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 had retired, but for all of us the time is now to claim the blessing of a Second Wind. We have the experience, the investment of our time, ideas and faith. We must use it. 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 finds the vigor to press on at top performance and win.
For me, however, I am sure that my Second Wind is God-given. There is no way I could have fought back serious health crises, financial disasters, depression, heartbreak and still rolling if there was not a miracle-working God in my behalf.
We have a Second Wind. 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 in the core of our being a Second wind. 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 or by Trump appointed robed who could just as well have KKK regalia underneath their judicial robes. We were the ones clubbed by red-faced cops, chased by their dogs, our clothes torn to rags by fire hoses.
When Barack Obama was elected the nation’s first black president, I thought our civil and human rights movement had 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 as we did in the pre-1960s era..
We were also on the front lines inside corporate America, soaking up the pain of being the “first in.” Some like myself 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 some of us thought we had just about arrived at a Promised Land, where we could reap the harvest of our endless toil, sweat and tears building this country.
As a person who have lived in Washington or nearby suburbs for three decades, it never escapes me that slaves helped build the White House and were auctioned off on street corners nearby. Yet, by the nineties and the beginning of the 21st Century we were living the lyrics of WE SHALL OVERCOME. It was as if we no longer had to sing the song. WE BECAME THE SONG.
How mistaken we were . It didn’t take too long for the true colors of the worst of our nation to reappear. The new haters vowing to Make America Great Again elected their man, Donald Trump to the White House. And as he revealed himself as a nationalist and sided with White Supremacist we began to understand what “going back” really meant. It means labeling and treating black and brown people as “the other,” the less than, the disregarded, the inferior, the unfit.”.
Donald Trump led the recasting of black and brown people as undesirables with his venomous and vulgar rhetoric. Black footballs who kneeled in protest of the continual shooting of unarmed black men by police, he called “SOB’s,” he called our leaders, such as Rep. Maxine Waters, and CNN host Don Lemon, people of “low intellect,” he said that those of us of African heritage are from “s-hole,” countires and he characterized predominately black Baltimore Maryland as a place unfit for human habitation.
Hispanics fleeing murderous rampages in their country were labeled rapists and murderers and thousands of their children who reached our borders were separated and held in cages as official policy of the United States. If ever asked would they allow their children to be traumatized and abused in such manners not one of the Trump network of rich white men would agree their little ones should receive the same treatment.
Take our country 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? Before Trump was in office he expressed his style of treating women, which was to grab them by their private parts and then you can do just about anything you want with them,
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? How far can this country decline?
The GOP now performs like a herd of docile elephants being led around by their trunks of their Trump circus masters. The entire circus would be hilarious if it were not for the danger ahead. We have a president, who governs as a dictator, above the law, who as a commander-in-chief protects the interest of a foreign policy, Russia, more than the United States.
Is the best we can do is to have a president, who fights vigorously against revealing his taxes, who does not obey subpoenas and orders staff members to do the same, whose lawyer, Michael Cohen, is in jail for paying off a porno-star at Trump’s direction, and one of his current lawyers said in court that because Trump is president he could shoot someone on Broadway and not be prosecuted nor investigated for it.
The sad and heart-breaking part of all this is there are millions of Republcians who will support Trump no matter who he hurts, no matter how much of our democracy and Constitution is trampled on, because the economy is still chugging along and blacks and brown people are being pushed down, which gives some a great feeling of superiority.\
I don’t know about you but good people have invested too much of our blood, sweat and tears to allow President Trump to continue destroying all what’s great about our nation: integrity, honest, dignity, and a basic desire for all of us to share in this great promise that WE are a nation under God, for the people and by the people.
We cannot watch in silence. It is too much to bear.
We the 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) relies on Social Security for more than half of their income and one in five (20 percent) relies on the program 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. Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 are heading into retirement in droves (approximately 10,000 a day), but many of them are financially unprepared t to live above the poverty line when they retire., which is an expected calamity in the next 10 years.
WE can not just sit here and just watch the tide go by. 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. So we 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. Victory is ours, if we fight for it.