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Books

From Columbine to Buffalo: How can we not live in fear …. and regret?

UPDATE: Tuesday, May 24, 2022

18 CHILDREN AND ONE TEACHER DEAD IN TEXAS…..

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2022-05-24/texas-elementary-school-shooting

from Newtown, Connecticut to Uvalde, Texas…..

The National Rifle Association says, “……” (Well, you can imagine for yourself the stench of their “thoughts and prayers.”)

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-05-24/editorial-ulvade-shooting-national-suicide

Saturday, May 21, 2022

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-05-21/when-is-the-next-one-after-buffalo-shooting-black-la-residents-consider-their-safety

I couldn’t remember when the Columbine High School shootings took place just now, so I had to look it up: April, 1999. It seems longer ago than that. In two more years, it will be a quarter-century since two teenage males decided to engage in a large-scale massacre of their peers. Since then, several other mass shootings have taken place at high schools and colleges. In truth, I think about it almost every time I drive to campus. I would like to think that the odds of being murdered by some deranged student were greater than the chances of winning 260 million dollars in a lottery, but the fact remains the former is more likely to happen than the latter.

The massacre in Buffalo a week ago at a Tops Friendly Markets store has a much longer timeline of appalling, insidious hatred for the dignity of human life, however. No matter which side of the critique of The 1619 Project you might align yourself with (see link below), I cannot help but wonder how much more worry people of color must somehow tolerate in order to get through each day. Can anyone deny the likelihood that more such massacres will occur? How can an African-American citizen of this country walk out of her or house to go to a drug store to pick up a prescription, or to a grocery store to buy groceries for their meals, without knowing that each breath might be their last?

White supremacy, unfortunately, has very powerful political allies, whose wealth in controlling the outcomes of elections ensures that the Republican Party will nullify any attempt to eradicate the pervasive ideological cancer that is rapidly eroding this country’s social well-being.

I wish I could say that I have a feasible solution for this systemic crisis, but I cannot even affect very small changes in the place where I work. There is, for instance, an extraordinary renaissance in African-American poetry that has been quite visible for well over 20 years now. I have repeatedly spoken up at the college where I work in favor of hiring an African-American poet to teach creative writing. You can check the list of tenure-track and tenured faculty in the Department of English at CSU Long Beach to see how successful I have been.”Black Poets Matter” I want to say. Obviously, hiring such a professor will not deter in any way the next representative of white supremacy from acting out the fantasy life of many people who supported and continue to support Donald Trump. Nevertheless,…..

It’s not just fear I live alongside, though, but regret that I have been unable to make even the slightest dent in the travesty of this country’s tolerance for racial discrimination. Sad to say, I myself have made very little progress in my own struggle to recover from exposure to this virus. I went to schools as a child in the segregated South, and the experience infected me with the virus of racial hierarchies. It’s not a virus that any immunity system can ever fully counter, except in rare instances; and I’m not one of those, I assure you. I often think of how much different my life might be if am African-American man or woman had been my fifth and sixth grade teachers; if I had had classmates who were other than white in those grades.

I cannot change my past, nor budge the present. I still hope, though, that someday some of the children of the students I have taught will be able to attend CSULB and have an African-American professor of poetry to study under. Are we talking about the year 2045? Yeah, that’s probably how long it will take for the trajectory of poetry to bend toward this particular reconciliation of institutional power and canonical justice.

In the meantime, I can only offer my students links to readings elsewhere:


(Thank you, Jim Natal!)

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https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/12/historians-clash-1619-project/604093/