“IT’S LOOKS GOOD, STOP COMPLAINING!”
From the Director
By: Josh Spring LSW, Executive Director
I cannot begin to tell you how many times we have heard people say of Washington Park or the three blocks of Vine Street 3CDC has attempted to re-term the “gateway quarter” or the future tourist hotel that displaced Metropole Tenants … “Oh it looks nice, so what are you all complaining about!?” Folks say this as if it is the most logical argument against our stances. If it looks good, move on. This argument reveals how truly oppressed we are- how we have been turned into consumers.
If you think about it, it really is no surprise that folks constantly make this argument of aesthetic. Enormous corporations are continually studying what will catch our eyes and therefore our pocket books. We are taught if it looks nice and is easy; buy it. So we purchase the pre-made products we could make ourselves; we buy cars because we like the bells and whistles and the color; we buy houses because “it’s the right place to buy a house;” we go to the restaurants we see in commercials versus the ones that might have real homemade food; we buy clothes that are easily accessible even though they were made by People in sweatshops; the list goes on and on. If it looks good, go for it. Of course many people due to systematic ills, don’t have the dollars needed in some cases to be able to choose the more responsible, and often more expensive, choices.
The problem in each of these examples is we are shooting ourselves in our own personal foot, shooting someone else in their foot or shooting our collective community foot. It is interesting to me that in the discussion of the Civil Rights Movement we often don’t hear much mention of Malcolm X. I have heard a good number of folks disregard Malcolm X because of that famous line we attribute to him, “By any means necessary…” We don’t necessarily consider the context of that line or all of the other things he said. We also don’t necessarily consider that he was talking about achieving access to the extremely important inalienable rights of humans.
Yet it seems that what we are saying by exclaiming- “It looks good, stop complaining” – we might as well be saying, “By any means necessary we must achieve what looks and feels good to me and those I know.” Essentially folks who make the “looks good” argument are saying that it does not matter what happened, who was displaced, who’s civil rights were walked over, how much money was spent, who had a say and who did not, who had what they needed taken away, who had what they did not need put in…none of that matters as long as “I and those I know think it looks good and we feel good”.
This is so frustrating and absurd. When talking about social justice and human rights, we hear responses such as- oh wait, calm down, don’t be inflammatory, you should compromise, etc. But if something looks good- then it is all good- no matter what happened or is happening? If you think about that two seconds beyond the corporate drivel hammered our way- you will realize that injustice is not okay just because the outer face of its consequences may look pretty.
Sure, nice paint, new parking garages, hip shops, re-done sidewalks, new stages, water fountains, and catchy bars all look great, but that doesn’t make injustice okay. Is it right that injustice is being justified just because a particular income class, deemed more desirable by themselves and corporate run organizations, now feels comfortable where they once felt uncomfortable (because of the fears pushed on them by the same corporate run organizations that want control)? Is it right that injustice is being accepted because the same class of people is now spending money in this community?
Nothing makes injustice okay.