Monday, January 16, 2017

Moving Forward

A wise man once said:
If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, whatever you do keep moving forward.
This is my single favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quote. He said a great many inspiring and grand things in his time, but this strikes a chord within me. I wear the mantle, proudly, of "Progressive," because it's root is "progress" and that is what Mankind has done throughout its existence: moved forward.

The journey forward is not always easy. Dr. King could certainly attest to that. The journey forward is not always swift. President Barack Obama can attest to that. The journey forward is not always safe. Representative John Lewis can attest to that. Some never get very far in the journey forward. Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and many others can attest to that.

In my heart, I know progress is a slow, painstaking, agonizing road. Most of us who hew to the wisdom of it know we will not see the fruition of the actions we take to bring it about. Every Progressive is heir to Sisyphus, pushing the stone that is the burden of shoving a mewling, kicking, screaming humanity forward, only to occasionally see it roll back.

We stand in that moment now, aware that the stone we have struggled to roll forward stands to kick back toward us. Like Sisyphus, we could see this as a part of our punishment for hubris, and we should, for while we have pushed the stone, some among us have made it harder to move. There are those who will not push, because the stone is not what they want it to be. There are others who see pushing the stone as a waste of time, and look fruitlessly for another stone that will be easier to move. To be true Progressives, we must all push the stone together, and take what little movement it makes as progress nonetheless.

The struggle to move forward is never-ending. There is no stopping for breath, as many are wont to do, when a milestone is reached. For whatever progress we have made up to that point, there is much further still to go. We should never be satisfied, we should never be proud, of where the stone lies; we should always be asking ourselves: Where must the stone go now?

At this moment, the stone is inching backward, threatening to gain momentum and crush us beneath its weight, because we took our eyes off the ultimate goal: freedom and justice for all. All the gains we have made can be erased in an eye-blink of human history if we do not set our feet, place our hands on the stone, and keep pushing. Some may use their Herculean strength, some their full might, some a mere hand, others maybe only a breath, but the sum of all our force is necessary to keep the stone moving forward. No effort can be counted as too small, save no effort at all.

What happens in the coming weeks may well determine the fate of a nation. If it is to be so determined, then let each of us, to whatever level we can, to whatever amount of force we can muster, push this great nation forward against whatever tide opposes its progress. A flake of snow has little weight, but a mass of such can form a mighty avalanche. Let us be that avalanche. Let us be that force. Let us continue to move forward.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Straining At Invisible Chains

There is no Emancipation Proclamation for bigotry.

There is no Civil Rights Act for hatred.

There is no Civil War for racism.

No matter the extent of actions taken to drive out slavery and tamp down the racism behind it, it will not die. It may be strangled, it may be driven under rocks, it may be forced from the light of day, but it rests below the surface, sits quiescent in dark corners, and it waits.

The Black portion of America is straining at invisible chains. Ephemeral, insubstantial, but as strong as the strongest irons that ever held their ancestors in the bottom of ships bound from Africa. Chains forged in racial supremacy, scientific impurity, and patriarchal psychology, by a White race that has done its level best to make every effort to prove its inherent superiority while simultaneously proving Black inferiority. No amount of blood on the battlefield nor ink on paper has rid America of the scourge of systemic, endemic racism.

We can proclaim progress, we can point to a Black President and a museum dedicated to the African-American experience, we can point to all the walks of life where Blacks can now be regularly found, and still there are the invisible chains. No Black person may be made to dance on the auction block, but they are still for sale in the marketplace of ideas, and the idea that they are a threat, that they are lazy, that they are expendable, are all bought and sold in blood and rhetoric.

Police still routinely shoot Black people who pose little threat to them, claiming "imminent danger." GOP Congressmen regularly denigrate Blacks as dependent on government, and a GOP Presidential nominee has lumped all Blacks into the category of having little or nothing to show for their efforts.

We can see, in the clear air of the 21st Century, the biases that wove the bonds of slavery, that built the self-reinforcing system that perpetuated the idea of racial superiority. We can see the tricks and obfuscations and tyranny used to continue to hold the Black race in thrall to the White race. Even with all the steps taken by so many, Black and White, to scour clean the stain of slavery and bigotry from the nation, like Lady Macbeth, we curse that apparent inability to blot it away. It seeps out from the pores of a nation that has defective cells in its marrow that perpetuate this cancer.

Where will the day come that a Keith Scott, or a Sandra Bland, or a Tamir Rice, or a Mike Brown, or an Emmett Till, might walk down the street and not be the subject of the depredations of police? When will legislators understand that affirmative action is the redress for a system that was designed to prevent Black inclusion in colleges and universities? When will the Voting Rights Act no longer be necessary?

