|Jan 24, 2013 - Issue 501|
Can We Raise a New Generation
As a young child I thought
I was an unhyphenated American
I was John Wayne, growing
Into my role, a real-American
Transitioning to a teen, who
Grew up in the other-America
Becoming the other-American
Whose life was consumed in
Survivalist strategies, where poverty
Was one welfare check away from
Extinction, where hue mattered
In slums on the other side
Of humanity, where I
Became a hue-American
As American as tacos, frijoles
And cornbread, with a scent
Of Apple pie on the tip of my tongue
That was before I became a
Consciousness begged the question,
Why hast thou forsaken me,
Then I became an Angry-American
A Mexican-American who sat
At the back of the bus
Contemplating racism, discrimination,
Ghettos, barrios, poverty and oppression
Then I became so angry at injustice
I had been accused of being un-American
Cursing in English and espaņol at Klansmen
Wrapped snugly in stars-and-stripes
Devotion to yesterday, and slave-owning
Presidents, and institutions that constructed
Glass ceilings, while thumbing their
Noses at drowning aspirations
As they taunted...Prove it
That’s when I became an analytical-American
Asking all the complex whys about a
Complex mega society that
Wondering what makes me look foreign to
Them, wondering what type of American
I am with so many hyphens,
I have evolved into a multi-hyphenated
American, navigating the social hyphens
That I’ve inherited from the
Socially constructed legacy defining
All Americans, every
American is hyphenated, from
The moment of birth to the
Last breath that extinguishes life
Let me see if I can avoid the
Tangles of hyphens as I describe
Myself: American; real-American; other-
American; hue-American; conscious-
American; angry-American; anti-
American; analytical-American; Chicano-
Orale, that’s who I am
Can We Raise a New Generation of Non-Violent People?
The debate over gun control has become a central issue in many people’s minds, especially with President Obama proposing changes to gun laws. The conservative right-wing is accusing Obama of moving to disarm everyone. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is leading a media campaign against the president, while they seek to defend the continued sales of military-style assault weapons.
The mood of people in this
nation is affected by the high number of deaths associated with military-style
assault weapons and murders in general. The
The NRA has approached this issue as the need to address mental illness and increasing security at schools. In other words, having wide-range access to assault weapons is a non-factor, according to them. “Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership. Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority.”
But if we look at their
role historically, the NRA has made conscious efforts to prevent the public
from understanding the severity of gun related violence in the
President Obama’s recent initiatives that address gun laws provide some restrictions on access to weapons and limitations on which weapons can be bought. Much of it addresses restrictions on assault weapons purchases, restrictions on persons who can purchase weapons, increasing penalties, improving research, school safety and funding for treating people with mental illness. During his press conference, President Obama challenged congresspersons to choose children’s safety over getting good ratings from the NRA.
Obama has never opposed
the sale of weapons or made any proposals to disarm Americans, yet that is what
he is accused of. His proposals make some significant changes, but fall short
of encouraging a major culture shift in
We live in a violent nation. The genocide of Native peoples, the use of brutality and chains on African people, the policy of Manifest Destiny (presumably a God-given right to annex Mexico and Latin America) used to militarily invade Mexico and steal half of its territory, and the use of military force to colonize Island republics such as Cuba, Philippines, Puerto Rico and other nations are all examples of force through violence as a policy, historically.
This nation’s history is rooted in expansionism and rugged individualism. We live in the most armed nation in the entire world. Our children are constantly reinforced with this logic as they are taught that we are the most powerful nation in the world. This nation’s power was achieved, not by persuasion and cooperation, but through military might. Violence is an important part of our culture.
Additionally, violence is perpetrated historically and in contemporary times by hate groups. Any time right wing groups disagree with people, they use violence, such as the Ku Klux Klan, Minutemen and Neo-Nazi’s, who terrorize and murder non-white people and Jews. We have seen this violence from opponents of women’s reproductive rights, when they assassinate doctors and bomb medical clinics, and violence is evident in anti LGBT sentiments as LGBT people are beaten randomly. Wives and girlfriends are murdered by their husbands and partners routinely throughout this nation.
The issue of pervasive violence has to be addressed. The arming of hate groups must stop.
We currently spend
tremendous hours training children to be good test takers in school. We focus
on rote memorization of disconnected facts. Students are stuck in a drill and
skill rut. They are not being prepared to become problem solvers and analytical
thinkers. They are fed a restricted flow of information, disguised as social
studies, giving them a sense of false patriotism, which is defined as blind
loyalty to military aggression internationally.
Our children need to spend more time on problem solving, analyzing, civics and ethics. A balanced curriculum gives children academic skills and social developmental skills. We focus on competition when children need to learn cooperation. We live in a constantly changing society that needs children who will grow up into adults who will get along and work for the common good of society.
In addition to what President Obama is proposing I would add the following:
1. No military-style assault weapons for anyone.
2. No tolerance of domestic violence.
3. No tolerance of attacks on people because of their race ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religious beliefs.
4. No weapons for anyone associated with hate groups.
5. Education reform that includes problem solving, analytical thinking, civics, ethics and cooperation.
7. Teach the history of genocide, slavery, land theft, discrimination and racism.
8. Teach students to appreciate the contributions of all people to this land and to this nation.
Work toward a
cultural shift in general that is exemplified by people working for the greater
good of all people, instead of to the detriment of others.
10. Work toward a shift in the media, which profits by making movies and games that exploit and promote violence, to become a media that promotes positive civic and ethical values.We often hear that we must learn from the past to prevent future errors (I’m paraphrasing). This is true today for us, a society of people who are concerned about the overabundance of violence. Change is necessary, but policies without a cultural shift in attitudes about violence and about each other as human beings will be very limited in its effect.
BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator, Joe Navarro, is a creative writer, poet, educator, husband, parent, grandparent, and activist for social change. Click here to contact Mr. Navarro.