Friday, June 16, 2017

Fragmentation

It's too much. It continues to be too much. I don't have the words, and I continue to write them anyway, many of them wrong. What else can I do? What else can any of us do, besides continue to do and give our best to our neighbors, to work a little bit longer, to fight a little bit harder, give what we didn't know we had, because we believe that we will get through this.

Or maybe we don’t believe that, not really, but we have to pretend, because again, what else can we do?

I write in fragments, now, my thoughts disjointed. Broken. What before held together, albeit loosely, shattered beyond repair.

November 9, 2016
When they called North Carolina for Tr*mp, I left the LGBTQ Center and road my bike home alone. The sinking feeling in my gut was unlike any I've felt in any other election, or any other time.

I sobbed uncontrollably for a long time last night. I doubt whether I will ever see a woman president, though for a few days I had dared to hope that my beloved nieces might grow up in a world where women had always been able to hold that particular office. I cried for myself, and for all the people I love.

I cried more today listening to Hillary's speech, a speech which was what it needed to be, a speech in which she played out her role perfectly to the very end, campaigning against, debating, and now conceding to a man so unworthy of her efforts that I can barely stand it.

This is what it is to be a woman.

I listened to the speech, and I understood but did not agree with the call for unity, the admonition that we now owe Tr*mp our support as president elect.

I owe him nothing. Rather, I owe it to my neighbors to fight like hell.

November 10, 2016
You can be part of the solution, or you can be part of the problem. There is no other option in this world, no room for complacency. People will lose their lives; people have already lost their lives.

I have a date this weekend with a man who self identifies as a feminist, yet seems politically apathetic at best. And among the many things, large and small, weighing on my mind today is this: why would I waste a single moment of my precious life on someone who does not care? There is no joy in a relationship with someone who is not willing to fight with and for me and for all of those I love.



You may wonder at the people protesting in the streets last night. Perhaps you misunderstand protest, if you are asking, "What will that accomplish? The people have spoken." For one thing, it is not as simple as that, given the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. Many voices were not heard on election day due to systemic voter suppression. Second, as the numbers are tallied and we see that HRC won the popular vote, again the question arises as to whether, with an archaic electoral college designed to protect white landowning men, it will ever be true that "every vote counts."

But ultimately, the reasons to protest in the immediate aftermath of the election are less strategic than they are about the visceral need to see and hear one another, to stand in solidarity at a moment in time when that solidarity may feel like something we imagined.

December 15, 2016
We all have work to do. We cannot each do everything, but we all have to do something. For me, that's doubling down on my commitment to words, and using them well. It's preaching the gospel. It's prayers and invocations and benedictions and listening, listening, listening. And speaking through tears, when my voice cracks, because this year broke me open like none other, and though we may say "Good riddance 2016!" I am smart enough to know that things may well get worse before they get better. So I will continue to write as best I am able, using words accurately and carefully to describe what I see. This is how I have always practiced resistance. I simply never knew how badly I would need it, now, trying to articulate a some way forward.

January 20, 2017
You can’t go home again.

That unoriginal phrase sums up so many of the things I’ve been writing and thinking about lately. I thought I was writing something about desire, but perhaps it’s not about wanting so much as about loss, about becoming who you want to be, only to realize you can never get back to who you once were.

I have never felt less at home in my new world than I do now, when all the white people around me are talking about “the white working class,” these other people out there, these people they don’t know, these people they want to understand.

When I parlayed my student loan financed education into a graduate program at Duke (and more loans) I did not feel like I belonged there, and yet for many reasons, my skin among them, I had access. And I could learn to act like I belonged, fake like I shared a certain upbringing, mask my shock at so many little things others treated as normal that to me were anything but.

White people with money seem to think that being more sympathetic to “the white working class” will somehow fix racism, I guess. Typing that sentence makes it seems even more absurd than just thinking it. I did not wake up to racism because rich white liberals were patient and kind and sympathetic toward me. Maybe instead try listening to people of color and believing their descriptions of their own lives, learning about unconscious bias, learning about the actual history and policy that uphold systemic racism, the scaffolding of our country. Do we need to learn empathy? Sure - but with whom?

Perhaps I am arguing with myself, here. Perhaps this is all about my inability to feel at home in the places my education has bought me access to, and the guilt that discomfort and confusion causes. My own intersecting identities leave me both vulnerable and, theoretically, powerful. Always disorienting, that apparent contradiction is even more so in a moment when so many of us feel powerless.

Every recommendation that I should learn about “the white working class” is a reminder that I don’t belong. And so I am compelled to further self interrogation, to make sense of my own whiteness, alongside this class confusion, as if articulating it might somehow fix this feeling of being cut off from both my past and my present.

January 23, 2017
Who do we think can actually be "convinced" by conversation, and why? How does one best channel one's energies in fighting against Tr*mp and all the other evils around us that his name seems to have become a stand-in for? Some people can have fruitful conversations with their conservative relatives, and if you can, I hope you do. For me, wasting time feeling guilty about not rehashing the same painful arguments I’ve been having for years seems like a pretty terrible way to practice resistance. It seems like dwelling on feelings of white guilt, frankly, as if maybe somehow I could absolve myself of my own failings by having enough awkward family dinners, as if my own past and that legacy of whiteness could be fixed by that, somehow. I don’t think so. Sometimes you have to cut your losses, and find other ways to do the work.

February 25, 2017
When I am afraid, my impulse is to pursue knowledge. If I just understood, perhaps I would know what to do, perhaps I could respond in the right way, do the right thing. Trump removes the Spanish version of the White House website, and I redouble my meager efforts to learn Spanish. The checks and balances of our three branches of government become increasingly important due to our power hungry president, so I start listening to SCOTUS podcasts to better understand the judiciary branch.

These are reasonable things to do. You no doubt have your own coping mechanisms. But in the end, no amount of knowledge will protect me, or enable me to protect those I love.

April 22, 2017
I saw an article this week about a large number of people leaving their churches since November, and it made me scratch my head, because I see the opposite impulse, not only in myself, but even in my other, non religious communities. People want to believe in something other than us, because it is really difficult to believe in us right now, even if you surround yourself with kind and generous people as much as possible. I wonder whether the people leaving their churches are leaving because those churches fail to speak to those fragile moments, fail to name the fears, the doubts, fail to struggle together to see Jesus in this wounded world and to figure out how to love one another within it.

June 13, 2017
“How difficult is it for one body to feel the injustice wheeled at another? Are the tensions, the recognitions, the disappointments, and the failures that exploded in the riots too foreign?” Claudia Rankine, Citizen, p. 116.

June 16, 2017
As heavily as current events that make the news weigh on my mind, what is sometimes worse is the fear of the quietly humming machinery running behind the scenes. You can neither keep up with nor control it. Economic devastation seems inevitable, regardless of what else we do.

People are dying, at home, abroad. Gun in the hands of civilians, bombs dropped by the businessman in chief.

The talk of impeachment continues, and as it becomes more real, so does my fear of  Pence. This waking nightmare is never ending. Daily life is normal, and anything but.





I find refuge in routine. Wake up at 7, make coffee, drink coffee while listening to a podcast (Monday - Book Riot, Tuesday - Dear Prudence, Wednesday - Code Switch, Thursday - Politically Reactive, Friday - Call Your Girlfriend), make breakfast, write morning pages.








All of this happens by 9am, at which point I have to figure out how to work during the less structured hours of 9-noon, when my calendar says simply “write” and I fear that I am running out of words.









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