Racism Makes America “Ungreat”

Warning: America isn’t perfect. Back in November of 2018, I wrote a post about “Racism, Prejudice, and Finances – The Ugly Truth”. I said then that financial racism was a huge problem, and that may be easier to see right now with everything that is going on in every city across the nation and even around the world. Equality applies to both civil rights and money, too. Writing about your money and how you can do better when you manage it depends on one main thing:

You have to have some money or the ability to get some of it in order for anything good to come from it.

Racism has been part of American culture for hundreds of years, keeping it from being great. Learn what you can do to counter racism.

Lack of equality means that too many people never get the opportunity to do any of that. But when you say the word “ungreat” like I used in my title today (even if that isn’t an actual word), you still have to draw the conclusion that America and its Constitution is still a hell of a lot better than anything else “ya got”.

Social unrest, systematic institutional racism, and the abuses we have seen over and over again by local police these past few weeks—and yes for a lot longer than that—glare an ugly light on America. Some terrible people who feature prominently in the headlines day after day are pounding away at our greatness. Somehow that makes it all seem as if there is an opposition of greatness with fairness and justice and equality. It isn’t. But even that doesn’t mean we just all suck and all are forever doomed to and deserve to suffer. Racism is ugly but it doesn’t have to make America “ungreat” forever.

What Does It All Mean?

Americans go to the streets again and again to protest. What it means is that the amazing great social and political experiment we call democracy continues to grow and change and tries to fix itself. What is happening right now on the streets of this country is just that. The America that was framed in 1776 in theory is once again undergoing emergency surgery and the question remains as to what the outcome of that surgery will be next week or…ever?

Will the America be wild and destructive? You may recall that we are based on a big revolution, right? It was in all the newspapers, so you have to have seen it somewhere.

Watching TV these past two weeks has been troublesome and hopeful, scary and inspiring. For one, I haven’t seen U.S. military forces “crushing” and “dominating” any group of protesters from peacefully demonstrating opposition to persecution of their civil rights since the murder of four students in 1970 by the National Guard.

Revolution has various forms and the one we are watching right now is one kind. It’s not the Boston Tea party. It’s something else. It is being formed by people, many young and many just sick and tired of what they see every day. There are two very different Americas out there and one of them is calling the other out with a very loud call. I think they have my attention.

The Rainbow Coalition

Being my age (70!) has at least one advantage. It gives me the ability to have firsthand knowledge of some facts. One is the founding of what was known back 50 years ago as the “Rainbow Coalition”.

The Rainbow Coalition was a multicultural movement founded April 4, 1969 in Chicago, Illinois by Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party (along with William “Preacherman” Fesperman of the Young Patriots Organization and Jose “Cha Cha” Jimenez founder of the Young Lords).

The phrase “rainbow coalition” was co-opted over the years by Reverend Jesse Jackson, who eventually appropriated the name in forming his own, more moderate coalition, Rainbow/PUSH. Some scholars assert that the original rainbow coalition concept was a prerequisite for the multicultural coalition that Barack Obama built his political career upon. That rainbow means that white, black, brown, and every color is a part of social and political change and when it blends together it is mighty powerful. Baby boomers like me may have believed that their “coalition” was the ultimate answer, but right now it seems it is the problem and we are seeing now a new “Rainbow”.

George Floyd

Eight minutes and 46 seconds. You do not need anyone to tell you that those minutes were a public execution and a step too far for any civilized human being to tolerate. Mr. Floyd’s murder has triggered an unprecedented response by people who can’t believe what they just saw. It may have been an everyday instance for some, but for everyone else it was a bullet to the brain. It is not just a moment. It is the moment when “ungreat” might have just suffered a fatal blow.

All Within the Framework of a Deadly Virus

When the pandemic first hit Asia and Europe, I don’t think that many of us thought that what would follow would spread all across the U.S. and disrupt every second of our lives. Then millions were getting diagnosed and more than 100 thousand dying in just ten weeks was the reality that we never thought could happen. But it did and it’s still going on right now…and most all states are relaxing restrictions.

There are over 40 million people without jobs right now, and many of those people will never return to the job that they held when this thing we are experiencing finally fades.

We all are now facing a big question: “Will the coronavirus ruin my finances?”

The rapid spread of the coronavirus has caused the daily life of Americans to be fundamentally altered, and it may be forever!

The horrible virus is now a backdrop to what’s happening. Think about it just for a second. People are willing to demonstrate by the thousands everyday despite the risk of being in large groups and the potential threat of the coronavirus. Risking life to gain civil rights, however, is not a new thing.

What Can You Do Now?

I have trouble walking any distance, let alone marching, for anything these days. Between 1967-71, I marched against what happened at Kent State, supported Cesar Chavez and migrant farm workers, and demonstrated against the Vietnam War while a college student. I can’t do that right now no matter how strongly I feel and want to.


So instead I decided to put my money where my mouth is. You see, here it is, money. It all comes right back around to it in some way and money can help. It can provide the support for the organizations that can actually get out there and make and influence the changes that are needed. The changes that I referred to as the emergency surgery right now and if you believe in right and wrong and fairness and justice you can help. Why wouldn’t you if you can?

Get Involved and Let Your Vote Count

Year after year, we wear out the verbiage about how “your vote counts” so you need to register and vote. Well it’s time again to roll that out and make it happen. This time we need to make changes and we need everyone to vote if in fact America is going to live up to its lofty goals. We can’t be great if we don’t include everyone. Right now we do not and it’s about time that after 400 years we do. Political reforms can and will lead to a more perfect union and the equality we all deserve.

Educate Yourself and Others

If you are a white person like me, it’s important that you educate yourself—from the black history you were never taught to what you can do about it now. Read the books, watch the movies, and learn how to be a better ally. Once you’ve done that, you can speak out and educate your family and friends when you encounter racism in your daily life.

Final Thoughts

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’ …

Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand, for the times they are a-changin’

I didn’t write that. Bob Dylan did and that was over 50 years ago…
For the times they are a-changin’.

Image courtesy of GoToVan on Flickr via CC by 2.0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to save even more?

Join our community today to get our weekly emails including blog posts, updates, saving tips, and more.