Back when I went to school more than a half century ago, we learned that the Continental Divide is the principle hydrological divide of the Americas. In plain English, that meant that the U.S. waterways west of the Divide basically flowed into the Pacific Ocean or the Bering Sea. The U.S. waterways east of the Divide basically flowed into the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico.
Today, the Continental Divide is a question. It is not a geography question. Today, the Continental Divide is a social question. Do Black lives matter? The United States was formed by rich white folk, for rich white folk, so, the simple answer to the question is “No”. Unless you like to listen to music.
If you like music, then Black lives do matter. From Jazz to Motown to Hip Hop, Black Americans were the backbone of American music. Where would our music be without, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis, Jr., Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Chuck Berry, Michael Jackson, Prince, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Whitney Houston, Thelonious Monk, Jay-Z, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Eubie Blake, Wynton Marsalis, George Clinton, Muddy Waters, Isaac Hayes, Erykah Badu, Otis Redding, Lauryn Hill, Count Basie, The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Ma Rainey, Mariah Carey, Robert Johnson, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Ben E. King, the Drifters, the Coasters, Jelly Roll Morton, Tina Turner, Charlie Parker, Nina Simone, Bessie Smith, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Little Richard, Kendrick Lamar, and Marian Anderson, to name just a few American black musicians?
Maybe you don’t listen to music. So, then Black lives don’t matter, unless you like comedy.
If you like comedy, then Black lives do matter. Where would our American comedy be without Chris Rock, Richard Pryor, Dave Chappelle, Bernie Mac, Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, Redd Foxx, Bill Cosby, Katt Williams, Tracy Morgan, Chris Tucker, Mike Epps, Arsenio Hall, Leslie Jones, Eddie Griffin, Mo’ Nique, Moms Mabley, Charlie Murphy, Marlon Wayans, DeRay Davis, Patrice O’Neal, Sherly Underwood, Michael Che, Bruce Bruce, David Alan Grier, Lavell Crawford, Paul Mooney, Flip Wilson, Jamie Foxx, Sinbad, Tom Davidson, Tyler Perry, Aries Spears, Sommore, Nipsey Russell, Luenell, Jay Pharoah, Shawn Wayans, Whoopi Goldberg, Dick Gregory, Wanda Sykes, D. L. Hughley, Robin Harris, Tiffany Haddish, Bill Bellamy, Deon Cole, Keenan Ivory Wayans, John Witherspoon, Robert Townsend, and Hannibal Buress, to name just a few American black comedians?
Maybe you don’t like music or comedy. Then Black lives don’t matter, unless you like sports.
If you like sports, then Black lives do matter. Where would our American sports be without Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Muhammed Ali, Jesse Owens, Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe, Wilma Rudolph, Bill Russell, Jack Johnson, Tiger Woods, Jim Brown, LeBron James, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Kobe Bryant, Tommie Smith, Hank Aaron, Magic Johnson, John Carlos, Florence Griffith Joyner, Joe Louis, Gabby Douglas, Venus Williams, Willie Mays, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Simone Biles, Alice Coachman, George Foreman, Wilt Chamberlain, Walter Payton, Barry Bonds, Colin Kaepernick, Jerry Rice, Barry Sanders, Carl Lewis, Fritz Pollard, Cheryl Miller, Lisa Leslie, Sonny Liston, Bo Jackson, Charles Barkley, Satchel Paige, Mike Tyson, Michael Johnson, Joe Frazier, Emmitt Smith, Curt Flood, Sugar Ray Robinson, Charlie Sifford, Ernie Davis, and Tony Dungy, to name just a few American black athletes?
Maybe you don’t listen to music, or like to laugh, or enjoy any sports besides ice hockey and Curling. Then, Black lives don’t matter, unless you like movies.
If you like movies, then Black lives do matter. Where would American movies be without Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Sidney Poitier, Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman, Will Smith, Cuba Gooding, Jr., James Earl Jones, Danny Glover, Laurence Fishburne, Ossie Davis, Terrence Howard, Louis Gossett, Jr. Richard Pryor, Wesley Snipes, Billy Dee Williams, Jamie Foxx, Michael Clarke Duncan, and that’s just a few of the male American black actors? Black America also gave us Halle Berry, Angela Bassett, Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, Diahann Carroll, Dorothy Dandridge, Taraji P. Henson, Regina King, and, of course, Oprah Winfrey, Cicely Tyson, Octavia Spencer, Queen Latifah, Phylicia Rashad, Lena Horne, Jennifer Hudson, Hattie McDaniel, and Whoopi Goldberg to name just a few American black actresses.
Maybe you don’t listen to music, or like to laugh, or watch sports or movies. Maybe you are just an asshole who doesn’t like anything. If you’re an asshole, who doesn’t like anything, then Black lives don’t matter, unless you like money.
If you like money, then Black lives do matter. Where would the American economy be today without the millions of slaves who worked hard to build the economy of this young country, even though they personally didn’t get a share of it.
Where is the Continental Divide? It used to run through places like Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. Now, it runs through the minds of Americans. It is the separation between those who realize that it took a lot of Americans from a lot of different backgrounds centuries to make this country great, and those who think that our greatness was built in the last three years by some guys wearing red hats.
Black lives matter. White lives matter. Yellow lives matter. Brown lives matter. Red lives matter. One Orange guy, well, his life matters, too, until November.
Peace & Love, and all of the above,