I used to be a part of that crowd, the army of social justice warriors who used to go around casting a wide net of blame and in the process letting animus be my guiding light. I thought it was perfectly justified to blame “white people” for the sins of systematic racism that hobbled the masses. I thought it was made sense to condemn “white privilege” and to lump in a whole group of people for the sins of a few. Each time I saw a news story of a “black man” getting shot by the police or read about the harrowing life of hopelessness that “black folk” go through in Chicago or in Baltimore, I was quick to point fingers and implicate white supremacy as the culprit.
I did not realize that my emotions were being manipulated by demagogues who rile up the masses in order to create strife between people. All the times I thought I was being a “black revolutionary”, in hindsight I was nothing more than an unthinking reactionary. The irony is that I used to watch Fox News occasionally and shake my head at the Tea Party movement as one “white” guy or woman after another would get worked up into a tizzy as they listened to some firebrand telling them that their struggles could be traced back to “welfare queens”, a Mexican, or a Muslim. I would actually feel pity for these folks because I knew goons like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity were playing on their emotions in order to make money for themselves.
But then, after having my fill of the lunacy of Fox News, I would flip over to MSNBC or CNN and watch carnival barkers like Al Sharpton and Van Jones whispering the same antipathy and victimization that Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh were whispering to their adherents. Except back then, I actually looked up to Sharpton and Van Jones (see Blueprint for Black Pundits) as our generation’s Sojourner Truth or Fredrick Douglas—boy was I hoodwinked! I never connected the dots, all sides were being played for fools and moved around as pawns by opinion leaders who all along were getting payed to pit us against one another. I used to think that conservatives were voting against their own economic interests by supporting Republicans. All the while I kept loyally voting for the malignant Democratic party who are doing to their base what Republicans do to theirs. Like I said, I too was once part of this circus; the words I use now to speak of our common hopes I once used to stir up anger, click on THIS POEM I wrote about Trayvon Martin to see where I was not too long ago.
The whole system of global injustice—trust me there is one in place—is built upon the foundation of divide and conquer. Very depraved yet brilliant men figured out a long time ago that the best way to oppress the masses was to create friction between brothers and sisters and then let them fight one another as the gentry take from all. This practice of divide and conquer has been perfected over time; the rich and powerful have weaponized their wealth to buy up every “civil rights leader”, professor, pundit and politician they can get their blood-soaked hands on in order to perpetuate hatred and grievance. Trust me when I tell you this, EVERY supposed activist you see on TV and being accorded a place on the Corporate State Media stage are bought and sold puppets who are doing the bidding of their corporate masters.
The only reason I have awoken to this hustle and have come to disavow race baiting and race blaming is because of the hardship I have gone through over the past two years. An exodus of sorts led me away from my home in Fall Church, Virginia and I found myself homeless and broken in South Carolina in 2015. From that time on, I have traveled to many states from Iowa, New York, Tennessee, Georgia and now Colorado. What I saw was a sea of humanity who were broken by hopelessness and homelessness. I did not see white or black adversity, I did not behold conservatives or liberals hurting, I did not observe hardships that were exclusive to just women or men, what I witnessed was human suffering that transcended the endless constructs which are imposed upon us. Pain is felt by all; poverty comes for all—we don’t have to monopolize suffering in order to alleviate it.
I wish more people understood this one thing. All rivers of isms flow from the ocean of economic inequality. This is what Martin Luther King Jr (see Confluence of Martin and Malcolm) realized which led to his assassination. Near the end of his life, King lamented that he might have led his people into a burning barn because he came to understand that integration without economic equality was just fool’s gold. It was for this reason that he traveled to Memphis, Martin Luther King was trying to pivot away from “black civil rights” to focus on poverty as a whole. Bang! He was given a bullet for having the audacity to be a uniting voice instead of sticking to the lane of exclusive social activist.
I understand, I know that people who hurt end up hurting others. Too many have been broken by a system of gluttony and greed that has taken from the masses so that a few can thrive while the rest wilt. But I submit to you that our pains are interconnected, the very things that kneecap people in Atlanta and Houston are what hobble the masses in Appalachia and Wichita. Poverty is killing hope for tens of millions of Americans, we have become a society of a fractional few that have and the mass majority who are living paycheck to paycheck or have been buried by indigence and hopelessness. Unity is no longer a quaint aspiration, unity is now an imperative. If we don’t unite as a people, I promise you we will find equality in soup kitchens.
I say this to all people irrespective of your skin color, political ideology or spiritual beliefs. Stop being used as pawns and letting others emotionally manipulate you. Martin Luther King said it best, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”. If anger could have delivered justice from the womb of hatred, we would have had peace on earth a long time ago. If we want to truly stand for equality, we must do so by fighting for universal justice or else we end up feeding the very source of animus from which the system of injustice feeds from. Stop doing to others what was done to you and instead lead with kindness—the only weakness of this system of global oppression is love. #BeTheLight
“The rich rob the poor, and the poor rob one another. ” ~ Sojourner Truth
If you appreciated this write up and believe in the love behind it, share this article to the world on social media using #BeTheLight
I know this video’s title will repel many before they even give a chance to listen to the message, but I implore those with open minds to watch the Ghion Cast below as I discuss the reasons we should disavow labels that were imposed upon humanity in order to divide and conquer us.
This is how the global system of oppression, of which both Republicans and Democrats as well as the punditry are a part of, continues to hoodwink us and play us for suckers. Check out the Ghion Cast below that discusses the playbook of divide and conquer.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij 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. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Latest posts by Lij Teodrose Fikremariam (see all)
- Who is there for Us? When Suffering and Hopelessness Give Way to Tribalism and Hatred - May 26, 2019
- Judge Not… - May 16, 2019
- Why I No Longer Fight for Justice - May 9, 2019