Half Asleep: Politics, Power, Propaganda, and one generation's passive path to being "Woke"
Last week, a friend of mine asked me to write something about the current election. My response was that I was planning on it, but I hadn't decided exactly what avenue I wanted to take because there's so many different things to discuss. And then on the morning of Super Tuesday, I found myself wandering aimlessly in the war torn fantasy land that exists in the mind of the minority voter. I've always been very passionate about change. I've always had questions, always been involved, always knew that I had a voice that mattered. And I always knew that I wanted to raise my children with the same mentality. So, in natural fashion, its always disappointing to see fellow people of color who feel otherwise. They feel powerless in politics, and overlooked in economics, and quite frankly they feel hopeless despite the many platforms of hope that have been presented to them. And I don't blame them, I feel the exact same way quite often, most especially with the rise in awareness of police brutality amongst our youth, but in the contrary, it catapults me to do more, not less. To be factual, the constitution nor the justice system were created with the benefit of people of color in mind. But, it would also be silly of me to walk around and act like NOTHING has changed. If we really had the faith of a mustard seed like many of us claim to, then we would focus more energy on the times that we have won, instead of focusing on the times we may have lost. Choosing not to utilize what little power you do have, doesn't somehow make you more powerful. But, using your power differently, and in a more productive manner, will. My gripe isn't with the non-voters, its with the people who instead, do nothing. If you think that voting directly in a political election doesn't matter, and it doesn't have an impact on your environment, then by all means, don't vote....but do something else. If you're concerned about education, then get involved in programs that donate books and/or volunteer reading to underprivileged kids. Or math tutoring. Or science field trips. If you're concerned about economics, then figure out a way that you can help drive revenue into your own communities, help teach kids the fruits of entrepreneurship whether that's a lemonade stand or a car wash or an internship. If you're concerned about poverty, then start initiatives to feed the homeless and help them find jobs. But, you've got to be concerned about something. Whether its criminal reform, or social security and health care... Something pushes your buttons, so don't just sit there. Here's the reality: whether you like it or not, you live in a government run democracy. Period. There will always be elections, there will always be corrupt politicians, there will always be lies, theft, greed, racism, sexism, and religious discrimination ......always have, always will. You can either do your part here, or move to a country that suits you and the needs of your family better. It sounds mean, but that's the truth. The fact of the matter is, some things CAN change. And those things, can have a HUGE domino effect on the generations to come for our kids. But, since we can't change EVERYTHING, many of us choose not to do anything at all. I refuse to believe, matter of fact I refuse to raise my children to believe, that they can't get a good job, or get a scholarship, or get too comfortable in their own success because there is a group of rich, powerful white men who sit behind a magical lens all day and control what my kids read, what they watch, what they listen to, what they eat, and basically their entire life. I refuse to raise my children to believe that as a person of color who out numbers the non people of color in this country, that they will always fall victim to the "1%". And I refuse to raise them to believe that they should always feel threatened by "the man".
We are a people of strong faith, but who too often cling to the comforts of conspiracy. Its easy to blame the government, the rich people, the racists, the media, and the illumaniti as the demise for the soul of black folk. Its easy to believe that the entire world is against us. And its easier to convince ourselves there's nothing we can do about it. Slavery, wasn't that long ago...and the civil rights movement was just in our parents' generation. So, you can be satisfied with the progress that we have made, without settling to stop there. There will always be progress to be made. And there will always be people unsatisfied with that same progress. And it extends beyond Black people, because if minority participation didn't matter, there would be no Chicano Movement of the 1960's and 70's, there would be no voting rights act of 1965, and they wouldn't STILL be putting in so much effort trying to amend that same voting rights act to keep yall asses as far away from the polls as possible in 2016. And it works. If minority contributions still didn't matter, there would be no Bernie Sanders flashing #tbt pics of him protesting segregation in the 1960's in an effort to prove his street cred., there would be no Hillary Clinton hitting the Nay-Nay, and there would be no Barack Obama. The downside of that is Barack went into office with the struggles of all people of color on his shoulders, and we expected him to change the world by himself, while we sit back and applaud. We complained about not having adequate access to medical benefits but when he released universal health care, we said it wasn't enough. We complained about mass incarceration and police brutality, and he gave several inmates amnesty, as well as launched federal investigations into local Police Departments, their protocol, and their training procedures. We complained about the job market, he reduced unemployment to the lowest its been in over