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Monday, December 1, 2014

Do BLACK LIVES MATTER in Newark, Paterson, Wayne?

For the past week activists, rioters, looters, arsonists and hatemongers have been tearing America apart, insisting on a mythical boogey man KKK cop and a blameless "gentle giant" who had his hands up and begged not to be shot. "Black lives matter!" they chant, as if they just figured that out, as if compassion for life, for human life, for African American lives, were their invention and proprietary domain.

This morning while gearing up for my workday I stood at the kitchen sink, trying to convince myself to eat breakfast, listening to WGBO, Jazz 88.3, a radio station in Newark, NJ.

Newark is fourteen miles from me. My parents and two older brothers lived in Newark in a walk-up, cold-water flat. A violent explosion drove them out to the suburbs. My family was one of millions of people driven out of cities wracked by violence in the latter half of the twentieth century.

"Eleven people were shot in Newark over the weekend. Three died." The WGBO announcer said this morning at dawn. "There is no word on motives for any of the weekend violence," a newspaper reports.

Newark's dead. Do their lives matter?

Lisa Parker. Jamil Harris. Zaire Williams. Have you heard their names like you've heard Michael Brown Michael Brown Michael Brown Michael Brown? Will you ever hear their names?

A man was stabbed to death on my doorstep. I was questioned by police. Honestly I have to tell you – I've forgotten the name of the man who was stabbed to death on a spot I have to step over when I go out the door every day.

In class this morning Pavlo told me I HAD TO see this one video on youtube. I did not know what to expect. We watched the video together.

Lee McNulty, a 27 year veteran of John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson, NJ, described that high school as a giant farce that does not educate its largely Hispanic, African American, and immigrant Muslim – Arab, Turkish, and Bengali – students. McNulty described how Paterson schools' superintendent – himself an African American – earned a hefty bonus for cooking the books and pretending that the schools are teaching, when they are not. You can see the video, below.

Do the lives of the kids stuck in Paterson's schools matter?

I checked my email. I learned that five young African American men are accused of gang raping a female student in a dorm room in Wayne, NJ. You can read more about the allegations here. Do these lives matter?

Al Sharpton will be appearing at John F Kennedy High School soon to make sure that its thousands of students are receiving an adequate education. Not.

Jesse Jackson will be in Newark soon to protest the ongoing murders of African Americans by other African Americans. Not.

Massive numbers of protestors will hold lengthy rallies to demand respect for women in African American song lyrics, music videos and in the lives of role models like sports stars. Not.

Black lives matter. Except to activists shouting "Black lives matter."

The answer isn't another riot or looting spree or protest rally. The answer, as much as I hate to say it as a former leftist, is on the right. It's in the words of authors like Shelby Steele and Larry Elder. The answer is in old fashioned values. The answer is in showing up every day and doing boring things like working a steady job and going to church on Sunday.

I don't have a rousing ending to this blog post. I have to stop typing now so I can get up early tomorrow morning and go to work grading my students' papers. Because Black lives, Hispanic lives, white and Asian lives matter, and the way to support them is to show up every day, and be a mensch.

Update. Karen Wyle and Gordon sent in this story. Only nineteen -- nineteen! -- Paterson students deemed ready for college, while at least 66 school officials make six figure salaries. Read more here


  1. We need to buy you a bigger microphone.... you are the voice we all need. Thank you

  2. I should have said yours is the voice but I type so poorly

    1. Gemma thank you very much for your kind words.