Thursday, September 22, 2022

People, we must unite

 Things must make sense to me.  I was brought up to think this way.  For every question, there must be an answer.  And every answer must make sense.  I just can’t come upon an answer that doesn’t answer my question but is there just for the sake of providing me a response.

But the circumstance that surrounds our country doesn’t make sense.  Many of us don’t know how we got here.  When I was a child, I never worried about what was on the news.  Cable stations didn’t exist when I was a kid.  The news had been relegated to the main networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC.  If you didn’t catch the news at 11 then you were just out of luck…until the next day.

But how did we get here?  Why are we here and what can we do about it?

Right now, our fractured country is teetering on the brink of losing the very democracy that it was founded upon.  And it would be easy to lay this at the feet of the 45th president.  But the simple truth of the matter is it isn’t his fault.  Not all of it.

Hatred has been loosed like a pack of demons.  Never in my lifetime did I think that I would see the amount of hatred that we all are bearing witness to today.  And yet, the hatred has been here long before I was born.  It simmered, coming to a slow boil until someone came along and took it mainstream.

I can’t blame the far right exclusively for the mess our country is in.  That would be too easy.  But to understand how we got here; you must examine a few things…unpack them like a traveler at the end of a long journey.

Hatred has always been in the picture.  Oh, sure it may have gone silent for a little while, but most of us knew that it was still there.  I was lured into thinking that somehow, hatred had taken a back seat even though job opportunities were still hard to come by depending on what job you wanted.  Housing was an issue, depending on where you wanted to live.  And schooling was an issue, depending on where you wanted to send your kids to get educated.

Hatred, resentment, envy, and anger raged around us.  It was always there; all you had to do was open your eyes.

Well, my eyes are wide open.  And I have an idea as to why we are going through what we are going through.

 Our nation is becoming blacker and browner. Black and brown people are being properly represented in television, film, music and business opportunities.  It almost appears as if we have come to acquire equality.  And this prospect terrifies some white people because equality to some can feel like repression to another.

And with that terror comes the questions that I’m sure have been discussed over many a dinner table: Where will we go?  Can we find the right school for our sons and daughters that will give them the appropriate leg up when they enter the job market?  Will our neighborhood be safe?

All these questions are valid.

Except…

The answers to these questions will almost always come at someone’s expense.  After all, these conversations around the dinner table aren’t meant for people that don’t have power.  It’s meant for people that claim they do.

And yet if you asked these people why they wanted to move, what type of schools were they interested in and just exactly what do they mean when they say “safe” neighborhoods the answer would be simple: It’s a neighborhood with no POC (People of Color) in it.  It’s a school that don’t really have POC’s in it. The word “safe” is code for white.

This is not to say that all white folks think this way.  I’m smart enough to know that.  But enough of them don’t want to interact with me or anyone that looks like me.

Now my opinion about this very topic is that 1/3 of this country would like to return to a calmer and gentler era…an era where there were no mass shootings.  They would like to return to an era where POC had their place and they have theirs and the two never intermingled.

Our current political climate reflects a group of people that would like to return to that era and to be damned with everything and everyone else.  What is overwhelming, almost breathtaking is how anger, hatred and resentment have become mainstream.

I am taken aback by the sheer ugliness of humanity on full display for the entire world to see.  We have no empathy for the immigrants.  We want to take away a woman’s right to choose when she can start a family or not to have children at this time in her life.  We are on a trajectory of taking away the hard-earned rights of the LGBTQ Community so that not only can we not enter into marriage, but we may also not be able to have a consensual same sex relationship.

It was never intended for a minority to gain control over the majority and yet here we are, standing on the precipice of that very circumstance becoming a reality.

Then if you add into the mix of all of this the Evangelical Christians that decides that they have the right to tell others how to live their lives in the name of the Lord; all the while acting in the most un-Christlike of behaviors.  Religion was never meant to be weaponized to repress anyone.  And Christ, (according to what I’ve read in the Bible) would have dined with people like them and myself because we are all deeply flawed and in need of salvation.  One was never meant to be better than the other in the name of religion.

And yet if you look around with eyes and hearts wide open, you will see the effects of hatred, repression, lies, deceit, warmongering and unrest.  Our world is one great ball of confusion.  The war in Ukraine comes to mind.

It seems like dictators have decided that the riches of the world is up for grabs and there for the taking.  Our democracy will cease to exist if we as a people don’t wake up and realize what is at stake.

Just like the hundreds of people that stormed our capitol prepared to take back a presidency that they believed to be stolen from the 45th president of the United States; we who are the majority must be prepared to fight for what is rightfully ours.  We as a people have the right to live in peace.  Our children should feel safe to go to school without being shot.  We have the right to live in a land where we love and care for one another, even if it is in name only.

