progress is not a trick

“We do a disservice to the cause of justice by intimating that bias and discrimination are immutable, that racial division is inherent to America.  If you think nothing’s changed in the past 50 years, ask somebody who lived through the Selma or Chicago or Los Angeles of the 1950s.  Ask the female CEO who once might have been assigned to the secretarial pool if nothing’s changed.  Ask your gay friend if it’s easier to be out and proud in America now than it was thirty years ago.  To deny this progress, this hard-won progress -– our progress –- would be to rob us of our own agency, our own capacity, our responsibility to do what we can to make America better”.  President Barack Obama

Progress is not a trick, but assessing it can be tricky.  I am of an age where I see clearly how much this nation has changed since 1965 and yes there is much un-finished business.  Racism and hatred and violence are those societal elements that we must constantly struggle with.  Justice is often denied, but sometimes justice is made.  Ferguson as our President pointed out is not “unique”–the worst corruption there is is small town corruption.  I know because I grew up in a small town.  But as the President, the Representatives and the still living foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement constantly point out, we have destiny in our hands.  To not vote, the pretend that your vote doesn’t matter means to me at least that you give up any right to complain about anything because you have ceded your power and most likely to the very people who will do you the greatest harm.  Black people, progressive people sat out the 2014 elections and see what kind of Congress we got now.

I am tired of people saying well these people are racists and therefore more honest.  I know he’s a thief, so I will vote for him and not complain when he dips his hand in the collective till.  Racists are no more honest than anyone else.  But greed, stupidity, meanness, misogyny and misanthropy reign supreme in the halls of Congress.  But there has been greed, stupidity, violence, et al in the past.  And when it got too bad-the VOTERS through the rascals out.  I have voted in every election but one since I registered to vote right out of college–that means Presidential elections. primaries, school board elections, State and local contests.  All of them in three cities: Atlanta, New York and Boston.  Sometimes my candidates win, sometimes they lose.  But I can complain and praise and put my two cents in with pride.  People died.  Black people died so that I could participate in this democracy, a very far from perfect experiment.

There are terrible things going on in every state in this Union-men and women hell bent on destroying public education; on destroying collective bargaining and unionization not only in the public sector, but the private sector as well–a good way to KEEP WAGES DOWN; on making health care unaffordable and almost inaccessible for poor and working class people;  and policing women’s bodies esp. during childbearing years.  These people hate art and culture and think that anybody or maybe robots should teach.  Of course their children go to expensive private schools.  They will sell of park lands.  Gut the budgets of child welfare offices.  They are there because less than 50% of people show up and vote.  And as long as “progressives” sit on their hands and occupy their grievances these people will do even more harm.  Plenty people talk about revolution and societal transformation, but few are willing to DO THE WORK to make laws; to set policies; to administer them.  And so the right takes more and more control.  The people who were beaten and brutalized by the STATE OF ALABAMA 50 years ago wanted to vote in order to gain power and  make change.  The mayor of Selma is Black.  The mayor of Selma is Black.

many poets at Wilson Hall/Furious Flower PC, Virginia

many poets at Wilson Hall/Furious Flower PC, Virginia

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