I don’t even know where to start.
The sadness and heartache caused by the very public losses of life in the last week has been upsetting and confusing.
The complexity and grandeur of the problems in our society is daunting, baffling, and terrifying. Unhelpful actions such as speculating, rushing to judgment, finger-pointing, stereotyping, and victim blaming are just a few of the impulses that seem to be the beating heart of America right now. A heart beating so fast that the emotions of our Pulse have not slowed before the next tragedies ensue. The blood of our nation that is boiling and steaming with embittered emotion before it is spilled and pools in the living rooms and pocket devices of everyone.
My social, political, and cultural education over this year has started to reveal a web of connected problems that defy diagram. We have been duped into being disgruntled. We have been fooled into failing to act. And we have been purposefully pitted against one another for the success and gain of a few.
My thoughts are not organized, my arguments are not cogent, and my constitution lacks character.
In 2008, I voted for President Barack Obama. When he was elected, I was elated with my country. In under 20 years I had gone from silently suffering the sound of racist comments in the school room after O.J. was proclaimed not-guilty, to the promise of a future where equality was achievable. Sadly, President Obama’s election served as a swift kick to the hidden beast that is the rampant racism of our nation. A kick that laid bare the gnarly teeth of systemic racism throughout our society: racism that we have now clearly seen throughout the Legislative and Judicial branches of our government.
Today, I am afraid. I hear voices on podcasts reminding me that the Civil Rights Movement ran from 1955-1963: it seems that they must still run. I am afraid that this loss of life is just the beginning, but it actually began so long ago. Will this be the beginning of a conflict that we document?
I hear voices pointing fingers at social media. They seem to say hurried and under-thought posts are exacerbating the conflict. Maybe. But maybe emotions are opening paths for painful truths to rise to the surface. A supremely white ugliness that can only be understood and talked about once the spotlight finds it.
I see Americans begging America to witness the systems of racism that are marginalizing them and blinding the privileged. Asking us privileged to take a moment to quell that implicit, visceral reaction, and just try to empathize. And before we can even hear their pleas, I see the actions of one gunman providing justification for the privileged to close their eyes, turn their heads, and silence the pleas that had been so relevant. They are still so relevant.
First, I want to say that police officers are not to blame. I am not excusing those that are killers and murderers (whether convicted or not) who happen to wear blue. However, police officers appear to be the weapon of a confluence of racist systems.
- A weapon at the hands of many racist policing policies and racially biased trainings.
- A hand attached to judicial arms failing to balance justice by disproportionately prosecuting people of minority status.
- Arms that are encouraged by a torso of politicians marginalizing our black and brown citizens with tools like redistricting, the war on drugs, and the social control of mass incarceration in the pursuit of wealth and power.
- A torso whose beating heart is a constitution developed by slave-owning white men who created a system that primarily benefits people who look like themselves - a system that has rarely been analyzed, scrutinized, or re-imagined.
- A beating heart pumping poisoned blood of greed and money that undermines reality and the interests of the people.
- Blood that controls the vocal cords of the blaring voice that is a mass media all too willing to be complicit in creating and furthering harmful stereotypes and racism to divide the citizens of our nation.
- A voice that poisoned the minds and hearts of our children. Children who are now adults and whose poisoned minds are blind to institutionalized segregation and racism, whose psyches are too fragile to admit culpability for passive or active support of racist systems, and who have been manipulated into fearing or blaming the less fortunate of our country.
How do we stand a chance as the legs and feet who are being crushed under the weight of this greedy and unjust system?
It is exhausting. It is aggravating. It is overwhelming. And I am one of the most privileged of the lower body, and by no means innocent of the continued sins of our nation and our society.
Can we begin to say, “no” to the manipulations of the greedy and the power hungry?
Can we find a way to ease the pain and slow the bloodshed?
So that we may run to that new day we all hope is on the horizon
Could we begin to sit together as one community?
Perhaps then we can just love each other and then ourselves again.
But eventually we need to break this vicious cycle once and for all.
The privileged must sacrifice our privilege so that all may be free, equal, and one day safe.