My local newspaper has been doing in depth stories on the Dozier School for Boys in north Florida, and on the excavation of the unmarked graves of boys murdered there.
I’ve been too ill lately to write or keep up with my blog but I have to share this. It’s simply too much to contain without shattering.
I’ve been living in the South since the 1970’s. I’m not unaware of what the people here are capable of, nor how often they have engaged in horrors and cover-ups thereof.
But the juxtaposition of the recent deaths of unarmed black people by police with this nearly one hundred years of state sanctioned horror of poor children, black and white, and early on both male and female, is so chilling. It is not surprising so much as deeply shocking and horrifying.
When some people are seen as less valuable-poor people, black people, women, children, “criminals”; it naturally follows that violence against them is condoned.
We may decry the terrible governments of various other nations from Syria and Libya to Cuba and North Korea but the inherent violence of our own country seems likely to be much greater than anything we point at “over there”.
From the residential schools for destroying Native Nations by stripping the children of language, culture, home, family, human dignity and very often of life itself to the modern justifications of torture at Abu Ghraib, “black sites” and Guantanamo bay and drone strikes that terrorize civilians in various nations and all the horrors like Dozier, lynching, legal marital rape and beatings and of course genocide and slavery as well as our modern prison industrial complex inside America- how can we even hold up our heads to accuse other countries?
Often innocent children tortured to death in state run “schools” yet we can all name multiple criminals from corporate and bank executives to local stalkers and killers who are walking free enjoying life.
Where is the America that we are sold as children in school? Where are the shining ideals that draw immigrants from across the globe?
I grew up “colorblind” in the best possible sense of the word. Not a white privilege based shallow view but a worldview rooted in my own mixed race, and the people close to me being so many different ethnicities and cultures that I grew up seeing everyone as individuals rooted in their ancestors, creative beings unique but connected on multiple levels and in various ways.
Difference was never ignored it simply was not ever a cause for demeaning someone.
Very few white children acknowledged me as human in the small town where I spent much of my childhood. How much of that was due to racism and how much to my difference as an autistic/Aspie I guess I will never know.
The black children noticed my difference but did not shun me for it.
That small southern farm town in the 1970’s wasn’t appreciably different from any other small southern farm town in earlier decades.
So when I read these stories about Dozier, the little boys who were murdered don’t feel like abstract history to me. They appear to my inner senses as I read clothed in the faces, the laughs, the smells, the jokes and the tears of my childhood.
I can’t even imagine what reading this must be like for those whose own brothers come to mind.
How can we allow the monsters among us to suppress the truth, to maintain the status quo? How can we face the America that says little boys who are poor or black or both are expendable, disposable-whether that America exists in 1934, 1964 or 2014?
(This same question applies to rape, domestic and other violence against women, against immigrants, prisoners-or anyone.)
Violence is a sickness.
Power over and control cannot exist without suffering and crushing of spirits. Without allowing murder and rape to go unprosecuted.
I know these things are the facts of how America came to be. But I also know that we will never come closer to the shining ideals we claim to espouse until we shine bright light onto these nightmares and clean the filth out of our country past and present.
This isn’t a war as some have claimed between black and white people. It’s not a contest as to whether police officers OR black people deserve life because obviously both do. These are false dichotomies set up only to distract and prevent change.
The fact, despite all the power plays, propaganda and manipulation out there, is that we have to stop seeing violence, power over and control as solutions.
We have to recognize the past, and the present reality. But then we have to evolve and transcend the limitations imposed by it.
To me as a child, as to all children not programmed to hate and fear, another child of any color, size, shape, culture, intelligence level or ability level was a potential new friend.
To my understanding it is that open hearted nature that we all shared as children not arguing that will prove most valuable in creating a better future than this nightmare we call our past.
I was shocked that there are people alive right now who actively oppose and seek to stop the investigation of the Dozier School. It was that combined with the disturbing descriptions of events at the school, that drove me to write this instead of resting sensibly.
I’m praying for everyone affected by the violence-which really is all of us even those seemingly protected. Because benefits derived from another’s suffering are soul-destroying and societies based on violence are never fair to anyone.
I know a better future is not only possible-it is coming! I know this because I know so many amazing people who are determined to make it happen. I have faith in them, and in the Universe/God/Goddess/Creator.
But facing what has been and is takes all of it plus some courage and tears too.