Let me admit, I grow weary of hearing gripes and grievances. I don’t say this to somehow deny atrocities that have been committed against people in the past nor am I blind to injustices that continue to be perpetuated in the present. Yet there is a big difference between discussing historical wounds with the intention of healing compared to droning on about past malfeasance. Looking in the rear-view mirrors of past transgressions prevents people from finding a way forward.
As if looking backward was not bad enough, we seem to have entered into a zeitgeist where people wish to pursue exclusionary justice. There is no profit to be had by trying to monopolize pains. I don’t care how bad of a card life deals us; the minute we turn to the path of saying “just us”, the cause ceases to be justice and instead the quest becomes grievance. Our hurts and wounds gain meaning when we join hands with others who have been hurt too; trying to own injustice is a way to marginalize ourselves and what’s more only feeds into the system of divide and conquer that has always been the root of oppression.
I don’t speak on these things out of theory, I’ve had my dance with injustice where all I worked for in life evaporated and indigence pixelated in front of my eyes. It is by the grace of God that I did not succumb to hopelessness and did not get broken by indigence. That story I will share another time, the reason I bring the past up is to highlight how the choices we make in life can shape our perspective and determine life’s path. Imagine if I decided to hold on to anger and vengeance became my pursuit, imagine if what you are reading was only about my plight instead of our collective struggle. Imagine if all I did was talk about how many wrongs were done to me. How many people do you think would return to this website to be treated to another dose of remorse?
It’s because I decided a while back ago to leave the past in the past and to move forward not as a victim but as a victor that I was able to pull myself out of the darkest of black holes. There is no prison in the world as mendacious as that of poverty and hopelessness, people who usually enter that vortex are swallowed whole and left permanently disfigured by the experience of being outcasts. Those who somehow pull themselves out of the abyss do so because they decided to look forward instead of leering backwards.
It’s only because I realized that everyone suffers and all are being maltreated by a global system of theft which takes from the masses and gives to the few that I was able to escape the black hole of asking “why me”. I actually learned to count my blessings because some have it a thousand times worse than me. What I have seen over the past two years has given me a sightline to the ways the aristocracy have been able to perpetuate injustice on a global scale. I once used to march and protest in the cause of black justice while mocking white privilege. After seeing a sea of humanity—from “black” to “white” and all in between—cratered into a state of perpetual penury, I can no longer in good conscience partake in exclusionary justice.
Hardship gave me wisdom where I once lacked it. I understand through the education of hard kicks that when we fight for justice, if we don’t speak for all, we count ourselves allies of iniquity. A “white” child who goes to sleep hungry in Boise, is her pain any less than a “black” child who goes to bed hungry in Baltimore? When we stand for justice, we should do so on the basis of universal equity. Stand up for humanity! When we skulk behind postures of race, gender, religion and the endless number of identities which have been foisted upon us, we end up perpetuating the very injustices we think we are standing against.
Sadly, we seem to be doing the very opposite. Instead of coming together, we keep fostering antipathy in our hearts and feeding into the paradigm of “them versus us”. Demagogues take advantage of these carnal compulsions of ours as carnival barkers from the “left” and the “right”, Democrats and Republicans alike, use our pains to further divide humanity and in the process inject antagonism to keep us forever fractured as a people. It has gotten to the point now where the same assholes who bolster policies that kneecap the masses are using identity cards and grievances to shield themselves from accountability.
Let’s get one thing clear. Hillary is to the struggles of women as a bacon is to a shiitake mushroom. Likewise, Obama has about as much rights to claim racial grievance as a penguin has claims on being a sea urchin. In case political lemmings accuse me of only going after the “left”, Trump is going to make America great the same way that Nero made Rome fireproof. The same way that Obama used identity politics to gain the White House is the way that Trump leveraged identity politics to become president. Both of them are charlatans who spoke to our grievances in order to use our struggle as stepping stones. Democrats and Republican shysters alike have perfected the art of using our pains to gain at our expense.
My God can people please stop conflating the lives of the rich and the powerful with the struggles of the average American. The rich and powerful became rich and powerful by defecating all over the 99%. The moneyed gentry do not care about us, just because Hillary has boobs does not mean she cares about women, just because Obama is brown does not mean he cares about brown people, and just because Trump has hair plugs does not make him human. Politics and politicians are not the cure to what ails us, they are the virus that contaminate our lives and our hopes.
Here is to hoping that we, the people, wake up from this deception and realize that the endless identities we keep fighting for have nothing to do with who we are as humans. Likewise, I pray that in my lifetime we reach a critical mass of people who refuse to defend political ideologies that neither pay our rents or feed our children. If we are to discuss race, let us do so in a way that is meant to unite not as a means of accusing others who struggle just like us. If we are to discuss politics, let us do so not to prove points but to disown these two equally bankrupt political parties. No more hindsight grievances, let us be about solutions and figure out how we collectively move forward. #IdentityPolitikSucks
“Justice in the life and conduct of the State is possible only as first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens.” ~ Plato
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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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