An Attempt to Write These Wrongs

English:
English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An Attempt to Write the Wrongs:

Let Me Step Outside My Comfort Zone Here;

In fact, its far outside many people’s comfort zone.  Allow me to introduce the elephant inside the room, boldly standing there, stoic, and proud.  It is comforted in the knowledge nobody will say a word.  Despite the collective discomfort of its presence, nobody is willing to acknowledge that it even exists.  Better to just pretend it away, put a tablecloth over it, hide it “for heavens sake”, a cold hard truth to face another day.  Those with the access to the news mediums or the very mechanisms of government, do not speak of it.  Those who we need to be strong, our leaders and role models are anything but. The nature of the beast has made them fearful, of becoming unpopular, offending someone, committing some social faux pox, saying some unpleasant thing.

This thing I speak of is racism.

Yeah, I said it, R-A-C-I-S-M, not only does our little melting pot have a history rife with it, we’re still just as guilty of it today, a fact that transcends ALL borders, exclusive to none.  Many of us do not even know that we do it (at times), others, maybe only in bursts, misguided anger, and still others are all too cognizant of it, allowing it to consume their very being. Saturated into their very essence, seeping from their pores, is hate, pure unadulterated hatred.  A cold, consuming fire burning inside, passing judgment on entire populations of people, without cause.

Sadly, this behavior is not restricted to a certain type of individual, whether it’s a bad apple or a native of the South.  Racism is embedded into our very culture, despite hard-fought gains made during the Civil Rights Movement, discrimination DOES still exist, inequality IS real and race certainly plays a major factor in determining a person’s life prospects.  While I am by no means saying that our society is on par with the Third Reich we must open our eyes to the fact that racism exists at every level of government, in every institution of learning and every home.

However, humans can determine group themselves together there will be some form of preference or bias in place within those groupings.   It may upset some of you if you have taken the time to read this but this is one of my core beliefs to some extent there is a form of social bias at play. It is also my belief that the sooner we accept our faults; as individuals, as a society, the sooner we can move past it.  Lessons are not gleaned from mistakes you “didn’t” make.  Likewise, true growth from your mistakes can never happen without you taking the time to evaluate your behaviors, and having the want to figure out how to change.  I feel like to a large extent this hasn’t happened in the United States, at least not to the degree necessary for closure to occur, not to the degree that we’re capable of.  As it now stands overt racism and discrimination were not eliminated, they just picked up a “C” and are no longer mentioned, they fell off the radar…..still there,  just  unspoken of.   One giant, peanut eating conversation piece minus the dialogue.

Civil Rights March on Washington, leaders marc...
Civil Rights March on Washington, leaders marching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The greatest shortcoming of the United States of America as I see it, is people with questionable moral standards don’t just occupy the highest echelons of power, they are often actively sought out for them.

Instead of doing the right thing, they like to hedge their bets and do the safe thing, unless of course they’re playing with your money, when that’s the case anything goes, just don’t be expecting any kind of guarantee on return, or any kind of refund, recourse, or redress if (when) something goes awry.

 Those in office lack the necessary courage to do what they must, to put their own personal gain on the back burner or off to side so they can focus on the public good while in public office, to admit when they were wrong, to just downright own it, and without a scandal or a preplanned press conference either.  I wanna see someone just level with a constituent, person to person, off the cuff and unscripted.  The person who did that would have a lifelong supporter in me.

I guess that’s what happens when you incentivize being a civil servant the way we have, only recently having restricted congress’ ability to use information gained through their work for personal financial gain, you are bound to see people enter the arena with less than the public good in mind, they’re looking to get rich quick as opposed to growing wealthy.  Politics is impossible to divorce from lobbying in our current system.  Lobbying is big business, and let me tell ya, business isn’t just good, it’s never been better, the cozy relationships businesses enjoy with elected officials is at an all time high either through the lobbyist as a middle man, or in the form of campaign contributions so large they can’t be ignored and they don’t come without a price either.

I mean one of the greatest political gambles in history, made by Johnson to force through civil rights legislation to honor Kennedy’s legacy  This is perhaps the greatest shortcoming of our nation, as I see it.  Not that these terrible things existed or still exist, but that when presented with the opportunity to fix it, (or opportunities, I should say) to grow from it, to put an end to it, or come clean with it, it doesn’t happen, we refuse to make good use of what are solid teachable moments.

All too familiar is the desire to deny, to cover up, or brush shit under the rug because company is coming and could arrive at any time, or we’re otherwise in a rush for some reason, and did I mention deny, deny, deny?   Only when presented with evidence so air-tight and insurmountable it can’t be squirmed out of with half-truths or white lies that they are willing to admit they’ve been lying.  One great big and never ending “Ok, you got me, the gig is up”, which typically transpires after the most vehement denial up to that point in the saga. This is a sad state of affairs, based on incontrovertible fact, and it’s plagued administrations on both sides of the isle.they can’t squirm out of it do they acknowledge the fact that indeed the whole time they had been lying.  Every administration it seems has some sort of scandal and none of them when given the opportunity did the right thing.

