History

The cunning play while the powerless pray,
and all the women sorely obey.

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When we think about dismantling the systemic racism in this country we tend to tackle the things that are right in our faces. The prison system, laws, and language–which all need attention–but time has put so many pages between us and those before, and in the process, tucked away and twisted outright racism so the not-so-obvious racist aggressions go unchecked. Some believe racism is buried away in history, but I hear its music every summer.

BP Oil

I’m seeing a lot of BP oil advertising on TV for some reason, so I’d thought I’d share some of BP’s modern history. In ’91 BP was cited by the EPA as the most polluting company in America. In that same year they were fined 1.7 million for burning toxic gas in Ohio. BP Exploration Alaska’s contractor Doyon Drilling illegally dumped paint thinner, waste oil, and other toxic chemicals on the Alaska North Slope from 1993-95. Ten years later one of their bigger refineries in Texas City exploded killing 15 people and injuring 180 others due to 709 safety hazards and violations. They had a 270,000 gallon spill on the Alaskan tundra. In ’96 roughly 5,000 barrels worth of oil leaked out of the Alaskan pipeline which finally led to a temporary shutdown of operations in Prudhoe Bay–a year later 2,000 gallons of methanol and oil leaked on the tundra. Meanwhile in Houston, BP energy traders were charged with manipulating the prices of propane. Two weeks before the Gulf spill, 530,000 pounds of chemicals–benzene, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and propane–leaked into Texas City’s air. But it’s alright if a few people and some wildlife die because the only thing BP spills more than oil is money. In 2009 they broke their previous lobbying record, dumping 16 million into Congress. Lastly, the Gulf spill, the four month long dump BP took in the Gulf of Mexico. BP’s slogan is “Discover how BP is Committed To America and the Future of Energy.” Spoiler: BP isn’t committed to either. And their ads say they create jobs, but what they’re really good at making are problems.

Our justice system hangs by a thread. Our prisons are brimming over with black people, so much so that police are just indiscriminately executing them on the streets. Our president calls for police reform, but he’ll be blocked at every turn by those who would shut down a nation rather than do their jobs as public servants. Anger is appropriate, but violence won’t work.

The whole human history is riddled with one group killing another so its ideology will triumph, only to be overtaken by another–endlessly. I don’t have any solutions. I don’t even know where to begin. But I do know that one of these days an officer is going to draw their firearm on another black child, and isn’t going make it back to the station. And I can’t imagine the hell that will ensue as a result.

The More Things Change…

I quit having expectations and this is why: I don’t think a single thing has really changed for almost five thousand years. After our first and possibly greatest invention–writing–humanity has remained largely stagnate in its thinking, but luckily not in its understanding of the physical world. Yet, even with all the accumulated knowledge of the known universe these problems persist throughout history:

An uninformed ruling class.

The struggle for reason over ignorance.

The plight of the poor, and immigrant.

The brotherhood of religion and government.

Short-term gains trump long-term costs.

Reinforcing the status quo through violence.

I don’t expect anything to change. We’ve had the technology to cure what ails us for years. The real reason we don’t have everything hooked up to solar, or wind, or geothermal is because you can’t charge anything for free energy. There’s no fucking money in using the sun as a perpetual energy maker. There’s no money in batteries that can run for three years on a single charge. If writing is humankind’s first great invention then the battery is second, and solar panels third, but to fully implement it would call our nation’s most esteemed philosophy into question, and that isn’t going to happen because of the list above.

Civil Rights, Continued

If you’re reading this then you probably have access to Google, and if you type: how many black people are in congress in the search bar, you’ll get a disappointing answer (depending on how ignorant you are). I’ll save you some time–there are 435 members in the House, 43 of them are black, and 79 are women. I think if you dwell on that for a quick second you’ll start to see why we’re having the problems we are.

We have people trying to peacefully protest in Ferguson, we have the LGBTQ community fighting for marriage equality (among other things), and women working for equal pay, but I think we’ve all forgotten to stop and ask ourselves a vital question: Why the fuck do we have to fight for all this stuff? We’ve been thought civil rights movement after movement, and it took 219 years since Washington was elected to get a black president. And we’re still waiting for a woman (Hillary, cough*, cough* uh-hum). And people have the brass ones to say: it’s 2014, didn’t you know racism’s over? Or, who needs feminism? Right, in the country where men who can hardly stomach alcohol receive get out of jail free cards for rape.

Sometimes you have to stop and think: who are the people in charge? What culture are they from, what generation do they come from, how many are Hispanic, women, etc.? Why are 99% of the top CEOs old white men? This is where the ball was dropped: we’ve had many historic movements, but we need to bring the melting pot to the government and senior management because it’s had way more than its fair share of time in labor.

The ideology of the ’50s can’t fix the problems of 2014. It’s great that so many still take to the streets and stand in the face of cold armored men and mace, but we must also take to the boring stuff like voting, researching, and putting people with our interests in office; making sure equality exists at the highest echelon of society, as well as the lowest.