Pledge of Allegiance

2014.12.8.Speakout.pledge.1A 3rd Avenue protest against police brutality in New York City. (Photo: Michael Nigro)Michael Brown is dead. This is the one truth upon which we can all agree without prejudice. Beyond this, he is neither civil rights legacy nor victim. Neither innocent nor guilty. He is dead.

Michael Brown is just one grain of sand in the American cause-and-effect… the tornadic, myopic, narcissistic, deliriously overinflated landmass in which 316 million of us claim zip codes. To those who live by “the greatest nation” mantra, perhaps it’s best to share the secrets that inform such allegiance.

For the rest of us, Mr. Brown is duly symbolic of a nation that pledges said allegiance to the moment, not the era. We are a nation founded upon the appropriation, annexation or obliteration of one dweller after another. Sadly, our history books are perhaps the most innovative propaganda in any historical context and therefore as useful as a plastic spoon in quicksand.

No book can adequately interpret our historical action, as history is a machine in constant motion – action without end, infinite causes to infinite effects.

A 225-year-old document enacted by the privileged white male is the law of our land. It remains germane to this very day, as this same privileged white male reigns with impunity. Though perhaps we are primed for a female Executive to preside over 1600 Pennsylvania, does this change our course? Does a black man in a White House change our course? Time will tell. Cause and effect.

2014.12.8.Speakout.pledge2A Ferguson solidarity protest in New York City. (Photo: Michael Nigro)For now, we continue to consume marching orders from those who consume the lion’s share of us. Moreover, we will likely pass such a legacy on to our sons and daughters as we dutifully live our Pledge.

I pledge allegiance…

…to the one of every six Americans who is poor and one of every five American children who is poor…

To the Flag…

under which one of every six Americans is food insecure –with no reliable access to sufficient food and to more than two-thirds of U.S. adults who are overweight or obese largely due to lack of access to affordable nutritious food…

Of the United States…

and its 2.5 million homeless children, equal to the entire population of Chicago…

Of America…

…where Americans spend more on health care each year than any other industrialized nation, at an average of nearly $9,000 per person, and where 56 million Americans under age 65 will have trouble paying medical bills, as unaffordable health care is the number one cause of personal bankruptcy

And to the Republic…

…that spends more on education than any other developed nation, though one of every seven Americans cannot read, one of every five adults reads below a 5th grade level, and one of every five high school graduates cannot read, and though this Republic ranks 31st in math literacy and 23rd in science, outstanding education debt (college) in the U.S. is more than that of the rest of the world combined

For which it stands…

… as the wealthiest 0.1 percent of Americans own 25 percent of the nation’s wealth, CEOs average 263 times the average compensation of American workers, and members of Congress have a median net worth of $1,008,767 while American household median net worth is $81,200, 8 percent of the average Congress member…

One Nation…

… bloated with 939 active hate groups, a 56 percent increase since 2000, who cheer the approximately 5,800 U.S. hate crimes each year resulting in 7,164 victims, of which 50% are race-based with far more incidents against blacks than whites, and one nation where blacks are 21% more likely than whites to receive mandatory minimum prison sentences

Under God…

… a god that encourages Americans, despite representing less than 5% of the world’s population, to own roughly 35-50% of the world’s civilian-owned guns, a god that lords over Americans so that they own 88 firearms per 100 people in a general population ravaged by one person killed by a firearm every 17 minutes, 87 killed during an average day, and 609 killed every week including 30 mass shootings that murder approximately 150 innocent citizens per year perpetuating a U.S. murder rate significantly higher than most developed nations

Indivisible…

… unless you’re a female who represents 51% of the population yet earns 20% less than a white male or a black man who earns 25% less than a white male or a black woman who earns 32% less than a white male or a Latino woman who earns 39 percent less than a white male

With liberty…

… excepting that the NSA spies on vast amounts of Americans via their e-mail, phone and text communications, even though the one courageous person who informs us of such a constitutional breach is branded the spy…

And justice…

… especially for white cops who, on average, kill just under 100 black people per year, cops who commit 460 “justifiable homicides” per year (meaning bureaus and courts determine no recourse), and cops whose legal advocates invoke a defense of “objective reasonableness” so many times in so many ways that policing might just be the new old wild, wild west…

For all

… all who would believe that America, the land richer than ever with broken promises, remains the Promised Land.