The past two weeks have been less about Phase 1 re-openings and far more about protest, revolt, and the beginnings of, what I hope, is a huge paradigm shift in our society… the likes of which we’ve not seen since the 60’s. Though this feels much bigger, with the potential for real reform and lasting change.
And yes… you might very well be thinking I’m outside of my sandbox on this one, and as a bearded, white dude with a beer belly, you’d be pretty spot on. Though I have a few life experiences that might change your mind…
I grew up in a pretty conservative, almost completely white Congregational church, though we had an amazing mentor as a youth minister – a not-quite “out” gay man from rural Missouri.
He taught us to be compassionate, shared with us the importance of Dr. King’s, as well as Gandhi’s work, led a bunch of suburban white kids in working with inner-city youth in St. Louis, as well as a small reservation of impoverished Navajos living in Denehotso, Arizona – population 750.
In high school I closely followed the Rodney King trial, witnessed first hand the subsequent riots within a mile of my home, and visited the First AME Church days after to assist with getting the newly homeless the food and clothing they needed.
I began writing about politics not long after arriving in Portland, January of 2011, around the time Gabby Giffords was shot in Arizona. I marched during the Occupy Portland protests in the Fall of 2011, the Women’s March in January of 2017, and again last Thursday.
I ceased writing about politics right before the Ferguson Riots of 2014. I left behind blogs I’d created about beer, indie music, and politics to go all-in on writing about beer for another website.
I chose the least vitriolic and opinionated of the three disciplines. With regard to politics, I was tired of the partisanship, the news-worthy causes that fizzled into the background within a week, forgotten in an ever-changing news cycle.
But right now? This feels entirely different.
We’re facing perverse undercurrents of racism, a corrupt poorly regulated system, a narcissist president that’s more a “three-card monte” con-man than anything resembling a leader (among many other things), a world-wide pandemic (without a proven vaccine) that’s seen over 108,000+ dead in the US alone, 30 million Americans on unemployment, and millions more without healthcare.
As this pandemic has bred despair and malaise throughout the country, we found our collective conscious once again as an uprising powered by deep-seated anger and frustration boiled over following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (and far too many others) had spread across the globe.
The protests and marches, advocacy and education, the revival of social justice… all of these have awoken a nation who’s turned a blind eye to the concept of “justice for all” for far too long.
Now is the time for reform, to hold our leaders accountable, to change how we police our cities, to better educate our children, and find solutions for problems too long swept under the rug.
And as someone born and raised into a white, upper-middle class life, I’ve still been able to seek out and understand the perspectives of others. I’m not saying this to prove my self-righteousness, but more to encourage those who might be on the sidelines because they feel it’s not their fight to take on. It is… it’s what we do in a democracy, so it’s only a matter of taking action in a way that you’re best able to effect change. This is everyone’s moment to push our country to address the hard truths we face
So how do we do it?
Write your congressional representatives, support/donate to your local advocacy groups, and support your local small businesses operated by people of color. March in protest of the status quo. Demand reform and speak to the inequities plaguing our tattered democracy. Listen and learn, but also have those hard conversations with those who just don’t get it. And vote!
This is the time to fix what ails our country and we all have a part to play.
What will yours be?
Where to Start
American Civil Liberties Union – Oregon
Black Lives Matter: PDX
Communities United for Police Reform
Don’t Shoot PDX
EatOkra – local black-owned restaurants app
Emergency Release Fund
GLAAD Transgender Resources
George Floyd Memorial Fund
‘How To Be An Antiracist’
Indivisible – Find Local Protests
Justice for Breonna Taylor
Know Your Rights Camp
The Loveland Foundation
NAACP Legal Defense Fund
National Lawyers Guild – Mass Defense Fund
National Urban League
Reclaim The Block
Southern Poverty Law Center
Split Community Bail Fund Donation