As Always, It’s the Boots on the Ground that Will Save Us 

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Million Women March, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: On October 25, 1997, nearly a million women gathered together to march on the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia to address the pressing issues of interest to them. Some of these issues included the economic deterioration of African American communities, nurturing young children in a positive environment, finding a collective voice in politics and the civil rights movement, and strengthening black families. The march was designed to inspire African American women across the nation to build their communities. And counteract negative images of African American women as portrayed in popular culture and media. Twenty years later, women are still battling for their rights. Earlier this week, an article by Sheryl Estrada for Diversityinc.com reports on the current national concern, “The Trump Administration Continues to Disrespect Black Women.” Photo: Barry L. Mason

The all-encompassing addiction to money by the 1% and those who serve them is fully expressed in the reports coming out about the Republican budget proposals, that if enacted, would remove not only money, health, education and opportunity from the streets of Brooklyn, it would replace it with a future of personal pain and an environmental crisis.   

As predicted by climate change researchers, there are more hurricanes, droughts, wildfires and population relocations because of changing weather patterns.  Added to these widescreen disasters is the unnoticed collapse of insect populations that researchers have found in measuring insect population declines of 76% over a 27-year study could lead to an “ecological Armageddon” by causing cascading losses of pollinators from food for larger animals. This explains why a drive from Montreal to New York in the late 1950’s would mean many cleanings of bugs from the windshield and now you can drive for hours with few-to-no bug hits.  This is the dying future that 37% of the nation is taking us to with their unwavering support of Donald Trump. 

And there is nothing beneath him.  A proven serial and casual liar himself, he crowns his mendacity by effectively calling the grieving widow of a soldier killed in combat a liar. He has no understanding of the concept of empathy, which is particularly dangerous in a president.  Because where others recoil with horror at the thought of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in South Korea, and even a million people on the Korean Peninsula, for a person with no soul, as impossible as it is to believe, that is a fact with no emotional impact or meaning. 

It was much-touted that four-star General John Kelly, the president’s Chief of Staff, would be the head attendant in the “adult day care center” White House, as Senator Bob Corker put it, but then he told a sinful lie on Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and revealed himself as an enabler of name-calling, lying and God knows what else.  By tradition, African-Americans fall into that “what else” category and considering the white supremacist nature of this administration, we can assume that any possibility of Gen. Kelly being a moderating influence in terms of the racism now settled into the Oval Office is gone. 

With Trump working the culture war bells and whistles and providing distractions worthy of a court jester, his minion remains hard at work changing the course of the nation by populating the judiciary with nominations like that of Thomas Alvin Farr to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.  The Congressional Black Caucus has said, “It is no exaggeration to say that had the White House deliberately sought to identify an attorney in North Carolina with a more hostile record on African-American voting rights and workers’ rights… it could hardly have done so”.  

This is an example of the judges who will be ruling on voter suppression cases brought by Black and Brown petitioners, so there will be little help coming from the judicial branch.  And the Justice Department appointments show that the executive branch will not be bringing briefs in support of challenges to voting restrictions, but will rather be challenging the challengers.  Regaining control of the congressional branch of government is the only hope of preventing the continuing destruction of the country. 

Ultimately, in order to survive as Black people in America, we have to unify not just against the Republican agenda and the white supremacist nature of institutions, but around self-empowerment and action.  And this work is best done, as it has always been, by the unnamed many who organized, marched, blocked entrances, sat in, picketed, boycotted and disrupted meetings, that by their actions changed the “facts on the ground” and caused policy to change.   The aphorism, “All politics is local”, is true.   And it is the squeaking wheel of the local activists in town halls, board meetings and on legislative trips to Albany or Washington that effect changes in agendas.   

Populism that springs from an understanding of a common humanity and the potential in its development is the populism of the 1892 Omaha, Nebraska Convention of the Populist Party with a platform of direct elections by secret ballot, graduated income tax and others that are taken for granted as understood rights rather than victories that were fought for. 

Living here in the bubble of Brooklyn, we were stunned with disbelief at the election of Donald Trump.   We can only hope that the pain his policies are causing will prompt his base to erode before the next election, which is why the pushback of the Democrats is so important.  They have to slow the Trump train as much as possible and give time for the reinforcements of sanity and legislative courage to emerge. 

To that end, some are beginning to acknowledge the obvious:  The man is unfit for the office.  Republican Senator Jeff Flake says of President Trump that “The conduct in office is not acceptable,” and he joins Republican Senators Bob Corker and John McCain in decrying Trump’s behavior as “debasing” the office of the President.  “We cannot normalize this behavior.” All three senators will not be seeking reelection and although Sen. Flake says more Republicans will be speaking out, as long as Trump maintains an 80% approval with Republican voters, we will be left waiting.