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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Thursday June 20th 2024

Raise Your Voice: Shane is his name


Peter Molenaar

Once a month, 15 copies of the Alley are delivered to Little Earth Neighborhood Early Learning Center at 2438 18th Ave. S. While delivering the July issue, I witnessed Native children joyfully play with children of all races under multi-ethnic supervision. Thoughtful people, our community nurtures a beautiful example to the world.

However, an opioid crisis among the destitute penetrates. It is a crisis which began long ago.

In the period of 1842-44, Fred Engels, first son of an industrial capitalist, wrote the book entitled: “The Condition of the Working-Class of England.” This was the book which convinced a man named Karl Marx that the working-class would be the agent of history”™s final revolution.

This ”˜proletariate”™ was derived from displaced peasants, a people who had worked parcels of the Lord”™s land for centuries, forced off to satisfy the new industrial demand for wool. Sheep replaced people. In the modern world, for empathy”™s sake, imagine the Palestinians”™ horror as Israeli bulldozers smashed the ancestral groves of olive and orange trees.

The historically traumatized people who formed the proletariate shed from their ranks a ”˜lumpen proletariate.”™ The “lumpen” are a declassed strata which became widespread with the advent of capitalism. Hey, 20 years ago, I was running “crack-heads” out of the 17th Ave. Community Garden. Now, I am deeply involved with the Community Peace Garden at the junction of Hwy. 94 and Cedar Ave. In recent weeks, this five-acre paradise (founded by Korean immigrants) has seen the accumulation of syringes on our side of the fence.

Who profits from the mass production of needles? For that matter, who profits from the mass production of the automatic guns wielded by terrorists?

Community Peace Garden”¦

Just outside the north fence, a mixed-race group of guys was “shooting up.” I decided to call the police. Surprisingly, on their arrival, they entered the gate to engage me. “We only conduct welfare checks,” I was told. Words were exchanged regarding all the bad press the police have suffered. “I get 80 of these calls a day,” one officer declared. Then, the two of them did nothing, but walk away. Serve the people, please!

Next scene, Shane enters:

A five-foot high chain link fence is not adequate. Similar fences surround separate plots, hopefully to fend off rabbits (and support tomatoes). Gate open, I was pulling weeds, when a young man stepped in. “Ho Wah!” Quickly sizing the situation: he was scrawny with crooked teeth and stoned. Abruptly, he snatched some chives and commenced munching. In return, I offered, “Tastes sort of like onions.”

“What”™s your name?” “Shane is my name.” “You are a Native man, what”™s your tribal affiliation?” “Ojibwe.” “What ”˜res”™ do you identify with?” “Grand Portage.” At which point he begged me to teach him how to grow things.

After the fall of capitalism, the alienation of such outcasts will cease to exist. Before parting, Shane and I bumped fists.

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