Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Can a Society Come Clean?

Change sometimes comes quietly on little mouse feet, creeping in almost before anyone is aware. A change in attitudes doesn’t work like that. It comes in a tsunami or not at all.

As BLACK LIVES MATTER finally resonates not merely across our continent but across seas, we realize we have lived comfortably with lines around particular populations since our populations were big enough to form classes. Some said they were shocked to discover the atrocities that were being committed against Blacks. Even more surprised, perhaps, were those who suddenly realized they hadn’t noticed the double standards we have accepted between rich (most frequently white) men and everybody else since before any of us were born.

Recently, as my husband and I watched BOMBSHELL about the sexual harassment case against Roger Ailes, I was struck by the resonance between what the women at FOX NEWS had endured and the atrocities we were bemoaning in the street. Were women at FOX murdered? Not that time. But they were degraded and used—like the women in Hollywood under Harvey Weinstein—like minorities across the globe.

People think we can sweep away the police departments and solve problems of injustice to Blacks. They sneer at the officers who didn’t come forward. But those people have no clue how complicated the problem is. When Megyn Kelly was considering joining the women who came out publicly with their stories of how Roger Ailes had exploited them when they needed jobs, her staff reminded her they would be fired with her if she spoke. As a name celebrity of sorts, she would probably be able to move on to positions elsewhere. They, on the other hand, would have no incomes, no way to support themselves or their families. If the Me, Too movement hadn’t risen, everyone who spoke out might have been blackballed throughout the industry as troublemakers. (Perhaps they are?)

TV cop shows dance around the police “brotherhood” and its loyalties. But officers who report their peers for gross misconduct are often ostracized—not merely in their own department but in any department across the country they attempt to join. Some are harassed, endangered, fall prey to accidents (things haven’t transformed that much since SERPICO). They lose their livelihood, their friends, sometimes their homes. Certain of those whose on-the-job crimes were heinous are warmly embraced by departments that sympathized with their racism. Only now, when the wave of justice seems to be washing lots of dirty laundry do determined whistleblowers dare come forward. Change demands sacrifice. The women who fought for women’s vote physically suffered for their gains.

As I suggested, only a tsunami of change can last. In five years we’ll have a clue how much difference these demonstrations and lawsuits and exposés made. We’ll know if we truly began to value elementary and secondary school students or women or immigrants or any of the myriad minorities that make our population diverse and interesting. We’ll know if we could be bought off by shiny trinkets or if we stayed the course, standing behind Native Americans, clean waters, and clear skies.

One comment on “Can a Society Come Clean?

  1. Frances Sullivan
    July 4, 2020


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