Our nation was not founded on a lie and our elected officials are expected to behave in a manner that compliments our constitution; not defile it.  We were meant to be our brother’s keeper, not executioner.

I would like to believe that most of the citizens of our country stand for good; that when one of us is repressed, we all are repressed.  It was never meant for the ultra-wealthy to govern in lieu of our elected officials.

And yet, here we are teetering on the brink of losing everything that we thought we had in place…rights that we thought would be forever ours.

We cannot let our democracy slide into minority rule.  We cannot let the smaller group who accuses us of doing the very thing that they are doing right before our eyes, win by fraudulent means because if they do, everything that was right with us will be gone for at least two generations if not more.

We cannot be a nation built on fear, lies and resentment.  We are better than that.  At least this is what I hope.

Friends, it has never been more critical for us to exercise our voice and right to participate in the democratic process.

I want my nephews and nieces to inherit a world that is not one of anger and fear.  I imagine that you want that for your children as well.

So, let’s not sit these next two elections out because we believe that the minority is going to cheat and change the face of the nation once they come to power.

We need to get busy and do what we need to do.  It’s time to put our noses to the grindstone and unite as a people and protect our sisters, our white allies, our immigrants, and people of color.  We can be a land flowing with milk and honey.

So, lets choose that this fall and in 2024!

~ J.L. Whitehead

 

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

We the People

 

Liz Cheney couldn’t hold onto to her Senate seat in the state of Wyoming.  Her voters voted resoundingly for her Trump-backed opponent which is a clear signal of just how far the Republican party has fallen.  We are living in an era where right is wrong and wrong, unfortunately, is right.  Our democracy is hanging on by a thread; but here are some facts that may or may not open your eyes to our current circumstance:

  • Trump signed approximately 117 bills into law during his first year in office.  This included the overhaul of the tax code that gave a tax break to the top 1% of the richest people and corporations in the United States.  This was his ONLY piece of major legislation his administration accomplished during his four years in office.
  • Trump manipulated/tricked the American people into believing that he did more than play golf anytime he felt like it by signing several bills into law.  However, he cleverly built upon laws that were already in place, and then he took credit for the original laws as if he came up with the original idea on his own.
  • The Republicans blocked every attempt by the Biden Administration to make the lives of the American people better.  In their minds, they blocked everything that they could to make the administration look bad and appear as if they got nothing done while, they were not thinking about what was better for the American people.  Instead, they continued to perpetuate the big lie that the 2020 election was stolen from the twice impeached, disgraced former ex-president.

We must understand that until the Republican party is no longer under the thumb of Donald Trump, people will continue to jump on the Trump train and act as if violence, lying, deceit, deflecting, and accusing without merit as being the norm.

These people will continue to use our democratic norms against us, with election deniers running for and in some circumstances claiming the seats of some of the members in the Senate.

As Americans, we are tired of the backbiting, ignorant and hurtful rhetoric, violence, lying, cheating and in short, any behaviors that would be anti-democratic.

 We must think in terms of what is best for us as citizens of this country and not listen to what others are saying is best for us.  We want the restoration of democratic norms.  We want the name-calling, hate-filled rhetoric to stop.  Mostly, we want the original source of these decrepit behaviors to go away. 

Donald Trump has no interest in governing.  He has no interest in the democratic norms that our forefathers put in place some 245 years ago.  He does not respect our constitutions.  Instead, he wants to ascend to be the occupier of the oval office because he likes the power that the office lends.  He likes it when people address him as, Mr. President. But mostly, he believes that the adoration that he receives from the 1/3 of the country is not, in fact, the entire country.

Most of us believe in the goodness of man…that we are our brother’s keeper.

We are a nation with a sketchy past.  Our nation has been embroiled in civil unrest and has lived under the umbrella of the illusion of peace and prosperity for all.  We know that the rules under the constitution was meant for all, but it didn’t apply to all.  Our laws have always blanketed one group of people at the expense of another.

But our country is changing.  We acknowledge that we are a nation of immigrants and not of “white people.”  We have enough resources for everyone to live, love and prosper.

Wrong has always been wrong no matter how many times you spin it.  If your choice is to raise up wrong, and resort to violence the minute that an election doesn’t go your way, then this isn’t democracy.

If you must lie, cheat, steal and deflect in order to get what you want out of our elections, then you are not part of the democratic norms nor are you part of the solution.

We can beat this.

We can get past this…but it’s going to take an extreme effort on our part.  We must show the world that we are appealing to our better angels to restore our nation to the democratic processes that enabled us to survive and prosper.

We must send a strong message to congress that we don’t like, nor do we want our president to be someone that resorts to the mindset of a schoolyard bully.

We are better than this.  We can be better than this.

Note:  The ex-president does not have the right to any of the boxes that he initially stated that he didn’t possess.

