I’ll Never Tell You to Do Anything
By Teka Lark (September 22, 2016)
When I owned a newspaper in South Central Los Angeles I endorsed one candidate over another. I regret that decision, not because I didn’t believe in the candidate I endorsed. I did believe in what that candidate stood for, but I believe the game of politics is evil.
When you endorse one person over another in politics you’re legitimizing the game. You’re saying you feel as if the game is fair. You’re saying that you think the game is a vehicle to get people to freedom. This system isn’t going to free anyone, not in its current format.
So why would I tell you to participate? I truly don’t even feel comfortable discussing it, because I feel it is as relevant to my life as what Beyonce is having for lunch.
Did I say don’t vote? No, I didn’t say that. Did I say to vote? No, I didn’t say that either. I know in this world of black and white and yes or no, there is this lack of understanding of gray or a nuance of opinion or even an opinion that doesn’t end with:
Vote for this Jack Ass.
I don’t believe in binaries.
Just because I don’t agree with something doesn’t mean I am implying people should do the opposite of what I think.
The game of politics is unjust. The two party system compromises with corporate capitalism and the Democrats are not the party of the people. I don’t believe in compromising with assholes. I don’t believe that for the average person that anything is going to change under anyone who does the “revolutionary” act of running for office. I don’t believe you can spare anyone from the side effects of capitalism by running for office. That includes the Greens and that would have included Bernie.
In Los Angeles year after year I saw the poorest sections of L.A .get poorer and poorer. L.A. did become safer (depending on your definition of safety), but that added safety was just for the “better” people coming in to gentrify. Let me state that better and not just regurgitate what keeps getting written to avoid talking about the details of power. Parts of L.A. were made safer for the investors who want to bring in people and projects that could make more them more money.
In Los Angeles I also saw the middle class disappear. In Los Angeles people are either very rich or very poor. This happened under Democrats.
Under a Democratic California, under a bunch of fake nonprofits, under a bunch of racially diverse Southern California based politicians, under a bunch of fake neoliberals who used the poor for grants and think pieces the actual people of L.A. have gotten poorer.
Recently I moved to New Jersey. On my way out of Los Angeles I stepped over about twenty homeless young people. My friend traveling with me looked a bit disturbed. I tried to put their mind at ease by explaining how it was totally normal that people were living in squalor and sleeping in their own feces. I also explained that there is this nonprofit that is going to build them little houses. Little houses with no bathrooms or kitchens, but better than a cardboard box.
This explanation did not seem to make my friend more comfortable, so then I said, “The valet in L.A. is really cheap, that almost makes up for the other stuff.”
As I went through the other states I wanted to know, “Where are the homeless people?”
I actually kept saying, “There are no homeless people here, where are the homeless people?”
I was used to people being very poor in L.A. The poor are part of the Southern California landscape. They are like the Pacific Ocean and the Hollywood sign.
In L.A. poor college students live in tents surrounding the community colleges.
When I told people in New Jersey about this they said, “Oh they must want to do that. You guys in L.A. are so trendy.”
No, it is not some trendy thing they want to do. The young people here (and some of the old ones) are actually homeless.
And the thing is this, they are kept poor, because that makes more money. It makes more money to keep people poor in Los Angeles than to invest and make it nice. No federal monies, no grants, no tax break incentives if you work to keep a community nice and if it’s a Black or Brown community then why the hell would you want to waste any kind of investment on that when you can just over police it, keep it poor and make sure the jobs pay nothing…I mean with that you can write think piece after think piece on it, you can start all kinds of cool nonprofits, you can do art projects, you can do radio shows, you can do a sort of exploration and seem cool and liberal with your FB updates about how this person of color did this interesting thing and this person of color did that interesting thing…it is like doing missionary work, but you can get home in enough time for drinks and bike riding.
I will never again tell you who to vote for. I will never again imply that your life will be improved, because you punched a hole next to that politician’s name.
I get some people want to vote for the lesser of two evils, but you know…for me I guess because so many of the poor people in L.A. looked like me or maybe because I have empathy or something and don’t think anyone should have to live in squalor, so that the middle class can be numbed as it is dragged to the working class. I say fuck evil, all of evil, even a little bit of evil.
Teka Lark is a journalist, poet and satirist based in the Metropolitan New York area. She is the founder of the Blk Grrrl Book Fair, Feminist Preschool www.FeministPreschool.com
and the author of the upcoming book, Queen of Inglewood, to be published on Word Palace Press.