Restorative Circles: Justice without Classism

We know the justice system is biased by inequality. The best justice money can buy. And the locations where this justice system is carried out – courtrooms, classrooms, living rooms, workplaces – are filled with people labeled with roles of unequal status: the judge and the accused, the cop and the criminal, the parent and the child, the perpetrator and the victim, the boss and the worker, the teacher and the student.  These roles and locations carry with them social and cultural capital that privileges one over another and support dynamics of “power over” and “power under.” What if there... Read More

The Plague of the Nonprofits

How do you talk with your friends about a problem you think they’re causing?  First:  get their attention.  That’s what my title’s designed to do.  But I don’t want to make you mad:  so I’m sorry to be confrontational.  It’s easy to condemn corporate power, profiteering and executive officer greed, for-sale politicians, and unresponsive bureaucracies, but not so easy to criticize innovative, small-scale, community-based or advocacy, progressive, entrepreneurial, relevant, low-budget nonprofits.  That’s what I propose here to do. Some years ago I studied the relationship between community organizing and community development corporations.  North, south, east, west:  the pattern was the... Read More

Chickens in Every Pot? Or Bentleys in a Few Garages?

Lawmakers are really in a bind over whether to let the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy expire at the end of this year.  After all, they owe those millionaires a lot after all those campaign contributions this fall. But extending tax cuts for households with incomes over $250,000 would cost an estimated $700 billion over the next decade.  Seems a little hypocritical to extend them, given all the hand-wringing over budget deficits. How would you spend $700 billion? What do you value?  It seems that a bit of class bias may enter into this discussion. Let’s see: Should we... Read More

It’s Not Butter: The Other Tax Spread

Congress and the White House are wrangling over the future of the Bush tax cuts, which expire this year.  Much has been written about how the 2001 and 2003 cuts widened the gap between the very wealthiest 2% of Americans and the middle and working classes. But far too little notice has been paid to the other spread caused by the tax cuts:  the growth of the economic divide between white Americans and people of color in the 2000’s. Communities of color have seen a staggering loss of wealth — those financial assets that allow families to weather a job... Read More

Defending my vibrant neighborhood

Recently four people were killed about ten houses away from where I grew up in Mattapan, a neighborhood of Boston. The neighborhood was maligned by the media coverage which plastered the headlines “Massacre in Mattapan” in large print across the 6:00 news every night. That image of Mattapan was permanently emblazoned across the minds of the nation. I was born and raised in Mattapan. It was a predominantly white, Jewish, working-class neighborhood, until it was red-lined. The bankers, the realtors and the politicians tore my vibrant neighborhood apart and made a fortune for themselves. When I was 15, my parents... Read More

Why don’t schools do more to stop bullying?

I have been reading (I am sure you have too) about the many cases of bullying and the awful consequences of being a target for bullies. Kids and young adults committing suicide, suffering chronic depression, choosing to be home-schooled, or quitting school altogether: there’s no doubt that being bullied negatively shifts how a person experiences their daily life. The theme I keep coming across in my reading is the fact that NO ONE within these schools is doing much to stop the bullying. Sure, they do not like it, but in so many cases it is reported that there was... Read More

Living in a rich neighborhood

I’m a kid of a single mom that works very hard to make a living and support her family’s needs. We live in a rich neighborhood. The other kids at my school are richer than us and they have a lot of things we don’t. They can get a lot of stuff that they want. Sometimes I get jealous. A boy in my class called me spoiled even though he is very rich and has a lot of stuff and has one of the biggest houses. I think he said that because he was jealous that I have a cell... Read More

The Bus Stops Here

I have two little boys; they are very bright, good boys. They have never had a babysitter and maybe I have been a little over protective. But their innocence is refreshing. They do not understand that when a bigot sees that our car is dated, and that our address is in the flats, and they are snubbed for a play date, that it is not about them. It’s about the crappy soul of that person. Their elementary school has had dialogues about racism and bigotry. As a white father, disabled, I feel it is more than just racism, although there... Read More