I understand why some Americans feel they must leave their country. The never-ending dark headlines and the persisting injustice make it easy to want out of here. Some are afraid for their lives, as it’s clear that freedom is this double-edged sword here, where some have the right to hate and hold prejudice against those who look different than them. Some are so defeated and angry at the barrage of not-guilty verdicts that continue to say in the fine print that black lives don’t matter. It used to be Al-Qaeda, or the Vietcong, or the Germans, or the North/the South, or the British. But in my lifetime the enemy that kills and haunts my people is the corrupt and extractive and archaic systems operated and defended by my own country.
I do see the progress that we the people, the ones who embody compassion and justice, have made despite it all, and I continue to envision how much of this generational rot we can pull out together in our lifetimes. I, however, won’t be leaving that work behind and will continue to devote my heart and life to it. It’s an option.
Our predecessors who fought for civil rights didn’t give up, and now, with the peak of the mountaintop of equality not being within our reach, there is still more to endure. More disgust and defeat and systems built to enslave. More police and more armed unlawful militia members who end people’s lives because they were afraid, dodging punishment because of “self-defense.” And somehow, the collective of Americans who see a judicial system that must be updated must continue to lift up and defend those who fall down around us from the weight of it all, especially people of color, who have only known this fear and discouragement their entire lives.
This sadly inevitable Rittenhouse verdict stings like a slap in the face and is a reminder of what injustice remains when blacks in so many states are locked up for anything and everything. Just as the not-guilty verdict in the Jacob Blake case that created the demonstrations where this violence occurred did. Hell, they even put me in the lockup for non-violent first offense drug crimes, and this person gets off because the law is set up in a way that favors getting away with this kind of criminal act. But that big faker with the aviators, President Biden, says “the jury system works, we have to abide by it.” Excuse me while I hold a sneer deeply for ten seconds and flare my nostrils. To replace one heartless fake leader with another is the story of this corrupt nation though.
As usual, if you ask a white person today about this, many will have all kinds of opinions and some will even take to their YouTube vlogs to speak on how this is a win for gun rights or how it was his right to be out there with that rifle, his right to be harassed or attacked by protestors, and his right to end their lives. But will they speak up against how countless black lives are pushed into the pit of the penal system for criminal charges in which the penalty is far greater than the crime? Not their problem.
How I see it though, is that in this country, you either incorporate the injustice experienced by black people in our society into what matters in your life, or you don’t. It proves time and again to not be an easy choice when we aren’t black ourselves, but it is still of the utmost importance to do so. If you speak about living with love, or you believe you are a person of faith, or you want to defend your children and families, then you can no longer continue to do so without lending your support and your voice to the growing, enduring, chorus singing out in support and solidarity with our fellow black Americans “Deep in my heart, I do believe. We shall overcome some day.”
As we stare down this reality of broken inequitable systems, the question remains, what do we do? Tonight in the streets of Manhattan and Kenosha and cities across the country we will see people march and shout and some will do violence, but we know that today with decades of defense built up, that will only go so far. How do we teach each other that these demands that we have cannot be turned on overnight and that they instead require an unending vigilance to find and in some cases become local and state political candidates who embody anti-corruption and will fight for this just and drastically different future? They must emerge and they must help us come out of this darkness because the light that is right is closer than ever.
“We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws.” – Hunter S. Thompson