When Donald Trump responding to MLB for taking the all-star game out of Georgia and Corporations speaking out against restrictive voting legislation, says, “They’re woke and woke is not good for our country. Woke is not good,” what he really is saying is: They’re talking about equality both economically and socially. They want “their” voices to be heard at the voting booth. This is not good for “us”; it”s not going to make “our” America great again. And it is “our” America, not “theirs” make no mistake about that, and they’re trying to take it from us.
Morpheus: This is our country Neo, everyone treated the same regardless of the color of their skin, gender, ethnic make-up, or religious belief. Individuals judged purely on the content of their character. Everyone has health care, and parents send their children to school unafraid they may become infected with the coronavirus or the victim of a mass shooting. Political leaders tell the truth and put the citizens’ well-being ahead of their agendas; corruption at the highest government levels is unheard of. There is no social or racial injustice. People walk down the street unafraid that they may be wrongfully targeted simply because of their skin color. Everyone is afforded the same opportunities regardless of their social, ethnic, or economic background. It seems too perfect, doesn’t it, Neo? You know something is not right, don’t you, Neo? You can feel it.
Neo: We’re living an illusion?
Neo: But why?
Morpheus: Is it so hard really to believe? Our democracy was designed to be where the power comes from the people, not a ruler or group of powerful individuals who would do whatever they want. It was founded on the belief that these truths are self-evident; all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Yet all that has always been an illusion, hasn’t it.
Neo: Are you saying our democracy has never been real?
Morpheus: What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about the people being the source of power or that all men are created equal, then real is simply a bunch of words written on a piece of paper. That America only exists in a series of oft-cited but rarely enacted words. A constitution to be held up to the rest of the world symbolizes the moral high ground we supposedly occupy. That America doesn’t exist, you’ve been living in a dream world, Neo.
This is the country as it exists today. Corruption at government’s highest levels. Blatant disregard for the constitution. The well-being and health of Americans were sacrificed for political gain. Racism and bigotry are alive and well and used by leaders to divide and conquer. Economic and social injustice roadblocks impede the pursuit of happiness for many. The few control the narrative and dictate policy to maintain their power and enrich their bank accounts—millions of citizens living in poverty and millions more without health insurance. Children forced to go to bed hungry, funding for education always under siege…. Welcome to the Desert of the Real Neo. Having seen all of this, I have come to realize the obviousness of the truth. Control. Democracy today is control, an illusion propagated by those in power to control the masses.
Neo: No. I don’t believe it. It’s not possible.
Morpheus: I didn’t say it would be easy, Neo. I just said it would be the truth.
The chains of bondage could not break us.
The whips could not break us.
The burning crosses could not break us.
The dogs and fire hoses could not break us.
The knee on our necks could not break us.
From the moment you saw us, you have tried to break us.
Maybe it’s because the moment you saw us, you knew we didn’t walk, we didn’t run, we soared. You knew we would never get caught in the rain because we soared high above the clouds, and there was nothing we couldn’t accomplish.
Did you fear that?
Did you think your hatred and violence would make you better than us?
Did you think we would go away?
Have you not seen that we are a people of extraordinary character?
Have you not recognized that after centuries of trying to break us, we are only getting stronger?
Have you not realized that our hearts, minds, and souls, that which is truly ours, can never be taken from us, can never be broken?
Do you not see
We are Black and We are beautiful.
We have bled with you in war.
We have raised your children.
We have a love for this country despite centuries of oppression.
Yet you still hate and fear us.
Is it because you fail to accept the sins of your past?
Is it because you refuse to confront the racial and social injustices you have subjected us to 400 plus years?
Is it because rather than understand who we are as a people, you choose to live in the dark and fear imagined dangers?
Is it because you are amazed that after all we have been through, we are still standing, still rising, still every bit of the American fabric you believe yourself to have exclusive rights to. Or is it merely because you fear that if given the opportunity, we would treat you as you have treated us? It doesn’t matter because look around you; your hatred is being rebuked, your ignorance is being laughed at, your time is coming to an end. We Are The Coalition Of The Righteous and our time is now.
