America’s Underwear is Dirty

It is probably safe to say that all of us were told by our mothers when we were little that we should always make sure our underwear was clean. They said the reason was that we never know when or if we might be in an accident. “You don’t want anybody to see that you’ve got on dirty underwear,” my mother would say.

America, it seems, has never changed her underwear.

The entire debacle of ICE agents ripping children from the arms of their mothers, and of putting children in detention centers while concurrently sending their parents to jail is not a new thing. More accurately, America’s power elite have a history of separating children from their families.

When Africans were brought to this country, it was common for those purchasing Africans would buy a mother or father, leaving screaming and terrified children behind. In many cases, those parents never saw their children again.

It is America’s underwear.

What allows anyone to separate families, ignoring the screams of mothers and their children, is the presence of cognitive dissonance, defined as “holding onto contradictory ideas simultaneously,” according to Joy DeGruy, author of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.”

            In America, she says, people hold onto the idea of freedom while doing something which is totally in opposition to that ideal. Thus, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who would staunchly defend his belief in democracy and Christianity could and did defend the policy of separating families of people coming to America from Central America.

Mr. Sessions does not, cannot and will not allow himself to…consider that these people are human beings, parents who love their children and who would not even think of leaving a despotic political situation and leave their children behind.

He does not relate to the immigrants as human beings. He has disassociated himself from them and therefore cannot feel their pain and worse, cannot believe that they are capable of feeling the same pain as does he and others whose humanity he respects.

Heather Anderson Williams writes in “Compartmentalizing Slavery” that “most white slaveowners …would have only a limited sense of what enslaved people felt and they did not pause the morality of an institution that deprived humans of their liberty and wantonly destroyed their families.” (http://www.slate.com/articles/life/the_history_of_american_slavery/2015/06/how_white_people_justified_and_struggled_with_separating_slave_families.html)

Likewise, there was no sense of how Native Americans felt when the Europeans came to America, bringing with them diseases to which Native Americans had never been exposed which resulted in over 90 percent of the Native American population at that time dying off. Nor did they consider what Native Americans felt when their land was taken, or how they felt when Europeans ignored their humanity in the quest for power and control of this country.

Martin Luther King said that there is a phenomenon called “thingification.”  In an address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1967, he said, “A nation that will keep people in slavery for 244 years will thingify them – make them things. Therefore they will exploit them …”

That “thingification” has contributed to the oppression of blacks in this country for 300 years, for the decimation and genocide of Native Americans, for the oppression of women, members of the LGBTQ community,  for Muslims, and now, for the horrific treatment the current administration is meting out to immigrants coming to America seeking asylum.

Those ripping children from their parents have made these people “things” in the classic sense. Though they hear the children screaming for their parents, and the parents screaming back to their children, reaching for them, they have distanced themselves from the human tragedy in which they are engaged. Like the Europeans decimating the Native Americans, and like white people thinking only of ways to use black people to further their economic goals, these people today cannot conceive that the parents and children’s screams they are hearing are genuine.

They have dissociated. These people are not true human beings, capable of feeling as do the law enforcement officers and government working against them.

America’s underwear is dirty. She has never changed that part of her presence which was sullied and soiled from the moment the Europeans landed on these shores.

Sometimes, something is so dirty that it cannot be totally cleaned. There is a gray film over it and no amount of washing or bleaching fixes the problem.

This desire to protect whiteness, which is at the base of most of the oppression in this country, has sullied America’s underwear for hundreds of years. Attacking a group of people, ruining their families and causing a lifetime of hurt and pain, is part of what has stained the ideal of American democracy. It is a stain that was begun from the moment Europeans arrived here, and it continues to spread.

Were America taken to an emergency room, sick and in serious condition, it is a sure thing that those trying to treat her would see her dirty underwear, clearly never changed …and be appalled, judgmental and perhaps unconcerned. America’s poverty of humanity caused by her consistent “thingification” of people is leading her to a bad place, where her myth of being “the greatest nation in the world” will no longer stand up to scrutiny. Her dirty underwear will finally be completely exposed.

A candid observation …

 

 

 

Goosebumps

It gives me goosebumps, all this attention being given to what’s happening in Russia.

Yes, I am concerned about the people who are and who have been affected by violence or the threat of violence. It has always struck me as odd that people who believe in God are so eager to get into war with others, killing innocent people.

But what gives me goosebumps is that America, which has so many examples of treating people fairly or just, is so indignant at the possibility that another country might be doing the same.

America’s violence against its citizens isn’t as dramatic as what we have seen in Egypt and Syria and others, meaning, there are no tanks rolling through cities, running over and gunning down innocent people.

But metaphorically, America has “run over” and “gunned down” innocent people throughout her history. Beginning with how America decimated Native Americans in this, THEIR country, moving on to black people, the interring the Japanese …Americans have violated the human rights of large numbers of her own citizens.

I recently heard a report on National Public Radio (NPR) of a car load of Muslim-Americans who were detained and harassed by American border guards. Apparently that goes on quite a lot.

There is the reality of people being incarcerated for 20 years for non-violent, primarily drug offenses. America incarcerates more people than any other modern nation in the world…Michelle Alexander says in her book, The New Jim Crow, that America “has not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” Incarceration is a form of racialized control which will only get worse because of the emerging and growing Prison Industrial Complex, created to bring huge profits to those who run it.

There are children who are dying of preventable disease because of their lack of accessibility to health care, and too few people seem to care. There is a feeling of disgruntlement amongst some law makers as government attempts to help those who are struggling; they see that as government helping the lazy remain lazy, even as the powers that be outsource jobs that many of these people used to have access to. Former Vice-President Dick Cheney said last week that President Obama would “rather give food stamps than build a strong military.” (http://www.politico.com/story/2014/02/dick-cheney-pentagon-budget-food-stamps-103906.html).

What are unemployed people supposed to do to survive? And why don’t so many lawmakers seem to care? Why don’t the lawmakers who were instrumental in outsourcing jobs to which many Americans formerly had access…care? If they don’t get help from the government, if they don’t have money or time to go back to school to get the skills they need to get the high-tech jobs that ARE available here…what are they supposed to do to survive? How is the cold-heartedness of our lawmakers any different from what rulers of other nations are doing?

I get goosebumps because America has a human rights violation problem …but will not own up to it or fix it. I get goosebumps because America has ALWAYS had a human rights problem…but has ignored that problem while she has gone traipsing all over the world to help other people who are suffering. That help would be noble if America would just hear the cries of her own people.

Perhaps I am too cynical but I feel like if America is helping people in other countries, it’s not because she cares about the suffering of the people, but it’s because there’s some economic gain in it for America.

Can a world power remain in power acting that way? Don’t world powers who disintegrate into money and power grabbing entities eventually self-destruct? When nations, world powers, don’t care about the masses, doesn’t that eventually mean their power is curtailed or forever altered?

It doesn’t seem to me that a nation can be concerned about everyone else but which ignores its own suffering can survive, ultimately. Eventually, the oppressed rise up and fight back. Isn’t that what we’re seeing in other countries?

I get goosebumps. Can’t write much more about it right now…but I get goosebumps.

It’s a troubling candid observation …