What Does Your Heart Want To Say To You Today?
Above to honor our Vice President-Elect, Kamala Harris, and all the shoulders on which she stands.
November 10, 2020. One week after election day, that was a prompt from Laura Davis in her weekly online Writing the Pandemic Class . The votes were in, the electoral college tally projected, Covid numbers rising, and yet, an unsettled anxious time. I was stewing in conflicting ideas and emotions, so appreciated the admonition to listen to my heart.
And this is what my heart told me (references added later):
There is so much work still to be done.
The silver lining in the election of 45 - and how I hate to have to find something from the rubble he has made - is that finally, many people have lost the blinders that allowed them to exist without seeing our pain. The curtain has been pulled back on our system of white supremacy. Many did not see the morphing from chattel slavery to peonage and convict labor to Jim Crow to mass incarceration as one continual, adapting system of racism and exploitation, first to exploit the black body- our wombs, our limbs, our backs in labor- and then, when factories moved overseas, to lock up and throw away the keys to those in the underclass whose labor is no longer needed.
The silver lining: eyes opening, hearts opening, hands wanting to help.
But the battle lines are as clear as during the secessionist era. The white supremacist have been reinvigorated, their ranks swelling, their saber rattling louder, the arms they demand to bear increasing.
The truth has been revealed, and yet, some remain so very naïve.
“I didn’t know anything about that.” “I always thought you were too thin skinned.” “I’ve never had any of those experiences.”
No, but did you ask? And if I spoke, did you listen?
Well, I am speaking now. Many of us are speaking now. And we need you to hear us. To hear and act.
I will continue to mine my life to illuminate the issues, the price we each pay, whether we walk the halls of power, of academia, corporate America, the sports world, the media or entertainment worlds or are crawling our way through the obstacle course erected to keep us out of those domains, or lie in the gutter, discouraged and spent, or rot in prisons.
Yes, Stacey, you’re our SHero!Though the 15th Amendment in 1870 gave Black men the vote, extended to women in the 19th in 1919, just prior to President Johnson’s Civil Rights Act in 1964, a combination of obstacles such as “literacy tests”, poll taxes, grandfather clauses, threat, terror and violence kept the Black voter registration at under 1% in most southern states.Johnson, in a 180 turn from his years as a Texas Senator, led the drive to provide Black Americans with the freedoms promised nearly a hundred years earlier.Black voter registration soared to in excess of 60%. Sadly, Justice Robert’s court (Shelby vs Holder) removed federal oversight of voting rights, opening the door for newer techniques of voter disenfranchisement and vote suppression.Many states have since deployed strict voter id laws (the majority of urban minorities do not have cars, hence, no driver’s licenses, and forms of id’s most likely to be held by minorities – government employee, student and public assistance ID’s were specifically excluded), closed polling places, shortened polling hours, forbid mail in or early voting, and new this summer removing post boxes and sorting machines in heavily Democratic urban centers.Stacy Abrams herself was a victim of attempted voter suppression; her absentee ballot arrived with one of the two return envelopes sealed shut. She knew there was no way to return the ballot without it being invalidated, so she went to the polls. How many others didn’t know? When residential segregation is as pronounced as it is in so much of America, easy to target one demographic for such a ploy. (You might want to listen to The Most Sacred Right, a Throughline podcast, inspired by Frederick Douglass's commitment to voting rights, or read this Vox article about Supreme Court Justice Roberts and the voting rights act and election 2020.)
AOC, you’re another one, one who speaks truth to power. I will continue to support you. And I will do what I can in my own world. But we need you to fight, too.
No matter who you are, where you work or live, look and you will see injustice; look hard enough, and you will see the systems that sustain it. If you’re a lawyer, fight through politics, legal and criminal justice work. (If you were part of Center for Common Grounds Reclaim Our Vote or other Election Integrity Campaigns, thank you!) If you’re an educator, get the 1619 curriculum in your school, fight to teach inclusive history, replace the canon of dead white male writers with a truly representative one, pay attention to both the quiet and the disruptive children of color in your class. If you’re in health, address the discrepancies in training, access and care. If you are in entertainment, who are your gatekeepers? What stories are you telling? Whose stories are you not telling? There are so many fronts on which this battle must be fought: racial justice, housing, education, health and medicine, policing, social services to name a crucial few. I am heartened by the entities now reassessing their structures, choices and personnel examining how they contribute to maintaining the status quo, and how they must change. But even so, there is no corner of American life free of discrimination. And where you find it, you can find a way to fight, to make a difference.
If you’re at a loss, turn to any organization in your area, ask what they are doing. If you are a mom, overwhelmed with Covid home schooling, pick up a few books for your children and for you. Or If you’re a total introvert, or homebound, get an anti-racist reading list from Ibram X. Kendi or Book Passage and educate yourself. Consider joining an Anti-Racism and Allyship Journey, or form a discussion group of people you know for a journey of your own.
America, we’ve got to get it right this time….
One index of change:
Below released by the American Heart Association 11/10/2020, along with a paper.
Their press release
For you MD’s and epidemiologists, full manuscript
Some additional resources (one conversation, articles ):
Brilliant conversation between Lynn Nottage and Isabel Wilkerson about the latter's groundbreaking book, Caste
Ibram X. Kendi (author of How to Be an Anti Racist): A Battle Between the Two Souls of America
NY Times Book Review of Claudia Rankine’s Just Us (Author of Citizen Lyric)
Jelani Cobb in The New Yorker: What Black History Should Already Have Taught Us About the Fragility of American Democracy
Cori Bush, Representative-elect, Missouri
Since the election, many have spoken of the need to reach across the aisle, to establish a dialogue with those who do not share our views.
Yesterday morning, an item in my news feed, gave me pause.
Cori Bush, (above) a newly elected house Democratic representative for Missouri, arrived at the new House members orientation Friday wearing a black face mask emblazoned with large block white letters BREONA TAYLOR.
“Good morning, Breonna,” the first republican representative she passed said. "Good morning, Breonna," another echoed, greeting the brown skinned woman with flowing hair who would be their new colleague. She stopped, pint sized coffee cup in hand. If her mouth fell open, her colleagues wouldn’t have known.
“I AM Breonna Taylor,” she replied, “I AM Breonna Taylor.” Her colleagues kept walking, and a third, passing her, said, “Hey, Breonna.”
A reporter was there, to catch images and comments from the freshman arrivals.
Well, I also am Breonna Taylor. Black women all over this country are Breonna Taylor.
But now we have a WE and a THEM. How could men who have been campaigning all summer, elected to represent the people, to govern this country have been alive and totally missed the story of Breonna, an award winning EMT gunned down in her bed during a failed, fruitless drug raid by a militarized police swat team who broke down her door in the middle of the night, with flash bangs and guns blazing, executing a falsely obtained warrant to arrest an ex boyfriend who hadn't lived in the home for 4 months, and was already in jail? I'm guessing those men would have been eager to share their views on the Black Lives Matter protests that have roiled the country and their views on police reform. On Law and Order. Yet they did not know her name. Why not? Too many to keep up with?
So many issues here. But I am left with the question: where is the aisle to reach across?
What we have is a planetary divide.