I have said the Derek Chauvin’s are not police officers; they are murderers masquerading as police officers.
The same can be said about the looter and rioters doing this for their gain; they are not protestors; they are criminals masquerading as protesters.
Media coverage, some outlets more than others, has focused more on these criminals than the legitimate protesters, a coalition of the righteous, who are engaging in legitimate acts of civil disobedience all around the country.
Part of this is calculated, especially on some networks. Yes, focusing on the criminal acts leads to higher ratings, but it also says to certain groups watching – See, this is why we must maintain control. Why we must dominate the streets, look at what we will descend into if we don’t.
It changes the narrative from the root cause of the protests to that of the looting. This gives those who wish would ignore the economic and social injustices that precipitated this unrest the cover they are looking for to do just that, ignore it.
It also provides them with the ammunition they crave to keep us as a people divided. To stop what they fear, the coming together of white, black, and brown. The coalition of the righteous.
Progressive activist DaShanne Stokes once said:
“The more we’re thrown into conflict with each other through engineered distrust, the less able we are to unite against those responsible.”
The economic and social foundation of this society is built on the marginalization of and economic and social oppression of the poor in general and people of color specifically, and it won’t be until America is made to realizes that it seriously take on the problem of the systematic racism that has permeated this country for four hundred years it will always run the risk of exploding as it has this week
I’m one who believes that non-violent civil unrest is the preferred course of action, but there can be no denying that when one refuses to allow everyone to drink from the trees of equality, justice, and freedom, they plant the seeds of anger, resentment, and revolution.
I have always identified myself as African-American. I embrace who I am and where I come from. I proudly tell anyone who listens to me that despite being stripped of our culture, our language, our very identity and sold into slavery, despite Jim Crow, despite the KKK and other groups that hate us, despite the economic and social inequality thrust upon us and a host of other roadblocks African Americans are as responsible as any other people in the shaping of America into the country it is today. Unfortunately, like many African Americans, I have been called a nigger; I have had the barrel of a police officer’s gun pointed directly at my face for merely throwing a football in the backyard of a friend who happened to live in an all-white neighborhood. Despite never being in trouble with the law and not dressing like the mythical stereotypical “threatening African American male,” I’ve been stopped for driving while black, stopped and frisked for no apparent reason, and seen white women cross the street at night when they have noticed me. Yet my story is a little more complicated than just the color of my skin. Adopted, it wasn’t until my late 30s did I discover I was half white. A DNA test courtesy of 23 and me confirmed that my DNA profile is mostly Nigerian, twenty-seven percent, followed closely at twenty-four percent Ashkenazi Jew. So, for the KKK, I’m the jackpot, you know, lynch one get one free. In totality, I’m Fifty-four percent Sub-Saharan African and Forty-three percent European. The bottom line is that no matter who my DNA traces back to, I’m always going to be who I am. Anyone who knows me or meets me should judge me based on my character, not the color of my skin, what religion I practice, my sexual orientation, country of origin, or a host of other factors we have invented to separate ourselves from one another.
In the very beginning of the 1968 classic Planet of the Apes, Charleston Heston’s character Colonel Taylor wonders if that throughout the thousands of galaxies, millions of stars, if there is only one, a speck of solar dust we call Earth that has been graced or cursed by human life. He wonders if man, the marvel of the universe, still makes war against his brother and lets his neighbor’s children starve. At the end of the movie, Dr. Zaius informs Taylor that he has always known about the man and that he must be a warlike animal who gives battles to everything around him, even himself. Science fiction from over fifty years ago or reality from today? Because as we are getting ready to usher in the third decade of the twenty-first century, we are still waging war against each other, even letting our neighbor’s children starve, and always looking to give battle to ourselves. The ending of Planet of the Apes doesn’t paint a bright future for humanity, YOU BLEW IT UP, and it does not take much to suspend belief very much to see our future playing out the same way.
