“45” is what I call POTUS, the 45th president of the United States, that horrid man who squats in the White House tweeting (LYING) about random topics to divert our attention from the fucked up bullshit he does that will, PLEASE GODDESS, get him impeached.
(For some amazingly strange reason, this post cannot be formatted correctly, no matter if I work in WYSIWYG or HTML; I have tried for 2 days to fix it, to no avail. I apologize for the bizarre lack of paragraph breaks/doubling of paragraph breaks.)
I have a theory (that has surely already been discussed in other places) that the new administration has an entire strategy to create as much turmoil as possible, knowing there would be protests (because the Women’s March on Washington was planned well in advance of the Inauguration), then seeing even more protests with each Executive Order, their idea took on greater and greater maniacal glee.
You learn activism by doing it, they said. One of the main obstacles to activism is the idea that you have to be an expert to do it —
Because there are so many causes to fight, it can be challenging to protest everything one feels strongly about. Surely, the administration is having a field day cheering that fact.
I see people in my own life swirling around, grasping at causes willy-nilly, protesting 1 one day and another, 2 days later. This frenetic energy cannot possibly be maintained. Speaking up, living in crisis mode, changing one’s life patterns, even for a short time can exhaust someone, causing Outrage Fatigue.
Every morning, we wake up to a fresh Trumpian outrage, as the orange one’s fat little thumbs have tapped out the latest vitriol via Twitter before we lift our weary heads off of the keyboards we fell asleep on because we were up past midnight planning how to block his Cabinet, or save ACA, or get to Burr and Tillis, or, respond to Russian hacking. Is it any wonder that some of us are experiencing outrage fatigue?
As the Day of His Ascendence (formerly known as Inauguration Day) approaches, the more the sense of impending doom and inevitability grows. After the election, outrage and disbelief propelled many into passionate, but ultimately quixotic pursuits. Flipping the electors. The Jill Stein recount. As those prospects faded away, and the names and hideous bios of Trump’s Cabinet appointees came out, many geared up to protest and block that odious pack of cronies, capitalists, and cranks from running the country. Lists of committees were drawn up, scripts written, action plans mobilized. The GOP then ganged up on ACA, as Trump fanned the flames. No, no, protest that! many online cried. Russian allegations exploded; Trump kept tweeting. Crooked media! Overrated Streep! All-talk John Lewis!
As sure as I am sitting here, the White House and even much of Congress are devising ways to wreak havoc on America and betting “libtards” will be out en masse protesting within a couple of hours. They are counting on it. So far, we are not disappointing them.
But with the passage of time, people become numb and mute, collapsing with exhaustion, creating an open, wide and clear, path for the “president’s” coup to complete itself. (And I do believe we are in the middle of a coup!)
Long-time protesters each speak about outrage fatigue, previously called burnout, in their stories. ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) movement and even the LGBT(QAI+) (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Asexual, Intersex, etc.) all find themselves teaching younger generations how to avoid the outrage fatigue that comes with long battles, ones we are surely just beginning with this “president.”
What I Can Do!
I have Bipolar Disorder and struggle with depression and must be hyper-vigilant to not become overwhelmed with sadness and pain, something that’s been quite a challenge the last 6 months or so, increasing each day. I’m also physically disabled, unable to go out into the streets to protest.
But I can write.
Since the Inauguration, I have been sitting back and pondering… considering what cause resonated most with me, which one I would be most effective battling.
What bubbled to the top was Censorship.
As a writer/blogger, I’ve been censored several times, from Blogger slamming my blog shut for having nude women (giving birth and breastfeeding!) to my midwifery licensing organization strong-arming me to “edit” one of the most important blog posts I’ve ever written. (I did and deleted the original, something that still brings tears 9 years later.)
Government censorship has always made me crazy, but it’s been over there… you know, in other countries.
Until this “president” brought it front and center in the United States.
I could enumerate so many examples, but the loudest and most obnoxious recently came from “president steve bannon” when, on January 26, 2017, in the New York Times, he said:
“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while….”
You can imagine the response.
From shock to hysterical laughter, CNN’s Jake Tapper gave the best answer of all; an emphatic, “NO.”
My Strategy to Avoid Outrage Fatigue
I have chosen to focus on that one strength of mine… writing… and the topic that most resonates… Censorship.
This way, I will be able to pace myself. During the couple of weeks with this new strategy, I’m finding myself able to see-and-toss the non-censorship posts, news pieces and videos, but am seeing, quickly and clearly, the pieces that relate to me specifically. This prevents news overload, which pulls me down towards depression. It is, sometimes, challenging to ignore the information on the periphery, but as I do, I find myself more and more at peace.
