The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Dissecting The City Of Lawrence

“So much depends on reputation—Guard it with your life”

—Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power: Fifth law.

THE BAD

In my two years of living in Lawrence, MA I’ve noticed one collective behavior: an unpleasant consistency  in people’s remarks towards the alleged perdition that seems to proliferate in the municipality. As if it was not enough to hear residents and ex-residents constantly talking about fumigating, bombarding its inhabitants and start the settlement from zero, or the recommendations to just leave immediately, The City of Immigrants,  as far away as possible. “One should prevent one’s family to inhabit such place”—some would say; to the point to see people who have fled, employ connotations of a deep relief when referring to it, as an achievement milestone in their lives. And after you hear some of the youth’s expressing their need to leave their hometown as a compulsive palpitation in their being, and so you begin to wonder about your surroundings. The 78% hispanics-population-town is not precisely an Utopia, but Lord, the image that materializes even in social media comments when news from the locality roar, its out of control.

And so you see yourself forced to do a little bit of research to understand the recent background of your new home, and you come across an article published by Boston Magazine on 2012 titled Lawrence, MA: City of the Damned with a headline like so: “Crime is soaring, schools are failing, government has lost control, and Lawrence, the most godforsaken place in Massachusetts, has never been in worse shape. And here’s the really bad news: it’s up to controversial Mayor William Lantigua to turn it all around”. I knew things were bad but after receiving the validation of this print, I began to worry. I find out that we are the poorest city in the state, and as much as I would like to dignify poverty, we all know all of its implications.

This is a place which serves as cushion for immigrants coming from underdeveloped countries such as Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Guatemala whom do not posses, in their majority, high levels of scholarship nor proficiency in english, and many can be unfortunately illiterate and semi-illiterate in their native language. Reality that is going to determined the exclusive entry to manufacture jobs in the “light” industrial field.

THE UGLY

According to urbandictionary.com —and we all know how accurate the informal and folkloric site can be— states that the city’s population main income consist of welfare and drugs, which is not even funny at this point. For one of the things that we as immigrants like to be recognized for, is being hardworking, not for the opposite due to lack of opportunities. This machiavellian dictionary which states things as they are and not as they should be, gave me a miserable representation of the place I inhabit. And one keeps reading the newspapers like the Eagle Tribune, whose editor clearly has an special “love” (difficult to distinguish from contempt) towards our city , and find content like: the mayor William Lantigua is under federal and state investigation for campaign-finance improprieties and other questionable behavior, whom is by the way campaigning for a re-election on 2017 against the incumbent Dan Rivera; that Lawrence’s public school system is in receivership due to local mismanagement, and that our high schools have had a dropout rate of up to 50%; that one of the former superintendents, Wilfredo Laboy, is under criminal indictment for fraud and embezzlement. That we are one of the largest drug suppliers for the state of Massachusetts, and even the Governor of New Hampshire bestowed on us, being the providers of at least 85% of the narcotics consumed by the neighbor state. Ok, that’s cool and all, but as we all know from “Basic Underground Economics 101”, that for every market expansion, there needs to be a demand of a product and service offered. Hence, in this correlation we need consumers; so Mr. Governor, you should probably take a look at the successful Portugal drugs’ policies and their positive impact in the iberian population, before using my city as an scapegoat for your local problematics, prior starting to implement your modus operandi as far as with your jurisdiction-

Continuing, we’ve had a City engineer who had been accused of indecent exposure, and was forced to resign of his public seat of 80,000 per year. A City Counsilor whom faced assault charges after allegedly attacking a woman who was having drinks with an ex partner. Crimes were decapitation and dismembering of a teenager body parts was involved in the equation. And yes, is true that every so many houses there is a drug hotspot that often operates unapologetically to simple sight,  in which transactions can be easily identified, but this is no all of what we are.

THE GOOD

For instance, We Are Lawrence, is an organization that came as a direct initiative to restore the image of the city that so much has been undermined mediatically, trying to slap back the sequences of bad press that for so long have dragged the name of the city against the ground. This nonprofit organizes activities like cleaning of the streets during the earth day. Lawrence Community Works is another non-profit that preoccupies to prepare individuals for job interviews, and even provides internship opportunities, so people can obtain experience in diverse fields. Or individuals like the State Representative of my district, Juana Matias, who is doing an effective labor writing policies and serving the constituents she represents. These are a few of the many occurrences that are worth sharing.

Every time I overhear somebody speaking ill about my city I just ask myself —But what are you doing for your community? I decided to listen to the Lawrence Public Library Director, Jessica Valentin, when she mentioned  I needed to create a bilingual bookclub; something that would make some good to my people. That day, I was diagnosed with a chronic condition called “pernicious reading proselytism” and so The Agora’s Laurel was created as a result. Given that I belonged to a marginalized minority (Dominican) that lived for half his life into another’s marginalized minority territory (Puerto Rico), prior to moving to the states, I was able to see situations from very odd perspectives thanks to my life experiences. And so I understood that reading is the only cure for the vilest transgression to oneself and one of the most presumptuous blisses there are: ignorance.

