Let’s talk about this Trump period of US history that we are in. Come on, let’s have a sincere conversation that doesn’t involve manipulative fallacies, eye rolls, meme quotations, or some sucker punch quip about orange skin or balding hair conditions in the Oval Office.
I get it. Well when I mean I get it, I’m speaking to the progressives and marginalized communities. I’m black, I can’t not get it. My family members are Caribbean immigrants. I can’t not get it. That election night was rough, and even though I cried, I wasn’t surprised. I mean what were we going to do? Put Hillary in the office? I wasn’t about to. I didn’t vote. I couldn’t, not on good conscience. More than anything I cried because it’s just another reminder that the marginalized can’t win in this society, granted a lot of minorities deceived themselves that Hillary would be a win for them. Unfortunately, she was a product of the evil system that gave Trump power. You don’t have to agree with me but that’s how I feel. What I also think is this: that despite the privilege that all white people may have, there are white people that feel oppressed, and I believe that is why Trump won.
Call me an Uncle Tom or an Oreo (Really? You’re going to call me that? Haven’t we learned that blacks have a broad range of thoughts and ways of living and speaking by 2018?), but I’m not here for the one-side fits all that I often see shared by liberals, minorities, feminists, and pro sexuality camps. The thing is, I am a sexually liberated black woman, college graduate, first-generation daughter of immigrants, and all kinds of good stuff that make up a progressive dream girl. But I’m also aware of my own privilege and I’ll take a step further and say that if equal rights were truly doled out properly I wouldn’t be in the successful place I am. I’ve been given so many extra accolades or easy access points merely based on being in predominantly white work places and schools where a black woman who is intellectual is still an anomaly, I find myself less challenged in my grad program or praised for below average work (for my capabilities) simply because “Wow! You can do that and you’re black?? Amazing!” Ya what I’m telling you is that I benefit from implicit racist bias, and I like it sometimes, no most of the time (because I am lazy, and was told I was special too much as a kid–I’m not). I also used to feel guilty that I enjoyed when white, Asian, or non-black guys would say stupid, excuse me, racist comments to me like “you’re beautiful for a black woman” or worse, “you know I don’t usually find black women attractive — but you’re gorgeous.”
It’s fucked up, but I’ve heard it, repeatedly, and I’ll admit to you, I’ve even fallen for some of these dumb guys who have said these things. That’s to tell you about my own insecurities I’ve had to overcome, and the blindness I once had, of my own value and magic, but that’s a whole long story we’re not going to go into now.
My point is, as much as all of the marginalized communities desperately cry for their identity to be not only seen but deemed equal? I sometimes wonder if we recognize how much our society would truly change if we were all deemed equal. We’d lose that subculture status, we’d lose that originality card, we’d be just another regular person, and more importantly we’d lose a sense of victimhood that some of us have carried (with good reason) our whole lives. Sure, a society alteration can’t change what is internalized individually, but what if society was no longer an excuse for our anger, hurt, and our pointing fingers? What then?
I guess all we’d have to deal with is our own human condition, and I wonder if we can actually deal with that.
Then we have the fundamentals.
I’m all too familiar with this faction of thought having been raised as an evangelical Christian in the conservative dreamland that is the mega church. Sometimes it amazes me how the pro-life fight and sense of family values like hetereo-marriage and fiscal stability become so blinding to the other stories in America that are not their own. I also find it so curious how there’s this sense of patriotism swirled into the conservatism ideologies that, my America is THE America and should be kept or protected as such. As if, your immigrant ancestors didn’t work hard to create your idea of what America is today, as if there can’t be a chance given to today’s immigrants to make their America, and most of all as if your story is the only RIGHT story. There’s this massive part of America in the hearts of small towns, suburbs, country sides, and gated communities that has been insulated from the other, all kinds of others and whatever isn’t normal to these people, is seemingly wrong to them unfortunately. However, due to the growing enlightenment of western society the seams are cracking on the perfectly sewn America that these people have created with carpools and community centers. Now the other is forced into their realities whether through the Internet or the browns and other unfamiliar lifestyles coming into their towns. It’s happening, it’s scary, and then angering because boundaries are crossed without any acknowledgment of their America and identity.