a decade, and we're still upset that we're broke....even though we haven't sent out a resume since 2008. He didn't change EVERYTHING, but quite frankly, he did more for minorities than I've seen any president do in my generation. He entered in the White House as a black democratic president with a senate and house of representatives full of republicans with their own agendas who blocked, vetoed, and critiqued every single move he made, and yet we blame HIM for not getting enough done. There's always people who don't want to get involved with the movement, calling the ones on the front lines "puppets" for participating, but at the end of the day they will be the first ones to want to reap the benefits that those same puppets spoke up for. Was he a perfect politician? HELL NO. But, in the direction we're headed with this current election, I'd vote for him a 3rd term if I could.The reason why people don't have faith voting in the presidency is because they don't vote in their local elections so when the president gets in office and cant do much, then they figure their vote doesn't count...but what they don't realize is that your "non-vote" does. So to say that Obama was just a pawn being used in someone else's hidden agenda that did nothing for the benefit of this country, is honestly... just bull shit. I'm inspired by the sea of support I've seen for Bernie Sanders in the last few months. I think he has brought some real issues to the forefront, and he's not afraid to stand with and listen to the cries of the youth, the poor, and the angry. I think he tackles real issues that matter to real people like education debt and racial inequality. But, my question to my "Feel the Berners" is this, if you weren't happy with Obama, did you REALLY think Bernie Sanders (a Democratic Socialist) is going to be able to do all these wonderful things he says he will without the support of a cooperative house and senate?? ..but here's the thing, they were never worried about Bernie, they didn't even expect him to come close to winning. They know that he stands up for the struggles of minorities, but the GOP doesn't expect a large amount of minorities to vote. And they were right. So they're not concerned in the least. They focus more time dragging Hillary's name through the mud because they know they'll have a harder time beating her in the final elections. So, I want to be clear that if Bernie doesn't win, when I vote for Hillary in November, it won't be because she has a uterus. It will be because I have enough common sense to know that every person who sits at home and chooses not to vote at all, might as well be voting for Trump. Because his people are showing up, and showing all the way OUT.
The morning after Super Tuesday, I had another revelation as I logged into social media, and i was honestly appalled at some of the meme's I saw...one in particular that was specifically implying that we (as people of color) were being distracted with Donald Trump while the "real" enemy Hillary Clinton walked into office. Listen.....you don't have to be her biggest fan, but you can't possibly say, with a straight face, that she is worse than Trump. Even if you take politics out of the equation, he just isn't even a decent human being. Whatever damage you think she did to people of color in the past is NOTHING compared to what Trump is about to do. I promise you that. And if you're salty about Hillary possibly being the Democratic nominee, then where you on Super Tuesday when Democratic representation at the polls were down 74%...?? Here's one thing I've learned about my generation, we clutch our conspiracies closer than we do our own consciousness, and it pacifies us in our process of being passive. If we can blame the "Man", and the illumanti, and the 1%, and our slave mentality, and institutional racism, and Obama, for every single thing that goes wrong while we sit back and wait for our reparations, we would. If we could, we would Facebook, and Instagram, and Tweet, and repost, and hashtag the shit out of the revolution, from the comforts of our own home. I don't think my generation is lazy, I just think we're misleading ourselves. I think if we had a better sense of accountability, then we would understand our power, and how much we really can change. The same people who are saying "I'm not going anywhere, I'm gonna stay and fight for what's mine." won't even get out and vote. Soooo....who you fighting?? And where?? We have developed this obsession with trying to be so awoke and so aware that sometimes, and i say SOMETIMES, we create situations that are so illogical and quite frankly, just don't exist. Like, Tupac is still alive and is chilling in Cuba with his Auntie Assata....Beyonce had a surrogate and didn't carry her baby....and the government invented AIDS, Cancer, Syphillis, Polio, Smallpox, Ebola, Zika and basically every other disease known to mankind. Even if a small iota of these theories are true, we hold on to them because it enables our beliefs that there's nothing we can do about it. It nurtures our stagnant state of mind that it is the way that it is. That we don't matter, that we will always be victims, and that our votes will never count. Well, in a society that is already over-inundated with clouds of hopelessness, i refuse to raise my son in a world that convinces him that his own personal success is out of his control and in the hands of anyone else but God. My only hope, is that for us as a collective unit, and as a generation, is that we recognize how important we are not only in the political process, but in society as a whole. Your participation matters. Your contributions matter. Your voice AND your vote MATTERS. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Choosing not to utilize what little power you do have, doesn't somehow make you more powerful.
*photos courtesy of NPR and NewsOne*