New Rochelle was the home of Dick VanDyke and Mary Tyler Moore in the eponymous show "The Dick VanDyke Show" When I think of that show I think of white people, middle class, privileged, quirky, funny and happy. In other words a reflection of one part of America at the time. When you see the later versions of the same it was Sanford and Son, Chico and the Man, Good Times, Julia and lastly the successful family version of people of color, The Jeffersons. The working class version of a white family that changed that dynamic was All in the Family which led to much of the shows on the above list and in turn expressed the real values of many Americans, a white man, often uneducated and racist often upended by the smarter funnier person of color. And all of those persons lived largely in poverty. And all of them have some versions of the truth as art is a reflection of life as it was in the 70s. True those on TV are funnier, better looking and never short on a comeback but it cannot be overlooked there are realities of how we are segregated by our choices and the realities of living as determined by economics.
Living in Nashville the reality of integration surrounds me and it is very effortlessly. There are clear neighborhoods defined by price and history that enables a self segregation but the social environs are not as defined as one would expect. It is what it is and that is defined as success in Nashville. You are what you earn. Money is green and that color is what matters most.
Then we come to the schools. They are shitholes, forget Haiti as that has an immense historical beauty and culture that despite it all remains. The history of schools here is truly marked by the rage behind the forced integration that until this week was buried in the vaults at the Tennessean newspaper who released them to the Frist Art Museum for an exhibit to show how violent and dangerous it truly was. As I said in the last post Boston went down a dark road as well when it came to integrating the schools and little was seen like that on the West Coast. In fact Seattle seemed proud of how they never had to integrate under court order but they figured out how to do that through the mistakes of others and that became the school within the school.
When I read this article about the schools in New Rochelle I again cannot help but note the similarity to Nashville with most of the violent crime committed by the students in the schools here. The city is under a massive split and in turn the have and the have nots are under a magnifying glass in ways that they struggle to get out of. When you put ants under such a glass you know what happens.
Intrinsic pains turn extrinsic as they can only be bottled up so long. The reality of school violence is not an issue in the striking states of Teachers in Arizona or Oklahoma and nor was it in West Virginia and they are all gun rights times ten states and certainly not exempt from that fear. But the reality is that kids rarely go shoot up a school and that in the cases of late they are often directed to a few individuals that have hurt them specifically - broken heart, trash talking and that kind of rage that is explosive and visceral.
Today again at the same school I was at that when there was a Tornado drill I sent them out and slammed the door and stayed in the room, the same school where I covered for a Teacher going to the funeral of a student who had a history of problems and was killed by a fellow student as they were doing drive byes for planned robberies, the same school where a student tried to immolate another by throwing cologne on them to ignite them and the same school that has been in the news over terminations and discussions regarding sexual encounters between staff and students. I come here as it is 20 min bus ride from my house, 10 if I have a rental car. The children are truly repugnant and I cannot pretend that I have any fondness, belief or respect as they do little to demonstrate the same. And they are the first to demand it. Yes that is how it works here. They trash talk you to your face, behind your back, ignore you and marginalize you in the same way society does them and they want you to be better than that or at least express anger as that is the one emotion they recognize. Sorry I don't even care that much to generate that much energy. I have to be my "authentic self" and that is when I walk in the door of schools here I shut down, I stop caring but I try to be at least polite as my manners matter to me. I have to have some sense of self and dignity when there is little of that around me.
The Teachers here are like W. Virginia and Oklahoma under state law forbidden to strike and in turn that did not stop them. The did not rely upon their Union to assist them and in fact rejected the Union bargain in W.VA. The unions here are so marginalized and demoralized they are a joke and the Teacher in the school just across the street tried to convince me otherwise I beg to differ - just not to her face - as having a dialogue here is a farce.
The schools here are a farce and tragic and no one here has the courage to do anything. I doubt seriously the wealthy care about the violence in the school in New Rochelle as it does not affect them directly. And until it does they will do nothing. It took a kid, a fellow student with a history of violence and mental health issues to nearly destroy a school and from those ashes rose the power of more than any Phoenix. Here we just smile and shuffle off. We want no conflict, no resolution, no anything but pain and resistance to pain which proves strength. What.ever.