By focusing on my life-long writing skills as my major protesting mechanism, I am able to keep my interest level high and will have long-term focus on the censorship issue.
One last strategy is for me to connect with other writers, especially those who focus on censorship. Companionship fosters support and support can manifest in many ways including encouragement, reminders of the mission at hand and backing each other up when conflict gets nasty.
I’m hoping that as I send this out over the airwaves, it will find other like-minded people, but especially writers. I could use the support and suspect you could, too.
I am watching the Women’s March on Washington and while I had learned about Intersectional Feminismpreviously, seeing how women’s lives overlap with race, religion, genders, abilities, histories (jail, being on welfare, etc.) and more, live right in front of me, is profound.
And then, as I am writing this, I see that intersectionality itself has been a controversial part of the Women’s March! Well, the organizers made it clear, to me at least, that intersectionality is a major part of the event.
It did not come without conflict, even causing white women to stay away from the March after they felt left out of the planning and implementation of the event.
“Intersectionality simply means that there are lots of different parts to our womanhood,” Brittney Cooper, an assistant professor of women’s and gender studies and Africana studies at Rutgers University, explained. “And those parts — race, gender, sexuality, and religion, and ability — are not incidental or auxiliary. They matter politically.”
So, reading about intersectionality in general and the March in particular, I am learning the history.
Crenshaw also pointed out that she came up with intersectionality to address a specific legal problem: As she put it, “To capture the applicability of black feminism to anti-discrimination law.” An example she frequently cites in explaining the need for intersectionality is the 1976 case Degraffenreid v. General Motors, in which five black women sued General Motors for both race and gender discrimination.
I know that understanding where intersectionality comes from gives me context from which to pull.
I was raised completely different than who I am now. As a young girl, I learned the ways of the white, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied and middle-class world. Yet I am a super-fat mother & grandmother, a femme Dyke, Cubanx/Latinx (knowing virtually nothing about my culture), mentally ill, disabled, a-theist, sex worker, non-TERF feminist who loves a Muslim man and who learnt Spanish as an adult. I don’t know how I would figure out my intersections without all those labels… and the ones I forgot to list.
Watching the end of the March’s rally, I am incredibly happy to see the wide variety of women represented , many of whom do intersect with my identities.
I’m sure the arguments for and against the Women’s March on Washington are being formulated or written about even now, but I am extremely pleased… more than that… excited, energized, inspired… by the speakers, poets, musicians, singers and leaders who were on that stage today.
I had two experiences two days in a row that had me crying foul against what was coming out of someone’s mouth.
That I can recall, these are the first instances when I called out Racism in those around me.
I finally opened my mouth.
Bishop Desmond Tutu said:
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
El Paso, Texas – Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
I was chatting with a girlfriend and the subject turned to the racial integration of the cities we had visited around the United States… a really great topic, actually. We talked about what cities were really White (Seattle & Portland, although there are many Asians in the Pacific Northwest), the way so many cities are segregated (Orlando and San Diego) and then I talked about El Paso being a place where there wasn’t anywhere I could go that I didn’t hear Spanish. As I was learning Spanish, it was nearly an immersion experience and I loved it.
My girlfriend, someone I consider incredibly enlightened with race issues being of a minority herself, said, “El Paso really is part of Mexico.” And she laughed. I was rather shocked, but gathered my wits and said, “I do not find that amusing and it is rather racist.” I continued that people flee Ciudad Juárez for El Paso. I have listened to Americans malign El Paso for decades and it pisses me off. El Paso is a magical place in the middle of the desert and for many, many Mexicans, living there can, quite literally, be life-saving.
My friend realized what she said immediately and apologized profusely, saying she didn’t even realize how racist that was thinking it.
Confession of My Own
As we left the El Paso discussion, I felt safe enough to share one of my own Secret Shames.
I do not say or even think (obvious to me) racist thoughts in my day-to-day life. However, put me behind the wheel of a car and the racial epithets fly unbidden. Only in my head… never out of my mouth… but it is still incredibly disconcerting. And wrong. I’ve meditated on it many, many times over the years trying to purge it from my psyche. I’ve looked at it trying to figure out “Why?” All I can figure is it was how I learned stress relief in a car, hearing it growing up. I have learned in therapy that the younger imprints can be some of the hardest to delete from our habits.
I will not give up trying.
“Think Good Thoughts”
A beloved family member recounted a story of going to a Christmas Concert in a local park and seeing a young Black girl carrying a sign that said (to the best of her recollection), “As night falls, the guns come out.” My relative was quite upset seeing it and said she wanted to go talk to her and tell her to “think good thoughts,” to not think so negative.
I winced, took a deep breath and gently explained how that is a horrible racist-ly negating thing to say. I said that Blacks are told what and how to think all the time by Whites and they have every right to demonstrate the pain and anger they feel in public. And it is our duty to be quiet and listen.
