DNC Posting #1: Journey for Bernie, Philly Ghettos, Energy Epicenter

22 07 2016

There are currently massive caravans leaving U.S. cities and driving to go to Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention next week.  Seeing the involvement of people online and how many people are actually taking the time to stand for a good cause is causing another peak of energy in the Bernie Sanders people led movement.  I am off today as well on my own Journey for Bernie.  I couldn’t spend the extra six days it would have taken to drive to and from Philadelphia so I chose to fly.  The whole Bernie Sanders and people led movement is continuing to be the most intense display of democracy most have ever had the chance of participating in.  People are not accepting things as they are.  They are doing something about the trajectory our country is going in and it continues to be one of the most inspiring and authentic movements I have ever been a part of.


Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, will be the host of this year’s DNC.  I lived in Philly for a number of years and experienced firsthand that brutal form of brotherly love.  The first day I moved there my partner was on the sidewalk watching my furniture as I was moving into my place in South Philly.  The sidewalk was mildly blocked and passer byers in cars let my partner know by yelling out “cocksucker!” as they drove by.  Within the first week of moving in, I would get woken up in the morning by Italian and Catholic middle to old aged men yelling at each other outside my window in “Fuck this” and “Fuck that” jargon.  Most of the people in Philly are nice enough but one constantly has to pretend that the language they use in not aggressive on purpose but just how they talk.  The area is generally liberal but phrases like, “yeah I support faggots getting married” is just one of many forms of ironic personality traits expressed there.  It is after all the east coast which is a type A, closeted liberal version of the west coast.  Liberals are only liberal on the less controversial issues and mostly within their own homes or hidden behind closed doors if people happen to be in their homes.  A much more conservative type of liberal waiting to be influenced by the western half of the U.S. so they won’t have to be the ones standing on the front lines of their values.  Ah, maybe that is too harsh.  My west coast elitism is coming out.  The east is just a different approach.  Perhaps one more led by fear and, overall, a more systemic liberal strategy.


I worked in the public schools originally and quickly realized that what I thought was an impoverished school and community from where I had come from in San Francisco was nowhere what an impoverished school was in Philly.  These communities were mostly Black and make up about half to two thirds of Philly.  Some would call them extreme ghettos where gunshots are heard, addicts are desperately and itchingly looking for their next fix, and lots of loitering and day drinking is common.  The houses are dilapidated and it isn’t uncommon to see a car crashed or parked into a house as a somewhat sort of living room addition or a wreck that never got moved.  There are mostly only fast food restaurants, gas stations, boarded up bars, and bail bond shops around.  If you didn’t know where you were and were mysteriously dropped into this environment you would probably think you were in some third world country.  How is this America?


Being a white man in the schools in these communities I definitely stood out.  The schools I worked in really made me understand the prison to pipeline epidemic that’s happening all throughout America.  The schools were mini jails where the students and the teachers were treated like inmates.  There would be extreme bullying in the classrooms without any resources or campus security around to help.  I would often have to make choices about whether to break up a gang assault of a weaker child and get physically assaulted myself or go running and yelling for help.  The neighborhoods were also filled with cops harassing its citizens, mostly for drug offenses, or for petty crimes where anyone could be taken off the street at any time for any such reason a cop deemed appropriate for search and arrest.  In absolutely impoverished communities nobody cares what happens to its citizens and police power reigns supreme and never checked.  This was not a community, it was a military operation of the police vs the enemy of the citizens and the schools were detention centers.


Right next to Philly is a city called Camden, New Jersey which I taught in as well which is exactly the same “ghetto” as what I described above.  Not many people probably are aware of the massive desperation that is occurring in the Philadelphia area.  Instead, they are shown that it’s the city of brotherly love and everyone loves each other, and Ben Franklin wrote the U.S. Constitution or something or other right?  Things like the DNC are held there and the downtown is a capitalist vibrant hub and South Philly is where the cheesesteaks are and there are a few hipster neighborhoods of white artistic folks who are gentrifying the impoverished communities, but I heard it’s so cool and risqué to live there right?  It’s all happening in the normal way cities are formed in America.  Hipsters move in to impoverished neighborhoods, that have been largely given up on, to make a place “cool.” Then businesses pop up and affluence emerges and more privileged folk move in.  It then becomes too expensive for the original impoverished citizens and even the hipsters can’t afford it anymore and massive displacement occurs where the soul of the community gets ripped from itself.  Then a downtown is created and materialism and capitalism are exaggerated and completely take over.  Yep, this sounds all too American.  I’m not void of having lived and participated in such cycles in my life.  What is one supposed to do?  How do we not participate in such things, and the America way overall that pays attention to a small moneyed population, basically giving handouts and opportunities to them, while ignoring the masses who are mostly just trying to make a living to live a comfortable, secure life?


