Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

Writings on Democracy, Social Justice, and Religion

“Still Marching and Working for Justice.”

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The march for justice today in Washington D.C. led by the Reverend Al Sharpton and other leaders from across the nation will once again call attention to the recent rash of deaths of black men and boys by police and the failure of the legal system to hold them accountable for their actions.

These and other marches are not “just for show” as one person wrongfully observed, but is part of a continuing legacy of nonviolently working for justice by denouncing such behaviors and invoking remedies that will bring a permanent end to them.

The accelerating protests across the globe by people of all races and nationalities are a continuing reminder of how viral and personal this matter has become for people everywhere.

The issue of justice is one that hits home for countless people and crosses racial, gender, vocational and cultural lines. For any real human beings who have hearts and souls that feel the pain of others who have been treated unjustly, these issues do not easily “fade to black.”

Even black athletes ala the spirit of the 1960s have registered their protest to these injustices and many other people of every swath and hue are chiming in because they are dismayed with the continual spiral of violence and bloodshed and the wrongful victimization and scapegoating of certain people.

Whether it is rape victims demonized for wanting justice for the intrusive and brutal violation of their bodies by their male attackers; poor people denied justice in receiving a living wage; Latinos and Hispanics denied justice in receiving equal rights as citizens of this country, same gender people seeking the right to live as other persons receiving full  human rights as Americans; black men denied justice in the right to breathe, walk the streets safely and to be considered innocent before guilty and the right not to be gunned down in cold blood by anybody because they look suspicious, or injustices ranging from the rights to clean air, clean water and the right to know whether our food is laden with poisonous chemicals that harm our health and environment, these protests are genuine expressions and a clarion call to bring an end to all forms of injustice. This also includes police officers unjustly labeled and demonized for crimes they did not commit.

Many of these injustices are directly connected to a hierarchical social and economic system which fosters and breeds lingering bias and divisions among various races and classes of people and celebrates unbridled greed which often values white lives over black lives, male power and privilege over female power and privilege, rich people over poor people, and which cultivates an “always for profit competitiveness” which supersedes and overrides cooperative systems of justice which create a world where everybody wins and where austerity for the masses is not continually eclipsed by prosperity of the wealthy and powerful.

The inherent disparities that foment injustices in our world are often structural and systemic and not always easily eradicated. Their sources and impact are far more complex than we often realize and their solutions are not simply black or white, but require complex, simple sustained long-term applications and remedies on a variety of levels.

The issues of retributive, distributive and restorative justice are at the forefront of people’s minds, hearts and souls today, and marching for justice to call attention to these issues are important acts of protest in a democratic society.

Americans have a right to register their disdain and dissent against those practices and beliefs that allow a culture of cruelty and hatred to flourish and reign, and which accedes a society of permissiveness that bedevils and be-damns virtually all black men as violent criminals, “barbaric monsters and enemy combatants” that you shoot first and question later, if still alive, and which allows such behaviors to become the uneventful, uncontested norms of black community policing in America.

The problem is due in part to the culture of suspicion and scapegoating that gives license to bigoted and biased behavior which says that it’s ok to target people of color for harm and which stereotypes and profiles virtually all black men as wanton criminals.

Willard Gaylin’s The Rage Within says The despised object is not the cause of the bigot’s pain but rather a part of the bigot’s solution. The person with a predisposition to hatred must create an object for his hatred; an object on which he can project his frustrations, his anger and his impotence. The despised group is not just the object of anger but the instrument for its relief.”

“Scapegoating,” says Gordon Allport, “allows us to find someone other than ourselves on whom to blame our misery…. that which scapegoating protects is our damaged self-image and our fragile self-respect.”

In his book “The Depleted Self,” Donald Capps says “When societies realize that something is terribly wrong with them-that they have become something very different from what they were originally envisioned to be-many resort to the strategy of scapegoating. They either identify one segment of the society as the cause of the problem and see that these persons are eliminated through execution or exile, or they sacrifice an obviously innocent member or members of the society to expiate the society’s guilt or to put moral force behind its vow to repent.”

The marches that will occur this weekend and in the future not only protest the slaying of black men and other victims of such wrongful acts but take issue with a society and culture which says that it’s ok to commit these acts with impunity because scapegoating is the right thing to do and the devalued, marginalized lives of black men and others mean nothing anyway.

There is good and bad in every group and most of us do not want to live in a society where such crimes and behaviors, which all too often have become a shameful part of the documented history of race relations in America, does not become the permanent norm for the treatment of black people and black community relations in America.

There are still too many good people of every color and persuasion in our country for the entire nation to be tainted and haunted with that prejudicial brush. There are still too many positive examples of black men in our society and many examples of good police officers who do their duty with dignity and honor.

Many people do care and that is why they are non-violently marching, protesting and giving voice to their concerns in Washington D.C., Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England and other parts of the world.

It gives healthy expression to the frustrations and anger that people have who still care about liberty and justice for all.

In the words of Elie Wiesel, “We may never be able to prevent every injustice but we should never fail to protest it.”

And the words of Martin Luther King Jr also still ring ever so true, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Let us keep marching and working and doing what’s needed to become and bring about the positive change that we wish to see in our world.

Without continuing forms of positive protest, we render our souls to permanent, indelible and ignominious defeat.

We all long for a world where we no longer will find the need to march for justice, but until then keep marching and working for justice until the positive change that we all seek will finally come to all people!

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