Editor’s note: We are very happy to announce that Milan Cook has joined WERRRK.com as a regular contributor. Milan has previously contributed to our site as a guest author (see her prior articles here). Welcome aboard Milan!
A few months ago I decided that I’m well beyond my capacity to engage with the election cycle. My candidate of choice, Bernie Sanders, was clearly bested and that skin job walking around, impersonating the worst of humanity has never been an option. Neither has Jill Stein. She doesn’t have the range and I’m old enough to remember what happened with Ralph Nader in the 2000 election.
As many of my friends and family are fairly politically active, this has been pretty hard for people to respect. I get at least a solid ten headlines, articles or screenshots sent to me on a weekly basis. Every time someone sends me something, I have the same retort “As I’ve said before, for my sanity I’m not engaging any further with this election beyond casting my ballot in November.”. People then like to push forward with the conversation and usually understand I said what I said and I meant what I said when they get no responses to their ranting.
Why have I chosen to disengage? There’s a number of reasons. My choices have already been laid out, I’ve done my research and made my choice. I instituted a rule of three for anger and frustration. This means I can’t read or engage with more than three things that upset me a day that are avoidable. Since racism is cyclical and everything people like to remind me is at stake is everything I’ve learned since I was born.
I am a black woman who has grown up in Chicago. Racism is nothing new to me. The only things that have really changed in the last few years are the tools we’ve been given. We now have social media and smart phones. People think that there is a sudden rash in violence and racism now that wasn’t there before. Well meaning allies are shocked to see their friends of different hues post videos of their people getting brutalized and assaulted verbally and physically. None of the things we’re seeing presently are new. They’ve been happening since the beginning of time. Donald Trump and the other politicians that proudly back him are not these new things that have come from nowhere. They’re a result of a wound we’ve allowed to fester and spread unchecked.
When I look at the current political climate, I see patterns of behavior that have been in play since long before I was born. Racism has never been extinguished in this country. It’s just gotten more tricky and less obvious so those not being affected don’t see it for what it is without help. Voters from certain backgrounds are finding it harder and harder to have their voices heard. Redistricting is as prevalent as it ever was, and the justice system continues to look more favorably on people with lighter skin tones.
Every couple of decades the government makes a big push to acknowledge the fact that there are inequalities that disparage people of color. However, legislation to remedy this problem is always slow to follow. Body cameras and the reconditioning of our law enforcement personnel should be the universal standard as there have been far too many incidents that have disproportionately ended with the killing of people of color. Yet, most cities that have obtained body cameras have only done so after much hemming and hawing.
Racism is cyclical. After the affected get their needs met, the people in power slowly start introducing legislature to strip them of their newly afforded rights. As we seem to be in a social justice renaissance presently, I can only hope racism is on it’s way to becoming gauche again.