The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle…if there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lighting. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with words or blows, or with both. The tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
Wednesday April 15, 2020, a day in this puzzling moment of American, world history. The recent emergence of a deadly virus has swept into the United States of America. America was caught off guard like rest of the world. The Information Age is defining itself in a harsh manner. The conflicts are many for myself and others. Understand this, that many people are terrified by many factors. It was an ugly display of intimidation, misplaced defiance not in Detroit but in the capital of Michigan. Lansing the capital city had three thousand protesters demanding their rights were infringed upon. Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer putting forth a public safety policy left some folks unhappy. Understand? Civil protest is fine. The rights is real. This was hardly civil, blocking downtown was an act of bullying. The Confederate flags along with Trump flags, posters left little doubt about the protesters political position…
I never imagined such a confusion would take hold of America. American democracy is known to have difference of all sorts of opinions. Political polarization is not new. The protesters signs carried by some called the Governor nasty names including the comparison of Murderous Adolph Hitler to the governor who is nothing remotely comparable…Nazism as a communique to the world community especially our Jewish communities is unfounded, unnecessary and divisive. Racist, bigoted and wrong. If others especially communities of Arabs, Latinos, Asians or African-Americans showed firearms, provoking slogans against others I dare say the same people would cry treason. Yet, today was growing with tedious reckless rudeness. There were weapons displayed? Why?
The deadly plague is called COVID-19 pandemic. In Detroit, Michigan, a much smaller city than New York City is third and at times fourth nationally in number of citizens dead because of the virus. The nation along with the global community are battling an invisible enemy to the likes of nothing seen before. Fact, it is war, a war that despite its trail of destruction that many refuse to respect, fear or understand. The denial has a multicultural interpretation that is anchored in disbelief by the array of tribes. The present leadership of the planet is questionable and depending who does the reporting? The base of those protesting selfishly in Political matters is bias, inconsistent, callous, misogynistic, xenophobic, inaccurate, misleading and unreliable. This selfish, misleading gun advocacy shown in many communities is bullying society. Everyone must sacrifice for the good of America. The violent protest in Lansing is a prime example of the hubris, extremism attitude in this critical moment.
Americans are finding a multitude of multicultural experiences that include rural, suburban, urban and exurban communities. The alarm of this disaster signals that no community is immune at this time.. The pandemic is world-wide. The experiences vary with Detroit suffering a disproportionate number of its black community representing the majority of those dying, incarcerated and impoverished. Detroit has a rich legacy of success. To reduce its worth or past history would be unfair. The historical Detroit is not monolithic. It is that diverse history that shows the complexity of segregation, classism, racism, misogyny and poverty. The great auto manufacturers underscored the gain of industrial Detroit. The economic decline with other socioeconomic factors hurt the once prosperous time in Motown.
Detroit, an original, experienced a successful community of African-American citizens. A pioneering black middle class, professional class parallel with building an amazing working class legacy. Yet, one must acknowledge the fact of post industrial Detroit and the prosperous times of major manufacturing jobs. Detroit like Flint lost a great deal of it’s independence when the socioeconomics changed in post industrial America.
I am an ethnographer who wrestles with conflicted challenges rooted in objectivity. I was once reminded by sociologist Robert K. Merton that in no uncertain terms an ethnographer was responsible to tell exactly what I had observed. I have found America like many can not appreciate, value such findings. Honestly? Well, how can I be objective of the very picture in which I am portrayed? My birthplace was Detroit. My public education was Detroit Public Schools. We know why Detroit is over represented during this virus. It is the three hundred elephant in the room. A dysfunctional balance plagues America. What we have coined as ‘The Third City’ means those communities, people that are invisible to those in the mainstream culture. Invisible? Yes, inconsistently, the dominant culture accepts, exploits the migrant workers, housekeepers, pools of workers off the books, low paying jobs that are dead end. In order to survive many denizens have to live in an underground, underworld that exists for them exclusively. Like the cliche “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. That is. The theme in America for the third class conditions of the working poor. Poor socioeconomic factors play a significant role. I have observed and participated in Detroit as a researcher. The political winds have taken its toll on Detroit as other communities of color know all too well of the injustice, unequivocal third class treatment. Those who push back as if it is pathology is the defining answer are not being honest nor realistic. The segregation in urban cities is already accounted for in different aspects of urban scholarship. The research is needed no doubt as is remedies, solutions to the others virus lingering since early America. Cleanse the mote out of your own eyes. The scapegoats of the last century are outdated. The virus of ignorance is alive and comes in different cultural perspectives. Ignorance, denial, and misinformation does not serve America or the world community well. The protesting is not an issue. For all Americans, it how you protest. The picture in Detroit is the pictures within the larger picture. Let us not demonize anyone in this critical time.
I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hate so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.