This Is Our Country’s Rebirth

It’s ugly, but don’t give up on America now

Julio Vincent Gambuto
LEVEL
Published in
10 min readJun 4, 2020

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Crowds protest on New York City’s Upper East Side. Photo credit: JVG

America is not falling. Yes, it may look like that, and it may certainly feel like that. Just last week in New York City — one of capitalism’s shining capitals — stores were boarded up, windows were shattered, cop cars raced down the streets with sirens blaring as the clock struck eight on curfew hour. And that’s on the Upper East Side. These are scenes we often witness from other countries — countries in deep strife, devolved into chaos, on the precipice of revolution. Online, we are thick in the mire of disinformation, manipulation, and full-on propaganda. Yes, the gaslighting has begun. So has the gassing. And it’s hideous. But it seems that the left and right, even as they battle over the narrative, are saying the same thing: America is over.

Well, the America we knew is over, yes. But what’s coming is so much better. Our next act is unfolding, and the Black community, the very people most affected by the inequities of our society, lead it. If we can keep our eyes open and free from tears — and tear gas — and our hearts full when all we want to do is scream, what lies ahead could very well be something we have never seen or experienced before: the America we want.

I know you think I’m naive and overly hopeful amid utter pandemonium. I disagree. I am finding the larger story playing out here and asking us to get out of the mind-fuck of small-scope Facebook commentary and see this from a broader perspective. Get in the helicopter with me and look at this. Put your mask on and sit right next to me. Social unrest after social distancing is completely new territory for us. There is no precedent. We have zero ways to understand what’s next. And that is deeply unsettling. So unsettling that few of us have slept soundly in weeks. But perhaps our understanding of the future can come from an understanding of where we have been: stuck at home.

The pandemic took away the constant distraction and created the space for us to become citizens again. And it’s ugly but beautiful.

It is impossible to divorce what is happening now from the three months that preceded it. Terribly so, George Floyd was not the first Black man whose…

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Julio Vincent Gambuto
LEVEL
Writer for

Author of “Please Unsubscribe, Thanks!” from Avid Reader Press at Simon & Schuster // Speaking at SXSW in March // juliovincent.com