Sunday, July 10, 2016

Self-Evident Truths

I am an introspective person, as the title of this blog suggests, but there are times when my "historical context" blares so loudly I have no choice but to bring it to the forefront and do my best to discuss it, to "add my voice," as it were.  Sitting in silence doesn't cut it at times like these.

I've been preoccupied by all of the high-profile violence occurring in our country... I was about to add  the words "as of late," but this is a country -- like many others -- built on violence, forged by inequality, and although we have some lovely language in our foundational scripts and scrolls about self-evident truths, and everyone being equal, someone has always had to be less free in order for the white male power base of the U.S.A. to exist, the way it was designed to exist.

Recently, a couple of changes have occurred in our long-standing modus operandi that have shaken things up and made other truths self-evident -- the ones that had remained mostly hidden up till now.  One is that the electorate in this country selected a black president.  Whatever the motives for voting for Barack Obama (the simple fact that he was different, "CHANGE" being the operative word in his 2008 run, or that he represented a thinking, thoughtful America, or that he was "liberal," or even more to the point, just because he was black), his election terrified a lot of people.  It didn't matter to them how liberal he really was, and in fact he turned out to be a lot more conservative than some of us had hoped.  The election of our first black present, a momentous occasion to be sure, also mobilized a quiet minority of scared racists who are fueled by the rhetoric of reactionaries like Donald Trump and the so-called "birthers."

The other major change is in our personal technology.  Thanks to the advent of smart phones and nearly universal access to the Internet, horrifying incidents of police brutality that we'd never have known about now appear on YouTube and our Facebook feeds daily.  And the overwhelming majority of these incidents involve black men.  True, there have been others who have been victims of police brutality, but most appear to be black males.  There are those who may one day read this and take issue with the two words emphasized in the previous sentence.  Because, as others have already stated, they cannot hold BOTH truths at once, but feel a need to take one side or the other.  Those who side "with the police" will begin almost immediately to question the now dead man:  What was he doing? Where was he going? What was he wearing? What kind of person was he?

This is where the inequality -- the blatant Lack of Rights -- becomes most self-evident:  If you are a black man interacting with the police force, you don't have any rights.  You don't have a right to free speech, or to walk in a "nice" neighborhood at night, and you don't have a right to wear a hoody, or any other clothing you decide to wear.  You are not presumed innocent as a black man.  You are presumed a threat.  This is how it has always been, since the earliest days of our country, when white hegemony kept black people as property to be bought and sold.

None of this is meant to excuse the horrific shooting that happened in Dallas last week.  The answer to police brutality is NOT to brutalize our police.  Instead, we all need to look at these truths as self-evident and to ask ourselves what we're willing to do as a people in the face of them.  If we don't, our biggest danger may not be foreign terrorists but ourselves.  If we don't confront these realities, these truths soon, the FBI will be spending a lot of time with its head on a swivel, responding to the sounds of our well-armed citizenry "locking and loading" in fear-inspired militias all over this country.  Then the only thing ISIS will need to do is sit back and watch us implode on CNN and Al Jazeera.

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