Adding to the Betty Cracker post earlier about HRC and BLM, it’s not difficult to fear the same thing happening to BLM that happened to OWS. Granted, the movements are not the same. Economic inequality lacks the urgent life or death reality that face the black community, as their lives really are at risk for just doing what white people like me do every day and don’t think twice about it. Things like driving to the grocery store, or walking down the street, or going to the pool, or, well, basically anything seems to be excuse enough to shoot a black person these days. So there is an urgency that separates the two movements.
There are also similarities- mostly structural, in that a decentralized organic movement like this has all kinds of different actors with different ideals and different attitudes towards what is productive and what is not. There is no rigid leadership structure, and were there one, it would probably kill the movement anyway. People who follow protest movements are in a much better position to discuss this than I am, so I will just stop there.
But one key similarity that OWS and BLM have in common that continues to lead to these uncomfortable Jerry Maguire/Rod Tidwell “Help me help you” moments such as the most recent video that Betty was discussing is that economic inequality and racial inequality are such large foundations of what this country is and what we are made of that no one really knows where to start in a way that will succeed. It’s just that entrenched in our society, and the issues of racial and economic inequality are concomitantly inexorably intertwined yet disparate issues. This is, after all, a nation that was literally built on the backs of slaves, yet race is not the key reason that so much economic inequality exists.
The very structure of our society has, over the last 50 years, created an impenetrable and impregnable wall between the haves at the very top and the rest of us. The very few own and control most everything- the laws favor the status quo, the tax structure favors the status quo, the bought and paid for Congress and statehouses favor the status quo, the media favors the status quo, and on and on. Anything that changes the status quo is vigorously fought to the death, while things that aid those already in power seem to breeze through our legislatures and courts (see the erosion of civil liberties, the erosion of the Bill of Rights except for the 2nd Amendment, Citizens United, and so on). And it goes without saying that those at the top of the economic ladder are also mostly white, mostly male, and mostly not willing to give up anything.
So while we may have reached a tipping point with the populace screaming for change, the deck is so stacked against us in favor of those already with institutional and economic power that really, it’s difficult to figure out where to go and what to do, and screaming for change becomes just screaming. This is not a bug, this is by design.
So how do you tell people who are working three minimum wage jobs, trying to raise a family, living paycheck to paycheck to be patient, we just made a little progress with Wall Street Regulation and the CFTC, and Seattle just raised it’s minimum wage. How do you tell a terrorized African-American population, a group that daily watches the police execute one of their own in the streets for not having a front license plate or for walking in the wrong place or looking nervous or suspicious or wearing a hoodie to be patient and to focus on the state and local level? I honestly don’t know. I don’t know how you tell people things are getting better when they clearly aren’t or at the very least sure don’t feel like it.
So we’re back at the beginning. How do you harness the energy of movements like BLM and make actual, tangible, immediate things happen? And how do you stop people from yelling at each other when they are basically on the same side to focus the rage where it belongs- into real plans of action? If you know, you’re smarter than me. And, apparently, the Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley campaigns.
And before you comment, don’t flay me over nitpicky bullshit. This was just a stream of consciousness post about things. There was no intent to diminish or demonize anyone in my words, just me wondering aloud. Give me the benefit of the doubt for once, fer fuck’s sake. I’m a white guy in a white state who is relatively financially secure trying to grapple with things that haven’t spent my whole life thinking about.