By: Sidra Owens
The question of the day is, which –ism will lead to the destruction of the United States of America as we know it? The current political system, whether democrat or republican, whether conservative or liberal will tell you that the most deadly –ism to America is terrorism. And they would be right, but not the way anyone thinks.
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.
Most people would disagree with this basic definition because it doesn’t get into the political nuances and the global use of terror, as an attack. The truth is the first ones to always get terrorized are our own. Children terrorize other schoolmates, usually because they are different. They are too fat, too short, they stutter, they don’t speak the language, they’re poor; anything that is considered different can be a target for elementary school age children. And the sad thing is that it’s learned from their parents; either they watch or listen to them ostracize others or they are ostracized themselves; so when in Rome, right?
Terrorism from overseas is not what’s going to bring this nation down. It’s terrorism from within. What drives this terrorism? Xenophobia; the fear of anything foreign or strange. After all this time, all the centuries, all of the education and scientific discovery, we are still just a pack of mammals throwing a fit because someone knew has the audacity to step foot in our playground. So what happens when someone new shows up, we survey them, see what’s different, see what’s we perceive is superior and then we go through painstaking lengths to dehumanize them. That is the stage that the United States is stuck in; a consistent and systemic dehumanization of any one different and those who are different for the most part are the African-Americans. We have been “the other” since Africans were brought here 400 years ago. But the context of it has altered over time as well. The –isms in our country have merged. Xenophobia led to terrorism, due to racism. But as African Americans are dehumanized and subjugated, other –isms begin to rear their ugly heads. Separatism, of course, then classism and elitism. Now it stopped at separatism for a while; for the first seventy years of the twentieth century, it was par for the course. But as the 1970s moved into the 1980s, the public enemy was communism and making money was the focus for many; people would say there was an improvement in race relations and the separatism was a thing of the past. That line of thinking continued through the 90s and into the twenty-first century, but with that, came the information age. Knowledge and communication via the internet soared and has never looked back. And a new dividing line began to develop, one that African Americans were still on the negative side of, but we weren’t alone. Latin Americans were there with us, along with poor to middle class whites, the homeless, the disabled (veterans included) and the mentally ill. We have all found ourselves on the shit end of the money stick. Since we have no money, we have no power and having no power means that you have no say, no voice. So anything can happen to you, anything can be done to you and there is nothing that you can do about it. This is where we find ourselves, right now, as you read this. Knee deep in the classism and elitism that has piggy backed on separatism and racism of the past, garnering in an age of domestic terrorism at the hands of the police force, the justice system and the political machine.
So I ask you once again, which –ism will lead to the destruction of the United States of America as we know it? The answer is all of them. And to hammer in how desperate of a time we are living in, the country is poised to usher in despotism, with the potential election of Donald Trump. Despite the fact that his supporters don’t see it, or they see it and love it, he is hiding fascism in his back pocket, pulling it out incrementally to work his peanut gallery into a frenzy; scare the fuck out of the sane side of America and cause the rest of the world to prepare for the worst. The only savings grace “may” be that Hitler, who was a fascist despot, seemed fairly intelligent, whereas on the other hand, Donald Trump is a reality show scam artist, whose own party doesn’t even want him to be elected.
We’re dying out here.
The political system and the corporations are collecting money hand over fist from us. The police are trained to kill what they see as different, based on a culture of xenophobic driven racism, separatism and hate. We are not human to any of them. We don’t matter; we can be murdered and no justice will be had. Understand, as I stated above, although blacks, especially black men are being targeted and executed regularly on the streets of America; they aren’t the only ones. Any brown-skinned minority, mentally or physically disabled, the poor, the meek, the powerless; we are all targets. The rich get richer; pass laws to get even richer; and they kill all of the little people, merely as a distraction, so that we can’t see what they are doing. A slight of hand so that they can steal our lives away, both figuratively and literally.
But we are all people.
We have the same hopes and dreams; to live, have a family, raise our kids, live a good life and hopefully pass on from this world with something to leave to our children and a little bit of dignity. That isn’t too much to ask for, so why are so many working so hard to deny us that?
The solutions aren’t pretty and they aren’t easy. Maybe we could all do things the way they were done in the 60s; through sacrifice, hard work and risk of death to make a change; but many of us are not willing to give up so much. The most likely solution is the revolutionary one that the early colonist chose to loose themselves from Britain; war. A bloody war fought on American soil, between brothers in humanity; fighting and dying just to hold on to the right to live in peace. In many ways, it’s already begun. The targets of this –ism treachery would be fighting to survive; but I have to ask, what are the perpetrators fighting for?
We are all the same. Those five words may be the only thing that can save us. Just like pedaling hate, if we can pedal this mantra: We are all the same; maybe we can give our country a chance, a singular chance to turn this train wreck around.
Exert from, “A Time to Kill”
“Now I wanna tell you a story. I’m gonna ask ya’all to close your eyes while I tell you this story. I want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to yourselves.
This is a story about a little girl walking home from the grocery store one sunny afternoon. I want you to picture this little girl. Suddenly a truck races up. Two men jump out and grab her. They drag her into a nearby field and they tie her up, and they rip her clothes from her body. Now they climb on, first one then the other, raping her, shattering everything innocent and pure — vicious thrusts — in a fog of drunken breath and sweat. And when they’re done, after they killed her tiny womb, murdered any chance for her to bear children, to have life beyond her own, they decide to use her for target practice. So they start throwing full beer cans at her. They throw ’em so hard that it tears the flesh all the way to her bones — and they urinate on her.
Now comes the hanging. They have a rope; they tie a noose. Imagine the noose pulling tight around her neck and a sudden blinding jerk. She’s pulled into the air and her feet and legs go kicking and they don’t find the ground. The hanging branch isn’t strong enough. It snaps and she falls back to the earth. So they pick her up, throw her in the back of the truck, and drive out to Foggy Creek Bridge and pitch her over the edge. And she drops some 30 feet down to the creek bottom below.
Can you see her? Her raped, beaten, broken body, soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood — left to die.
Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl.
Now imagine she’s white.”
From “A Time to Kill.” 1996
Poignant? Graphic? Excessive? Maybe, but it makes my point. If with every beating, every rape, every murder; if with every injustice that is visited upon one who is different from us in any way, we can stop and think; that could be my brother, my father, my mother, my sister, my son or my daughter… if we could stop and think, that could be me…. if we could stop and think; We are all the same; maybe there can be some salvation for the lot of us.