It’s been too hard living, oh mySam Cooke
And I’m afraid to die
I don’t know what’s up there
Beyond the clouds
It’s been a long, long time coming
But I know, but I know a change is gotta come
This is different. And that’s a good thing. There are many factors that have made the current activism to address systemic racism take hold and maintain its grip. It’s about time.
In the past, horrible injustices have been done that got brief protests, half measures to address the inequities and a hurry back to “normal” which only permitted another injustice and another and another. Now we are seeing real changes in Big, Symbolic, and Small ways.
Big in changing laws and regulations and oversight to prevent or at least punish such actions in the future. Much has to happen locally, statewide and nationally but it finally feels urgent enough to move forward.
Symbolic in finally removing public symbols of oppression. Half baked attempts and denunciations of Confederate statues and memorabilia have happened in the past. Those symbols represent a rebellion against our nation and a sizable portion of our population but has been wrapped in gauzy “lost cause” cloaks for too long. They are coming down and must come down.
Small means are how the oppression continues. Little vestiges of privilege and pain to control those not quite like you. Walmart has long placed hair and skin products for African Americans behind locked glass cases while other similar products for other populations were on open shelves right next to them. Oppression is achieved in little ways that are cumulative. Walmart has just announce this will change.
I grieve for the suffering and indignity George Floyd experienced in the last eight minutes and forty-six minutes of his life. I grieve for his family that has to suffer such a personal loss in such a public way. I grieve for all who have suffered loss over the last four hundred and one years in this land.
But I am heartened for the future. It won’t be fixed by the weekend or even in the next year. But it feels like we are finally on our way to rectifying these wrongs. Stick with the process. Stick with the progress. Forward.