Ya Basta!

An inaudible gasp assaults those traversing Newark. It is the unvoiced silent scream of “Ya Basta!” (Enough already). The cry is inaudible because it is unexpressed. It is unexpressed because it is covered over, bandaged up by all the store signs, commercial ads, billboards, digital signage offering, promising, promoting something better. The “enough already” is not voiced by the people of these residential neighborhoods experienced mainly through a windshield. It is an anguished cry, almost a plea, unspoken but experienced everyday. “Why must what is here always be considered inadequate? What happened to good enough? Why must there always be a priority with something better, something else?” This cry, this plea, paraphrasing Star Trek’s Spock, is “completely logical,” making perfect sense. It will never see the light of day because it is also quite subversive. Other than for some kind of academic study or tome, it has no value, no commercial credibility, no market appeal.

A recent essay, not specifically addressing this “good enough” discontent except obliquely, appeared in the online Salon (3-14-15). It opens a window on this silent scream. “How the Supreme Court is about to explode America’s racial wealth gap” by Catherine Ruetschlin (a Senior Policy Analyst at Demos) concerns itself primarily with the upcoming SCOTUS case,Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project (“a landmark case challenging the disparate impact test, which allows a practice to be considered discriminatory if it disproportionately and negatively impacts communities of color, even if a discriminatory intent can’t be proven.”). The article expresses grave concern over the expansion of income inequality and racial segregation as a result of the court’s previously voiced attitude (“When discussing race, the conservative argument is best expressed by the famous words of Chief Justice John Roberts: “The best way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Translation: America has done bad things in its history, but those bad things are gone now, so we should move past those horrors and look forward.”). That attitude is reflected in various rulings denying or negating affirmative action policies based on the disparate impact statute precedent (“A federal judge decided that regardless of racial intent, the result had a “disparate impact” and increased neighborhood segregation.”). The basis of many of the policies and programs meant to boost the ability of minority races to access better education, jobs, housing, etc. hinges on the means to pay for (purchase) these and sustain their value, hence the concern of a widening gap of income disparity and racial polarization. Assumed throughout the cited statistics is that the more expensive spread is the better buy, the preferred means to a better society, a more diverse community, an equitable and participatory democracy. Of course, this only follows the implication that “if something is better, there must be something which is worse.” That implication is the very heart and soul, bread and butter of all marketing and sales, integral to capitalism itself. The SCOTUS Citizens United ruling legitimized the instituted intimacy of corporations and Democracy (as governance), money and power. Full participation in community governance, of its present and future, is only to those who possess the best source of funding (the same appeal underlying the cited essay’s statistics). With its “5 goals critical to city’s future”, the Gannett’s Newark Advocate confirmed this shift in the nature and character of democracy by listing the top movers and shakers in Newark’s future as being corporate entities. Political power in the world today is identified with the accumulation of wealth.

How can you change the world without taking political power? Actually, the title of a book (Change The World Without Taking Power by John Holloway, 2002). An ironic curiosity since this book is a Marxist critique. Historic Marxism, to date, has relied totally on seizing power to change the world, while failing to change much after having done so. But then there’s the scream of “Enough already!” There is no need for the all pervasive capitalist sales pitch of selling up, worse to better, to which racism continuously contributes (covertly as well as overtly). It is no coincidence that the business districts, new developments, and “future” projected growth areas receive priority public financing rather than the majority of the community, the residential areas from which the silent scream emanates. For these are the “high traffic” areas, the places people “want” to be, decided, of course, by the movers and shakers that the Advocate editorial board recognizes as the leaders of the community. Without taking power, the inaudible gasp can make itself felt in the same manner as those wanting changes in Newark’s pet laws participated in addressing that policy. Hundreds of Newark residents insisting on access to chambers on a council meeting night would get priorities realigned, and their streets paved. “Enough already! Stop subsidizing the “Better” at the expense and neglect of what is more than good enough.” Selling is not governing.

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