A New Mourning

Cold rapid hands
draw back one by one
the bandages of dark
I open my eyes
still
I am living
at the center
of a wound still fresh.
Octavio Paz, Dawn

I have previously observed that’s there’s a potential upside to the current class war aka “The Great Recession.” Namely, what people of color have experienced for centuries as a group, many whites now experience (to a lesser degree) as solitary and alienated individuals. Chris Rock’s observation that a white person would never trade skins with a black person has some merit. And truth be told, various groups of white Americans might feel they belong, that there is a system that looks out for them. However, today more than ever, individually they suffer the stings of corporate indifference like anyone else.

At a group level, a white man might identify with a white, male, Christian president, for example. But what worth does that identification have when on the unemployment line or when a HMO refuses to allow possible life-saving technology?

Every American is a unit of labor. This labor is owned by corporations. Each individual may dispose his or her labor as he or she wishes, but ultimately the employer owes the laborer nothing. In a very real way, this fact can potentially unite the historical experience of people of color and the new day dawning on the rest of our nation. Or as I like to term it: the new mourning.

It can, but we are pitted against one another. Even poor or oppressed whites can look further down and find a (illusory) refuge in the knowledge that the faces at the bottom of the well are mostly black and brown.

 

Some of us are looking at social change in fear. We view the reality of a black president as a threat somehow. We see a (wise) Latina Supreme Court Justice and fear that our freedoms will be taken away. We see that our religious beliefs will not be enforced on others and we seethe with self-righteous indignation and irrational fear (manifested outwardly as hatred). It’s an irrational fear with far-reaching potentially catastrophic consequences. It compels some of us to kill and maim.

Today, I am not looking to advance a particular dogma or socio-political agenda. I am not looking to socialist, Marxist, or capitalistic experiments as an answer to our social and economic problems. Rather, I want to look directly into the maws of capitalism to see if there’s a way to survive the onslaught.

I like to believe that I stand at the intersection of knowledge and action. Rebellion is the primary movement of knowledge. Violence and oppression rob us of the ability to understand. Without understanding, there can be no growth, no evolution, no recognition of truth, and no tomorrow — only an endless reiterations of gray todays.

If we refuse to look at and understand the restraints placed on all of us by history, economics, self-image, the media, politics, and the misuse of technology, we will never be free. The alternative to knowledge and action is ignorance and enslavement. The shackles I speak of threaten to enslave everyone in America and therefore, concern us all.

When the logical consequence of a popular and mass ideology is violence, murder, and oppression, we are in a crisis that may compel us to become the first species to make themselves extinct.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

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