BY BOB BEARDEN
Black lives matter – that’s a phrase no one should have to repeat or say. Every life should matter, but here we are in the 21st Century and racism is still rearing its ugly head.
We have just elected a Congress whom I don’t see as being willing to do anything to make changes in our lives, that will in any practical way work towards ending the hate, bigotry or racism that prevails like a cancer through the very fabric of our lives.
It seems strange that those on the right rail against our government and cry about government overreach. Then when a young black man is killed by agents of that same government cheer loudly that our system of government – the very one they say is stifling them – now works perfectly and that justice was done.
Justice was not done, our system is broken and it is beginning to look like it isn’t going to get fixed any time soon.
There is a huge racial divide within our nation that over the past few months has opened up into sinkhole of racial divide, and is swallowing us whole. We should have come a long way since Dr. King was murdered by a white racist in Memphis some 46 years ago, but obviously we haven’t. If anything we have slid backwards. It makes no sense in a time when social media allows us to see almost everything happening on the planet instantly.
We have elected a black president twice and by that act alone we should have beyond the barrier of racial divide, closed the gap on bigotry and hate. Yet by that very act of doing, hate, bigotry and racism seems to have increased and multiplied, not abated nor decreased.
We have more bigotry and hate floating around today than we seemly had in 1968 and a lot of it is being slowly and deliberately institutionalized into the very fabric of our government.
Laws are being passed in state after state to once again marginalize minorities from exercising their inherent right to vote. When we should be working together to bring more and more of our citizens into the mix, we see less and less of working together, and more and more disenfranchisement of our citizens and more and more restrictions of their rights.
Women are marginalized over whether or not they should be allowed the right to control their own bodies. And that has become a moral and religious issue when it should be simply a matter of choice – the individual woman’s! More and more of our students are shut out of the political process by having their right to vote restricted and abridged
In a nation that once lead the world in free education students are faced with an almost insurmountable mountain of debt just to make it through college. The United States, once the unchallenged leader in public education, is now not even in the Top 10 among industrialized nations in how many of our children graduate from high school. And segregation is now being re-introduced to our society in the guise of Charter schools and gate shuttered communities.
To say race and racism doesn’t play a role in what is happening in our society is to say you are looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.
We went to the polls in November and elected perhaps the most radically anti-minority, anti-government Congress since the 1850s. A Congress whose only goal over the next two years is to destroy this nation’s first duly elected [by a wide margin] black president whose accomplishments should rank him among the best we’ve ever had. Yet everything he has done since he was elected to office, the opposition has only tried to destroy. By their own hands they are telling our citizens and the world they are not for progress.
While our first black president is far from perfect, when you look at what he has done in six years in office, few presidents beyond FDR or LBJ have even come close to what he has been able to accomplish, and FDR and LBJ had much more compliant congresses to deal with when they were passing Social Security, Medicare, Voting Rights and Civil Rights and other much needed social measures.
Yes, black lives matter, just as all lives matter, but we shouldn’t have to continue to have this conversation over black or white or color or gender or sexual orientation. We should have reached a time when the color of one’s skin should have absolutely no bearing on the person that they are. When one’s gender doesn’t mean they get paid better wages and one’s sexuality has no bearing on who they are.
We are not yet there and, in point of fact, we seem to be going in the other direction.
I realize we live in an imperfect world and that there will likely always be haters, bigots and racists, but we should resist allowing them to seize the day and we should resist with every fiber of our beings allowing them to institutionalize their hatred, their bigotry and their racism.
If this election pointed up anything, it proved we have an electorate that doesn’t have a clue as to what the real issues are or one who will go to the polls and vote. And those in the electorate who do go to the polls often vote against their own best interest.
Many of our voters seem to have strange voting patterns, like those in Arkansas who went to the polls and voted overwhelming to raise the minimum wage, yet also voted into the U.S. Senate a man who campaigned against raising the minimum wage in Arkansas.
How exactly does that make any sense?
Black lives matter because, as my minister, the Rev. Dr. Robin Meyers says, “Either we all matter or none of us do!”
– Bob Bearden, a frequent contributor to The Oklahoma Observer, is a member of Mayflower Congregational Church, UCC in Oklahoma City and the Central Oklahoma Community Forum