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  • Writer's pictureTLALOCO

When the Neighborhood Garden is Withering Away…FERTILIZE IT!

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

Communities are like a garden. They share a variety of flora, trees, and plenty more uninvited visitors that we wish would go away. Like, pesky gophers and weeds.

Sometimes, the weather won’t cooperate either. But all gardens are a blessing. It is the Yin/Yang of life.

Like our neighborhoods, gardens give us nourishment; from the food we eat, to clean air, water, and friends. For those paying attention, neighborhoods can uplift our spirits too.

Most of the things we need are in our communities. Like work, schools, hospitals, and markets. It is where we do fun stuff, like, art, music, entertainment and parks.

But, like every garden, our society has its bad side; The weeds of immoral characters that cheat, assault, steal from us, public servants that lie, and, do very little that benefits the neighborhood.

Even as the nets and reflective mirrors in gardens act as a determent, so too our local law enforcement patrolling in our communities reduces crime.

Those cop patrols may on occasion engage us as lawful citizens but more often than not, treat us all as suspects and are quick to target, arrest and detain the "bad apples." In their minds, the ones that look like criminals ...Tu sabes, more often than not, Latinos, Blacks and Indigenous people. People-of-Color (POC).

In the poorest communities, POC are viewed as a plague destroying the beautiful garden because the pests aren’t always visible to the naked eye. We know about pests, but don't readily see them as; poor schools, the struggle & strain of Mom & Pop businesses, vanishing community programs, or inadequate health care.

But, we can clearly see violent crime, gang assaults and police responses on the news and right in front of us on the streets. And it is ugly!

Rodolfo Acuña, Professor Emeritus of history, maintains that traditional explanations of racism, nativism and economic exploitation - the real pests in our gardens - are only partial reasons for historically limited access and opportunities for POC – colonized in our own communities.

In fact, as a nation, we have blamed culture as the problem causing Latinos, Blacks and Indigenous people’s failure in life. You know the story; pull yourself up by the bootstraps, try harder, don't worry about others, take care of yourself only.

As if, we all have an equal start and opportunity in life. PuroChisme! Distinguished Professor Marc Lamont Hill referred to the vulnerable, abandoned, those subject to state violence, and disposable as, “To Be Nobody.”

What is obvious, is that our nation’s race-based past has reared its ugly head again. And a new generation of POC, is once again shouting out against the infestation called Racism.

Racism is crystallized in law enforcement as police excessive-use-of-force that has in some cases led to serious injury and death. A racism that has been institutionalized, arguably since the creation of the constitution and, continuing unabated after the Civil War in 1865.

Over 400 years of legalized, codified and in many cases implicit discrimination and bias that continues to see a higher ratio of Latinos, Blacks and Indigenous people detained, arrested, and incarcerated nationwide.

In fact, the Public Policy Institute of California reported in April 2020, that felony arrests had declined for the first time since 2014. However, the rate of felony arrests for Blacks and Latinos continued to be higher than for White offenders. Nothing has changed.

The outcry and heartfelt displays of anger and contempt for police and elected officials to act against police brutality has resulted in a daily outburst of protest. With the media providing soundbite morsels – some bad, some fair and most unneeded.

Streaming over our social media airways, “I can’t breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” stories and the never-ending pundits’ sermons about all the reasons we should or should not be in the streets!

Sure, some of our Huero (White) brethren support the cause to end institutional racism and even police and national guard took the time during the protest, to express solidarity by walking with marchers and, in some cases, taking a knee.

But acts of symbolic support will not water our community gardens anymore! Likewise, "thoughts and prayers," cannot feed those gardens.

It seems, the weeds of discontent, anger and despair have taken over. POC have tilled the soil of this nation, generation after generation, and made it richer and more powerful. Serving our nation proudly and making our communities richer for it. In return, business and political leaders have failed to cultivate future generations but didn't neglect their own pocketbooks!

Greed and power feed the richest 10% of Americans who also happen to own 70% of the wealth in the United States. These are the people who by and large are deliberately indifferent to the needs of the greater communities they claim to serve.

Meanwhile, POC continue to suffer the evils of poor education, nutrition, hygiene and poverty. What will grow strong in that kind of garden? Only the hardiest of souls.

But we have survived. So, what now? What can we do to keep our communities vibrant and growing? PuroChisme argues that we need to fertilize all the gardens in the United States.

And the best fertilizer is naturally made from manure! Which means - we need to give a shit and do some shit, if we want this shit to change! Puro pedo? No cabron, es la verdad!

After a week of continued protests and, in some cities, looting and violent clashes with police, Terrance Floyd, the brother of George Floyd who was murdered by a Minneapolis Police Officer, talked to protesters at the site where his brother spoke his last breath.

In an emotional plea to all, Mr. Floyd reminded us about what we all should do to begin reversing police violence and the lack of opportunities/resources for all our communities:

"First of all, first of all, If I’m not over here…blowing up stuff. If I’m not over here messing up my community — then what are y’all doing? What are y’all doing! Nothing, because that’s not going to bring my brother back at all. So let’s do this another way. Let’s stop thinking that our voice don’t matter and VOTE! Because it’s a lot of us and we still going to do this peacefully!"

[my emphasis]

Terrance Floyd, a man who had just tragically lost his brother, tells a nation that our voices do matter...if we VOTE!

This is what it means to be patriotic in the United States. This is what a democracy should be doing - bringing light to the community garden, so that people can all prosper!

Democracy, meaning rule of the people,’ a system of government in which the citizens exercise power by voting to elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body.

By voting, citizens are participating in the democratic process. Citizens vote for leaders to represent them and their ideas, and the leaders are supposed to represent the citizens' interests NOT special interests.

And when leaders fail to represent people…then we must vote them out of office!



Excerpts from:

Alfredo Mirandé, J.D., Ph.D., GRINGO INJUSTICE: Insider Perspectives on Police, Gangs and Law. 2019

Rodolfo Acuña, Ph.D., OCCUPIED AMERICA: The Chicano”s Struggle Toward Liberation. 1972

Marc Lamont Hill, Ph.D., NOBODY: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond. 2016

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