I am teaching a new class this semester: Social Welfare Policy. Its insanely awesome. I can’t even handle it. This week the topic was Historical Influences of Social Welfare Policy. As I read through it, planned my lecture, and thought of discussion questions, it was very clear to me we should watch the documentary 13th. It has been a while since I watched it. In fact it was before I thought it even possible that Donald Trump could be president. (For the record I still don’t know how it is possible).
This documentary is summarized as follows: “Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.”
I think you should watch it. And if you already did, I think you should watch it again. Because in the less than one year it has been out, things have changed. A lot. Today, watching it, one phrase struck me. It was from a Trump campaign rally in reference to African American’s protesting. Trump said: “In the good old days this doesn’t happen because we would treat em rough… In the good old days they would rip him out of the seat so fast…In the good old days, he would be carried out on a stretcher”. Just watch this clip. 2 minutes. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2016/10/14/about-that-viral-video-of-donald-trump-talking-about-the-good-old-days/?utm_term=.e03dcdd2e233
It makes me ill. Sick. Because let’s think about what “the good old days” really means. It means “Separate but equal” It means Jim Crow. It means inequality. It mean sub standard everything for those who are not white and rich. It means black people and native people could not vote. It means black people and native people could not own land. It means KKK and white supremacy. It means slavery. It means dehumanization. It means killing and beating and raping. The good old days were only good for a few select people.
How is that okay? Don’t just come up with your scripted defense. Really think. How.is.this.okay? It’s not. No one. And I mean NOT ONE PERSON is better than or more deserving of human rights than any other. But when the President says “good old days” he is saying that. I am better. And those who support him are directly and indirectly saying “we are better”.
We walked into this country and killed a nation of people. We took from them what was their’s. If the Native American’s referred to the good old days they would be referring to pre Columbus. Pre “Discovery” of America. Except that is white European language. We didn’t discover America. It was here. Inhabited. Lived on. But Trump isn’t willing to go back that far. The we went deeper…We headed to Africa, another continent that we had no business invading and took people, who were living their lives, with their families, in their communities in their own countries and kidnapped them. Stripped them of every single thing. Every.Single.Thing. And bought and sold them. And we expect healing to come from some legislation?
No. We have a lot of work to do. And the only work being done right now is becoming more divisive, more polarized and hiding behind more fear. Our National Anthem came from a time of slavery, racism and hatred. How can we move forward when we can’t see that? When we pick people apart for asking us to face their truth. We can’t. But we need to. So I am making sure my social work students are ready to take over. They are going to live out the core values and ethics of the profession.
- Social justice.
- Dignity and worth of the individual.
- Importance and centrality of human relationships.
And it is going to be A.mazing.