Right now, our nation seethes, as one man has brought into the daylight the bigotry and racism most decent Americans have tried to hold down for decades. Donald Trump's atonal ignorance on matters of Blackness is only superseded by his willingness to overlook the overt racism of many of his followers. He cannot see the chains that still bind Blacks to centuries of scorn and sabotage and slavery through White supremacist attitudes. It easier to claim on one hand that no one has helped them, and on the other that they need to help themselves, and that somehow, he alone, can be their emancipator, though his history is strewn with his own racist tendencies.

Now, in our nation, we finally have a chance to deal a severe blow to racism. We can take the Republican response to a Black President, the odious and fatuous bigot that is Donald Trump, and thrash him at the polls. Every decent American has a chance, through their ballot, to proclaim what we know in our hearts: there is no room for racism anymore. We can repudiate Trump and the minions who follow him, and deal them a death blow of seismic proportions. We can ring the bell of freedom for all Americans loudly and fully, by showing our Black brothers and sisters that we will no longer tolerate their being bound to the past. We can, once and for all, take up the hammer of justice and break those invisible chains.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

False Flag

There is an insidious false flag operation going on in our nation.

There are people and organizations who are trying to convince you that having more guns solves the problem of gun violence.

Don't believe them.

They perpetuate the falsehood that having a gun keeps you safe. They cite how many gun owners are not the victims of crimes, failing to mention most are never involved in the perpetration of crimes.

They perpetuate the falsehood that having a gun in your home keeps you safe, failing to mention the continual rise in the number of people murdered with a gun kept in their home and the number of times the trigger is pulled by children finding unsecured weapons.

They perpetuate the falsehood that the duly-elected government cannot be trusted with information about gun ownership because it will come for their weapons, when nothing of the sort has ever happened.

They perpetuate the falsehood that "good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns," even though in many States with open carry and concealed carry, no one with a gun ever seems to step up to stop the commission of a crime before it occurs.

They perpetuate the falsehood that those who are routinely shot by others were malcontents who had it coming, especially where those people are people of color or "foreigners."

They perpetuate the falsehood that they need to be able to protect themselves from the government, even though they have filled the government with hand-picked shills who knock down every piece of legislation designed to regulate guns or gun ownership.

They perpetuate the falsehood that the Second Amendment is inviolate, even though the framers of the Constitution made sure any Amendment could be amended as time passed and society changed, and nowhere does it say anything outlined in the Constitution cannot be regulated.

They perpetuate the falsehood that guns solve the problem of crime, when they clearly only exacerbate the level of death any individual can mete out in blind fury against real or imagined slights.

They perpetuate the falsehood that only the mentally ill and the criminal use guns for ill purposes, when many who have perpetrated crimes of mass killing have not been mentally ill or criminal, and were easily able to obtain weapons to carry out their plans.

There is a well-known public facing organization that is mouthpiece for much of this, which constantly blows the horn of warning to the paranoid, delusional, and bigoted, warning them that decent Americans are their enemy, that anyone who wants to see guns properly controlled and registered is unworthy of respect. They will work to ensure that not a single step is taken to rein in the proliferation of weapons of mass death, wrapping their cause in the flag and the Constitution, both things they have desecrated with their petulant rancor and obstinacy.

Behind it all, are those who manufacture these horrid weapons, and their only motivation is greed. Bathed in the money that comes from stoking the cycle of violence, they work only to ensure the safety of their ill-gotten gains, and not the people of the nation. They know that every massacre will simply flood their coffers with more blood-soaked dollars, as the paranoia they have sown causes people to buy more guns and work harder to stem their regulation, in the name of "safety."

When anyone tells you there is a conspiracy revolving around guns, tell them you know, and tell them that the sooner gun manufacturers and their mouthpieces are dismantled, the sooner the conspiracy will end.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Importance Of The Day

It would be easy to quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today.

It would be easy to tie his actions and words to actions and words today.

It would be easy to say what he would and would not have approved of.

That's really not what today should be about.

What this holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, should be about is what we are going to do to make America a better nation.

There is no standard here. This is no living up to a legacy. There is no anointing a cause. There are the actions and words of a man who fought to bring a measure of equality and dignity to others of his race by challenging the system of privilege and prejudice that even The Civil War could not erase. His words, if they can be considered to have effect, are not things to be etched on glass or stone; they are missives to be taken into the heart and mind, to push the body forward to action when it sees injustice.

It would be easy to debate what the man would think of what we see today, but we cannot know. The assassin who struck him down deprived us of that opinion. To infer from what we know, is to claim a knowledge of the inner workings of the mind that is impossible to countenance. He has left us and his thoughts are free to fall where they may.

