Sunday, July 21, 2013

Read Me

Today was a day of relaxation, reading, and spending time with friends. The trip to the Zoo was cancelled and I decided to not attend Laser Tag, so I hung out with my friends instead and then eventually left them to do some readings. We do not have any required readings for class tomorrow, but it was suggested that we reread some books, so I did.

The books that were assigned to us in the beginning of this four week program were Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, An Essay on Liberation by Herbert Marcuse, Earth Democracy by Vandana Shiva, Ways of Seeing by John Berger, and Crack Capitalism by John Holloway. 

These books are very well written and explore ideas that had not occurred to me before I took this class. I am learning a lot and forming my own opinions. I have learned something that had never really occurred to me before: what you learn from your teachers or books, or whatever, is simply opinion. You do not have to take everything said to you as fact because they are just well thought out opinions. Michael and Andy want us think for ourselves, disagree with them, and form our own ideas and opinions. The freedom given to us by our professors has helped me to grow as a person and as a thinker. I am asking questions that I would have never asked before because they might be "stupid" or "inappropriate." 

I am applying what I am learning on my thoughts about my school district back home. I am from the West Contra Costa Unified School District, which encompasses the cities of San Pablo, Richmond, El Cerrito, Pinole, Hercules, El Sobrante, Kensington, East Richmond Heights, North Richmond, Tara Hills, and Montalvin Manor.

I attend school in San Pablo/Richmond, and sexual harassment is very active on my school campus and this area in general. What can I do about it? What tactics could I use to stop it, if that is what I want to do? Can I get Hollaback involved? I am questioning myself and my situation. I will pick my battles wisely, but I will also not just "let things go" anymore.

For example, Capitalism has had a negative effect on the people I know. Some people in class said that Capitalism is great, it works for them, and they would not want to sacrifice their enjoyment for others who may not be enjoying this economy as much as they are. They have the right to their opinions, but I disagree. I am growing up and going to school in a low income neighborhood, and Capitalism does not work for us. I attend a community college, so I see the roles people of all ages play in Capitalism. Older people who have been working for years decide to go back to school so they can make more money and provide easier lives for their families. They work every day, usually manual labor, which has negative effects on their bodies. Kids are starting younger and younger looking for jobs, which typically involves places like Starbucks and Chipotle, which requires constantly being on your feet. 

I am lucky that I was hired as a school tutor, where I can sit and help people, instead of having to always be up and serving people for a small amount of money. People work long hours every day in order to make the little bit of money they make so they can feed themselves. The people I know in these situations have told me that they are not happy with their lives being this way. 

Products are also constantly being advertised to them and many spend their money on these products instead of groceries because they think this product will make them happy like the people in the ad. It is a vicious cycle of laborers working for meager wages, spending it on consumerism, which gives money to the Capitalist economy. Which then asks them to continue working to make those poor wages so they can continue buying things. Capitalism may benefit a small group but it does not benefit the majority. And I know this because I live in it. It does not benefit my family or the people in the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

Here is a quote from Crack Capitalism that Michael pointed out to me that I really like, "Break. We want to break. We want to break the world as it is. A world of injustice, of war, of violence, of discrimination, of Gaza and Guantanamo. A world of billionaires and a billion people who live and die in hunger. A world in which humanity is annihilating itself, massacring non-human forms of life, destroying the conditions of its own existence. A world ruled by money, ruled by capital. A world of frustration, of wasted potential."

"We want to create a different world." 

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