Scrolling through the “news” threads on Reddit has felt more and more like I am slipping into Underland. I am honest to god serious. What else do my friends mean when they say they stopped checking the news for fear of falling deeper into the rabbit hole? I mean seriously, from this week alone:
“Kanye West is ‘Struggling’ with Bipolar Disorder as Rapper Says He Wants to Be President”
“Melania Trump Sculpture in Slovenia Set on Fire on the Fourth of July”
“Watch Trump’s Reaction to Supreme Court’s Ruling on his Taxes”
“‘Stop Getting Tested’ for Coronavirus, Ohio Politician Tells Constituents”
“Drivers Target Black Lives Matter Protesters in ‘Horrifying’ Spate of Attacks”
It feels like in just six months, this year has begun burning down around us. A pandemic is ravaging hundreds of thousands of lives world-wide due to ineffective leadership and the mismanagement of resources. Racial injustice and systemic racism is taking the lives of new black and brown bodies every single day. The government is ran by a buffoon and his money. It is easy to wake up and scroll through the news and say, “how did we get here?” “Where did this all come from?” Doesn’t it feel like all of a sudden the world is burning?
Well, it’s not. Not all of a sudden, anyway. The pandemic really started in 2016 when we elected someone who immediately cut funding to the CDC. Follow the money, or lack thereof, and see how quickly it was pulled from social services, healthcare, and emergency funds for political agendas. Follow which pockets tax money has been filling, connect the White Republican Men (WRM) together with a thin red string like you’re solving a murder case that makes no sense. Because you are. Gawk at the sheer amount of dollars being fondled between them that can, in one single purchase, solve homelessness and the housing crisis on a national scale. Can you even fathom that much money?
What about racial injustice? Why is that all over your social media again all of a sudden? You have to admit, it does sound pretty ignorant saying that all of this [the Black Lives Matter movement trending on social media] came out of nowhere, right? That’s because it is. Generations of racists and white supremacists have worked so hard to continue benefiting from the system that was originally meant for them and only them; quietly reinforcing structural oppression of black and brown communities through everything from introducing crack cocaine to redlining to the school to prison pipeline and mass incarceration.
And this pandemic? Think of the cuts to funding education in places such as the Midwest and South– look at their high school and college retention rates. You are telling me it is hard to believe someone who was never educated past the ninth grade cannot understand the complexities of living in a diverse country and instead rally behind a racist who looks like them, talks like them, and goes on and on about loving them? It also appears that these same individuals also are rallying behind a cause they don’t fully understand to “own the libs” by not wearing masks and then spreading disease and death within their own communities. Shocking, right?
Don’t think for a minute that everything that has happened so far is a mistake in regards to the way this system was built. We live in a country that structurally produces chaos. I am not a conspiracy theorist by any means, and I am not here to convince anyone of anything. I am just so exhausted from hearing the constant shock and surprise of people around me. None of this is surprising, none of this is a phase. Political commentaries written in the 1930s read as if they were written in modern day. I am directly looking at you, It Can’t Happen Here (written by Sinclair Lewis in 1935). It really can happen here. It is. Currently. It is awful, frightening, and quite candidly depressing. But that doesn’t mean we can ignore it.
Continuing to educate ourselves on the inequitable systems our society is built upon is the only way we can really understand what we are up against– it is the only way we can really put up any fight at all. So yes, that means reading the seemingly insane headlines every morning. I do also believe humans were not built to emotionally endure a 24-hour news cycle. I don’t think we have it in us to care about everything all the time, and that’s okay. This just means we need to pick very carefully what we wish to invest our time, resources, and efforts in and work very hard on that particular issue. This also means we need time to rest. To walk into mossy woods and stare into a sky that has broken dark grey rain upon the tops of the trees above you. But it means we need to start somewhere. Anywhere.
So this is my start.