I Miss You, John Stewart

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By Ann Smith

Legally sanctioned “slavery” may have ended officially on December 18, 1865, but slave … and slave-owner mentality lives on, and it’s not contained to just Black and White. It crosses racial, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic, sexual orientation and identification lines. We see it in the “us vs. them” mentality, and the inherent, sometimes subconscious, belief that one group of people merits more than another group of people just because.

It’s found in the ongoing struggle of equality to be able to love and marry the person you want, as natural to human beings as breathing. It’s blatantly obvious in the ongoing practice across the nation of throwing Black and Brown lives away without a second thought, whether through incarceration or to police-sanctioned murder.

Our nation continues to strip away voting rights, reminding us that some are more entitled than others. When people of color and women earn pennies on the dollar in comparison with what White men earn, we see economic slavery. When people lose access to education because of skyrocketing tuition — perpetuating the cycle of poverty — that’s economic slavery.

We need a more palpable vehicle to even consider a conversation about difficult subjects. George Carlin comes to mind immediately because he used his comedy to point out some of our s**t—making us laugh without feeling defensive or guilty. But oh my goodness, how on point Mr. Carlin was! He held the mirror up to our faces and our collective feet to the fire. Until we can stomach the truth and engage in a real and honest conversation, whatever avenue or vehicle Jon Stewart might choose, we need it. Jon, you’ll be missed.