Subtle isms and why YES, ALL Trump voters

I haven’t posted here in a while. I’ve spent more time on Facebook and Twitter, in my personal accounts. Some of this bunkering has been because work has been really busy for the last several months. But some of it–a large amount of it–has been that I’ve been worn out from the nightmare that’s engulfing our country. The anger and arguments that spilled over into an electoral college (but not popular vote) win for Donald Trump have gotten even uglier since January 20th. What has been called a “24-hour news cycle” for years seems to have been stretched into infinity; you can’t go a day–or seemingly an hour–without some awful story of how the government is about to turn the clock back on something valuable or a nasty Trump tweet that’s got more exclamation points than actual facts.

And so it was that when I sat at a friend’s house, enjoying an annual catch-up with her and other longtime friends, that my heart was made heavy by the events in Charlottesville. I’ve been to C-ville a number of times, and I remember what it was like when Kroger was the only grocery store. I still remember something odd that happened while waiting for my parents to finish buying groceries at the Kroger and wandering over by the local papers with my sister. One of them had a picture of a Confederate monument and the caption read something about a celebration on the anniversary of “the South winning the Civil War”. Say what?! My sister and I blinked a lot, but refreshing our eyes didn’t change that those words were printed there. The South, it seemed, hadn’t yet given up hope that they somehow pulled it out at the last minute. And maybe they did.

It’s not just the South that has KKK and Nazi’s. In my liberal adopted home of Massachusetts, we have people who drive around with enormous Confederate flags flying from their pickup trucks. There’s a “Free Speech Rally” set for tomorrow morning on Boston Common, and the Massachusetts chapter of the KKK plans to be there. Let that sink in: The Massachusetts Chapter Of The KKK. In the bluest of blue states, yes, we have racists here. And for many who’ve lived here all their lives, they can point to the continued segregation in Boston proper–where each neighborhood has its own distinct dominant look: Irish in Southie, Italians in the North End, Rich Whites in Back Bay, Portuguese and Latinos in Allston/Brighton, Blacks and Hispanics in Roxbury, and so on and so forth. The melting pot exists at the 10,000 ft level, but at sea level things look different.

I got a couple of lessons in the gray area between subtle and overt isms when I was in college. Freshman year, my roommates checked me for horns and hooves. They’d never met a Jew before, and they were surprised to see that I looked just like them. Sophomore year, I sat by confused as my next-door neighbors shouted at the football game on TV: “Look at that spoon go!” I asked them what a spoon was, after they’d used the term a number of times. One of them looked at me and said casually, “A spoon is a nigger.” I told them that was just about the dumbest thing I’d ever heard, and I never looked at those guys the same again. Central Pennsylvania felt to me like it was well below the Mason-Dixon Line.

During the course of his campaign, Trump made disparaging remarks about seemingly everyone except for white men like him. He made rude comments about women–exemplified by his attacks on Megyn Kelly, he made rude comments about Hispanics–starting off with a bang by accusing Mexicans of being rapists, murderers, and all around bad hombres, he made rude comments about Muslims–vowing to institute a ban to keep them out of the country, and more recently he created a moral equivalence between Nazis and white supremacists and the demonstrators who came out to protest against them. When Trump voters pulled that lever, checked that box, or filled in that oval for him, they voted for all of that.

But surely, not all Trump voters are racist or sexist? Sure they are. You don’t have to sport a swastika tattoo to be a Nazi. There are ways to have these ignorances so deeply ingrained that you don’t even recognize them in yourself until it’s far too late.

Subtle racism is in the person who crosses the street or grips their purse a little tighter when walking by a person of a different color. Subtle racism is in the stiffening of the spine when your child holds up a doll whose skin color doesn’t match yours. Subtle racism is when you look at a resume and think you know that person’s background based on the name at the top of the paper. Subtle racism is in assuming anyone who doesn’t have lily white skin must speak Spanish.

Subtle sexism is found in the business pants for women that have no belt loops for work badges and no pockets for cell phones. Subtle sexism is when a little boy can’t get a butterfly painted onto his face but is instead forced to get skulls. Subtle sexism is when the majority of girls’ shorts get a 3″ inseam that then becomes a trip to the principal’s office thanks to the overt sexism of school dress codes.

I’m not saying that people who voted for someone other than Trump are somehow immune from these isms–subtle or overt–but those who voted for Trump accepted his flaws as being fine. When someone vomits hatred through a microphone, if you choose to accept that as either “not a big enough deal” or “not a problem”, then you’re rubber-stamping it. You don’t have to raise your arm in a Nazi salute to give comfort to Nazis by failing to challenge them. You don’t have to tell your daughter that you value her less in society when you vote for someone who treats women as disposable tools for his sexual pleasure. You don’t have to tell your Muslim coworker that you don’t value him when you vote for someone who promises to find a legal way to ban Muslims from even entering the country.

