Here at the end of 2018, it is becoming difficult to believe that there is a Promised Land on the other side of the mountaintop. Those they call “The Greatest Generation” and the “Baby Boomers” are leaving a world where, in only 31 years, by 2050, reports are that 50% of the mass in the oceans will be plastic, big and small. Bite-sized pieces such as those swelling the bellies of dead seabirds, and the trillions of microplastics created by either the weathering of large pieces or in the lab with microbeads. The microplastics are already being found throughout the food chain, including in the flesh of fish humans eat. Unless emergency steps are taken, say goodbye to single-use plastic; this is a legacy that is inescapable.
Climate change is another legacy being left behind that a 2050 timetable has been created for, telling of warming in every city and evermore intense weather events. Species will die off and life in all its forms, insect, flora, aquatic, airborne and human will adapt, migrate or die. It is going to be a harsh time coming. And that’s before we even get to being Black in Donald Trump’s America.
Trump is a man we’ve seen before. An aggressively ignorant white supremacist incapable of empathy and capable of any inhumane act. He represents the rabid 36% or so of voters gerrymandered into districts of like-minded souls, electing representatives who speak to their whiteness and their fear that reports of the country being minority white by 2045 are true. They can feel it in their bones and they can see it in the Brown people at the border. And what has been revealed is a side of America Black folks already know, there is an inhumanity here. It was here during slavery and it has not left, and Donald Trump exemplifies it. Whether it is an inability to console a widow mourning the loss of her husband on patrol in Niger, or equating the life of a journalist with the sale of arms, he has shown he is an amoral monster who will now be put under the pressure of multiple subpoenas and subjected to seeing more of his underlings becoming “rats” rather than lie for him as in the past. The man is going to freak out even further than we have seen so far and that cannot be good for the country or the world. It means real bad times for Black, Brown and non-Christian people.
No one can predict where we are headed in the next year, except to say it will be somewhere between a fitful, erratic, but eventually safe journey to a widely recognized legal ending, or Trump’s “Second Amendment people” forming militias around statehouses and moving around the country like the Taliban. Maybe that’s extreme. Maybe.
And then there is the 2017 headline, “Median Wealth of Black Americans will fall to zero by 2053,” warns a new report, and “By 2020, Median Black and Latino Households stand to lose nearly 18% and 12% of the wealth they held in 2013, respectively, while median white household wealth increases by 3%,” the report states. At that point, “white households are projected to own 86 times more wealth than Black households, and 68 times more wealth than Latino households.” This is why the neighborhood is changing and a small cup of coffee can still cost $1.00 at the bodega, or multiples of that at the new local cafes. Again, looking at income inequality, emergency steps must be taken.
All of these steps require political strength and the power of the vote is the bottom line. That’s why it is so actively suppressed, and why, when in hand, it must be used specifically to address historical economic wrongs and for the advancement of Black and Brown people.
As much as anyone can, the “Greatest” and the “Boomers” must ready the next generations for the challenges ahead and repair what damage we can before we all leave.