Rising above Oppression upon the Air we Breathe

“You may shoot me with your words, 

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.”

I rise by Maya Angelou.

The world of swirling aerosolized droplets seemingly assigned the task of death and destruction meanders throughout the air like a phantom. Epidemiologists call it COVID 19 (coronavirus). African Americans represent a large number of Coronavirus deaths, 24,000 though this group only represents 13% of the population. The COVID Tracking Project’s Racial Data Tracker. Lack of a coherent plan to combat COVID 19 has exasperated this narrative. 

Like an eagle lifting above the storm, air’s thermal updrafts brings lift as it rises. The breathing of this air is uniquely captured in choreographed rhythms echoed from old negro spirituals. One can almost hear the exhaling voices rising like a Phoenix out of the ashes of oppression. Langston Hughes of the Harlem Renaissance said it this way: 

“O, let my land be a land where Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, But opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe.”  

MC Coats’ Song recites the last words of George Floyd, “I can’t breathe again,” his hip hop anthem says, “we’re tired of humiliation and need love and ventilation.”

The breathing that resounds from the exclusively idiosyncratic (African) American story against all the odds, and negative pressure, yet is still rising. Heat is the product of friction, similar to what we have today. Protesters in the streets under their mask faces struggling to breathe or to put it plainly, striving for a voice. 

“Examining the causes of civil unrest in African American communities, the report named “white racism”—leading to “pervasive discrimination in employment, education, and housing”—as the culprit, No, this is not a 2020 news story, but this is from the 1968 Kerner Commission report, under the Lyndon Johnson Administration. In 2020, add health to the list.

The air-filled whisperings of this hope have elevated into conversations. Those conversations have sparked calls for a very real chorus of policies that would define an actual reimagined Reconstruction. The first Reconstruction period was from approximately 1865 until 1877.

This reimagined reconstruction must take an intense look at reparations, which were once authorized but never fulfilled.

“Central to the idea of the American Dream lies an assumption that we all have an equal opportunity to generate the kind of wealth that brings meaning to the words “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” boldly penned in the Declaration of Independence. The American Dream portends that with hard work, a person can own a home, start a business, and grow a nest egg for generations to draw upon. This belief, however, has been defied repeatedly by the United States government’s own decrees that denied wealth-building opportunities to Black Americans.”

Policy 2020 Brookings Big Ideas: 

Why we need Reparations for Black Americans By Rashawn Ray and Andre Perry April 2020

The bullet points listed below are from this intriguing article. The list displays the beginning of a conversation of potential reparation policies. 0702 reparations harvest

  • Individual payments for descendants of enslaved Black Americans
  • College tuition to 4-year or 2-year colleges and universities for descendants of enslaved Black Americans.
  • Business grants for business starting up, business expansion to hire more employees, or purchasing property for descendants of enslaved Black Americans
  • Student loan forgiveness for descendants of enslaved Black Americans
  • Down payment grants and housing revitalization grants for descendants of enslaved Black Americans

The literal rise in global temperatures due to climate change lends to the figurative. Because of the heat, the supercell storm gives the American eagle rise. Left in the aftermath are social and health conditions that have left some too heavy for the flight. Gasping in search of breathable air is the quest in the concrete and toxic air jungles of the proverbial redlined “other side of the track.”

WASHINGTON (AP) — African-Americans and Hispanics breathe in far more deadly air pollution than they are responsible for making, a new study said.

The heaviness of systemic racism hovers like a cloud. Amid these dire conditions, the air so crucial to human survival is on the rise.

That figurative rise is the American dream that never died. An assassin’s bullet shot Martin Luther King Jr, killing the man, but not his dream. It is the breathtaking persistence of African American’s deep abiding faith in the dream of the “Great American Experiment” that has buoyed the hopes and dreams of generations. This time, multiethnic multitudes stand in league with African Americans, all proclaiming that “Black Lives Matter” with none left behind and together, we shall see all rise.

Kevin Robinson Executive Director of Accord1

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