Free at Last

by | Aug 27, 2020

Free at Last

It’s important to remember
Something never gone away
Four hundred years of anguish
Lived every single day
And while time marches slowly
We all must take a stand
So many summers ago
Martin’s words aroused a land

 Fear not the many changes
That all must come true
America is for everyone
Now stand up and renew
Our promise for equality
And moving from the past
When this is all accomplished
We’ll be Free at Last

Friday is the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington. While many were behind this event, Reverend King’s words still resound. John Lewis spoke there. Bob Dylan performed as well. Much progress has occurred, but much more is necessary. Please take a moment to recognize the difference between our platonic ideals and what is practiced. George Floyd’s death has brought this to the top of our consciousness. 

All too often the nation settles back down after a flurry of protests occur following an incident (often a death) involving race. In fact, simple solutions like blaming the police are used to assuage the populace. Systemic racism calls for systemic changes (in many areas).

We are presently dealing with coexisting pandemics. Soon a vaccine will render one to the background. As for the other plague, racism, well, we will have to find remedies in our hearts.

Bob Houghtaling is the director of the East Greenwich Drug Program, a lover of poetry and a longtime social justice warrior.

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Johann Patlak
Johann Patlak
August 27, 2020 10:11 pm

Bob, no one is blaming the police for systemic racism, and no one with an interest in police reform or abolition thinks that achieving those goals will fix systemic racism.

The police, federal paramilitary forces, and white supremacist vigilantes are all the deadly tip of the spear of systemic racism.

Systemic racism inflicts all kinds of trauma on people, but there is a very specific physical trauma that comes from a point blank hand-gun round penetrating your spinal cord, and a very specific psychological trauma that comes from being a little kid and seeing the police try to murder your dad right in front of you. Or seeing them murder your beloved aunt right in front of you. Or being a little kid who gets murdered by them for playing with a toy gun. If anyone thinks that is inflammatory language, every sports league in the country begs to differ.

The poems are great, but the remedies aren’t in our hearts. The remedies are in cold, hard policy changes to create systems that counteract systemic racism. Assertive police reform is one of those changes. School reform is another. This reform needs to happen in every municipality in the country.

White liberals need to stop searching their hearts and start dismantling their own supremacy. There’s a King quote more or less about that, too.


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