A TGB READER STORY: OK Boomers, It’s Time to Step Up

Something Big is Happening and It is Not the Virus

(Because I needed a free day on Sunday, this was written early on Saturday so it doesn't reference anything important that may have taken place on the weekend.)

What an extraordinary time of political activism we are living through. Like so many others, I was struck speechless last Monday at the president's ludicrous Bible walk which was preceded by law enforcement firing rubber bullets and pepper-spraying peaceful protesters while also hitting them with shields and batons to clear the path for dear leader and his entourage.

Taking a moment today to re-watch the spectacle of the stone-faced president waving a Bible around to no apparent purpose, I saw a man who looked weak and pathetic.

Nothing he did during the rest of the week changed that impression.

What did make an impression on me are the hundreds of thousands – in total, probably millions - of protesters in dozens of cities and towns marching day after day, transforming themselves into a powerful new movement even in the face of a deadly virus and police in some cities determined to thwart them by force.

In the process, Black Lives Matter has become the anthem that cannot be ignored. Remarkably, too, the crowds of demonstrators against racism are a lovely mixed bag – black and white and brown, young and old.

It was, of course, the asphyxiation death of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis that set off the protests which have now become a international phenomenon.

Some of us who hang out at this blog took part in the protests of the 60s – the anti-Vietnam War marches, the civil rights and women's movements. And here we are again – the work has only just begun and the determination in the streets has become a powerful force.

This time, I am too old and too ill to be out in the streets and I am sorry for that. I would like to be there but I think this kind of political action has always been young people's work for the most part. It is their turn this time.

But they have my full and heartfelt support. (If you would like to donate to help the protesters with hotlines, bail funds, legal aid, medical bills for inevitable accidents, etc., Paper magazine has a list of links to donation sites for cities throughout the United States.)

A few changes have already been made. Some municipalities have banned tear gas and choke holds by the police. There is polling, tentative so far, that the protests are having a negative impact on President Trump's approval rating. It's a start.

Meanwhile, apparently believing peaceful protesters present a grave danger to the president in the White House, that new metal fence behind which he cowers has been enlarged to include the entirety of Lafayette Park. DCist reports:

”By Thursday afternoon, construction crews had used additional fencing and concrete barricades to block off all entrances to Lafayette Park, the Ellipse and other open spaces around the White House that have hosted First Amendment protests for more than 100 years.”

That man sure does love his fences.

Meanwhile, the White House and Attorney General William Barr have been squabbling over which of them gave the order to forcefully disburse the peaceful demonstrators in front of the White House for the president's Bible walk.

(I was particularly dismayed at the helicopter with a red cross painted on its belly flying low over the area to help chase away the protesters that Monday evening. The red cross, by Geneva Convention, is used on vehicles, buildings and people to indicate humanitarian and medical workers to protect them from attack in battle situations.)

I'm not the only person who believes something bigger than we have seen in a long while is happening and that Trump's distasteful Bible walk was a turning point. Somehow it was enough to make a whole lot of people believe there is much hard work to be done, the time is now and that we the people can do it.

What do you think?


Margaret Meade's words come to mind:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

And when that small group becomes a big group, look out!

It does seem different. I sure hope we'll have real and lasting change.

Nancy Wick's quote by Margaret Meade is spot on. I also think that when people of stature such as Colin Powell come out clearly stating they can no longer support trump, then the tide is hopefully turning.

I’m hoping that we can sustain the momentum on this effort. One good thing is the BLM movement is not centralized so a lot of local - harder to thwart than a centralized effort but at the same time we have no MLK to lead the overall effort - at least not yet.
Social media will really help here.
As a second, unrelated, note. I was tested positive for Covid-19 last week but have no symptoms but a stuffy/runny nose. My wife tested negative even though she should have caught it from me. This is a strange virus. I have been super careful and have no definitive path I can see to determine how I was infected.

I took a break from the news on Sunday, and missed the Colin Powell comment. Is it too soon to hope others will wake up to the villain in the White House?

For what it's worth. Some of my Trump-supporting friends are beginning to crack. Their once "I'd vote for him even if I saw him shoot a man on 5th Ave." demeanor has softened quite a bit since witnessing his incompetence in handling the Covid-19 mess. Now, combined with civil unrest over the murder of Mr. Floyd, we may have found that turning point we have been looking for.

