Words by Jon Stewart
How has this system become so corrupt and corroded that we can’t anymore as a people do the right thing? Just do the right fucking thing? How did we get here?
We have to diagnose the REAL problem underlying this moment. This horrible crime and murder sparked something, but what's underlying that is not just the racial inequality and the inequities, but this whole idea of: “we build our society economically from the top down”. That's the shit that's got to change.
When you're in a pandemic and people are dying, and then we say “well, who are the essential workers? Who are the ones that are the fabric of our society and culture that keep the wheels turning and the trains running?” I'm like, “Who are those people?” Well, it turns out they're the most poorly compensated people in our society. The investor class has gotten the break, and the working class has gotten minimized. We've devalued work while overvaluing investment. You should be able to work a job and not be poor. I don't think we can have the structural change until we flip that.
I was talking to a friend of mine who really was grievously wounded in war. We were talking about coronavirus, and I was like, “I feel like I'm in fucking danger when I go out!” and he says “Yeah, welcome to being downrange.” It's not something that we as Americans would ever consider for our lives. We're really sheltered in a lot of ways to what a vast majority the world faces, but also what a vast majority of our own citizens face in terms of having lives that they feel are built on sand. So his point was, that's what it feels like when you're in a war, but I signed up for that. But like bus drivers and grocery store workers? They had to decide: I need this money more than I need to protect my life, and maybe the health of my family. What a terrible position to have to be in!
And what it makes you realize is, how much money it takes to “ante up” to the American Way of life. If you just want to “buy in” to play a hand, what’s your ante? Well, now they say, “You got to go to college.” So, you're talking about a $200,000 ante just to get in the fuckin’ game!
Now think about black people not being able to build equity and wealth through generations of government policy that excluded them. From whether it's the Homestead Act or the Federal Housing Administration or the GI Bill. All these government interventions were made to help white families build equity over generations. Black people were EXPLICITLY excluded from that. So, add that on top of the amount of money that you—and you start to see the hole that we've dug for people. And if we don't address that hole, we're not doing anything.
The project of this next generation is to build a stronger foundation - a granite bearing for everyone to stand on. So that there's a few people standing on Mount Everest and everybody else is in quick sand isn't the way that we run the society.