OK, this is a bit tough couple of days up here in Zombietown, admittedly. And I suspect people are looking to see what I am thinking, as my hits are a bit higher than normal inactivity warrants.
So here goes. The post title may seem incongruous, until you listen the the actual song, or at least listen to the lyrics.
Firelight and toast. Firelight and toast after I come home
from playing cricket. Now sweeping across tne western sky.
Great Furnace doors are open and light the sky like a
Night and day there was trouble that the eye could almost
see. In the Valleys that lay open. In the papers now
recovered. Read in the bright mid-morning among the flowers
The choices thatyou made are a mystery and were not yours
any more. I look out on corpses, skeleton trees. An
unimaginable hell in front of my eyes.
Apparently more violence is occurring tonight. Had a friend and mentor on Facebook remark, ‘this invalidates the entire movement’ and I wonder, is it the fact that black people are involved supposed to somehow negate Black Lives Matter? Since a cop shot the guy initially, does that invalidate Blue Lives Matter? Does the KKK invalidate the entire structure of America which benefits white folks?
Here I should say that a couple of my Imaginary Digital Friends did check in to see if there was any trouble, and I reassured them, we are 4 or 5 miles away from flashpoint, with two major barriers between. BUT: I did my Master’s thesis on a site in the neighborhood, I did several projects in the area, and worked like hell to try and save an historic 60s era neighborhood library for an appropriate use, before it decayed away. There re people I know in that area, I used to shoot darts in a bar not too far away. This is wound to everyone who considers themselves a Milwaukeean.
And it is a wound upon wound upon wound to folks in the African-American community. Milwaukee, for a time, was a destination for blacks looking for decent work at fair wages, and Milwaukee had lots of heavy, dangerous work. So blacks moved here, and created a community. Centered around an area called Bronzeville (and yes I have done much work there as well) that had a vibrant culture, and active social network, and as just generally kind of awesome and as far as I can tell, pretty much cooler than the white folks.
So, of course, the white folks had to kill it.
I mean, we know that good paying blue collar jobs were moved to the white-flight red-lined suburbs as soon as possible. But also, Milwaukee drove freeways right through the fucking goddam middle of these communities. Divided them up and destroyed established neighborhoods and connections, in order for white people to be able to drive through them as fast as fucking possible. And also to cut them off from the parts of the city that had been deemed as better….
you know, when I fell in love with architecture as a career this was the kind of shit I really had little knowledge of; and when I fell in love with Milwaukee as a city, I had no knowledge of this. But as I worked, as I learned, as I started to know the African Americans who were my fellow citizens, I have become increasingly appalled. At this point, I will just tell you to go read Ta-Nehisi Coates “Between the World And Me”
dammit at this point I am queuing up “Revenge Of The Mekons” so I don’t just fucking weep in sadness and rage all the way through this post.
One of the things Milwaukee has been noted for is the City of Festivals. And, to our credit, we expanded that to include African, Irish, Mexican, Italian, Polish, Native America, and Gay. I may be missing some. Used to have an African restaurant around the corner from my office.
It is very difficult to repair the damage between races. On one of those projects on North avenue, I had one of the board members challenge me, because I did not remember him, because “we all look alike to you” and I couldn’t even respond honestly because ‘I have shit memory for faces’ was crap.
BUT this is where things go awry. Media has trained white folks to fear anyone with color. Black folks see the daily shit they have to live with…And white folks are able to find jobs and black folks are not.
And then, we have a police force that is trained to treat the populace as the enemy, and that black populace are inherently threatening. And that they have to be shot, no matter what…
Let me not pretend I am defending the guy who got shot. He apparently had a gun. But, this is a state where open carry is fine. And running is not a crime. And he was still killed. What I will say is that there will at least 4 different ways of dealing with him, but only one involved discharging a firearm….
But here’s how I look at it. In this City, blacks have been driven down for decades. They had their self-established communities destroyed. Now, they have watched their young men targeted and killed without reason.
This is not longer acceptable. the African-American community no longer is wiling to be accept something lesser (and no they shouldn’t)
I want to find something right now. I want to be able to create a festival that brings us all together. I want to find a way to create a life where we all get together.
It is, of course, Hard to be Human again….