Friday, December 17, 2010

The COINTELPRO Martial Arts School

After a two week delay - here is my report on the "COINTELPRO Martial Arts School'.

As I listened to "The Friday Night Drum" on "WRFG - The Progressive Information Station" in Atlanta I learned of a gathering that was to be held the next day.  It was entitled "Who Is The Bigger Gangsters?  Black Youth or White America? The History Of COINTELPRO".  The discussion was billed as an anti-gang summit.

I wrote down the address of the symposium (Lithonia GA in Dekalb County).  I called my good friend to go with me.  He is into both the politics and youth development angle involved here.  (If there is an anti-capitalist/anti-American/anti-Israel/anti-Zionist book - he has read it).

We arrived at a shopping plaza that the GPS took us to per the address.
The starting time had shifted from 3pm to 3:30.   We saw a sports bar a few doors down that we decided to go into and watch the football games that were playing.

By the time 4pm came my "Black Radical" friend was not interested in leaving to go hear what they had to say.  He'd heard it all before, he said.

 I decided to leave the sports bar and hear what the people had to say.

A Black Youth Mentoring Session Mixed With "1960's Style Black Nationalism"

This is not a hit piece against anything that the "brothers" who took to the microphone were saying.

  • The first guy told of his days as a street gang member from Chicago.  The gang was formed as a means of protecting the community from any harm.  He told of his friend who started the "Conservative Vice Lords" as a means of countering the negative image that other gangs had created.  He said that they confronted a construction company that was building homes in their community but which did not hire any of the locals for employment.  "Not another brick will be laid until you hire some of the people who will eventually live in these places".   They got a few jobs from this action.   The "Conservative Vice Lords" were taken down, he said, as the government trumped up some charges on its leadership and locked him up for an extended bid.
  • The next guy who got up appeared to be related to a Black Muslim group but did not expressly indicate what is affiliation was.  His main goal was to be a bridge for the featured speaker.
  • The "Martial Arts Master" took to the microphone to bring all of the struggles that young Black males face today into one coherent understanding - the enemies of Black people who fear our strength use a variety of tactics to keep us disorganized.
    • He indicated that the operatives in this nation are akin to the old television game show "To Tell The Truth".   They show a public face that they want you to believe but in truth they are clandestine operatives with another agenda.
    • He talked about how the "War On Drugs" is merely a ploy to ensnare people of color into the "Prison Industrial Complex".   Black people who are incarcerated are not a threat to the system. The discrimination they face because they have a criminal record is cover for the racial discrimination that is now outlawed.
      • He called out a 20 something year old male who was standing to the side and noted that he had just gotten out of "The White Man's Prison".   He would be assisting around the martial arts school as he makes the transition back into society as a free man
    • He talked about the various wars of aggression that the United States Of America had engaged in over time.  The goal of "stealing resources" from "people of color" around the world was given the cover of seeking to promote democracy.   All the while he doesn't have "democracy" back at home in America.

I looked around and saw a group of young teen aged Black males listening attentively and a small group of parents who occasionally clapped at the words that were being said.

On the one hand I applaud the leader of the school for acknowledging that there is a problem and that the collection of young males have a high probability to serve jail time IF there is not a structured system for intervention.

The Fusion Of Martial Arts With Black Nationalism

My own children are engaged in Tae Kwon Do.
It provides young people with the structured 'rites of passage" that they need.   As they discipline themselves and focus upon learning the "form" that is required to matriculate upward to the next belt they develop a measure of confidence and begin to associate their own actions with their attainment.  I have seen an 8 year old little girl in my children's class who used to cry when she could not break a board grow into a 10 year old who has a red belt and can easily break the boards that are put in front of her.

When it comes to this school master taking the lead and opening up a school of his own in a Black community he gets my applause.

This area of South Deshon was an middle/upper-middle class Black community about 10 years ago when I used to frequent the area as many of our family friends lived in the area.  It appears to have suffered slightly from the recent real estate collapse.  (I should note that the local R&B radio stations are complicit in that they had several "remotes" from the subdivisions in the area, asking their listeners "Why rent when you can own?  We have loan specialists on sight to get you into a home of your own")

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The point that was concerning to me about this brother's approach is that I am able to cross reference his "pedagogy" against the eco-system that has been constructed by the South Korean "masters" that run the network of Tae Kwon Do schools that my children are in.

Don't get me wrong - I remind my wife all of the time about how much money she sends to "Master Kim".  Every conference and every test for a belt costs money.  You need a chest protector?   Master Kim will sell you one at an inflated price.  OR if you extend your contract he will give you a discount. Instead I went on the Internet to search for equipment for direct purchase that was a lot cheaper and without strings attached.

The Korean based TKD system is a formidable money making machine for their purposes.   Each 6 months they acquire a new crop of white/yellow/green belts to replenish the school.  They have blackbelts (of different races) serving as the instructors.

I cannot say authoritatively that pictures above represent the entire roster of students at the "COINTELPRO Martial Arts School" but he none the less has a lot of work to do if he is to replicate the success of the Koreans.  This community in North Dekalb needs such a service to channel their children's energy.

