I recently read about the (unelected) Boston School Committee’s decision to “reduce, but not eliminate” transportation for its middle school students – most of whom are Children of Color – opting instead to put this very vulnerable sector of the city’s population in the hands of its Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA), “hoping” nothing goes wrong.
From their lips, to God’s ears, I guess.
Travel training for students and parents started this month, and from all accounts, though the Boston City Council has the authority to block implementation of the new school busing policy, considering the known political leanings of some of its members – Boston City Council President Bill Linehan was among the three city council members who abstained from a vote to recognize the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board – that a reversal of policy will occur is unlikely.
While I understand the default response to situations like these is to march or protest – in fact, one of the fired school bus drivers said it was “time to put on our marching shoes, again”– I highly doubt the effectiveness of such a strategy, were it to be employed.
Also, this isn’t the sixties; marching and protesting – for the most part – don’t carry with them the Fear of God they once did.
And while boycotts have proven themselves to be effective – one need look no further than Montgomery for proof of that – for a boycott to be a successful tactic in this case, thousands of economically-vulnerable parents and grandparents (most of whom are African American, Latino, and Haitian) would have to be both willing and able to see it through.
However, the economics of the 21st century don’t seem too keen on accommodating the needs of the 99 Percent: Since eliminating middle school busing saves Boston $8 million, as of the 2014-2015 school year, 11-to-13 year-olds will be riding public transit so unsafe the bus drivers themselves are driving around, encased in Plexiglass.
In a city with an FY15 Adopted Budget of $2.7 billion (representing a $118.2 million [or 4.5 percent] increase), I do wonder exactly what a few extra million is supposed to do for the City of Boston that almost $120 million can’t, but that’s neither here nor there.
Then again, maybe it is.
Upon closer examination, the Boston school busing debacle is a perfect illustration of the adage “Money talks, bullshit walks”.
Of course I’m not saying a people’s concern over being mistreated is bullshit. Far from it.
As self-preservation is the first law of nature, it’s only natural one would be up-in-arms over unjust public policy, especially one whose primary objective is helping the rich and powerful to stay that way.
What I am saying, however, is in light of that reality, without the economic support needed to get the Power Structure to concede to the demands of those who are not rich and powerful – People who have as much right to be treated with dignity and respect as anyone else does – what else can the caretakers of Boston’s public middle school-aged children do but bend over and take it?
And that leads to this question: In the wake of the reality positive social change takes money as much as it takes the energy and willingness of the People, how do we build the economic infrastructure necessary to change our condition?
When I think about the fact African Americans are projected to pump $1.3 trillion into the U.S. economy by 2017, I’m troubled by the fact the money we spend does little more than provide us instant gratification, while at the same time, fattens the pockets of people and organizations who have no interest, whatsoever in helping us elevate from our socio-economically subservient position.
With a different mindset, could African Americans launch a crowdfunding campaign to create a Superfund that we could use to fund our own public policy efforts?
Or fund our own welfare and economic development programs?
Or fund our own college/scholarship fund, so we wouldn’t be forced to take money from people like the Koch Brothers?
Unfortunately, Racism and White Supremacy, fueled by Capitalism (which is predicated on a permanent underclass), have created within my People a desire to consume and possess, not renew and save.
And certainly not invest.
And without investment, there can be no economic infrastructure.
And without an economic infrastructure, we have no power.
And without power, we can’t change policy.
And if we can’t change public policy, we’re screwed.
[Tweet “Support INDEPENDENT Black media. READ Asis Chronicle. SHARE our articles. And help us GROW.”]