Disgraceful. I say we deserve better.

People in power are too worried about their popularity contest to do the right thing, to admit this thing we try to ignore, impossible as it may be.  Never directly saying “hey we screwed up” “we were wrong”, it makes me think of a selfish ex I had once, she just couldn’t quite bring herself to ever say sorry. instead, they claim it’s a thing of the past, a bad dream we have awoken from. Now that the Civil Rights Movement is taught in schools which are desegregated for the most part, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed, you assume it was a complete success, movement over…, The CRM  can now be relegated to its appropriate side-note in history. Now everyone;  ALL Americans; African-Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, and we certainly can’t forget our better halves (whatever sex they may be, whether they are of the same sex as us, or identify as being gender neutral, it’s all good) can all vote in elections, that whole equality problem is solved. …….

ahhhhhh…….If only this were true……

A replication of a pin made by the SNCC for th...
A replication of a pin made by the SNCC for the civil rights movement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Perhaps if teachers and the rest of society were a little more willing to talk about these ugly truths which account for the better part of our history, it would be more obvious that discrimination, segregation, and inequality are still alive today.

Vast inequality DOES exist within our infrastructure, the achievement gap is real and it widens daily much like the gap between Mitt Romney’s income and that of myself.  The only difference between the problems faced today vs. yesteryear is instead of the rural south, the worst schools are within the large urban centers, overcrowded and underfunded,  examples of some of gentrifications very best work.  While slavery was abolished under Lincoln, the gains made by African-Americans during the Reconstruction were undone.  It actually happened quite rapidly as soon as some of the legal restrictions and vigilance were relaxed in 1877. The South became a Bastion of Democratic ( clarification; Party NOT principle)voting and the seat of its power.  They even had their own name, the “Dixiecrats”.

Despite several things for which I am unable to forgive him, (Gulf of Tonkin and general prosecution of the war come to mind), I must say this; LBJ was the last politician with some cajones on em.  Big brass ones at that, if nothing else I’ll at least give him that.  Johnson knowingly kissed the South goodbye and threw the Democrats lot in with the African-American vote when he pushed to finally pass the civil rights legislation previously pigeonholed by the powerful Dixiecrats within his own party, fulfilling the assassinated Kennedy’s legacy.

This decision was far from being the politically expedient one, but it was the right one, “consequences” be damned.

Find me a politician willing to do that these days, in either party; you can’t…

Unfortunately, the politicians of today more resemble weather vanes going whichever way the wind blows.

Sharecropping replaced slavery, the nation not yet ready to take the responsibility to care for its own.  When African-Americans fled to the North in search of jobs and to escape the institutionalized racism of the South, *de-jure*, or legalized segregation, otherwise known as Jim Crow, so too fled white capital once racist housing practices were no longer enough to keep their neighborhoods sufficiently homogenized, fearing decreased property values, which is really just a nice way of saying they were just that petty and just that racist and just that chickenshit that they tucked tail and ran at the first sign of neighbors who didn’t look like them.

Unfortunately, due to the historic legacy of racism and slavery which ensured there could be no truly equal playing field between the races in terms of income, as white capital fled, it took with it much of the public funding which is used for things like public education and things of that nature, so it wasn’t long before the condition and the quality of the institutions and the offerings available in minority communities began to actively reflect this fact also.

Instead of meeting the needs of these increasingly dilapidated, underfunded and outdated institutions and the communities they served with the necessary increased funding to meet these challenges, or adding support services they opted to double down on slashing services and funding while increasing the police presence, effectively criminalizing entire generations of black youth in the process, especially young black males, forever the target of institutional oppression it would appear.

When is enough enough?

You often hear about the school to prison pipeline, and that’s how it operated then and still operates today despite the fact it costs over 3 times as much to jail these youth as it would to send them off to college or provide them with a quality education.  With as much as we like to talk about fiduciary responsibility in this country, or bicker about the budget, something as common sense as that be actively pursued for any reason other than pure and simple racism, that ever present fear of the “other”.

Today, prisons, which dispro have replaced sharecropping, which in turn replaced actual slavery as a way to get cheap or free labor out of the same population its always historically been taken from African-Americans.  This isn’t a recent development folks, merely the continuation of a well documented historical trend.

Racialized drug laws disproportionately send minorities to jail with longer sentences for similar possession crimes.  The most notable example of such laws would be those on crack cocaine, a drug prevalent in urban communities vs. Cocaine   predominantly seen as a white, suburban drug.   Crack cocaine carries a far stiffer sentence, it and other non-violent offenses are a direct cause for the staggering statistic that in the United States, a nation that imprisons over 2,000,000 members of its population, more than even China by nearly 1,000,000.  Of that population, African-American men constitute a disproportionate percentage, approximately 31% according to this study. (Sentenced State and Federal Prisoners by Gender and Race, 2006 — Infoplease.com).  The prison industry is just that, an industry, and business is booming.

