Black People : WHITE FOLKS DIRTY LITTLE SECRET: PO' WHITE FOLKS...

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Isaiah, Sep 18, 2005.

  1. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Ok, PanAfrica, you got me on this one - but only to a degree(smile!) There is another book out there or two about places like SOUTHIE in South Boston, which the white media makes sure to keep most quiet about, but they are more the exception than the rule... Besides, OUR CONCERN should be about US, no matter what... BTW, I made some references to how class plays out in our communities in the Black Psychologist thread... For more on that, read John Dittmer's book called LOCAL PEOPLE or Rev. FRED SHUTTLESWORTH's biography... It will make you so angry to learn of how our upper and middle-class Blacks, first, tried to stop our movement for change, and then collaborated with the White Citizens Councils to CONTROL government programs which the LOCALS had fought so hard for.



    http://www.bookclubs.ca/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780345441775&view=printexcerpt



    I moved back to Southie after four years of working with activists and victims of violence, mostly in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan, Boston's largely black and Latino neighborhoods. In those neighborhoods I made some of the closest friends of my life, among people who too often knew the pain of losing their loved ones to the injustices of the streets. Families that had experienced the same things as many of my Southie neighbors. The only difference was that in the black and Latino neighborhoods, people were saying the words: poverty, drugs, guns, crime, race, class, corruption.



    Two weeks after I moved back home, every newsstand in town had copies of U.S. News & World Report with a picture of me, posterboy for the white underclass, leading the article, and demographic evidence telling just a few of Southie's dirty little secrets. South Boston's Lower End was called the white underclass capital of America, with a report showing all the obvious social problems that usually attend concentrated poverty in urban areas. The two daily papers in Boston wrote stories about the articles findings, with their own interviews of housing project residents, politicians, and a local priest, mostly refuting the findings. A group of women sitting on a stoop in the housing development laughed at the article. "We're not poor," one said. "We shop at Filene's and Jordan Marsh." I remember how I spent my teenage years, on welfare, making sure that I too had the best clothes from those department stores, whether stolen or bought with an entire check from the summer jobs program. I thought I looked rich, until I saw that all the rich kids in the suburbs were wearing tattered rags.



    A local politician said that the article in U.S. News was a lie, that it was all about the liberal media attacking South Boston's tight-knit traditional community. A local right -wing community activist called the magazine a "liberal rag." And a Boston Herald columnist who'd grown up in one of the census tracts wrote that he was a better off not knowing he was poor. But he grew up long before the gangsters started opening up shop in liquor stores on the edge of the housing projects, marketing a lucrative cocaine trade to the children of single women with few extended family support structures or men around.


    Our local priest said it was terrible to stigmatize Southie children with such findings, labeling them "underclass." I didn't like the term either, but I thought at least now some of the liberal foundations might begin to offer real support for social service agencies struggling to keep up with the needs of Southie families in crisis. People from Southie nonprofits had told me that they were constantly denied funding because the name "Southie" automatically brings "racists" to mind - the same kind of generalizing that makes all black children "gang bangers" in the mind of bigots. One thing growing up in Southie taught me is that the right wing has no monopoly on bigotry. Eventually, I saw, the priest and other local social service agencies started to refer to the article when they looked for funding or other support.



    When I first moved back to Southie, I was always looking over my shoulder, I wasn't sure if anyone minded all the stuff I'd been saying to the press. Instead, people I didn't even know started coming up to me, telling me their own stories. It was as if they felt it was safe to come out, and they wanted to take the tape off their mouths. Before this, I would walk through the main streets of Southie and see so many people who didn't connect with others who'd suffered in similar ways, the way I'd been doing with people in Roxbury. It seemed that people wanted to talk after years of silence.








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    Excerpted from All Souls by Michael Patrick MacDonald Copyright © 2000 by Michael Patrick MacDonald. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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