“Do you know how lucky you are to have been born on this patch of land we call America,” I often asked my high school students 20 years ago. Many of them looked at me shell-shocked.
It’s just the way it is, they probably thought.
Last month, I was distraught about itchy little bumps that appeared all over my body overnight, for three solid weeks. Or gee, how terrible that we can’t go hiking because it’s pouring rain.
First world problems, yes. Privileged American concerns, yes.
It’s just the way it is should never be the answer to violence run amuck in America. Even if I’m preaching to the choir, I can’t stay silent. So what can any of us do about this sickness, this runaway racism and hatred, including mean-spirited rants by a presumptive presidential nominee?
In my humble view, the deterioration of the so-called American dream isn’t surprising, with around 1 percent of the U.S. population possessing resources equal to around 90 percent of the population. Of course people are angry. Also, many Americans been terrified since 9/11.
The sad part is that exploiting the anger of millions of Americans has become a scapegoat for some of the wealthiest among us, a way to maintain their status.
Yeah, those poor schlumps, those 47 percent, won’t take their frustrations out on us rich folks if we divert their attention to “the other,” or the government that’s out to take their guns…(Didn’t he-who-shall-not-be-named say he liked the uneducated?)
So what can we do about this epidemic of racism, this overwhelming inequality, heightened by fear, increasing the preponderance of guns?
Racism has been a long time comin’ (or never leaving), and it will be a long time [till it’s] gone.
Finally, after the horrendous attack on Dallas police, Trump came out with a staff-written statement citing over-the-top divisiveness (at least he took a day off from spewing hate).
Sure, I’m preaching to the choir, but in the short run:
Vote all the NRA-owned, do-nothing robots — covering their own asses — out of office in November.
Democrats, consider U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) as your vice presidential nominee. He knows how to get shit done and he’s not afraid of anyone.
In the long run:
Teach your children well. Read “Teammates” to the very youngest ( ages 4-8+). I’ve never forgotten this story of the friendship between Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson. It shows kids that you must speak out, to the extent that you can, whenever possible.
There’s no way for white Americans to know the sickening fear that black parents feel for their children, especially their sons. I can’t imagine what that’s like. One of the best books I read all year opened my eyes: “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Read/discuss “The Warmth of Other Suns. The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson for an understanding of what various black Americans have experienced since slavery (no group is homogeneous).
I turned 70 last month. Perhaps I have a little wisdom as an elder, a mother, a former teacher, bookstore owner, and journalist. I believe in the decency of most people.
Ultimately, aren’t we all on the same team?