When People See

Only when people think a problem is THEIR problem do they mobilize … and work.
Activist Chip Berlet said that people have to SEE trouble before they act on trouble. When people SAW, for example, women and children being attacked by police dogs and hosed down with fire hoses like they were pieces of burning wood, they acted – or reacted. From President Kennedy on down, people reacted. What they SAW horrified them.
When people SAW residents of New Orleans stranded on rooftops, standing in the heat on the Danzinger Bridge and outside of the Convention Center; when they SAW pictures of old people, sitting dead in wheelchairs after that horrific storm …they reacted.
We like to think that we are nice people; we like to think that we care about things. Thing is, our “niceness” usually needs a bump to get it activated and we usually care most when a situation touches and affects us directly.
Heroin addiction is on the rise; it apparently is no longer a “ghetto drug” but has made its way to people who are affluent. Now, THEIR children are overdosing; now THEIR families are being affected. Now they can SEE how devastating the drug is (and always has been) and because THEIR children and family members are falling because of it, they can also see that it’s not BAD people who become addicted.
Because THEIR children, THEIR family members, are not bad.
Right now, there is a pandemic of black and brown and poor people going to prison. Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, has told the story well, and in such a way that nobody can escape its power. At an event at which she recently spoke, she said something profound; she said, “All of us are sinners, and all of us are criminals.”
When the Prison Industrial Complex begins to really affect children other than black, brown and poor children, that statement will have new buoyancy.
But right now, what’s far too isolated, far too removed from THEM …is this whole issue of extrajudicial murders. Black children, black men and young boys, are being murdered. Some of the murdered’s organs are being removed. It is not a small problem; it is large and it is growing. And yet, there is silence…
THEY are not connected; THEY have not seen the horror for themselves. Who is “THEY?” Anyone who needs to see a problem but who does nothing. “THEY” are white and black and brown. “THEY” like to keep their heads in the sand and pursue their own material success and THEY do it well …until THEY see what’s going on because it affects THEM.
These kids and young people being murdered is a problem, an American, not a black problem, and it is spreading like a thick, black ink across our nation, city by city. Mothers and fathers and relatives are wailing, unable to get justice for their slain loved ones, because it has not touched THEM.
But it will. Spreading ink doesn’t make choices on who it stains; it stains anyone in its way …and the truth of the matter is that all of us are in its way. Some of us are just closer.
Trust and believe, the ink moves toward us all. The slain children and young people …are calling out to us all to SEE what’s going on …before it touches US.
A candid observation …

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3 thoughts on “When People See

  1. It’s definitely very easy and common for all of us to hear about something and think, that’s horrible, but continue to live our lives. I would say it not only takes visuals of the injustices that occur and for it to effect your own life, but a sense of duty to right the social injustices of this country. Unfortunately, for those who these injustices don’t effect personally, many just don’t have that internal sense of duty that they need to do something about it. I think the common thought is, someone else will fight for it. But how many of us have thought that and as a result nothing gets done? Probably more than a few.

    1. You are right. Most of us sit and wait …We want someone else to do the work, or we want to make believe that what’s going on just will never touch us. Don’t know why so many of us don’t have that “internal sense of duty.” It makes it possible for evil and injustice to flourish.
      Thank you for reading and commenting!

  2. When the perceived perpetrators of drug crimes were African American legislation was quickly enacted to make sure they were all locked up. Now that the epidemic is touching THEM they want to make sure treatment is available. They want to save their children. Not send them off to prison which was fine for black boys.

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