When television came of age during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the nation was treated to the ugly, visual reality of Jim Crowism and its devastating impact on African-Americans, especially in the South. Black folks, including children, were shown being beaten, arrested, and jailed by bands of baton-wielding police, usually surrounded by angry, vulgar white mobs. However, the aura and legitimacy of Jim Crow began to fade as the nation and the world started to question the democratic creed so often espoused: “all men are created equal”.
The evolution of tee vee technology had begun to lay bare the horror and historic terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan, and how hanging black people had been commonplace, supposedly to maintain the purity of the white race. Further, the 1955 gruesomeness of the murder of a fourteen year old kid, Emmet Till, literally turned the collective stomach of the nation, as his mother left his casket open so the world could see what white supremacy, bigotry, and racism had done to her little boy. Back then, our Civil Rights heroes—Dr. King, and legions of other courageous citizens, blacks, whites, Jews, and Gentiles—all came together and started the march toward equality. Because they had to.
Now, we as a nation are back to a place in time where voter suppression is legal and uncontested again.
We are back to a place in time where the police can kill us at will in broad daylight, and in our own homes—-even.
We are back to a place in time where people—babies—are being caged, separated from their parents, and adopted out to the highest bidder.
We are potentially back to a place in time where women of all colors could be threatened with the death penalty if they seek an abortion.
We are back to a place in time where the government can revoke all our rights to decide who we choose to love.
This is a dangerous time for our country and for our democracy. In the 1940’s more than six million human beings were marched into gas chambers in broad daylight at the whims of a government with the same propensities and yearnings of the one we have now.
But we can fix that, and here’s how: We need to follow the instructions of nature and become like the butterfly. For several years, after arguably the greatest eight-year presidency in living memory, we fell asleep. During, and immediately after the Obama years, we groveled around like the early stages of a caterpillar’s life, worming along as if we had no responsibilities whatsoever—and look what we got!
So, I studied the caterpillar’s metamorphosis and discovered that when it sheds its outer skins it is about to become an adult, a beautifully colored adult, which may be the solution to the disgusting situation we find ourselves in as a country right now. We all need to become adult butterflies—shed the wormy old skin—and actively watch over our democracy if we want to keep it.
There should be no tolerance for the imbecilic and foolish yarn that we hear sometimes from friends and family alike, “I don’t care for politics, it’s boring”. Well, it seems awfully difficult to imagine that Congressman John Lewis, a living legend, cared much for “politics” either, as he was almost beaten to death trying to walk across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Alabama in 1965, protesting for the right to vote. Nor could I imagine that politics was a prime motivator behind young black and white activists, who in 1961 courageously rode buses into the segregated Mississippi Delta, and put their lives on the line to register voters.
In studying the butterfly I learned there are any number of species of them, but that the ones that can survive cold weather usually take longer to shed their outer skins, which is called molting. But after this process occurs, the majestic butterflies quickly learn how to fly. On November 6th, the nation and Detroiters can fly again. As Mohammed Ali, the greatest boxer of all time, said, “Float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee.” Vote!