This Disease is Killing us All

I don’t think we can solve any problem we have until we have equality. We can’t fix our justice system or change our laws about drugs or make decisions about what to do with our military or our environment or how we’re going to deal with economic injustice until we fix the problem of African Americans being targeted, abused, imprisoned and MURDERED by the people who are supposed to protect us. The War on Drugs is largely about racism, anyway. Voter suppression, too. All this hatred against the poor–the people who draw welfare–usually amounts to the hatred of women. Our sex lives, pregnancies, and parenthood is under constant scrutiny of the justice system and our lawmakers. It gets in the way of our access to birth control, our access to abortion, our access to quality prenatal care, our access to ANY postnatal care, our ability to provide for our children. Women are in jail for drug addiction, being in abusive relationships with men who also abuse their children, writing bad checks, and now, apparently, being unable to pay utility bills. Their children are taken from them and put into foster care if they don’t have family who can take care of them, and any future plans they had about getting to a place where they can “raise their kids right” are almost utterly evaporated.

We have a problem with the framework for all of our discourse, and that framework has to do with white male supremacy. It needs to be dismantled, completely. The answers it’s providing are not the right answers. They are old ideas that the old rich white men who have always run our country have always been discussing. I think we’ve heard enough from them. We’re going in terrible circles. We are seeking to shame and punish each other, instead of helping each other. We’d rather take a woman’s baby away from her and put her in jail for not having electricity than putting systems in place to ensure that every child has electricity in her home. We don’t deal with problems, we only punish and condemn. Do you know why that is? It is because the problem, at its center, is white male supremacy. fixing it isn’t going to be easy, but it is necessary. Whenever we’re using the Us v. Them rhetoric in our politics, the “Us” means rich white men and the “Them” mean everyone else–including the millions of poor white people who are often voting against their own interest because of racism, sexism, and bigotry.

Teri McGrath


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