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April 09, 1981 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-04-09

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OPINION

Page 4
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Thursday, April 9, 1981____

The Michigan Daily

Racism and the White Punks

Vol. XCI, No. 154

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
; Rehabilitating the prisons

M ICHIGAN'S prisons are
dilapidated, dangerous, and
worst of all, overcrowded. Violence
i4'ns rampant throughout the in-
Stitutions, unabated by frustrated
prison officials who cannot adequately
:supervise many of the state's ancient,
:bsolete facilities.
: Efforts to ease the problem have run
:p against constant stumbling blocks.
;In. November, voters were presented
.with a proposal that would have curbed
t4s overcrowding. The proposal called
for an increase of one-tenth of one per-
ent in the state income tax which
Auld be used to build four new
egional correctional facilities. Voters
"4efeated the proposal.
2 As a result of the defeat and in an at-
teInpt to ease the overcrowding, the
ttate legislature passed a law last
hecember requiring the governor to
Sdeclare a "state of emergency" and
educe all prisoners' sentences by 90
tdys if the system remains over of-,
fkial capacity for 30 days in a row.
.,In March, figures showed that the
state's prisons were, indeed, filled
Protectig'
THE EARLY 1960s, before the
-L enactment of the 1965 Voting Rights
t many bla 'i the South were,
etied the m * basic right of
ae nocracy. Although blacks over the
age of 21 were guaranteed the right to
vote by the Constitution, state and
:ocal officials around the coun-
:.'-especially in the South-effec-
:$iyely denied them that right through a
::kk mber of maneuvers ranging from
" ll taxes to rigged literacy tests to
M"" tright force.
he Voting Rights Act of 1965 has
nade possible a great deal of progress
:ober the past decade and a half toward
"*eroding racial barriers to the polls.
t Congressional leaders are now
erried that efforts to extend the Act's
ovisions, and to complete the
pxogress begun in the 60s, will be
blocked by the new conservative mood
in Washington.
Liberal leaders in Congress have
wisely realized they will undoubtedly
face stiff Republican opposition in the
Congressional offices and subcommit-
ees on Capitol Hill. Sen. Strom Thur--
#mond (R-S.C.), a longtime opponent of
Mivil rights legislation, now chairs the
,Senate Judiciary Committee. In that
TAE RWAAN
a.:NL N I
*
~ '

.-----
C y- -

above capacity and Gov. William
Milliken prepared to release 1,000
prisoners. Now, a state judge has
blocked the law and the release of the
inmates following a challenge by
Oakland County Prosecuter L. Brooks
Patterson.
It seems as if Michigan's prison,
system is damned to eternal Hell no
matter which way officials turn.
Clearly, the state cannot afford to build
additional facilities; at this time the
most logical solution seems to be the
release of prisoners for parole three
months early. But Patterson intends to
block this proposal.
If Michigan's prisons are going to at-
tempt any type of rehabilitation, in-
mates cannot be subjected to over-
crowded, inhumane conditions.
Carefully supervised early parole
programs and community projects'
such as halfway houses must now be
given an opportunity to work.
Milliken's release of the prisoners
should not be blocked; it is essential
both for criminal rehabilitation and
financial interests of the state.
* t
voting rights
position, Thurmond will be able to
block any proposed extension of the
Act, allowing it to die in committee..
Democratic members of the House
and Senate, however, have begun to
rally their forces against the conser-
vative leaders. Sen. Edward Kennedy
(D-Mass.) has already announced that
he will find other channels through
which to introduce thebextension
legislation if Thurmond. blocks it in
committee.
The extension of the legislation
proposed by Democrats is essential if
the original goals of the 1965 Act are to
be realized. Since the enactment of the
landmark law, the number of minority
voters has more than doubled. But, a
number of states in the South still have
disproportionately low voting records
among black and Spanish-speaking
residents, making an extension of the
Act an absolute necessity.
Republican leaders in Congress
should realize that the Act is not
another government infringement on
the rights of the individual-a reason
often cited as justification for striking
down social legislation. But, is rather
an attempt to protect one of the most
basic rights of the individual in a
democratic society.

