Black in America

Rally in Georgia protesting the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. Photo/Magdaleno Leno Rose-Avila

Published on PTLN 5-21-20

Black in America

By Maureen Taylor

The comments listed here are sad and true, but yet incomplete. What can be added to provide a clearer, more inclusive dissertation of capitalism and the ravages it visits on working people in modern times? 

Black people can never escape the shadow of the plantation, of this there can be no doubt. But are there more stories to add that expose the hatred heaped on others in an effort to divide our collective strengths while the 1% keeps a tight grip on power and control? 

On Navajo reservations in the southwest part of the country, extremely high percentages of the residents are suffering COVID-19 infections and death. Where are their stories? In Chicago and in other communities where high concentrations of Latino people live and work, Black and Brown men, women and even children are over represented on the lists of those infected and killed by the virus. Where are their stories?

There is but one saga ingrained in the reality of what is unfolding today. Front line workers can’t shelter at home. They operate the buses. They stack food store shelves. They unload food trucks. They package and process meat. They pick fruits and vegetables. They clean and disinfect hospital rooms. They clean and disinfect public restrooms. They teach our children. They build cars. They offer prayers when healing is needed. They turn on the gas pumps after we pay. They hold hands with our dying relatives hospitalized without family. They Face-Time those in recovery so we can share our love at a distance. They pick-up discarded potentially infected gloves found littered in parking lots each night. They answer 911/medical calls wearing protective gear that doesn’t always protect. They make do. They keep making do. They stay home only if they are too sick to help and they sometimes die there. They prepare and pass out food boxes. They collect and deliver cash to families in need. They call neighbors to ask if all is well. They keep giving, giving and don’t shelter at home. They have stories. They are Not rich . . . they are Not politically connected . . . they are the “salt of the earth” who make things happen.

These horrific murders against African-Americans cannot be ignored, but they can be explained. Pitting one group against another is a successful strategy used by the 1% for decades. Wealth and power will forever remain within their grasp if “front-line” workers are encouraged to fight each other.

Murdering Black people serves to silence voices and to teach and then reinforce the lesson that next time, “this could be you!” In the hierarchy of the “crabs in the barrel” syndrome, trying to claw the way out to freedom meant climbing over each other at all costs. No one gets out.

Working people are in the barrel of capitalism. We cannot get out by sacrificing others who are like us. We should be smart enough by now to call for a meeting of the “crabs,” then devise an exit strategy that works to free us all. 

Such a strategic view requires an accurate assessment of what obstacles stand in the way. Today, we are challenged with an unexpected crisis called the COVID-19 virus. It has already changed the world by making us stand still, so we have the time to organize. There is nothing standing in our way but air and opportunity. 

Stupid people, no matter what color, have to be punished when they commit violent crimes against us. Those who hold hatred ways cannot be allowed to exist in our communities among decent people without fear. You hate Blacks, you hate Latinos, you hate Christians, you hate Native Americans, you hate immigrants, you hate Jews, you hate Arabs, you hate women, you hate gays, you hate Anglo-Americans . . . YOU are the problem because you are blocking the way out.  

So again, here we mourn. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” Ahmaud Arbery who was murdered by two hateful “crabs” who deserve the wrath of the community for the crime they committed against us all. In his name, in the names of those killed before him, we re-commit to put an end to the savagery we are forced to endure while we strategize our way out of this capitalist barrel, toward a new world. 

Maureen Taylor is a long-time leader in the fight to end poverty. She is chairperson of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.

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