Free, White and 21: Livin' large in the USA

Free, White and 21:  Livin' large in the USA

It was the late 70’s and YMCA was a staple at bar mitzvahs and weddings.  Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight was in heavy rotation on Chicago’s The Loop radio station and Hip Hop was on the rise.

About that time my fledgling career crossed paths with that of a man I will call John, whose career was already in high gear.  We became friends and I learned a lot from John.

Our conversations spread like ripples on a pond.  The first time John said, We’re free, White and 21, I thought it sounded kind of cool.

Yeah, I am.

Nothing good ever came from decisions I made based upon that rationale, but I took to using the phrase as my own.

Then I thought about it.  Free, White and 21?  What the heck does that even mean?

It dawned on me that proclaiming my free-White-and-21-ness was not at all innocuous.  It may have been the most racist thing I ever said.

Being free and White are are good things in America, but that is not the case for everyone and dismissing that fact is the exact definition of White privilege.

We live our lives as if everything is great because it’s great for us.  The problems of the less fortunate are not ours.

Except that they are.

Free and White is both tacit and blatant acknowledgement of our good fortune.  We were never slaves and being White, we are free to plunder America’s bounty.

According to the Bible, which I take with a grain of kosher salt, my people were slaves in Egypt.

Thousands of years later, we still find ourselves reviled, feared and demonized; slowly waking up to the rise of anti-Semitism here in the Land of the Free.

Make no mistake.

The rise in hate crimes against Jews, Blacks and immigrants has skyrocketed in the last four years and given an unprecedented voice bolstered by the former President of the United States.

John occasionally comments on my posts, finding incomprehensible my constant railing against social injustice.

You’ve got a great life, Bob. Why don’t you talk about that?

John, I’m just not that guy.

I can never unsee the look in Derek Chauvin’s eyes as he knelt on George Floyd’s neck with indifference as Floyd called out for his mother with his last gasp of air.

It was murder, pure and simple and when I see a piece of shit like Tucker Carlson say that there is no physical evidence that Chauvin killed George Floyd, I want to reach through the TV screen and rip out his vocal chords.

Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me – Matthew 25:40

Surprised that an atheist can read the Bible without bursting into flames?

I’m not a vegan, but if you tell me you are one, I would think you a liar if I see you eating a cheeseburger.

It is hypocritical to call yourself a Christian and not speak out against the injustices suffered by the George Floyd’s of our world.

Or the Laquan McDonalds, Michael Browns, Breonna Taylors, Tamir Rices or Philando Castiles.

Obviously, there’s not a whole lot I can do about any of it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. It certainly doesn’t mean that I should keep quiet about it.

Sure, it’s great to be free, White and 21 in America.  Even better to be free, equal and 21.

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