Photo by Julio Cortez for AP
It’s hard to process what is unfolding in America right now, in the streets of every city, large and small and in between. Seeing the images on TV feels as surreal as the footage of the Twin Towers collapsing on the bright sunny morning of September 11, 2001.
For almost four years, America stayed silent in the face of impending fascism under a pathologically narcissistic reality TV star who will never rest until he is crowned King of America and can slap the word TRUMP (in golden letters, of course) all over our currency and maybe even our flag.
Even with brown babies being caged, families separated at the border, the Kurds abandoned, countless school shootings, our allies alienated, our planet’s natural resources plundered for profit, our healthcare threatened, racist dogwhistles sounded daily by Trump and his sycophants, and a criminal impeached president allowed to remain in office, Americans remained silent, voicing their concerns and rants on Twitter or on their blogs insread of congregating in the streets and demanding change the way people in other countries did. Why were we such sheep? Was it laziness? Fear? Ignorance? Apathy? Exhaustion? What was our problem anyway?
This week things finally changed. Maybe it was due to cabin fever caused by the coronavirus pandemic that kept people cooped up in their homes for months on end, or maybe it was just the straw that finally broke the camel’s back, but starting with the brutal and inhumane murder of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer last week, the sleeping giant has finally woken up. George Floyd will never know that his death set off a chain of events that coursed over the nation like a tsunami, and will culminate in either a People’s Revolution that could set America on a new, much fairer, more humane, and saner path; or the death of the Republic. I’ll be honest: I’m expecting the latter, but hoping for the former.
Last night, I came across a stunning photo taken by AP photographer Julio Cortez in either Minneapolis or St. Paul last week. This is the sort of iconic photo that will be shown decades from now when people talk about this time in history, especially if American democracy survives. It says everything about the times we are in. It could be interpreted as a distress call, since the flag the protester is carrying is upside down, but I get more of a feeling of bravery and patriotism in the face of violent destruction and death. But, more than anything, to me it shows hope. The flag carrier here appears to be a young person. Most of the protesters are Millennials. If anyone is going to save America, it will be them. It has to be them. Even though they have been dismissed as entitled and given very little support by our society for most of their lives, they still love America and want to revive it into a thriving democracy again, something it hasn’t really been since long before they were even born.
Our future is in their hands.