I’m Tired: Rosa Parks, the Corona Virus and Reality Denial Syndrome

I know the scenario. When I say someone I know has Covid, has died of Covid, or as was the case this week, become infected with Covid a second time, the first question is, “How old were they?” followed by “What kind of health were they in?” It’s the discount. Ask enough questions so you can discount the possibility it can happen to you. You start with age, then filter down to health, ethnicity, job, social economic level, geographic location, etc. You ask questions until the descriptions are unlike you. But, with the surge in cases, the “discount” doesn’t matter, 15,000 people are dying a day. Yet, reality denial syndrome runs rampant. Let’s try logic, a national opioid crisis has been declared and those deaths are 128 people per day. Covid is not the flu. Seasonal flu kills 30,000 to 60,000 a year; Covid has already killed 256,000. We have to continue to follow safety protocols. Nine months into this and we’re tired. So, let’s talk about tired.

Tired. That’s part of the Rosa Parks myth. On December 1, 1955 Parks was arrested and fined for not yielding her seat to a white man. The story goes, she was tired. It sounds simple, but there is more. The Montgomery transit system rules were absurd with a sense of entitlement, illustrative of reality denial syndrome in the form of laws to circumvent the 14th amendment.

Under the system of segregation used on Montgomery buses, the ten front seats were reserved for whites at all times. The ten back seats were supposed to be reserved for blacks at all times. The middle section of the bus consisted of sixteen unreserved seats for whites and blacks on a segregated basis. Whites filled the middle seats from the front to back, and blacks filled seats from the back to front until the bus was full. If other black people boarded the bus, they were required to stand. If another white person boarded the bus, then everyone in the black row nearest the front had to get up and stand, so that a new row for white people could be created; it was illegal for whites and blacks to sit next to each other. Often when boarding the buses, black people were required to pay at the front, get off, and reenter the bus through a separate door at the back. Occasionally, bus drivers would drive away before black passengers were able to reboard.

Montgomery bus boycott

The myth makes it sounds as if Rosa was just tired from a day of work to get up and stand to allow a new white row in the bus. Rosa was tired alright, tired of racism and injustice. Mrs. Parks part of a larger plan, which is why a mere 4 days later, the Montgomery Bus Boycott began. People forget that Rosa Parks was just the tipping point for the bus boycott that followed.

The idea of the boycott had been floating around for months. Both Nixon and Robinson were waiting for a test cast to challenge the segregated bus policy in Court. They knew that they would have large support from black women who made up a majority of the bus users. The only thing missing was a good test candidate and respectable, middle-class Rosa Parks seemed perfect for the role.

Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-56)

For more than a year, the Negroes of Montgomery did not ride the bus, they walked. WALKED!!! Most were averaging 8 miles a day. Negroes made up the 75% of the bus riders in Montgomery Alabama. There were times when it was cold, below freezing; there were torrential rains with wind; there were times of sickness when nothing would be better than to be home rather than walk. Yet, they did it; they walked for more than a year; 40,000 walked in unity as the case made its way to the supreme court.

On June 5, 1956, a Montgomery federal court ruled that any law requiring racially segregated seating on buses violated the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That amendment, adopted in 1868 following the U.S. Civil War, guarantees all citizens—regardless of race—equal rights and equal protection under state and federal laws.

The city appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court’s decision on December 20, 1956. Montgomery’s buses were integrated on December 21, 1956, and the boycott ended. It had lasted 381 days.

Montgomery Bus Boycott

African Americans were terrorized during and after the boycott. The homes of the ministers who were critical in keeping the boycott going were bombed and destroyed. Four black churches were bombed and destroyed. Whites would attack the walking Negroes. There were cab drivers sympathetic to the cause who would charge 10 cent fares; until city council found out and made it a law the taxis could not charge less than 45 cents a ride. Snipers shot at African American bus riders. After the Supreme Court decision, Montgomery had to suspend bus service for a few weeks due to escalating violence by white men. Bitter, vindictive, petty and hateful; embrace the 2nd amendment as a God-given right to carry firearms, but deny the 14th amendment giving African Americans citizenship? What were white men so afraid of that they continued to terrorize African Americans, their fellow citizens.

Alabama was on the losing side of a war that cost the United States the lives of 2% of the population (that would be 6 million people today.) The Civil war positioned an economic rationale for the enslavement of people as if that should override a morally reprehensible practice. Yes, there is a long history in the US of reality denial. Funny, the Montgomery city seal says it all; Cradle of the Confederacy; Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.

In two weeks, we will mark 65th year anniversary of the Montgomery Bus boycott. People sacrificed; they walked. While Rosa Parks was “the face” of the movement and Martin Luther King “the voice,” the 40,000 plus Montgomery Negroes were the literal foot soldiers. So I have a visceral reaction when I read and hear people want to stop the Covid mandates because “they are tired,” and all the variations on this theme. As a bonus, there is the same pre-civil war logic of “but the economy depends on it.” The idea of sacrifice community and the greater good is lost.

Psst. You, the obedient the mask wearer, the adherer to rules; it’s ok to be tired, frustrated and anxiety ridden. It’s been hard on you. Take a moment and scream into the void, you are not alone. Misinformation abounds and it’s a little nuts right now. You know, just because you are tired doesn’t mean you are going to quit. This week, can skip the inaccurate myth1, 2 of Thanksgiving. Just give thanks and consider for what goal would you make a sacrifice?

1President Franklin Roosevelt signed a bill into law to create a holiday in 1941. The myth is told of Plymouth Rock as a united celebration of settlers and Native Americas that never squared with history. The Pequot Wars happened in the time period; Americans, during the two year war killed or enslaved more than 600 Pecquot men, women and children. The Americans rendered the tribe extinct.

2What you learned about the ‘first Thanksgiving’ isn’t true. Here’s the real story

2 comments

  1. was a little surprised when I went into a hardware store in my area this morning to pick up some stuff I had sharpened. I wasn’t thinking a thing, but other than the lady in the back, not a single employee was wearing a mask. I didn’t even notice til I was about to walk out the door, and was a bit startled about it. Then as I left and took mine off at the car, others were going in, but they were putting theirs on. And I noticed the “wear a mask” sign was gone from the door. But all the customers I saw were wearing them. At the grocery store, everybody was wearing ’em. I wonder if things became lax or restrictions were lifted for certain places, or nobody’s bothering to enforce the rules, so what’s the point. I’m gonna keep wearing anyway.

    Besides, I have annoying facial hair that won’t go away. Wearing a mask means I don’t have to wax as often (hee hee).

    Liked by 1 person

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