Friday, August 26, 2016

Why Systemic Racism Is Lethal For All Of Us

Eli Levin ~ "Killing Mario Woods" ~ egg tempera ~ 18" x 24"
This painting by Eli Levin is shared with permission via our mutual friend, artist/activist Russell Wray. Mario Woods' story is personal, of course, for his family and friends; it is also emblematic of systemic racism -- even in San Francisco, alleged bastion of liberalism and tolerance. "The City" (as we called it growing up in its suburbs) was once known for its tolerance; now it is known for brutal gentrification that drives people from their homes into the streets to attempt survival. Those who suffer from mental illness -- like Woods, or recent Baltimore police victim Korryn Gaines -- often don't make it.

The engine of gentrification in San Francisco is Silicon Valley, the nearby region where technology and capitalism came together to change life as we know it. Whose side would you guess the tech billionaires are on in the ongoing struggle for racial justice? 

From an Aug. 25 email from the corporate watchdog group SumofUS:
Korryn Gaines posted videos of her encounter with police on Facebook. The police asked Facebook to deactivate her account. Then she was killed... 
[Facebook CEO Mark] Zuckerberg has publicly said he supports Black Lives Matter, but yet his company decided to censor the communications that add much-needed transparency when it comes altercations with the police. 
We're living through the violent collision of racism, worship of the almighty dollar, and a woefully inadequate mental health care system that results from said worship. 

White people are crawling out the of the woodwork these days to insist that the Black Lives Matter movement is itself racist. Here's a good response I saw on, of course, Facebook:

Systemic racism harms us all. It makes for bad decisions, uninformed decisions, as so many wise voices are silenced. 

In Maine the big news this week is that President Obama created a new national monument with 87,000 acres of forest land donated by philanthropist Roxanne Quimby. But native people in Maine say that giving the federal government jurisdiction over land that is their ancestral homeland is not only bad for them, it is bad for the future of humankind. 
Maybe Dana, a past Penobscot chief, was thinking about the Lakota people who had their water supply cut off this week as they blocked construction of a $3.8 billion oil pipeline across their land. Homeland Security, which reports to Obama, was responsible. According to "the land actually belongs to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has forced the protesters to request a permit to carry out any further actions on what is historically their own land" [emphasis mine].

Maine is actually in a prolonged drought this summer with wells going dry -- while multinational corporation NestlĂ© continues to pump millions of gallons out of our aquifers to sell back to us in little plastic bottles. Who thinks this is a good idea? Not the native people. Their struggles to protect the water we all rely on for life are repeatedly thwarted by corporations and the governments who serve them. When the federal government takes jurisdiction over land native people have cherished for generations, those people lose their sovereign right to live upon the planet in a sustainable way. And when they lose, we all lose the benefits of their wisdom. 

The rich white man who runs NestlĂ© is on record as saying that clean water is not a human right. 

Apparently, under the current system, neither are mental health care or policing that actually serves and protects people who aren't white or affluent. 

No comments: