Yesterday, journalist Shaun King posted this on Facebook:
Listen, I need you to understand what I’m about to say. This is what I taught the students at Morehouse last week.
2015 is not what we thought it was. The deadliest hate crime against Black folk in the past 75 years happened THIS YEAR in Charleston.
More unarmed Black folk have been killed by police THIS YEAR than were lynched in any year since 1923.
Never, in the history of modern America, have we seen Black students in elementary, middle, and high school handcuffed and assaulted by police IN SCHOOL like we have seen this year.
Black students, who pay tuition are leaving the University of Missouri campus right now because of active death threats against their lives.
If you EVER wondered who you would be or what you would do if you lived during the Civil Rights Movement, stop. You are living in that time, RIGHT NOW.
There’s a particular piece of this that jumped out at me: “If you EVER wondered who you would be or what you would do if you lived during the Civil Rights Movement, stop. You are living in that time, RIGHT NOW.”
This is something I’ve been thinking about, A LOT.
In recent years, I have been letting go of that.
I’ve been looking at the deep polarization in this country; the rabid, bigoted, willfully-ignorant hatred of the Tea Party; the “We don’t care, we don’t have to” government serving its rich cronies and treating its citizens like children or criminals; the filthy rich turning the planet into a wasteland and treating anyone who tries to stop them like children or criminals; the pointless and apparently endless wars overseas; the grotesque hostility to black people, poor people, LGBT people, immigrants, women, for saying they want to be treated with basic human decency; the rapidly-changing attitudes about gender, race, family, drugs, sex, religion; the people who are terrified of that change and are responding to that fear with hatred.
And I’ve been realizing: Oh. This must have been what the Sixties were like.
I get that now.
I do not, in fact, want to get the hell out of Dodge. (Except temporarily, for an occasional breather.) I get that the saying “May you live in interesting times” is, in fact, both a curse and a blessing.* I do feel weirdly privileged to be living in interesting times. I feel weirdly privileged to be part of all this, to be part of social change movements that will be shaping the world for decades to come.
But yes. Shaun King is right. I have sometimes wondered who I would be or what I would do if I lived during the Civil Rights Movement; the Women’s Liberation movement; the early gay rights movement; the early ecology movement; the peace movement. And we are living in that time, RIGHT NOW.
I hope I’m doing okay. It’s really fucking hard.
*(It’s not an ancient Chinese saying, by the way.)