Wanting America Back

I was in a high-end restaurant, waiting to have a meeting with a friend, and arrived before he did. I was led to our table, which had already been reserved.

Our table was next to one at which four white women were already sitting. They were older, looking to be in their late 70s and/or early 80s. It felt like they were engaging in a “girl’s day out” kind of time. They were laughing and sharing, talking about their husbands, their children and grandchildren, their charity work, and their professions, from which they had all retired.

I couldn’t help but hear everything they were talking about, and found myself chuckling from time to time at some of the things they shared. Privacy was not an option or a concern for them.

So, when they started talking about politics and the current slate of GOP candidates, the fact that they were sharing their views for all to hear was not surprising. They were Republicans, committed Republicans, that was for certain, because they said so, out loud.
The GOP candidates were interesting, they said. Carly “what’s her name? Is she still in the race?” Fiorina didn’t impress any of them, nor did Jeb Bush. They never mentioned Ben Carson, and kind of skated through their opinions of the candidates who have now left the race, including Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Rand Paul.

But then they got to the meat of their discussion: the top three candidates, according to the polls, plus Chris Christie. Trump, they said, was OK. Rubio was not; he was in favor of “bringing all those immigrants, or letting all those immigrants” come into or stay in this country. “Oh no, no immigrants,” said three of the women in response to the now-emerged spokeswoman for the group. One woman weakly tried to say that the immigrants who have been working here should be allowed to become citizens, but she was shut down.

Chris Christie should not be president, said the “louder-than-the-rest” woman because “he hugged Obama. That did it for me. He hugged Obama after Hurricane Sandy.” She said it in such a way which indicated she wanted everyone to know that yes, she said it, and yes, she absolutely meant it.

Obama, she said, was evil. Someone mentioned that Obama had visited a mosque, and had reported that Muslims were “good people.”

“Of course,” the ringleader said, “he would say that because he is a Muslim. Everyone knows that. He doesn’t go to church. He…is…a…Muslim.”

There was a pregnant pause while everyone pondered her pronouncement of “truth.,” but then the women got back to the other GOP candidates. With Trump being a little too over the top, and Rubio being in favor of keeping immigrants here and letting more come in, the only viable candidate, said the ringleader, with the other three women nodding their heads in agreement, was Ted Cruz.

“He is honest and loving and believes in the Constitution,” said Ringleader. “He is our only hope.” And then she said, quietly, “We have lost our beloved America. Our children’s children will never know the America we knew.”

Ah, the “give us our country back” sentiment took center stage. If Cruz could help bring sexism and racism back, and put all of the “isms” back in their places on the shelves of  American values, then he would have to be elected president. If Cruz could get rid of Obamacare with no thought of how millions who now have health care would feel or survive, then he would have to be elected president. If Cruz could make it so that police could have free reign with arresting and brutalizing people, then he would have to be president. If Cruz could get the military up and running like a good American military should run, and “bomb the hell out of ISIS,” as Donald Trump has said, then Cruz would have to be elected president.

I sat there, not surprised at what I was hearing, but a tad irritated that they talked so loudly so that everyone would have to hear their political discourses. They were bemoaning the threat they and many white Americans feel from forces larger than them and their remembrance of an America where bigotry and privilege went unchallenged. They were bemoaning the fact that being “politically correct” means respecting people of different religions (Islam) and colors and nationalities. They were tired of it. They wanted the voices of white people to be heard again, loudly and clearly, putting everyone and everything that wasn’t white in their proper places.

To heck with this being the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” They were not interested in living into that pronouncement and they sure were not interested in nurturing the American value called pluralism.

