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Change or Die

Posted by: Karnythia

Students march 7 miles to vote in Waller County Texas. I had a vague plan to write about the Democratic candidates and the idea of “In our lifetime” and what it means to women (of all races) as well as what it means to black people. But then this story hit the wire and I got sidetracked once again. Because it is 2008 and black people are still having to stage marches and demonstrations to exercise their right to vote.

There’s this idea that Obama’s candidacy is proof that racism in America is no longer an issue. How to phrase this politely? Oh right, there is no polite way to say put the pipe down. Racism hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s just slipped out of the Klan robes and started wearing street clothes. It’s behind the eyes of so-called feminists castigating WOC for voting along racial lines even as they decide that whites know best, it lurks in terms like gentrification and racial profiling instead of declaring itself as our old friend Jim Crow, it is everywhere even if it no longer looks like a burning cross. But that’s okay because we’re going to keep coming. We’re not going to stop marching and protesting and fighting for equality.

The term “ride or die” is a familiar one to those of you that know hip-hop culture. And we’ve all seen the “Vote or Die” slogan in an earlier election. I used to be able to view such slogans as hyperbole, but now? Now they are the truth. If our society is going to make it? It’s Change or Die. With 10 straight wins Obama is on target to be the Democratic candidate in November. And I’m not telling you to vote for him or for anyone else. But, I am saying that as a society we need to change. Now. Because those that don’t learn from history are doomed. Not just to repeat it. Literally doomed as a society in a way that so many other civilizations have already faced right before they fell into ruin. There’s a lot of talk about patriotism, and morality, and even some talk about the signs of the Apocalypse. It’s not about any of that, it’s about the choices that are being made and the impact those decisions will have in the end.

I’m sure someone reading this is going to say I’m overreacting and that things aren’t that bad (bonus points if they claim not to see color), but what kind of logic is there in a society that keeps engaging in the same harmful behavior and expects a different outcome? The Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964, and yet here we are 44 years later and it’s still the same hot mess being served up on a shingle. If people want to stick their fingers in their ears while they’re neck deep in sand and pretend they can’t hear the waves coming in? That’s their choice, but I’m here to tell you that pretending a problem doesn’t exist will not fix it. We can either change the approach or we can watch our society tear itself apart.

Karnythia is a writer, a historian, and occasionally a loud mouth. In between raising hell and raising kids she usually manages to find time to contemplate the meaning of life as a black woman in America.” Her posts on any topic (including an abbreviated copy of this one) can be found at her Livejournal

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