Preamble: We are in such an unprecedented time (despite all the references of history repeating itself below). I don't take this piece lightly. As much as I genuinely care about the issues (ask my therapist) I am still a cynic at heart. I know how social media works. I know people post stuff they don't actually believe just for likes. I hope people who want the pat of the back from social media for making the brave stance that racism and police brutality are wrong actually care enough to change their ways and help us all progress forward.
I've been working on this blog for two days. A lot of my "friends" will say I need to write more blogs if I want Barstool to notice me. I think that couldn't be further from the truth. I'd rather spend hours making sure a blog is quality over just banging out a bunch of filler shit in 25 minutes. I want my writing to be informative, funny, statistically accurate, and thought-provoking when necessary. I make no secrets about my writing goals, but I've felt a lack of humor recently. I've written a lot with all this free time, but between all this real life mess and personal stuff I'm dealing with....it's fucking hard to be funny right now. I hate even making this whole caveat, or shifting attention for even a second, but I just want to have everything out there. This isn't about my dream job, it's about the American Dream and how that dream never really existed for millions upon millions of Americans.
We as a Nation cannot just put our head in the sand and hope everything will somehow be okay. Has that ever worked once in the history of ever? Change starts at home and it's an election year, people. We need people in power who actually care about EVERYBODY and are willing to make the "hard" changes that should not be hard.
I've wanted to do a blog about how much history has been repeating itself ever since Corona-life began in mid-March. As I continue to learn more about the past from my own independent research than I did in my half decade of college; there is no denying some eerie parallels between life approximately 100 years ago and life today. It's like Jonestown taught us nothing.
First and foremost let's start with the Big C so we can move on from it. Coronavirus' 100ish year compadre in this exercise is the Spanish Flu Pandemic of World War I (which actually killed significantly more people than the war itself). Say whatever you want about the Big C....I'll listen, I'm a conspiracy guy, but the facts are the facts; both were pandemics. That concludes the Pandemic portion of this post. They've had their shine.
Before the Big C; Ya boi (and millions of other baseball fans) first noticed something weird in the fall of 2019. See, the Chicago White Sox won the World Series in 1917. When they lost the World Series in 1919; a scandal ensued.
In 2017 the Houston Astros won the World Series. They lost the World Series in 2019 and guess what? A scandal ensued.
It doesn't stop there in old America's favorite pass time! In 1918 the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. The following off-season they traded away the best player on the team. In 2018 the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. The following off-season they traded away the best player on the team.
Perhaps you're under 62 and not a huge baseball fan? Don't fret. I have examples for you too! Although not everything is on a perfect 100 year loop; take Prohibition for example. From 1920-1933 it was illegal to produce, sell or transport "intoxicating liquors". Prohibition's enforcement varied vastly by state (in some, alcohol was never illegal); people could be given a medical prescription for it; it wasn't very hard to find and over time most people believed the government should legalize.
Today and in a way since 1937, Cannabis has dealt with a very similar fate. Cannabis enforcement laws vary vastly by state (fully legal in 11 states); people can be given a medical prescription; it isn't very hard to find and over time most people agree it should be legalized.
I could make another fantastic comparison using the 1% of today and the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age, but I think we might as well dive into something every generation of Americans has dealt with; racism.
Whether it's 1776, 1860, 1865, 1877, 1896, 1920, 1954, 1964, 1968, 1994 or 2020, racism is still a major problem in society. The black experience in America has never been equal to that of white people.
When Ahmaud Arbery was jogging on February 23rd in Georgia he was hunted down and murdered by two redneck sons of bitches. I stand by that and will say it again. They are racist, white trash, redneck, pieces of human garbage. Ahmaud's death didn't result in instant national outcry. People simply didn't know. If it wasn't for social media who knows what would've happened with his story? I just know it took way too long for action to take place. Once video was released in early May..... everything changed. Once video showed Admaud being hunted like prey; targeted simply for being black and jogging people started talking. On May 8th (what would've been Admaud's 26th birthday) thousands of people joined in running 2.23 miles for #runwithmaud.
