Do you know what literally repulses me these days? Hearing about the first so and so to get accepted into the exclusive club of the aristocracy. Frankly, I don’t give a damn about the latest first black president or first woman CEO. Who cares! I don’t know how we have arrived at this notion where we measure the wellness of humanity not based on the well being of the least among us but based on the accumulation of the wealthiest among us. This annoyance of mine got revved up to full-blown peeve two days ago when I heard a report of how Kamala Harris has a chance to become the first black woman president.
I can’t believe I used to fall for this nonsense! It takes a stupendous level of cognitive dissonance to at once celebrate the fortunes of someone from a specific identity while looking past the vast sea of people from said identity who are stuck in gut-wrenching poverty. We pop champagnes for the neo-gentry while disregarding our own tribulations. It’s the most stunning form of logical Ju-Jitsu the establishment has successfully conditioned us to accept; instead of gauging the health of the economy and the vitality of our nation based on the collective whole, we have been hoodwinked to accept the elevation of a few as success for us all.
Diversity has become a scam and nothing more than a corporate bamboozle and a federated scheme that is used to hide the true nature of crony capitalism. We have become a Potemkin society where tokens are put on the stage to represent equality while the vast majority of Americans are enslaved by wages or kneecapped by dependency. The whole of our politics has been turned into an identity-driven hustle. On both sides of the aisle and at every corner of the social divide are grievance whisperers and demagogues who keep putting fuel on the fire of tribalism. They use our pains and suffering to make millions only to turn their backs on us the minute they attain riches and status.
Sadly, too many of us keep falling for this breathtaking deception. Liberals swooned for “the first black president” the same way that conservatives fell for our current infantile chief executive. What is true of our politics is true of wider society; at every turn, we keep being inundated with the latest news of the first “black” woman, Latino, gay, Muslim or transgender to soar to the upper strata of privilege while millions are mired in abject indigence. We are sliced and diced in a million different classifications; the more we are splintered, the easier it is to pit us against each other and make us think that others who struggle just like us are our enemies. All the while, a procession of diverse mannequins are paraded on media and displayed on corporate billboards to represent advancement.
This is mass-propaganda that Joseph Goebbels would be awed by. A facade of equality and a veneer of freedom paints over the swelling numbers of Americans who have become a statistic of unbridled capitalism. In this ongoing economic terrorism that has been unleashed against the bottom 99% of humanity, the victims are just as responsible in perpetuating the crime as the victimizers. Too quick to bow before political idols and worship the rich and famous, we conflate the prosperity of a few with progress for the rest of us. Far from defending our economic self-interests, we are now delirious enough to “donate” money to millionaires and billionaires. This is mental slavery on steroids!
This form of tribal affinity is perilous. My native land Ethiopia, and “Africa” as a whole, was shattered and plundered because foreign actors intervened and convinced us to focus on clan above humanity. Fixation on our differences superseded our commonalities; the price we paid for this imprudence is evident. Capital is hoarded by a few while suffering is socialized to the general population. This level of omnipresent greed and strife is not contained to developing nations; the same playbook of slice, colonize and brutalize is happening right here in America and globally. Four billionaires are worth more than 40% of Americans put together, this level of consolidated edacity is what gave birth to the French Revolution.
Alas, instead of saying enough, reclaiming our sovereignty and standing up for our dignity, too many of us keep fawning over stars and going gaga over media personalities. This is the tragedy of humanity. The oppressed have a way of deifying their oppressors. As the plutocracy and their paid puppets in the media-politico complex lead lives of royalty, the rest of us are being grounded into a pulp by economic anxieties.
Tokenism has become our collective sedative; instead of paying attention to the injustices of society, we would rather self-medicate by inhaling the vapors of the affluent only to exhale fumes of misfortunes.
It took a mean mugging by reality for me to realize this most insidious sham of our governance and corporate totalitarianism that is bleeding humanity. Away from the sterilized diversity of politics and media-driven personalities are the harsh realities of shared suffering. There is an alternative diversity that more and more people are being sucked into. Pervasive economic hardship and heart-rending injustices are nullifying the hopes and dreams of tens of millions in America and billions globally. This reality traverses the countless constructs and identities that are erected to ghettoize humanity. While the rich are diversifying their portfolios, a diverse body of humanity is being made equal before insolvency.
Think about these things next time the mainstream media broadcasts a story about the first so and so to accomplish a tremendous feat. Ask yourself if the fortunes of the 1% are more important than the misfortunes of humanity. But if you insist on waving pompoms for the newest member of the bourgeoisie, that is your right but just know what they eat will not feed you. As for me, I won’t have none of it. I am done celebrating the lavish lives of the well to do; my heart and my attention is focused on the least among us who dwell in adversities. I don’t give a crap about the “first black CEO” or the “first woman president,” I want a world where we witness the last child going to bed at night hungry and replace exclusive wealth with inclusive opportunity. #PotemkinSociety
“The rich rob the poor, and the poor rob one another.” ~ Sojourner Truth
Teodrose Fikre is the editor and founder of The Ghion Journal. A published author and prolific writer, a once defense consultant was profoundly changed by a two-year journey of hardship and struggle. Going from a life of upper-middle class privilege to a time spent with the huddled masses taught Teodrose a valuable lesson in the essence of togetherness and the need to speak against injustice.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
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