Mourning In (Black) America: When Will It End?
On this episode of democracy-ish, Danielle and Toure mourn the loss of Chadwick Boseman and talk politics as the presidential race enters its last 60 days.
Iconic actor Chadwick Boseman’s passing is a devastating blow in a year that’s already brought so much grief.
The Trump campaign’s latest strategy is to blame “Biden’s America” for the mess we’re in.
Even in a summer of nationwide protest, justice is elusive and police brutality continues unabated. How many more burdens must we bear?
It's yet another heartbreaking week in 2020, a year that began with the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and just got worse from there. Now, we’ve lost actor Chadwick Boseman, who died last Friday of cancer at 43.
Boseman was an extraordinary actor who embodied so many of our heroes on the screen, both real and imagined. But his death is a particularly hard blow at this moment.
“Black people have just lost so fucking much this year,” says Danielle. “One of the memes I saw this week was like, 2020 has taken everything except for racism and police brutality.”
The sudden loss of Boseman has us feeling “like we lost Wakanda when we needed it the most,” she adds. “I think that's what's weighing on all of us.”
That, and the incessant stupidity, lies and cruelty coming from the White House. Are we leading up to America’s series finale, or will democracy be renewed for another season?
Episode Highlights –– America: The Final Season
Black is king
So many Black folks took their kids to see “Black Panther” on its opening weekend –– “because it was an important film for them to see,” says Toure. “Here was this beautiful world and this beautiful man and this beautiful vision of Blackness. Our children needed to see that.”
And it wasn’t just kids who were empowered by Wakanda and its king.
“To see him die –– to take away this fictional Black king, it just really rips your heart out,” Toure adds. “I’m inspired by how much he accomplished in such a short time on Earth.”
Boseman’s turn as T’Challa was just one of his unforgettable roles. In Spike Lee’s latest film, “Da Five Bloods,” he’s the leader of a Black army squad in Vietnam. He teaches them how to survive in the jungle and become better soldiers as well.
“It’s a really beautiful portrayal of a man,” says Toure. “From ‘Black Panther’ to James Brown to Thurgood Marshall, he was an extraordinary actor. But there's something in you if people keep saying, we see you as a leader.”
Danielle agrees: “He embodied Black heroism.”
Wakanda forever and ever
In recent days, we’ve learned that Boseman was battling cancer while he filmed most of these iconic roles.
Cancer is a “physically and emotionally gutting disease,” says Danielle. “That he could conjure the spirit, passion and strength … to leave behind an extraordinary legacy that allowed us to ask ourselves, even in his death, about the kind of impact and purpose we're having.”
Boseman must have been in extraordinary pain during these performances. In retrospect, Danielle thinks that he was faced with “the question we all existentially ask ourselves at one time or another: If you had a short time to live, what is your life going to look like?”
She says that Boseman “answered it over and over again, showing up as his most extraordinary Black excellent self.”
Make ‘Biden’s America’ great again?
Wakanda is quite literally the exact opposite of the dystopia perpetrated by America’s right wing.
“I saw this sign on the street the other day that said, Biden's America: rioting and looting,” Toure says.
“Is he president right now? I'm confused,” Danielle replies.
She’s not alone. Trump and his supporters frame today’s America as Biden's –– “as if Trump is running as the insurgent,” Toure notes. “As if Biden is the incumbent overseeing a wrecked America.”
Trump’s argument sounds something like this: When I become president, I will solve COVID and I will fix the burning American cities.
“I'm like, no –– that’s your current responsibility and you are failing at it,” Toure adds. “And by the way, American cities are not on fire. You're just saying they are. What are we really talking about?”
Danielle points out that Joe Biden spoke this week about how Trump is acting as if he’s a “bystander in his own presidency.”
When he tells us Biden's America will be dangerous, she thinks: “Motherfucker, we were in Biden's America. It was called the Obama–Biden administration. I don't remember shit being in flames or white vigilantes stalking the streets.”
