Thursday, March 3, 2016

Winter in America

Hola mi Gente,

I am a contrarian by nature and sometimes there is a professional price to pay for that…

* * *


A New Morning

… I open my eyes
I am living
at the center
of a wound still fresh.
-- Octavio Paz, Dawn

Since 2009, 95% of income gains from 2009 to 2012 went to the top 1% of the earning population. This “New Economy,” namely the inequality people of color have experienced for centuries, whites experience as solitary and alienated individuals. Chris Rock’s observation that a white person would never trade skins with a black person has some merit, and truth be told various groups of white Americans might feel they belong, that there is a system that looks out for them. However, today more than ever, individually they suffer the stings of corporate indifference just like anyone else (almost).

A white man today might identify with a white, male, Christian president, for example (though that has not been the reality for some time now), but what value does that identification have when you are on the unemployment line or when your wife cleans out your savings accounts and leaves you?

Every U.S. citizen is essentially a unit of labor. This labor is owned by corporations. Each individual may dispose of his or her labor as he or she wishes, but ultimately the employer owes the laborer nothing. In a very real way, this fact can potentially unite the historical experience of people of color and the new day dawning on the rest of our nation. This might be a new day, but it is not necessarily a good new day. Or, as Gil Scott-Heron said, it’s Winter in America. Awakening to the political fact that you are an economic slave can bring us together, but we are pitted against one another. Even poor or oppressed whites can look further down and find (false) refuge in the knowledge that the faces at the bottom of the well are mostly black and brown.

I am attempting to understand, by looking at inequality, the problems that confront the vast majority in America. I want to understand how we can free ourselves from the chains that bind us together in this dysfunctional and horrific dance of death and hatred. While these chains are more easily recognized in the experience of people of color, they are also the same chains that shackle us all.

Some of us are looking at social change in fear. Some view the reality of a black president as a threat somehow. Others see a Latina Supreme Court justice and fear that their freedoms will be taken away. Still others see the decreasing power of religious dogma and seethe with self-righteous indignation and hatred. It is an irrational fear with far-reaching potentially catastrophic consequences. It compels some of us to kill and maim.

Today, I am not looking to advance a particular dogma or socio-political agenda. I am not looking to socialist, Marxist, or capitalistic experiments as an answer to our social and economic problems. Rather, I want to look directly into the maws of capitalism to see if there’s a way to survive the onslaught.

I like to think that I -- all of us, actually -- stand at the intersection of knowledge and action. Rebellion is the primary movement of knowledge. Violence and oppression rob us of the ability to understand. Without understanding, there can be no growth, no evolution, no recognition of truth, and no tomorrow -- only an endless reverberation of gray todays.

If we refuse to look at and understand the restraints placed on all of us by history, economics, self-image, the media, politics, and the misuse of technology, we will never be free. The alternative to knowledge and action is ignorance and enslavement. The shackles I speak of threaten to enslave everyone in America and therefore, concern us all. When the logical consequence of a popular and mass ideology is murder and oppression, we are in a crisis that may enable us to become the first species to make themselves extinct.

My name is Eddie and I'm in recovery from civilization... 

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