Photo: Erik Mclean
Photo: Erik Mclean
It has been said that Chicagoans have an accent. People from Chicago can’t hear it, of course, but I don’t doubt that it’s true. I love New York accents, even though New Yorkers can’t hear their accent either. It’s that way for everyone. I met someone from Australia and couldn’t understand a word he was saying, even thought he was speaking English. But that’s true of a lot of people I hear who come from down south as well.
Here’s the thing. We seem to be unable to understand that like accents, we are where we come from. Our beliefs and world views are from Chicago, New York, Australia and from down south. We don’t CHOOSE to be born in those places and sound the way we do, we are simply born in those place and end up sounding the way we do and believing the things we do. If people who aren’t from Chicago, were born in Chicago, they would sound like they came from Chicago and be part of what we are, because they would be FROM Chicago.
If I was born and raised in NY then I would be the way New Yorkers are. Same goes for Australia or anywhere on the entire earth. We’re only different from each other by chance. So when the French say that American’s smile too much, it’s only because they aren’t Americans. If they were Americans they would smile a lot as well. Why don’t people get that?
Yes, we’re different from each other, but only because of where we come from. We could be anything, depending on where we are planted. Get that part? In the beginning, when we’re born, we COULD BE ANYTHING because basically, WE ARE ALL THE SAME. It’s only when cultures brainwash and insist that we become the way they want us to become, that we stop being one people. But, in reality, we START OUT AS ONE PEOPLE.
Religion, Education, The Establishment are corrupt and filled with lies, which they pass on to innocent children, so they can kill each other in wars and hate each other for stupid reasons, like their flags, the color of their skin, the shapes of their bodies, the gods they were FORCED to believe in, or the gender they love. That’s when we show our cruelty and insanity.
In the beginning, we could become anything. Adults take that innocent openness and turn it into whatever they want to. Any of us could have become the very thing we dislike, but for the conditioning we’ve had. Horrifying as that may be…it’s the truth. It won’t change anything, but it’s something to think about. We start out as one and are TAUGHT to be what we become.
I watched a fabulous PBS program on, College in Prison (in NY). Three installments, two hours each. I think what they’re doing, it’s fantastic. Apparently, not everyone does.
Okay, here’s the thing. Some people seem to feel that if they can’t send their kids to college, or if they have to pay to send their kids to college, people in jail, should not get a free education, since they are in jail because they did something wrong.
I personally believe that any country that cares about its citizens, should have free education for everyone. That way the country will have the best and the brightest, as well as intelligent people who can take care of themselves and not end up in jail in the first place. Free education for everyone, especially in a racist and greedy culture like ours, is not possible. The education you receive is based upon who you are, where you live, and what you have. Maybe we could take some of the money from the military establishment and use it to make a better and more peaceful life for everyone. Hahahaha…no money in that, right?
White Privilege. The only thing you have to do to get it, is be born white, or shades of white, you know, like pink, peach or any other hue that still fits the criteria. It has nothing at all to do with who or what you are, just what you look like. You can be a raging idiot but if you’re white, it still counts. Just like male privilege. It’s exactly the same thing and they are both hateful and destructive realities.
The men on the program have been in prison since they were 16/17 years old. Some of them have been in prison, longer than they have been out of it. Education is making a difference in their lives. It wasn’t there for them when they needed it in the beginning, because of their environment, but it’s there for them now. It wasn’t there in the beginning because it was not available. Being kids of color, living in BAD and DANGEROUS neighborhoods, I guess they were supposed to magically turn out like well educated, upstanding citizens all by themselves, while people were being shot in the street.
Fifty percent of those who are released from jail return. Those who go to college, while in prison, have a 2 to 4% return. That is amazing. If we would teach children in the first place, they wouldn’t be in jail and wouldn’t need to finally get an education while they were there. They work incredibly hard to get their degrees. They are extremely intelligent. No weekend frat parties for them. They are serious and know that education is their way to a better life.
