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Life Arts

Omaha Night

By Mumia Abu-Jamal  Posted by Hans Bennett (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Listen to radio-essay here. 
 
Omaha Night
 
{col. writ. 12/6/07}
(c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal
 
 
    A young man strolled into a shopping mall in Omaha, Nebraska, the navel of the United States, and opens up at stunned passersby.
 
    He has a rifle, but what arms him is a deep, abiding sense of worthlessness, depression and despair. He lost his job at a local McDonald's; and he was recently dumped by his girlfriend.
 
    Before the night was over, eight people, 9 including this young man, would be dead.
 
    Robert Hawkins reportedly shot himself to death to end his killing sprees.  He was 19.
 
    In a suicide note left at the place he was staying, he reportedly wrote that he wanted to be famous.
 
    What does that say about this American life that one feels so hopeless, and so empty, at 19?
 
    What does it say about the American fascination with fame?
    And how do you get fired, from McDonald's?
    What do you think this young man had to look forward to?
    Unemployed, with few serious prospects.
    Feeling unloved -- worthless.
    The U.S. economy (for working people) has been in virtual free fall since the ravages of globalization have left a smattering of service jobs in the place of missing manufacturing jobs.
 
    The U.S. Army, in a time when they are, quite frankly, desperate for recruits, wouldn't accept this.
 
    Imagine, if you will, what it must be like to be a 19 year old Black youth in present day America? The product of an educational system that can barely qualify for the name.
 
    What do you think that young man has to look forward to?
 
    Both of these young men, the mall-sprayer and the imaginary one, had their educational experiences under something cynically called No Child Left Behind.
 
    One wonders -- how could they be more left behind?
 
    One youth walks into a sprawling mall, its floors and shops chock full of shoppers trying to snag a post Black Friday bargain, knowing full well that he'll never leave it alive.
 
    Another gambles his life in a mindless gang banging, or the urban drug trade, willing to kill or die for a brief glimpse of a life long denied him.
 
    It has often been observed that youth think themselves invulnerable and immortal.
 
    In generations past, perhaps this may've been the case.
 
    But as these events show, some youth are so alienated, so lost, that they look to death with longing, as an escape from a life they find intolerable.
 
    What does that say about us?
 
--(c) '07 maj

 

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