TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS: We Shouldn't Sit Still For It 


“There’s a phrase that’s used from time to time, something about not taking things sitting down?

The latest snafu at the school board over the horror, the inequity, the sheer pain in the butt of a non-ergonomic seating environment seemingly indicates that some of those making decisions in this community have little desire to stand up for their constituents.

Who would want to, what with the prospect of a $600 throne?

I mean, we must consider that the 117,000 children who attend our city schools have plush velvet recliners, fit for royalty, in all of their classrooms. There’s no reason the board can’t get in on the deal, right?

And I won’t even sink to commenting on the cold bologna sandwich issue that followed.

Seriously, folks, has it come to this?

There’s another euphemism that I’d like to consider here, namely that of “put your money where your mouth is.” Incidentally, this rolls off the tongue much more musically than “put your money where your ass is.” Unless, of course, you’re at a strip club or a certain address on Avery.

More and more lately, I find myself attempting to internalize that phrase. Put your money where your mouth is.

In the three or so years that I’ve been here, I’ve grown to love Memphis, for all its good and bad. But as I sit in this crazily uncomfortable porch chair that serves as my computer chair for lack of a budget to mismanage, I realize that it’s up to us. (Just kidding by the way- I like my chair just fine.)

Each and every one of us must become actively engaged in the process of building community.

It’s a tough time for cities. It’s an especially tough time for arts and education, which is part of the reason I feel inclined to poke a little fun at the great chair crisis of 2003. It should be more than obvious to the school board that there are more pressing matters at hand than the lavishness of their seats.

Take, for instance, the dissolution of the Center for Arts Education.

The Greater Memphis Arts Council has gotten a lot of flack for this particular move, and I’m not interested in contributing to that here.

But while this move is appalling to many, and blatantly detrimental to a school system that is without adequate arts education, we must remember that we’re living in a political and economic context in which the arts are being dealt financial blows as if they’re in boxing rings. And losing.

Like many have mentioned in regard to this local crisis, there certainly is a call for accountability on the part of those in decision-making positions.

But it’s also time for us, as citizens, to be accountable.


To match the time we spend criticizing the powers that be, which I believe to be a responsibility when necessary, imagine the impact were we to match it with time spent in the community actively engaged in the process of making it better.

How much stronger would it make our voices? How much more insight would it lend to our proclamations about that which needs to be fixed?

It seems hard nowadays to find time to expend time and energy on the outside world when our personal lives have become so complicated. For those of us sitting in comfortable chairs, it must be that much more difficult.

Recently, though, I made the commitment to become a literacy tutor. I hope that it will validate some of my concerns as a citizen, while educating me about the reality of our city at the same time.

Perhaps if we all get involved it will force our elected officials to honor their own commitments to things like, oh, education. Or maybe it won’t change that at all.

Nevertheless, I truly believe that it’s time for us all to start putting our money where our mouths, and not our asses, are.

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