I just signed up for Songza, a totally curated streaming music service, after finding it almost impossible to find anything I liked on Apple Music. The first song I listened to, which I found by clicking on “Genres,” “Folk,” and “Essential Folk,” made me cry and sing along at the same time. It was Pete Seeger singing “We Shall Overcome” in concert, with the audience singing along. Pete was so impassioned, believed so strongly, and sang such strong, beautiful harmonies that I started sobbing, then singing along and crying at the same time.
Why did I cry? Because that spirit and belief is so beautiful, because I’m part of that community, and because I so want to believe that we will overcome — on so many fronts.
The current New Yorker magazine has an editorial pointing out the deceit and denial in the claim by some Southerners that they fly the Confederate flag to honor brave soldiers’ memory, or their heritage, or some other trumped-up b.s. Apparently, the South Carolina legislature is still refusing to stop flying the flag at the state capital in Columbia, even after the murder of 9 black church people in Charleston two weeks ago by a young white supremacist. Not only are officials maintaining their official approval of this symbol of racism, but two days ago they approved a Ku Klux Klan rally at the capital and arrested two antiracists for attempting to bring the flag down. This after a long season of totally unnecessary deaths of inner-city black men at the hands of police.
It’s our responsibility to know the truth about our history, and the biggest truth I know about US history is that this country’s size, wealth, and might rest soundly on a foundation of 500 years of genocide (in all its forms) of native peoples and 146 years of legal chattel slavery of African Americans, followed by 150 years (to the present) of institutionalized racism. That and a never-ending series of imperialist wars.
Denial of our history, denial of climate change — we seem to be pretty good at this denial thing. I think it’s time we got good at the truth-telling thing and at “overcoming.”
It’s never too late for us to be inspired by what we know in our hearts is right, and to act on it together.