Remember that old Chinese curse? “May you live in interesting times.”
The curse is working.
A lot of people are feeling despair over all that is happening – the pandemic and the pressure of being in isolation for so many weeks; the rise of white supremacist neo-Nazis; the murder (lynching) of black people by the police and any arrogant, frightened white person with a gun or whatever weapon is at hand, like a knee, truck, or rope, etc.; the clear not only lack of true leadership from our president but his more and more apparent separation from reality, most recently manifested in tear-gassing and firing rubber bullets into some peaceful protesters so that he could walk across the street and get a picture taken of himself in front of a church, holding up a Bible.
This was such a blatant display of hypocrisy I do not know why that poor abused Bible did not burst into flames. Heck, I don’t know why the guy himself doesn’t burst into flames.
Oh, if only physics had a conscience.
We were taught to love our country. We were told fine stories of great men who wrote and spoke glorious words, who said that all men are created equal.
I am going to repeat myself now, because I have said this in the past: We were not taught that “men” only meant white European men who owned property (some of which was slaves).
Not women, not people with brown or black or any color than white skin, certainly not our country’s indigenous peoples, some of whom owned slaves, and some of whom resent that black activists have not brought indigenous peoples along in their fight for equality.
This is more complex than you think.
Now we are seeing our beloved country getting its poxy white skin ripped right off, especially the skin of white policemen who feel they can kill/murder/lynch black people with impunity and get away with it because that is exactly what they have done for so long.
The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s was tumultuous and entwined with the anti-Vietnam war movement. There were riots, assassinations (Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, just for starters), war in the streets of Detroit in 1967, and a war in Chicago at the Democratic convention in 1968.
Hubert Humphrey was nominated there. He lost to Richard “Tricky Dicky” Nixon, a smart guy who would have been a much better president if he had not been mentally unstable and had not resorted to criminal measures to get what he wanted. Oh, and he was a right-hand man to Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, chasing Commies, many of whom were not Commies.
Anyway, when the Black Panthers were making white people pee their pants (Black men! With rifles!) and the men of the Nation of Islam stood in long lines in their long black coats and hats, man, I’ll tell you, they were every bit as scary as the lines of bubble helmeted policemen with their kill clubs were then and are now.
After the passing of Civil Rights Acts in the sixties under the presidency of Lyndon Johnson (a much despised president who also started Medicare and other social programs that latter day Republicans have been deconstructing as fast as they can), after police murdered black activists in the streets and asleep in their beds, after the Vietnam war was halted, after black actors began turning up in television commercials and shows, and blaxploitation movies became popular, after the advent of busing and affirmative action and college admissions quotas, there prevailed a false sense that racism was beginning to be a thing of the past – at least in the minds of some white people.
Non-white people have always known that was a lot of hooey. Racism only went into hiding for some people. It became visible with a vengeance during the Obama administration.
Black people have politely pointed out that lately we have become aware of the persistent and random killing of black people because people now have cell phone cameras and can make videos of white people murdering black people, as in the case of George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery.
Watching a person die while you hear his voice fade, or you see his body reel when the gun blast hits him, begins to make this centuries old practice of treating black people as animals to be hunted down and killed real, and repulsive, and impossible to ignore or dismiss, and maybe, just maybe, you begin to grasp why people say BLACK LIVES MATTER. Because in the entire history of the settled white European presence on this continent, black lives have not mattered.
Brown and Red lives have not done so well, either, but I have to stop now.