A lot has happened since the Beatles released the song ‘Come Together’ in 1969. Back then, we thought we conquered racism, sexism, and segregation with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It was a time of community unrest over the Vietnam war and civil rights. When the war ended in 1975, the troops came home to a country simmering in political turmoil.
But Americans were beginning to change. Our whiteness identity was fading. Black, brown, and white service men and women fought and served side-by-side, building lifetime bonds. It’s hard to hate someone for the color of their skin when your lives depend on each other. People of all races were demanding our government to legislate fairness and equity for all.
Conservatives saw their political power threatened by people uniting behind human rights causes. They feared the power of a multi-racial super majority. A white majority was diminishing. Rich white guys took swift action to design a traditional wartime defense: divide the enemy. Push them apart so they cannot develop a united front. Once divided, stoke hatred of each other. Using scarcity threats and the fear of violence, conservatives continued to tear apart groups based on skin color. For decades it worked. Organizing across racial, cultural, geographical, and technical boundaries was nearly impossible.
Then came the information age. The internet gave ordinary people access to knowledge and uncurated content. Social media platforms connect us with people around the world. Platforms control our news feed based on our likes and screen behavior. The iPhone was born in 2007, conveniently delivering information and disinformation, to everyone, anytime. Social, political, and economic systems immediately became disrupted.
Today’s technical infrastructure allows people from all backgrounds to organize. We choose what we want to know, with whom we communicate, and how we digest information. As our racial identity blends with world cultures, the whiteness of America continues to fade. Conservatives still try to stoke divisions using social media algorithms to target vulnerable groups. But then, something powerful happened - an innocent Black man is murdered by police - and a video of that horror spreads like wildfire on every media channel. The world gets a graphic lesson in systemic racism, something that we cannot unsee. Black, brown, and white people come together to demonstrate against systemic racism in policing. A multi-racial super majority gains power.
For white men, there was a day when they enjoyed knowing that their paycheck was higher than any woman and any person of color. That guarantee has been fading, even in corporate boardrooms across America. The whiteness of wages privilege will soon be history and this terrifies powerful elites.
Now is the time for us to come together. This global disruption offers us an opportunity to envision a new life. Generations of Americans have grown up in a multi-racial community. They go to daycare, school, playgrounds, and workplaces and spend days with people who don’t look like them. They share ideas and solve problems digitally. They don’t wait for permission from their boss, teacher, or parent to create something. In the modern, unified, digital world, people are measured by what they do, not by the color of their skin or where they live. Digital natives expect equity, freedom, and fairness.
When the world transitions from an industrial age to a digital age, systems change: social, cultural, economic, technological, legal, and political. The age of disruption is upon us. We must act now to create a united front if we are to own our political future.
To learn how, join an upcoming three-part discussion series: Message Vision Not Division brought to you by Liberal Leadership League with content from the Race-Class-Academy: https://www.liberalleadershipleague.org/messagevision