I heard that in their discourse. I don’t think I was wrong. I wish I were…

A candid observation…

Obama and the Issue of Race

I cringe every time I hear someone say that “racism is worse” or that “the country is more divided than ever”  since Obama became president.
I cringe because it is not true. What is true is that Obama’s election brought the dormant racists out of hiding.
It seems that many white people think that racism is “gone” or is “ok” as long as we do not talk about it or deal with it. It is OK for there to be substandard living conditions for black people. It is OK for there to be excessive police violence wielded against black people. It is OK for the infant mortality rate among black people to be higher than any other ethnic group…It is OK.
America treats its big secret, its growing, metastasizing tumor, like anyone treats a secret. America, white America primarily but some blacks too, believe that talking about “it” is the big problem, not the “it” itself. Racism is like America’s ghetto, or like any poverty-ridden neighborhood in the midst of a posh vacation resort. If you cannot see it, you don’t have to talk about it or deal with it. It simply does not exist.
When Obama was elected, people said we were a “post racial” society. That was a foolhardy sentiment from the beginning. Just because some white people voted for a black man was not an indication that racial hatred and bigotry were gone. His being elected was supposed to be enough, evidence that racism was gone. He had to distance himself from his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, in order to prove that he was the president of all people. People were glad. Our dirty little secret was no more.
Except that it was. The reality of the secret, our deep-seeded racism, was there, agitated from hibernation because this black man was in the White House. How dare this happen in this land which was programmed, via the United States Constitution, to be a white man’s country? Some white people were glad and hopeful, but many were not. They were angry and insulted. There was a group of lawmakers who met the day of Obama’s first inauguration to strategize on how to make him a ‘one term president.” (http://www.boston.com/news/politics/gallery/073009_beer_summit_obama/). He might have gotten into office, but by God, they were going to make him suffer for it and if they had their way, they were going to make him so miserable that he would not even want to run for a second term. They would fight him and challenge him on every turn.
Post-racist, indeed.
Obama was dared, almost, to say anything about racism. When Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman, and Obama stated a truth, that “if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon,” the “resenters” got busy, claiming his words were dividing the country. The fact that Zimmerman apparently profiled Martin, followed him in spite of being told not to, and then killed him didn’t matter. Obama had better not say anything that indicated that this tragedy happened largely because Zimmerman believed a black child was out of place.
When Harvard Professor Skip Gates was arrested at his own home by police and Obama made mention that the incident was …just wrong…he was again jumped on and accused of dividing the country. The president ended up calling for a “beer summit” where he, Gates and the officer sat down together and “talked.” It seemed like Obama was trying hard to show people who had no intention of accepting anything he said or did …that he was a regular guy …and had no animus against white people or police officers, no matter how wrong their actions might have been. (http://www.boston.com/news/politics/gallery/073009_beer_summit_obama/)
It seems that the only way some white people can survive within this racist system is to act like it doesn’t exist, to ignore it and not speak about it. Obama ended up backing away from most things racial …because he knew he would be skewered for it. In the meantime, too many white people, angry that he was in the White House as the President and not as the butler, angry that their attempts to destroy him politically had failed, seethed. They began to talk more about their resentment; they insulted and degraded Obama at every turn. Obama didn’t make them racist; this system did. The president could not change their hearts, though, hearts and spirits that had been nurtured for decades by a system which revered and protected white supremacy.
When Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump say that the country is more divided (racially) than ever, it makes one wonder what they would do? None of the current GOP candidates, save one, have said anything about the injustice of the Tamir Rice case. None of the candidates are admitting that our justice system is seriously racist and has been for a long time. Nobody is jumping on Donald Trump for his outrageous racism and racist comments. America’s racism is front and center in the GOP candidates, and, frankly, it is sickening.
This country is divided not because of Obama. This country is a mess racially because this country has avoided the issue of its rabid racism for generations. This country is divided because it has created and implemented policies and procedures which are at their root devised to protect the control white people have had over black people since black people were brought here from Africa. This country is divided because our very Constitution, and our country’s institutions, indicated that black people were not human, and were not ever to be considered “equal” to white people. Staying quiet about “the secret” does not make the secret any less abhorrent, powerful or damaging.
The divide which is ours …will remain. There are too few people who are willing to look this Leviathan in the face and do the work needed to destroy it. Perhaps Obama was willing to try doing that, but his enemies would never have allowed it.
Our core is rotten because of our racism, and the core was planted long before Barack Hussein Obama was even thought about.

A candid observation …

Black Lives Don’t Matter to GOP

I watched the much-touted GOP presidential debate last evening with bated breath. Would these candidates indicate that they knew about and cared about the war around the value of black lives that is tearing this nation apart? Would they indicate that they care about African-Americans who are literally fighting for dignity and fairness in this land?

They did not. Not one question about the Black Lives Matter movement was asked; not one candidate admitted that what is going on in America is a serious problem.

Kim Davis and her quest for religious freedom was mentioned, and passionately so. Planned Parenthood was mentioned, with everyone seeming absolutely horrified that, according to a video that has surfaced, body parts of fetuses have been sold by Planned Parenthood. Of course, there was much discussion about the hated Iran deal, about what Russia is doing, about the nation’s security in general. That was expected and necessary.

But there was not a word, not a mention about the crisis going on in the streets of America, with innocent and unarmed black people being arrested, harassed, shot, injured, jailed and killed, by police officers. Not a word.

White America (and Dr. Carson) seems not to care about what is going on. White America is caught in its insistence that whatever happens to black people at the hands of police officers is warranted – that, in spite of plenty of videos to date that have indicated otherwise.

How come Rev. Mike Huckabee can be so concerned about what he calls “judicial tyranny” and not care about the domestic tyranny called police brutality? How can he, a Christian minister, ignore the fact that young black people are being treated like chattel, still, suffering at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them? Why is the plight of one Kim Davis more heart-wrenching to him than is the plight of all these African-Americans who are being profiled and attacked by police …with little chance that the offending officers will be held to accountability for their actions?

Dr. Martin Luther King wrote that “the universe is so structured that things do not quite work out rightly if men are not diligent in their concern for others.” (“The Ethical Demands for Integration”) In 1962, he wrote that “it is sad that the moral dimension of integration has not been sounded by the leaders of government and the nation.” White people are adamant about there being “law and order,” and will insist, most of the time, that “the law” be obeyed. In the case of black lives, that means being quiet and acquiescing to the commands of police officers, be they in the right or not. Dr King wrote, in that same essay, “they sounded the note that has become the verse, chorus and refrain of the so-called calm and reasonable moderates: we must obey the law!  He said that the issue of national morality was before the leaders of that time. That same issue of national morality is before us now, but the GOP candidates are ignoring it.

Dr. King further wrote, in “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” that “oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The urge for freedom will eventually come.” That urge is upon us now, GOP candidates. Whether you like the movement and action of the Black Lives Matter activists or not, the move is on to end the oppression which is and has always been wrought by the “justice system” in this land.  Dr. King wrote in that same letter, “The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations. He has to get them out.”  That is what you are seeing, yet ignoring. The souls that are marching in the streets and lying down on highways are souls that are sick and tired of the anguish they carry around daily. They are tired of believing that there will be justice when law enforcement acts in criminal ways. Dr. King wrote that it is “immoral to urge an individual to withdraw his efforts to gain basic constitutional rights because the quest precipitates violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.”

Whomever becomes president of the United States will need to look squarely in the face of Justice and know that she will require the soul of America to answer for its injustice to so many of her citizens. Just as society dared, really, President Obama to speak up too much for the case and causes of black people,  the Black Lives Matter movement will dare the new president ti ignore the cries of people who are tired of justice …being unjust.

It was insulting, last evening, to hear those candidates completely ignore the cries of people who are alive and fighting for freedom while they spoke for the lives of babies not yet born.

They showed that black lives don’t matter to the GOP.

A candid observation …