SPOTLIGHT: Baby-boomers and EVOLUTIONARY elders
We are the nation’s seniors, the elders, the baby-boomers, estimated at 78 million strong and growing. Some of us have been running so long and hard for human rights, justice and equality that we ran out of breath. But because of the crises we see before us, we now know it was only a pause, a moment in time to regroup, restore and resurrect. In our spirit and in our soul we are troubled that the future we have so diligently fought to create is tragically deteriorating. Some of us never left the battlefield. Others retired, butwe have the experience, the investment of our time, ideas and faith. We must use it. The time is now for us to claim the blessing of a Second Wind.
A Second Wind is usually a sports phenomenon in distance running whereby athletes out of breath find the inner strength to continue or those who have been counted out as past their prime suddenly find the vigor to press on at top performance and win.
We have a Second Win. We are caught in the vortex of the Zeitgeist of our times. The winds of despair have troubled us to the point we can no longer remain silent. We cannot sleep walk through history.
We feel a Second wind in the core of our being. We have been summoned by the cries of children going hungry in one of the richest nations in the world, the desperation of fathers and single mothers unable to provide for their families, the heartless, shameless, cruel corporate games that forced millions of homeowners into foreclosures. It is all too much to bear this shame in silence.
We have been called. Some of us have been silent or have not spoken loud enough, but now we see the gains that we fought for being taken away or readied for the ax of the budget executioners. We are the ones clubbed by red-faced cops, chased by their dogs, our clothes torn to rags by fire hoses. We thought our movement created the laws, the bureaucracy, even the spirit that meant citizens of this great nation would never experience such reckless abandonment and economic terrorism again.We were not wrong, but we must remain vigilant. We must resurrect our storytelling legacy to the modern options of technology.
We were on the front lines inside corporate America, soaking up the pain of being the “first in.” Some of us were called “tokens” and treated as such. Often our contributions were downplayed, our brilliance rejected, our achievements erased; yet we stayed the course, knowing that like our forefathers and foremothers,who outlasted even worst brutality, a better day would come.
We are the nation’s baby-boomers; some of us are the black ones. We are veterans of many wars, those on foreign shores and those here at home. We thought a truce had been declared. When we saw how struggle, protests and martyrdom had changed our nation to where an African-American had been elected President, some of thought we had just about arrived at a Promised Land.
We were mistaken that the true colors of the worst of our nation would disappear. We believe in freedom of speech, but speech that spawns hatred and turns back the clock of progress is not acceptable. These new haters call themselves the Tea-Party. They are counter-revolutionaries vowing “to take our country back.” Back to where? To separate but equal? To re-invent the workplace where women will be either the coffee-makers or recast as desperate housewives? Will our beloved country drift back to a Dred Scott decree, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that blacks had no rights that whites had to honor? Will this ideology expand to a mandate where only the rights and the rites of the rich elites shall be honored and respected?
The GOP now performs like a herd of docile elephants being led around by their trunksof their Tea-Party circus masters. The entire circus would be hilarious if it were not for the danger ahead. The Tea-Party is soobsessed with their stated goal of destroying President Barack Obama that they will not stop at bringing down the national tent holding all Americans to serve their number one goal.
Just as obsessed as this group is to ensure President Obama fails, we must be just as obsessed in ensuring that he serves his two terms. Why should President George W. Bush, who led the nation into a war that claimed the lives of nearly 5,000 U.S. soldiers, countless Iraqis and raided our budgets of billions of dollars based on the lie of weapons of mass destruction, serve two terms? Yet on the other hand President Obama, who is winding down the two wars, is ensuring that millions who could not afford health care are now covered and is fighting a heated battle against corporate oligarchy should be denied the opportunity to continue to fight for the survival of the working poor and the middle class?
We cannot watch in silence. It is too much to bear, andcan feel the second wind.
We the black baby-boomers, the elders, the seniors are present and by necessity ready for action. We will not be victims. We will be victorious. We will not be invisible. We will be invincible. We will not step back or allow ourselves to be pushed back. Yes, our hair may be graying, our gait may be slower, but we are not ready to throw in the towel. We have come too far to quit.
We are in danger of speeding through life to an expected spectacular finish, only to see the rules changed and instead of a grand finale a crushing end.
One major barometer of this rude awakening is the Republicans fight to privatize Social Security and to defund Medicare to make it so punitive and overburdening for physicians that the elderly will not receive proper care. The other ploy is to deny seniors the critical lifeline of sustainable Social Security benefits, which we have paid into our entire working lives.
Thirty-five percent of all seniors rely on Social Security for their entire income. While the benefits are modest, they also provide a vital source of support to black women. Three out of four black women (74 percent) aged 75 and older rely on Social Security for at least half of their income and more than half (51 percent) rely on Social Security for all of their income. Even among black women aged 62-64, one in three (33 percent) relieson Social Security for more than half of their income and one in five (20 percent) relies on theprogram for all of their income.
New Census Bureau statistics show that in the United States, the wealthiest country in the world, one out of six elderly Americans are living below the federal poverty line. The study showed that 34 percent of elderly African American women and 43 percent of Hispanic women who live alone do so in poverty. This year the first of the baby Boomer generation will be turning 65 years of age. That means that ever increasing levels of the American population will be retired and no longer earning an income. Given that housing values, investment and pension funds have all been hard hit by the financial mess created by the GOPderegulation and slavish recapitulation to Wall Street which contributed to a devastating recession, an increasing number of seniors are being categorized at the nouveau poor.
With this massive tsunami approaching, we must respond politically, in the economic field and spiritually through our synagogues, mosques and churches. We must fight for fairness in hiring and promotions. We must challenge the cultural rot and all indignities affecting the lives of seniors.
The Bible tells us as seniors “our latter years will be better than our former years.” We must claim this promise through our faith and our work. WE, the revolutionary seniors, gave our blood, our tears and our ideas for a better American. We will fight not only for our own survival, but for a legacy that builds upon love not hate and continues our tradition of being stakeholders, if not shareholders, in a nation conceived by our founders as for the people and by the people.
Sowe are blessed with a Second Wind to keep on moving. God is not through with us yet. We will reason together. We won’t give up and we won’t give out. We will stand up, speak out, select as well as elect, spend our money with those who invest in us through jobs, business opportunities and a democratic ideology. We have a Second Wind and s Second Chance for victory. We will win.