I read in a regular basis because I want to become an effective creative writer, but that is not is not enough for me. I needed that passion of reading to be contagious, yet I don’t need to make people fall in love with reading from first instances; I am going to be militantly persuasive to drag my friends, family, acquaintances and bystanders towards the habit, and then the readers to be, can eventually fall in love later on. It would be rather interesting to write a blog post in the form of a poem as an analogy to Dante’s Divine Comedy, condemning every public figure in Lawrence and allocating them in one of the nine infernal circles according to their sins respectively, proportionate to their “miscalculations” of course, but pointing fingers will not fix anything.

We are running on a deeply disenfranchised panorama, but there is definitively many good things happening in this city. If you live here or know about this interesting place, I would like to know about the good things occurring that you’ve heard about . The real problem with poverty, says the Economist Henry Hazlitt, is not a problem of “distribution” but of production; and I truly believe that reading is the ignition to address that problematic. I think it would be ideal for the poorest city of the state, to pursue reading as a goal towards growing as a collective, for it provides interesting tools and leads to interesting places.

Puerto Rico’s Mental Health as a Community and a U.S. Colony

“All men are created equally, but then private interest met policy.”

Controversy reached New York when the directive officials of the New York’s Puerto Rican Parade wanted to honor the nationalist Oscar Lopez for 2017 summer celebration of “bocicuaness”. This little man was an ex member of the militant group Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña (F.A.L.N.) and was accused and convicted for seditious conspiracy against the US government on Puerto Rico in August of 1981; specially after being caught transporting firearms and explosives to demolish public property. Seeing this old man march across the fifth Ave in Manhattan, leading thousands of marchers with single stared flags —which was once illegal for nine years under the Gag Law (Law 53 of 1948)—, after serving thirty-five years of prison, would be one of the biggest contradictions to see this year. As if magic realism withdrawn from a García Marquez novel. But isn’t colonialism a paradoxical institution?

The imperialist relationship existing between the US and Puerto Rico, which people like Oscar where willing to sacrifice so much to undo, has had quite a few insidious peculiarities ever since its forced inception. Affecting the hegemonized people’s mental wellbeing and compromising its future sustainability. First and foremost, colonies are meant to exist so that the metropolis that possess it can outsource it dry, and with that finality only; it does not matter how much the oppressor claims to be a benevolent benefactor. So, after four hundred years of Spanish rule since 1492 until 1898, Borinquen was to continue fulfill that same purpose for its new master. This Caribbean community was seen as a group savages, inferior raced with substantial senility and unable to govern themselves, hence the necessity of a external “supporter” to lead them towards development and civilization and justify its occupation. This lead to atrocities as the appropriation of local farmer’s land by U.S. Banks, after systematically imposing onerous taxes that these were not able to pay, forcing them to obtain loans in which they will eventually default; the founding of laws that violated international regulations as the Treaty of Paris, being a real state closing with regard to Puerto Rico; the issuance of citizenship to Puerto Ricans on March 2, 1917 with the Jones-Shafroth Act, one month prior of President Wilson declaring War to Germany; the first and only time the US bombarded its own citizens, with five hundred pounds of bombs in the town of Jayuya; Mass arrest throughout the country; medical experimentation by DR. Cornelius Rhoads, whom wrote to a friend “I have done my best to further the process of their extermination by killing off eight and transplanting cancer into several more”; The emblematic Ponce massacre, were nineteen men, one woman, and a seven year old girl were killed on palm Sunday and over two hundred were gravely wounded. And so, the list goes on.

—Nelson A. Dennis, “War Against All Puerto Ricans”.

Many of these attacks to humanity would not have been possible of course, without internal aid, like that of Luis Muñoz Marin, first democratically elected governor of the island and father of the Partido Popular Democratico and architect of the commonwealth (our current socio-economic-unsustainable-reality-with-fiscal-deficit  mess), whom carpeted by the FBI just as any other nationalist, was advised by J Edgar hoover himself, the FBI director at the time, that he should adhere to govern aligned with the North Americans interests, or else he would be forced to leak the files he had collected of he being a drug addict and destroy his political career. And so, he became the puppet of the colonizer interest against his own people.

One of the biggest attacks the nationalist party leader and head of the independence movement, Pedro Albizu Campos, could have made back then against tyranny, when independence was still possible, was to distribute as many copies of the Albert Memmi’s book The Colonizer and the Colonized across the island. People would then see their portrait and that of the oppressor, and both expressions in their context, and then only after of fully conscious understanding of who they were and what they represented, they would be able to fight for their independence with conviction as many countries in the Americas had been able to. For their subjugated situation was going to be justified by all means, whatsoever; even biologically if necessary. That’s where we encounter the usage and practicality of racial supremacy. Memmi would write that “colonial racism is built from three major ideological components: one, the gulf between the culture of the colonialist and the colonized; two, the exploitation of these difference; three, the use of these differences as standards of absolute facts.” So less open the doors for reality misrepresentations in order to maintain the American way of life, sustained by the whole planet (as the author of War Against All Puerto Ricans Mr. Dennis would say). Memmis text might have been written with the struggle of the French Tunisia in mind, but the words in it were universal as fuck.

