Commentary: What have we become?

by E. Faye Williams

(—Were we ever better? There was a time when many Black people had hope and had reason to believe America had made progress on civil and human rights. I remember Dick Gregory frequently saying to me, “Don’t you know when a man like Donald Trump and his people put on MAGA hats and talk about making America great again, they’re acting like America once was great.” I look around me and see a few Black and Brown people that have been treated fairly and have become successful; but for every one of them, there’re many others who no matter how hard they work, there’s no justice. That’s why there’s no peace now.

After seeing the countless number of murders from the time Black people were enslaved, through Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement and beyond, we’ve seen racism directed toward Black, Brown and Native people. We’ve seen hatred from the highest level of those who are charged with promoting success, justice, peace for the least of God’s children. The promise of America never trickles down to so many of us.

When Barack Obama was elected, hope was in the air and many of us began to believe America was changing. We thought change had finally come to America. The word hope became the word of the day. Barack served 8 flawless years. People all over the world loved him; many even loved Michelle more and that was okay because as a team they made us proud. Even with Mitch McConnell and his crew vowing to do everything they could to make him fail, through sheer grit, hope and determination, Barack succeeded in many things.

Then came the election of 2016. The Republican Party tried to disassemble everything Barack had done. They promised to dismantle “ObamaCare”—the health plan so many Americans have testified to it as their saving grace. They promised to bring to us a better plan. Now, in nearly four years, we’ve seen no plan to replace the Affordable Health Care plan. They’ve tried hard to dismantle DACA. The police have killed more Black people than criminals have in the past few years. Yet, Trump and his MAGA people have done more damage to America’s image than any known president before him.

His ego is so delicate that as he tries to wipe away everything President Obama did for the people. He’s wrecking all the progress we thought we had made. To add insult to injury, he is doing all he can do to erase any successes, any opportunities Black, Brown and Native people had begun to enjoy.

Just four months ago, we saw the brutal murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. Two months ago, it was Breonna Taylor in Kentucky killed in a no-knock raid that turned out to be a mistake. George Floyd died from a knee on his neck for nearly 9 minutes. Rayshard Brooks died in Atlanta from a shot in the back for having a bit too much to drink that had put him to sleep in his own car. There’s Carlos Ingram Lopez in Tucson who died after telling the police he could not breathe while they were holding him down. 18-year-old student, Andres Guardo, was killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy while in custody. There’ve been murders of Native Americans. As a matter of fact, longtime police brutality in their community drove many Native Americans to join those protesting the murders of George Floyd and others.

What have we become in this country when life means nothing to those charged with guarding and protecting us from the so-called criminal element? All of us must stand up for police reform NOW!

(Dr. E. Faye Williams is National President of the National Congress of Black Women.)


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