07 February 2011

Reflections on a Troubled Land and the Courage and Conviction of Her People

As I review and peruse through the many articles, pictures, videos and news streams filling my inbox and facebook page, I am feeling a mix of emotions: sad, angry, disgusted, helpless,  hopeful. The revolution taking place in Egypt and other Arab nations across the Middle East is long overdue and appreciated by this blogger. Even Italy has gotten into this revolutionary mix with the call for the country's president to step down. It is a reminder of what is lacking here in the U.S.--the courage and conviction to re-revolutionize in a land, stolen, pillaged, colonized and made oppressively capitalistic and opportunistic (as in the poor taste displayed and the total disregard and disrespect for the struggles of an oppressed people by designer Kenneth Cole). Maybe we have it a little better, but not by a lot. With the increasing number of displaced and unemployed workers, homeowners, members of communities of color being further marginalized, excluded and villanized by gentrification, negative media coverage (ain't nothing good in the hood, let them tell it), things are not so pretty in the land of plenty. It's downright ugly. The downside to this is that so many of us suffer needlessly in silence. We've become adept at individualizing our poverty, hunger, homelessness, joblessness, the violence that can result from people giving up and/or blaming each other for what's clearly not something we've created (we blame immigration/illegal alienation for no jobs or the outsourcing of jobs, put the onus of crime on black, latino/a and other poor communities of color giving us all more reason to discriminate, disassociate, and disregard one another). Distraction from the many issues plauging not just our communities but society in general can be found in popular culture, our need to have gadgets, be submerged in electronic commercialism, longing for and envying those who seem to have everything, just the naivete of believing that in a so-called democratic society, everyone has the opportunity to have it all. It ain't so, folks. But I probably don't need to tell you that, right? I don't need to tell you that here, in our own nation, things aren't what they're cracked up to be.
Watching a news report (a pretty bad one at that) on a corporate-owned media outlet, a reporter speaking on the events taking shape in Egypt, said with some conviction and perhaps some arrogance, that revolutions don't take place in countries (read, the U.S.)where people are living large. Really? Just like our allies in Egypt fighting for an end to political corruption, high unemployment, poverty, we can find threads of similarities that should have us out in the street, millions and millions strong. The U.S. has just been able to mask the problems polarizing us as a nation. But they're not really fooling anybody, are they? So why are we so quiet? Why are we not protesting en mass?
This is the thought I am meditating on as I contemplate what it means to be a comrade in struggle, as I mindfully applaud our sista and brothas in Egypt courageously standing up against a decades-long oppressive government, having the courage of their convictions to speak up and say to Hosni Mubarak, "No you can't," "You're fired! Get out! Step down!" I wish we could have displayed the same strength 30 years ago, when the political and economical wheels were set in motion that has brought us to where we are today. Sometimes we can't see the forest because the trees are filled with the bullshit of false promise, the leaves have all turned to iphones, the drama of the Kardashians, anything that prevents us from seeing and seeking truth and justice and shackles us in a state of consumerism. We are hurting, we are losing our minds and our souls to capitalism, just as the conservative powers that be are trying to turn the clock back to 1980. Are we willing to let that happen again? All hell is breaking loose, and we haven't even begun to realize just how much is at stake, already at stake. In my state of contemplative discourse, I pray for the courage of my convictions, for the stength I need to find words to envoke a spirit of revolution, change (long overdue), and to remain forever in solidarity with those struggles worldwide that often mimic our own. In love and struggle.

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