As we say goodbye to one of the best presidents our country has ever known, it is important to remember that we still have a long struggle in front of us. Yes, most of those invested in the progression of this country have realized this, with the president-elect’s cabinet picks, his sketchy stance on foreign policy, and his complete denial of the science that points to the fact that life as we know it is completely going to change (climate change guys). But it’s also incredibly important that we remember that racism throughout this country has not been eradicated. It has been transformed. Just like almost every aspect of life has changed in the last hundred years – from clothing, to travel, to world population, entertainment, technology, food supply – we have been fortunate enough to live in a time when sharing and collaboration has become easier in a myriad of ways.
While there may not be public lynchings like the 1930 occurrence that inspired the Abel Meeropol poem “Bitter Fruit”(later made famous as a song by Billie Holiday) there are still countless examples of institutionalized racism apparent in our country. The Black Lives Matter movement has brought this issue to the forefront of our country’s consciousness and if you don’t know their story or message by now EDUCATE YOURSELF. Now more than ever it is important to stand, rise, resist.
There is also the issue of ‘mob mentality’ or ‘the bystander effect.’ For Tom Shipp and Abe Smith, unfortunately, the mob on that night in August of 1930 was frenzied enough to break them out of jail, beating and kicking them on the way to the tree where they became the ‘Strange Fruit’. In 2017 you’re more likely to get a mob into a frenzy after a sports team win. But you will still regularly be witness to the bystander effect; not helping because you believe that someone else will surely step in to assist. Apathy will get us nowhere in this new administration’s reign. We must stand up and stand together for the rights of all Americans, no matter their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
As we say goodbye to the Obama’s, we also say goodbye to a scandal free eight years in the White House, one where everyone in America could look up to the example set by two highly educated, caring, sympathetic, loving people and their daughters who showed us what a terrific first family should look like. I know many of my millennial friends, most of whom Obama was the first president they ever voted for, will view today as a day of mourning. But we need to remember to hope and listen to President Obama’s wise words “I’m asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.” From the bottom of my heart, thanks Obama.
Don’t be apathetic. Don’t be a bystander. Don’t stop resisting.
The podcast that inspired this post – https://soundcloud.com/radio-diaries/61-strange-fruit-updated