Thoughts

I wrote this in January, and just found it. I didn’t post it then, and I don’t know, now, why I didn’t. I suspect it’s because I was sick, and none of it seemed worth posting. It was a rough winter, and spring; I was sick most of the time, until we realized that the constant coughing and exhaustion from all the coughing had more to do with ducts that were not cleaned before we moved in here than with my lousy immune system. (Check your ducts!)

The ducts are clean now, and have been for weeks. I’m no longer coughing. And, slowly, I’m trying to get back to writing. I haven’t been writing for a very long time. Like most of the other creatives I know, creating under these circumstances is surprisingly hard. So much for hard times yielding great art.

Anyway, here’s the piece I wrote so long ago. And my hope that I’ll be writing more regularly in the future.


It’s been a long, hard time since the last time I posted on this blog, and I have a horrible feeling that it’s just going to get harder for a while.

Like many other creatives, I’ve been unable to write. The one time I tried, the post before this, someone found it necessary to write a very long comment explaining to me that I didn’t actually mean what I said in that post.

They were wrong, of course. I did mean it. I don’t write things lightly, and I think carefully before I say anything, and even more carefully, including running it past at least one other person, before I actually post.

It’s taken me months to decide what to do about the comment. I’ve never just declined to post any real comment before. (I delete spam all the time, but that’s spam. You get plenty of that already, I’m sure.) But this time, although I thought about countering his points one by one, I’ve decided not to. It’s a waste of time and energy that I frankly can’t spare at the moment. So I’m just going to ignore it.

Instead, I’m going to post something I’ve been thinking about all day, as I sit here with the snow falling all around my house.

I have a friend in California. Okay, I have a bunch of friends there, but I have one I frequently exchange weather info with.

She is forever telling me that the sky is blue. That’s what she sees, when she looks out her window. She’s even sent me pictures to prove it.

I tell her that the sky is white, or sometimes light gray. That’s what I see when I look out my window. Featureless, unbroken light gray or white, from horizon to horizon.

Neither of us is wrong about what we are seeing. We’re both reporting it accurately.

Except I’m not really seeing the sky. I’m seeing clouds. All I’ve seen for days and weeks is clouds. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this thing called “sun,” although I’m pretty sure I saw a picture of it once.

But the truth is, the sky beyond those clouds is blue. If I could see through the clouds, I would be able to see that it is.

Privilege is like that. I’m a cis white woman. I don’t have as much privilege as a white cishet man does, but I have quite a bit. From here, behind my privilege, we have always had equal rights, here in the US. That’s what it says in the constitution, in the laws, in the stories we tell ourselves about our country. Once, long ago, we had Jim Crow, but that was all swept away in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It’s gone now. Heck, we had a black president!

People on the margins of society knew that was just an illusion. That was the clouds in front of the sky. In reality, a reality I never experienced from behind my bank of privilege, there has always been massive racism in this country. The laws changed, but the attitudes of the people didn’t magically change along with them.

Ask anyone who isn’t white.

People have been trying to tell us this, ever since the sixties. From where they are, where they are being systematically imprisoned, beaten, and killed, even by law enforcement, it’s obvious that it’s not anything close to over. From where they stand, it’s clear that they have to work many times harder to get a scrap of what we assume we have by right. They are refused housing, refused education, refused simple courtesy, their very humanity and right to exist is constantly questioned. Doctors assume that they have higher pain tolerance than a white person, even though there is no evidence of such a thing, so they aren’t given the same pain meds, if they are given any at all.

They are considered to be “over sexed” through no fault of their own, and so are treated as sexual predators when they are simply minding their own business. Their sexualization a part of white fantasy, not due to anything they have done. The law treats them as if they are adults the moment they reach puberty, if not before, while treating white men as if they are children, not responsible for their actions, when they are 27, or 35, or in their 40s.

At the same time, they are treated as if they can never become adults intellectually, no matter how much experience or education they have. Totally ignorant white people talk down to people of color, because of course they know more; they’re white!

They tried to tell us. They kept pointing it out. They showed us videos, they showed us evidence, they held marches and demonstrations, where they were met with policemen in riot gear.

And then the Election came, and the clouds of our privilege rolled back, and we glimpsed the reality behind them, just for a moment. We saw that yes, indeed, racism is still alive and well, and the evidence is really all around it.

We are stunned. They tried to tell us, but we wouldn’t listen.

So now, please, for our very lives, it’s crucial that we listen.

We might not have any idea how to navigate this world, but they do. It’s the world they’ve been living in for their whole lives. In their place, we might be so angry and spiteful that we wouldn’t lift a finger to help the white people who are now tasting the bitter draught they’ve been forced to drink.

They are better than that. They aren’t really interested in changing places with us; they know too well what it feels like to be in this position.

But they can’t help us if we won’t listen.

So please, please listen.

Show up to all the marches and rallies that you can. Our white bodies offer a level of protection for those with more melanin in their skin. Did you see the difference between the police at the Women’s March and those at any Black Lives Matter demonstration? There was no riot gear, no mace, pepper spray, or nightsticks. There were pink hats, smiles, high fives. That is one of the reasons we have to be there.

But don’t talk. It’s not about us. Besides, everyone has heard our white stories too many times to count. They all know what we have to say.

