by Kasey Shultz
“Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Finds”
-New York Times
It will begin with an emptiness:
One more parking space on the street,
A few more gaps in the pews
Help Wanted notices in the windows.
Soon, those spaces will fill with questions,
Articles that end with uncertainty
Reasoned arguments of detachment
Vague notions of ‘society’ and ‘the system’
Anything to hide the fact that we have failed.
The next logical step will be to pin it on race.
Pin it on pessimism, pin it on prescriptions.
But whatever you do, you must never mention class.
They may be poorly educated but they are never poor
Because we don’t have a class problem in this country.
What we have is a race problem,
A laziness problem, an immigrant problem,
A drug problem, a mental health problem.
What we have is a problem
Of avoidance and accusation,
Of whitewashing and withdrawal,
Of selective listening and scapegoating
Where it is anyone’s fault but our own.
And it’s killing us.