We all felt it.
It was like the final nail in the coffin of the aftermath of Election 2016.
We all watched, in real-time, what felt like a second assault on Christine Blasey Ford as she shared her story to be judged by a “jury” of men who prior to had already stated their disbelief at her accusations. Then we watched Brett Kavanaugh, the man who “loves beer” give his own John McEnroe, tennis-racket throwing, defiant defense that was immediately stamp-approved by my favorite Kebbler Elf himself, Senator Lindsey Graham, R.,(S.C.) as an attack on “single, White men”…
“I’m a single white man from South Carolina and I’m told I should shut up. But I will not shut up, if that’s OK,” Graham says.
And now Brett Kavanaugh has been sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice, where 1/3 of the men who sit on the court have been alleged (and received judicial hearings) for sexual harassment or assault. It’s dark, ya’ll… and honestly, we are looking at decades of conservative decisions and possible reversals to the gains we’ve made over the past 50 years.
“How did we get here?” you ask?
I answer, “Feeling betrayed? Think there’s a bit of heavy hypocrisy in our judicial and political systems? That the idea of “fair and balanced” doesn’t apply for all? Feeling fearful of what is coming next, fear for yourself and your children? Scared that the reach of the courts and of this government will personally affect you?”
America: You just woke up Black.
Listen, Black people in this country are so used to this, you may have noticed many of your Black friends have suddenly grown a little quiet.
It’s not that we don’t care. Indeed, we know what this confirmation means personally for us, from a challenge to Affirmative Action and the Affordable Care Act, to more laws that will protect poor law enforcement officers but not our brothers or our children and ourselves. This is literally Same Shit Different Day for us. We’ve seen this from the moment the Declaration of Independence was ratified on July 4, 1776 — which signed colonist independence from Great Britain, but not their property — Us. Ask Frederick Douglass (whom, contrary to some, has been dead since 1895), “What, to Black Americans, is the 4th of July?”
I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is a constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes that would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.
Mr. Douglass was not wrong. He gave that speech in 1852 only after 450 years of the forced enslavement, rape, murder, and other indignities upon Black Americans. Sure, 15 years later we got “freedom” with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but injustice follows injustice apparently because we got the installation of Jim Crow in 1877, which then wasn’t dismantled until the early 1960s.
We’ve had decades to show us that a country could ask us to shed our blood for it in wars, but deny us our liberties and our lives when we return to its soil. That when we protested for the simplest of rights, like voting, or sitting on a bus, or having equal opportunities to educate our children, we were being “too impolite”, we were “rushing” and shoving integration down throats that weren’t ready to swallow it.
I found myself this week listening to a lot of my White female friends talk about how dismayed they felt, as they feared — rightfully so — how this will affect women for generations to come. I kind of felt like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle in the SNL skit, “Election Night.”
I don’t mean to demean that feeling of anguish, despair and hopelessness. Trust me — we ALL are feeling that right now. And as a Black woman, I feel it twice as hard…believe me.
What I would say is, there’s something I think America can learn from becoming Black that just might help us get through this trifling time..
Breathe and take stock of what you got.
It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come. Easier still not to see that even in the present, we are making strides.
Black women are taking leads in politics and in the voting booth (hello #Alabama). More women as a whole are running for office, and many are winning. A record number of LGBTQ are running for office, locally and nationally, adding a rainbow to the Blue Wave of November 2018.
I can’t believe I’m going to say this (and if you ask me I’ll deny it) but I got to give Trump credit: He “woke” us and we are mobilizing…
You’ve got allies — but you got to BE one to keep one.
Want to be a good feminist? Recognize the importance of intersectionality and don’t ask women of color, or LGBTQ friend and allies to leave their issues at the door for the sake of female solidarity. Support them when and where they need you, too. We could use you over here for #blacklivesmatter, for #Flint, on immigration and the unlawfully detainment of children, on #PuertoRico…
Be your most authentic. If you are a warrior and an activist. Don’t say it – BE it.
Listen, not all of us is the next Sojourner Truth, and that’s more than OK. Frankly, we need fewer leaders and more soldiers. I’m saying, there are things you can do, other than vote (for the love of God, I hope you are doing that…), calling senators, or protesting in the streets. It’s confronting friends on Facebook when they go full-out misogynistic, racist, or homophobic (this sparking the question, why are you friends with people who are, but I digress…). It’s keeping aware of what is happening around you. Pick up that book and learn what’s happening to people who aren’t like you. The smallest action can create the greatest reaction.
Be agile and willing to navigate and live in uncomfortability.
This is a tough time but it’s a time for learning, too. I hear men say they are scared to talk to women now, or White people afraid to talk to Black people for fear they will say something wrong. Listen: It’s messy learning how to connect with people in new ways. I hear that…but this could be a time to better understand each other, to learn how to communicate in nuanced conversations. As someone who thinks of herself an ally to my LGBTQ family and friends, I find every day more I need to learn and understand — sometimes that mean I need to stay silent, open my ears (and my mind and heart) to learn something I don’t know. And you know what? It’s OK to not know. It’s not OK; however, to remain ignorant.
Lastly: Take care of yourself. Create. Get energized.
Black people love to party. That is #fact. I mean, you know at least we love cookouts and BBQs.
Historically, when times got their roughest, we sought to create. You can thank slavery for something I guess cause we got gospel music out of it. Reagan, poverty and the drug war gave us the impetus for rap and then pop, which means, I guess also Michael Jackson….and then, Justin Timberlake. In short, show “self-care” and take care of yourself however you can.
I’ve heard the refrain, “this is the death of democracy”, “we’re living in the most divisive time in America,” “this is the end of America.” I know I personally wasn’t around 50 years ago, but I’m gonna take a wild guess that the people who bled for me, took bullets and water cannons and dogs for me so I could get the right to vote, so I could go to a school that wasn’t impoverished, that I could be seen for the content of my character…they probably would disagree a little with that.
Listen, I heard this today and it helps me to stay focused and keep moving forward:
It’s true. America is growing more liberal, more racially and ethnically diverse, and women are finally taking their rightful places in leadership positions, politically and in the business world. Take stock that we are in the last gasps of a world where only the few can get access to the places of power and authority.
For those who are scared of this “impending apocalypse” I can’t help but say it. “Equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you. It’s ain’t pie.”