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Sadness, Grief and Anger--From Selma to Ferguson to Baltimore

 Debilyn Molineaux, Coffee Party USA President

As I write this today, I am watching what is happening in Baltimore as reactions to a death of an unarmed man in police custody has led to violence. I grieve for our loss of community -- or the potential of community -- as we retraumatize each other, over and over again. I'm angry that my "it's not my problem" attitude has contributed to today's violence.

I'm privileged to have grown up in a world where my contributions are wanted, valued and needed. What if I had grown up in poverty, without one or both parents, where violence was part of everyday life, mental illness was untreated and addiction just a way to cope? What if I had grown up in a community where justice was fleeting or missing? Making a contribution to others would be not just more challenging, but perhaps impossible.

The history of our country has been an ongoing push-pull of valuing tradition (i.e. the way things have been, both good and bad) and valuing progress (i.e. improving lives, markets, profits, access).  And yet, entire communities of our country have been caught in a cycle of poverty, violence and injustice.

A current "hot topic" of my paid work is criminal justice reform. This issue is made up of many parts including

  • The School to Prison Pipeline
  • Mandatory Sentencing
  • Civil Asset Forfeiture
  • Mental Illness
  • Addiction
  • Bullying
  • Childhood Trauma and more.

Our over-incarceration and disproportionate sentencing for minor, nonviolent crimes has led to an expectation of and belief in the Criminal Injustice System, where the privileged can get away with anything and the poor cannot. This is especially true in African American and Hispanic communities.

How can Coffee Party USA make a difference? This topic is not part of our money in politics focus...yet money in politics is what has led to this societal mess. Can the Coffee Party USA commitment to civility, respect and dignity be one path to breaking these cycles? Yes.

Making a contribution to those around me is how I know I am valuable. Making meaningful connections with others is how I value them. It is through our connections and contributions to others that we recognize our own humanity. We are not alone.

The Arab spring was sparked by one man's self-immolation after a lifetime of being bullied by corrupt authorities. It will likely be decades before stable governments are formed. There is rage in our neighbors over similar treatment. This rage is what gets captured by television cameras and spreads both rage and fear like wildfire. Some good friends have commented that we need to burn out the old to make way for the new. Let's "burn out" the corruption, not the people, property or neighborhoods.

Let us make our revolution in the United States a revolution of peace. Let's treat each other with dignity and call out corruption in all its forms. Let's reach out to one another instead of turning away. Let's make contributions to each other by listening to the pain, the sorrow, the anger.  Let's hold each other accountable for improving the lives of every person. We each have our contribution to make. Let's make it together.