Police Brutality is "… an American Problem'... Yeah, Right - “In MLK’s Dream”
I haven’t blogged in a while, in part for lack of attention to politics. And even when the country’s attention turned to Eric Garner’s “homicide” (ruled so by the coroner) and followed up with Michael Brown’s murder, I really could do nothing more than post on Facebook – for all it’s worth. But there was something that struck me when I read the President’s comment, ‘This is an American Problem’. It was the realization that this is America’s problem, only in the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, where we all share in each other’s humanity because our suffering is devoid of racial animus.
In reality, this isn’t America’s problem because those being affected; those being killed without recourse, don’t look like what this country typically personifies as “American”…. WE are citizens of the OTHER America; the one that’s inferred when you hear politicians (typically liberal/progressive politicians) speak of “Two Americas”.
Think about it… Remember hearing, repeatedly “I want my country back!” and “take back America!”? From whom do you think they want to take America back? It’s from the 2/3rds as great citizens of Bizarro America – the lot of you who are not of “part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage” (to quote Mitt Romney); those of you who are not Christian (which I am, btw), those of you who are gay, on welfare or Anti-war, or don't support the notion that any of these things should disqualify people from equality afforded to “real Americans”.
Let me, just for clarity define where the term “Bizarro” came from – A Comic book. Bizarro is a fictional villain from the pages of Superman who is a flawed imitation of a Kryptonian. Visually he’s different, possessing (ironically) chalky white skin and childlike erratic behavior. In explaining his idea for the character, writer Alvin Schwartz said:
“I was striving, you might say, for that mirror-image, that opposite. And out of a machine which would reveal the negative Superman… I was certainly inspired to some degree also by C.G. Jung's archetype of "the shadow"
My point here is that we are the negative mirror-image of a an America that romanticizes the glory days where everyone that mattered looked alike, dressed alike, shared the same religion and same values. This America pretty much discounts slavery, lynchings and Jim Crow segregation as part of it’s history because – again slavery, lynchings didn’t really happen to Americans (even if you wanna throw up the hail Mary/Glenn Beck defense that the first U.S. slave owner was black and white slavery existed for criminals and those who owed debts).
In other words, if you’re an American you don’t get denied a job based on the color of your skin (unless, of course you’re referring to affirmative action) and if you’re an American you don’t get paid less because of gender (and if you do, then you like and defend unequal pay).
If you’re an American you don’t get denied the right to marry another human being who is of legal marrying age, you're not denied the right to erect a house of worship in your town and you don’t have conversations with your sons, urging them to release their dignity and constitutional rights when a police officer randomly stops them and asks to see i.d. and frisks them.
No… This is the plight and problem of the Bizarro American, or shadow American (to refer to Carl Jung’s influence on Bizarro’s creation). Carl Jung's archetype of "The Shadow” is particularly significant because it talks of a person’s ability to reject the negative/undesirable aspects of themselves.
“In Jungian psychology, the shadow or "shadow aspect" may
refer to (1) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one's personality, the shadow is largely negative.”
My fellow Americans, I am of that ilk of Americans that, despite my best efforts and your best intentions, remains a Bizarro American. In that, I take heart knowing that America’s story is one of struggle against oppression. But I also realize that the foundation of struggle against oppression is inextricably stained by a fundamental willingness to oppress others with exceptional prowess. This does not make me any less American or patriotic. To the contrary, it allows me to see and acknowledge that past and it’s lingering effects, in hopes that the angel on America’s left shoulder – the one that urged the “founders” to establish a land of the free - would win out over the devil on her right – the one that urged the founders to take that land by way of war and smallpox infected blankets.
So hearts are heavy now and the country is questioning, yet again its identity. Our emotions have us to the point that we’re looking to paint each other with broad brush generalizations and distrust. Many of us are digging our heals in, refusing to hear, accept or acknowledge each others point of view, but even worse, unwilling to acknowledge each other’s pain.
But the process of soul searching and looking into the mirror is, indeed a painful one, and the America that we all claim to believe in; the one Dr. King dreamed of, we will never see as long as America refuses to identify itself with it’s Bizarro reality and even worse, elects to willfully remain ignorant of it.