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Thursday October 19th 2017

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Irreconcilable Differences?

BY MISHEHARU P. DAWKINS

What does the election of Donald Trump say about us as a nation and us as individuals? First I am going to try and explain what it means to me, and then I am going to try and explain what I believe it means for us as a country. As I watched on Election Day with my family as each state rolled in and Hillary Clinton kept losing state after state, I would not allow myself to believe that Donald Trump would become the 45th president of this country. I want to make it clear that I was no fan of Hillary but if the good people of this nation were watching what I was watching, there was no way Trump would win. That is the heart of the disappointment for me. What I thought we were, who I thought we were becoming had suddenly eroded significantly in one night. Don’t get me wrong, I suffer from no illusions that somehow race doesn’t matter. When former President Obama won there were people from all walks of life, colors and cultures supporting a man and his family who ran for the office of the President of the United States and that family just so happened to be Black. It was an inspiring and unifying moment. I was not suffering from any illusions that all policy differences would vanish and racial animosity would be forgotten, no, I was not delusional. I was optimistic. I saw this country moving forward. Then our old habits began to show up.

First, the Republican Congress with their absolute opposition to anything the former President Obama wanted to do. This poison was fed to a specific constituency that would be willing to believe that our 44th President was not born in this country, that he was a “secret Muslim” who was trying to create Death Panels. This gave us the Tea Party. Next, we had the former State Representative Gabrielle Gifford’s shooting which shed a spotlight on gun laws like a laser because now it was one of their own. There was no way they could sweep that one under the rug, so time to gear up the gun lobby, saying the President wanted to take away law-abiding citizen’s guns and let the criminals run rampant. Are you following me?

Next we have the “Beer Summit” with the police officer arrested Professor Henry Louis Gates at his own home. Some folks started to see their healthcare costs rising and it validated some people’s suspicions that the ACA was somehow not on the up and up. Then, as more mass shootings occurred, gun owners became paranoid, and more young black and brown men and women seemingly being killed unjustly portrayed in the news widened the racial divide. I am not trying to rehash old news for the sake of argument but rather to ask a question. Why are we as a nation so fragile? Throughout our nation’s history, a young history, compared to other countries, we have been traumatized over and over. All throughout the Revolution, Slavery, the Genocide of Native Americans and constant wars have left a trail of tears that cannot be so easily cleaned up by just saying “move on”. And that is precisely the problem. We have just been moving on, creating wonders in technology, medicine and industry.

When you have generation after generation of trauma you are left with a nation whose collective psyche is damaged. We have never had true reconciliation amongst one another. Our history suggests we must be adversaries. When I see a young black man shot and killed or beaten, I am not only viewing this through the lens of history, but my own experiences. I read about the brutality of police during the Civil Right movement and I see some of what is going on now in comparison and fair or not it may validate a common view that there is still not equal protection under the law.

Because of our seemingly irreconcilable differences, every time there is a questionable police shooting we go to our corners ready to fight the ‘good fight’ as we see it. If I may quote the cartoon villain The Joker: “My experiences dictate my reasoning”. So suburban or white Americans, who like to hunt, hear the stereotypes about crime in the inner cities and they hear talk about the new gun laws and background checks. The Powers that Be within our government (on both sides) understand that division is the name of the game. If the people began to see through the propaganda and shake off the irrational fear and understand that our history is intertwined, the divide will lessen. We began on separate paths which may lead to us coming to different conclusions on very important issues. Acknowledging our shared history and not relying on history to shut down debate but to debate to understand each other’s perspectives will allow us as a country to finally heal and reconcile our past without forgetting to stand up for what we believe in as individuals. If not, we the people are going to keep getting manipulated into these corners where the only choices are to choose the lesser evil. Politicians are master manipulators and we must guard ourselves from being used to enrich and empower those who do not deserve it. This can only happen when we began to heal the collective psyche of our nation. The question now is; can we replace ego with dignity, anger with purpose and complacency with action? I say, yes we can.

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