This is what the Bernie movement has arisen out of.  The movement is powered by normal people who have been short changed by affluent and privileged America.  They are showing up to Philadelphia in an organized event to protest the benefits few always receive in the face of and vs the needs of the masses.  They are protesting a political system and the Democratic party within that doesn’t stand for most people.  They are protesting a system that gives corporate handouts to people who benefit from the suffering of the masses.  They are protesting a system that profits off of student debt.  They are protesting a system that profits off of incarcerated individuals and the racist ‘War on Drugs.’  They are protesting a system that doesn’t stand for minorities and the epidemic of police brutality on black lives.  They are protesting a system that brings about more military destruction to the world and to our own communities by militarizing the police than any institution or government on earth.  They are protesting a system that goes against union representation.  They are protesting a system that doesn’t stand for practical environmentalism or actually taking firm action against climate change.  They are protesting a system that treats corporations as people.  They are protesting a system that allows unlimited money in politics and hence gives unlimited power to a small amount of wealthy individuals over massive people representation.  They are protesting not being given a livable minimum wage.  They are protesting a system that doesn’t bail out its citizens, it’s students, and the unemployed/underpaid but instead will bail out banks and shareholders and not hold them responsible or put them in jail for their actions.  They are protesting the Democratic political party that would actually make amends and compromises to the corporatist and racist and sexist radical far right, appealing to the mirage that they’re centrist, rather than appealing to their base or progressive, people centered values overall.  They are protesting the Democratic political party that is putting its own power and rigged election process ahead of the power, will, and unity of the people.


Most importantly people are showing up to Philadelphia to protest the Democratic Party and the fact that they are pushing us ever closer to having a Trump in the white house.  Hillary Clinton is a weak leader and divides the left.  There have been months of polling and primaries where it has been shown time and time again that Bernie Sanders is a leader from the Democratic Party that can unite all the energy on the left.  It could very easily be a sweeping victory for Democrats where a massive populous movement on the left would steamroll Trump and Conservatism.  We have the opportunity to really push for liberal values in this election and win without a doubt.  Hillary Clinton will not be that leader.  People in large amounts will not vote or fight for her.  With Hillary Clinton you have an apathetic base only supported by the establishment.  If we’ve figured out anything from this election, it’s that it’s not the year of the establishment candidate.  Will the Democrats really ignore what will ignite their base?  Will they ignore a whole new generation of voters that are there for the taking?  Will they really take the chance that apathy and disunity on their side really will overcome a populous movement on the right with Trump?  Seems like high stakes gambling to me where the brunt of the pain will be felt by the American people if they by chance lose.  In a way, seems very appropriate to what our country and political parties have become.  The movement and protest in Philadelphia is a last ditch effort by people to try and save the national Democratic Party from itself.


It is rare in today’s modern social networking and tech times to have such a symbolic event scheduled to take place in a physical location.  Knowing the environment of what Philly is on its own and mixed in with masses of people who feel desperate to bring about positive change against the withholding powers that be, mixed in with it being humid as all hell and close to 100 degrees in the peak of summer, I have a lot of nervousness and apprehension about what is going to happen there.  I am a very energetically intuitive person and can’t help but feel something outrageous is on the verge of happening.  I hope I’m wrong and I hope I’m right.  I know something needs to happen and also know that something big doesn’t usually happen to change the dynamics of power politics without something huge also needing to take place to bring that oppression to the surface and actually paid attention to.  The energy is building and the epicenter is in the city of brotherly love and we shall see how the Democrats vs the masses and the country as a whole will conduct itself.  I will be running around the streets of my once old home town trying to figure it out.







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