An essay contemplating America’s systematic racism, while the “leader” of the free world foments hatred, sows division, and empowers evil, and the wounds of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor’s murders are still fresh in our minds….
by: Jimmy Chairman
“I want to know what to say, and I want to say the right thing, but I don’t know what’s the right thing to say.” -Dylan Dreyer (NBC News)
I’m shredded. I feel helpless, hopeless, sick. I am fucking furious.
The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and thousands before them were the sole result of America’s systemic racism. My heart breaks for their families.
As a younger man, my reverence of black culture caused a myopia which blinded me to the truth about race in America. Cherishing a culture is not the same thing as understanding the experience of that culture, let alone helping it.
Growing up in a place as diverse and at least seemingly open-minded as Cheltenham, PA, it felt like everything was cool. Everyone could indeed just get along. In my bubble world, we all did. Turns out I was just young, sheltered, and ignorant of the real indignities suffered by my friends and classmates on a daily basis. For that, I am so sorry.
Over the last week, watching the world burn, thinking critically about the situation, constantly on the verge of tears, I’ve been lamenting my naivety.
I was always taught that as Jews, we were also oppressed. That there were people out there who hated us for our religion and our culture. And it’s true. “Very fine” white supremacists wish death upon me and my family as well. But we, unwittingly, can hide our otherness in our white guy suits. We can walk around freely in our biological costumes while our friends have to fear for their lives, their kids’ lives, and their loved ones’ lives every time they leave their home. That just isn’t right.
On Monday, bucking my previous pandemic protocol, I went to a vigil in Astoria Park. I protested police brutality in solidarity with my brothers and sisters of every race and ethnicity (gotta love Astoria). It was beautiful and peaceful. Cathartic even.
Then, I went home and watched the news. I observed the cruel charlatan in the White House order government actors to tear gas a crowd of peaceful protestors, turning American soldiers against innocent American citizens who were exercising their First Amendment rights — doing what I’d been doing an hour prior — so he could hold a Bible upside down for a disingenuous, pathetic photo op. Watching him hold the black-bound scriptures up as a prop after his act of unconstitutional aggression was one of the most nauseating visuals I’ve ever witnessed.
The catharsis vanished, and I reverted back to fury.
I don’t condone the physical destruction of our cities, but I do understand the desire to do so, the impulse to break shit. When innocent men and women are routinely murdered for jogging while black, or driving while black, or sleeping while black, or are threatened for birding while black, or entering a store while black, it is clear that the system is broken. It is rigged against people of color. If the system is broken, maybe some other shit needs to get broken too — I just don’t know…
It’s impossible to wrap one’s head around all the insanity. There is one thing I’m positive about:
We have to vote this sociopathic, narcissistic, fascist bigot out in November, or that’s all she wrote.
The American Experiment, teetering on the brink as it is, will be over if this fraud gets four more years to carry out his ridiculous brand of cartoon villainy — fomenting hatred, sowing division, and empowering evil.
Getting rid of our wannabe despot is only a start. Catharsis is only the beginning. As a friend wrote to me earlier, “The challenge is going beyond catharsis, to find a way for real change.”
Right now, hopefully that change is happening through exposure. Exposure of broken systems. Exposure of unjust policies and laws. Exposure of systemic racial inequality. Not just within our legal system, but in schools, housing, healthcare — Everywhere.
We need to come together, spurred by the voices and actions of righteous people.
We need to come together to fight tyranny and injustice.
We need to come together to end racism and achieve true equality for all.
We need to come together, in order to move forward together.
Nothing less than the future of our world and fates of our children hang in the balance.