We are having ourselves a bit of a cultural moment. I originally wrote this post with a long diatribe about the history of America and how we teach it. How we whitewash black lives in our history and then simply wave our hands at Black History Month. How we disappear both the contributions and the horrors.
And I deleted it because it’s not my place to go off on that sort of history.
Black hands built this country for the last 400 years. Black slaves built the White House. Where Lafayette Park now stands, behind where Trump cowers, there was once a slave market. Slaves were offloaded where we are now building high end condos at Navy Yard. Now, there’s a Whole Foods. 12 of our Presidents — 12 — owned slaves. All 12 brought their slaves to serve them while they served their terms.
Black lives were given for our wars. Black blood was spilled for our great capitalist empire. Of course black lives matter. And despite every horrible thing we have done — which is quite a bit — we would not be here without them.
We are way past due for people full of their privilege getting over themselves and turning the horrors of privilege back. Because that’s what this is all about — domination, racism, and privilege.
There’s a post over on the Atlantic called This is How America Gets Better. The story of America is the story of struggle. We were conceived as this equal and perfect union and sunk inequality into the very Constitution itself. Things are bad but, through social upheaval, things do get better. Or, at least, different. The Abolitionist Movement of the 1850s — a movement today that birthed, oddly enough, the Republican Party. The Socialists of the 1890s. The Suffrage Movement of the 1910s. The 1960s. The story of America is little islands of peace between social upheaval.
It’s worth reading.
Way back in the day, back in undergrad, when information on the Internet was hard to find (there was a time!!!), I had a quote file that lived at the root of my home directory on the University of Michigan Engineering servers. When I found a quote I really liked from a book or wherever, I copied it into the file.
I used to have this Frederick Douglass quote near the top:
“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will… Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get.”
– Frederick Douglass, A Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass
I leave you with a link to Frederick Douglass’s “The Meaning of July the Fourth to the Negro.” That is your assigned reading and your homework. There will be a test, goddamnit. Read that, and reflect on your American Exceptionalism.
- 21,048,183 test results. This is great, because it means we have good coverage to find COVID. This is bad, because it’s detecting that the virus is blooming in 14 states. No, the heat does not slow down or stop COVID-19. Sorry.
- 1,983,931 cases. Looks like we’re going to pass 2M.
- 112,334 confirmed dead. Slowed down but still… 112K dead.
- 59,030 cases in MD with 2,846 dead. We’re finding it here through the drive-ins.
- 1 out of 150 people have it in Maryland.