It isn't important to attempt to wind Dr. King around the events of today, only to see his influence in allowing them to happen. If "Black Lives Matter" has risen from the pain and suffering that was the death of Trayvon Martin and so many others like him, it is more important that that movement find its own voice and fly by its own power than be yoked to Dr. King. The man laid down the path, much as Jesus did, and asked us to walk it with him and to keep walking it after he was gone. That is what the day is about.

Demonstrate. Help. Donate. Read. Pray. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Lift up the downtrodden. Demand justice. Lift your voice. Stand up. Do whatever you can, but do it. Honor Dr. King, not by reliving his life, but by living it in your own way.

He was the way. He was the light. Take up the lamp. Walk the path. He will walk with you.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Two Seconds

In two seconds, a photon of light travels over 372,000 miles.

In two seconds, a heart at its resting rate will have beat 2-3 times.

In two seconds, the worlds fastest computer performs 67,720 trillion calculations.

In two seconds, an innocent Black boy died.

His name was Tamir Rice. He was all of twelve-years-old. He lived in Cleveland and was out playing in a park with his sister and friends on a cool November day in 2014, carrying around a fake pistol, in the way most kids do. Or did.

Growing up, I can remember boys playing "War" or "Cops and Robbers" or "Cowboys and Indians" - back before we knew better - running around yards, and parks, and neighborhoods, brandishing toy pistols or rifles, or even long tree branches, playing with reckless abandon.

Tamir was no doubt doing something similar. He was young, he was having fun... and then he was dead.

Someone called 9-1-1. They reported someone running around with a gun. They made offhand remarks that it might be a fake gun. That it might be a kid. So weak were these remarks, the police dispatcher saw no need to mention them in the radio call to officers.

What happened next is on video for all the world to see. You can look it up yourself, measure the time from the moment police arrived at the park to the time of Tamir's death.

Two seconds.

Many things happen quickly in the span of two seconds, if you're a ray of light, or a computer, or even a heart. What shouldn't happen in the span of two seconds is the death of an innocent child at the hands of a person sworn to protect him and all the all other citizens of Cleveland. Two seconds is not enough time to size up a situation. Two seconds is not enough time to make the crucial decision about what action to take. Two seconds is not enough time to prepare for what may come.

It is enough time to kill an innocent boy if you have it in your mind to do it.

The officer rolled up on the scene, threw open his door, and fired, all in a span of two seconds. No thought, no analysis, no attempt to warn the subject of his machinations to drop the weapon. Car, door, shots, death.

The only way it took so little time for these actions to be accomplished was if there had been forethought about them. The officer took the report of a person possibly brandishing a weapon - from which no shots had been fired - and used that as the fuel to play "hero" in his head. He would stop this shooter before anyone could be harmed. He would save lives.

Instead, he took one.




Tamir's sister was there. Distraught over his death, the police manhandled her rather than trying to identify why she was distressed. They did not perform even rudimentary first aid on Tamir. If there had been a chance to save him, they did not take it. There he lay, and died.

And now, as if the insult and injury of the senseless murder of a child was not enough, the officers involved will face no charges. Not even for their reckless behavior or failure to render aid. No charges. Because a system, built of interlocking parts that cover each others' backs, will not condemn its own. The police, the District Attorneys, the Judges, they are woven together into a system that grants White people absolution for their crimes and anyone else "justice" in the form of a callous disregard for their life.

A White man shoots up a movie theater, or a Planned Parenthood clinic, or a Black Baptist church, and they walk away, weapons surrendered, shackled, off to meet a justice system that is more than willing to play host to the idea they simply "weren't in their right mind." That same system takes a Black boy with a toy gun, a grown man with an unpurchased rifle in a store, a man trying to bring peace to his neighborhood, a woman pulled over for not signaling, and condemns them to quick or slow death, but death all the same.

If Black people are angry, if they are upset, if they rage at the system, it is because they are allowed. They watch daily as their kind are subject to the depredations of "justice," which so often result in the death of innocents and a lack of contrition by, or accountability for, those who dole out senseless death.

There is no reforming this system. It is diseased, so shot through with privilege and hypocrisy as to be worthless to any but the richest, Whitest citizens. It is a system built on the backs of slaves, powered by tax money of the poor and middle class, and twisted by those with power and wealth to suit their ends. It is filled with people who crave power, who see victory in court as a check-mark in the "win" column, and a handful of believers in true justice overwhelmed by a caseload they cannot keep up with, leading them to short-change defendants by encouraging them to plead guilty to crimes they did not commit, in the name of expediency.

When a system exists that allows the murder of a twelve-year-old boy in a park by law enforcement to go unchallenged, it is time for that system to be torn down.