There have been so many moments in recent history when we all ask “Why aren’t there riots in the street to protest this?”
The answer was always that we all have too much too lose by stopping what we’re doing to riot. We stood to lose our jobs and our employer sponsored-health care. We stood to lose childcare and social standing. We stood to lose financial security and freedom.
But now many of us don’t stand to lose those things. We have lost them to a global pandemic. And as we are forced to come to terms with all we have lost – our security, our income, our health, members of our families and communities – as we do that, he drumbeat of racism and political and corporate abuse of workers carries on.
We can see with our own eyes that corporations, the wealthy, the government, and the police will not help us in our time of need. In fact, they may knowingly and willfully do us harm. We are the ones being asked to change everything while they change nothing. Not one thing.
We may have foolishly, optimistically hoped that this moment of global crisis would have spurred the ruling elites in America to dip into their coffers of wealth and power and extend a helping hand to the laboring class that supports them. But instead of seeing even a glimmer of that, we saw a cop place his knee on the neck of a man and crush the life out of him.
We have nothing left to lose and everything to protest.
People are in the streets finally because the betrayal from those to whom we entrusted our health, safety, and security is finally just too much. They have demonstrated once and for all that they are beyond redemption. We no longer feel obligated to protect their property because they are not protecting us.
In fact, we see all to clearly that they are the ones from whom we need protection.
The man passing a counterfeit $20 bill is not the cause of of all that is wrong in America. He is what happens when all the real $20 bills are in the pockets of the mega-rich, stockholders, and political elites who feel no obligation to redistribute a single cent to those left starving in the wake of a plague.
Americans are not willing to blame the wrong people any more. At last, we are blaming the ones at fault.
It didn’t have to come to this. Activists and advocates have begged for change. Lobbied for change. Sung for change. Written for change. Danced for change. Made art for change. Marched for change. The change never came.
The advent of the coronavirus is our reckoning. When we faced a universal crisis that demanded change for the survival of the species, the silence from those who control American resources was all the answer we got.
Now they get torches and pitchforks and angry mobs.
Photo by Rosa Pineda – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=90812924