Thus I have to say that the quantity of children is representative of the success in marketing of the services.   The presence of these students also represents a revenue flow from which better facilities and jobs for instructors can be created.

This is not a hit against the "CONTELPRO Martial Arts School".  I do not know how long he has been around nor his plans for expansion.
As I was walking out I noticed a series of signs like the ones to the right posted on the window of the martial arts school.  They are next door to a "China King" Chinese take out restaurant.  I have no idea what the source of the conflict is but the martial arts master is seeking to warn all Blacks who go there for food that they do not support the Black community.

The martial arts master also noted in his speech that he had been a martial arts blackbelt and he used to compete in tournaments.  He started his own school because he saw that Koreans were racist against Black people.  He did not go into any more detail than this.

The Korean "Retail Middle Man"
This is not an attack on Koreans just as my above documentation was not an attack on the "COINTELPRO  Martial Arts School".

 I have previously noted the success that the Koreans have had in establishing retail outlets in their own communities and in certain Black communities.
The two pictures nearby are from the "Super H Mart" in Riverdale Georgia.  After years of grieving about the "Food Desert" in which the community was denied access to fresh fish and fresh produce as they lobbyed "Publix", "Kroger" and "Whole Foods" to set up shop in this city which had rapidly gentrified to Black over the last decade - it was an American company owned by South Koreans named "Super H Mart" that ultimately came to the "rescue" and opened a top notch store.

Initially they employed their "own" people at the checkout area.  Today there is only slightly more diversity.  The "Hispanics" run the fish department.  There is no section where "Blacks" are noted.  Except the customer base, that is.

The TKD school that my children attend I more fully populated, resourced and more complete than the "COINTELPRO Martial Arts Studio".   In theory the community North Dekalb is as prosperous as is the case on the Southside.   In practice the school does not have the processes in place necessary to build itself up in the same way that I am seeing the South Korean schools do.

I wrote previously about my frustration over my wife and her girlfriend saying that they would not attend a TKD school that was run by anyone other than Koreans.   In their view it would be like an Indian person running a Chinese restaurant - inauthentic.

I pushed back noting that there are people who have received their certification in the form of a black belt through this TKD system.  They have the competency to educate students no differently than the people from Korea.   While yes there are some cultural attachments that make their schools appear to be more capable the point is that the basic mechanics of the instruction are available to all who come.

The problem with the "COINTELPRO Martial Arts School" is not that there is a Black man at the helm or that his physical form of being obese makes one question the school's competency to teach this art form.  Instead the twin issues of "Purpose & Process" stand largely in the way.

I don't see a narrative of politics or indoctrination in the South Korean schools.   They have the agenda of selling a service to the kids and adults that walk through their front door.  They are ultimately supplying the desires of the parents to develop their children and to allow them to remain physically fit in the process.

As we attend the quarterly tournaments that the network of schools in the Southeast produce a common theme is evident.   Every school has a custom van with graphics upon it.   All of them have the value added service of "After School Care".  For an extra fee the TKD school van will pick up the children from the local public schools and take them to the TKD dojang (school).  They have paid tutors to watch them and assist them with their homework.

When the regularly scheduled TKD class takes place, example 4pm - they are already in the building.   For parents like me who would otherwise have to leave work, drive to the public school and then take them to TKD in time for class - this service is a no brainer.   VALUE AD!!

I can't say how marinated the "Black Nationalism" story is within instruction of the "COINTELPRO Martial Arts School" but I think it is a mistake to use this as a motivating factor.  The instruction of these young kids needs to be rooted in the organic notion that they should discipline themselves to achieve their best and that martial arts is a worthy course for them to discover themselves.

Thus the "purpose" of the school should be about the development of the student.

The "Process" that the "COINTELPRO Martial Arts School" should be closely referenced upon the model that is already working.   The South Koreans have a large population of students.   One school with 300 students (of all ages).  They are paying $100 per month.  This is $30,000 in revenues passing through a strip mall based facility.  This doesn't include all of the fees collected for testing, contests or other value added services.

The various events and open-houses that they have are done to attract a new crop of students into the school so that the entire system can be perpetuated.

The point that I was making to my wife and her girlfriend (before they pissed me off) is that the perceived "culture" behind Tae Kwon Do did not come at once as some wise man traveled to the top of a mountain in Korea.   They were developed over time AND some entity enforced the authenticity of the art.

While it may be difficult for a non-Korean to open up an officially sanctioned TKD school (I don't know) the fact remains that it is entirely possible for a Black group of conscious people - seeing the need to offer martial arts training to young people at affordable prices could band together and form their own network of schools, functionally replicating what his already the case with the South Koreans who's network is spreading as they leverage the financial resources and the know-how of their system that has already proven itself effective.

The South Koreans were not originally experts in the hair care for Black women.  They studied the market opportunity and the consumer needs - and the rest is history.

1 comment:

truegrit said...

If I had a friend who who drove with me to visit something of interest to me, and then he decided sitting in a sports bar was more important, I would consider finding a better friend bro. Just sayin'.