Bombs of Injustice need Deactivation
This time of the year is full of tradition. Folks start getting the grill & necessities ready. Somebody TRUSTED is probably making the potato salad (no raisins & No Rona) as you read this. But this is unlike any other July 4th weekend, in our lifetime. Yet, we will press on and find some semblance of tradition and joy in the midst of this most unusual season.
So, as some celebrate the bombs bursting in air this weekend, it seems fitting to have a reality check. Just as we can’t ignore the excess explosions in our communities, lately, we must take time to reflect on the bombs that have been detonating in the lives of Black, Brown & Native people for centuries. Other people of color have been subjected to bombs, too, but, let the record show that the damage for some of us has been catastrophic, leaving craters nearly impossible to fill. Some bombs have names, like:
“war on drugs”;
urban renewal/negro removal;
racist federal/state/local policies;
“The Plan” (aka gentrification aka urban renewal 2.0);
devaluation (human & community);
Persistent, inequitable access to myriad resources.
Each bomb was designed to exact a specific toll on specific targets — physical, psychological or both. Some bombs are silent, like; implicit biases; inaccurate narratives; “the look”; silence. And, we must add #TheRona as the latest bomb that is exploding around & inside of us.
Explosions aren’t new to Black people — there’s nothing new under the sun. And, yet, we keep picking up the pieces and moving on — even up. Still, too often, we move on as walking wounded, needing emotional emancipation.
I won’t say “happy Independence Day/4th of July” any longer, because independence is still elusive for Black, Brown, Native & some people of color in this land. Even Juneteenth (a new discovery for some), didn’t provide the full extent of freedom for all of us. Unfortunately, the Emancipation Proclamation was more symbolic than actual freedom & equality in our real lives today.
There are still no equal rights under law for all of us in America. “Liberty and justice for all”, still has an asterisk for some. In fact, the current state of the union has given rise to old bombs finding fresh powder, so they are igniting again.
You know, like when a developer starts to build a new property, after tearing down an old building. They dig deep — or just below the foundation — and, sometimes, discover relics from the past. Sometimes, they happen upon remnants of past wars; including, previously undetonated devices.
Panic and caution ensues around the building site. And, unless you proceed with caution, to handle & dispose of the bomb properly, it could still do damage. They never toss it in another hole and try to bury it again — it MUST be destroyed, if you want future inhabitants to be safe. Let that marinate.
The Truth will make YOU Free
So, as we are witnessing the incessant explosions of injustice, racism and other aforementioned bombs; around the nation & world; we need to pay attention to what’s exploding. The explosions are due to our failures to properly destroy past bombs.
Legislation might have covered up some bombs. A few elected folks & communities might have given the appearance of detonating them before. In fact, they were just buried, so someone else could unbury them and re-ignite the fuse.
Daveed Diggs poignantly recalls the words that Frederick Douglass recited on July 5th, 1852. He mixes contemporary, visual explosions with the incendiary words of this great man of history. The speech, “What to My People is the Fourth of July,” should be a wake up call to all people who really believe that liberty and justice is for ALL (without an asterisk).
American gained independence from an oppressor, only to oppress others. How do you recognize the immeasurable value of freedom, only to take it from others? If we are to fully celebrate, we need to indict, convict & remove the bomb-makers that create oppression, through policy and practice. We need to make sure that no hidden bombs of unintended consequences remain in an independent nation. And when un-exploded bombs are discovered, during the building of new communities of practice, we must commit to deactivating and/or detonating bombs — always striving for minimal, if any damage. Every march in the streets is igniting bombs & detonating land mines of oppression. Each call/note/tweet to elected people condemning bombmakers is part of the deactivation process. And, yes, Freedom-fighters can be bomb-makers, too (that’s multi-tasking). They blowing up systems that were buried in plain sight. And they can still detonate & deactivate unjust weaponry so it stops harming people.
Know that there is always collateral damage when bombs are exploded — explosions disrupt the atmosphere. But, we need that level of explosive commitment, if we want future generations of Frederick Douglass’ lineage to celebrate true liberation. His great descendants created a beautiful message of recollection and hope for all of us to reflect upon.
We must keep dismantling & destroying these bombs around us. We must also disarm those who keep building bombs of injustice. If you’re not in the detonation business, you are complicit in the bomb-making.