Friday, January 24, 2020

“Us” vs “Them” and why this is dangerous




I had taken a silent vow that I wouldn’t write about Trump anymore.  Hindsight being what it is, I could not write any entries on this platform without writing about Donald Trump.  After all, when you’re dealing with politics, you must include him because our political climate currently revolves around him. 

We’ve never had a president that does and says what this one does.  This is part of his charm or lack thereof depending on how you look at it.  Many like his unconventional style.  Many of his supporters believe that he is a man of the people.  They believe that he would sit down with them at a neighborhood bar and have a beer with them.  And therein lies the danger because nothing could be further from the truth.

The main problem (one that is quite evident) is how the president has enshrouded himself in the adoration of his supporters.  He does so at every rally.  He does so at every speaking event.  He does so whenever he gives a highly respected elected official a nickname that is more reminiscent of a schoolyard bully than someone that was elected to hold the highest office in our country.

We have become a nation so divided that oftentimes, I don’t recognize the country that I was born.  Daily, we are brought into a fight that we don’t belong.  This fight is “us” versus “them.”  It has been ever since the election of the 45th president of the United States.

This fight started when the president brought his mentality to the office of the presidency.  In his mind, if you were not for him, you were against him.  There is not a happy medium like our democracy had at one time dictated.  In the mindset of a man whose entire life has been surrounded by “yes” people, you are either for him or against him.  There is no room for a second opinion or perspective.  He will always be right even if that correctness comes at the expense of everyone else.
The voices that would have brought reason and thus that second opinion which is much needed that lends itself to the office of the presidency are gone; replaced by people that will only say “yes” to a man who needs to be right at all costs.  

He has identified himself as the “us” versus “them” when he states at his rallies that the democrats are attacking them.  And the people standing in the audience cheer, chanting things like “lock her up” or “send them back.”

Hopefully, at the end of the Trump Era, we will be able to reclaim who we were as opposed to what we’ve become.  We’ve become a land where we are full of suspicions about the other.  Those that side with president despises the other.  Not only do we not listen to anything that the other side says; not only do we not believe what the other side says, we do not validate them.

Trump supporters have aligned themselves with a man that they truly believe in.  And those of us that do not support this man will only see his flaws and missteps. 

We are living through a time where we need to listen to one another instead of alienating each other.  We have become so polarized that we refuse to see the truth…even if that truth is in plain view.
We may view the truth as damaging to either our democracy or the president as well as his agenda.  And that’s okay because at the end of the day, we have to be able to listen to one another.

"We are allowed to have a different point of view but we should be able to come together, air our differences and come up with ideas that will move us forward as a people.  After all, as spoken in the Pledge of Allegiance, it is said “One Nation Under God.”  Think about that for a moment.
We are one nation under God…indivisible with liberty and justice for all." ~ J.L. Whitehead

We cannot be a nation where we are constantly pointing towards each other as the reason why we can’t move forward as a people because right now, there is no way that we can.  We can’t because there is too much finger pointing.  There is too much slandering of the other side while nothing gets done.

We are allowed to have a different point of view but we should be able to come together, air our differences and come up with ideas that will move us forward as a people.  After all, as spoken in the Pledge of Allegiance, it is said “One Nation Under God.”  Think about that for a moment.
We are one nation under God…indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

That is what we stand for.

Or that’s what we stood for because now, we are so divided that we can only see in terms of black and white…sometimes quite literally.

Whether you love Trump or hate him, what has always gotten us through tough times is our allegiance to our nation…not to a man.  We have always allowed the admittance of ideas that may not align with our own, because that is what has and hopefully will always make this country great.
We know that there are people that are pro black and brown people just as much as there are people that are pro white.  This is quite evident given that race is one of the main reasons why this country is being torn apart.  We need to understand that in order to survive this presidency and come out better and yes, stronger as a nation, we must allow for a viewpoint that is not our own.  We must allow for something that is bigger and better than all our collective ideas.  Because regardless of how you personally feel about the changing landscape of our nation; that landscape is changing…and it shouldn’t matter.

I say this because right now, as I awaken in my comfortable bed, there are men still locked up in cages that shouldn’t be there.  There are women who will never see their children again because they were separated at our border.  There are young girls that are still missing who will never be found.
So think about this for a moment.

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

~ J.L. Whitehead

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

White


I’ve been sitting in front of my computer staring at the blinking cursor for several minutes now wondering how I was going to say what’s on my mind.  I knew that I had to pick and choose my words carefully because if I said the very thing that was sitting in the forefront of my mind without allowing it to go through the normal thought process, it could possibly come out wrong.  I could easily be branded as a racist or someone looking to stir up trouble. 

But there are some simple facts that have been bothering me of late…so here we go.
We have never been polarized as much as we are today.  We have never hated one another more than we do today…or rather, people of color have never been hated and despised as much as we are right now.

White people are somehow confusing pride in their ethnic background with repressive pride that comes along with being white.  This is a fact.  