So here we are in our modern day culture war. Two camps growing in frustration to a climactic firestorm, and our buzzwords are only firing more divisive lines between one another. The echo chambers are created on social media, news, and in all of our homes. One camp is written off as a bunch of snowflakes, while the others are all bigots, and there’s been no consideration of the other within anyone’s narrative.
Progressives, let me give you a word of warning, your shouts of rape culture, appropriation, and privilege constantly bombarding the rest of the world on the internet falls on deaf ears outside of your leftist gang. The pseudo intellectual articles re-shared that a man is wrong and a white man is evil only perpetuate the madness that you’ve got nothing worth listening to! Therefore, when legitimate arguments are presented, like taking a respectful knee during a game to bring attention to police brutality by football stars, the patriots have already closed their ears to anything the entire progression movement has to say. It’s yet another thing they don’t understand– all they see is: Somehow I’m wrong? Somehow my America is wrong to you? Somehow you want to change my homes, traditions, community, and sense of family? Fuck you. Then there’s rage. And here we are, the product of rage is a voted in president, that has shaken the entire nation’s system and idea of what it is to be an American.
Don’t get me wrong! I’m not here to defend the conservative groups in America. I understand your outrage, fears, and discomfort with those unfamiliar. But also you must consider your America’s history. When were the people who want to conserve the old ways ever the good guys? The agents of change were people you value like Billy Graham, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa, and Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus, and many more! The fundamental point of family, faith, and values is love, right? So why can’t that be involved in your sense of politics and ideology of this changing America. Listen, as much as you want to turn a blind eye to it– just like the reality of abortion of babies (if you believe life begins at conception) is a horrendous thing? Or the sobering gravity of military families struggling to fight for the country despite long distance and other obstacles? Police brutality toward black men and women, prejudices against women, immigrants, blacks and numerous non- whites in the majority of career fields, or the high number of women that have been sexually harassed or assaulted in their lifetime– to just name a few things progressives like to scream about, are all equally real and unjust. Also, there are things given more freely if you’re white and or male, and that doesn’t mean that you never struggle, it just means that there’s pains and obstacles you’ll never experience simply because of your race. White people don’t need to feel guilty about this idea, nor pity those who aren’t white. It’s just a way to deepen your understanding of another person’s story and to empathize.
I’m not saying I wish everyone would sit down and just give up their principals. But as someone who is moderate amidst all of this divisive-provoking memes-celebrity outcry-and all things offensive-era we’ve sprung ourselves into on the Internet and in politics, Id like to offer an idea for an alternative behavior: empathy. I think for true progression to begin and the best protection of our families ‘ and their future we must set down our words used as weapons and begin to listen to one another and come to a reconciliation.
It begins with us making vulnerable and difficult actions in our daily lives. Take a girlfriend to coffee that voted for Trump and ask her why she did it. Message that woman that bashed the military on Facebook. Grab a beer with the guy who hashtags #alllivesmatter and ask more about his perspective. Listen when someone says they have a gun, and hear them out. Take the time to know why you believe in your principals and patiently convey to them (without your buzzwords) why they are important. Most of all, I believe it is imperative that we all listen more. It’s the only way we can both progress and protect our values.
I have been practicing this in my own life. For example, I have had some hard conversations regarding race with my white friends, but I’m not going to stop having them even when it hurts and I have wanted to pull their hair out. I love these people enough to still be real with them. I have also challenged my friends and been challenged when they or I have posted an offensive meme or article, made an insensitive joke, or forgot to consider an opposing perspective when discussing their take on today’s culture climate. Having this outlook hasn’t been easy, it’s been messy and it’s been hard, but I did it, I need it, and I will continue to do so. Because that to me is human. That is what I believe empathy looks like in our daily lives.
Perhaps we’ll always be divided because in spite of empathy there’s still hateful and hurt people who wont ever let their victimhood and defenses go. As for the rest of us, I think we could try a little more, actually a lot more.