Wanna Be Startin Something: The Spirit of the Night
Here, on the pages of the Black Youth Project, us bloggers engage in a tradition of writing opinion pieces that may interest other Black youth. Often we comment on popular culture, racism (naturally), and politics; and most of the time we criticize heavilly, at least I do. Something feels incomplete, though, about the meditations I place in front of you all. Even though comments creep into my inbox and I can see readers show love on Facebook, the impact I hope for never actualises. This is a space that usually ends with the writer and the reader expressing their point of view, and as a result, ideas may change. Mind changes are not insignificant, but they relate to an outside world that still maintains the problems that upset the individual in the first place. The resolution of the outside world, that of that of the government “righting their wrongs,” others stoping their profiling, etc., is what every voice that speaks (whether verbally or in writing) desires.
Back home, during spring break, I could not resist thinking about the pocket hijacking that goes on in Philly. A contemporary movie called “Night Catches Us” inspired the activist spirit in me. Revisiting the immediate post-Black Panthers days of Philadelphia, the film captured the minimal satisfaction of just standing up against outward injustices (tune into 1:14-1:18). Discontent must manifest, and when it does the outside world must respond; that alone becomes a miracle in itself! Regulation of the McDonalds in my Philly neigborhood outrages me the most (after the Mummia case) in Philly. After a certain time on the weekends, the restaurant forces its patrons to pay the premium of every meal and every menu. At the exclusion of the dollar menu, the number one and fourteen, we can only purchase large meals, so that the least that we pay is 5 bucks. Injustice comes to mind in two forms: oppression (by way of limiting options for the desired choice for arbitrary or no reason) and isolation of low income customers that can’t afford the premium. It’s a bogus situation considering the overwhelming proportion of poor people in North Philadelphia. I want to do something, want to be up to something like Frantz Fanon.
Community organizing intrigues me now, unlike any point in my life so far, because I’m capable of seeing social problems clearly, which makes the possibility of leadership much more real. As an enthusiast of post-colonial theory and Black existentialism, I find Martin Luther King Jr. valuable for the McDonalds situation. His use of “direct action” projects, demonstrations that disrupt the regulation of a particular business, creatively forced merchants to curb their blatant racism. Similarly, I’m itching to cause a meltdown at this McDonalds location. First, I would gather a bunch of people from the neighborhood to fake like they will purchase meals. Then, at a time when they are charging the premium, I want to send people in to overwhelm the computer system. This would be done by having many people suddenly decide not to purchase, before they pay and after the order has been place on the order board. Too many cancellations would freeze the computers, while frustrating regular costumers of that day. Finally, we would make clear our purpose and ability to adapt our methods to their responses until the desired action actualizes.