I was depressed after our IEA convention in Chicago a couple of weekends ago. The mood was pessimistic, and the enthusiasm was mixed. Our pensions are being attacked by a group of billionaires out of Chicago, and the only hope we have of stopping it is by making the public aware that all middle-class and poor people are under attack by pernicious groups like the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club out of Chicago. We have to spend money, money that we are struggling to hold onto, to get the message out. Meanwhile, our ESPs that are in our organization are fighting to gain merely a living wage, which most of its memberships are not getting. If we fight, we hurt those whom we need badly to be with us. I did not know where to go with these emotions. I could not write convincingly to address these issues.
Watching the Trayvon Martin debacle unfold has been tough to follow. While groups like the Civic Committee continue to attack with their ultra-conservative ideologies, racism in the form of these “stand your ground” laws that were sanctioned and pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing group (shockingly enough) are finally showing their ugly ramifications. The way the police have handled this is no accident. This is what these laws were designed to do: kill the ones who are not whom we want them to be in the name of self-defense. If Trayvon had killed Zimmerman because Zimmerman was stalking him, he would have been arrested instantly. We all know that. However, according to how the law was written, Trayvon should have been not only exonerated for doing so, he should not have even been processed. But because he was African American, and, as Zimmerman put it,” they always get away with it,” he was put down like a dog and left with no dignity. His killer walks free.
I was watching Chris Hayes’ show, and I was stunned when the reporter for the New York Times said that he was encouraged by the social media in helping to get the movement started that got this story to a point in which the authorities in Florida are becoming more and more uncomfortable with the public atmosphere. He was optimistic with the direction this was taking. On Lawrence O’Donnell’s show on Monday night (
3/26/12), he was to talk to the lawyer of Zimmerman, but
the lawyer bolted minutes before the show started. What happened after that was a great
discussion of what questions should be asked of the cowardly lawyer and why
those questions were necessary to be addressed by Zimmerman and the
authorities. He also got on a reporter for the Orlando newspaper and slammed her for being a shill for the Sanford Police Department by posting false information as facts in her article. It was powerful stuff. I was getting my rage on again. I stopped moping and started focusing.
I will talk more later about this because this is pointing to our problem as a profession and to our dilemma as public workers. However, the time has come to stop playing nice. The right questions must be asked. The right pressure must be applied. We must press for justice for ourselves.