I stumbled across [Robert White’s commentary] in the recent Mountain Xpress [“Black Lives Matter: Enough Is Enough,” Nov. 30] and wanted to [say] how articulate, inspiring and timely that it is. Since what passed for an election in this country, I have been in a state of shock, but from the way the country has been divided, I anticipated it at some point. With the Republicans so dominant across the nation, a loss for Trump would merely pave the way for a less crude and amoral candidate with the same agendas.
The lies the undereducated white working class have been fed about the so-called stagnant state of the economy and unemployment by the political right (highest market in history/lowest unemployment in 40 years, in fact) has moved them to the Republican Party. The American dream, so unattainable! Why?
America has always been a racist nation, and since Obama was elected, it was like throwing fire on that latent ember. How so many people can vote against their own best interests by throwing their lot to the GOP since Reagan can be nothing more than successful marketing of cultural differences: abortion, race, gays, fear of “the Other.” How convenient to blame someone else for your failures. GOP obstructionism feeds that anger. Bullying, name-calling, shouting matches at town hall meetings ― Tea Partiers are good at that. The new norm that passes for political discourse.
[The] article caught me at an interesting time when I have been thinking about race, racism and civil rights during this campaign and how Obama has had to contend with obstructionism for his tenure. The political right in this country has become nothing more than fascists in blue jeans. Redistricting, gutting a key component of the Voting Rights Act and other actions to keep people of color away from the polls.
I have started reading about the unrest in the 1960s again, about the civil rights movement and anti-war protests. I think we need a movement of resistance like that again to reinstill what is valuable in this democracy: not grotesque wealth, not greed, not a new arrogant aristocracy, not acceptance of a hypocritical, amoral Christian ethic. None of this “wait and see” or occupy this or passive acceptance will work with this opposition power.
When my family moved to North Carolina in the mid-1960s from Chicago, I was shocked to find “white” and “colored” water fountains and restrooms. (In fact, there is a restroom like that under the sidewalk near the Vance Monument downtown.) I cannot begin to understand what it is to be a black man in this country, when routine traffic stops become sanctioned police murder and inequality in the judicial system is a matter of course. When routine offenses become jail terms.
We are supposed to be an enlightened society; we are supposed to be a beacon of hope and freedom to the world, not a nation that embraces hatred, denial, physical harm and disdain for those of different colors and faiths and sexual orientation. Progressivism with all its faults has at heart a compassion, a desire to lift up the downtrodden and help those who cannot seem to help get themselves a decent life in this society.
I came of age in North Carolina as a bohemian flower child, a loner. Finishing high school in Greensboro was an adolescent nightmare: fights, rejection, an inability to fit in. I went to college at Western Carolina University in the late ’60s, and as a longhair was often the object of harassment and beatings by “good ol’ boys” in Cullowhee and Asheville. In Atlanta, a good friend and I were brutally beaten and stabbed by some men returning from a George Wallace “Stand up for America” rally! The anger has always been there in this nation.
Still, that doesn’t compare to what people of color have withstood for generations, centuries, and then the great civil rights struggle that was a hallmark of our progress in this country for equality. Giving black people the basic means to compete and learn and live in this society. Are we going to turn our backs on all that blood, sweat and tears? We will not back down. We shall demand a continued social contract. We will not “hope and heal.” We will not compromise. Our nation has elected a “little man” with no vision. He will not be allowed to crush what is good and right in this country.
I am sorry I have taken so much of your time with this ramble. I had merely meant to [say] that I thought [White’s] thoughts and writing were beautiful, articulate and erudite. One of the best pieces that I have ever read in the Mountain Xpress. [He is] a good man, and individuals like [him] with courage and intelligence … do give me some hope in this dark and dire time and the struggle to come.
— Jay S. Gertz