If you are a Democrat, Progressive, Independent or Liberal your world is reeling right now. So just what does being one of “those” mean to me? It means I care about my fellow humans. It means I acknowledge they have the same rights that I have…rights afforded to us by our Constitution. It means if I see an injustice in progress, I will voice an objection. It means I believe that everyone should be entitled to a decent wage for services rendered. It means I believe women and men doing the same job should be equal on the pay scale. It means I value our environment. It means I acknowledge climate change. It means women’s rights are human rights. It means I believe healthcare is a right not a privilege for the rich. It means I believe that public schools are a good and necessary thing. It means I am a patriot. It means I am an American first and this means more to me than a party name.
In a perfect world, everyone would take care of their neighbors or people in need. Unfortunately, the world is not filled with altruistic people. It also contains self-centered people, individuals driven by greed, individuals who live by the philosophy of “every man for himself”. The mindset of these people makes it necessary for there to be laws that enforce protections for the weak or vulnerable among us. It would be a perfect world if every state would do its part, but unfortunately, once again, this doesn’t always happen. For years, Jim Crow laws in the South have suppressed the African-American vote. And even when it wasn’t a law, there existed an undercurrent of “that’s just the way it is done”.
I vividly remember as a child seeing different restrooms for white and “colored”, different water fountains labeled white and colored and when riding a public transportation bus, the accepted norm in the South was that blacks sat in the back of the bus. As a 5-year-old I recognized the unfairness of these Southern social norms. I was fortunate enough to have been raised by parents that weren’t racist..a Mother from North Dakota and a Father from deep in the heart of Alabama. I witnessed my Father getting phone calls in the middle of the night from his African-American truck drivers who had some problem. My Father got in the car and went to help them, to fix the problem, because back then a white man carried more weight than a black man, a white man could fix the problem, and a black man was the “problem” in a white controlled southern environment. From my birth I had a beautiful, loving, kind, gentle black woman who nurtured and cared for me as if I was her own. Daisy was my second Mom. I saw the inconsistencies of those Southern norms… when my Mother was at work and Daisy cared for me in our home, she used the same bathroom we did. Yet when Daisy walked me to the grocery store I saw the signs designating different restrooms for white and colored. At our home, Daisy drank from the same glasses we used, sat at our table and ate lunch with me. She fiercely defended me by chasing a neighborhood friend away with a broom when he tossed a rope around my neck. She loved me and I loved her. And yet outside the walls of our home, she was treated differently, like a second class citizen. As young as I was, I sensed the wrongness of all of this. Only as an adult after reading The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, did I come to realize all of the horrible things that blacks endured which had never crossed my mind. It never occured to me because I was white, blue-eyed, blond hair. Because of these simple physical characteristics endowed to me by the luck of my birth, I never had to endure what blacks had to endure. And when I saw the movie The Help, I sobbed my way through the entire movie. I felt shame. Shame that I inherited just because of the whiteness of my skin. It burned me and left its mark upon my soul.
How was this inequity fixed? The Civil Rights movement of the 60’s and the phenomenal efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King and President Lyndon B. Johnson, made these changes come to fruition. With the Civil Rights Act, some of the inequities began to slowly but surely be removed. But not completely. Southern states and polecat politicians created new Jim Crow laws in attempts to suppress the black voter. Jim Crow was disguised as poll taxes, redistricting, limited voting sites, gerrymandering, changing polling locations and ID laws, all popular methods of suppressing minority voters. A simple solution to eliminate these problems…when you are born you are automatically registered to vote. A simple concept and it eliminates controversy. If you are born here then you simply get to vote.
Change doesn’t happen quickly. It can be painful and it takes patience and tenacity to make it happen. Generations of feet marching, beaten, bloodied bodies and too many senseless deaths have paved that long road to equality.
The federal government has to be the watchdog over the states because unfortunately not all states promote equality. I find it very interesting that the Conservative movement of the Republican Party spouts constitutionality and shouts individual rights, but when it comes time for common sense, they fall way short. The recent elimination of a ban on mentally ill being able to purchase guns is a prime example. Paid for and supported by the NRA, the politicians who are just looking for a paycheck, accept donations from this organization and basically are participating in a “pay for play” agreement. It matters not that it makes absolutely no sense to allow mentally ill people the right to purchase guns. Another example is their fierce obsession with pro-life issues. They rant and rave about the rights of the unborn, but when it comes to funding programs for these children after they are born…they simply vanish into the woodwork. Example… eliminating free lunch programs for children of the poor who might be receiving the only meal they will have for the entire day. Where are the Conservatives and caring people who tout individual rights when these protections are non-existent or eliminated? If Conservatives truly cared, then they would fiercely defend those children after they are born with the same fervor they exhibited when that child was in utero.
I have never been so ashamed of my country as I am today in this political climate. Truth and veracity are being tossed aside, hope is being squashed, and constitutional rights are being trampled. First the Muslim ban was invoked. Then the undocumented were targeted…Transgenders were next on the list. Freedom of the press is being pummeled now. Who or what will be next? Keep a list and tick them off, because what you are witnessing in the United States of America today is, in Steve Bannon’s cruel and sinister words, the “deconstruction” of the United States as we have known it for 240 years. He and his minions have chosen Cabinet members precisely because they are opposed to those government branches. The goal…to bring it all down. When will you reach your moment, your “I’ve had enough this isn’t fair and I can’t live with myself if I support this annihilation of my country moment?” I long ago passed my “moment”. My heart aches. Not over losing an election but for the loss of a beautiful thing…The United States of America.