Instead, let them speak. Hand them the megaphone. They are the leaders here. They are the ones who know this territory. They have lived here forever, and know how to navigate in it.

Respect the sacred spaces of those who have other religions than you. If they kneel to pray, or draw up a sacred circle, or do anything that they are doing as a group, sacred or not, don’t barge in or through. You are not more important than they are.

We are all humans, together, trying to fight through the mire and work our way to a place of freedom where we can, finally, really, be equal.

Yes, when the Founding Fathers wrote “all men are created equal” they didn’t really mean “all human beings, no matter their gender, skin color, religion, or ethnic background.” We know that. But that’s exactly what we mean. We can fulfill their dream, and make it a reality.

It will be a struggle, and it won’t come without cost.

But if we can get there, it will be oh so worth it.

It’s worth fighting for. So let’s fight. As one, with respect for all and malice towards none.

I’ll see you at the demonstration. I’ll be the one listening, not talking.

Join me.

No Reconciliation

It’s happened. Trump is the president-elect, and Republicans hold both houses of congress and probably will soon have a majority on the Supreme Court, as well. The checks and balances are gone. Our worst nightmare is now our reality.

Not because they are Republicans and I usually vote for Democrats.

But because Republicans have tried for many years to strip away all protections for the most vulnerable among us. In fact, there is little doubt that they would love to strip away everything for everyone who isn’t a wealthy, white, straight, Evangelical Christian male.

Even now, Ryan is finalizing his plans to privatize Medicaid and Social Security, and totally repeal the Affordable Care Act. To gut food stamps, and to remove safety nets and protections for the poorest among us.

But it’s worse than that.

That is what we would have faced if some other Republican had won the nomination of his party, and had become president.

But it’s Trump, who boasts of his xenophobia and racism. Who glories in sexual assault and sees manhandling women whenever he wishes as his due. Who has deep ties to white supremacist groups, who are crowing that they are in power now.

Yes, he also lies pretty much constantly. He campaigned on a platform to “drain the swamp” in DC. He said he was an outsider, who wasn’t beholden to lobbies and special interest groups. He said he would end their influence. And he’s filling his cabinet with them. There is little doubt that he’ll renege on any promises he doesn’t find convenient, as he always has.

But he has proven through his actions, for more than 50 years, that he is, in fact, a racist. That he does, in fact, despise pretty much everyone. That he hasn’t a shred of empathy or human decency. That he has no intention of helping anyone but himself. Ever.

Since he was elected, just 3 days ago, the most racist, misogynistic, xenophobic and violent of his followers have taken his election as a license to do whatever they want to do to whoever they want. There are endless reports of attacks on women wearing a hijab, on Mexicans, on Asians, on blacks. There are thousands of stories of school children chanting horrible things, making walls of their bodies to keep out fellow-students who aren’t white, writing hateful messages on doors to safe spaces, on classroom whiteboards, on signs, on restroom walls.

These aren’t random acts. This is not a coincidence. They are doing these things in Trump’s name; writing it on cars and walls besides their hate filled slogans, screaming it into the faces of women as they rip their hijab, saying “If Trump can do it, so can I,” as they grab the genitals of their 10 year old classmates.

And while all this is going on, we are being told that we must reconcile our differences, and work together with those who would oppress us to unify and heal the country.

No! No we do not! No we should not!

We should never, ever, become complicit in oppression.

Compromise is a fine thing in many times and places. It’s great when a group of friends is trying to pick a restaurant, when a club is formulating bylaws, when workers and management are hammering out a contract.

But some things are simply not open to negotiation, and the basic humanity of all people is one of them.

On this, there can be no compromise. Black lives do matter, as do trans lives, Muslim lives, the lives of the mentally ill and physically unable, the lives of refugees and immigrants, the lives of the poor, the lives of deaf people, retarded people, fat people, gay people, and people of uncertain gender. All these lives, the lives of all marginalized people, no matter why they are marginalized, are every bit as important as the life of the whitest, wealthiest, straightest, most handsome, well-educated, Evangelical Christian man walking down Wall Street in an immaculate $3000 suit with a genuine leather briefcase in his hand.

This is a truth that I will not budge from. There can be no compromise, no unity, when the price of unity is to agree with white people that non-white people are simply, by their nature, inferior. That they are genetically biased towards violence, crime, deceit, and ignorance.

No.

Not just no, but hell no!

Only when the people currently in power agree that those they have relegated to the margins are actually as worthy and important as they, themselves, will I be happy to compromise and work for unity. When the humanity of every single person on the planet is fully acknowledged, and those currently in power agree that the vulnerable must be protected, I’ll be more then delighted to work together with them to protect the weakest and heal the nation.

When they acknowledge that American isn’t (and never has been) a white, Christian nation, but is instead a richly diverse land inhabited by people of many colors, backgrounds, religions, philosophies, and cultures, and that all of them are equally valid and equally deserving of respect, as long as they’re not seeking to oppress anyone, then I’ll gladly extend my hand in friendship, and settle down to work out ways to best help all of us.

But until then?

I’ll fight them tooth, nail, wallet and keyboard. I’ll stand against their tyranny and oppression, for that’s what it is. I’ll not give an inch, a millimeter, or a single micron.

I will not, and I cannot.

Because they are just flat wrong.

All people are created equal, and there should be liberty and justice for all.