It costs a lot to keep a kid in jail until he’s an adult. A 16 year old kid, whose brain isn’t even developed yet, locked up for 20 or 25 years, is insane. Our racist society puts them there by denying them their basic rights in the beginning. Our society is based on color, wealth and, of course, power. But the thing is, all of those things are given and taken away. They are allowed and not allowed. We are responsible for the violence we cultivate by keeping an entire group of people out of the mainstream, twisted as that mainstream may be. After we set up the situation for rage and violence, by withholding a good education, jobs, healthcare, and every other thing necessary for a better life, we LABEL that community as dangerous and bad. Society does not take responsibility for MAKING IT THAT WAY. Even kids from “good” families do bad things. They just get out of it.
The law treats people who come before it differently. If you can afford a good lawyer, all the better, if you can’t, good luck. Where you come from, how you look, and speak, just about everything counts, when it comes to what happens to you.
I’m all for college in prison. And for those who are all about the cost…much of is paid for by donations and it’s still cheaper than keeping people in jail for half their lives.
I also think it’s strange that men who are raping their own children are NOT in jail, but 16 year old kids who do something wrong get long sentences. How does that work? If a kid kills another kid in a gang fight, a life is over. But what a lot of people don’t take into consideration is that men kill each other in war everyday. When you live in gang territory, that can BE a war zone, to those living there. One group of kids killing the kids in another country is okay but it’s not okay when you set it up in a New York neighborhood. The only real differences are: the government doesn’t make money on gang wars and it scares people who can see it in their OWN city.
If a man repeatedly rapes his daughter he is also destroying a life. Oh, that’s right, the girl is female, so it doesn’t count. To me, those are the guys who should be in prison, no matter what color they are. That’s destruction on a daily basis. Life is too short a sentence for them.
Not everyone in prison should be out of it. But for the few who have changed and are able to get through the difficult educational program, I wish them all the luck in the world. If we, as a society, ever want a better life for all of us, we need to stop stepping on the necks of others and forcing them to be less than they can be. The ONLY difference between a good neighborhood and a bad one is color and poverty, two things that should not exist in a society that pretends to be built on equality. There is no equality, there’s only power, in whatever guise it shows itself.
Education is one of the keys to a better world. An end to violence is another. Equality is the biggest step forward we can make. Respect is another.
If you’re angry because you can’t afford to send your children to school, don’t blame it on the people in prison, blame it on our culture that makes college debt a life long, never ending, nightmare. Blame it on the SYSTEM that hikes up prices to an education that’s taught on computer screens instead of classrooms, or by TA’s some of the time. Put the blame where it belongs, on our government and our culture. Don’t punish the wrong people for the cost of an education. Put the blame where it should go…on the schools themselves. You know, all those lovely colleges where rape is epidemic. Yeah, those DANGEROUS schools where we send our DAUGHTERS to be attacked by someone’s SONS.
Some people can actually change if they are given a new world view. I’m all for it. We have all made mistakes in our lives, or done things we wish we wouldn’t have done. Sometimes we don’t even know how things happened. Some of the kids in prison were in the same position. If your child was in prison what you want for him/her?
Education can make a difference…we should let it.
*This program is for a very small number of men and even smaller number of women. As for prison, I can’t even imagine how horrible it truly is, or how dangerous and terrifying. I wrote this for the few who had changed and wanted a better life. I’m sorry they didn’t have the chances I did, when they were kids.
I’ve been thinking about ways to change society. I know, I know, it won’t be easy but that doesn’t mean we cant do it. As a people we can’t believe that anything is possible and then say that changing what we do, isn’t, right?
So, here’s what I think…we change the world through creativity…through art. Here’s how we do it. We place art at the top of the pyramid. We make art important. We talk about it, look at it, write about it, and most of all…we DO it…we MAKE it. We support art in every way possible. We don’t make it “commonplace,” we make it an exciting, an ever changing part of our lives. We teach each other, we work together, we create beauty. Yes, we create beauty where there is coldness and ugliness. We make our world a NEW expression of what we can be, what we are. We show that beauty lives within us but has been killed by the people in power who want us to exist surrounded by mental blank cement walls.
Brought up with art, seeing it and making it, children will enter schools where art classes are given twice a day. Pottery, writing, painting, singing, dancing, weaving…EVERY kind of art possible, so kids can find their own way. We make art the most important thing there is. Self expression, bookmaking, poetry, photography, flower arranging, gardening, etching, street art, whatever they need or want. We encourage art in all of its forms, everywhere. Yarn bombing, stone work, music, all of it.
