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Camille Granito Mancuso: Chatterbox--Change the music

One day soon, we all hope, we will get back to tiptoeing through the tulips around the world.
For now, we know the planet will somehow adapt and survive. Most species will too. How about humans? We don’t know for sure.
Here in America, we are at a crossroads socially and we’re in the midst of a maelstrom in terms of the virus, climate change, and our political system still based on the Who’s Who of structured injustice and a carrot on a stick.
We tout our greatness and we have been great, but there is much that wasn’t, and that isn’t, equality based yet. Much of America’s greatness has not and still is not available to all on a balanced scale. Whether it has been limited by secrecy, complexity, loopholes, regulations, limited accessibility or subterfuge, there’s been a surreptitiously legislated inequity for almost 250 years, and it hinders our power and progress as a nation.
On July 4, 1776, the day we celebrate America’s birth and its liberation, America’s most original protesters sent a letter to their sovereign ruler, King George III. They boldly stated that they’d had enough, his reign over the Colonies was tyrannical and they were fed up and ready to fight for equality. (Sound contemporary?) Americans were declaring a new nation, albeit on stolen land. It was insanely bold but inevitable; they wanted freedom. Yet, even after the dust settled, the liberation didn’t go far enough and didn’t have acceleration built in.
The Declaration famously boasted, “… all men are created equal …” but we’ve never lived by that. Hmm, not quite … not when the words were written and not now, almost 250 years later. Our 19th-century Pledge of Allegiance says, “… liberty and justice for all.” Not enough legislation has tightly balanced enough scales in that way. Indeed, the orchestration is quite the opposite, however surreptitious.
The tips of too many icebergs were well orchestrated and carefully disguised. Perhaps we should have more specifically defined “…all men …” Well orchestrated, it seems to have meant privileged, or at least white, male, landowners but left just enough wiggle room for misconception.
Still today, the imbalances continue. They begin with education being funded by local taxes clearly preventing education from being of equal quality to all, the very jump-off point of a truly free nation. They continue through housing, jobs, and gain profundity through representation. Gerrymandering prevents representation from being truly representative of districts and locals. More obvious in our last primaries and upcoming presidential elections equal opportunities to vote via easy access to fast, effective, voting mechanics prevents election results from fairly and equally representing the whole of the American people. Interference via lobbying and corporate mega-money has a huge impact on decisions by our leadership, undermining the actions needed for fair and equal policies for all. Finally, if all else fails, there’s the Electoral College, an intellectual name for keeping final election power in the “right hands.”
If we look around there are too many hurdles, hidden and built in, to prevent equality for us to tout it as inherent in America as a nation, in our ruling body, or in our governing laws … and it was, sadly, intended to be that way from 1776. With unstated and unspoken restraints, the framers of the Constitution created the very same injustices for others, in the new world, that they, themselves, were fighting to be free of in their old one.
Some railed at the injustice, orated or wrote great prose against it, yet kept their slaves. Some even sustained great wealth built in the actual marketing of humans as a commodity. Some were genuinely working on true liberty and justice for all, without marginal notations, but it hasn’t really happened yet. Such is the fermata in this nation’s anthem.
Then, there is the staccato. That is the recurring note of protest. We have been doomed to hear it played out in the streets over hundreds of years. It comes and stops, rises and falls and, still today, we remain a nation of protesters – still hitting the bricks in an effort to be heard, as we did in 1776.
It’s past time to change our tune still playing outside in the streets. It’s the iterance which so many of us bristle at in the fireworks and light shows of patriotism supposedly representing equality, liberty and justice for all.
It is the cacophony born of a nation orchestrating one reality while performing quite another.