In the last few years, America has seen a rise in hate crimes as a percentage of Americans increasingly feel threatened by anyone who does not look, sound, live or worship the way they do. It has always been a simmering, but now with an administration that tacitly endorses it, remember a group that walked the streets of Charlottesville chanting the Jew will never replace us was said to have good people, it seems ready to boil over.Now is a crucial time we as a people must guard against our prejudices and make no mistake no matter who we are; we all have some biases dwelling with-in us. We cannot allow ourselves to be divided. I have heard a few of my Jewish brothers and sisters. Dismissing Black Lives Matter with comments as if they don’t want to be targeted, they shouldn’t commit crimes. I have heard a few of my African brothers and sisters dismiss anti-Semitic violence as overblown, angrily wondering why bigotry is seemingly only deemed a problem when it happens to the Jews and not when it happens to the African American community. I have heard both groups go after one another over the nonsensical debate about what was worse, the holocaust or slavery. I have witnessed African Americans and Latinos who loath each other as they fight over the limited resources afforded to them because of inherent social and economic inequality. It is precisely these divides that play into the hand of those who preach racism and bigotry. Keep them divided and fighting among themselves, they say it makes it easier for us to keep them down. Yet despite all of this, I genuinely believe, as I have said many times in this blog as time goes by, those who preach racism, bigotry, sexism, judge people based on their religion, or are homophobic are a dying breed. We must not give them any life by falling into their trap of fighting among ourselves.
We are the voice of the many.
We see no difference in each other.
We judge each other for who we are and what we do.
We unite as one people.
We are America!
And we are gaining in strength every day, and it’s just a matter of time before we defeat you.
Today, someone asks me, after reading one of my social media posts about Tucker Carlson, why am I so angry? We get it; there are still people who do things that speak to either blatant or implied racism. Ignore them, let it go, don’t let them consume you, they said. That may be easy for you, I said, but I cannot mute my voice in the face of any racism. I will never allow my voice to become a whisper to their screams so that others feel comfortable when it comes to race. As my Jewish brother and sister say, never forget, and I will always remember that we were forcibly taken from our home, stripped of our culture, and told us we were not people but property. I will never forget that sheets were donned, crosses burned, and men rode through the night to strike terror into our hearts. I will never forget our voices were silenced at the voting booths with violence and intimidation. I will always remember we were turned away at the lunch counter, the doors to the school were locked, the dogs were set free, and the hoses were turned on us. I will never forget that one leader after another was assassinated for daring to ask, we be treated as equals. I will not go quietly into the night because of the patriotism I have for a country that I love, and my people helped create as much as anyone else is questioned if I dare protest its continued racial inequality. I will not go quietly into the night as they attempt even to this day to hold us down, strip away our dignity, our pride, and our self-worth. So, I told him no, I am not mad. I am one of many races, colors, religions, creeds, genders, and ethnicities who refuse to be silenced. A group that is rising now together as one. A group determined to ensure America marches forward and not back even if some believe that was when America was great.
On May 12, 1961, in Rock Hill, South Carolina. John Lewis, an African-American seminary student, and Albert Bigelow, a World War II veteran and white Freedom Rider, were viciously attacked as they attempted to enter a whites-only waiting area. Two days later, in Anniston, Alabama, a vicious mob of about 200 people bombed a Greyhound bus and brutally beat the Freedom Riders as they fled the burning bus. Later that day in Birmingham, Alabama, a Trailways bus carrying another Freedom Riders group was meant with a similar fate. These Freedom Riders were aware of the dangers they would encounter, and over several months they were attacked repeatedly. Yet, they persevered so that the racist practice of segregated bus terminals would come to an end. In the fall of 1961, their perseverance bore fruit as the Interstate Commerce Commission issued regulations that prohibited interstate transit segregation.
