I’ve been thinking about this idea that injustice will just eventually go away if everyone starts acting polite. I think last night’s debacle gave lie to that approach. Don’t get me wrong. In situations where bad things are happening, I want them to stop and I don’t care if the people who need to stop really get why they need to stop. I just want them to.
But at some level, if you don’t address the root causes, this stuff just keeps coming back, in slightly different forms. So, yeah, everyone in the state gets that you can’t own black people, but we haven’t quite gotten over how handy it is to have a labor force that has few legal recourses and is reviled by the very people who most benefit from it. Or we get that men don’t literally own their wives and daughters anymore, but we can’t let go of this idea that it is more important for men to have the final say in what goes on with women’s bodies than it is for women to be full citizens.
I sometimes feel like we have a long tradition of being shot in the foot. We don’t all have access to even adequate educations or healthcare. We don’t all have access to good jobs. And instead of asking, “Why are we being shot in the foot?!” and demanding a quality of life equal to what other Americans have or looking around and saying “Hey, everyone in my family has been shot in the foot, for generations, but I notice few of the politicians are limping,” we take pride in passing down a tradition of being shot in the foot.
We often cheer when our legislators pass laws that will shoot us in the other foot.
And just to be sure that we never wise up to the fact that we’re being shot in the foot, we’re taught that people who don’t hobble around think they’re better than us, that they want to impose their immoral ways on us, and that they don’t know the truth. That they are, in fact, somehow uneducated elitists. That they’re the problem.
Not that some folks here know they and their kids will never have to limp.