Corporate media are complicit in war on youths
CeCe McDonald & Anoka students tear white hood off ‘bullying.’ Part 2
Big-business media have reported that an alarming number of white LGBTQ/+ children and teenagers in the U.S. are ending their own lives because they can’t endure another day of harassment and threats due to the rise in violent bullying in schools and on the streets.
The coverage sometimes includes heartfelt appeals from older generations to younger ones to “hang on” because “it gets better.”
History has proved again and again, however, that the mere passage of time — in and of itself — does not usher in progress.
The dominant media obscure where the bullying is coming from, and why the rate of child/youth suicides is so startling. The news propaganda poses the question of “bullying” as an abstract, relative and unknowable truth.
The truth is, bullies are those who target the oppressed and exploited. And it’s not just youths who are being bullied. All generations of those oppressed and exploited are up against reactionary bullying.
Anoka: LGBTQ/+ high school youths under attack
Nine youth — students in the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Anoka, Minn. — have ended their own lives in less than two years, Rolling Stone reported in an online article dated Feb. 2. (rollingstone.com)
Dan Reidenberg, a child psychiatrist and the executive director of the Minnesota-based Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, declared the Anoka-Hennepin School District the site of a “suicide cluster.” He suggested that suicidal thoughts might be contagious, like a virus.
But Rolling Stone journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely pointed to the political climate and economic conditions in the town.
The old logging company town is “in an area where just 20 percent of adults have college educations, the recession hit hard and foreclosures and unemployment have become the norm.”
The town is in reactionary Rep. Michele Bachmann’s [R-Minn.] home district. Erdely wrote that town evangelicals have created an extremely hostile environment for LGBTQ/+ youths — and those perceived to be.
Of the students who ended their lives: “Four of the nine dead were either gay or perceived as such by other kids, and were reportedly bullied.” This means that youths, whose tormentors claimed they would burn for eternity, chose to die rather than live through another day of torture.
Erdely stated, “In 1993, Bachmann, a proponent of school prayer and creationism, co-founded the New Heights charter school in the town of Stillwater, only to flee the board amid an outcry that the school was promoting a religious curriculum. Bachmann also is affiliated with the ultra-right Minnesota Family Council, headlining a fundraiser for them last spring alongside Newt Gingrich.”
“[T]he Anoka-Hennepin school district finds itself in the spotlight,” Erdely continued, “not only for the sheer number of suicides but because it is accused of having contributed to the death toll by cultivating an extreme anti-gay climate.”
“LGBTQ students don’t feel safe at school,” Anoka Middle School for the Arts teacher Jefferson Fietek reported. “They’re made to feel ashamed of who they are. They’re bullied. And there’s no one to stand up for them, because teachers are afraid of being fired.”
LGBTQ/+ youths organize, struggle, win support
LGBTQ/+ students in the Anoka-Hennepin School District are organizing in resistance, with support from other students and other generations, including parents, teachers and activists.
Rolling Stone concluded that LGBTQ/+ youths “are fighting back.”
For example, five students have filed a lawsuit against the Anoka-Hennepin School District “alleging the school district’s policies on gays are not only discriminatory, but also foster an environment of unchecked anti-gay bullying.”
Rolling Stone reports that the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have filed the lawsuit on the youths’ behalf. “The Department of Justice has begun a civil rights investigation as well.”
Anoka officials bill the town as the “Halloween capital of the world.” At this year’s Halloween Parade, some 30 youths were denied their right to march. They had planned to march together as a contingent for Justin’s Gift — “an Anoka-based nonprofit that seeks to provide safe activities” for LGBTQ/+ youths. (justinsgift.org)
Officials claimed that “there were already too many walking entrants in the parade,” reports minnpost.com.
Erdely interviewed 19 youths who met for the first Gay Straight Alliance meeting of the school year at Anoka Middle School for the Arts.
The youths described what the GSA has meant in their lives. One explained: “It’s a place of freedom, where I can just be myself.”
A child with an asymmetrical haircut spoke in a soft voice before breaking down in tears: “What this GSA means to me, is: In sixth grade my, my only friend here, committed suicide. She was the one who reached out to me. I joined the GSA ‘cause I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to be nice and — loved.”
CeCe McDonald: still under siege, still resisting
CeCe McDonald, a young Black (trans)woman and community youth organizer, is resisting ongoing hate crimes — first by neo-fascists on the streets of South Minneapolis and then by those who carry badges.
McDonald and her friends were violently assaulted in the street in South Minneapolis on June 5, 2011, by a group of neo-fascists who defined themselves by shouting white-supremacist Klan language, anti-LGBTQ/+ and anti-woman slurs.
One of the attackers smashed a glass mug into McDonald’s face, cutting her deeply. Another of the neo-fascists — who bore a swastika tattoo — died of a stab wound from the struggle that ensued.
