Saturday, November 12, 2016

Calling My Own Damn Self Out

So yesterday I wrote a post in which I complained about being called a "liberal elite" because I live in a city.  I made it seem that urban people are a lot better at not being racist than suburban/exurban/rural people.  And while I do think that it's easier to quell white panic in the face of black or brown people when you live among them, still...

See, I live in Chicago, which is a city in which over 600 people have been murdered this year already, the vast majority of whom were black men and boys. Much of white Chicago has convinced itself that these deaths are just an unavoidable consequence of life in some parts of the city.  But we all know the truth: if white men and boys were dying at rates like that, we'd give a shit.  We'd demand that law enforcement and the political powers that be do something about it.  We wouldn't just shrug our shoulders and sigh.

Donald Trump and his cartoon henchman, Rudy Giuliani, claim "they're killing each other" and that the only cure is to empower law enforcement to routinely harass black men and boys for crimes like walking down the street or having a public conversation. But imagine, my fellow white people, how we'd respond to that kind of humiliation.  We get angry when the cashier at McDonald's is insufficiently pleased to wait on us.

I grossly underestimated white resentment and white panic in America.  But I no longer will. This is what put Donald Trump in the White House.  And while we white people bear the blame for this, it's black and brown people who'll shoulder the burden.

We have to be better. All of us white people need to be better.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

One Day of a Social Media Drought

So, yesterday, I couldn't hardly muster the strength to do anything but bury my head under the blankets and watch Gilmore Girls.  (Thank you Gilmore Girls.  Thank you, Netflix.) Unfortunately, though, I couldn't stay under the covers all day, because I signed up to sell pizzas for a fundraiser at Laney's school.  I was there for a couple of hours and found myself feeling a little hungry (selling pizza coupons will do that) so I asked some of the kids there if they wanted me to get something for them to eat.  One of these kids was a 14 yr old transgender Mexican-American boy who is just goddamn delightful.  When I said to him, "Are you hungry," he didn't palaver about. He just said, "Yeah.  Let's go to Sonic."  I just love people who say, "Hey, let's go to Sonic" instead of "I dunno.. what do you want", don't you?  And then this kid jumped in the front seat and had a whole conversation with me about the election while we were driving to Sonic.

Lookit: I want to live in a place that is a home for transgender Mexican-American kids.  As a matter of fact, I demand it.

I returned to the internet today to see what the rest of the world was saying and feeling and have emerged somewhat energized and with an action plan. But first a categorical and then a qualitative objection to some of the things flying around out there.

Categorical objection: To the holier-than-thou left, do not claim that there wasn't real passion behind Hillary Rodham Clinton. And stop claiming she only won because she was the choice of the DNC.  She won because more people voted for her.  Because more people liked her and wanted to be president.  For millions of Americans she was the candidate of choice.  We were not "voting with our vaginas" (an expression, by the way, that needs to be taken out behind the shed, shot, and die a merciful death ).  Millions of Americans Were With Her.  Millions of Americans Are With Her.

I look forward to the modern musical masterpiece that Lin Manuel Miranda and Sarah Bareilles will one day write about how America treated Hillary Clinton.  It was shoddy and shitty and she deserved so much better. Her strength and grace are awe-inspiring.  She is my hero.

Qualitative Objection: Speaking of Lin Manuel Miranda, every time I read the words "liberal elite" in some thinkpiece I thought of the part in "Meet Me Inside" when Hamilton threatens, "Call me son one more time!" I was all "Call me an elite one more time!"  It's similar, you know, because when Washington calls Hamilton "Son," he's not being dismissive and is really trying to teach him something. And I know all those "liberal elite" thinkpieces are trying to tell me something.  But it's still runs up against something that I believe real passionately in and it pisses me off.  To wit: I don't live in my blue bubble of urban life because I'm hitting the symphony and then discussing those boorish Trump supporters over caviar and toast points.  I live here because it is vitally important to me that I don't live and, especially, don't raise my daughter in some racially, socioeconomically same-y environment. I don't want to live in a place surrounded by a bunch of white people where racism is only understood as some abstract evil.  I want to send my daughter out into the world where she understands that people who look different than her are people; not ideas, not cautionary tales.  Just people. And that is not elitist.

On the other hand, yeah, it's true: I've culled my Facebook feed down to likeminded people.  I'm going to keep it that way, though.  I maintain that no one's mind has ever been changed on Facebook.  Ever.

But I do think I need to change in real ways.  So here's my post-Trump action plan:

1. Beginning this month, we're sending $100/month to the ACLU.  This is enough money that it will hurt a little to give it. And I think we should all be giving enough money that it hurts a little.  I've picked the ACLU because despite the kind of horny passion the GOP claim for the Constitution, they're gonna beat it up real bad in service to their corporate overlords and we need some good lawyers defending it.  The ACLU has those.

2. I'm going to start volunteering some number of hours a month a group that helps immigrants. This push/pull between groups coming in and the "Screw you/I've got mine" folks that have been here a while is just how it is in a nation of immigrants (which we are, to our great benefit).  But I can't imagine how terrified immigrants are right now. I'm going to start helping.

3. I will not politely tolerate any quietly racist shit anymore.  If I see something, I'll say something. And the thing is, this doesn't have to result in a screaming pie fight.  When Auntie Alice says something about "those people," just point out that what she's said sounds racist. Don't say "Wow, Aunt Alice, you're a gross racist!" Instead say, "Alice, I think what you've said sounds a little racist.  Can you clarify since I know you didn't mean it that way?" No one wants to be a racist (well, some people do, but we're just going to have to leave them there in that basket of deplorables).  But we can tell our small-town, exurban, suburban friends what we've witnessed living in our "elite" cities.  We can teach them that BLM is not just whining or making stuff up.  We can make them understand that our white skin protects us in a way that is unfair and un-American.  This is what morality demands.

4. I'm going to get ready for 2018 election and support Democratic candidates in battleground districts.  And I'm not going to let anyone forget, for a hot minute, than the 2018 election is just as important as the 2016 one.

5.  Finally, I'm not going to sink into despair, I'm going to keep my sense of humor and I'm going to re-dedicate myself to being less of an asshole.  Pretty much my guiding ethos is "don't be an asshole." I think I tend to succeed reasonably well in most areas except one: I drive like an asshole.  I get irrationally angry at people who don't go right away when the light turns green, or drive too slowly down city streets.  But, you know what?  With Asshole-America running the show right now, we all need to curb our asshole instincts. So, in response to President Trump, I'm going to be nicer when I drive.  Isn't that a small thing? But small things add up.  I really believe it.

It's not the end of the world.  But it's bad. It's really bad.  I think our daughters have lost autonomy over their bodies (except in these blue bubbles).  I think immigrants are going to be abused.  I think our economy is going to tank.  I think Rudy Giuliani is going to institute his stop and frisk hellscape (remember white people, if you see something, say something).  But the worse America gets, the better Americans have to be. So let's all be better.  Work, and give and be kind.