Random Thoughts

Usually when writing an article I choose what topic I want to write about, undergo extensive research and go through several re-writes. But this time I chose to do something different. Instead of going down the traditional route of column writing, I chose to publish a random collection of words, thoughts and emotions.

A few nights ago while using my laptop I suddenly began to type whatever I felt, and whatever was on my mind. And below will be the unedited, unprepared, unscripted and unplanned manuscript. Hope you enjoy.

Growing income inequality, displaced Americans living in poverty, our war-torn veterans plagued by physical, mental and emotional turmoil return home to fight another war. Begging for change in their uniforms, on the street to passerbys. In Ferguson, people are marching day and night to protest a generations-old racial tension within law enforcement, the Prison industrial complex continues to grow both in population and wealth.

The death penalty continues in most US states, an inhumane and unjust form of punishment. Middle-class families continue to suffer the consequences of poor governing and Wall Street’s irresponsible practices. Our schools have become a safe haven for teachers breaking up fights, instead of educating the next generation. Overstaffed classrooms, decades-old textbooks, poor-performing educators and bureaucracy tainting the very foundation for generating change. LGBT and Transgender Americans continue facing discrimination and abuse. The terrible attention being paid to our crumbling environment and infrastructure.

These ills (and more) in American society are growing day by day. But one group of people are continuing to flourish. The very 1% in the United States. I don’t have anything against those with outstanding wealth. I admire individuals and businesses who find ways to accumulate money and status. What I don’t respect is how some of these businesses find ways to exploit the poor and downtrodden in this society. I don’t respect the notion of poor people being ” ignorant, lazy, out of control and uneducated”.

Yes we have a growing section of the US becoming more impoverished everyday. But it’s always easy to throw a label at someone, rather than investigate the reasons why things are the way they are. Let’s use a pretty famous example here.

Some people don’t want to deal with the fact that systematic generations of racial abuse and discrimination are responsible for the current conditions of Black Americans. They simply want to call us irresponsible, tout the ever-so famous Hollywood stereotypes and continue to disrespect us. They sign us as athletes, musicians, TV Hosts, Presidents. They sign us to multi-million or billion dollar contracts and send us on our way to unprecedented success. But fail to realize that the past transgressions committed to our people in the past, while to a certain degree no longer as extreme is still beneficial to white society as a result.

Because of the severe racial climate my people endured, part of the reason many wealthy social and political dynasties created in this country were due to the forced, unpaid, involuntary labor dating back to when we came to this country on slave ships. Although the individuals responsible for these heinous crimes against a defenseless people are now (thankfully) dead, their legacy unfortunately lives on. It lives on through constant media manipulation, it lives on through some of white society putting up a wall to these problems. Trying not to admit and/or see the legitimate consequences of devaluing and handicapping a race of people.

And while these actions were long ago, I cannot help but sometimes stare at my feet in the grass. Pondering on how many slaves worked this field, how many slaves were killed in this field. How many women were raped, beaten and killed. How many poor innocent children were subjected to inhumane actions. How my people were almost wiped out.

People seem to think that because we achieved so much in part to our brave leaders who stood on the forefront of our struggle, that the Civil Rights Era is dead. That because a Black man occupies the most powerful office in the World, somehow racism is no longer relevant.

It must either be a grave ignorance of the real world by most. Individuals with this mindset are really uneducated about these issues, or too busy in their homes sipping on Lipton Ice worrying about buying the next iphone 6. Which, Ironically the children in the sweatshops in China are responsible for.

I wonder if America, or shall I say, White America can really confront this issue. Surely there have been individuals and organizations who work tireless for the rights of my people and others, but has it been enough to change the minds of those who control our wealth and those who control our destiny.

It’s very easy to tell someone to just “pull yourself up by the bootstraps”. But how can someone do that, if they don’t even have the leather to make the boots?

About the Author
Dennis Austin is a political science major at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and regular contributor.