Winds Of Change Blowing Across America
Things are changing. The winds of change are stirring, invisibly moving across America. Change is in the air. This change is lead by a new cadre of foot soldiers, who were not born when the revolution of the 1960s was fought out in the ghettos and streets of America.
These revolutionaries are not seeking out the guidance of their elders, nor are they willing to wait for the elders to turn over leadership to them, as young people did over a half-century ago. This tends to drive a sharp divide between Boomers and the millennial generation.
Boomers do not understand millennials. Millennials do not understand Boomers. However, they each think they understand each other very well. Herein lies the crux of this generational divide.
Boomers tend to think that because millennials have resorted to different methods of protest, they surely do not understand the nature of struggle. Times are different now primarily because of the success of the Boomer generation, who used the tools available to them in their era.
Boomers learned from television programming and the World Book Encyclopedia. Millennials cut their teeth by use of an iPhone. Their library at Google is just a fingertip away with the answer to any question that can be asked, backed up by a more in depth volume at Wikipedia and inside scoops from WikiLeaks.
Millennials slept through the first decade of Y2K. They watched inequality unfold throughout their daily lives. Puzzled by the inequality they saw, millennials have patiently waited for their elders to do something, something different than just fashioning out the best possible lives under the circumstances.
After the not guilty verdict was handed down in the George Zimmerman trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin, millennials stepped to the front lines of the battle for equality that began before that first ship carry human cargo docked in 1619 at Jamestown, Virginia.
Their battle cry is not Jesse Jackson’s “I Am Somebody;” it is “Black Lives Matter.”
Three words which had never been uttered together in the annals of American history. It caught the country flat footed, like a weary prize fighter, because it poignantly, unapologetically, if you will, made the point that in 1619 Black lives did not matter to the capitalists involved in the selling and trading of Black people, that it still did not in 2012; but henceforth, Black lives would matter or there would be trouble in American streets.
This is the freedom that young people seek; it was what African’s sought in 1865 coming out of 246 years of enslavement. However, the goal became confused by Jim Crow laws, lynchings, segregation, poll taxes, unequal education, and so forth. Boomers ended legal segregation, gained the right to vote, and required the government and corporate America to make affirmative efforts to diversify the workforce. These were no small accomplishments.
Boomers used a strategy that first took them to the streets, where they were beaten by law enforcers. While the people were in the streets, the lawyers were in the courthouse advocating for laws that would give more access to the promise of America to Black lives that had not been factored into that much hyped governing document enacted in 1789.
The leadership in that day fought over tactics. When Stokely Carmichael thought the civil rights movement had lost its way, he sought to energize it with shouts of “Black Power.” Those two words were as powerful as “Black Lives Matter” is today. They both portend of Black people being unafraid to walk in the power of their blackness without fear a white backlash.
But this was all before the winds of resistance and bigotry won the 2016 Presidential election, in no small part because millennials, true to their worldview, refused to vote for either a candidate they could not trust or one they did not believe was qualified for the job.
Where the country finds herself today gives clearer meaning to a rhetorical question posed in 1968 by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Where do we go from here: Chaos or Community?”
Literally, the country is on the brink of sinking into murky waters, undergirded by quicksand. For the past six days since the election of Donald J. Trump, the streets across the country have been filled with Americans seeking justice and equality from the government.
Many of the protesters admit that they did not vote in the recent General Election. Yet they think that by putting their bodies in the street this will force citizens who elected the new government to take a contrary action. As smart as millennials are, this has to be the new definition of insanity.
The winds of change are blowing across America and American constitutional governance, as we have come to know it over the course of the past 227 years, now in the hands of right wing patriots and grand wizards, is gone with the wind.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round; and the host of Beyond the Law with Harold Michael Harvey. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.