Tuesday, August 09, 2016

"White House" Slavery and homelessness

For many the most searing line in the speeches given at either political convention was delivered by First Lady Michelle Obama when she said, “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.”

In another way, she and all of us are enslaved in this “White House” called America. We are, in a sense, our own slaves to a history and culture of slavery.

We are slaves to debt, slaves to war, slaves to consumerist desires, slaves to ignorance, slaves of an economy destroying the planet, slaves to wealthy elites, slaves to false, unquestioned values.

That was my extended take-away from the Obama speech until, without giving it much thought, I shared my heady little exposition with John Brown.

John is the homeless Street Roots newspaper vendor who sells the advocacy tabloid in front of the Food Front grocery in Hillsdale.

John is homeless because of crippling disability.

He is also whippet smart. The man is encyclopedic in his knowledge of the arts and literature. He recites Shakespeare with ease and affection. It’s as though he is on first name terms with The Bard, whom he calls “Willie the Shake.”

So I am rambling on with my boundless thoughts about the First Lady’s speech with John when I get to the part  waking up in a house built by slaves.

Suddenly I am confronted with the fact that John doesn’t wake up in a house at all.

Nor do his fellow Street Roots vendors and the hundreds for whom the Street Roots publication speaks so powerfully.

They are slaves to extreme poverty on our streets, in our parks and under our bridges.

Their plight today is another “White House” disgrace. Each day, with our eyes wide open, we witness their plight…and do nothing.

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