I try to keep up with what’s going on in the world. I read a variety of things about domestic and international affairs. I admit that I don’t retain details as much as I used to. There comes a point after awhile when you read about the Israel/ Palestine conflict, the ongoing Sudanese struggle and the results of excess industrialization in Japan that it all coalesces into this clump of usual noise. You hear about fights for power and capital and people who resist and die. You hear about the enormous wealth generated and the worsening plights of the poor. You see the dominance of certain powers and the subjugation demanded by others.
I had a teacher in high school who spoke about the Marshall Plan directly translating into the world we see today. That line was noteworthy in that it made me think it was both simplistic and very short sighted. It also made me think about the way U.S. history is taught and by extension the way the history of the West is taught. Perhaps it’s a result of proximity or the mantra of white is right that made me root for the Crusaders over the Muslims in the Crusades. Or somehow letting a college professor state ” Greece was the first civilization” without question or challenge. It’s how the Founding Fathers are spoken about in reverence in their fight against the British. Or how the Pioneers who slaughtered the Natives were markers of American ingenuity. History and by extension the contemporary is framed and dispensed through a white centric lens. It is purposeful that as a collective, hearts poured out for the fighting in Bosnia while Rwanda was ignored.
James Baldwin said something to the effect of ,” to be conscious in this country is to be in a state of constant rage”. I reflect on those words often. Nothing is without root and reason. And after awhile it all feels like a big set up. Sometimes when I read the news and some Black person did something crazy, I wonder if someone paid them to do such a thing just to keep us in a bad light. Cause let’s face it one marking the bunch is real and it causes the rest of us in many ways to feel required to dispel any deviance from palatability. It’s too easy for those random crazy acts to be used as justification for why the police need to be as militarized and trigger happy as they are. It keeps defense number one in the funding and education and health care always subtracted from. It keeps rural wastelands above air with a tried and true industry of locking Black people up. You have this continued technological advance in this country and the world that seems hell bent on making literal human beings obsolete and useless. I won’t even begin to get into this pandemic and all the residuals of this time period. I recall words I heard in April 2020 of how ” the world will never be the same”. And how dubious I was then but how true those words ring out now. And in a land that marks itself on liberty and justice for all, it seems like a bad joke when I hear about mandates and people forced to choose between livelihoods and their own free will.
Reading is an addiction now. Has been since I was a child. My grandfather told me to read the newspaper. He also taught me to learn Spanish. It’s a very interesting thing, I think especially since I don’t remember him reading the newspaper that often and he speaks not a word of Spanish. The more I learned though and that I continue to learn, it fills me with unquestionable convictions and so many unknowns. I read contemporary American culture and history and see it for what it is. And think of my participation in systems that were built for my subjugation. There are those who would take offense at the mere thought that I ‘d believe the United States was anything but the greatest country on earth. The irony in that though is that at one point I believed that to be true. There was once a time that the Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of allegiance filled me with almost a tearful reverence in the land that extends sea to shining sea. And I continued to read and learn and question and confront my ignorance and now those songs are almost mocking banter. As is most of the world news one read’s on a daily basis. To quote my grandfather with the bitter cynicism only a Black man born and bred in Jim Crow South could muster, “God Bless America”.