The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
Last Saturday, February 26th, was the ten-year anniversary of the murder of Trayvon Martin. Had his killer (who shall not be named on the blog) not decided to take the law into his own hands, young Mr. Martin would be 27. He might have graduated from high school and college, started a successful career, and perhaps said “I do” by now. But he will forever remain 17, a promising life full of possibilities that we can speak of in a hypothetical manner.
Though we cannot bring Travyon back to life or undo the acquittal of the man who was responsible for his killing, we can see look to our present and see where progress has been made. The men responsible for the executions of both George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery were found guilty of their respective crimes.
This is one GIANT step forward. As both a woman and a person of color, Brown Jackson, represents the true nature and the potential of this nation. With March being Women’s History Month and this coming Tuesday being International Women’s Day, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our wins and identify where there is more work to be done.
Of course, not everyone welcomed her with open arms. Her legal abilities and history were questioned by some Republicans (no surprise there). The obvious inquiry is if Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh had to face the same criticism. Probably not. My hope and prayer is that not only will she sit on the highest court of the land, but also that she will help to create the America that we know is possible.
May the memory of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, etc, be a blessing and a reminder of how far we need to go.
We all know that books open the door to the world. They take us on a journey to places we have never been to and introduce us to people who we might not otherwise meet.
Last week, several school districts around the country banned books that some consider to be “controversial”. Among these is the award-winning graphic novel, Maus. Maus is the story of the Holocaust using the allegory of mice as Jews and cats as Nazis.
It’s one thing if a parent, school, and/or schoolboard tailors the children’s reading to their age, maturity, and interests. It is another thing entirely to ban books that share ideas that don’t fit into your worldview.
The fact is that we, as adults, cannot keep our young ones in neat little bubbles for their entire lives. Even if their media diet is severely limited now, they will one day grow up and leave the nest. Part of that experience is meeting new people and being exposed to ideas that conflict with our own.
Holocaust Remembrance Day was last week. We celebrated MLK‘s birthday a couple of weeks ago. The events surrounding both are not ancient history. If we are to give our kids a complete education, that includes telling them the truth about both events, even when we don’t like the facts. If we don’t we are shortchanging them and our future.
The problem, as I see it, is that there are too many today who give lip service to his legacy. Specifically to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. On paper, some (ahem, Republicans) will state emphatically that they are for voting rights and protecting the right to vote. In reality, they are constricting the access to the polls for certain populations, knowing that these groups have by a wide margin, have supported their opponents.
When the Supreme Court agreed via Shelby County v. Holder that two sections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were unconstitutional, it opened the door to the dangerous situation that our nation is presently in. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 would not only strengthen its predecessor but would also hopefully prevent another Shelby County vs. Holder. The issue is that this nation and this Congress is too fractured to protect the ideals that we claim to hold near and dear.
The only way to honor Dr. King’s legacy and memory is to continue where he left off. Though the ground that has been gained is tremendous, the reality is that there are many battles ahead of us.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”
Yesterday, America made a giant step forward in reaching the ideals set up by her founders. The men accused of killingAhmaud Arbery were found guilty. I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel like I can breathe again. If the jury had gone in the other direction, I can only imagine what the response would have been like.
While we cannot undo what has happened, we can do the right thing going forward. The message is clear: acts of hate will not be tolerated. Those who perpetrate such actions will be caught and have their day in court.
Rest in power, Ahmaud. You will never be forgotten.
“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”
This week, the arc of justice finally reached it’s mark this week. President Biden officially designated Juneteenth as a federal holiday. As others have pointed out (which I agree with), as important this proclamation is, it must be backed up by laws up holding equality and shutting down of institutional racism in every fact of our society.
The fact is that African-Americans have built this country. Instead of thanking them and giving greater opportunities, we have degraded them, dehumanized them, and denied the most basic of rights that we claim is due to every American.
In a move that surprised no one, several members of Congress, who are all male, Caucasian, and Republican, voted no. Thankfully, a majority knew and understood how vitally important it is to at least try to reach the ideals written in our founding documents.
