I was raised by a mother who thought god was great and a father who thought the forest was great. I was educated in a system that sought to teach me America was great. I’m now an elder and have long been disabused of the notion of god’s or america’s greatness—dad was right, walking in the woods is as close as any of us will ever get to what’s true and valuable and worthy of being called great.
And about this American-greatness bullshit. Is there any normal rational human being among us that isn’t sickened, saddened, and utterly demoralized by this society and its leadership at this moment in time?
But here’s the thing—it has always been thus…with rare flashes of hope…just enough to keep us in line. America was founded on racism and remains a hideously racist society. Columbus was a racist of the first order and those freedom-seeking Jamestown settlers were after their own freedom, not anyone else’s. And the founding fathers…high percentage of them slaveholders were they not?
Many intelligent articulate people are writing about this, so let me share a few of their words. Roxane Gay and Trevor Noah say it loud and clear. If only we really listened.
In this morning’s (Sunday, May 31, 2020) NYT, Roxane Gay offers Remember, No One’s Coming to Save Us. She ends the article with the same lack of hope I feel all of the time: “Eventually, doctors will find a coronavirus vaccine, but black people will continue to wait, despite the futility of hope, for a cure for racism. We will live with the knowledge that a hashtag is not a vaccine for white supremacy. We live with the knowledge that, still, no one is coming to save us. The rest of the word yearns to get back to normal. For black people, normal is the very thing from which we yearn to be free.”
Last Friday night Trevor Noah used his Daily Show platform to share his thoughts. Google it/You tube..it will be the most valuable eighteen or so minutes of your week/month/longtime. Here are some of his words from Daily Beast:
To those who are telling protesters, “You do not loot and you do not burn. This is not how our society is built,” Noah said that if “society is a contract” then that contract is “only as strong as the people who are abiding by it.” He asked “what vested interest” black people have in maintaining that social contract when police aren’t holding up their end of the deal.
To those who ask of looting, “What good does it do?” Noah asked in return, “What good doesn’t it do?” He said, “The only reason you didn’t loot Target before is because you were upholding society’s contract. There is no contract if law and people in power don’t uphold their end of it.”
“There is no right way to protest because that’s what protest is,” Noah said. “What a lot of people don’t realize is the same way that you might have experienced more anger and more visceral disdain watching those people loot that Target—think about that unease you felt watching that Target being looted. Try to imagine how it must feel for black Americans when they watch themselves being looted every single day.”
“Because that’s fundamentally what’s happening in America,” he continued. “Police in America are looting black bodies.” While some might think that’s an “extreme phrase,” Noah assured them that it’s not.
When you hear the phrase, ‘make America great again’ ask yourself which ‘great’ year or decade you want to emulate. The years of slavery and genocide. The years of reconstruction, lynchings, depressions, destroying Vietnam, the Gilded Age with the 1% at their most powerful (until now)…just which ‘great years’ do we have in mind?