ONE NATION UNDER A (social justice) GROOVE!
By george white, jr.
June 12, 2020
During a national holiday that was started by Black folks, police killed George Floyd on a Minneapolis street. It seemed like just the day before, Louisville police killed Breonna Taylor – a Black first responder whose mother was scared she might die from Coronavirus – in her own apartment during a botched drug raid. And more recently, a White woman “walking” her unleashed dog in “The Ramble” of Central Park called the NYPD on a Black man (and claimed that he was threatening her) because he had the audacity to tell her to put a leash on the dog, as per park rules. In spite of my sadness and trauma fatigue, the responses on the streets of our cities and on social media gives me some hope.
Our current president made it clear from inception that he was determined to “make America great” for a discreet plurality of people. In the midst of a global pandemic and the objectively incompetent, failed approach of the American junta thereto, Trump’s fascistas condemn leaders who are trying to safeguard the larger public, ridicule workers unwilling to sacrifice their lives for money, and spit in the faces of other Americans (literally). Here’s a chance to dance our way out of our contstrictions, George Clinton sang on the iconic song “One Nation Under a Groove.” Clearly, the Trump fascistas don’t care about the 100,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19. So you know they don’t think that Black Lives Matter. Consequently, it is down to us to remind them and ourselves that our lives (and the lives of so many others) have inherent value.
The same constituencies who tell People of Color to “take personal responsibility” are completely unwilling to hold their leader accountable for his wanton malevolence and unwilling to bear even the slightest discomfort that the rest of us are willing to in order to stop the spread of a post-modern disease. The same groups who claim to be “pro-life” don’t care about the new spike of the historical plague that kills Black and Latinx folks like Ahmaud Arbery. Gonna be freakin’ up and down hang-up alleyway. Those folks gripped by White Supremacy won’t stopthe massacre because it’s too much fun, it gives them too much meaning. And to celebrate their “freedumb,” these fascistas are unwittingly forging a suicide pact through pool parties and large gatherings. With the groove our only guide, we should all be moved, (feet don’t fail me now!). Because they are blinded by their privileges, it is down to us to reveal to them (again) that White Supremacy kills everything, even White folks.
Yep, the same people who don’t want scientists and experts telling them what to do with their bodies are adamant about telling a woman what to do with hers. The same folks who don’t want to be socially distant are determined to distance immigrant children from their families and rip apart LGBTQI love. Republican governors are actively disappearing the actual death tallies in the same way that they have tried to disappear Black, Brown, Left, and youth voting power. And in spite of all of the evidence of the racial disparities in the infection and death rates in the U.S., these folks are happy to slaughter someone else’s mother, father or child on the altar of “the economy.” So when I see the multi-racial protesters in the streets, typing on Twitter, or speaking on Instagram, I can’t help but think: Ready or not, here we come. Gettin’ down on the one which we believe in.
Maybe a silver lining of this pandemic is that it has fully ripped the garish mask off Capitalism, it has strained the credibility of White Supremacy to the breaking point. And since we know that Joe Biden will not save us, it is down to us to make the nation anew, a community that actually takes care of each other. Do you promise to funk? Do you promise to funk the whole funk, and nothing but the funk? I’m not suggesting that anyone do any particular thing because there are so very many things that need to be done. But I am suggesting that we make a commitment to each other to acknowledge the ugly truth of what America is so that we can make America into what we want it to be. So wide, you can’t get around it. So low, you can’t get under it. So wide, you can’t get over it. Sing children!!
george white jr. is an associate professor of history and department chair at York College-CUNY.