My relative was somewhat receptive… she is trying hard to move along with the times, but it is confusing for her in ways I cannot imagine, she having lived through the Civil Rights years.
Right after that discussion, she said one of the other Never-Say-to-Blacks (or People of Color) statements:
“I Don’t See Color”
I took another deep breath and quietly said, “You do see color. You look in your closet and pick out clothes that match. Colors of people might not be in the forefront of your thinking, but saying you do not see color is not a compliment. It is an insult.
Tell me this, if you were walking down the street and saw a Black man with a hoodie on with his hands in his pockets walking toward you, you really think you wouldn’t notice his color? If your child was going on a date and you saw that the date was Black, you mean to tell me you wouldn’t notice that fact? Come on now, of course you would.
Maybe you are one of those people that really wouldn’t mind. Maybe you truly believe that you absolutely don’t care about the color of someone’s skin. But answer me this, how many people of a different color have been to your house to eat? How many times have you broken bread in the home of a person of color? When you reach for the phone to call one of your dearest friends, are any of them a different hue than you?
I am ashamed of how racist I am seeing myself. I can’t even say the terribly racist statement, “I have a black friend,” because I don’t have any. That’s how racist I am. I represent the segregation of America. And it sickens me.
Obviously, I need to devise a plan to remedy this really negative oversight.
Alllll that said, I am proud of myself for opening my mouth finally. I will keep doing it, too.
It’s been an inner conflict for awhile, but especially uncomfortable since the Pulse Shooting on June 12, 2016.
Of course, like many/most White Americans, I have been socialized to love the police. Growing up, they came to school to talk about the good things they did in the community, when we saw them out eating somewhere, my family always bought them dinner and I was raised to say “Thank you,” to any law enforcement person I saw up close.
Then when I was with Zack in San Diego, he was a Deputy Sheriff, so I lived with a cop for about 8 years (he was in for 10). Living with the uniform was vastly different than seeing one on the street.
You see, I was molested by my step-grandfather when I was under 10; he was a motorcycle cop. An alcoholic motorcycle cop. I was molested while he was in uniform once. So when I was with Zack, for the first part of our relationship, he changed clothes at the station in the locker room, taking care of my fear of The Uniform.
In 1998, I was arrested and jailed for a total of 21 days in two jails (in Orlando and extradited to San Diego). (Story to come.) I was very fat, but was treated kindly (enough), but I also didn’t fight or buck the System at all. Compliant to the core.
Even still, I have been someone who goes out of her way to be kind to law enforcement officers.
Especially since the Pulse shooting.
The Police and Sheriffs were fucking amazing during the stand-off at Pulse. A couple of weeks after the shooting, I wrote an extensive Thank You to all those who worked to save lives and comfort the dying that horrific night, with special call-outs to law enforcement.
– The entire Orlando Police Department who risked their lives, over and over again, to save as many people as possible. I am filled with so much gratitude, my heart overflows with tears streaming down my cheeks.
– Everyone at the Orlando Sheriff’s Department who also risked their lives multiple times and kept communications between the different agencies running smoothly. I also weep with gratitude for your agency.
– Orlando’s amazing SWAT Team who found ways to get into the building to save people and then removed that evil animal from this earth. You all are incredible.
Since Pulse, I go out of my way to thank Policefolks, Sheriffs as well as all the EMS personnel. Not only thanking them, but buying the breakfast, lunch or dinner… even if it is a full table of them.
And then I look around and as I read and learn more about the Black Lives Matter Movement, I have realized how ingrained it is in the Black community to not have good feelings for, dislike, and even out and out hate law enforcement. (How have I missed this before? White Privilege & ignorance. I do know how.)
Of course, it makes perfect sense considering the incessant harassment and massacre Blacks experience on a daily basis.
One of the best memes I’ve seen talked about the feeling white Hillary Clinton supporters are having after the election, that feeling of being betrayed, let down, disbelief that so much hate and bigotry has been around them all this time and has now been released into the light of day… the meme essentially said: WELCOME TO THE BLACK PERSON’S WORLD EVERY FUCKING DAY OF OUR LIVES. This was very impactful.
I’m reading a lot, keeping my mouth (but not my pen) shut and learning what I can. I search different words, different terms (the most recent new word for me is “woke“) and explore threads on my Facebook (not as integrated as I would like it to be) and my Tumblr, which I am finding more integrated, purposefully and because I am trying to learn as much as I can.
This came from my Tumblr feed:
If you work with Black, Latino, Native, or any youth of color, I feel it is incredibly irresponsible to put them in spaces with police, or to grant police any sort of access to these youth that builds positive public image for an institution created from – and vested in – white supremacy. That’s institutional gaslighting.