Donald Trump told everyone who he was, and those who voted for him did so despite all the warning signs that he would value only one targeted demographic as important–and everyone else would get (at best) second-class citizenship status. So yes, all Trump voters. If the economy was their “big issue”, they deprioritized the value of non-whites, non-Anglos, women, and non-Christians in our society. They at least subtly sent the message that sexism, racism, and xenophobia aren’t enough of a problem to be a deal-breaker. It’s the Art of the Faustian Deal.

But we all have a choice–regardless of who we chose in November. We can stand up and be counted.

Stand up and speak out against Nazis and white supremacy.

Stand up and speak out for our queer friends who are being told their marriages and their military service aren’t valid.

Stand up and speak out for our daughters to remind them they’re able to accomplish ANYTHING they set their mind to.

Stand up and speak out for our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors who worship at any number of different houses to reinforce that the Freedom of Religion in the 1st Amendment isn’t footnoted to read “Christian-only”.

Failure to speak out, failure to stand up are ways of choosing the side where hatred and ignorance come to play. Wringing hands and clutching pearls over the awfulness of it all won’t change a damn thing. Taking the high road doesn’t mean that you sit on the side of the road while Nazis march in front of you unchallenged. A better world won’t be built on hatred, intolerance, and bigotry. We can all choose to build the better world. But it damn sure won’t come under the “leadership” of Donald J. Trump.

Pick a side.

Stand up.

The children of the world are watching.

What the hell, y’all

So here we are. 2017. And so far, it’s living down to the expectations set by 2016: a year when we saw many celebrities earn a spot on the “In Memoriam” list, a year when Britain voted to be an island in every sense of the word, and a year when nearly 3,000,000 more people voted for HER but HE managed to get the Electoral College vote. In short, 2016 was pretty atrocious.

And then came 2017. The popular vote be damned, the least popular candidate on Inauguration Day installed himself and immediately began creating fresh hell on a nearly hourly basis for many Americans.

Do you like having health care? Well, he’ll fix that. Actually, you’ll still like having health care, but your access will be greatly diminished because the imperfect-but-better-than-what-we-had-before Affordable Care Act is being killed by 1,000 cuts.

Do you like a free press? He’ll fix that, too! From threatening the press corps with expulsion to revoking credentials for exceptionally well-established and highly credible news organizations, the press is being given a stiff arm any time it’s not being fed alternative facts bald-faced lies.

Do you like freedom of movement around the country and abroad? There’s an executive order for that! Thankfully, a temporary nationwide stay has been issued–stopping the unconstitutional order from being enforced…but it’s only temporary, and the Customs and Border Patrol defied regional/state-specific orders, so it’s hard to have much faith we won’t have a full-on Constitutional crisis any minute.

Do you like having a government that at least tries to regulate businesses on issues like pollution and predatory lending? He’s got an answer for you, and it rhymes with “suck goo”.

Color me unimpressed.

It’s been awfully hard to concentrate. I’m sure that’s part of the plan: obfuscate, confuse, frustrate, and discombobulate your opponent. And yet I have a clarity of purpose and emotion. I know that what’s in office right now is wrong, and I can’t wait to vote it out. So in the meantime, I’ll march. HELL YES, I WILL MARCH. I already went to DC and walked the hallowed ground of my birth with 500,000 of my best friends, as we made it perfectly clear that women’s rights are human rights. (I have pictures but, frankly, have been too busy with work and other stuff to upload them except to Twitter.)

And I’ll be out marching again on April 22nd for the March for Science, because science and fact are real things that we don’t just discard when our moral center has been surgically removed by a failure of the Electoral College.

I’m teaching my kids about the three branches of government and how they’re supposed to work together, why The Constitution is so incredibly important, and why the word EQUALITY should be what they always consider in their daily lives.

I haven’t written here lately because I’ve had strep and work and marching and more work and kid events and FUCK, I’M TIRED. And yet, the show must go on. Democracy is really hard work, and I’ve been a participant in it even before I turned 18. We won’t have the country we want by just wishing for it.

So here goes. Time to tell y’all what’s next. What to do. And in-between, make sure that you exercise some self care, like eating a favorite food, or just spending an hour playing with your cat/dog/{insert pet type here}, or watching a movie. But here’s what you do when you’ve got even an iota of stamina:

DONATE: to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center and/or your local food bank. If you don’t have a lot of cash, donate a small amount (even $5 can be a blessing). Or donate clothing. Go volunteer for a nearby charity, donating your time and energy. Then share that on social media to rally your friends to donate, too.

HELP: by calling your Representatives, Senators, and/or Governor. If you’re afraid to call your government because you’ve never done it before, here’s a simple script that needs only minor tweaks: “Hi, my name is {YOUR NAME} and I’m calling about {INSERT CAUSE HERE}. I want you to say {YES/NO} to {LEGISLATION/DECISION} because this is important for the future of our country. Thank you for your time.” Maybe calling Congress isn’t your thing; in that case, check on a family member or friend who has health issues and ask if you can run an errand, hang out with them, or bring them a meal.

