On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, things look bleak, his legacy and life’s work threatened. It feels dystopian, foreboding, and surreal. 1) Here we sit in the midst of a global pandemic that has killed over 800,000 people domestically and more than 5 million people globally. In this country, far too many workers have to continue going to work if they’re asymptomatic or basically not hospitalized, while having no employer sponsored health insurance. Some people are actually working in the healthcare industry, full time, caring for humans, and receive no employer sponsored health insurance. This is due to late stage unbridled capitalism.
2) Our hospitals are on the verge of collapse and the staff inside are running on fumes. This comes on top of a National nursing shortage over the last couple of decades that has changed little over the last couple of decades. Hospitals as infrastructure have long been forgotten, with many privatized. This is all due to unbridled capitalism.
3) The federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr which prices most people out of homes in their own areas. At least where I live and in many places nationwide.
4) For too many people in this country, healthcare is out of reach financially, geographically, and cognitively (have you tried to navigate that shit show lately? It is a full time job in and of itself). Again, unbridled capitalism has corporatized and privatized so much of our healthcare system.
5) Racism feels like it is at an all time high, at least for the generations post the Boomer generation – it’s not. It’s just been a long time since racists were so blatant and obvious. Which like with a toddler, silence means they were up to no good in those decades of seeming (not reality) quiet. Social media has laid this all bear.
6) Voting rights are under attack in all the predictable states with some really dark shit happening in those locations. All of this after it was open season on electors and electeds. Voting districts have been gerrymandered to the point of ensuring racist republicans win by large margins. All convenient means of voting have been restricted. Voter suppression efforts, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the era after Reconstruction are afoot. If we fail to secure federal voting protections, we may have just had our last fair and free election for a good long while. Everything is set to topple should racist republicans get their hands back on full political power.
7) Critical race theory is under attack in all the predictable states. And what this really means is that accurate history, social studies, and democratic education are under attack. People are threatening teachers, school boards, principals, etc. shit is bonkers.
8) Climate catastrophe is nigh due to human activity, with one of the biggest contributors: war. Endless war, waged by oligarchs and dictators to sow division and chaos, driving people from their homes, into other countries and refugee camps. Countries turning people away because of problems that country caused. More unhoused people. More death and destruction. More climate impact which just creates more unhoused people, death, and destruction. Imperialistic greed.
I mean, shit is happening so slow and so quick. We are literally sacrificing people on the alter of capitalism because businesses gotta be open, schools have to be open as well because parents have to go to work, people are returning to offices, the economy must go on at all costs. While people lack access to medical care while working full time and still can’t afford what’s available on the health insurance exchange with reasonable deductibles. Rent, power, internet, water, has to be paid. Life has to chug on. Now – or any time in the last two years – would be a good time to implement universal basic income, universal basic healthcare, voting protections, act on climate change – aggressively, cease making war – which means we need to stop waging our own wars and funding the wars of other countries. I’m not sure what I’m most concerned about, voting rights or climate catastrophe. Probably the former because how we address climate change will depend greatly upon who is in power. If we go the way of fascism, forget about it, we’re all going to die. If we go the way of democracy, it will still be a fight but at least we have a chance. I kind of wish there was a progressive brand of fascism where whoever gets into power grants humans the most freedoms possible, provides for the people through the use of government resources, where if and where discipline and punishment must occur, first community reconciliation is explored in the most humane ways of treating people. Where we protect worker rights, protect the environment, have responsible gun protections, where people have a home and enough of what they need.
What would the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Coretta Scott King say? What would they do? What are you doing?
Let us disavow ourselves of the idea that everyone loved Dr. King. He was seen as a threat to the white supremacist establishment. For that, he paid by being spied on by the FBI and murdered by a white terrorist. His ideas of justice still scare the hell out of the same people, the next generation of racists – because racists and racist ideas don’t just die off like we’ve been told for generations. The people and ideas breed and pass their immoral illogic down to the next generation. That’s why the right to vote is so in peril right now. Most white people either despised the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or were neutral and couldn’t be bothered to give a shit about Black people because they were not impacted. That’s still basically where we’re at now. The thing that’s different and underlies all the present white terrorist shenanigans now is that the people of color in this country are growing in numbers and voice. The present violent pushback makes sense in the context of history. Bet, many white and white aligning people, from the neighbor to the U.S. Senator, would work to bomb us but we are too spread out now, the movements not centralized. I guess that’s one good unforeseen outcome of gentrification? Capitalism?
So, this MLK Day, let us be radical, let us activate our radical imaginations to imagine a new world is possible. Let us lean into radical love for humanity and our planet. Let us protect voting rights. This isn’t a go high when they go low moment. This is a fight for our very existence, all of us.