This was just wow for me. And I see the Truth in it for sure.
I have two brown kids and one white one. I wonder how I would teach them if they were young today. Taking a little dip from each belief system isn’t even possible; it is all of one OR all of the other.
Even though the kids are grown and gone, I find myself wrestling with this today.
Leaning more on the #BLM side, to be honest, even though I am White.
We’ll see where I tip eventually. Lots of unlearning to do. Lots and lots.
I read articles or blog posts and love to share them with my cub. He is brilliant and has his (professional) hands in many different specialties, including history, law and geopolitics.
What is amazing is how we both come to two totally different conclusions about the same pieces of journalism or commentary despite an overall agreement with many social issues.
I have come to call this The Maze.
My View of the Maze
I look at the articles and posts from far above, hovering in a hot air balloon. I read and then draw conclusions from the whole. I am able to set aside any conflicts within the piece or can integrate the contradictions as part of my take away.
Another aspect that I do is unquestioningly believe the person speaking. Especially if they are within an oppressed group. It is almost as if I bow down to their expressions of dissatisfaction, anger or even hate, and will accept the blame for them because I am White.
I tend to think this comes from the very submissive way I (literally and figuratively) walk through the world: eyes down, moving out of the way of someone walking even if I have the right of way, apologizing for bumping into someone even if it is their fault and on and on. Clearly socialized girl behavior.
I am able to write and speak out against oppression however (my Tumblr and this blog are two examples), but when it comes to my voice versus theirs, I defer and allow theirs to soar over mine.
My cub’s View of the Maze
My cublet, on the other hand, is inside the maze, using a magnifying glass, able to see the veins on the leaves and any added droplets that might be falling from the author’s fingers. He sees the most amazing details that I either missed or overlooked, bringing them to clarity and verbalizing their importance within the context of his knowledge and experience.
He says, “Big red flags flew up.”
I am baffled how he sees these things I missed, but he is right much of the time and I am so thankful I have someone off which to bounce these ideas… someone with his knowledge and education.
The most profound piece of his knowledge that is incredibly foreign to me is when he says:
I want to stop police brutality but that doesn’t mean I have to stop thinking. I take the words of a black person very seriously on this issue, but they can be wrong.
Being oppressed does not bestow perfect clarity or give access to some eternal truth.
PoC disagree with each other (so why can’t we disagree with them, too?).
I still don’t know what to do with that information even though intellectually, I know he is absolutely correct. Can I disagree with a Black person or Person of Color when they speak their Truth? Do I really have to accept, as a whole, every. single. word. they say as The Correct Way to Think?
You can’t see it, but I promise, I am processing these new ideas as fast, but as thoroughly, as I can.
Combined Views of the Maze
What I do know now is that when my cub and I discuss the goings on of the world, I am being introduced to new ways of thinking… and he says he is, too. I find this pretty amazing considering I am 55-years old and have discussed oppression for at least 30 years.
We both think so differently from each other, it is in my getting closer to the maze… and for him to pull back some… that I believe I am able to find a new place of balance (he can speak for himself).
Your job in racial discussions is mostly to listen and ask questions. When you speak over PoC it’s not only disrespectful but it makes it painfully obvious that you really have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about.
your friends of colour
I Am Listening
I am watching as increasingly negative, even hateful, memes/quotes/commentaries about White people flow like lava from an exploding volcano on my Tumblr feed. Sure, I Followed them willingly and I could just as easily, with the click of my mouse, Unfollow those blogs, but I think it behooves me to sit in my discomfort and listen to what is being said. Even when the words say, “I hate all White people.” Especially then.
At the moment, the words are floating around me; I am absorbing as fast as I can, but it is a challenge. I feel like an overfull sponge trying to take in another flood of liquid.
I am pretty sure this is where the Unlearning & Relearning comes in, right? To unload some/many/most of those old beliefs I have from a White-oriented American school education and growing up in a White-oriented life… and relearn as many facts/realities/experiences from Blacks/People of Color/people I don’t know very much about.
Why Am I Listening?
I am listening because I want to learn how to “unpack my White privilege” and (for a start) use my privilege to shut other white people making racist comments up. I don’t know the words yet, but I feel them percolating inside, preparing to coalesce into ideas, then a couple of words, then sentences… and finally into arguments/demands for someone to shut the fuck up with their racist bullshit. I want to use my White voice in a way that shows respect and honors Blacks who walk in hate in America. (Especially now that Hate-Garbage is being hurled at Blacks and People of Color at an horrific rate.)
I acknowledge speaking up is barely anything meaningful… and for me, speaking up is often online and in writing, however, for me, it is a start.