I’m old enough to have lived through Nixon. For those of you old enough to remember what this time was like, you know that this period in time seems like light-years from today.
One of my earliest memories was me growing up on the outskirts of the hood — today this neighborhood is full blown hood. I remember one evening sitting in front of our 13” black and white, seven channel television that required you to physically get up and change the channel, with a gentle waft of meatloaf flooding through the living room. This was back in the day when families still regularly ate supper before 6:00 pm. I remember one evening my little green soldiers were taking on the dreaded Weeble-Wobbles (I wonder today when an infinitely funded military will make real life soldiers capable of never falling down) while a President, willfully yet bitter, resigned over improprieties of his position and waved the smuggest of farewells during the evening news. Due to his own hubris, history would prove him a racist, misogynistic asshole that should have lived out the rest of his life from within a federal prison as a war criminal.
This was my earliest memory of American politics and our national practice of ‘trickle-down we do what we want.’
This was also a time when the Civil Rights movement was pressing hard for a quaking unto our collective consciousness, a social consciousness that is still fighting against being on the wrong side of history, a struggle that has only begun to lean toward justice even by today’s standards. This “struggle” is America’s jihad in the most literal translation on an individual and collective basis, both of which are internally and externally played out within our collective nafs.
Over the past few years I have befriended a local minister. His congregation calls him Bishop. I call him “my brother.” We met in what could be considered one of the most peculiar of circumstances: a hot tub at a local athletic club. While we look nothing alike and I believe many would find the two of us standing next to each other to have nothing in common, from our first meeting, it was obvious at least to myself that if given the chance, he and I would make for great friends. This friendship would become so strong that he would eventually ask me to be a groomsman in his wedding, a request that I find myself honored of as each day passes, particularly when considering I was the most obvious outlier within his family, friends, and community.
This brother of mine is imposing to say the least: 6’2”, 300+, deep voice, dark-skinned brother, born and bred in the Deep South with accent still firmly intact, whose ancestry quite possibly goes back to some of this nations earliest servitude. Our friendship has been built upon sharing the most uncouth of conversations, conversation one typically no longer speaks openly about in public let alone in a public hot tub. This is also the same topics of conversation that most family’s either refuse to touch with a 100’ pole or engage in only to someone’s unfortunate detriment during holiday dinners.
I believe we take up such conversations as a moral imperative — I know I do — in an attempt to right the world’s wrongs by, at the very least, throwing it out there hoping that it will become a catalyst, that if not we, some wayward passerby not daring to step into a hot tub with two men talking about things no normal member of society dare discuss let alone consider, might sow the seeds of revolution.
Last year, despite his beautiful wedding, became a very trying year for my brother. A little over a month prior to his wedding he got word that his son had been murdered. I believe I need not express any further how spiritually taxing such an experience would be for anyone, much less my brother. Yet, needless to say, this Jobian trial still wrests upon his soul and I believe it will most likely follow him to the end of his days. It has also brought forth another layer of animosity I hold toward this nation.
My brother’s son was attending a college in West Virginia and was an NFL prospect as a running back. He had gone home during Spring Break to visit his mother in Seattle and intended to drive back to the East Coast after stopping to visit a cousin in Portland, OR. The incriminating details of this evening are unknown. Those potentially involved are not speaking. As is often the case among those whose job it is to investigate, at this point in time and particularly as it relates to the race of those involved, the murder has become just another cold case. Statistics from such circumstances are but one of many seeds that have sprouted reason to suggest why #BlackLivesMatter; a movement and term coming some 40 years later from another civil movement that is still having to challenge why people of color so seldom win Oscars, if not a necessary meme pointing out why their lives matter.
I am well aware that black men are regularly murdered in this country, a common occurrence that we are only now bothering to barely acknowledge. I consider it not too difficult to rationalize as the by-product of century’s worth of ignorance, fear, and abject hatred that still plays itself out in the form of an equally unconscious perception of superiority and pride by some or shame by most on the part of whites, and, a mixture of pride, disdain and shame among blacks.
While the perpetrators have not been caught, and at this point I have resigned to the idea that those investigating the case will most likely never bring to trial the guilty, among my brother and his family’s private investigation of the minutest of details involved with that night, it was most likely a drug deal gone awry that brought on what will tally as just another statistic of black on black crime. As tragic as this reality is, I cannot help but to consider it just another example of how inept we have become as a nation since the Civil Rights movement and how inculcated the social construct of race is within society.
After this past Super Tuesday’s results, the two most likely candidates for President is a woman who has successfully pandered her gender as the nation’s best supporter for black lives while being directly associated with the greatest uptick in history of black lives being sent to prison, along with falling below the line of poverty, while the other is a blatant liar about his knowledge of a particular Grand Wizard and his willful balking in support for candidacy who considers it a badge of pride and proof as to why he is the perfect candidate because of his racist, misogynistic ‘frank talk.’
I note the number of Americans who flock to these two candidates and appear to have no sense of history or care for facts as a trickling-down affect of doing what we want. I try my best to have hope, vacillating between my personal need to stay mentally positive and attempt to lead in a direction of the varieties of goodness, love and beauty for all of us to pursue and live, while at the same time observing the level of either systemic ignorance or stupidity in place to cause apathy and complacency for a government that has little history of truly giving a shit about the well-being of its citizenry much less that it cares about anyone or thing that it can’t make a profit from.
There are no Presidential front-runners in place who have any ability, let alone genuine desire despite successful pandering, to make the necessary changes needed for this social retardation to subside. Yet, I stay hopeful for an awakening moment within each of us that seeks out the truest sense of Love, and it is on this last point that I struggle daily as to whether we will ever truly begin to bend toward justice as a nation and people when considering how stacked the system in place is against us. But I will continue to attempt to fight what I believe to be the good fight and hope for the best, because it’s the only way I am certain any common good has ever come.
I want to believe that we can still make the necessary changes needed to right this sinking ship. I know that there is a large population of people in this country and around the globe who truly care about issues of racism, as well as sexism, perpetual war, corporate hegemony and environmental destruction who are trying their best to, if not completely end, limit its existence to a point where it bears little negative affect. I also know that the government, select corporations, and the 4th estate go about undermining this desire on a daily basis while pursuing every opportunity to make profit off of these issues however possible. And I know, or at least certainly believe that none of this is going to change so long as the status quo is in place; a necessary revolution being our only potential saving grace on a scale of which will, once again, force us to pick a side and thus try our soul as individual, society, and most importantly, humanity.