Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Turning the Corner

Our self-united chief of staff, Char, does not agree with us on the whole Hill District issue.

When good people like Char disagree with you, you've lost Pittsburgh.

So, we will present Char's comment to the BURGH REPORT in its entirety, in two volumes.

This first volume is unimportant. At its conclusion, we get all sappy and ludicrous on issues of race and poverty. We probably don't know what we're talking about.

We're just putting this out there in case it leads anyone anywhere.

Bram, I'm all for social resources like substance abuse programs, youth centers, YMCAs, clean safe parks and playgrounds. That is money well-spent to *help* clean the neighborhood up and build toward its future. But no amount of help will completely clean up the neighborhood until the folks who live there realize the buck stops with them. Their own kids, their neighbor's kids, the kids down the street must be ultra-protected, ultra-parented to make up for the ugly influences that bombard them every day. Influences they’ve allowed to grow and fester. THEY have to do this. They cannot rely on the day-care center, school teacher, youth counselor to make sure their kids go to school, do their homework and not roam-about/hang-out late at night with nothing to do but get into trouble. This is what THEY must do to make sure their kids are employable if the jobs they keep demanding ever do materialize.

Additionally, Hill residents must get over the "don't snitch" mentality. They've got to band together, work WITH police, to get the ugly element out of their lives, away from their children.

Okay, here is where we interrupt. Like we said, we do not have a very good answer for this material.

We hope One Hill has an answer by Monday.

All the Comet asks (here it comes) is that first we all really hone in on our empathy toward the miseries and struggles of poverty and misfortune, common miseries to which we all can relate...

... then imagine many of ourselves in an entirely different and more challenging family situation, economic situation, educational situation and who knows what else...

... and then on top of that, imagine stepping out our front doors every morning, only to see little but the same and worse miseries and struggles going on all around us -- to the north, to the south, to the east, to the west -- with too few signs of growth, and so many signs of decay.

There is no substitute for pride, hard work, self-discipline and virtue. We are just saying. Sometimes these things are necessary, but not quite sufficient. A well-crafted neighborhood stimulus package should not be off of any tables.

Where would this stimulus come from? What do any of us stand to gain from it? That brings us to the rest of your comment, Char -- the part that we're going to shred.

(Oh wait, you just commented again ... yeah, you're already getting there...)


  1. You know, I really enjoyed reading Char's breakdown on the Pittsburgh Promise and I just have to say that it's so disappointing to see someone who can clearly make a critical analysis become so blind, deaf and dumb on this issue when it comes to proper reinvestment.

    According to Char, we here in the Hill District need to become super human beings to make up for the criminal element that drags the whole community down. We need to be supermoms and superdads, create superschools and superkids with superresults.

    But let me ask you, Char . . . what are the folks in the suburbs going to do about superwhite collar crimes, super gun-toting, mass-murdering teens, super-conspiracy creating spouse murderers and the list goes on?

    And if you don't solve these things (since we ARE American citizens who live in a society that celebrates, glamorizes and promotes extraordinary violence on other human beings), then will you need to close down your grocery stores or seek making demands on anything at all?

    Hint: Black people do not REALLY believe in no snitching, Char. It is a philosophy of gangsters in the same way the Italian mafia likes to take out "rats". The list goes and it's what gangsters do. You should best believe that the normal person will "tell" in a heartbeat if they could be assured of their safety. Nobody romanticizes that "snitches get snitches crap" except gangsters and teens who enjoy emulating them (but not really).

    Just so much to address but it's been a long day.

  2. I’m an old woman who’s packed a lot of years into the 55 years I’ve been around. I grew up in a single-parent home in a border town in Texas where heroin-smuggling and cop-killing were the major industries. We were dirt-poor. Looking back I can’t fathom how my mother managed to feed us all. Most everyone I grew up with wound up dead (overdosed, drug deals gone bad, shot by cops during arrest attempts) or in prison. I spent most every day prior to my 18th birthday stoned out of my mind so I wouldn’t have to “see” the world around me. I’m serious about all of this. This is my “frame of reference” from the lily-white-trash world I grew up in.