ACT: by speaking up and speaking out for what you believe in. This is no time to plant your head in the sand. And yes, it may scare off friends who don’t agree. But are they really your friends if their beliefs deny your right to existence? I’ve had friends who I realized weren’t friends AT ALL when it became obvious that they only wanted to spew hatred, homophobia, sexism, Islamophobia, and other b.s. on my timelines. Decide how much hatred you can accept and draw a line in the sand. Sometimes you can educate, and other times you have to know when to walk away. This isn’t about bubbles; this is about understanding that some people may have put up a good front for years, and now it’s time for everybody to show where they REALLY stand.

Just do something. If not now, when? There may not be a “later”, if we don’t work as a team to make it clear that hatred, disdain for our Constitution, and bullying aren’t allowed to represent our country. There are many legal, positive ways to get involved; so pick one and get started. Then pick another and do that, too. It’s time. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

This election won’t bend or break me

I think we can all admit that it’s been one hell of a week. Regardless of who you supported in the election, there weren’t that many people that truly expected the electoral map to fall out exactly as it did. No one would’ve won this Powerball.

And now we have this situation that so many of us dreaded. I have to note that before anyone decides to go off about how I’m a “libtard” or a “bleeding heart”, please know from the depths of my heart and soul that I will NOT tolerate any of that bullshit, the comments on this blog are moderated to weed out spam and assholes, and if you can’t be civil, then STFU.

I have an immense amount of privilege in some areas, and a complete lack of it in others. I can camouflage. I can hide behind my skin color and others’ assumption of who I am because of it. I have a Western European background–primarily Anglo-Saxon–so I can masquerade and move silently through the crowds as though I’m something I’m not. But I choose not to.

I choose to be out as bisexual because bisexuality chose me and I will not be afraid to live as who I am. (Yes, I’m married to a man. Monogamy and bisexuality aren’t mutually exclusive.)

I choose not to hide that I’m a woman or pretend that I’m meek. I’m not meek. I grew up with examples of women on TV like Colonel Wilma Deering, Jaime Sommers, and Wonder Woman. I grew up idolizing a mother who worked full-time in management and was a full-time wife and was a full-time mother. I knew that if she could do it, I could too. I SHOULD. Meek is for mice.

I choose not to hide that I’m Jewish, although I must admit that I’m not and never have been an observant Jew. To those who hate Jews, though, that matters little. People have already been out on Twitter, loudly offering “tattoos and showers” to Jews. (If you don’t know how unkind this invitation is, do some research on World War II and you’ll see.)

So, what do I do with all my anger for an administration that’s pledged to roll back rights for LGBTQ people? What do I do with my frustration at so many people who think it’s okay that the President-elect has freely admitted to sexual assault of grown women?

I could be meek, but…nah. Fuck that.

Here’s what I do plan to do, and this action plan isn’t the end; there will be more.

  1. Renew my membership in the Southern Poverty Law Center. It’s always important to commit to stopping hate wherever it rears its ugly head, and given the number of hate crimes that have already occurred just in the first 48 hours since the new President’s election, they have a lot of work to do.
  2. Start donating to Planned Parenthood. In general, I try to concentrate most of my donations to food banks and children’s health, but things are about to get way worse for women’s access to healthcare, and Planned Parenthood IS the primary health care resource for many women across the country.
  3. Continue encouraging my kids to be themselves and not let others get in the way of that. Just because a bully has been elected to the White House doesn’t mean they have to be bullies. We always have the choice not to be the things we see that aren’t okay.

I know I lost friends along the way through this election. They took their leave or I dropped them out of my Facebook feed with impunity because this was real for me. I won’t cry for what I didn’t have in the first place. I trust my friends to have my back, as I surely have theirs. Actively supporting someone who has shown no respect for or belief in the humanity and equality of women, Black people, LGBTQ people, Muslims, Jews, or–really ANYONE who’s not from America shows that you don’t have my back. And I won’t miss you when you’re gone.

There’s been a lot of talk about people living too much in their own bubble, how those of us living in urban coastal areas (who overwhelmingly voted Blue) just don’t understand those who live in more homogeneous environments. Oddly enough, no one seems to want to turn that around with an expectation that those who live in less diverse areas try to understand what it’s like being in an area where people don’t look like you, don’t worship like you, don’t love like you. We are the only ones who have to change or understand. That’s utter bullshit. Either we ALL have to get out of our bubble or no one does.

I remember my first few weeks at college, when one of my roommates–who’d never met a Jew before–actually checked me for hooves. She didn’t realize Jews had feet. I’ve seen what that bubble looks like, and if those people don’t try to get out of theirs, they will continue to wallow in an ignorance that more than half the population rejects.

So, I’m going to be more active and work for a better America despite the election of a man determined to tear it down for his own personal profit. And I will teach my children to be better than he is (admittedly, a low bar to jump over). And I won’t be meek. EVER.