I agree with you most heartily! And most if not all of your readers feel the same, I think. But we’re preaching to the choir here. I just read a BBC article featuring a few, probably privileged white individuals, who just seem to be wearing blinkers. How can anyone be exposed to what is happening and not feel empathy for these beleaguered people? I understand people fearing for their safety and security, but that fear is born if ignorance. It boggles the mind. So my point is, some of those knowledgeable, well spoken individuals who are the talking heads on the national news and in the political field need to somehow get across to those blinkered individuals what is going on.
Disclaimer: I am Canadian and we have our problems here too, with some racist treatment of our ethnic minorities.

I am so proud & happy that young people have stepped up for this cause that we haven’t gotten right for over 400 years.

Maybe the future will be a better place but not until we have a federal government that will make the necessary nationwide changes.

I heard the term for the fence around the Whitehouse is the baby gate . I finally laughed for the first time in days.

BTW - Love you and all you do.

I agree with you. The next generation has taken the lead on this and those of us from the '60s are happy to follow, even if we cannot get out there physically.
Also, this is world wide. Has there ever been a time in history where the entire planet has agreed on anything like this?

There seem to be more people who have a voice standing up to this president, FINALLY. As for the fence, I saw a picture this morning where it's been covered with signs and artwork. It has taken on a life of its own, different from what it was supposed to do. I am proud of the people who have the energy and ability to tackle this horrendous situation. I'm cheering for them. Oh, and you, too, Ronni. Your voice is still heard, loud and clear.

Amen. Thank you, Ronni for the wonderful words.

it does seem that a powerful force has been unleashed. I just hope that it's a positive one and that things move forward soon. It's great to see so many coming out to support change that's so long overdue, but we've got a very long way to go. Sometimes things can evolve quickly, sometimes it's back and forth for decades and nothing significant is ever achieved. Only time will tell, but we should have a pretty good indication after the election. John Oliver's program last night addressed this and it was very strong. For those who haven't seen it, it can be viewed on YouTube.

YES to everything you wrote!!!

Hello Ronni et al,

Though I'm a long-time reader and admirer, this is perhaps only the 2nd or 3rd time I've commented. You all do such a wonderful job! But today I'll share with you a note that my brother sent me yesterday. It seems so calm and sensible, and it fills me with a deep hope for the future that I will not see, either.

I have felt the same way a lot, too about 2020. But in the last three weeks it has seemed more and more likely to me that, actually, what we’re living through is a long-overdue confrontation with the set of malevolent attitudes, behaviors and institutional arrangements that have made our country a not very nice place for a long time — in many ways since its founding. But especially since Reagan, a just and decent regard for social, economic and political dignity due fellow citizens has been struggling intensely, not even to prevail but just to survive. With Trump’s accession and his personifying the apotheosis of these national evils, the struggle necessarily became more pointed and public. And in response, Trump, the militarized police, the organized rich and the Republican Party, sensing they are threatened and desperately trying to put a lid on it, chose to act especially badly without realizing their methods and motives and the evil of the realities they advance were suddenly becoming visible. Thank God for smart phones. And maybe Covid-19. Who knows whether America would have noticed if sports were still blanketing TV and restaurants, malls and concerts were still overflowing and work and school were still demanding so much time and effort of so many that they didn’t have or take the opportunity to observe so clearly with their own eyes and ears what were truths and what were lies. And what if they didn’t have the extra time and energy to speak out and go march and experience the uplift that comes from unity for a cause larger than their daily needs. It is perhaps because of this unexpected opportunity for people to really pay attention and reflect that the words and actions of Trump, the cops, and the Repubs have become so increasingly apparent and repugnant to so many more people. And the evidence of this seismic shift is undeniable in all the polls, as well as in the sudden speaking out by a wide range of heretofore neutral figures and the visible dynamic on TV. It clearly feels like the fascists are losing significant measurable ground that they cannot likely retake and that finally there is reasonable probability for some historically positive change in achieving the American promise here and for the world. I feel especially good about the vast mass of youngsters who are so intelligently and bravely leading the way to a better place for us all and future generations. I am so impressed, not only with their numbers, but in particular with their mature, critically important and determined focus on voting. Yes, they are risking much from the virus — as are all who march. They are the real American warriors placing their bodies at hazard for national ideals and to reforge an otherwise potentially dark future for their and future generations of society. They are not the crybabies who couldn’t bear going 2 weeks without their hair and nails being done that Trump went on about. To be sure we can count on — and must be ready for — many more ugly, vicious reactions by him and the forces of hate among us he stirs. So it does not seem to me that prevailing will be easy. I don’t see how it won’t still require a prolonged, intense, smart and unrelenting effort by the decent. Indeed, the moment feels a bit like like what I imagine living during the the Civil War was like. But I believe it likely the Union will win again. We just need to get an more enduring Reconstruction right this time. And it appears to me that as a society we at long last may well be up to it. But what an incredible time. Take heart. Stay safe.

