Behind Bars

‘For the Children....’

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

The next time I hear a politician promise to do something “for the children,” I may heave.

If one thing is clear in this nation, it is that children are hated. Oh—we don’t use that word to describe our relationships with them, but if we honestly examine those interactions we find that it would be difficult to describe in ways other than “hate.”

For the last several months, I’ve been reading, studying and thinking about the nation’s public school system. I’ve read classics in the field, like Jonathan Kozol’s 1967 work, Death At An Early Age, a stunning account on his years as a permanent sub [!] in Boston’s Black populated schools in Roxbury, where kids were taken down into dark, dank cellars and beaten with rattan sticks.

But what happened in the dark basements of the buildings, while certainly dramatic and deplorable, could hardly be worse than the systematic slaughter of the minds of tens-of-thousands of children, who were, in Kozol’s words, “intellectually decapitated” daily by a racist, segregated school system.

Truth is, any major U.S. city could’ve been used with similar results—Harlem, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, for nationally, the drop-out rate is 50 percent.

Public schools are places where kids go to get their minds and souls killed.

And what is war but old men sacrificing young men in often-meaningless battles? What is the so-called “War on Terror” but a mindless slogan used to sell lies like “Weapons of Mass Destruction?”

And what are soldiers but mostly children, molded into madmen, who fight and die, so that old rich men can get richer?

Daily, we drug millions of schoolchildren, some as young as four-years-old with Ritalin, because we describe them as hyperactive or deficient in attention—which means they don’t sit still, while we bore them out of their brains, with what we laughingly call an education.

“For the children” we leave a diseased and poisoned planet, an economy on crutches, and a world boiling with hatred for their fathers.

Isn’t it about time we really stopped doing more damage to the children?, September 9, 2009