This is the first article of a two-part
series which examines a loose federation
of urban white high school students called
White Punks on Drugs. Tomorrow's ar-
ticle will focus on the self-image of the
students who are members of WPOD,
and for whom racism is a way of life.
* * * *
SAN FRANCISCO - George Washington
High School in San Francisco's Richmond
District looks like it has been hit by a series of
bombs and nobody ever bothered to clean up
the mess. Almost as if out of the rubble,
groups of teenage kids have emerged,
spiritually segregated from each other,
calling. themselves White Punks on Dope,
Radical Punks, Muns, Wannabees, Members
Only, Cholos, Bloods, and Wah Ching. Each
group has its own style of dressing, its music,
drugs, cars, pilitant rhetoric - and weapons.
Broken bottles, orange rinds, bread crusts,
banana peels, and candy bar wrappers litter
the courtyard, steps and the football stadium
in front of Washington High. The windows
that aren't smashed and boarded are covered
with grime. Sunlight struggles through the
remaining window panes, illuminating dingy
floors covered with litter. Lockers are
trashed, the metal doors twisted, the locks
busted, rendering them permanently open.
The groups of students separate themselves
racially - the Chinese hang out on the school
steps; the blacks have taken over the basket-
ball court and the football field bleachers; the
whites mingle together at the "Box," the
dugout at the fifty yard line; and the
Mexicans have, they say, been pushed by the
Chinese Wah Chings to the back of the school
where they sit on the track bleachers.
Russians, Iranians, Puerto Ricans, and "boat
people" emigres are alloted the remainder of
the bleachers.
One group, the White Punks on Dope,
blatantly declare their racial prejudice and
the means they use in an attempt to establish
themselves over the students of other races.
"What we want is power," says Larry, a
senior at Washington High. "WPOD is 'White
Punks on Dope,' but it also means 'White
Power or Die.' We want power over the
schools, over other races, over our
territory .
"Sure, we're racist," says Larry. "We don't
want to be shoved around in our own territory
by another race. The Cholos' place -is the
Mission. The niggers' territory is Hunters'
Point, the Fillmore, Oceanview and
Ingleside."
"You have to stay loyal to your race. We're
white," Sharon Lassiter, a junior, says suc-

By Pauline Craig
cinctly through her braces. "Many of our
parents aren't prejudiced against other
races. Some were hippies in the 60s, rebelling
from the racism that their parents tried to
teach them when they were children. My
mom thinks that all races are one big family
and that we should all take care of and help
each other.
"My mother should come to our school,"
continues Sharon. "Then she would see
what's going on. Out of 3,000 students here at
Washington, maybe 150 are white. A lot of us
are the only white kids in our classes. The rest
are Chinks who speak only Chinese or else
niggers who ignore us and won't talk to us at
all."
"Or else they push us around," adds Sonja
Nilssen, a pretty blonde friend of Sharon's.
"That's why WPOD go everywhere
together-on the bus to school, walk together
between classes and wait for each other to go
home.
"But we think there are differences within
the races. There are blacks and there are y
niggers," Sonja elaborates. "Blacks are
friendly, say 'hi' to. you in the halls. Niggers
think they're too cool to acknowledge you,
always struttin' their stuff, bein' high on the
ass. They bump into you on purpose in the
hall, then expect you to apologize."
"Then there are the Yangs, the Chinks,
Fugis, slanteyes," adds Larry. "You can't
tell the difference between.-Japanese and
Chinese anyway-they're all the same. The
worst are the Wah Chings. They used to cut
school and ride around in their cars. But ever
since that trouble up on the (Twin) Peaks,
(where the Wah Ching fought it out with a
rival Chinese gang, the Joe Boys) they've
been hangin' around school tryin' to recruit
new members. The Wah Chings pack pieces,
man. Nobody will have anything to do with
the Wah Chings, even Chinese girls. They just
fight for the hell of it."
"We're not too crazy about surfers, either,"
says Sharon. "They're mellow. They like
reggae, country and western music. We hate
it. They go to Ocean Beach like we do but
they're in the water at six in the morning in
their slimy wet suits, riding their surfboards
or their boogie board."
"And we hate Muns," adds Larry. "That's
Mexican United Nations, the same as Cholos.
They're low riders. They drive stupid low
rider cars with velvet interiors, shag rugs,
glitter all over their shiny paint jobs, and
chrome spoke mags (hub caps)."

"But the're tough in fights," says Luke.
"They use chains, blades."
"The rads - that's radical punks - suck,"
says Maureen, a WPOD girl. "They're
negative - we don't dig their negativity.
They're always tryin' to get attention by
dressin' in shockin' colors, torn clothes, black
tennis shoes, with their shirt tails hangin' out,
green hair, black filthy eye shadow,
disgusting stuff like that. They're an em-
barrassment to our race."
"And the faggots, forget it, we hate them"
says another WPOD. "San Francisco has too
many faggots."
"Some white kids, like those who go to
Mission (High), we call Wannabees," Sharon
goes on. "They're whites who wanna be
Cholos, Flips, whatever. They dress like the
race they want to hang out with. Wannabees
even join Mun gangs like the Sir Lords and
white girls join girl Mun gangs, too."
WPOD rhetoric is virulent in its racism but
it's occasionally contradicted by the choice a
WPOD will make for a good friend.
Sonja sometimes has dinner with her friend
Seena's Filipino family. She often babysits
with Seana's little sister. After school
Danielle, a sophomore at Washington, stands
around with other WPODs badmouthing other
races, then walks behind the school to the
track and sits on the bleachers with the Muns.
Baby-faced Gena, nicknamed "La Muneca
Loca" or Crazy Doll, is Danielle's best friend.
"I hang out with all the people," Danielle
says. "Most WPOD's don't. I go with friends
who are Cholos, Flips, blacks, I don't care, I
like them all."
Rudy Hernandez and his friends typify the
confusion and occasional open-endedness in
WPOD racial loyalty. I'm "Mexican,
Canadian, German, Rumanian, and
American," he laughs. He spews racial slursU
right in front of his friends, Pablo Vuskovitch,
who's Chilean, Venezuelan, and
Yugoslavian, and Richard Harrison, a black
boy. Their other friend Styx is Irish and
Indian. They don't even wince when Rudy
demeans other races - they nod in
agreement with him. They know he's not
referring to them. "We're all WPODs; we all
like rock music," Rudy states flatly.
"A lot of kids haven't decided what race
they want to belong to yet," says Sonja. "Like
if you're Spanish, you don't have to b~e a
Cholo. You can be a WPOD if you're into
rock."
Tomorrow: PART II.
Pauline Craig is an associate editor of
the Pacific News"'Service, for which she
wrote this article.

