The New Era
As I write this, it has been a week after the attempted coup by the 45th President of the United States to stay in power despite losing the popular vote and the Electoral College. Now that the shock has worn off, Americans are back to being as divided and stressed as usual , in the middle of a pandemic and the economic crisis it has wrought.
This is the point where we, collectively, have to start looking forward. We are on the cusp of a unique hybrid in historical terms. This is the Progressive Reconstruction Era of America. We must take advantage of it and prolong it as long as we can before the insurrectionists can figure out how to end it, just to subjugate us once again.
I don’t believe another Jim Crow era is coming but I do believe another attempt is in the works and will be trotted out for implementation. We have to be organized and educated enough to stop it, even with our enhanced tribalism. I am not asking for unity anymore in the altruistic sense, I just believe a practical commonality of purpose will suffice to stem any regressive public policy brought forth by the new white nationalistic insurgents.
If you have studied American history, then you know that we had a Civil War, a Reconstruction period, and a successful insurgency that created an additional 100 years of oppression that African Americans survived. Meanwhile, white Americans in the North experienced an equivalent to the European Renaissance we refer to as the Progressive Era. This is the era of industrial and technological breakthroughs, unbridled growth in wealth and national expansion.
Interspersed with these changes also came social policies to attempt to address the disparities this growth period in America created. These policies built on the foundation of the greatest public policy action of the Reconstruction period: Public Education. It became evident that manpower was needed to fuel this industrial revolution but nothing was in place to empower the men, women and children that provided that manpower.
Thus came the creation of labor unions to protect workers, especially in the areas of working conditions and wages; the academic discipline of social work to better study and combat the rising abject poverty and ease the stress of the new industrial working class; and political parties like the Progressive and Labor Parties to mandate these protections and remedies into law. Members of both the Democratic and Republican Parties also created progressive wings within their organizations.
The one thing that was missing in this period of history was a commitment to end racial discrimination in America. It would be the students, children and grandchildren of these progressives that would become the new abolitionists that united with African Americans in the Civil Rights Era.
That brings me back to this opportunity that is before us now. President Trump went to Alamo, Texas to symbolically state what many of us have already known: this is the last insurgent stand for white nationalistic supremacy in America. Several generations from now, if we do what we are supposed to do, historians will look back on January 6, 2021 as a major turning point milestone.
But for that to truly happen, we must finish the work of the Progressive Era and substantially narrow the wealth gap in our society. We must finish the work of the Reconstruction Era by enhancing educational opportunities and create venues for true wealth building in every American community. In addition to finishing this work, we have an additional charge: That socioeconomic status will not determine our level of education, our access to healthcare, our ability to self-define our communities, our representation in government or our full attainment of wealth in this capitalist system.
This is a moment in time where we truly can set our individual and collective future. History has taught us that we don’t have any time in this moment to waste. Just when we , as African Americans, thought the worse was behind us with the end of the peculiar institution of slavery, insurrection came and took us down a different but equally oppressive path. We cannot afford to make that same mistake again.
A new era of American history has been ushered in. May it be a long and prosperous one.