Supportcece.wordpress.com reports that “the only person arrested that night was CeCe.”
McDonald has been punished by police, jailers, prosecutor, judge and prison guards ever since. She is currently in a prison cell in St. Cloud, Minn., where sadistic, white-supremacist, neo-fascist bullies are uniformed, armed and carry the key to her cell.
The St. Cloud prison warden reportedly locked down all prisoners on Sept. 14, and posted armed SWAT teams at every entrance, to block a group of supporters who had traveled in a motorcycle caravan to visit McDonald.
McDonald wrote an organizing message from her prison cell on Nov. 20 honoring the lives lost to anti-trans murders. “We need to not only celebrate for Trans Day of Remembrance, but also become self-aware and ready to put an end to our community being the focus of violence.
“We need for our mission to promote racial, social, and economic justice for trans youth, with freedom to self-define gender identity and expression. It won’t be long before I’m out and I want to be involved with all those who are willing to step up and get ready for a revolution, and it will not be televised!”
Deputizing armed neo-fascists, corporate cops
Bullies — alone or in groups — are cowards. They attack when they think the relationship of forces is in their favor.
When they instigate violence against an oppressed person, the bullies are confident that bigger bullies — the forces of violence that help keep the 1% in class rule, including police, courts and media — are behind them.
It’s not which class or group the bullies come from that defines them as fascists. It’s which class their ideology and actions serve.
Klan and Nazis, neo-fascists and their militia, corporate police and mercenaries — all these bullies are being emboldened and bankrolled by billionaires as the economic crisis deepens for oppressed people/s and the working class.
Fascist ideology attempts to whip up divisive blame toward people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ/+ people, youth, women, the disabled and ill, workers and unemployed — in order to divert attention from the economic and social crimes of capitalism.
The director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association, Bryan Fischer, has repeatedly issued a public call for a terrorist network to abduct children from their same-sex parents.
Adding deep racist insult to injury, Fischer calls this organized kidnapping an “Underground Railroad” — the means by which African peoples self-emancipated from white-supremacist enslavement.
Unarmed youth of color are being lynched in cities across the U.S. — Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Ramarley Graham — by armed vigilantes and police, who hide behind the claim of “self-defense.”
Oppressed youths in the U.S. are confronted by apartheid passbook laws and violent attack by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, and are stopped, frisked and brutalized by police.
Police, armed white supremacist vigilante groups and other neo-fascist bullies enforce unofficial curfews for oppressed youths — as well as official ones.
Vigilantes and mercenaries are being increasingly hired, armed and “deputized” by the banks and corporations directly, for private armies and prisons for profit.
Corporate cops took part in a police raid on students at Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande, Ariz., on Oct. 31. The “deputized” mercenaries were hired by the “Corrections” Corporation of America — the largest syndicate in the profit-driven prison system.
CCA receives taxpayer dollars for each prisoner. “That means, for each prisoner, CCA makes a profit,” Mint Press News reported. (mintpress.net, Nov. 29)
“In 2011, CCA made $1.76 billion. When locking people up is a main source of revenue, the motives behind arrests, charges and incarcerations are questioned. With many prisons across the nation becoming privatized, their actions are being watched with a close eye, especially when they involve students in public schools.”
Youth of color and working-class youth are caught between re-enslavement in racist mass incarceration in the prison-industrial complex, or the economic draft into the military-industrial complex — where they are ordered to kill or be killed. Students face indentured servitude to crushing debt.
Frederick Douglass: ‘Without struggle, there is no progress!’
Youths are at the front-line barricades, leading struggles today that are shaping tomorrow — from Cairo, Egypt, to Port-au-Prince, Haiti; from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Montreal; from Oakland, Calif., to Baltimore.
A clear view of these struggles would inspire hope for many oppressed youths that the fight for change is already being waged, with youths in the leadership.
Youths need jobs; live-able wages; affordable education, health care and housing; recreation and transportation. Oppressed youths have a right to walk together in the streets without curfew; the right to meet, to make music and other art in public; to organize in collective defense.
Anti-slavery abolitionist Frederick Douglass summed up this historic truth: “Without struggle, there is no progress.”
Douglass, enslaved as a laborer in Maryland, had attempted to escape repeatedly. As punishment for teaching other enslaved African laborers to read, Douglass was sent to be whipped by a paid “slave-breaker.”
Douglass fought back and beat the “slave-breaker” to the ground. He successfully emancipated himself from slavery in 1838, with collective help from the Abolitionist Underground Railroad.
He was 20 years old.
When he was almost 40 years old, Douglass elaborated on the lessons of his own life and centuries of struggles for social/economic justice with these powerful words:
“Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. …
“If there is no struggle there is no progress.
“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation … want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.”
Douglass concluded, “This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle.
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”