When the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer hit the streets this week with the glaring headline “Buildings Matter, Too,” many felt that it embodied everything you need to know about America.
And they may be right. Statements like this are byproducts of a robust system that has consistently put capital above society in the scheme of values, a society where the destruction of private property raises more fury among some onlooker than the lives of millions of Black Americans who take to the streets daily with a target on their back.
It is precisely the Black American community — and its allies — who are in the majority on the streets, and who have demonstrated that this is no longer a matter of right or left, but rather a long-overdue revolution.
Obviously, the Inquirer stumbled badly. And the walkout of its employees that followed was an affirmation of how the voice on the streets screams louder.
Michelle Brown, owner of the Teaism restaurant near the White House, saw the source of her family’s livelihood in flames, and “before they put a word in her mouth,” as she wrote on Twitter, she simply declared, “Black Lives Matter.”
“It doesn’t matter how I feel. It’s not about me,” she told The Washingtonian. “There are 100,000 people dead. This guy had a policeman sit on his neck for nine minutes. These are horrible things that are happening that we’re going through in this country. So, for me, whatever it is that we have to cope with, I feel blessed and lucky every day that I’m in confinement here”.
Dan Simon, founder and co-owner of Founding Farmers, also expressed support for protesters after his restaurant was damaged last Saturday night, the Washington Post reported.
“My team and I stand firmly with the message of the protest. The rage is justified. I would rather it be expressed peacefully, but if I need to ‘suffer’ some broken property, let’s be real, that isn’t suffering,” he wrote on Twitter.
Hadley Douglas, owner of the Urban Grape storefront in Boston, saw the windows of her establishment smashed as thieves took advantage of the chaos that erupted after Sunday’s peaceful protest, the Boston Globe reported.
“[W]indows are not lives. Dreams deferred cause rage. Our window is broken but the roots of this are in 400 years of knees on necks,” wrote Douglas on social media.
When you live in a country where, in the midst of a pandemic, the government bails out large corporations while your chances of getting federal relief are one in millions, empathizing with those who take to the streets in the face of injustice is not too difficult.
As the days go by, the protests in the streets become an amalgam of frustrations and the weariness of a country that is no longer proud to be the capital of the world.