racism & equality

Foundation and Framework, by Rodney Fenner

Hello World. Let’s start like this. Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Rayshard Brooks, Botham Jean,Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Carole Robertson, Michael Brown, Freddy Gray, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice. Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery were shot because they were profiled. Breonna Taylor and Botham Jean were shot in their own homes. George Floyd and Eric Garner both died because they were being “restrained” by police. This list is much, much longer and I’m going to add Malcolm Harsch and Robert Fuller. The official story is they were both suicides, but who really believes two black men hung themselves one town over from each other about ten days apart in the middle of a worldwide pro-black movement? Why are all these people dead? Would they be alive if they were white? Rhetorical questions, of course. We know what’s killing us. Some think it’s just racist white people, but that’s not necessarily the whole truth. Let’s chronologically step back for a second. At the “end” of slavery and for a very long time afterward, black people were portrayed as angry, scary, violent, criminal and a host of other derogatory adjectives. This was to justify the lynchings and all the other many injustices that were heaped upon us from the Black Codes to the vagrancy laws and slave patrols and Jim Crow, all the way up to the new system of mass incarceration and the pipeline leading there. Systems and perception is killing us. First, it was the system of slavery and the perception that whites were superior. Next, the systems of vagrancy laws and black codes coupled with the perception that all blacks were angry and volatile from slavery. Then, there was the system of Jim Crow and the perception that we were the lowest possible class of people. Now, there’s the system of mass incarceration in tandem with the perception that we’re drug selling, gun toting, guilty until proven innocent criminals. Of course, racism has always been the ingredient that thickened the mixture, no matter what system and perception were being cooked up. In truth, slavery was never abolished. If you really read the thirteenth amendment, you’ll see it only changed form. So the racists, those who shape perception and the architects of the systems changed with it. It went from outright murders in slavery, to lynchings after slavery, to life in prison and police killings. What form will it take next, now that people seem to have had enough? How can the architects change the system’s form to perpetuate it yet again, while convincing us it’s gone? The question for us is how can we truly change this country if it was built on the foundation of “liberty and justice” for some? Colin Kaepernick protested and look what happened to him. He tried to show us the way, but it took the death of George Floyd to bring the rest of the country to a knee because to them, black lives only matter after one is taken. Now there are protests. Continuous, worldwide protests. There are even riots, but we are still being shot. Look at Jacob Blake. How many more lives have to be taken and/or destroyed before there is real change? The foundation and the framework of this country is infested with things that have been eating at it for centuries. The only real answer to fixing it is that you can’t. That house has to be torn down down and rebuilt from new materials. Love. Equality. Real Justice. Unity. Compassion. These are the materials that would make the foundation and framework of this country invincible. The real question is what would that look like outside of these metaphors? How would we go about implementing these changes? What obstacles would we face? I just wanted to start the conversation. Ponder my words and really try to answer those questions, along with any others that may arise in the course of your pondering. This is where we start. Peace.

Rodney Fenner
DOC #1436377

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