American rage, multi-layered




By Caitlin Kelly

Have you ever had a pousse-café?

It’s a drink that contains two to seven layers of alcohol, added by weight, to create a colorful array of stripes in one glass.


America’s rage is a pousse-café, with so, so many layers.


People are being tear-gassed and shot by police with rubber bullets.

Protestors, including professional journalists, have been targeted by police and permanently blinded.

Stores have been attacked and destroyed and looted, from mass market Target to luxury brands like Chanel.

Some Americans are appalled, astonished, gobsmacked.

Not me.

Not millions.




A classic image, taken by the late photographer Bernie Boston



There are so many layers to American rage now:

— the endless lethal parade of African Americans who are shot and killed by police (ooops, wrong apartment!) or hunted down by gun-happy civilians, and here are only a tiny few of them: George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery…

— the daily fears this has created, for generations, that simply being black, going for a walk, walking too fast or in the “wrong” neighborhood or wearing a hoodie or even birding in Central Park, is an invitation, as it is, for some people to wield their white privilege and entitlement and choose to endanger or end others’ lives.

— the “talk” every black parent has to have with their children, especially teen males, about how to walk through their lives on eggshells because so many others will choose to see their basic existence in the same spaces as a threat.

— the income inequality that has kept so many Americans at such deep disadvantage in a nation whose comforting myth is “just work harder!”

— the extraordinary costs of attending even a public university or college, acquiring massive debt that dogs graduates for decades, even as they drift into poorly-paid jobs that make it impossible to repay those loans, and loans that — unlike any other — cannot be discharged by declaring bankruptcy.

— health disparities that have killed many more people of color thanks to COVID-19 because POC have underlying health conditions (“co-morbidities” in medspeak) that left their bodies more vulnerable, like obesity, asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure.

— 100,000 Americans — with many more to come — already dead of COVID-19.

— a Federal minimum wage of $7.25 that has not been raised since 2009; only 29 of 50 states have made theirs higher, more than $11/hour.

— extortionate costs for health insurance.

— the loss of millions of jobs.

— the loss for millions of their health insurance coverage — because that’s how many Americans get the only coverage they can afford, when their employer picks up some of its cost (i..e. benefits.)

— widespread police brutality, even blinding permanently some protestors, including journalists

— a deep, abiding despair at the lack of political leadership, and shocking passivity on all sides, to address any of this.


It’s a drink that tastes very, very bitter.


16 thoughts on “American rage, multi-layered

  1. Don’t forget a broken legal system that unfairly charges and incarcerates people of color. Brock Turner was only given six months for a brutal rape, and served three. Ethan Couch, the affluenza teen from Texas, was given ten years probation for four counts of manslaughter. And just recently, a first grade teacher from my state was given only eight years for 34 counts of fondling and inappropriately touching his female students. All of them were white.
    Yet Breona Taylor’s boyfriend was charged first degree assault and attempted murder of a police officer after he thought the officers who killed his girlfriend were intruders. Walter McMillan and Anthony Ray Hinton, who were featured in the movie Just Mercy, were held on death row for years or decades based on faulty evidence and testimony. And of course, George Floyd was choked to death because a deli shop employee thought his twenty dollar bill was fake (were they a secret agent for the Treasury or something?).

  2. Yes – a bitter drink indeed. There are so many very serious issues and that malevolent orange freak has only aided in exposing them (not to effect solutions, of course!) so that he can revel in exacerbating them.
    It looks a lot as if the US is in danger of falling apart.

    1. Jan Jasper

      When the bankruptcy code was overhauled, might have been something like 20 years ago, one of the changes was that student loans were no longer dischargeable in bankruptcy

  3. an apt metaphor for what we are currently experiencing. like you, I’m not surprised, it’s way overdue, but the actual timing and tipping point in things like this, are always a surprise. I am hopeful this is the beginning of an actual change for the better.

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