THE HERTEL HURDLE

by Michael Mottern

As someone born into the privileged white-skin majority, I had to make my own journey to arrive at where I am now – in solidarity with the Black Lives Matters movement. You see, in the early 1990s, I was in a Special Education Class. At first, I hated being reminded that I was a member of a marginalized group, whether it was being called a “rump” or anything even similar to a cow’s ass; or as an individual that got services from the Office for Students with Disabilities in college. But now, over time, I have come to realize that it comes easy for me to embrace those causes that involve reaching out to those in my vicinity who are also marginalized, such as African-Americans.

Black Lives Matter(BLM) is under attack by the right wing and called a terrorist organization. It organized an event in Buffalo on Friday August 28 – the Hertel Hurdle. What I saw in the crowd that day was not a group of terrorists, but a diverse group of people from all races and backgrounds fulfilling what America should look like in reality. I was never more proud in my life!

#BLACK LIVES MATTER AT THE MARCH ON AUGUST 28

The march took place from Main Street on a major artery in North Buffalo called Hertel Avenue, beginning at the piano store. Everyone there was practically under 30, with a few middle-aged people as well. The news was there, covering an event that was held on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The protest was very peaceful, even when people were interrupted by an array of idiots: hecklers, someone yelling the N word, someone else waving a knife. BLM yelled at them: “Racist! Go home!” and told us marchers, “Do not engage them; keep going”. That was good because, indeed why would you want to waste a perfectly good moment to get Black Lives Matter banners down in what used to be a very racist part of North Buffalo in Little Italy. The Black Lives Matter banners have to be seen.

Passing the intersection near my house that I grew up in as a kid, I joked with an individual that I used to live around that corner and I was proud to be here. When we got to the parkside intersection near a famous Greek restaurant in the Queen City, I was wondering if the march would continue further when told we were going all the way to the police station, west towards the Niagara River.  When the protest reached my old Roman Catholic Church St. Margarets, I was seeing that church in a different eye. That was where the organizers chose to speak on more black issues concerning Buffalo citizens and community. As we stood there for 15 minutes getting water and breathing the heat and warm air, I was sweating profusely but it was all for a good cause. In front of my old church, people talked about the systemic racism that was going on with the Buffalo Police department, the slogan being not only defund the police but put the money back into our community. Buffalo a couple years ago was named the 4th poorest city in America.

When we passed by the famous Buffalonian Romeo and Juliet’s bakery, all the old ladies on the patio were cheering us on. For moment, I felt proud to be an Italian-American. The March continued to the police station where the people stayed for as long as the police gave them the opportunity to which was several minutes to an hour before dispersing. I tell everybody in the suburbs like myself join the Black Lives Matter protest that sweeping across the Nation including in small towns and in the suburbs. Our Lives depend on it!

THE BLM MARCH BIG ENOUGH TO HALT TRAFFIC!

Michael Mottern is Vice-Chair of Social Democrats USA.

A Modified Look

Notes from the Administrator:

Over the past months you may have noticed some appearance problems at our blog-site. These were caused by software incompatibilities with the widgets. Today I changed WordPress themes in order to fix those problems. Everything other than the look should be the same. All previous blog posts, comments, media, and site contents are retained. If you run into any problems, please let me know.

I came across this pictue that I thought was interesting. It shows our torch logo as it originally appeared. This is a flyer for the Social Democratic Party in Peekskill, New York in 1900. Compare it to our current logo on our home page.

And finally, a reminder that Subscribe and Unsubscribe functions are User-Controlled on our home page in the right hand column.

In solidarity,
Rick

 

Report from the Left Forum

On Sunday, June 3rd, Patty Friend, Sheldon Ranz, and I got ready to present our second panel of the weekend: “Domestic Violence: How Capitalism Fails Survivors.” This panel was a little different than most that were offered at Left Forum. Following this year’s theme of “Towards a New Strategy for the Left,” the SD, USA decided to present a series of panels that focused on real, pressing issues and how, as leftists, we can rally to find solutions. Domestic Violence, though not a new concern, is finally gaining national attention. We felt that a discussion about how American Capitalism protects abusers and falters survivors, and to outline some practical solutions, would be a fitting addition to the conference.

Well, it seems we were wrong. Fifteen minutes after we were supposed to start, we were looking at an empty room. While some panels, debating obscurities of leftist purity were packed to standing-room-only, no one showed up until we had already broken down and called it a loss.

The day before, we had a good turn out at our panel “Mental Health in America: The Capitalist Crisis and Socialist Solutions.” We were booked in a day-long series of healthcare related panels. We had a surprising amount of doctors, social workers, and mental health professionals in attendance and we were able to facilitate some great discussion. We also had the opportunity to see a panel, moderated by Howard Waitzkin (author/editor of the book “Health Care Under the Knife”) which offered an array of insight into America’s long-broken health care system.

Coming out of the first day, we were hopeful that the engagement we experienced would continue, but I started seeing the growing bark of sectarian squabbles first thing Sunday Morning. I went to a panel that morning entitled, “What’s left of the Left?” hosted by a delegation from the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). They discussed the current state of affairs in Germany and parallelled them with what is going on here, suggesting that anti-establishment conservatism is on the rise.
One of the speakers also suggested that a huge base of support for people like Trump and Merkel are more interested in finding people from “outside the system” and that is why Trump and Bernie had a lot of the same supporters.

Here is where people in the audience began to push back. For some reason, a “revolutionary” in the audience was so angered at the mention of Bernie Sanders as an outsider, he interrupted them to tell them “Bernie is not an outsider! He is a part of the system, too!” Regardless of your opinions of Bernie as an outsider (and I definitely have some) this outburst speaks volumes about the revolutionary left: they are much more concerned with calling out enemies within the left than they are with actual enemies from the far right. The man had no issue with Trump being seen as an outsider, worthy of popular appeal, but someone who speaks about socialism from a two-party podium could not be stomached.

Someone asked the panel “Why not participate in a REAL leftist party? Isn’t the SPD a bunch of neoliberals?”

To this, the panelist said “Because, I want to get shit done!”

I clapped. Alone.

The point of the conference was coalition building, to connect and strategize so that we can move “Towards a New Strategy for the Left.” I believe the conference was run well and that the organizers are in the right place. The big-ticket panels, featuring Kali Akuna, Ajamu Baraka, and Jane Sanders, were productive and featured a variety of approaches and suggestions on how we can all move forward together. Unfortunately, this message was lost on petty protestors who took these opportunities to grandstand instead of listen and disruptors who had no intention of contributing to the conversation, but came to take away from it.

I commend Left Forum on the unyielding amount of dedication they put into this and I appreciate the opportunity I had to participate. I also plan on attending in the future. Hopefully, as the need for unity and actual progress becomes more apparent, more of the attendees will come in the name of Solidarity.

Audio of the Mental Health panel: https://youtu.be/fK43xHFItJA