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R.I.P Mandela

Many  years ago when I lived in Chicago, I strolled along Michigan Avenue when a young chap jumped in my path and handed me a flyer about something called “apartheid.” Because young folks (although he was about five or six years older than myself, which meant he was an “older folk”) often seemed to protest one thing or another, his interrupting my daydreaming about art supplies — or more accurately, my daydreaming about art supplies I couldn’t afford — didn’t surprise me.  His topic of Krugerrands and coal miners and university-invested money into gold mines puzzled me. Everything would have fallen into place had he said, “Do you know what happened in  the sixties when people were murdered because they tried to register others to vote? Do you understand how southerners  (and let’s come to Jesus on this thing, people. African-American slave owners were in on the shit, too) sent their own sons to die in a war in order to maintain an economy based on free labor?”  If you’re familiar with the history of the United States, then you know about apartheid.

Protesting a system whose cruelty I could not fully grasp seemed cool. Unfortunately, once my dad caught wind of what I was doing and with whom I was beginning to hang out, my rebellious era came to a quick end. My dad was not a Nelson Mandela. If he couldn’t strike back at the people who dehumanized him, then he could vent his anger on a daughter who got mixed up with people who descended from the people who dehumanized him.

My dad’s wrath didn’t dissuade me from secretly listening to any news that seeped out regarding South Africa. During my twenties, I heard about Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress. To say this man and  his companions possessed grit and heart was and will always be an understatement. Years revealed how he survived an insane government and lived to help dismantle the monster called “apartheid.” He chose not to take the path of retribution once he was in the position to do so. Who can walk behind that?

As I google the Internet in search of news regarding the strike of the fast food workers, I realize we Americans have shaped our own economical apartheid. You hang out with your own kind, speaking in terms of income — and you try like Hell not to slide down the income ladder. When people talk about race wars, you think, “Are those silly, psycho assholes still on that race war bullshit? Shit, we in the middle class have been taking it on the chin. Fuck that race war shit — we’re in a class war — and right  now, the truly wealthy are kicking  our asses pretty hard!”

The truly upsetting thing is that I haven’t been able to locate any news on how to support the fast food workers. Joining in the boycott, maybe? At least the students knew how to put enough pressure on their universities, so that the universities divested from South African gold mines. I heard that the strikes will only last for one day. If that is the case, then the fast food workers may wish to heed the words of Frederick Douglas who said, “Power concedes nothing.”

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