    As bad as my “childhood” was …… I can appreciate that it’s even worse out there for the kids today. I do empathize with the miseries and struggles of poverty, Bram. I WAS that miserable, struggling, poverty-stricken wretch. And I can tell you, I did feel very very sorry for myself! Just as I do now for the pitiful kids today. It’s heartbreaking.

    But from this mess I came out with a first-hand knowledge and appreciation for what works and what does not. Money for “programs” and “services” are for the most part good things. But it MUST be coupled with love, discipline, HANDS-ON guidance and parenting from someone. Some human being, not a faceless agency. Not a government subsidized grocery store.

    Which is why I say to those adults in the Hill who are decent and strong of character: First and foremost you must parent/mentor your own kids PLUS the other kids around you who are floundering. The other kids who do not have a decent parent to rely upon or maybe even a home that’s safe. The young girls who are unmarried, unskilled, on their 2nd, 3rd baby and who think this is all normal and fine.

    No, it’s not fair that you’re saddled with all this extra responsibility that folks in Shadyside don’t have to carry. But (trite) life is not fair. The only way you’re going to get control of your lives and your future is when you get control of your children. Because that is what children are. They are our lives and our futures.

    The stupid grocery store is nothing. It will appear automatically when your neighborhood is healthy. Not the other way around.

    And what of the gun-toting, mass-murdering, psycho-selfish, spoiled suburban teens who have everything but choose to marauder and rampage anyway? I guess that kind of proves my point. Skin color has nothing whatsoever to do with criminality. I never said it did. I never implied it did. Additionally, money doesn’t seem to prevent or fix these things either, now does it?

    Those suburban kids are wasting away for the same reasons their “ghetto” cousins are. They have no guidance, no direction, no sense of worth because their parents are MIA. Either literally or figuratively.

    And what if the wealthy suburban parents continue to “pursue their own interests” leaving their trendily-dressed kids to fend for themselves … to raise themselves? I imagine an escalating number of those kids will choose thrill-seeking criminal activities “just for the fun of it”. Too much of that kind of “sport” and I imagine the suburban grocers will be looking for a better place to do business as well.

  3. i gotta agree with char on this one.

  4. You know, I agree with Char in terms of parenting and whatnot; but my problem is her presumption that parents are not *already* doing precisely what she is stating. This is where no less than half of the parents are in the neighborhood, Char. We (not that I'm a parent, I'm single with no kids) are already parenting other peoples' kids. We are already overburdened. What we DON'T have are the proper resources (like a community center, for example) to help with the top three afterschool programs in the neighborhood (and I believe some of the best in the city).

    I think what I resent about your comments is that you assume this isn't being done and you seem totally obsessed with the grocery store.

    And I think I resent your mental chronology. In your mind, we need to be super *before* we get a grocery store or some other program and I just think that is ridiculous. We are not looking for a vegetable panacea. We are looking for the types of resources that are *coupled* with those who look out for our best interests *coupled* with standard city services everyone gets, etc. We're moving for the synergy that is created in order to build a more sustainable community.

    I appreciate your comments and even your life struggles but there is definitely an inherent assumption that people in the Hill aren't watching their kids and they need to do much better before getting things and that is entirely wrong.

    Further, while I almost hate to bring this up (because I am an advocate for poor people), you need to be clear that your white privilege also helped you get out of your situation; and while you are able to look back on your life and talk about how you got out of the fog-filled daze of your existence after 18 years old, just understand that some of the young kids don't even live that long.

    Finally, what I also have a problem with is the lack of general analysis about America, how *all* Americans are struggling and how the least of these are struggling even harder. It's one thing to talk about parental involvement but the fact of the matter is that we live in a society (a misogynist society) that is rather hostile to parents in general and mothers, in particular.

    When you get a moment, check out this book:

    The War Against Parents: What We Can Do for America's Beleaguered Moms and Dads

    Thanks for reading.