The incongruity of America is a feature not a bug. Off the top of my head:
- We got rich by legalizing slavery for 250 years, then had (and have) the gall to refuse to pay reparations to the people who created the wealth through their forced labor.
- We glorified a pioneer spirit moving across the land from east to west, but really we were murdering indigenous people who lived here for thousands of years who happened to be in our way.
- We landed on the moon, but never publicly acknowledged the Black women mathematicians and engineers whose calculations made it possible. Only the white male astronauts made the cover of the papers.
- We fill our grocery stores with mounds of perfect, polished fruits, but we criminalize the immigrant farm workers who endure low pay, dangerous working conditions, and diminished dignity.
- We have prisons filled with people (mostly black and brown) who possessed small amounts of drugs, but now we legalize weed and people (mostly white) are making millions of dollars.
We excel at clinging to the narrative that our belief in democratic ideals is what will save us, but we don’t show up to the voting booth when it matters – and it ALWAYS matters. [See current president of the U.S.]
If you’re reading this and saying to yourself, “I always vote! It’s someone else who is not voting! Me me me I am a good citizen!” you’re still part of the problem. Our reactions and votes have to stop being about ‘ME AND MY FAMILY FIRST’ and must become about the family you probably don’t know personally, but who has way less access and protection than you. Are you uncomfortable?? Good. Democracy is not a set-it-and-forget-it enterprise. It requires a constant tension and vigilance, which usually feels like discomfort. Get used to it.
Now that our white boys and men are murdering school children on a regular basis, we are finally/maybe/hopefully at an inflection point. The decades of children being poisoned by lead paint and water wasn’t enough to wake us up, but the threat of an AR-15 killing someone we love is now very, very real.
How do we fix it?
We confront our legacy, we get super uncomfortable, and we commit to acting and doing right by the people who have less than us.
Here’s some resources:
Know your polling place and upcoming election dates, this is my favorite poll finder for obvious reasons.
For Californians, look up elections here.
Get involved locally. Here is the Indivisible group I work with in my community.
Pissed about guns? Everytown has action plans for you.
Read about and practice discomfort: So You Want to Talk About Race? by Ijeoma Oluo
More to come. We have no choice but to fix this. We can and will do this.