CRL T director explains cutbacks

I

To the Daily:
We who are targeted for major
budget cuts are more than
usually sensitive to misunder-
standings about our units. Thus I
am writing with respect to the
Daily editorial of April 1 and the
news story of March 31 about the
impact of the budget cuts upon
the University's Center for
Research on Learning and
Teaching.
The editorial states, "In
proposing reductions in the Cen-
ter for Research on Learning and
Teaching and Michigan Media,
the BPC (Budget Priorities
Committee) has, very importan-
tly, kept in mind the importance
of instruction. CRLT's budget
will be cut by 25 percent. The cut
will result in elimination of much
of the facility's research on lear-
ning. But CRLT will continue
much of its work on improving
teaching techniques through the
University - a service that can-
not be neglected at any
time."
I heartily applaud the last sen-
tence, but regret that there is
some misunderstanding about

the funding of research at CRLT.
Over 90 percent of CRLT resear-
ch is funded by the federal gover-
nment and foundations. Rather
than drawing funds from the
University, we bring in grants
that support our basic
organizational costs and support
undergraduate and graduate
students who benefit, not only
financially but also
educationally, from their partici-
pation.
Any cuts in our research ac-
tivities will result from the with-
drawal of the federal government
from educational research, not
from our local cuts. Cessation of
our research would, we believe,
be harmful to achievement of our
primary mission, improving
teaching and learning at the
University.
Just as the overall quality of
education at the University
is enhanced by faculty members
who remain at the forefront of
learning in their disciplines, so
too is CRLT's ability to help
faculty members enhanced by
having staff members who are
nationally and internationally

known scholars in our field.
If it is not the elimination of
research on learning, what, then,
will the impact $100,000
cut?
" Continued development of the
Instructor-Designed Question-
naire for Student ratings of
teaching will be halted. The
proposal that faculty members
be forced to pay to obtain student
ratings seems likely to reduce the
use of ratings.
" The program of workshops on
effective teaching methods will
be restricted.
eThe Evalpation and
Examinations Office, which
provides test-scoring services
and consultation on testing will
be closed.
* The individual jointly appoin-
ted by CRLT and Michigan Media
to assist faculty members in
developing videotaped materials
for their classes will be ter-
minated.
CRLT staff will be less
available for consultation with
faculty members desiring help in
improving their courses.

" Small grants to faculty mem-
bers for course improvements
will be drastically reduced.
The news story stated that the
$100,000 cutback will have no ad-
verse affects. To us, and to mang
faculty members who wrote or
testified at the budget hearings,
this cutback does seem adverse.
There was a possible im-
plication in the news story that
we submitted these proposals for
cuts voluntarily. Obviously, we
did not. We tried to indicate how a
28 percent cut could be made with
the least effect upon the quality of
education in the University. We
believe we have minimized these
adverse effects, but they are stil
substantial.
Although the injuries are real
and deep, our wounds are not
mortal. CRLT will continue to be
an active, vital organization. We
look forward to the challenge of
participating in making the "bet-
ter but smaller University"
become reality.
-Wilbert J. McKeachie
Director, CRLT
April 2

AT RENIE1N

I

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

Many thanks to MSA

To the Daily:
Project Community's Income
Tax Assistance Program would
like to thank the Michigan
Student Assembly president and
staff for the outstanding support
we have received during the
1980/81 Winter Term. MSA
donated office space, telephone
lines, secretarial assistance, and
funding, which allowed the
project to operate more produc-
tively and better serve the com-

organization displayed. Their
dedication and willingness in
serving the students and com-
munity is very rewarding: It is
with deep sincerity that we say
thank you once again to the MSA
for their contribution to human
service learning.
-The Volunteer Income Tax
Assistance Staff
Mark Canvasser;
Charles "Kip" Clarke;
Larry Halperin;

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