When George Floyd was murdered by Police in Minneapolis on May 25th, history repeated itself yet again as he gasped "I CAN'T BREATHE" just like Eric Garner about six years earlier. Unlike baseball or Prohibition it's a lot easier to come up with multiple examples of history repeating itself in this situation.
Look at all those names. That's just since 2014 and the list is far from complete. (Via NPR)
I haven't even mentioned Breonna Taylor yet and while I'm glad so many people have chose to fight for the legacy of George Floyd, we cannot forget her name either. Breonna Taylor was killed by Kentucky Police after they raided THE WRONG FUCKING HOUSE on March 13th. She deserves justice too.
There have been riots and public outrage before over police brutality, but few have created the national dialogue and outrage as the murder of George Floyd. I'm glad so many people care. It gives me hope.
I'm on my second day of writing this blog because I've had a really hard time finding the words to say. This isn't a new album dropping or wild touchdown. This shit matters. These last two plus months have been craziest time of my entire life and I was alive for that time a couple planes flew into the World Trade Center.
We're all currently experiencing a depth of emotions and feelings. I'm a writer, but sometimes there are no words that can change anything or describe how you feel. I've seen a lot of think-pieces and reactions posted. It's good that's happening. I'm glad so many people are angry. I'm angry too. People need to talk about this. We cannot let another story die and just move on like nothing happened. It happens in America far too often. Whether it be a mass shooting or an act of police brutality; it usually ends the same...people heartbroken for a few days with no real change.
That cannot happen this time. We as Americans cannot accept that.
I will never fully understand what a single day of life is like for a non-white person. It's insulting for me to even try to begin to try; I am the dictionary definition of white privilege. I was born a white male in the northeastern United States. You can't get much of a better starting hand than that. Because of where my dad lives, I got to go to one of the best public high schools in the state; which put me in a much better spot to succeed post-high school. Now I teach in the capital city of my home state and it is a fucking horror show. I have seen things that should never take place in a school. These kids do not have anywhere close to the same opportunity as I did, the schools are falling apart and full of shitty teachers. Neither of us had any say in these opportunities as students.
I think about my own mortality a lot. Spoiler alert: I've been suicidal in the past lol. I've worked a lot on myself to get my mental health in check, but it's like I built a sandcastle and 2020 is the tidal wave that smashed it. I've thought about this a lot recently....If I lived my life the exact same way I have to this point, but I had black skin would I be alive today? I'm not sure. That simple hesitation speaks volumes. I haven't gotten in serious trouble before, but neither did a lot of these innocent African Americans who were killed because of things other black people have done in the past that scared cops hide behind as an excuse for murder. How is that right? How would you feel as a white person if everybody assumed you were a child molester/murderer because John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy, or Son of Sam or BTK
was white too?
I've been given literally countless chances in life just on benefit of the doubt alone from being a white middle class bro. Not everybody gets even that and ladies and gentlemen THAT is what privilege is all about. I've been pulled over nearly 20 times in my life and not even once have I received a ticket. That's fucking crazy. I've literally been pulled over high and nothing happened. There's stories of black men serving a dozen years for like 3 grams of weed. I can walk wherever I want, whenever I want and I don't have to worry about people looking at me like I'm going to steal or hurt them. Nobody locks their doors when I walk by. I don't have to worry about a cop hassling me just for existing in public. Just by being a white dude, life is inherently easier for me.
The whole idea of privilege used to piss me off. I didn't think privilege was a real thing, but it 100% is. I think it's all about branding. For so long the term Social Justice Warrior has been pretty pejorative. They might be doing the right thing, but it's how you go about presenting it. Kind of like vegans or cross-fitters. I think that is step one towards moving forward. You have to admit the facts of privilege. Everybody has to open their eyes and accept it for what it is; reality.
Graphics via @courtneyahndesign on instagram.
Admitting you're privileged doesn't mean the bad shit you've gone through doesn't matter or that your plights are invalid. What it does, is admit we're not all on a level playing field. How can anybody say this isn't true with a straight face? By admitting things aren't equal, it opens the door to start a conversation about the way people are perceived. Why is it this way? What can we do on a micro-level to make things better?
