NOT ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE
By Richard Davis
Another black man is murdered by American police. People are outraged and they take to the streets. Their protests help to ease the pain of injustice every black person has to endure every day while trying to enjoy the privileges and rights of citizenship that the rest of us take for granted.
Those in power will sit back and do nothing to change the root causes of injustice that have led to yet another horrific moment in American history. They will engineer sound bites and they will pick out easy political memes to try to ease their base of the brain-dead followers who also are in the same political camp as the rich and privileged. They will even go so far as tear-gassing crowds of people near their home so they can take a walk whose purpose is to use the Bible as a prop in a culture war of their own creation.
When these moments in history play out the so-called leaders in our society play the blame game. They never say what they are thinking and they pretend to sympathize with the cause that people are fighting for while they vilify those who are willing to put their lives on the line for what they believe.
Grand hypocrisy once again.
I want to be hopeful that this will be the time when things change, but I see little hope for that. It is the same old shit in an updated package. I can hear the power brokers as they say to each other, “We just need to wait until this all plays out. You don’t have to do much. We don’t have to create any legislation to address these problems. The news cycle is short and public memory is even shorter. If we keep silent it probably won’t even affect the election in November.”
I want to believe that the strategists and the politicians are wrong. I want to believe that this time there will be a different outcome. But how can you be hopeful for that kind of change when we have a deranged child in the White House and a legislature that does not have the ability to work to change the fundamental flaws in a society that becomes more unjust and more unequal every day?
There is a glimmer of hope for positive change. The best we can hope for is a shift in leadership after the November election. If all the current protesters show up to vote and make sure others vote, then we can begin to build a new road and make an effort at repairing some of the damage that has been done over the past four years.
We can hold out hope that the death of George Floyd marks a turning point in American politics. Trump, McConnell and all of the members of their gang have been putting their knees on the necks of all Americans for too many years. We need to make them pay for their lawlessness and we need to make them accountable for their immoral and unethical behavior.
It is also possible that the current protests will lead to some kind of unanticipated societal change; that the momentum of protest will lead to an outright revolution in the streets of America. It might be what this country needs right now and it could result in fewer lives lost. If we do nothing and move on as if it’s just another day in paradise, too many of us will be forced to endure a 21st century version of hell.
Thank you, Richard. Well said.
Round and round
I was born in 1964, about a month after LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act. It was the summer that white college students headed to Mississippi to help register people to vote. The Beatles made their splash on our shores.
As with most little kids, I didn’t notice skin color until adults brought it up. And, in upstate NY, there wasn’t a big mix of races in town. Mostly Europeans.
My parents were on the side of civil rights, and we had many a discussion. They taught me and really wanted me to know that people were equal, regardless of skin color. We had quite a few discussions of race.
I recall one time that I had to do a play for a class, and I wanted to base it on a Disney comic book I had that the “Injuns” from Peter Pan. Their dialogue was written as a caricature, and my mom sat me down to talk it through. Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea. Maybe these aren’t real depictions of people, but harmful stereotypes. Was I sure? She let me decide, and I decided to choose something else.
In upstate NY, our knowledge of and experience with other races was limited. What we were taught at home didn’t always align with what happened on the playground. Kids spread rumors and myths. I distinctly recall discussions with other little friends where they warned me not to mess with any black kids my age, because they all had older brothers that would beat you up.
Overall, I felt that we kids had a responsibility to get along. Adults had made some new rules and they wanted us to follow them. Aim for that Great Society. Be that change. I felt some pressure, even as a little kid, that our generation must get along with others in ways our parents and grandparents had not. And that it was a good thing.
By the end of 1964 – I was coming up on 6 months old – Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ was on the airwaves. Protests had moved north. “The 60’s” were starting in earnest.
It is 56 years later. It is oddly (and unfortunately) similar to where I started.