What did you do while Baltimore burned?

I don’t know about you, but instead of making a trek 45 minutes up the road and diving headlong into a race riot, I instead got really depressed and consumed nearly 7,000 calories of McDonald’s Big Macs, french fries, Coca-Colas and apple pies.

My aforementioned dietary choices led to a week’s worth of feeling so bad about that warm, happy, and satiated feeling only beef fat and cheese can conjure that on one of these calorific afternoons, I decided to watch Morgan Spurlock’s 2011-released anti-fast food documentary Super Size Me. However, as it played, I got restless and simultaneously began obsessively swiping (and re-swiping) the screen of my smartphone, visually assaulted by Facebook with the fact that America was in a woeful state.

As I learned first and second-handed about the flaws inherent in the “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles [and] onions – on a sesame seed bun” dream McDonalds was peddling, I was confronted with the flaws inherent in an American dream that had completely failed black people. One that had left Malcolm, Martin, Troy, Trayvon, Michael and Freddie dead.

All that being said, let me pose a challenge for everyone who believes (just like I did sitting in bed next to a container of half-eaten McDonald’s Apple Pie at that moment) that America’s a racist and sexist nation where 1% of the population literally controls all of the wealth, democracy exists in name only, poor people are treated like third-world citizens, and we’re in the early stages of anarchy:

Go to McDonald’s, order a hamburger, and tell me that you’re not immediately “lovin’ it” after consuming said hamburger. And by “it,” I mean life, and everything about America, the country that can sever a black man’s spine but also damned sure knows a thing or two about stacking meat and cheese on buns.

McDonald’s has existed since 1940 and now expeditiously serves $28 billion dollars of hamburgers and fries (and much more) in 36,000 locations worldwide that are so tasty that they have succeeded in challenging every negative idea that anyone around the world has about America’s inability to meet the standard of excellence set by the American dream.

But, given that McDonald’s annual net income dropped 15% to $4.7 billion in 2014 (making 2014 “one of the worst years in the company’s history,” says The Guardian) this too-big-to-fail image is on the brink of shattering, much like the country it’s proud to call home.

Challenge to the fast food kings now comes from rapidly growing chains that embrace healthy and more wholesome options including Chipotle (who earlier this year pulled carnitas from its menu due to concerns over animal welfare issues with its then pork supplier), Shake Shack, and Five Guys. The restaurant has responded to their competitors with attempts like serving breakfast all day and has even added kale to some of its menu options.

But that Big Mac is still on the menu, offering its age-old, well-regarded, “itis”-filled malaise.

Similar to the land of the Golden Arches, America is no longer a haughty superpower beyond intra-national reproach. Gone are the days that black men’s deaths were met by the black community and American society with a sad radio silence or peaceful non-violent protest. To many American blacks, the platform of “change” that Barack Obama ran on in 2008 to become the first black American president was directly linked to racism; his election implied a segue into a post-racial era. When that didn’t still happen two years into Obama’s second (and final) term, the gig was up. When Michael Brown was shot and Freddie Gray was murdered, it became starkly apparent America was never going to make the necessary and permanent changes to preserve a presumed shift in the nation’s desire to embrace racial acceptance. At this point, black folk began to very angrily showcase just how much they weren’t lovin’ America anymore.

Just like McDonald’s, America seems completely unable to get that Big Mac-as-racism off its national menu-as-behavior. The solutions are either terrible or impossible, and the former could happen soon. The whole world watched as the streets of Baltimore and suburban St. Louis were set afire with the rage of racism-driven socio-political angst. Could this happen in places like Manhattan, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and every city where black people feel displaced and mistreated due to race-biased and discriminatory legislations? Of course.

Sure there’s the idea that a Democratic president could sweep into office and have a partisan Congress push through a bunch of legislations that quell race issues in America. On the same day this happens, let’s also expect that the Washington Redskins will change their name, conservative politicians will accept that global warming is real, the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny will also reveal their true identities and yes, Big Macs will cease to be served at McDonald’s too.

I ate 7,000 calories of McDonald’s while Baltimore burned. Not only am I going to hell, but America is too.

 
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