I cannot live in this country without taking a stand against the greed of corporations that profit off of mass murder.
As more murders, fueled by racism, sexism, gender violence, and pure hatred, happen every day, I am reminded of the profits made by politicians, consultants, corporations and gun manufacturers and distributors who don't give a shit about the people, but instead intend to promote a culture of death.
As a family member of three opioid addicts, may they rest in peace, I am constantly reminded of their suffering when I see those who are struggling in my neighborhood and community. When I see people who are homeless and addicted, from Portland to LA, Maine to Florida, I see the faces of my family. As the opioid crisis expands, it is unfortunately growing in all working class demographics, including Black, Latinx, and Native American communities. Despite some recent settlements requiring corporations to pay sums that could never match up to the death and destruction they caused, there is no slow down in opioid-related deaths or distribution of opioids, and Fentanyl is on the rise.
Meanwhile, Big Plastics, my name for the network of corporations that produce and promote plastics, continue to produce Earth-destroying products and packaging at rates that far exceed our ability to recycle. Meanwhile, we can't even outsource our masses of plastic material to China. It's too much.
Mass incarceration, including both prisons operated with tax dollars, private prisons, and ICE detention centers represent the nexus between corporate greed, racial hatred, environmental terrorism, the opioid crisis, a culture that promotes violence, and the repressive policies of the United States Government. The United States is imprisoning more people than any other country in the world, industrializing repression of the working class and dis-proportionally incarcerating Black, Latinx, and Native American people while a multitude of corporations and individuals leach every bit of profit they can from our collective repression.
The bread and butter issues in society right now are how we are going to deal with hatred, racism, mass murder, and corporations that intend to kill and imprison the working class as part of their strategy to profit themselves.
We must prepare ourselves for collective action. Collective action means the people coming together to demand change. The time is coming for a massive, national action that will be historic and profound. The time is now to change our focus from hyper-consumption to reducing waste, from serving ourselves to serving one another, from investing in material objects to investing in our children. The time is now to stop the distraction and denial. The time is now to fight back.
Photo by Kay Boyd
Please let me be clear, I know its hard to hear each other in here sometimes. I am unfortunately not a pious creature. I am sometimes hot with anger and even fury. I struggle to remain peaceful amidst such injustice. There is a voice inside me that reminds me every day that the opioid crisis took down a large part of my family. And I do want to make one thing clear: I am not here to talk about compassion for white working class addicts. I'm here with a vengeance against the people, corporations and politicians, who profited from killing my family. I am here with the hard reminder that addiction is, in fact, also impacting the Black, Latinx, and Native American communities, and has for decades through harsher sentences in the system of mass incarceration. I am here to remember the 130 people who will die today from overdose or narcotics-related illnesses out loud.
I'm here to make the connection between the opioid crisis, mass incarceration, the promotion of violence in society, the availability of deadly weapons, racism, the oppression of women, the separation of humanity from the Earth, and oppression of the working class.
I wake up with a lot on my mind, but I thank God for giving me this voice. One thing is for sure. I'm going to use it.
Susan Anglada Bartley is an author, educator, and activist living in the United States.