Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I'm tired. Rarely true for me, but today I'm feeling spent; used up. Old.

Maybe it has to do with waking to the sounds of the confirmation hearings of Condoleeza Rice, Ice Queen of Empire. I suddenly felt ancient and impotent. One would have to wonder where this jog in the road toward full equality hit the fatal destructive speed bump. Shouldn't I be feeling victorious? Shouldn't this be the crowning reward for all the years of working toward seeing an African American woman in this position of supreme power? What went wrong? Why do I want to climb back into bed and pull the blankets over my head? Is what I'm feeling shame? Defeat? That this travesty should be taking place on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King adds a note of particularly cruel irony.

Is it possible that -- by the time we African Americans reached the rarified air of the halls of power and all that implies -- we've become hopelessly corrupted by a political system so distorted that even hatred of black/brown skin is less important than out-of-control greed for power and promise of financial gain? What happened that the "water is being carried" by black conservatives for white power brokers on so many fronts? A new form of slavery to the Right? What are the payoffs for them?

What has been gained by Chairman Michael Powell (FCC), Secretary Colin Powell (now thinly-masked displacement for non-comforming to policy); soon-to-be-gone Regent Ward Connerly who has single-handedly fought affirmative action for years resulting in a dramatic loss of enrollees in the universities; Justice Clarence Thomas whose record on the court is an embarrassment to African American Progressives everywhere; and now Armstrong Williams who was an apologist and staffer for the infamous racist Senator Jesse Helms for years and clerk for Justice Thomas -- and now openly admits to taking $250,000 of public funds for lobbying the No Child Left Behind legislation to Black families. What's happened to us? The numbers of sepia turncoats grow with each day as the rewards accumulate from corporate interests and political muscle.

With governmental and corporate control now firmly in the hands of White male Republican conservatives, the voices of African Americans that would serve to balance these opportunistic ones are absent from the debate. Rep. John Conyers, Maxine Waters, and many others are speaking out but not being given the coverage that might balance the impression that we've all sold out and that the civil rights struggles have been lost. Without looking closely at the reality being lived out in the inner cities, one might believe that we have overcome. Not so. I shudder at the thought that anyone would believe the huge numbers of folks now firmly dependent upon the underground economy fueled by the drug trades. And there is apparently no attempt being made to change this reality. The destruction of the safety net and system of public education that helped to lift the willing and able out of poverty is now almost complete.

I live where there is clear evidence that little is being done to stem the tide of the greatest warehousing of non-white Americans in history; the march of young black males into either the armed forces (by coercion and lack of opportunity in the public sector), or, into the prison systems -- both state and federal.

It matters little that Condoleeza Rice et al can now dine with the president while listening to Mozart -- while many of those they represent are passionately belting out gospel music while having to settle for fewer meals under fewer roofs while cowering from the all too common deaths by street violence.

At an earlier time there was an attempt at thinning out those deemed defectives through Eugenics. The same ends are now being achieved by channeling those seen as less than human into wars and prisons through policies produced by an interracial body of policymakers. I suppose that denotes a kind of progress, but does it indicate that the nation is reaching for the same stars Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and Franklin aspired to, or have we misplaced the moral compass in our time? Somewhere there was a fork in the road; one that Dr. King perceived, and surely sacrificed his life for in the effort to change the destructive course followed by the nation that he so loved.

I worry now about that "road not taken..." .

Do you suppose it's too late to make the corrections and turn the Ship of State about? We may have to sail into the wind for a while, but surely there is the will and the desire to save ourselves, our children, and a world of people who until very recent history, aspired to be just like us.

Today -- as many of those of us living under the power and the will of these strange leaders -- are fearful as they whose countries we are pillaging and occupying so ruthlessly.

We need now to grow beyond our racial prejudices for an entirely new set of reasons. Evil has no skin color. Ignorance and blind ambition come with no credentials that would insure fairness or compassion. Both Dr. King and Malcolm X arrived at those conclusions before facing extermination. Maybe that's the legacy that needs our attention and dedication if we're to survive this period of fascistic peril.

Now it's back to the East Gate at San Quentin for a day of hope with other lovers as we await tonight's execution. Perhaps we'll find that this new governor will grant us a pause while the prisoner's brain-damage (not allowed presentation during his trial) is reconsidered. I've little hope of this happening, but maybe there are some voices that the governor will hear. Maybe the moratorium will begin to gain support soon. Surely this is an issue that is gaining ground since Barry Schect's Innocence Project has so successfully freed so many who were wrongly imprisoned. Could be; if enough of us are paying attention, and care enough to enable the best in us to surface and prevail.

Amen ... .

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