VIDEO: Photojournalist Henry Barrios captures and reflects on racial, political, cultural divide

October 26, 2020 /

“Prior to the fights, it was a very peaceful protest,” a Bakersfield Police Department spokesman said of a local Breonna Taylor vigil in late September.

But that would change quickly when counter protesters arrived. Within seconds and standing inches apart, chanting turned to shouting, peace turned to hatred.

A much greater racial, political and cultural divide was created. A divide that continued to grow and the possibility of a decent, thoughtful, discussion was lost.

“Say her name, Breonna Taylor, Black Lives Matter,” the protesters yell.

The latest major wave of BLM protest started on Monday, May 25, 2020 when a Minnesota Police Officer put a knee to George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, as Floyd lay on the street handcuffed and on his stomach.

With his last breaths he cried out in desperation, “I can’t breath,”—“mama.”

It is written in Holy scripture: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.”

George Floyd is no more. Breonna Taylor is no more. The breath of life is no more.

“USA, USA,” the others yell.  “All Lives Matter.”

Yes, all lives matter. It is undeniable. In the Declaration of Independence, it is written, “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.”

If all lives matter, and if we hold these truths to be self-evident — that all men are created equal — then certainly George Floyd’s life mattered and Black Lives Matter.

And in these truths, there is common ground.

Yet inches apart they scream at each other in Bakersfield and across our country like tinder begging for a spark for violence to erupt.

With a Presidential election approaching, the possibility of violence continues to grow. The very breath of life in danger.

It used to be leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, and John Lewis to lead peaceful protest against relentless opposition. They made a difference.

It used to be that political leaders would go against their own party for a just cause and were willing to suffer the consequence.

Republican congressman from Texas, George H.W. Bush voted for the Civil Rights Bill of 1968 that would outlaw discrimination in housing — a gutsy vote in his conservative district — and the right vote, for a just cause, because he saw black servicemen returning from Vietnam being discriminated against.

John McCain refused to betray his country as a poisoner of war in Vietnam and refused to betray his democracy.  As a U.S. Senator, he reached across the aisle to his democrat colleagues to find common ground — a real hero by anyone’s standards. 

Robert Kennedy once said, “Some men see things as they are and ask why, I dream of things that never were and ask why not?”

These were not perfect people. They were flawed individuals like all of us, but they sought justice. They were decent human beings who dreamed of a more perfect Union. Where are the new leaders?

November 3 (Election Day) is in site.

Lord have Mercy, Lord have Mercy.