I once had great faith in the American system. I mean, they talked such a great game, from FDR through MLK to AOC. But in the end, I came to realize that rhetoric is no more than hot air. The rich get richer, the poor dumber and the country more fucked-up every day. And that’s how people want to keep it.
America is founded on a dishonest claim. Jefferson, a slave holder, wrote that “all men were created equal”. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. The same duplicity plays out today in a constant depressing spew, from gerrymandering and Super Pacs to a politicized Supreme Court and gun rights over lives, all of it designed to keep the status quo.
The recent collapse of NFL football player Damar Hamlin speaks to this issue. Pundits and journalists spoke only of their thoughts and prayers for Hamlin while the fans were honestly more focused on their personal stake in the game. Given America’s pretense of faith, they will take time to finally getting around to talking about what they care about, and Hamlin will just be a footnote to an odd year in fantasy football.
Ava DuVernay’s Academy-nominated documentary 13th exposes the intrinsic flaw of America’s 13th Amendment. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
While abolishing slavery is well and good – how did it ever happen in the first place?! – the amendment allows for the practice to continue through the penal system, a system that systematically incarcerates black males in America, a population that, only 4% of the overall population, accounts for 40% of prisoners. DuVernay outlines America’s dismal history of discrimination and servitude, citing Jim Crow laws as well as the systematic targeting of black leaders such as Angela Davis and Black Panther Fred Hampton.Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Clinton are all indicted for the role in the morass as well as So-Called President Trump. Most insidious of all is the monetization of the mass incarcerations – corporations such as WalMart and Time Warner directly profiting from these policies – as well as the understanding that another iteration of the racist laws awaits us all. DuVernay’s film needs to be seen. Okay, so what are you doing? Watch it now!
The property at Oak Alley Plantation is something to behold. One of dozens of Louisiana plantations along the Mississippi River that once oversaw the farming of sugar cane, this house features 300-year-old oaks lining the walk. The history of the Creole family who owned the home is also intriguing; ice was imported, at a cost of thousands of dollars per week, for their regular dinner parties. And the fact that you can drink a mint julep throughout the tour is hard to resist.But no matter how hard they might try, and how sweet the drink, none of it works. History gets in the way.And then the mint julep isn’t so sweet; none of it it is.
A partial list of slaves who lived and died at the Oak Alley Plantation
It becomes a dark place with a dark past, and nothing, not even the lovely avenue of trees, can change any of that.
I’ve seen too many polls as of late regarding this racism thing in the United States. More than anything, I am confounded by the manner in which the ‘information’ is delivered, newscasters frowning as they read, “Black people don’t trust authority and white people can’t understand why that is.” It’s like the damn gun issue – everyone talking and no one listening.
Here’s my dime: It’s going to take a long time yet for this society to recover from the abomination that was slavery.And for any positive changes to occur, whites need to be a hell of a lot more understanding, accommodating and trusting toward blacks. (Exclamation point.)