THE FREEDOM RIDERS STEPPED INTO THE GAP.
Through nonviolent protests, Liu Xiaobo was a human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate from China who fought against communist one-party rule in China. For his efforts, he was imprisoned from 1989 to 1991, 1995 to 1996, 1996 to 1999, and 2009 until his release in 2017 after being diagnosed with liver cancer. He died less than three weeks after his release. Despite his multiple imprisonments, he continued to fight until his death to better the Chinese people.
LIU XIAOBO STEPPED INTO THE GAP.
Razan Zaitouneh was a Syrian Human rights activist who was involved in the Syrian uprising. She acted as a lawyer for political prisoners and was one of the founders Human Rights Association in Syria and the Syrian Human Rights Information Link. She reported about Syria’s human rights violations. Razan Zaitouneh worked tirelessly for years to bring light to Syria’s oppressive regime despite the obvious dangers involved with doing so. On December 9 of 2013, she was kidnapped and has not been seen since, presumed to have been killed.
RAZAN ZAITOUNEH STEPPED INTO THE GAP.
Michael Todd has been getting bullied at his new school since the year began. He would wear the same clothes every day, and students at MLK College Preparatory School would make fun of him for it. High school football players Kristopher Graham and Antwann Garrett didn’t just go along with their classmates to be part of the crowd. On September 10, 2019, they surprised Michael with a bag full of bags full of shirts, shorts, and shoes and apologized to him for previously laughing at him.
KRISTOPHER GRAHAM AND ANTWANN GARRETT STEPPED INTO THE GAP
Every day countless individuals step into the gap. But sadly, many in a position to do the most good lack the courage to step into the gap. Last week at church, my pastor preached to us from the book Ezekiel 22:30 “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land so that I would not destroy it, but I found no one.
In Bible times, cities had walls around them to help defend them from attack. Broken parts of the wall created a physical gap in the city’s ability to protect itself from invading armies. In this Bible verse, because there is a gap in the wall, God is looking for someone to step in and guard the broken, vulnerable territory.
Today God is still looking for us to step in and guard the broken and the vulnerable. Victims of violence, oppression, discrimination, bigotry. Those who are denied fundamental human rights such as medical care, food and shelter, and education. Yet when we turn our eyes to Washington D.C., we find there are far too many concerned with themselves own self, maintaining their power, and reaping the benefits that come along with it than with stepping into the gap. We see children, the Lord’s most innocent souls, gunned down in mass shootings, yet no action has been taken to enact sensible gun control to protect them. We see mothers and fathers working two and three jobs, sixty and seventy hours a week, yet still unable to earn enough money to put a roof over or adequately feed their families. Yet, at every opportunity, the very social programs designed to help them through these troubled times are slashed, and more and more money is appropriated to building weapons of war. Racism is unbelievably on the rise again in this country. Still, far too many in power either pretend it doesn’t exist and ignore it or, worse, tacitly give their approval, so they can appeal to a base of unenlightened individuals they believe will allow them to maintain their power. Education budgets are cut, and college tuition soars while tax breaks for the wealthy are passed into law. Prescription drug prices rocket, inflating the pharmaceutical companies’ pockets while the affordable care act remains under constant attack. The gap between the haves and have not continued to expand as CEOs take home millions and workers struggle to survive, yet steadfast opposition to raising the minimum wage continues.
We are witnessing the abject failure of the very individuals we have tasked with stepping in the gap. However, it is never too late as a people to change things. United, each of our whispers becomes a mighty roar for change. We can demand that change takes place, and we can start at the voting booth. We can educate ourselves on the issues and not let some 24-hour news network “opinion” show host skew our perception of reality. We can protest racism and social injustice, and when those in power try to change the narrative and quiet us, we can roar louder. We can rise as one and let our voices be heard. We can tell them that we, not them, are the coalition of the many, and if they don’t stand in the gap, we will surely find someone who will!