I had a dream wherein I was both spectator and participant in a great race at a Roman-times track. These were elite athletes, the stakes were high, and the crowd was spilling with anticipation—having poured the fears and hopes of a whole city’s identity onto these few, obvious heroes.
It was then, mid-way through one-way around the track, when a great disruption occurred: a colored man, frayed and embodying the archetype of the oppressed, stumbled right in front of the athletes as he hurried, confusedly, to find his post. The race and ritual had come to a screaming halt, and players and spectators alike were quick to project their anger onto the man that clearly had no respect for the sport. What gall, and what right did this man have?
For the crowd, it was reality to see how this brainless agitator had ruined the cultural event of the year and doused the expectant prospects of a society. And yet as clearly as they would justify its punishment of the man, the crowd was blind to the real injustice hidden and disguised in its shadow projection. This man—the agitator, the simpleton—was a captive in his own existence by the same legal order that now wished to find a way to expel him still further to the fringes.
As I reflect on this dream a few hours later, my eyes fill with tears as I see this myth’s endurance in the world we act to desperately guard today. What’s percolating in our collective unconscious—the injuries of the global refugee crisis, Black Lives Matter, mass incarceration, income inequality, indigenous-, women’s-, and LGBT rights—this is our proverbial moment when we transform our throwing of the spear into the recognition of its destruction within ourselves.
The identity crisis that the sovereign crowd experiences when its ritual is collapsed (the crumbling of corporatism, the end-rule of the ruling elite, the nature-drained/oil-fueled built environment, the defenseless exposure of American exceptionalism)…it pales in comparison to the identity theft of oppressed minorities—as they are denied the very basis for ritual as a way of life. But both identity crises are real, and both can only be healed when shared power and inclusivity are valued more highly than the pitting of dual realities.
My true story and yours aren’t the only ones.