Sometimes I know where I want to start. And sometimes I just don’t. Sometimes I know exactly what I want to say to you all – or no one. And again…sometimes I just don’t. I guess that’s the beauty and the beast when it comes to blogging. Whatever comes to mind is what I can put down. You can read it or not. You can like it or not. You can agree with it or not. It’s subjective to a high degree. Whatever.
I don’t know if I’ll post the link to this entry. It’s funny when you think about all of the shit you see and read on Facebook. I’m not the smartest person in the world, but I pay attention. I don’t have any illusion that what I say/write will sway someone’s ideological positioning. People are so amazingly and deeply entrenched in their own worlds and points of view that seldom, if ever, are you going to pull somebody over the fence by giving them facts or real-world experiences illustrating your position. They’re going to believe what they want, they’ll understand the world around them in the manner they’ve been exposed to it, and they’re going to keep it moving.
I was thinking about just that when I came up with ‘systemicism’. It’s not even a real word. I know because I Googled it. LOL! I had posted something super snarky in response to all of the posting about the student debt loan forgiveness not being fair – or the equivalent of that asinine position. There were many comments about the program that ran counter to what a lot of them cling to with respect to their Christian faith – the spirit of helping others doesn’t seem to be Christ-like enough for them to capitulate and recognize when someone needs a hand. What would Jesus Do? #Laughable
We’ve got so many ‘isms’ these days that another one added to the fire won’t matter. You’ve all seen a word cloud. You know those images of words which represent most-used words, with the winner being printed in the largest font size and probably either bolded or in another color to show how far and away it wins? To me, that’s a tie with racism and whataboutism neck and neck. Racism fucking sucks. And whataboutism is just as bad, in its own way, and it’s the worst comeback anybody can have when they’re trying to win an argument. It’s like answering a question with a question. And then there’s systemicism.
Let me explain.
From the comments on my post about the student loan debt forgiveness situation, I was unsurprisingly reading a lot of bootstrap comments, and ‘that’s not the way I was raised’ and ‘why do my taxes have to pay for someone else’s laziness’ and ‘the system is screwed up and benefits people who don’t want to work’, ‘what about how I paid my own loan’, ‘what about how I saved and so-and-so is getting free money’, on and on, ad nauseum. It’s gross, really, to hear these comments. So many Americans think with their full chest that this is the greatest country in the world. Period. Periodt, as Madea would say. But it isn’t. It. Isn’t. Are there a lot of things about America that ARE the greatest in the world? Absolutely. Try writing this blog in China. Or Hungary – the new darling of CPAC and the GOP. Or pick a fucking country. Good luck not getting tossed in prison while you await trial. Nope, freedom of speech is fantastic, and I relish its protection every time I sit down to opine. But if you stop and seriously examine the way Americans treat other Americans, let alone immigrants, you should find yourself nauseated and ashamed.
No one, no population, no subset of a population, a populace, a citizenry…whatever…is going to treat all participants equally. I should level set that right there. There will always be a caste or hierarchy that separates and segregates people, whether it’s socially, economically, or the combination of the two (or more). But if the first rule of Fight Club is that you don’t talk about fight club, the first rule of systemicism is that don’t talk about systemicism. Those ideologies which underpin the systemic segregation, disenfranchisement, genocide, and oppression of ethnic and economic minorities are glaringly evident – if you open your eyes – but they’re never talked about in ‘polite society’. The historical record is chock full of examples where the haves have shit on the have nots for various purposes. And they’ve done so with legal and socially-acceptable morality defenses at their back. You cannot maintain dominance over others by using piety and equivalence. You need only look at the way America committed spirited and long-lasting genocide on the Indigenous people of this continent. There is always a heavy hand in the manipulation of those perceived to be underneath the powerful, both proverbial and situationally, and it manifests in different ways all over the board. South Africa, I'm looking at you.
But you have to be willing to see it.