—New York Times, “Puerto Rican Day Parade Plants Its Flag in Disputed Territory”.

I wonder how much Muñoz Marin must have hated Albizu Campos, because according to history books he gave him a hard time to rule Puerto Rico as a leader of the opposition, and so did his persecuted followers whom even attempted to assassinate him.

Political prisoner or terrorist, is for you to interpret what adjective attach to Oscar, whom sure followed the footsteps of The Master Albizu. According to New York Times article on Thursday, May 18, one mayor sponsor, Goya is avoiding the financial support for the upcoming parade to save guard its business interest, given the political uproar the appointing of Oscar as an Honored person has caused. I foresee this is going to be revolution in people’s mind, for nowadays things like independence are acquired through social media, and this mediatic exposure was exactly what the cause needed to advance in its fight.

White People in the United States and its Future as a Minority

We are in the countdown of an approaching “social revolution” that swears to overthrow the current order of the establishment. This transformation is not going to ignite as the result of a civil war, as did the one in the Saint-Domingue colony —now Haiti— in the 1971, led by black slaves who sought liberation from an oppressive economic system known as slavery, and vengeance against their French-white-masters. Nor will pursue the finality to overthrow a political system (as the monarchy) to found a republic; eradicating the middle ages’ subjugating institution, and to shelter a nation with enlightened thoughts as Jean-Jacques Rousseau would propose in his texts by the 18th century to the French socialité. Even if it was necessary to hang the king himself. For if Louis XVI would have told her queen to shut her mouth before talking about cakes to the people, there would not have been, maybe, as much blood spilled back then. But no! This shift is more implicit, more silent, gifted of a social Darwinism connotation in its mechanism; evolution of the demographics.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there’s a projection that white people will become a minority by 2045, and the country will be as a result, a minority-majority one. This does not mean that this minority-to-be group is going to lose rights, but might lose privileges. Is not that diversity, that word that some of ya’ll detest so much, will allow any colored fellow to claim a white person as property, and even use it as a collateral for loans in banking institutions, nor will obligate them to sit at the back of the bus, who would do that? The fact that immigration is seeing as a threat to the status quo of the North American nation is disproportionate. When the Tainos found Christopher Columbus lost at the sea, and this funny individual decided that he wanted to christianize and humanize a civilization with a polytheist religion, political structure, a language and a sustainable relationship with nature, that ended up with an extermination/ a genocide in islands like the Hispaniola, would not be a plausible parallel comparison for  “Americans” that fear for eleven millions of undocumented immigrants that have settled amidst the communities across their white country. My mind cannot hypothesize a modern Friar Bartolomé de las Casas writing A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies in 2017, to whom we thank for the activism pro Native Americans, but not for suggesting the use of Africans instead, in the fields of the Spanish colonies, giving initiation to the “slave transantlantic trade”. The Mexicans are not going to come to the U.S. to change the American way of life. This has never happened before… or did the Englishmen that colonized North America snatched the land from the hands of the redskins, to the point of even changing their tribal administrative organization? Wait hold up-.

So apparently, the fear showcased by many Trump supporters as being loud and xenophobic, is not anxiety to the unknown, but a terror to the possibility of losing a privileged position in society. There is an implicit acknowledgement that “Mexicans” may represent a risk to the White Extremists/ New Nazis/ Klu Klux Klan members/ Alt Right advocates (or whatever you call racists nowadays) that thinks that the United States belongs to the white race. If not, look at all the rights minorities have acquired in the recent years, like the homosexuals obtaining the right to legally marry across the nation and all, after so many years of institutionalized discrimination. Changes are happening!

I Will never forget the segment in which the renowned reporter and news anchor Jorge Ramos (my life goals) interviewed the editor of the publication Renaissance, Jared Taylor for the Univision documentary “Sembrando Odio” launched by the end of the year 2016. Mr. Taylor very articulated expressed that he was going to fight to preserve the power his community had, understanding the menace immigrants posed for him and his aristocratic collective. Yet is a shame, that in this whole recent presidential campaign, the Natives Americans say was not covered by the mass media. It would be rather interesting to put realities into perspectives, and see how illegal immigrants in 1492 came to the New World to change the political organization that North American Indian tribes had back then, and how some white skin foreigner came to change their way of life against their will and even lives. Somebody send Pocahontas my regards wherever her spirit may be right now, for being the pioneer at presenting herself to Europe as a civilized savage, reformed from barbaric ways, for it is a good façade to fight for ones right to thrive inside a forming new system. Let us read the past to understand the present, can I get an amen!

I’d like to see “Mr. Elitist Editor” proofreading magazines in the mornings, and field harvesting in the afternoons. Since Mr. Tyler ultimate goal is to send all browns back to their country, to preserve his European way of life. He should be ready to get his sophisticated hands filthy with soil in between his nails, in order to eat his own cultivated crops. Once the whole brown workforce gets deported, and there’s nobody left to farm food, because white men will not do it of course, how’s such large demographic is going to be replaced? I nevertheless may have an alternative: felon black men. It is only reasonable to think that the increasing population behind bars, would serve as underpaid workers with no benefits, and provide a good pipeline to supply the agriculture market’s demand for manpower.