The look of joy on his face when he runs through a sprinkler in the middle of a hot summer day. The feeling of pride at his middle school chorus concert. Late nights helping with homework. A warm hug in the aftermath of that first teenage breakup. The awe that he has finally graduated high school, and wait, how did that happen so quickly? College too! Watching him find true love and making a grandparent of you. These are a few experiences that the parents of a California boy won’t ever have.
When you look at the imagery associated with the people who boast most vociferously about their God-fearing patriotism, there are a couple motifs that you might notice: Support for the troops; remembering 9/11; flags (really any flags, quite ironically including Confederate flags); eagles; pickup trucks; and a generally brazen attitude about how the consequences of our actions and policies don’t really matter as long as AMERICA! In other words, for these “patriots”, patriotism means blind loyalty – blind loyalty to some version of America that doesn’t really exist.
As the death count from the novel coronavirus tolls ever higher in the United States week by week, in stunning and devastating contrast, America’s theme parks are re-opening across the country, confirming a nuance of American culture that is literally sickening: our need for entertainment. And perhaps that’s one of the major ways in which we went wrong in our response – there wasn’t enough of that wow-factor.
The brutal and unrepentant murder of George Floyd, almost immediately following the murders of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, have once again reminded us that being Black in America is a crime. Note that I say “reminded” because I am a white person afforded the luxury of forgetting this when there aren’t protesters actively marching down my street; but for the 44 million Black people in this country, I imagine that this is never something that is forgotten. Since drafting this original post just several weeks ago, I can add Rayshard Brooks to the list also – perhaps he was guilty of a misdemeanor, but that somehow led to his execution.
One of the driving forces behind the racial crisis that we are witnessing in this country is inequity, an imbalance in the distribution of resources to which different demographics have access. Any solutions-oriented dialogue, therefore, must seek to address this inequity. But a sticking point for many when these conversations happen is the concept of white privilege. To be clear, white privilege is a symptom of inequity – it would be great if it didn’t exist because that would reflect an equitable society, and we should work towards that reality, but the treatment must be systems-wide; it requires dealing with the symptoms while targeting the virus of inequity.
In the wake of the brutal murder of George Floyd, protesters flocked to the streets of many major U.S. cities day after day. In some cases, there were individuals at the protests that incited violence and destruction; in most cases, the protests were pacific – a true reflection of our First Amendment right to “peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” But no matter how the protests went, there was one common theme among all of them: They were disruptive!