Sports will be the first thing dropped if money in school becomes an issue. Art will reign. Teachers will encourage students to find their own path, being there only there to answer questions, make suggestions, and teach what someone wants to learn. Schools will be filled with creativity, not memorized, useless information that indoctrinates them to fit into dying system that leaves them depressed and poor, mere cogs on a grinding factory line where their light has been extinguished.
It all starts at the beginning…parents, schools. “Artists make lousy slaves,” I wear that button. Art will and can save the world, IF we can make the necessary changes. If we can demand that art, which is the heart and soul of every living being, if not killed from the start, can free us.
Artists think differently, see differently, they live in a different world. Their brains never stop creating and that’s what we need to bring out in people, if we want to be who we truly are.
If you’re thinking you aren’t an artist, that’s only because that part of you was put to sleep a long time ago. It wasn’t allowed to flourish. You don’t have to be Renoir, you just have to be you. Whatever your art…you will show up in it. You can’t help but show up because your art is who you are. Even a line drawing, or a two line poem will come from inside of you and the more you do whatever your art is, the better you will get.
I know some people will never participate but the majority will. Art BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER. Art heals, as much as it tells the TRUTH. Art reaches other people on many levels and there’s always a response.
It’s not love that will save the world. No one even knows what love means and love can be violent and deadly. Love is the problem, as far as I’m concerned, not the solution. But ART, art can do what nothing else does. It can change us for the better.
Here’s what I think:
I think this is the way to start a true revolution. We can do it now. Start with your kids and go to your school and ask for changes. Offer YOUR time to teach your child’s class about a particular artist. Do anything you can to bring about positive, artistic, change. I think this is one way we can have a peaceful (at least on our part) world wide revolution.
Years ago, when my kids were young, I volunteered to go with my son’s class to the Art Institute. I didn’t know any of the other mom’s who went. We got there and the volunteer mom’s huddled together and chatted. I didn’t get that. So, I started telling the kids about the artists, what their lives were like, how Rodin married his wife on his deathbed, just before he died, about Picasso’s blue period, about Van Gogh. I answered their questions, such as, “Why were women so fat and why would they paint fat women?” Sigh. I had all the kids around me, listening and asking questions. They were interested, they were focused.
Look, I know very little about art. Really, pretty much nothing at all but I saw the kids respond to what I did know. They weren’t just wandering through an art gallery, they were looking at Vincent and asking about the bandage wrapped around his head. I told them that story. I told them how his younger brother died and he was given his dead brother’s name when he was born. How his mom never got over the loss of that child and how Vincent was treated because of it. How he looked at his brother’s headstone everyday, in the back yard cemetery. They studied his picture carefully and kept asking questions.
EDUCATION NEEDS TO BE INTERESTING OR IT’S WORTHLESS IN THE LONG RUN. The interesting part needs to be what interests the people who are learning. Not what you WANT THEM THE LEARN but WHAT THEY WANT TO KNOW.
No stories, no interest. “Those are all dots?” they asked. None of the other mothers said a word, they just kept standing to the side talking among themselves. The kids were still asking questions on the bus, on the way back to school, and I was still talking about Theo and a lot of other things.
Kids want to know things but they don’t know what to ask until the world opens up to them. We DENY children an exciting and honest education by shoving boring and useless things down their throats every single day, which is the true purpose of education in our culture. To keep people from learning and wanting to continue learning.
I am forever grateful to the teachers who taught me to read. I can never thank them enough. The same goes for writing. Admittedly, I only learned what I wanted, or needed to learn, but I’m okay with that. I couldn’t digram a sentence if my life depended on it and fortunately, THAT HAS NEVER COME UP once in my entire life. See, that’s what I’m trying to say. We don’t need to know everything, we need to know what we can use to become who we are. That’s what we need to teach. We need to allow creativity to BREATH AND BLOSSOM.
Why do you think you’ve heard people say, “You can’t make a living with art?” It’s because ART IS A DANGEROUS THING and scares the establishment to death.
THAT’S a revolution. From that beginning, things can grow.