You are so right about something big happening here, and it's something good. I'm thrilled to see that the ratio of whites has improved considerably at the demonstrations. I'm thrilled that it's gone global, Mitt Romney marched, the military is speaking out, Collin Powell, the Lincoln Project is growing. Oh yeah, ENOUGH! I went to a sweet little demonstration in a town near me where the wonderful sheriff (last year he started eating at the Chicken Shack, when it came under racist threats) said, at the end of his talk, "I love you, all of you, each of you." And I believed him!

Aging Leftie here. But I also sort of follow some right wing blogs.

They have all been in agreement that the economy is in trouble, and they're probably correct. They also predict that in times of scarcity, competition will fan conflicts between races, between ethnic groups, and between generations. They foresee so much conflict that an oppressive government will be established in the future.

Mr. Floyd has forced us to face our racism and xenophobia. He has also exposed authoritarianism in the country and we are disgusted by it. Maybe the right-wingers are mistaken.

We cannot bring the dead back to life but perhaps we can use those deaths to prevent other casualties.

Although when I first heard of "Defund the Police", I thought--what, we can't do that. However, after reading more about the concept--it doesn't mean abolish the police. John Oliver has a good presentation on it, as mentioned earlier. The history of the police being so involved with racist policies and behaviors is very enlightening. Think about all the heinous acts that were committed before the day of social media. Our ability as private citizens to record what we see makes such a positive difference. My town's police do not wear body cams, which I think needs to change.

I've been following with interest the events in the US (I am Portuguese). I am terribly sorry for the generous American people who are under the rule of such an ignoramus dictator. I strongly hope this situation will be corrected in 5 months by voting him out. VOTE, use your main weapon. I remember vividly when we could not vote in my country, barely 45 years ago, under fascist rule. Don't waste that powerful tool!
As for the BLM movement, I congratulate all of you.
But...I wish I could see all this indignation and strength in the fight against violence against women. Everyday, in every country in the world, women of all ages, races and creeds are battered, murdered, raped, exploited, trafficked, discriminated against. There is also a sistemic discrimination against women who are still considered inferior in many countries and treated as such. And this is condoned by state and national institutions. Everytime a woman is beaten, raped, exploited, murdered, there should be a wave of indignation and repulse. But there are just a few weak ripples, not enough to end violence and discrimination against women. When I see those young women screaming in the cities of America against racism, I ask myself: «what about sexism in all it's horrendous forms?» Bring it also to the forefront!
There are more women in the world than men: black , white, brown, arabic, indian, chinese, mongolian, japanese, maori, aborigene and so on, and ALL OF THEM can be victims of any form of violence because the States condone it and the general silence accepts it.
I wish violence and sistemic discrimination agains women would move as many people as this movement does. Are black lives more important than women's lives?

Conceição Brito...

Yes! I completely agree with you. Violence against women occurs daily and hourly throughout the world, yet barely raises an eyebrow anywhere. It is stunning that, even in 2020, it is shrugged off as "just how it is".

Thank you for stating so eloquently what I have thought for many years.

A timely post, Ronni, and a good one. Could something be finally happening? After marching in SF in the ‘60s, I believed the country would change, but it did not, much. Unfortunately racism has been particularly entrenched in America society; it is part of its history – a heavy past. I lived in Georgia for 45 years and saw that police injustice towards people of color there was endemic. Now I’m also living in Nashville and this week a Teens for Equality group led a BLM march of more than 10,000, one of the largest mass protests in Nashville, Tennessee. So there is hope, definitely, that this time change will happen.

As much as I would like to believe that this is the final nail in Trump's political coffin, I am not convinced.

Every time he does something that seems to be beyond the pale I run across a Trumper who justifies everything Trump is doing and blames his bad press on everyone except Trump.

How can women or veterans or veterans' families or business people or Christians or people of any religious persuasion or minorities or citizens who are descended from immigrants or Democrats or Republicans support that man. Who are these people?

I read the results of polls and am afraid of the results of the 2020 Presidential elections.

Bunker Man draws huge comparisons to another fuhrer. Yes, change is in the air, it took one man's murder to bring it all together and the rage burst through.
Fingers crossed.


Montreal -

Over ten thousand peaceful BLM peaceful protesters walked Ste. Catherine Street.

"You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world,

but then you read.

It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive."

