At the historic Jan. 8 City Council meeting, over 200 people marched to save the Pico Youth & Family Center (PYFC), the only organic youth center built by Pico Neighborhood residents, and decry the City Hall reports as false. Twenty eight of 29 benchmarks were met, yet the city staff, under the direction of City Manager Rod Gould, asserted that PYFC did not pass the test.

This is what rhetoric scholar Ralph Cintron calls the “Discourse of Measurement.”

The city staff’s requirements, modes of measurement, and their selective (if flawed) interpretation of numbers makes up the discourse of measurement. Since the times the first Europeans landed in the Americas and read edicts in foreign languages, drew maps and claimed “ownership,” the discourse of measurement has been an “instrumental rationality.” It is a discourse with material effects. The discourse of measurement belittles other knowledge systems.

This discourse of measurement does not measure love (of people or learning), inter-cultural understanding, self esteem, cultural awareness, improved relationships, new beginnings, mentorship, close calls, awakenings, safe spaces or inspiration. Like standardized testing, the discourse of measurement is not concerned with these things.

The discourse of measurement magnifies the most minuscule of dangers and sets off a new round of instability.

The discourse of measurement does not measure racism or challenge it. It is an instrument of (institutionalized) racism.


Elias Serna

Santa Monica

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