Thursday, December 4, 2014

Too Carefully Taught

I stared at my smartphone late yesterday afternoon, squinting to make out the news alert not because it was too difficult to read or to see but, rather, too impossible to comprehend.

After Ferguson, Missouri, it's on to New York.

I don't know everything (though I often behave like I do) and I'm now more convinced by the minute that I don't know anything. Except unless we have "the talk" about how we have become two nations, we must concede the American Dream is dead for all of us as it's damn near dead already for too many of us

It's no longer hard to understand how well-meaning, sincere people whose lives are being dismissed as not worth the same as someone else's run out of patience and succumb to their despair and risk being destroyed by their own anger.

I have no words of my own to offer but have found others, written over half a century ago that capture the tenor and tone of today.

"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. For years now I have heard the word 'Wait!' It rings in the ear...with piercing familiarity. 'Wait' has almost always meant 'Never.' We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that 'justice too long delayed is justice denied.'

"But when you have... seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your...brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society...

"...when your first name becomes 'nigger,' your middle name becomes 'boy' (however old you are) and your last name becomes 'John,' and your wife and
mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."...

"...when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

"There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience."

"You've got to be taught to be afraid of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade, you've got to be carefully taught."

The time is long past for new lessons and new teachers. Let the learning begin.
-bill kenny

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