The struggle continues

I’d like to believe, as MLK said, that the arc of the universe, though long, bends towards justice.

I’m currently reading An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States’ and it makes me feel like the bad guys win more than the good guys. I am white. I benefit from it. I live on land that was stolen. Blood land. But I don’t see that struggle or any others before or since as white vs people of color. We each choose our side. We decide whether we will fight for, quite simply, good or evil. Those are the teams.

I hope it bends towards justice, all I know is that history repeats itself. But as Vince Lombardi would have said, as long as time hasn’t run out, then our side hasn’t lost.

An old friend of the family, a political activist her whole life, but in NYC asked me about Stacey Abrams chances, here where I live, in Georgia.

I told her that if there weren’t voter suppression, Stacey Abrams would have won the last time. More recently, we elected two democratic senators, but since then the new voter suppression law has passed and this sort of thing has been going on not just in the south but in every swing state, north or south, for decades, and not enough people have taken notice until now. I hope its not too late. So, Stacey’s chances would be good, if the election isn’t stolen which it might be. But she leads that fight, and at the very least she will shine a light on it.

I’ve thought for years that eventually we would overwhelm the suppression with enough votes and by the time we were in charge, Democrats would have a super majority. But it’s now clear that Republicans see the writing on the wall and are willing to do almost anything to maintain power, including a coup. And if they have enough support among the merciless types that have darkened much of this country’s history, it could be violent and it won’t be easy to stop.

So, it is war, I told her. A war of ideas, and hopefully not a real war, but not so different from the challenges every generation faces. If the arc is to bend towards justice, this is one of those times that we have to fight to push it there.

And (I hope), we will.

6 thoughts on “The struggle continues

  1. Coming from an election process and government system based off the British form, I have no idea what “voter suppression” is, but it sounds distinctly anti-democratic. I don’t know which side you feel you’re on, the winners’ or the losers’, the good guys’ or the bad, and you haven’t expressed any sentiments regarding your benefiting from living on stolen blood land, neither guilt nor affirmation. The concepts of “good” and “bad” are largely what you were brought up to believe they are. There is very little stepping back and seeing that a lot of what is, just IS; neither good nor bad, simply different. Europeans coming to the Americas had some preconceived notion of manifest destiny, that God had ordained that they were the acme of creation and had the divine right to conquer peoples they encountered who were unenlightened about God’s will. It never occurred to them that they were perhaps wrong, and that they should regard their new acquaintances as living out their own divine purpose. Much of what human beings lack is respect for their fellow man. It has very little to do with “loving thy neighbour” and a lot with “if no one is getting hurt, then shut the fuck up.”


    • Here in the US the Republican party has been engaging for decades in tactics to shave points in states that are close. Our electoral college process for electing a president, for most states, is all or nothing, so if you can suppress enough votes to win by a hair, you get all of that state’s delegates. They do this by providing fewer machines to precincts that vote predominantly democratic, to make long lines, by using old machines that undercount the votes, by purging people from the poles on some illegitimate pretense, by limiting voting times (to make it hard for the working poor) and by claiming that the other side is cheating when it was them all along (and most recently by storming the capital). In the state of GA they just passed a new law, because previous efforts wasn’t enough (and similar laws have been passed in other states), that go so far as to outlaw handing out water to people waiting on long lines to vote, and giving the outgoing republican administrations, who administer the elections they are party to, the power to disregard the results. That’s voter suppression. As for how I feel about living on stolen land – I think it’s important to know. But I don’t think that we can really give the land back to those who it was stolen from, because they are all dead. We can acknowledge that a wrong was done. It’s important to do that so that we can stop repeating history and try to right some of the legacy effects of genocide and slavery. My ancestors weren’t even here then, so for many reasons I don’t feel guilty about it. But I do benefit, and maybe wealthy people (which I don’t consider myself, but in comparison to others I might be) should stop complaining about “sharing” their “hard earned cash” with people who are worse off who suffer a continuing legacy from which we benefit. I don’t agree that our concept of good or bad are always what we are brought up to believe. I don’t believe that it’s all relative. I believe that there are some absolutes. But I do agree that to some extent what is, just is, and at this point we can’t fix that past, and we don’t fix the future by taking away my land. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still help.