James Baldwin

Love what you wrote, Roni, as always, but trump's action last week at the church was also a dog whistle to his Evangelical supporters who believe a precursor to the Rapture is a time of race wars....

It should be remembered that “rubber bullets” are rubber covered metal bullets. They can do a lot more damage than their name suggests.

Also a protester from the 60's who took up marching again for the Women's March after Trump's election. I am gratified that so many young people have taken up the cause now that our age group is prohibited from marching due to the virus.

As much as I criticize young people for seemingly recording every moment of their lives, had it not been for the young person who videoed the entire murder of Mr. Floyd, we would not be having this discussion.
The young man pleading with the officer to remove his knee from Mr. Floyd's neck is haunting.

I really hope this moment has signaled a change in systemic racism, and that more funds are provided for mental health, drug issues, homelessness, employment and all the other issues that plague so many citizens of color.

The times, they are a changing.

The BLM protests have resonated here in Australia, I hope in both countries the impetus continues until there is a genuine commitment to ensuring all ethnic and income groups are treated equally.
Thanks for continuing your blog Ronni, no simple task with your health issues, it's the most interesting piece of mail to reach my inbox each morning. :-)

What a time we are living in....I second especially the 2 comments prior to this one.

I attended a professional conference for C.E.U.s in Los Angeles during the same week as the 1992 Watts riots and after a few months it all died down. I hope and pray this time it will be different and lead to changes that are so badly needed for minorities.

Thank you, Ronni, for this wonderful post. I am also too old to get out there with the crowds to march but I am with them in spirit, supporting the peaceful protests.

I am cautiously optimistic about the potential for real social change but also worried about the probable coming surge in COVID-19 infections. The protests were long overdue and had to happen, and I'm 100% in agreement with them. Still, a pandemic complicates matters. Unfortunately, we do not have the leadership to deal constructively with either the protests OR the pandemic. Each state/locality is essentially on its own. That is probably not the best way to combat a highly contagious virus that is no respecter of borders--or human life.

I sincerely hope that there is voter registration taking place throughout EVERY protest march and that young people--yes, it's their world now--will turn out in November and hand the would-be Emperor of tRumpistan the biggest defeat of his miserable life!

Thank you for letting us know how we can support the protests financially even if we can no longer participate physically which--at ages 90 and 83--my husband and I cannot.

From Next Door in my neighborhood:
"Today not 5 mins after posting a BLM sign a woman driving a black Land Cruiser trespassed and attempted to remove our sign. My husband stopped her and she continued to argue with him and told him 'I live in your neighborhood, I’ll be back.'"

Apparently there are those who believe, "I deserve all that I have but black people don't deserve opportunities." She was not ashamed to be prejudiced. She had no empathy for suffering people. How can one live in society and not have a wider frame of reference than one's own comfortable life?

To quote "For What It's Worth" written by Buffalo Springfield in 1967:
"Something's happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear. There's a man with a gun over there telling me I got to beware.
You better stop, children, look around.
Everybody look what's goin' down."

Fifty years later, however, BLM involves every color, every sex, nearly every class, so I think we have a real chance for change -- despite Mitch McConnell.

I just finished reading "This Side of Paradise" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, published in 1920. He writes about wealth, class, and political awareness beginning just after the Great War with Wilson's desire for peace and international cooperation. That was 100 years ago. BLM is more aware and universal. We are going through the same desire for change as in the 1920s and 1960s. Each time our revolution includes more people, more hope, and more determination.

Ronni -- I hope that this unexpected revolution satisfies at least part of the change you've hoped to see before you die.

If you want to live in a communist/socialist country , anyone , can move. There are plenty of them out there. Can we leave the U.S. alone as a Democrat Republic. Why must we who live here and like it, change .
I had high hopes for what Barack Obama was promising . I hoped so much that it would be a good run for him and what he promised.
He had a chance and 8 years and still changed nothing for the better.

b, who are the “we” you speak of when you reference “we who live here and and like it”? Respectfully, I would posit that that statement betrays your privilege. If you are comfortable enough (with your whiteness?? your gender identity??your social class??) to think things are pretty much just fine, then I would appeal to your compassion and empathy for others — also Americans — for whom maybe things haven’t been so fine.

A U.S. citizen who doesn't want socialism or communism or a government telling me what to do and when to do it. That is who I am.

Hearty applause to Ronni and most of the comments here, with a heart filled with glimmers of hope. Thank you all.

In a word: YESSSS.

The protests and James Mattis's statement have given me a jolt of hope for the first time in at least three years.

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