Out of wackLuke Mehall - 08/18/2016
This Fourth of July, I saw a sight that reminded me of the America that I want to live in: a black woman and a white woman, hand in hand walking down the street, openly displaying their love for one another. The black woman was wearing a red, white and blue tank top, complete with the stars and stripes. I was driving, so they quickly left my sight, but they stayed with me and remain in my head. It’s made me realize I am proud to be living in a country where consenting adults can marry whomever they want.
It’s good to feel proud, because there’s a force alive right now that makes many of us who embrace diversity ashamed. I won’t even say his name, because he is not worthy of making it into this column. But we all know who he is, and we know the movement behind him is fueled by troubled, racist, white males. Their slogan may has well be, “Make America Wack Again.”
Now if you aren’t from the hip-hop generation, as I am, let me explain wackness. (Even Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize the term, which I must say is quite wack.) Basically being wack means you are an imposter; a poser who doesn’t embody what you are talking about. If I can give an example, for the last year this fine paper has been encountering a wack imposter in the form of another paper that goes by a three-letter name. (Note, this is not aimed at the contributors to that paper but the people who created it and decided to publish on the same day we do, with the same format and similar concept. Wackness to the hundredth degree.)
In short, wackness means you are either stealing a style and claiming it as your own, or you are falsely representing something. Vanilla Ice was a wack representation of hip-hop, and that politician who insults everyone from Muslims to women to mentally disabled individuals is a wack representation of the people who make up these United States. And as a real, independent writer myself, with nothing to lose, I am in the business of fighting wackness with each keystroke.
Of course, I am just one person with a proverbial pen. I am aware that the pen may be mightier than the sword, but it is not mightier than a gun. And in this column, I am given a finite amount of words. I am not much of a political activist, I just try to write from the heart. I also really want to believe that our best days are ahead of us as a country. If you really believe America was great for a long time, you have to ignore the genocide that took place here, the institutionalization of slavery, and a history of people not being treated equally, even though our Constitution says that we all are, in fact, created equal.
Surely, America owes a certain debt to our founding fathers, but at this point, can we really say that vision was all that great? They aimed to create a system that favored only one race and only one gender: the white male. No wonder we are seeing someone rise to power who embodies such similar ideals. And no wonder uneducated white males make up the majority of his base.
America is on its way to greatness, not because of the vision from some wig-wearing, slave-owning politicians, but because of the diversity that later happened, and ultimately our country’s embrace of that diversity. I hope we are just at the beginning of that, and I know the majority of Americans want to live in a world envisioned by great Americans like Martin Luther King Jr., where we judge one another “not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character.”
Hope. We are still so far away from King’s vision that we must find fertile places to plant our seeds of hope. Sometimes, the vision is fleeting, like the black woman and the white woman, arm in arm. But, now seven-plus years into having a black man as president, the signs are more concrete. And no one has articulated that hope better than Michelle Obama, with her recent speech at the Democratic National Convention. She’s so good that even the Republican nominee’s wife plagiarized her!
Without uttering his name, Michelle gracefully and articulately took him down. She noted that every morning she wakes up in a house built by slaves, and that she watches her daughters, two intelligent young black women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. This alone has to give us some hope.
Fortunately, our country seems to be listening to that racist idiot who can’t contain his stupid thoughts from becoming words, and his ratings in the polls are slipping dramatically. Let’s pray for American that the number of his supporters is much smaller than those of us who believe in equality for all, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. That seems to be the case.
I wonder where I can look in history for some words to conclude this piece? And it comes to me, the words from Johnny Cash about an old American flag, “She’s been abused. She’s been burned, dishonored, denied and refused. And the government for which she stands is scandalized throughout the land. And she’s getting thread bare and she’s wearing thin. But she’s in good shape for the shape she’s in. Cause she’s been through the fire before, and I believe she can take a whole lot more.”