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  2. “Voter suppression” consists of laws and practices intended to make it more difficult for certain groups of people to vote. An example of the former is the requirement of voter ID which is difficult to get if you don’t have a car or a driver’s license or the ability to take time off from work. An example of the latter is shutting down of polling places and removal of voting machines in areas where poor people and minorities live.

    Voter suppression at the present moment in history is primarily being done by the Republican Party, but I don’t think either U.S. party represents the U.S. public as a whole. There is a bipartisan consensus among the leaders in favor of continual war, prosecuting whistle-blowers and truth-tellers, protecting monopoly business from regulation and wealthy oligarchs from high taxes, etc. I am not optimistic about changing this, but I haven’t lost hope.

    I, too, read the Indigenous People’s History of the United States and feel bad about it. At the same time, I don’t know of any white person who intends to give the American land back or any indigenous person who expects this to happen.
    Maybe we could pay a tax or rent the land we own to the Indian nation that was the original owner.


  3. The way I feel about reparations in general is that it is impossible to make right was was done wrong to people who are no longer living. Yes, there are descendants, but I certainly don’t think that giving anyone money is going to solve the problems or get them to where they would have been if none of that had happened. They wouldn’t even be alive – their particular set of genes wouldn’t have come together if history had been different. If you believe in reincarnation, then their spirits might have been occupying a different set of genes, but they could also, then, theoretically be reincarnated from the spirit of their own oppressor. So who do we repair? To me, the acknowledgement that this country has done wrong should lead us towards a generosity in helping those who still suffer from a legacy of oppression to thrive, whatever that means in today’s world as it stands. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t also acknowledge what the US has done right – we are not united, and we never have been, and we shouldn’t even try to be, in my opinion. We, as is the rest of the world, are in a struggle between two sides, and we always have been, and it’s not red vs white it is a struggle of ideas. I think we have to learn from the past, to do better in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of the things Canada is struggling with right now, regarding our indigenous people, is the entire phenomenon of “residential schools”, which attempted to “take the Indian out” of indigenous children. It was a horrible chapter in our history, one of which many of us were completely unaware, until survivors started speaking up about their treatment at the hands of the government and the Catholic church, both of which administered these institutions. Not only were these children taken from their families, often abused, and “brainwashed” so they lost their native languages and culture, but many of them died and their parents were never informed why their children did not return home. Already thousands of unmarked graves have been found on the grounds of several of these schools and our whole country, or at least anyone with a conscience, has been thrown into a state of mourning since this discovery. Flags are still flying at half mast. This is not a uniquely Canadian issue. There were residential schools in the U.S. as well, but the shit just hasn’t hit the fan yet.
      Of course there is nothing that can be done for the victims of these crimes. As you say, they are dead. But there are still survivors who suffered at the hands of nuns, priests and white “educators”. They deserve amends. There are the families who lost children, never knowing their fates. They also deserve closure. If we want to go back to the very beginning, when the French first started spreading Christianity among the “savages” because it was “God’s will” that they do so, then the Church needs to answer to those policies. There are still many indigenous communities that do not have proper amenities, such as consistently drinkable water, living in inhospitable environments, who suffer from discrimination at the hands of employers, coffee shop owners, and bus drivers. Indigenous women are still more likely than white to be raped and murdered and disappear, and police turn a blind eye when these things happen. I could go on, but I don’t want to because just typing these few things is already upsetting me.
      So since you can’t do anything for the victims who are already dead, you can do something for the survivors, for the descendants of the people whose lands were stolen from them, who were forced to live in reservations and who suffered at the hands of both government and church so that you can live a comfortable life. The first thing is to acknowledge that this happened. To express your anger and your disappointment to the government and churches responsible, to look for their acknowledgement and apologies, and demand that past wrongs be righted. No, you can’t give back the land that was taken, but you can try to make life better for indigenous communities by recognizing them for who and what they are, and by donating money to organizations that are trying to make life better for them. You can hire them to work in your business, ask an elder to tell you about the old days, learn about native customs and culture. In other words, don’t sweep the whole thing under the rug and say, “This doesn’t concern me. It wasn’t even my ancestors who did this.” I come from a similar place: my ancestors were fleeing persecution in Europe and came here to live unmolested by pogroms and Nazis. They were also victims, but as a white person, I live a life of privilege that my great grandparents wouldn’t have recognized, and I owe it to the people who suffered at the first settlers’ hands to give something back.


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