COVID’s the real ‘fire’
Life wasn’t perfect when Obama was president, Toure says. After all, #BLM took shape in response to the murders of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin.
But he agrees that the right-wing talking point –– we should fear what Biden would do to America –– “is a bizarre argument,” especially when they’re also telling us we need Trump to rescue us from what’s happening right now.
“I'm not sure why people in the suburbs would believe that. There's just not a coherent argument from the right, or even from the Trump administration, about why he should be reelected.
“If you could actually impose ‘law and order,’ we wouldn't be here right now. And American streets, frankly, are on fire … with COVID-19 –– which he’s not doing anything about.”
The most terrifying ‘mascot’
Our president, who repeatedly tweets about “law and order,” sees 17-year-old murderer Kyle Rittenhouse as a victim. White conservatives look at him as their “new mascot,” Danielle says.
“Rittenhouse is a hardcore MAGA supporter who was recently photographed in the front row at a Trump rally,” says Toure. “He is inspired by Trump to do these things. This is the way Trumpism becomes a direct threat to our lives. There are people who want to kill us because of it.”
Danielle notes that $300,000 has allegedly been raised to support Rittenhouse.
“They act as if he was a soldier in the fucking army, and he was drafted into going to Kenosha … but when you arm yourself, drive across another state, insert yourself in a peaceful protest and open fire, that's called premeditated murder.”
Rittenhouse’s actions are part of “the right's continuing fantasy of injuring, harming and murdering left-wing protesters,” says Toure. “This is why we saw that maniac drive into protesters [in Charlottesville].”
Faulty Fox ‘logic’
When Trump loses, says Toure, “Trumpism will not die.”
We should prepare to encounter even more armed, angry people railing “against the country they feel is being stolen from them, because they’ll assume the election was stolen when they lose.”
Danielle wonders: “Where are they getting their mail from these days? I'm just curious. Do they get a Trump flyer that says the election will be stolen?”
She thinks anyone who believes Biden is working to rig the 2020 election has to “suspend logic or get a lobotomy.”
Toure’s response: “Well, suspending logic and having a lobotomy is another phrase for watching Fox News.”
If you’re in the right-wing bubble, populated with the denizens of Fox as well as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin –– “you don’t even have to go as far as Alex Jones,” he adds. “You think OANN is real. Maybe you think QAnon isn’t that crazy. Then, yeah –– Trump has primed the pump.”
As Trump works to convince his base that Dems will steal the election, this sort of chaos is exactly what our Russian overlord craves, says Toure.
“No matter which side wins … this is exactly what Putin wants: for Americans to lose faith in democracy itself.”
Danielle argues that “This isn't an accident. It’s a Kremlin experiment. Donald Trump … was chosen for a reason. He’s Putin, and the right's, Trojan horse –– an empty vessel in which to fill up all their ideals, all their worst selves.”
Toure thinks the Republican Party “has embarrassed itself for all of history, by standing down when somebody who doesn’t stand up for conservative values took over their party and drove them off a moral and intellectual cliff.”
Now, maintaining power is the only thing that binds Republicans together. And they’ve followed Trump faithfully, even when he personally attacks them.
If you’ve ever wondered how the Nazis came to power, this is it.
(Very stable) strokes of genius
The last week wrought even more weird and/or enraging stories.
Jerry Falwell, Jr., stepped down from his post as president of Liberty University after an embarrassing sex scandal (possibly held off by Trump blackmailing him), and Drudge reported that the First Lady used a private email server.
Meanwhile, the president preemptively told us he definitely didn’t have any strokes.
“His heart, his cholesterol, his arteries, have got to be clogged as a motherfucker,” says Toure. “I understand why he hasn’t gotten COVID, because he's in a literal bubble, but his heart––”
“Everybody around him has COVID,” Danielle replies. “Everybody! And I'm pretty sure he has had COVID.”
“I don't know,” Toure says. “But as dumb as he is, he didn't actually take the hydroxy. He didn't actually drink the bleach.”
