeles are experiencing greater levels of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder than children living in Bagdad, Iraq. This is happening inside of our country.
—Stacy Peralta

Meet four of the men featured in CRIPS & BLOODS: Made in America.

“I grew up in a home where my mother worked two jobs, but had three boys. …We were unsupervised, so I found my supervision outside of the home.”
Skipp was born Clifford Townsend in Los Angeles. Forty-four years old at the time of filming, he became a member of the Rollin’ 20s Bloods at the age of 13. Although he became inactive in 1998, he feels as though he has never really left his gang. He has spent almost seven years of his life in the U.S. prison system and is currently working towards his bachelor's degree in child development. Skipp recently created his own organization specializing in community intervention, re-entry, mentoring and gang intervention. He also assists with training Los Angeles Police Department officers on community relations and works within the city’s school system to make an impact on at-risk youths.

“…But the point is this: I'm a walkin' time bomb. I'm gonna go off. Some day, somewhere, on somebody. The question is: 'Upon whom?'"
Kumasi was born in Bronx, New York and moved to South Los Angeles at age three. Sixty-one years old at the time of filming, he joined the Slausons at age 10. He still considers himself a Slauson, although the gang became inactive around 1967. Kumasi has served a total of five terms, or about 18 years, in the U.S. prison system during his life. He currently works as a consultant and activist within his community and as a consultant in the entertainment industry.

“So, a lotta times, man, I know morally I'm a good individual, but sometimes I gotta put that moral state of mind behind me and become an animal.”

Born in Los Angeles as Rodney Moralez, Shaka joined Mad Swan Bloods (currently known as Family Swan Bloods) at the age of 13. Twenty-eight years old at the time of filming, he still considers himself a Swan, although he became less involved with the gang after becoming a father, and has become inactive in recent years. Shaka has spent three terms, totaling six years, in the U.S. prison system. He is currently working as a hip hop and reggae artist in the music industry and is starting up a church and basketball program for at-risk youth.

“I grew up in a house where my grandma and my uncle, everybody was sellin' drugs. You, know what I'm sayin'? I grew up to where when the police raid, they handed me drugs to hide…”

Born Raymond Ford in Los Angeles, Scrap was thirty-two years old at the time of filming. Growing up in Jordan Downs Housing Project in Watts, he feels that he was born into a gang. Scrap became an active member of the Grape Street Watts Crips at 11 years old and became inactive in 2003, after his best friend was murdered. As a juvenile, he spent one year in a youth authority camp. He currently works full time as a football coach, and part time doing gardening work for the city.
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