Xenophobia and racism continue to flourish and thrive in the USA and most of its adherents aren’t even aware that we are afflicted. Taught to view racists as the Klan of sheet clad miscreants flying Confederate flags above banners of insipid insensitivity and myopic race baiting we fail to see the systemic racism, oppression, condescending exclusivity and inculcated fear response towards “other” which we are taught from the cradle as we blindly deny our own infection in the great national disease many suffer with even as we spread the malignancy that glibly and blindly puts knee to neck across our land.
Did I lose you yet because I’m talking about me as well as you.
Our Tree of Liberty is an ailing Elm, an arbor of exclusion, a diseased softwood with sickness seeded in our DNA that separates us into camps of Them and Us, it is a tree with roots diseased with an illness that must be fought through the application of reason over instinct if we are to counter the blind hate and dehumanization that insists differences of pigmentation and melanin makes us enemies rather than siblings.
Oh, but not you, not me, I mean of course not US. WE don’t judge, we don’t hate, (Well, not out loud anyway.) we know we’re all Dog’s children and that Dog commanded us to love one another as we love ourselves, and we do! Honest Injun!
We don’t hate and we know that we got where we are through hard work, not handouts. We know ‘Murica is the Land of Opportunity, a land where anyone can get ahead if they just reach for the stars because America is a land where we’re all equal. Just look at Oprah! Or Ben Carson! Barack Obama, Kamala Harris! (While half of us declare that Obama and Harris aren’t REALLY black because they’re “mixed race,” a term without biological meaning.)
We were raking leaves and shoveling driveways to earn cash before we hit ten-years-old. We had dozens of lawns we cut every week and families for whom we babysat long before we got our First Job at age sixteen, a job that provided us with earnings which we wisely tucked away so we could put ourselves through college.
We know we earned our way to success but we fail to realize that we were handed the privilege of living in a neighborhood that had lawns and driveways and neighbors who were able to pay a scrappy kid willing to do odd jobs to make money. (And parents with lawnmowers we could “borrow.”) We ignore that being able to drive Mommy or Daddy’s car to that first job was a circumstance of privilege largely determined by Zip code which was largely determined by skin color.
But hey, we’re all equal, right? I mean, equal opportunity is the Law of the Land.
If we refuse to see the inherent racism woven deeply into the fabric of the USA, if we deny that poverty is a legacy of slavery, that funding schools based upon local property taxes is a means to perpetuate unequal opportunity, that voter repression and disenfranchisement is a racist goal that serves to reinforce the myopic, self-serving delusion of white superiority then we will never have a just and equal society and our much touted Shining City on a Hill will be forever an exclusive address ringed by a wall of fear, hatred and privelege, a reality with which I fear many of us are just fine.