And while I know that every white person doesn’t think this way, there are too many of them that do that it can’t be ignored.  There a distinct difference between being proud of your ethnicity and being proud of being white.  Because it is that same pride that caused white folks to flee when a person of color moves into their neighborhood.  It’s that same pride in being white that burned crosses, subjugated races of people into slavery, created Jim Crow laws, mass incarceration and ghettos.  We move about in a society that functions at its best when we don’t talk about what was done to people of color for generations.  It’s okay if we don’t acknowledge what was taken from us.

Another fact is that we could move forward both as a people and a nation if we dealt with this issue at hand instead of avoiding it or getting hurt feelings about it.

White people feel like they are under siege.  They feel that the nation is becoming blacker and browner and that they are slowly losing their self-imposed right to the first fruits of this land.
Simultaneously, they also feel as if they have been forgotten…. that they have been left behind by the same people that they elected into office.  

Another fact is that white resentment has never been as high as its been in the last few years.  White people are angry.  They feel that they are losing something that they should never have had to begin with.  They feel as if their government has left them behind…that their elected officials have shirked their responsibilities to them as a people as opposed to the government themselves.


What’s troubling to me is that patriotism has morphed into giving license to hate.  It’s okay to hate as long as it’s done in the name of the American flag.  You’re okay if you’re not a liberal.  At one time, the difference between being liberal and conservative was the simple (and maybe at times indistinguishable) difference between political beliefs. ~J.L. Whitehead


They believe that everyone else is the cause of their problems; that immigrants are taking their jobs when the simple reality is that immigrants are only occupying jobs that those same people would never think of taking.  They are angry that they are losing out to an ever-changing world; that society is starting to see certain minority groups as equal even if that equality still doesn’t extend to every person of color.

Without saying it aloud, white has always been synonymous with a proper upbringing, working hard and as a result deserving of every single opportunity that being white can be afforded.  This type of thinking, whether acknowledged or not, is embedded in the head of every white person in this nation.    

Conversely, every black mother has had to have a talk with their children as to how to navigate a world that at times can feel like it is hell bent on killing you.  As a black son, we are taught that we must be twice as good to get half the pay that white men get.  We are taught that opportunities will not come as quickly no matter how deserving we perceive ourselves to be. 

I was told by a former supervisor a long time ago that the society that we are living in is a white world.  She made me angry when she said that but hindsight being 20/20, she was right.  Our entire perceptions have been honed and shaped through the lens of white people. 

For years, we have been shown what to buy, what movies to see, where to shop, where to live and yes, even where to work by white people.

Most of us know this to be true, but few want to accept it.  The problem comes when we try to address it because in theory, equality sounds good…but that isn’t reality.

It doesn’t matter how many integrated settings we surround ourselves with.  It doesn’t matter what it looks like on the surface.  At our societal core lies the truth that was brought to my attention a few years ago.  There are a lot of white people that believe in white privilege.  This is a fact.

And yes, I can be dismissed as another angry black man…except I’m not.

I’ve been navigating the waters of being involved with a white man for years.  But simply because I have a white partner doesn’t mean that I am willing to compromise who I am because of who I am with.  I find myself walking the tightrope between being a loving partner and sometimes being mad as hell at his race.  I’ve learned how to separate the two.  Fortunately for me, he makes it easy.  He reminds me that at our respective core lies a strong belief in a patriotism that resonates within every American, even though America hasn't been kind to everyone.

What’s troubling to me is that patriotism has morphed into giving license to hate.  It’s okay to hate as long as it’s done in the name of the American flag.  You’re okay if you’re not a liberal.  At one time, the difference between being liberal and conservative was the simple (and maybe at times indistinguishable) difference between political beliefs.  Sometimes, it comes down to being socially and fiscally conservative.  It has now changed into the political parties becoming arch enemies in an arena where chaos is the norm.  We find ourselves being at war with one another when most of us can’t begin to answer the reason as to why we’re fighting in the first place.  We listen to one person telling us how we’re supposed to feel when we should be able to discern how we feel all by ourselves.

We’ve lost common sense and perspective on issues that should unite us and not tear each other apart.  In many ways, we rely on and have fallen prey to someone telling us who is taking something from us and how we should feel about it instead of forming our own opinions whether it be good, bad or otherwise.

But as I watch the fire burn in my fireplace, I wonder where we’ll be at the end of the year.  I wonder if we can get it together as a people and change the trajectory of where we are headed.  And I would love to believe that this is something that all races should take equal responsibility in…but it isn’t.  Because for hatred to carry clout and really matter you have to have societal power; and like it or not, the power rests predominately with white people. 

We as a people have the power to change the structure of our lives.  We can change how things are and shape them into how you would like them to be.

But for some, you must be ready to look in the mirror and deal with your own demons.  And for the rest of us, we must be ready to form our own thoughts and keep it moving forward at all cost.

~ J.L. Whitehead

A tale of two Americas

Thinking back for as long as I can remember, I lived in an area of repression.  Someone always seemed to have their foot on the neck of my...