The visceral component revealed in the streets of America, gleaned from the recent deaths in Ferguson, Cleveland, and Staten Island poignantly question whether this nation is gripped by the past, present or future. The very duration and complexity of finding one’s way in a society reluctant to share its promise of respect and equality has disintegrated before our eyes. The effort to diminish and belittle those brought to American shores, enslaved by an economic reality born in Africa, is a dark historical fact that enslaved the slaves and bolstered the coffers of the trade in slavery. A dance that few Americans, even those of color fully appreciate, likely to be as proportionately ignorant of their history as are those interested in the selective amnesia that is more comforting and deficient in their re-telling of it.
As all Americans distance their appreciation of the past, few recognize the standards of yore that still shackle those in the present, while more and more of our citizenry demand fairness in opportunity in housing, employment, wages, and education. The anguish suffered too often in courtrooms throughout the nation are the constant reminders that people of color are not treated by standards afforded others.
The sadness and despair of slavery is often unrecognized, so well hidden is it. The daily and often shallow discourse among those who pollute the nation, often segregated and detached from one another, yet striving for similar dignity and aspirations of humankind is lost on most sensibilities. The dream of emancipation may have unshackled the slave but maintained its hold on the minds of those emancipated and those born to them. The pain and violence not spoken of by one generation, its pain felt not by their progeny, thought to be eclipsed by the next, and yet, still terrorizes the present. How can one escape the degradation of history when too often the tools of escape are removed from those who instead succumb to becoming hoarders of food, emotionally unstable, prone to trickery and cunning, pilfering and selfishness, and yet be nothing recognized by those so engaged, and dismissed as irrelevant by others.
It is unfortunate that the son mimics the silence of the father; too shy to be anything but discreet of the past, believing it will place him and his family on equal footing. It does not.
Change will not come easy. It will require trust. It will require a depoliticizing of discourse. It will require a societal acknowledgment of the task ahead. It will require a judicial system that is at its core devoid of false testimony and deficient evidence. It will require police training of methods responsive to the ills of society permitted and nurtured to deflect from a reality burgeoning over many decades of despair.
It will require more from people of color to speak out to the issues they confront.
Silence will not heal the wounds suffered through racism, homophobia, or sexual assault. A discussion of purpose toward planning a different future will demand all participate.
The suburbs did not escape the ghetto standards of the cities. Fifty some-odd-years after the legislative standards of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s “Great Society”, America began a process that was at first fought, then grudgingly accepted within limits, and then became the playpen of the politicians that polarized and divided a nation salivating to get their selfish piece of the pie. Today, some have their piece, while others have little. The despair continues. The divide is greater than ever.
The dissonance may be expressed in various shades, and ethnicities, but it is now an economic divide of have and have-nots. The disparity, once based on caste hierarchies, is now strictly economic.
Benevolence in leadership, empathy, understanding, and planning in economics, demonstrably recognized as fair in practice, as well as in law, standards, and protocol may seem delusional, but only to those who talk the talk of political mediocrity when serving the public interest is demanded. Who will walk the walk? People of such caliber are hard to find. But they must be found. There is not a moment to waste. Everyone must be engaged. There are no excuses. No one should have the opportunity to be shamed by an accusatory finger. And they won’t be if they are engaged.
Patience for a process that will take two generations, at minimum to correct must be accepted. There must be a plan; it must be as equitable as possible, recognizing that each person has his/her limitations. Above all, each must be respected and each must not be permitted to shrink away from their responsibility. Not just in the streets, but also in governance, and in business.
The Arab Spring has captured the hearts of Americans subliminally, as they scoff at “lesser” people whose cry is based on the same tenets Americans aspire for fairness, opportunity in housing, employment, wages, and education.
Editor’s Note: I have done the best I can in this writing. There may be issues, from one side or another, that reveal my ignorance on concerns, or my imbalance in affording one position greater inspection than another. Accept that as my failing rather than bigotry or bias to one or another. While the messenger may be castigated, as I suspect I will, the leaders worthy to lead this city, state, and nation may not all be up to the task. Any deflective maneuver on their part, permitted or allowed to endure will unravel a vision for a better future for all. The divisions in money and opportunity will continue. They become impediments only if voting permits.
The task is to demand more of the political process, the parties, their respective leaders, the politicians who stand before us in “service”.
The challenge is in the discourse. Tell us what concerns you and why. Not a short five-word sentence; a few paragraphs explaining your rationale. Share what you know. This is a beginning that can lead to a future or return to the past. Which will it be?
Your anonymity is respected and maintained by the publisher / editor as it has been for fifteen years. Keep the profanity out of the discussion. If you name names, please clarify your basis for doing so. If you are speculating, say so. Let’s give discourse and discussion a chance. It is the last voice you have!
Can we all admit each of us are responsible to today in one degree or another?