As an older white guy, I’ve been unsure what to write about the present situation in America. Much of the online and news space does, and should, belong to people of color and Millennials. They are, and should be, the future. In fact, I am increasingly impressed by how today parallels events from 55 years ago.
My generation (or those a bit older than me; I’m at the tail end of the Baby Boom), watched Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the passage of the Voting Rights Act. We helped end two presidencies and an unjust war. We sang songs our grandchildren still sing. Today, I was overcome by emotion watching people in Minneapolis sing “We Shall Overcome.”
The news is starting to describe this as a movement.
Former Presidents Obama and Bush are united in their support of it. Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis has denounced his former boss in stronger language than even Obama has used.
I never in my wildest dreams would have thought I’d be seeing Obama, Bush, and Mattis—all three, all at once—as heroes.
It seems to have struck a nerve, all across the nation.
What we’ve been groping for all week…and longer…is leadership. The second coming of Martin Luther King. Gandhi. The best of Sixties idealism, revived.
Instead, what we suddenly have is something I heard today, for the first time, described as a movement.
A movement without a charismatic leader because it is so overwhelmingly right that it doesn’t need one.
I may later blog about why I believe in the rightness of this movement.
For the moment, I’ll just say that in 1983 (ironically, in Minneapolis), I was mistaken, at night, for black. (I had a really great Afro, now sadly turned grey.)
It was an amazing introduction to what black Americans face every day. For a couple of minutes, I was in serious danger. I escaped, but black men can’t escape.
I have never forgotten that, and am perpetually thankful that, for those terrifying moments, I got a chance to understand what black people live with, day in, day out.
If I truly trusted my mask, I’d be marching with the Millennials. But I’m 66, with preexisting conditions that I may or may not have beaten back by the health changes I’ve previously blogged about.
So, the best I can come up with is this post. Because one of the things that’s overwhelmingly obvious in the news clips is that this movement–which my generation should be proud to see following in our footsteps–is wonderfully, wildly, vastly interracial.
Not to mention being supported, all at the same time, by such a diverse lot as Obama, Bush, and Mattis.
That’s how you win.