Plato, Part Two: Youth Make History on the Streets of Oakland

Youth at the corner of 14th and Broadway read the Oakland Post

By Marvin X

Oakland youth have been much maligned lately for their violent behavior, low test scores and high drop out rate. But they made history recently when four of them gathered around Oakland’s street corner philosopher Plato, aka Marvin X. He gave them each a copy of the Oakland Post newspaper containing an article he wrote on condom use in prison and how it affects the wider community when former inmates are released, driving up the HIV/AIDS infection rate, especially among black women. Plato thought the youth would take the paper and continue down the street, but instead they stood around reading. Plato was shocked at the sight before his eyes: four youth standing on the corner reading a newspaper. What is wrong with this picture, he wondered to himself-actually, it was a beautiful sight, even though he wanted them to leave so he could return to selling his books, but after reading the article they remained nearly an hour to discuss it with the street teacher. This picture of them belies everything said about them: that they have no desire to learn because it is acting white. Perhaps their interest was held because the article related to them, to their lifestyle and culture. And maybe if the educational system would focus on teaching with a cultural sensitive approach, the drop out rate would decline. Johnny can and will read if you give him something worth reading, i.e., that can hold his attention in a world full of distractions.

Dr. Marvin X will facilitate the next session of the Pan African Mental Health Peer Group to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy (he authored a book by the same title), on Saturday, January 12, 4-6pm at the Berkeley Black Repertory Group Theatre, 3201 Adeline Street, Berkeley, one block south of the Ashby BART station.
Call 510-355-6339 for more information.

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