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.
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.