This is a very reactionary post, and the chief impetus is Mitt Romney’s New Hampshire Primary Victory speech. Besides his pandering to a delusional and ignorant constituency (people think the President can control the economy), Romney, and many others, insistent America can “return to its greatness.” I’m sorry, my Bachelor’s in African-American Studies not withstanding, when was this? I cannot recall anytime in American history in which I would consider it to be great. I have said before, and I will state it again, the world, including the United States, has never been better than it is today. We are living during America’s greatest time. Tomorrow will supplant today, and so forth. It may not seem that way, but it is, and it will. Today, more people have more opportunities than ever before. More people live in relative safety than ever before, but that does not equate to “Greatness”. Racial, gender, sexual, and other forms of discrimination are still rampant (even amongst, at one time, leading Presidential candidates). The gap between the “haves” and “have nots” has reached levels last seen just prior to the Great Depression. I am not the only one to voice this.
Steve McQueen’s latest film, Shame, best scene involves Michael Fassbender’s character, Brandon, walking with a love interest, Marianne, (played by Nicole Beharie) down a neon lit New York street (before we learned Marianne is from Brooklyn). **Potential Spoiler Alert (I think)** Brandon asks if there is any other time she should like to have lived in. After she hesitates, he offers his answer: he’s liked to be jazz musician in the 1960s. She rejects and gingerly espouses that there is no other time she’d rather live in than the now. Missing the subtext and trying to be cute, Brandon lightly scolds her, but she stands by her statement. One must puzzle over the idea of whether Brandon was familiar with the lives of Black jazz musicians in the 1960s? Furthermore, would Marianne work in the same office building as him? Could they comfortably walk down the street together, if they were in the 1960s? No. No. And probably not. (No wonder women and color folk are never the leads in time travel films.) Marianne knows, that her life would be drastically different, and not for the better, if it were the 1960s. She knows it would different if it were 1990 or even 2000, for that matter. It is implicit in her reluctance to answer, because she knows what women and people of color know:
America has never been better than it is now.
Mitt Romney and other candidates can talk about restoring America’s greatness, but all I hear “restore America to a time when people knew their places.” I am sorry Mr. Romney, I, and others like me, cannot allow America to regress. It took too long and too many lives to just get to this point, and will not turn back now.
Check out: “King of the Hill” Season 6, ep. 8; “The Chappell Show” Season 2, ep. 11