Excerpt from unpublished manuscript of “An End To Childhood”, Chapter 5: Killing It – Gun Crime As Myth. Quoting Useni Eugene Perkins,Home is a Dirty Street: the social oppression of Black children, reissued in 1991.
Eugene Perkins, in his book “Home is a Dirty Street” (1975) characterises the ‘ghet-colony’ as a place of rage, despair and hopelessness, also, painting the following picture: ‘[the] ghetcolony tradition [is] a pervasive episode of hopelessness and poverty. What was true yesterday is more than likely to be true today. There are the same decrepit structures basking under the sun … and the stenchy alleys covered with broken wine bottles, empty beer cans, urine and the faeces of stray dogs and unwanted people…the whimpers of babies who are still hungry for yesterday’s milk shortage… the dispossessed men who mill in front of taverns waiting to quench their hunger with anything that can help them escape their pain and frustration.’ Indeed, this picture was much like that painted by Big L, Melle Mel, Tupac and others, who commented, with little reservation, on the brutal-ity of oppressed existence. Perkins continues: ‘… the hustlers, pimps, street men and other social outcasts who serve as models for the young… always the dirty streets where “ghetcolony” children make their home. A home that has an asphalt floor, tenements for its walls and a door which locks them in from the rest of the world. The streets constitute an institution in the same way that the church, school and family are conceived as institutions. They all have a set of values and norms to govern and reinforce their existence… it is an institution because it helps to shape and control behaviour. And it is on the streets where the Black child receives his basic orien-tation in life.’ It might be said that based on this reasoning, the places where these oppressed children grow up, and are reared/trained are actually schools of crime, with the classrooms simply existing and operating without walls. Summarising this travesty, Perkins goes on to say that the students of this “asphalt jungle” are condemned to this horror: ‘the streets become primary reference because other institutions have failed to provide him with the essential skills he needs to survive in the “ghetcolony.” And for a child to survive the “ghetcolony” he must undergo a rigorous appren-ticeship that will enable him to compensate for the lack of guidance from other institutions and adults. He becomes a student of the “asphalt jungle” because that is where he can learn the skills he needs.’ (p 17)
Towards Trans-Communality, the Highest Stage of Multiculturalism: Notes on the Future of African Americas, John Brown Childs,
Social Justice, Vol. 20, Nos. 1-2, p 35
Sidney Wilhelm’s much neglected 1970 work, Who Needs the Negro, infused with a severely pessimistic projection about the future of African Americas, is absolutely necessary reading for today. Any understanding of the current and future crisis of racial/ethnic population in the United States must take into account the profound techno-global political-economics transformation that Wilhelm glimpsed and that are even more developed now. Wilhelm argued that as technological efficiency such as automation reduced the need for worker African Americans were rapidly moving from being a functionally exploitable population, of use to the wider society, into being a marginalised, discarded people, confined to reservation-like ghettos and controlled by increasingly heavy structures of repression. Today, 23 years later, Wilhelm’s argument is even more salient as the computer age and the ability of capitalism to move its assembly lines around the world is undermining the need for a large industrial work force in the U.S. itself, My retrospective use of Wilhelm’s work here is aimed at rethinking the dilemmas and direction of African Americas as we move toward the 21st century. Although my notes here are aimed primarily at the African American situation, there are several parallels with other racial/ethnic populations…
Global Visions, Beyond the New World Order (1993), The Political Black Minister (1980)