Sunday Streams of Consciousness

Turbulent thoughts about today, and the world | July 21, 2019

This weekend is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing. For young Americans, it’s hard to picture our country, or our world, as united as it’s described on that day. 650 million people watched it live on TV. Historically, it was the first global TV event. The astronauts – Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collings – went on a world tour upon their return that spanned 27 cities in 24 countries, with people flocking by the millions to see conquerors of the cosmos. A global Roman triumph.

We’re far enough away, that, 25 percent of Americans don’t believe it even happened.

I can’t blame them. The skepticism is hard to shrug off even on good days in 2019. It took 400,000 people and countless hours to put humanity on the moon. Is the United States capable of that kind of feat anymore? Can we invest in a seemingly impossible goal, and make the needed collective sacrifices?

Currently, we’re not.

We aren’t spending a fraction of the money we did in the 1960's to achieve the same goal. This time around there is more competition and haywire climate change. These are very sensitive topics for us, Americans. Rather than actually discuss the challenges we face, we sweep away solutions because of their “price tags.” Unfortunately, sticker shock crept its way from retail aisles into our government budgets. In doing so, we ignore the public investments needed to adapt to economic, environmental and political shifts.

To our cultural chagrin, a whole nation forcing a smile on its face will not suddenly make modern life’s negative aspects disappear.

I want to chalk it up to our nation’s youth but, when we’ve paraded our “exceptionalism” around the world, we don’t get to use that excuse. We’ve been so successful, truth be told, that most nations around the world are even younger than ours because of the chain of events set off by the American Revolution.

Even when we achieved the pinnacle of the world, we still couldn’t outgrow our oldest shortcomings. We are exceptional in our ability to innovate but we are utterly ordinary in sustainability. We see things as one-and-done: the space program, our education system, our infrastructure, our quality of life, and even the Voting Rights Act. We’ve achieved it, so now it will be so.

That temporal idealism is a rot in America’s core.

It has been weaponized by the same oppressive forces time-and-time again. Even when progress seems on an unstoppable march, those forces bide their time waiting for it to splinter. The weight of progress is too great for the mass. They know Americans only have an oh-so-small window for progress before a rebellion.

Our obsessive angst toward a collective has reached the end of its usefulness. The world is bigger now, and we’re playing a different game than 50 years ago. It’s not the United States vs. the Soviet Union. It’s a multipolar and multidimensional chess board with different actors every day. With the rise of the internet, individuals can go to toe-to-toe with nations, but nations can also pinpoint individuals anywhere on the globe.

While we play our games, the Earth waits as long as it can for us to grow up.

The Republicans who go on CNN can't seem to grasp that the reason racism comes up so much is because our nation was FOUNDED on slavery, and then we institutionalized racism (again) after slavery was "over" in the form of Jim Crow.

That gets us all the way to 1965.

We are only 54 years from the passing of the Voting Rights Act. Do you know what we've done since then? GUTTED IT. We ripped out its heart, stomped on it, and asked it to try and find a DMV. That was in 2013.

Between 1965 and 2013, we threw every Black and Brown man, woman, and child we could behind a fence. According to the 13th Amendment, as long as you're a criminal, you're a slave.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. – 14th Amendment of the US Constitution

Today, there are there are 2,300,000 slaves in the United States. (Prison Policy Project)

Black Americans make up 40% of that incarcerated population, despite representing only 13% of U.S residents. All those overzealous senators in the 80’s and 90’s, and the state of criminal justice today, make a lot more sense when you see them building plantations rather than prisons. At the top of the world after vanquishing its Soviet rival, the United States believed itself above international reproach and returned to quench its insatiable thirst for a racial caste system.

Democrats and Republicans, hand-in-hand, built the mass incarceration system and the global cyber–surveillance apparatus that followed for the same purpose: to monitor Black and Brown people praying / speaking / voting (re: paying) incorrectly.

Now, establishment America feigns shock as our president acts as he always has. Truthfully, as the United States always has: ahistorical, crass, and indignant. Trump’s policies aren’t too far from past administrations. What is different about this grifter is his shamelessness to openly flout the gas American elites like to pour in secret.

Although it is not solely our sin, we are the one’s who built the richest nation in history, preaching individual liberty, while we shouted at those we stood on to be grateful for scraps.

So in 2019, when someone tries to be hyperbolic about the rhetorical use of slavery, Jim Crow, or mass incarceration in political discussions, it is clear where they stand. When someone tries to make a justification for President Trump’s actions or words (even though Americans like to forget, words are actions), the motivations are plain to see. When someone tries to distance themselves from their historical parallels – in a futile attempt to preserve their crafted reality – the muted writing is on the wall.

We don’t need to wait for history to call Racists what they are.