~ J.L. Whitehead

 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

A return to the good ole days

 

I begin my days by turning on the television and watching the news.  Slowly, I am trying to start my day another way.  Maybe I can get up a little bit earlier and go for my daily walk before it gets too hot and muggy to do so.  Or I could have coffee and a light breakfast while having a chat with my husband.

What I realize is that watching the news may not be the best way to begin my workday, especially given the current news cycle where just about everything seems to be bleak and foreboding.

For the middle class, the fight for our very survival has never been greater.  We are living in an era where our two-party system of governance is broken…possibly beyond repair.  The system that has worked for decades has been shattered because one of the parties in our government refuses to participate fairly in the system that has worked for most of us in the past.  I say most of us because we know that the very system that I speak of was not designed for everyone to live, love, and prosper under the constitution.  The system was designed for the prosperity of a few at the expense of many.

In the era of the fifties, people could go to drives-ins, go to drive up restaurants and order a burger and a malt by a teen-waitress on wheels, enjoy a high school soph hop and get awarded pins of merits by the cub, boy, or girl scouts.  Unfortunately, this era did not include everyone, and it wasn’t meant to.  This was how the system was intended.  This time of innocence did not include people of color.  We were bitterly omitted; forced unwillingly to sit on the sidelines of an America that did not want us, nor did they lend value to our communities.

 In the era of the sixties, people of color fought for civil rights and won, even if it was in name only.  We fought for the right to be seen and heard.  Gone were the days of black and brown singers having to have someone else pose for the covers of their albums because the sight of our faces offended a few.  Gone were the days of segregated schools.  We could participate in the democratic process by exercising our right to vote thus allowing our voices to be heard.

The seventies era gave way to the rights for women.  They were no longer considered to be the property of men.  Their places were no longer in the home where they would have to be barefoot and pregnant.  They could do more than tend to the children, fix dinner, and serve their husbands a cocktail all while wearing an apron, high heels, and a string of pearls.

The seventies also gave way to the LGBTQ rights in the form of the first riot in Greenwich Village, NY where the police would habitually raid gay establishments, shutting them down until June 28th, 1969, when the gay community fought back…and won.

And for a while, all seemed right with the world.

But reality has a funny way of sneaking in and backhanding you with the truth and you wake up realizing that your experience was a thinly veiled lie because like it or not, we are being slowly pushed back into the era of the fifties.  And like it or not, there may be little we can do about it.

With the Supreme Court’s nullification of Roe v Wade, women no longer have the right to choose to have an abortion should the circumstances present itself in certain states.  In some states, it doesn’t matter if the woman was the victim of incest or rape.

And the Supreme Court is now mulling over whether to come after LGBTQ rights which includes the right to marry.  It is highly possible that it may be illegal to be in a same sex or interracial relationship.  What’s worse is that the decision is being made in the vacuum of the perceived religious values of a few.

They have already made the decision to take away a woman’s right to choose regardless of the blowback that they are receiving.

Right now, former disgraced president Trump is backing candidates that believe in the big lie,  that the 2020 election was stolen from him.  He is systematically installing candidates that will make it easier for him to overturn the outcome of a presidential election should he lose in 2024.

This should not surprise anyone since it is painfully obvious that he attempted to remain in power at all costs and it appears as if there was an extremely detailed plot to assist the former president in this regard.

America may not be able to survive another Trump presidency.  Images of his constantly playing golf have been seared into the memory of many Americans.  We also realize that there are many people who support the twice impeached, disgraced former president; and with that knowledge comes the fact that Trumpism is alive and well in this country.

Hatred has become the norm.  Candidates that support the big lie will behave much like the disgraced former president and this has also become the new landscape of the Republican party.  We are currently living in an era where democracy hangs on by a mere thread.  If we are not careful, autocracy will take the place of our democratic norms.

And what is frightening about all of this is that the majority seems to be held hostage by the reasoning of a few.  And the few seem to believe in conspiracy theories and misinformation as opposed to the rule of law, the will of the American people and the guidelines of the Constitution.

It appears as if we are doomed unless…

We all get out and vote.  We must act as if our very lives depend not just on this election but for every single election moving forward.  We cannot trust that the Republicans (and for that fact, the Democrats) to do the right thing that is good for the American people.  We cannot trust that our two-party system will do the right thing by all of us.  We already know that the Republicans plan on stealing the election.  They have been taught by Donald Trump, using his behavior as a blueprint to reflect what has worked and what hasn’t by saying ahead of time that an election has been rigged or that the election was stolen to cast doubt on the electoral process.

With the deck stacked against us, we can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines because we did not get everything we wanted.  All of us: old, young, male, female, gay and straight, Democratic, or Progressive, need to get out the vote because our very way of life depends on it.

~ J.L. Whitehead

 

 

 

People, we must unite

  Things must make sense to me.   I was brought up to think this way.   For every question, there must be an answer.   And every answer must...