Reine Duell Bethany - Author and Illustrator
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America Is at a New Point of Growth

Here is a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. at age 7. I got it from https://www.readingrainbow.com/site/blog/2014/01/20/celebrating-martin-luther-king-jr-kids-can-make-difference/

King fought for his nation, the United States, so that all little children could grow up -- just that, grow up, get educated, find a life path -- instead of struggling to grow up hindered and oppressed for stupid reasons like having dark skin. The United States he fought for was becoming manifest through the 1970s. Starting in about 1980, racial equality took a downturn. Policies meant to increase racial integration in housing were undermined by white communities that cleverly manipulated protective laws. The profile of African Americans and other nonwhites in media rose, while the educational status of African Americans went both forward (more legal protections, more support for college education) and backward (more undermining of anti-segregation measures, more ways of separating minorities from whites on a day-to-day basis, like massive housing projects built in such a way as to separate the inhabitants from access to areas with entrenched white populations, thus limiting education and job opportunities for people of color). We are now seeing the fruits of these subtle, hard-to-prove-yet-increasingly-manifest separation tactics: police brutality in poor neighborhoods, especially toward people of color, and popular multiracial protests decrying the increasing migration of wealth away from the middle class and toward the already wealthy. Big demonstrations are good in that they make people's anger visible, but if they don't stay peaceful, then excuses can be made to suppress them and characterize the protestors as lawless agitators.
          Martin Luther King, Jr., must rise again.to lead us to sustained, unflagging insistence on policy changes. King did not only concern himself with racial issues. He saw the interaction between race and economy. He was assassinated while supporting a protest of unequal wages and working conditions among black versus white sanitation workers of Memphis, Tennessee. 
          Inequality of wealth can't be maintained unless a population can be designated that big businesses don't have to care about, and that they can use without repercussions. King led the demand that African Americans not be singled out as that uncared-for population anymore. However, as he said in his Letter from Birmingham City Jail, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." If African Americans can be the uncared-for, they will soon be joined by various other populations, because allowing one population to bear the cost of wealth inequality opens the door to identifying and using other populations,
         Probably new acts of Congress must be devised, to combat the ever-present efforts of large businesses to forget who is really enabling their wealth -- the laborers. When businesses see themselves as providers of jobs instead of as communities that generate community wealth, they start to see laborers as peons instead of as the people who make it possible to manufacture goods and generate profits. Peons get shunted off into undesirable neighborhoods. Once shunted, there is societal permission to let them be maltreated variously, including brutal encounters with law enforcement. American history is rife with examples of this cycle. (Take a glance at this May 21, 2006, Chicago Tribune article: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2006-05-21/features/0605210414_1_upton-sinclair-trust-free/2.
         We have to keep reminding large corporations of why they are large, and keep demanding that the national wealth be justly shared. We have to keep remembering that every nation is in danger of creating outgroups that get used economically, and then get shunted off to one side, and then get pitied by kind-hearted wealthy people who fund programs but don't employ the people, and then when the people break down in distress, they get told that they merely need to behave themselves better and all shall be well.
          We have to understand that the protests erupting in our nation are caused by us as a nation, and as a nation we must solve these problems, or we will stop being the home of the brave and the land of the free, and deteriorate into thuggery. We can't condemn street gangs for using illegal tactics to gain territory and wealth if wealthier people are using the same tactics via legal loopholes illegally bought.
          We mustn't forget the words of the Pirate King in Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance. Young Freddie, the pirate's apprentice, desires to stop being a pirate, and the Pirate King comments:
                                          Away to the cheating world go you
                                          Where pirates all are well-to do
            I'm not saying there are no honest businesspeople -- not by any means, I'm saying that where power and wealth are present, the temptation to abuse them is ever-present, and the battle to keep those temptations at bay will never cease.
            For me, the battle is here in Hempstead, where one aspect of helping kids stay out of gangs should be a good education, but despite heavy taxes on Village of Hempstead property owners, the schools are in miserable shape. I'm finding that the tax structure of this largely minority village is shaped by forces of which I was previously unaware. Having become aware, I will seek ways to address them. This will be an effort of years, but I can't admire Martin Luther King, Jr., on one hand, and complain about the effort it takes to solve my own problems on the other. .

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