Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bright College Streets

I have graduated one year too early, this May. While many of my classmates have left on towards glamorous summers, I am left in New Haven wondering about this city when the Yale buildings have been emptied, when there's more of New Haven than me. Graduation weekend was an interruption.
Graduation was a grotesque reminder of incoporated education, a parade of classicism, racism - with little elegance to shield them. In the name of tradition, I guess.
I am reminded that the development of a consciousness, though recommended by the faculty is ultimately "approved by the corporation", in the words of pres. Levin. I am sublimated by the utility of my education to others.

Graduation is a three-day affair where the streets of New Haven are notably cleared of the homeless, the drug addicts, or the ill - for the near 60% of Yale students' parents who pay the total $45,000 dollars a year. Resident favorite homeless, the "flower lady" remained a fixture. Perhaps she is a darling trip down memory lane for the patronizing as they offer change and make small talk. Absolution of a conscience? I wonder.
No matter. "Flower lady" was quota homelessness for the weekend. With the governor and lieutenant governor of Connecticut on the Yale corporation board, the task of painting the town fair was as easy as a nudge, a slap on the back. There remains no press on the marked absence of the homeless.
I am laughing as I write this because I'm recognizing how naive I am to believe herding homeless citizens requires public process. Or that publicity guarantees fairness. As most politics go, historical actions precede those of today - see the 2002 Olympics of Salt Lake City.

But New Haven could be seen elsewhere serving drinks, washing dishes, cleaning sidewalks. At least they have a job, as another points. It is discouraging to find that fifty years have passed and while opportunity has risen, presentation remains the same.

And for a short word on the vitriolic reactions I received when mentioning I was attending black graduation: why? what's that...isn't that racist? A consecration ceremony recognizing intellectual, artistic, athletic, communitarian capacities of students outside of phi betta kappa is the opportunity to be lauded in one's own space. While one or two may be awarded during commencement, I say: to each her/his own award.


congratulations to the seniors we know on graduating. andom, thanks for using the bjb for your speech at black graduation...and we saw you with that mean lean.

and to dean salovey, thanks for the shout-out at class day.


Camille said...

Annette, the 'Flower Lady,' gets to stick around because she's got a vendor's permit--she's not actually homeless. But I've seen cops make a joke about it, that goes like this:
(white) (male) Cop: Alright, move it along, no panhandling.
Annette: Oh but Officer, I've got a permit!
Cop: *Grumble grumble* I don't care, you gotta get off the street here.
Annette: But Officer, look at my permit! *shows permit*
Cop: *reads permit* Ha ha ha! You're fine, have a good one, Annette!

Yup, it sure is funny.

I saw Yale cops making the same sweep before Parent's Weekend this year, just pushing people out for sitting around and looking too poor for Yale parents to look at.

Camille said...

Forgot to mention that the 'joke' happens really loudly, so that even though she's within her rights, she's been put firmly & publicly in her place.

Zach said...

Anette has that permit because YHHAP got it for her after she was arrested in 1999. If she didn't have a permit, the sweeps would get her too, i'm sure.

And yeah, I've always found the racial politics of service labor at Yale's smug celebratory events profoundly disturbing.

Anonymous said...

New Haven Police have joined forces with Yale under the leadership of our new Chief, Lewis, who want's to eliminate the homeless people by either locking them up or running them out of New Haven. It isn't going to happen! I was born here, I'm homeless here and I'll die here if need be! I'm not afraid of the big bad wolf named YALE! John Bethke