.Hope and History

We still have work to do

Two days ago, I was asked to write an editorial about the 2020 election for this issue of the East Bay Express. Like many journalists placed in this position, I’ve had to muster the ability to foretell the tone of a historic day that has yet to happen. The task is a daunting one, but no less daunting than the political and social climate of the country this year. Many of the issues we must face going forward will be with us regardless of who occupies the seats of government.

On Oct. 20, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the “Coronavirus spreading ‘uncontrollably’ in much of the U.S. — but not California.” It went on to say that, “More than half of all states now fall into the ‘uncontrolled spread’ category, according to data gathered by the COVID Exit Strategy. California, by contrast, is one of eight states where transmission is decreasing or flat.”

Furthermore, it stated that, “California currently has 75 coronavirus cases per million population, according to the COVID Exit Strategy. It has also seen a 4% decrease in total hospitalizations and 3% decrease in ICU admissions over a 14-day period, Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference Monday.”

As of this writing, there are 9,528,353 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 236,805 Covid-related deaths in the United States, with rising numbers all over the country as regions experience second and third waves of the virus. The lack of a national response has not only put the onus on states, but on everyday citizens as well. Whether or not support is on the way, our individual decisions make the ultimate difference.

The Right-wing extremist terror will remain with us after the election results, too. As the nation boards up its businesses today in preparation for riots should Trump win, there has been no preparation against the probable and likely violence if he loses. In “Right-wing militias are gearing up for an armed response on Election Day” Salon reports, “according to the report by Politico‘s Tine Nguyen, ‘Fueled by allegations of mail-in ballot fraud, shouted from the president’s Twitter feed and conservative media outlets, a new spate of racial justice protests in places like Philadelphia and paranoia over further coronavirus restrictions, some militias have begun doomsday prepping for Election Day.”

Over the last few days leading up to the election, caravans of trucks bearing Trump flags and known as “Trump Trains” have paraded through the predominantly Black neighborhood of Marin City, blocked traffic on bridges in New York and New Jersey, and boxed in a Biden campaign bus in Texas, forcing Biden to cancel an event due to intimidation. Regardless of who is President of the United States today, the white supremacist/fascist underpinnings of this country will continue to escalate until they are directly addressed and expunged from all facets of American life; a moral revolution within the hearts and minds of us all. Once again, it’s on us.

The extrajudicial killings of Black people, by police, with no accountability, will remain as well. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and countless others have yet to see their day in court, much less actual justice. While Floyd’s killers are out on bail, no one has yet been held accountable for Taylor’s death, or even named in Blake’s. As long as these affronts to truth and justice in the name of white supremacist violence persist, the American people have two choices: to remain silent in compliance, or to use their voices to demand change.

I don’t know who the new President is as I write this, but I do know that whomever it is cannot change the decisions we must make to end these plagues, or the bravery we must find to foster the glimmers of hope that have always been with us. Like the poet, Seamus Heaney, wrote:

“History says, don’t hope

On this side of the grave.

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up,

And hope and history rhyme.”

D. Scot Miller
Managing Editor of The East Bay Express, Former Associate Editor of Oakland Magazine and Alameda Magazine, Columnist-In-Residence at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)'s Open Space, Advisory Board Member of Nocturnes Journal of Literary Arts, and regular contributor to several newspapers, websites and magazines. Miller is the founder of The Afrosurreal Arts Movement through his publication of The Afrosurreal Manifesto in The San Francisco Bay Guardian, May 20, 2009.
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