Danielle agrees. “He's definitely not using it on his skin. It's orange and peeling.”
Are you there, God? ‘It’s me, Toure’
Toure is feeling especially reflective this week.
“Dear God, it's me, Toure,” he says. “Quick question, sir: Why didn't you take this pain away from us? Why did you make us carry this burden? Why is there only one pair of footsteps on the beach right now? Don't tell me Jesus is carrying me. Because Trump is still in the White House.”
The burden is too much to bear, he explains. Trump isn’t the only weight –– there’s “COVID, murder hornets, multiple tornadoes at once, a man in a jetpack flying through the air [over LAX]––”
“Hurricanes,” Danielle pipes in.
“The post office,” Toure adds. “My God, what is happening? Where's the good? This was the year we protested against police brutality. And even still, we’re oversubscribed on the number of incidents we have to mourn.”
We don't talk about Rayshard Brooks anymore, he points out. “We went straight to Jacob [Blake] from Ahmaud and Breionna and George Floyd.”
Re: Jacob Blake — Trump’s off-putting remarks
In a typically unhinged, yet somehow still shocking interview with Fox’s Laura Ingraham, Donald Trump compared the shooting of Jacob Blake to … golfing.
Trump said that Rusten Sheskey, the officer who shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back, ‘choked,’ “the way one would do on a three-foot putter,” says Toure.
But Trump didn't “choke,” Toure argues. “He did exactly what he intended to do. He nailed the shot.”
Danielle thinks the reality of Trump's shitty analogy is even worse.
“If he didn't choke, Jacob Blake would be dead. You’ve got to follow the train here. He wasn't able to complete the stroke.”
That’s particularly apparent when we see heavily armed white people –– “white men, let's be clear” –– from Dylann Roof to Kyle Rittenhouse arrested peacefully. Sometimes they’re even treated to a burger on the way to the police station.
And yet unarmed Black citizens like George Floyd, Elijah McClain and Breionna Taylor are murdered in cold blood.
“In America, being Black is a crime in and of itself,” says Toure. “We are guilty until proven innocent.”
Gross ‘domestic terrorism’
These themes are central to Isabel Wilkerson's new book “Caste,” an exploration of how racial violence is a form of domestic terrorism, “served on bodies that inhabit the lowest caste in order to keep them there,” Toure explains. “To perpetuate that sense that we are lesser than.”
For every video of an unarmed Black person murdered, we see one of a white person, usually male, screaming at police officers and flouting the idea that we should treat law enforcement with respect.
However, it seems that cops across the country usually find a way to de-escalate when they’re faced with white bodies.
That’s why white people should “ask themselves really hard questions –– like why they’re okay with so much Black death,” Danielle says.
“It is constantly painful to interface with the way this country treats us,” Toure adds. “And to see the way … white people will defend and explain away racism.”
Even our friends on the left sometimes fall into that trap, he notes. “They may say things like, well, he wasn't following the law. But … these are moments of domestic terrorism meant to put Black people in their place, the same way lynching was decades ago.”
‘Too big to rig’: Let’s do this
“The more deeply I think about America, the more thoroughly depressed I am,” says Toure. “At least this week, it feels like we are falling into a tangle of thorns that will be extraordinarily hard to untangle.”
He sees Trumpism as a “cancer we’ll have to spend years rooting out, as long as there are enablers like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson.”
Danielle concurs: “It's an uphill battle. And it's one that we have to continue fighting. So rest up everyone. Because it's 60-some-odd days until fucking Election Day, and we need to make it too big to rig.”
As always, we'll be back next week –– even if it’s from a bunker, “regardless of whether there’s a country,” she adds.
“But let's all pray about it.”
Get your weekly rundown of the presidential election from a Black progressive point of view on democracy-ish. Consider Danielle Moodie and Toure as your tour guides, flight attendants and/or therapists as we move through this dumpster fire of an election cycle — together!