America has a huge problem with racism. And it’s systemic. America has a huge problem with financial inequality. And it’s systemic. America has a huge problem with the treatment of women. And it’s systemic. America has a huge problem with the LGBTQ community. And it’s systemic. America has a huge problem with gun violence. And it’s systemic. America has a huge problem with the approach to social entitlement programs. And it’s systemic.
But you won’t recognize that reason in any of the responses from people who are arguing their side of a cause. For example, I love it when people twist themselves into knots trying to explain why they don’t want CRT taught to their first-grade child. Just hearing that, you should automatically realize this person is uninformed and they’re getting their talking points from an unreliable source. What they’re trying to say is they don’t want their children learning about the horrific treatment of BIPOC over the centuries at the hands of white people. A system of inequality and oppression was set in motion hundreds of years ago, which no one alive today is responsible for kick-starting; it was and remains unflinchingly egregious. However, it’s one which white people perpetuate and from which they are benefitting today, while BIPOC continue to be negatively impacted.
No one wants to speak to the systemic racism which has contributed to the wealth gap, the education gap, the employment gap, the mental health gap, etc., which has brought us to where we are today. Black people didn’t have the same rights per the founders of this country. After fighting for those rights, black people were continually harassed, harangued, tortured, and mistreated. The system of that treatment was used to indoctrinate children at a very young age, perpetuated throughout their lifetimes, and celebrated in certain communities. And for anyone saying, I wasn’t raised like that, what you have, in fact, received is the benefit of that systemic oppression of blacks because of the opportunities your families had access to where black families did not. White families weren’t redlined and declined the ability to begin building generational wealth. White families weren’t yoked to low-paying jobs which inhibited the ability for their kids to get college educations. White families weren’t subjected to domestic terrorism which inhibited – or eliminated – any interest in voting to improve their lot, or even running for office to represent their communities without fear of reprisal or violence. The benefits derived from the system meant to hold black people down come in many forms – from life, itself, to a more prosperous and wealthy existence. And it is systemic in that the treatment and disadvantage continues. But that’s never acknowledged in debate or Facebook responses or comments.
White people are not bad. Trust me. Hear me. Believe me. I’m not saying they are, and never ever would I cast a shadow or make a blanket statement that insane. There are plenty of BIPOC who vote against their own interests. Or even worse, they’re single-issue voters hell bent on protecting their wallets and bank accounts and position. Read a book titled, "Our Kind of People," by Lawrence Otis Graham for more information. Or you can read my novel, "Chief of Staff" for similar insight into the insular world of the small but affluent class of blacks in America. If you still don’t believe me, look at this abjection of a senate candidate, Hershel Walker. He panders to voters who wouldn’t have him over for dinner. He is being used by a voting block who needs his body in the senate chamber to cast votes he will not understand at a cost to BIPOC he cannot fathomably calculate. I have said it before that neither black people or white people exist as a monolith. In the same breath, rich people are not bad, either. I never understand when people get on their left-leaning high horse and proudly exclaim that billionaires shouldn’t exist. What?! Are you out of your goddam mind? It’s the innovation for me. It’s the creating jobs for me. It’s powering a global economy for me. It’s looking at all of their fancy, shiny, expensive, out of reach stuff for me. If I could be a billionaire tomorrow, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Kuh-Ching!
But what’s gutting to me about billionaires – at least in America – is that the system that allowed them to get so damn rich comes at the expense of the lower and middle class. And I’m actually talking about everything from capitalism, itself, to wages and work-life balance to the holy grail of everyone’s pocket, taxes. Billionaires don’t pay enough taxes juxtaposed against their income/wealth, and that burden falls to everyone underneath them. It’s systemic because of the hierarchy previously established which does absolutely everything it can to protect that class (the super- and ultra-wealthy) because they have the power and position to do so. It wasn’t the common man, the blue-collar worker, the manual laborer, the kindergarten teacher, or the freshly minted naturalized citizen banging for the Supreme Court to side with Citizens United. Corporate America, led by rich white people and profited from by rich white people clamored for that ruling because they wanted a financial voice in American politics. And that additional voice, beyond their own, is used to contribute ungodly amounts of money – in the form of free speech, most ironically – to political candidates who push the causes that that money funds. Federalist Society, your table is ready. That access writes the laws, confirms federal judges and ‘right’-sizes the SCOTUS, it lobbies the senators and congressmen/women, and impacts your daily lives on a local, state, and federal level. It is systemic.
