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What A Difference

The original draft of this post observed events as of mid 2022. Since the last published post in 2021 there’s been more shooting of black men, women and children.

Too many resulted from highly questionable circumstances ranging from suspicion of firearm possession, profiling, to fleeing a traffic stop to executing a no-knock warrant and self-defense disputes. When available, bodycam footage dramatically highlights the validity of narratives (or lack thereof, particularly attempts at (re)interpretation).

Meanwhile there’s been two major shootings within the past 8 months (among others none of which can be considered minor). Those apprehended who happened to be Caucasian were taken into custody without being shot by a law enforcement official. (14 May, Buffalo; 4-July Highland Park).

Unsplash photo of graveyard shrouded in fog. Credit Scott Rodgerson.

Voting in the 2020 presidential election had the highest participation rate in American history. It echoes exercising newly granted voting rights in the 1960’s.

Voting 1960’s

Black people in particular braved hours long lines as well as submitted mail-in ballots that proved to be a factor in Democrats winning the electoral college.

As of February 2021 GOP state legislatures have imposed and are still trying to impose more restrictive measures on mail-in voting.

Georgia has even made it illegal to provide food and water directly to voters as was done during the 2020 election during a pandemic and inhospitable weather. Contorted from a regulation meant to curb bribery, defies logic and compassion under such circumstances.

In response, Republicans claimed the process was rigged; challenged the integrity of the ballots in more than 60 court cases (coincidentally concentrated in predominantly black precincts and in swing states) and lost nearly every case. In fact, some voting irregularities that were found were intended to favor Trump. But this was only the beginning.

Contortion seems to apply to a lot of things lately.

Generally speaking, these types of measures are part of a coordinated strategy of limiting polling places, enacting more stringent voter ID requirements, stacking courts with partisan judges and state legislatures. We’re now at a point where anything will be done to support election results contrary to the popular vote including attempts to override using an alternate slate of electors.

Talk about cancel culture.

Looking Back To Look Forward

Chain of Change relates in Chapter 4…In 1967 a peaceful protest led by Mothers for Adequate Welfare against “catch-22” welfare regulations in the Boston Grove Hall Welfare Office, was violently “dispersed” by police. Called “The Police Riots” by the community, initially triggered a violent response by a few, but several days later MAW held a peaceful rally on Boston Common.

It ultimately resulted in recommendations by the Kerner Commission on Civil Disorders for equity in welfare benefits distribution, and relieving restrictions enabling the cycle of poverty.

Over the course of 30 years degrees of progress in some areas was made, but then it stopped and reversed.

There are those who advocate encouraging “everyday people” to run for all levels of office, marshalling the youth vote (evidently well underway on its own) , and organizing. There’s also a number of recent books addressing our fractured union, with prescriptions for substantive action.

Decisions, Decisions

The overturning of Roe vs. Wade has galvanized much of America across demographics and cast a different light on the inevitability of the midterm elections, so intensively reported by the media.

The condition of public schools was another flashpoint in the struggle of the 1960’s.

In June 2022, “The city of Boston, Boston Public Schools district and Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education have reached an agreement on a systemic improvement plan for BPS. […] a day before Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley was set to ask the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to vote to declare Boston Public Schools as “underperforming”, which falls short of a full state takeover.” [excerpts from WCVB.com]

“The Massachusetts Teachers Association has said the Legislature passed a “status quo” budget for fiscal 2022 and that lack of funding creates a disproportionate negative effect on working-class students and students of color[…] we must remember that our public schools – and our public colleges and universities – have been grossly underfunded for decades, [italics mine] [MTA President Merrie] Najimy said.” [source: masslive.com Melissa Hanson 7/10/21 “Massachusetts Teachers Association says lack of funding in fiscal 2022 budget creates disproportionate negative effect on students of color”]

The Stages

Organizing and demonstrating (“stay outs”) raised awareness of racial imbalance and laid groundwork for more innovation in the 1960’s.

We can continue to expect claims of dishonest election results particularly by the party of one who has “raised it” to an art form.

What has become clear is that resistance and overcoming suppression tactics are going to need a multi-pronged approach.

Building economic power to reduce dependency (overlapping into the Institutional Stage of the chain) along with traditional activism, voting and monitoring the process in every manageable capacity, be it poll workers, voter assistants, etc., is now a basic recipe for confronting the distortion of our cherished rights.

And of course it can never be said enough…VOTE!

Volunteering, involvement in school boards and local politics to secure our vote will augment what took place 50+ years ago.

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