This is just a step in the road to real equality, but it is huge and if nothing else, a day to be proud of.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Justice was served in the United States. Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd.
If am to be completely honest, I was holding my breath as I watched the news coverage. G-d only knows what would have happened had Chauvin been acquitted.
I can only hope that this case represents a change not just for the various law enforcement departments across this country, but for the country as a whole. If we are to reach the imagery and idealism that is the backbone of this nation, this verdict is an important step. The police can no longer target men and women of color without impunity.
Though this case cannot remove the stain of the past, it is a what we need to move forward. Perhaps the future is bright in this country after all.
Dr. King was one of many who fought for equality. Though his ultimate goal was equality for African-Americans, it spread to the rest of the country. Women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and other Americans of color who have been disenfranchised heard his message and understood exactly what he was saying.
Though we can proudly say that we have made progress in the multiple decades since he was taken from us, it is more than clear that true equality is still too far off for many. I remember a cartoon in a book when I was in school. The image was of a tree had been cut at its base, but the roots were untouched. The analogy about racism and prejudice was obvious.
The fact is that we have a long way to do. Between the riot in DC almost two weeks ago and the murders of multiple African Americans last year, the dark side of the United States revealed itself in a way that was opening.
What Dr. King started almost a century ago, we have to finish. It is the only way to make his dream a reality.
“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”
What many forget is that American Jews were on the forefront of the Civil Rights moment.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was not only a good friend of Dr. King, he was an ally. He was on the front lines with Dr. King, fighting for the rights of African-Americans.
In 1964, three young men were murdered because they believed that all Americans, regardless of race, were equal. James Chaney was the son of a African-American family from Mississippi. Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were raised Jewish in the New York City area. They came together and were murdered together because of what they believed and what they were fighting for.
When I think about Martin Luther King Jr., I think of a man of courage, honor and conviction. He knew that the journey and others were about embark upon was dangerous. But he also knew that it was right. I take that as a lesson not just in my personal life, but in every aspect of my life. What is right is not always easy. But in that lack of ease comes the knowledge that though the journey is difficult, it is the only way forward.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
There has always been the debate on whether it is better to see the world in black and white or color. On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Odafin “Fin” Tutuola (played by actor and musician Ice-T), sees his world and his job as black and white. That view came from his early upbringing on the streets of New York City. As a young boy, he watched as the city rioted after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and saw his mother killed by one of his father’s business rivals.
As a cop first in narcotics and then in special victims, Fin sees the world as black and white. If the accused is guilty, then he or she deserves whatever punishment they receive. This point of view often led him to clash with his colleagues, who saw the shades of grey in the cases they were assigned. Outside of work, Fin sought to keep his private life and his job separate. But he eventually opened up to his partners, who became as close as family.
To sum it up: Sometimes a character is defined by his or her point of view. Fin sees his world and his job as black and white. Which is fine, because that works for the character. But there is also more to him than just a cut and dry perspective on the law. He has a big heart for those who he cares about and is willing to do what it takes to get the job done.
There are two ways to deal with injustice in the world. One way is to sit back, throw your hands in the air and do nothing because you feel powerless. The other way is to be bold enough, in spite of the fear and trepidation, to stand up for what is right and for those who are unable to fight for themselves.
In his time, he lived in a divided America. In our time, we still live in a divided America. There is still a notion in this country (and the world by extension) that one’s skin color, family background or sexuality is a defining factor how we judge another person instead of judging someone as an individual. It’s 2019, it’s time that saw each other as individuals instead of judging them by labels that are beyond our control.
Dr. King was a speaker like no other. Over fifty years after his death, his words continue to inspire us. In facing the demons of hate, he stated the following:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
It takes more time, emotion and energy to hate than to love. It’s 2019, it’s time to hold out our hands with love to our neighbors. I can’t think of a better way to honor Dr. King’s memory.
Words, words, words... well said Hamlet! A little blog to go off on tangents within the worlds of history and literature that interest me. From the Tudors to Tom Hardy's Tess, or from the Wars of the Roses to Wuthering Heights, feel free to browse through my musings to pick up extra ideas and points for discussion!