Updated: Dec 20, 2021
The basic premise of this Project, as you might have guessed, is that we are living in a climate of injustice. If you ever wondered if that were true, the last two months should have eliminated any doubt. The question is not whether we live in a climate of injustice, but how.
Some seem to flourish in such a climate. Trump’s rally in Tulsa was only possible in a social climate in which people felt they could intimidate others, be praised for echoing Trump’s hatreds, and show their white arrogance without shame.
On the other hand, Black Lives Matters’ call for justice, for reform, for reparation, and the abolition of white supremacy has exposed a climate of injustice that has been taken as “normal” for too many of us; too much of the time. While city, state, and federal agencies can make institutional changes in response to civilian demands, changing the social climate to a climate of justice will take some time. During this time, we will continue to live in a climate of injustice.
The climate of injustice has a stubbornness that is hard to overcome. It has been a “necessary condition” for the advancement of American Prosperity since the European enslavement of Africans, settlement on Indigenous people’s territory, and the massacre of civilians. The protection of American Prosperity, until this moment, has prevented us from addressing the crimes against humanity on which it rests. The result is that the strong tailwinds of the climate of injustice continue to blow us into a future that none of us want.
We do have a Constitution and its Amendments. We have created and improved democratic institutions, but we have not created a climate of justice. Still, we now have the rule of law that gives us the leverage to do so, if we can protect it from Trump’s regime.
So, how do we live in a climate of injustice while we work toward the transformation of American Prosperity? It depends on one’s interpretative framework.
Many Westerns use the triad of economy, government, and civil society, which either pits the economy and government against each other, or pretends that civil society exists beyond social disruptions and military aggression.
I propose a 4-part interpretative framework of the earth, humanity, the social, the civic. This framework allows me to define American Prosperity in terms of four key characteristics:
· Earth is treated as a commodity
· Humans are racialized
· Social relations are dismissed and denied
· The civic is militarized.
And what would the transformation of American Prosperity require?
· We acknowledge the earth as a habitat for all
· We affirm our shared dignity
· We repair social relations with others.
· We protect civilians
Changing social tailwinds is not easy. The resistance, however, is growing, not only from civilians but also from the earth itself. Although those of us who have benefited from American Prosperity may not have connections to the origins of the climate of injustice, we do need to examine how these benefits were costs to others and ourselves; and how we can work to change our social systems, so they are not based on winners and losers, but on reciprocity.
There is much work to do. I doubt if it will get done unless we remember where we live: in a climate of injustice.