My point is this; history is important because it’s a part of us.

We need to embrace and understand our collective history just as much as we need to do so with our own personal story.  That is why I will not apologize for the length, or the details, because they’re the truth.  That is the REAL scoop,  maybe I went into a little more detail than some would have liked, there will be no sugar-coating from me ever.  I promised myself a long time ago that I would always keep it R-E-A-L, especially with myself.  Future prospects are far better if we address the problem and not accept living in that awkward space, one of silence.  The best analogy that comes to mind is a victim of abuse.  We’re a nation of abuse victims, too afraid to face the abuser, leveling them with our accusations allowing the chips to fall from that point on where they may.

Perhaps we’re scared of giving it a sense of “realness”.  Going through life trying to convince ourselves that we’ll be ok, so long as we don’t think about whatever terrible things happened, and no emotions flare up, we’ll be fine…..when we clearly aren’t.  Until we face our fears, and overcome our shame, there can never be closure.  In that case, we’re talking about an entirely different form of slavery, having already enslaved our minds.  I don’t love our history DESPITE the bumpy road we took to get here.  I love the study of history BECAUSE of it.

The thought of a story without struggle does not appeal to me, nor does it exist anywhere; even in the land of Walt Disney.  I like a story with wrong-turns, suspense, and scars.  The more we look the other way denying racism existence, the longer the behavior is left to propagate itself amongst our youth,  amongst ourselves rotting from the inside out.

Cheating our youth of contacts left unmade and potential dreams left unfulfilled.   The longer we continue ignoring a system which has seen an increase of something like 600,000 African-American men become incarcerated while the  number of college enrolled continues its steady decline, (now less than the incarcerated) then the more militant, the more vocal, and disenfranchised they will feel.  Hard to blame them for feeling the system has NEVER worked for them, the less we care about having already failed them, and the rest of our youth for that matter, the more we implicitly condone tragedies such as Treyvan Martin,  FEMA’s reaction to Hurricane Katrina, the treatment of Muslim Americans following 9-11.  We are all aware and yet we do nothing, just standing around playin with dynamite.  I guess my question to you is, Are you OK with this?  Cause I know I’m not.**

**

5 thoughts on “An Attempt to Write These Wrongs”

  1. I find that the first problem is allowing definitions of words to be changed. I can almost grant you 99.9% of people are not Racist. This would require them in believing their race was superior to another or all others. I teach my children that there tools we use in life that can be used for good or bad, but ultimately are simply tools we use through out life. These tools are prejudices and biases.

    There is nothing wrong with having prejudices, as 99.9% of people do. It’s these prejudices that makes you think twice before walking down a dark street at night, or get in the car with someone you believe has been drinking. We use them everyday whether we want to believe so or not. We do use them (sometimes harshly) when meeting a new person, or passing by someone on a sidewalk. How someone chooses the world to see them through clothing and mannerisms speaks highly of how they should expect the world to accept them. Just using a black verses white example, very few employers are going to give a second thought of hire an individual with slashed jeans, open armed shirt, (think Larry the Cable Guy) baseball cap with a fish hook in it and are chewing on dip. Nor are they going to be falling over themselves to hire an individual with their jeans hanging 1′ below their waist, exposing any underwear, only being held in place with a belt….if they are lucky.

    In both cases the persona that the individual is putting off may work well among their friends, but speaks laziness, undependable and over all not caring about themselves to employers, as well as society.

    Being bias has it’s role to our lives as well. We think of greater value or dependability from many things from the toothpaste brand we buy to what car company makes a better vehicle. This is not to excuse persons that would simply make a decision based on color of skin rather then the merits of a person. This is not something that is easily removed from persons if it is deep seated. But on the other hand, it is something that through education can be eradicated through educating the next generation. Unfortunately there are those of all walks of lives that make their livings keeping unwarranted biases alive. These would include individuals such as Bob Jones to Jesse Jackson.

    It has been, at least for the last 40 or so years, less about color of skin but rather culture. Just utilizing caucasians, one could provide an anthropologist a life time of study with samples from say Florida cities verses Florida crackers, Louisiana bayous verse New Yorkers, Fly over country farmers verses Los Angelenos and still possibly Montanans verses Texans. It’s all about culture.

    Culture also comes from the way we speak. My grandmother would crack me over the knuckle with a ruler anytime she heard me use the word “ain’t”. Unfortunately even attempting to improve one’s speech can cause chastisement from within a culture as trying to be “pretentious”, “city-fied”, “uncle tom” or “gringo”.

    It’s time we start living up to the words of Martin Luther King “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” It is time again we accept prejudices and not deny ourselves the ability to judge the content of a person’s character.

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