The most noticeable attacks by politicians and common-folks particularly from red state type areas in the country have been directed at institutions that guard against bad behavior and enforce the law. It is also noticeable that the people and groups also under attack by these same folks are the traditional minorities like African Americans and Latinos.
Name-calling is rampant, loud and very threatening. It is as though the majority is responding much like minorities have traditionally done in our history.
You might ask; why is it that a majority in political control would behave like an aggrieved minority that wants redress? You might also ask; redress for what?
Minorities have traditionally used their civil rights to seek justice, equality, space and a place at the table of opportunity. Is that really what is going on with this majority?
When I came out of the university into my first job I found myself in the middle of the Chicano Movement. This was also the time when the African American civil rights movement oscillated between Martin Luther King’s non-violence road to change and the younger generation blowing out and burning cities.
Even the youth in America were taking to the streets to protest the Vietnam War and an establishment bent on “protecting” the world from Communist insurgencies sponsored by the Soviet Union and Red China. The youth and minorities in their powerless desperation took to the streets to exercise their rights especially their freedom of speech, assembly and civil disobedience in protest against their condition.
Words were the principle currency of the groups trying to make space for identity and place. For Blacks and Latinos among others, a history of oppression had destroyed much of their public description as a people.
It took words to recreate self-worth and a structure of self-acceptance. “Black is beautiful” is a saying that still resonates with the African American community and goes very well with another notion encapsulated in the slogan, “Black Lives Matter.”
The Chicano Movement evidenced a commitment to a “Brown” world rooted in Aztlan and the ancestral lands to be recovered along with language, history and identity. Words were also the main instrument in portraying the root of their crucifixion.
For White youth and others of all colors, words expressed their anger, frustration and helplessness in the face of a military draft that sought to train them to then die in the killing fields of a far-away Vietnam where the enemy was also fighting and dying because they had to.
Words like “baby killers” were used against returning soldiers who had been drafted, did their time and survived. Name-calling was also used by Blacks and Chicanos against the perceived oppressor and law enforcement institutions that represent the first line of defense of the power structure.
That is the description of ethnic and racial minorities that sought to create some sort of equilibrium and stability in the face of powerful pressures to be invisible, without identity, without heritage and without history. It is in this context that the acts of a minorities against a powerful majority has been an integral part of America’s history.
But what does this have to do with a majority that has been in control since the founding of America? Why is this majority acting like it has lost something?
Surely going backwards is not the answer because what governs the destiny of a people is a dynamic cycle that requires a true faith in the future. Perhaps they are just afraid of that future.