Soul of a nation under threat

  • Signs of the times: nonviolent protesters march through the city of Detroit on the same streets of the 1967 riots on June 5 and celebrate what would have been the 27th birthday of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed in her bed by police during a no-knock search warrant (Photograph by Nicole Hester/Ann Arbor News/AP)

    Signs of the times: nonviolent protesters march through the city of Detroit on the same streets of the 1967 riots on June 5 and celebrate what would have been the 27th birthday of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed in her bed by police during a no-knock search warrant (Photograph by Nicole Hester/Ann Arbor News/AP)

Throughout much of world history, people have suffered because of skin colour, religious persuasion, political views or ethnic differences, leaving a trail of death and injustice for millions across the globe.

Amid what seems an eternal struggle in the quest for freedom, respect and decency for all, many brave souls have sacrificed much, including their lives, to bring about change from what is still a nightmare for so many who suffer under oppression.

There are countries where economic power reigns, with powerful people determined to protect their economic status at any cost.

In that process, they display little concern for those at the bottom of the social barrel, for whom getting through each day is a challenge.

Assessing the quality of individuals according to race is always dangerous for any society. Hatred is a disease with more devastating power than the novel coronavirus, Covid-19. It eats away at the heart of community life.

America these days is in the global spotlight over deadly racial issues. However, there are numerous countries where people are dying without even having an opportunity to cry out in protest. Prejudice and Injustice persist on our planet despite major wars and brutal incidents of terrorism, with groups that feel the planet belongs to them.

The present crisis in America has stunned many Americans, and indeed people around the world, because once again it highlights critical social ills even after a major civil war over the issue of slavery.

Sadly, the nation struggles to learn that every American is entitled to justice and freedom, no matter skin colour or ethnicity. After the infamous Watts Riots in California, there was an attempt to open more doors to blacks in Americaís economic machine, which had welcome mats for mostly whites.

I recall the vice-president at the time, Hubert Humphrey, calling for more blacks to be used in the nationís commercial industry in a move to improve equality for many left out because of lingering racism.

He obviously knew it would not solve the many racial problems in the nation, but that it might start the ball rolling for a better America. It was going to be a bumpy ride because beneath the surface were those with a mindset that non-whites were inferior, thus not entitled to rights according to the nationís constitution.

America struggled over the years with blacks and whites paying with their lives in efforts to improve the situation. Despite considerable social progress, there would be moments when the dark instinct of racism would surface, igniting old wounds that are yet to fully heal from the post-slavery era.

A grim reminder that there is much ground to cover if ever they are to reach that brotherhood table envisioned by the late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr where all people would sit together in an atmosphere of justice and freedom.

Even here in Bermuda, many of us have experienced the ugly face of racism, which was also a part of our struggle from post-slavery to where we are today. However, progress was achieved only through significant sacrifice by blacks and whites, who were determined to challenge institutional injustice that served only to promote divisiveness.

America under its present leadership is in a precarious position, as many Americans along with people around the world are on edge about whether the nation has lost its way in preserving values that provide hope that fairness and justice are the core objectives in efforts to improve the quality of life for all Americans.

The murder of a black man by a white police officer, which was witnessed around the world as he was lying on the ground in handcuffs, has touched off massive and often violent demonstrations, putting the nation in a state of confusion and bitterness.

The Trump Administration seems detached from fully grasping the reality that the soul of America is under threat. Leadership is needed that connects with what is required to restore confidence in democracy and that all citizens should be treated with respect.

There are many wonderful Americans who embrace good values for living, and the real test at the moment is to have every voice raised in demanding nothing short of working to stop the country from slipping into the abyss of despair and insensitivity to those who need a helping hand in having a more productive life.

There is no time to lose in trying to reach that goal. Americaís future will depend on it.

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Published Jun 13, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 13, 2020 at 7:31 am)

Soul of a nation under threat

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