I've spoke about being a "do the right thing guy" on DOL ad nauseam. I wholeheartedly believe people can change. We have to change to survive. I was ignorant like a lot of people at first with the whole Kap thing. I couldn't separate the "disrespect for the flag" and protest. Now I can and respect what he did like crazy. My friends say I never admit when I was wrong, but I was 100% in any negative comments I said about Kap regarding taking a knee. I wish millions of other people could open their eyes and hearts and realize what I realized. It is not up for debate. Black people do not have the same rights and opportunities as white people. They are not treated equally. Chris Rock's bit on bad apples and airline pilots went semi-viral this week, but he has another bit about race (and no I'm not talking about that one) that points a light on how different life is for white and black people.
Collectively to solve this problem, every person, regardless of race needs to stand up, but especially the white folks. Historically we have had a monopoly on power. They listen to us. It's time to stop holding the rope so tightly. We need more and more people openly shitting on racists. Make them extinct. Nobody is born burning a cross. I have seen how powerful the internet is (I wish people could differentiate between someone tweeting rap lyrics in 2012 and hate crimes; maybe some day?). We have the power to invoke real change. Share the stories. Sign the petitions. Have the tough conversations. Unfriend people who don't want to change. And most importantly....while It isn't sexy and it won't award any points on I Know Black People....we all have to get out and vote.
According to the U.S. Census the last Presidential Election to have over 60% voter turnout was 1968. Another seminal year in United States history. The electoral college makes a lot of people think their vote doesn't count, but if enough people show up you can make legitimate change. It doesn't even have to be at that level (although it goes without saying this country needs new leadership). Do the research for local elections. Figure out how to make change in your community. It starts there.
I have learned so much about the ugly truth about this country from trying to be prepared for my job as a history teacher and even more while high and curious at home. When we stop talking about how fucked up things are; the bad people win. Everybody needs to know the ugly past. Stop acting like it didn't happen. Admit fault. If we can bail out banks time and time again we can give the descendants of slaves reparations. How else can we ever truly move on? Have you seen what Germany has done to pay tribute to Holocaust?
We don't even have a National Memorial honoring the slaves who helped build this country against their will. While I agree we shouldn't have statues from the Confederacy we must kept that story alive so people know the true horrors of this nation. You have to remember how young this country is. You know the Roman Empire lasted like 2000 years right? If we don't fix this racism problem that should've been fixed over 100 years ago we will NEVER be the "Greatest Country in the World".
I don't have all the answers. Not by any means, I just wanna be happy in life. But the reality of life is sometimes you can't be. Sometimes you have to stand up for what is fucking right and humane. The last thing that I know can definitely help spread change is education. Say it with me. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. From my experience in schools in the inner city (where it's mostly black and Latinx students) it's clear as day that a lot of families of student's simply don't value education. Reasons may vary, but it's the norm. What's truly fucked is many student's don't even have families. It's absolutely devastating when you find out. There was a student I was kind of a dick to because of his behavior and when I found that out his truth it crushed me. I don't know if I can blame the ones who don't value their education? How can you ask someone to trust a system that likely didn't trust or believe in them? Like racism, the value of education is taught. When schools fail communities it can have negative effects for generations. The systematic racism and lack of opportunity for all students cursed with the wrong zip code has to stop.
You aren't born racist and you sure as shit aren't born understanding that knowledge is power. The smarter you are and the more you know; the better. I've had a lot of trouble writing this blog. Word count wise it probably shouldn't have taken me parts of two days, but this is an issue that deserves our attention.
This was not a fun piece for me to write. I was stressing big time about finding the right words. My second guessing flat ass doesn't want to come across the wrong way or write some fucking garbage. I know people are angry. Your voices have been heard. All we can do is control ourselves. I know that I am going to do all I can to be a better person and not be a part of the problem. True equality shouldn't need to ruffle any feathers or be politicized. It's the right thing and the sooner everybody realizes it the sooner humanity might actually have a chance to see 2220. Black Lives Matter.