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Sign saying My outrage won't fit on this sign

Photos by Raúl Arias

The United States of America has spent much of its modern history ignoring the most important problems it must solve to be able to move forward as a contemporary democracy. A country that attempted to correct the horror of slavery after the Civil War and experienced a strong Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, stopped short of  eradicating racism. While some Western European countries kept trying to consolidate an environment with more equity in politics and economic rights with an understanding of the role of regional alliances, the US insisted on a political and economical model that increased the breach between the rich and poor. US society in general didn’t address the structural failures of a system that embraces several levels and kinds of segregation among the components of society.

It seems that a storm arrived in the context of an inoperant fascist government and it just became bigger with the pandemic and the explosion of civil rebellion towards a problem that has been ignored and even denied for too long -- racism and inequity.

The people of the United States have reason to be angry. They are not only seeing, but also tasting in their daily lives, the decomposition of their economy that was already in a very narrow balance before the pandemic with: poor, or no labor and retirement benefits; an impossible and inhuman healthcare system devoted to profit and not people; jobs that are so fragile that created massive unemployment after only one month of not-very-strict lockdown is pronounced untenable by the powers that be. There were claims from the government that the economy was strong, but clearly it is not. But I don’t even want to fully blame the current government for that, I want to touch a bigger issue.

The structure of the United States of America creates and maintains all those socioeconomic distortions and tries to hide them under the discourse of an anachronicistic “American Dream.” Nowadays that Dream basically means the exclusion of the most of the population from the supposed benefits that living in a modern democracy in a “rich” country should bring.

The tension generated by that exclusion harms the already torn social fabric that has maintained the status quo for so long.

The current government used one side of that discontent in its favor to win the White House, and is trying to continue that strategy. They believe they will succeed based on the anachronistic and poor level of political debate that is the norm in a country with an educational system that maintains and increases the breach between privilege and exclusion and also stands for the ignorance of humanism.

In 2021 we should be discussing how we will address the biggest challenges that humanity will face, in the form of climate change for example, and also how we can make our lives better with all the knowledge and wealth we created as humanity. But instead of that we still need to address inequality and racism -- the erosion of fundamental rights because archaic conservative groups believe they should limit people’s rights while confusing their will and privileges with freedom. They stupidly believe in false enemies worthy of the time of the McCarthyism with an irrational fear of a “extreme left” that this country is far from even knowing, and an “Antifa” that doesn’t exist as an actual organization, claiming that rebellion and civil anger is “looting and vandalism” just because they fear to lose their privileges through a process that is noble and just.

This clash happens because all the historical problems that slavery generated have continued to underly society without a proper fix. That can not continue if this country really wants to progress in a complex geopolitical and economic environment. It’s embarrassing and laughable that we keep fighting the war of “liberals vs conservatives” which belongs to the 19th century, That is not a discussion of the 21st century. We cannot allow as a society this retreat towards the middle ages that keeps the US out of the possibility of being relevant in the current world.

It’s obvious that the country’s government is turning towards a classic fascism, and the expression of that is not only the rhetoric and the exploitation of their followers’ fears, but the support for the deployment of federal forces -- not with the attempt to help the community -- but to generate fear and to intimidate the voices that have not only the constitutional right but the civil duty to protest for the future of all the people that live in this country.

After two months of national protests, I feel contradicting emotions towards the organization and the effectiveness of certain actions, but I am very clear about the absolute need to keep saying out loud why we need a structural change that warrants equality and creates the foundations of a different economic and social contract that allows ALL of us to thrive.

It is extremely powerful to have witnessed the role of women and young people in these months of protests, to feel the spontaneity of the organization (even if that can create certain immediate problems) and to see the discourse and demands maturing step by step. The support of all the diverse populations in the neighborhoods of Columbus and the will to not give up even during a pandemic that is definitely a threat for all.

But it is really heartbreaking to see the selfishness, the empty belligerency and the blindness of a big part of the society that insists to keep themselves in a state of aggressive denial.

It will hardly be a peaceful transition between where we are now and where we need to be, but not committing to the success of that goal is just inadmissible. This country needs to model itself under a new paradigm in which names like King, Parks, X, Chavez, Milk, etc, model how this country sees itself in the mirror of history.