Monday, July 15, 2013

Race and Real Estate: America's Deadly Partnership

Over Australian radio came an American woman's voice, muffled by the distance between us, but the words grew in menace, their certainty of power over- reaching the 23000 miles of ocean they had to travel: "he had every right to shoot, we hired him to protect our property and that was what he was doing." Race and real estate, gated housing estates and stand your ground home protection laws, conservative money pouring into think tanks that come up with laws that ensure America's apartheid will have deadly force behind it. For all the years of my American life, I have seen what happens when protective capitalism claims its exclusiveness, what bodies fall at the gate, at the wall. The jungle out there, white paradise in here. A teen-age boy in a hoody, his face bare, runs into a hired mercenary who himself would not be allowed to live behind the walls he is so fervently protecting, with a gun in his pocket that burns against his thigh, this time I will get you, thug, he says, this time I will carry out the ethnic cleansing I was hired for and maybe, I will be one of them and not one of you. Six white women, like an American tragic chorus, perform their ordained racial script and other mothers grasp their sons and warn and warn and rage and rage. Obama is trapped in his political skin, a King Lear who can only scream his anger, his sorrow on a solitary plain blasted by national winds.

Too much, too much, too many, too many--the dismantling of the Voting Rights protection laws is a national version of the gated community that condones the killing of Trayvon Martin. Property rights and white race rights, property rights and wealthy protection concerns--big cities do it by pricing living spaces in the millions and billions.

Who might you have become, Trayvon, the lawyer who along with others dismantles once and for all the legal privileges of the corporate class, the father of daughters and sons who took the sun full on their face and laughed into life, the lover of many or of one, the poet who still dreams of rivers as deep as our souls. American crumbles a little more, its history shot through with betrayals of its own stated principles, from the death of Allende, the CIA support for the apartheid regime and its arrest of Mandela, once a young boy himself who was not allowed into his own streets. Build your prisons higher and higher for those who manage to survive their teens but it is yourself that is imprisoned--violence stalks your dreams, national and internationally, between citizens and between countries. Race and real estate, conservative dreams of who is really human--but we still dream of rivers as deep as our souls, rivers of refusal.  

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