Look back at the document comments of America's founders with respect to religion in America. ZERO percent of them say or imply or suggest or hint that this is a Christian nation. In any way. Yet today we’re run by group of individuals who amount to a theocracy based on THEIR RELIGION alone. They set policy, influence laws, dictate morality-based intent, etc., in direct violation of not only what the founders intended, or the concept of separation of church and state, but what they wrote in that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Hindu? Jewish? Buddhist? Atheist? Everybody can fuck off unless you’re some form of Christian. Don’t believe me? Christianity is on our money. It’s in your bedroom. It's in your schools. It’s lording (pun intended) over women’s reproductive rights. It’s even allowing someone to say whether or not they’re going to bake a goddam cake. It is systemic.
Systemicism is permanently entangled in our society, and it’ll never go away, it won't be voted out, and it can't be shouted down. Just like racism, you have to come to grips with that fact. There will always, always, always be people who hate me simply because I’m black, or think I’m less than because I’m black. Those are the same people whom I cruise past on a jaunty spring motorcycle ride and wonder how they can have a Trump flag on their shitty little trailer homes and laude his every move, to include not returning Top Secret documents which could put American and allied spies, alike, in mortal danger. He doesn’t give a damn about any of those people. None of them. All he wants, and has gotten plenty of, is their sucker money. Lyndon Johnson said, "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you." It's the systemicism that links them to Trump (and his ilk) in their minds that is enough to continue to embrace a disgraceful opinion and view on BIPOC, and continue the miseducation of their children (which leads to banning of books, harshing the mellow of the LGBTQ community, supporting candidates who seek to whitewash American history or make it harder to fucking vote, or give the ability of a state legislature to decide an election, and contributes to the deepening divide between races). Do you see where I’m going?
So somebody is getting relief from their student loan debt. Big whoop. That doesn’t impact you. It isn’t being unfair to you. (How about paying taxes in the 60s for city and community amenities you couldn't rightfully enjoy, like parks and pools and water fountains?) And your life isn’t going to change. Instead of bitching and moaning about having 'paid their fair share' while somebody sits on their ass, why aren’t those people pissed that Trump’s tax plan is raising their taxes by removing a host of deductions for the middle class and repealing things like the alternative minimum tax for wealthy individuals or eliminating the estate tax? Why aren’t they complaining about the inequity in education in urban and rural communities? Why bemoan the infrastructure repair and increasing access to affordable healthcare and housing? Surely leveling up in those areas would make for a more competitive and productive workforce, contribute to catching up on the salary and wealth gap, right? How about recognizing the politically-expedient dominance of any certain religion and its stranglehold over whether a pregnant teenager carries an unwanted child to term? Bet they’d be screaming their heads off if Muslims crafted laws that prohibited their free exercise of bodily autonomy. Want to prevent second graders from being shot in the face at school? Or is the greater concern the ability for some nut job to exercise his 2A rights to buy an assault rifle? Ten grand to a teacher buried under student loans while going into her own pocket to provide school supplies for kids in a low-income neighborhood school sickens you. But you’ll gladly scream Let’s Go Brandon and display FJB on your car and clothes. And you’ll listen to a pastor or a boss or your neighbor talk about how they’d like to get back to when America was great. All the while you don’t understand how the world is moving on without you toward inclusion and diversity of all kinds. And you fight and claw and scream and complain to support the divisiveness in a country where you continue to benefit from whatever form and function of the pervasive systemicism that checks your personal boxes.
But $10,000. Because it doesn’t seem fair.