My Turn editorial by Sherrill Hogan
Published in the Greenfield Recorder, July 9, 2020
The Poor People’s Campaign is speaking loudly in hundreds of voices in every corner of the country. It is organizing privileged people like me and people living out of their cars. If you aren’t already on board, go to June2020.org and you will be. I went, and I listened to three hours of illustrated testimony by the Poor People’s Campaign Virtual Assembly and Moral March on Washington, June 20, attended by over two million people.
Here is what I am learning.
One: Silence is betrayal. The refrain for one of the many songs written for the campaign is, “Somebody is hurting my people, and we won’t be silent anymore.”
Two: The frontline workers whom we can’t pay a living wage are acting out of “sacrificial love,” and it is love that is showing us the way. It is who we are, and together with love we can change everything.
Three: Hope comes from the bottom up. We change the narrative about poverty and race by changing the narrators.
Four: Our moral compass was co-opted by right wing religious nationalism, and we need to get it back with a moral revival based on love and justice for “the least of these.”
Five: A few statistics that caught my attention:
■The suicide rate among Kansas farmers is 85/100,000. Kansas water is polluted by fertilizer run-off, causing high rates of cancer.
■Thirty-nine million children live in or close to poverty. Poverty is traumatizing.
■The water in Flint, Mich. is still poisonous six years after it was revealed to carry lead and other chemicals from industrial plants.
■In Dallas, Texas industries causing contamination of air and water in poor neighborhoods are called the Corporate KKK.
■Eighty percent of low-wage workers have not had a pay raise in 50 years.
■There are voter suppression laws in 27 states.
■There are 45 million immigrants, 11 million of them undocumented; they are most of the “essential workers”; they all pay taxes.
■Half of public schools are re-segregated.
■The U.S. has 25% of the world’s incarcerated, but just 4% of the world’s population.
Six: We live in a capitalistic society that says, “I will take from you.”
Seven: The U.S. Constitution legalizes Black bondage. It declared that Black people were 3/5 a person. The 14th Amendment should have corrected that by freeing slaves, but it allowed prisoners to be used as free labor. Gerrymandering and voter ID laws further legitimize racism. Thus it has always been legal to oppress Black people.
Eight: Every day we are fed the “lie of scarcity.”
Nine: Most of our policies have a “death measurement.” For example, the government’s slow response to COVID-19 caused more deaths, and Black and Brown communities are disproportionately affected.
It is time to change. It is time for justice.
Sherrill Hogen is a resident of Charlemont.
See more from Sherrill Hogen at Newsfromsherrill.blogspot.com