Tag Archives: The US

I am afraid, or, 2017: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here

I am afraid on the basis of all of my identities. That fear is not just of Trump himself, but of unchecked Republican control of the executive and legislative branches of our government, and likely soon the top level of the judicial branch as well.

As a black person, I’m afraid that Republican power will continue to deny that my and my people’s lives matter. That there will be no push from the federal government to hold police who kill unarmed black men and women accountable. That we will continue incarcerating absurd proportions of black and brown communities. That the fact that a businessman who was openly supported by the KKK was elected will give racists and white supremacists a larger platform, a stronger foothold, or even just make them more likely to take action in support of their beliefs.

As a woman, particularly as a sexually active woman of childbearing age who does not want to become a mother now or ever, I am worried about what full Republican leadership at the federal level means for reproductive rights. I have an IUD right now, that was made possible by the stipulation in Obamacare that requires all insurance companies to cover the cost of all forms of birth control. If (it pains me too much to say when) Obamacare is repealed, I will be required to pay for the medically necessary removal of my current IUD in 2018 and for the cost of inserting a new one, which can be upwards of $1000, if I choose to stick with this birth control option that has worked very well for me. If I choose to go with a lower cost, but also easier to misuse option, like the pill, I am scared that I’ll mess up and forget to take it one day, or forget to bring it with me on a trip, and then be faced with a potential unwanted pregnancy under an anti-abortion federal government. I am afraid of catcallers and other predatory men feeling emboldened by a president who has bragged about grabbing women by the pussy.

As a queer person, I am afraid that Trump himself doesn’t care about us, as he has released no policy plans for LGBT rights or HIV/AIDS. But I know how anti-LGBT the Republican party generally is: 2016 has seen pushback on marriage equality and adoption rights for same-sex couples, bathroom bills that have devastating consequences beyond just where we pee, endorsements of gay conversion therapy for minors, and a resurgence of “religious freedom” bills designed to allow businesses the ‘right’ to refuse to serve us. Trans women, especially trans women of color, are being killed every week in this country, and I have no hope that they will be protected under our new president-elect’s leadership. In fact, as the people who oppose QTPOCs very existence see how strong their numbers are, it’s hard to do anything other than expect the violence to get worse.

And speaking of the twisting of “religious freedom,” as a non-Christian, I am worried that a conservative majority in all branches of the federal government de facto pushes church and state closer together. I have extended family members who are Muslim (of the black power, Nation of Islam variety, but that didn’t matter to folks who abused and discriminated against them post-9/11). I am afraid for their safety in the red states of Georgia and Florida under a Trump administration.

As the daughter and granddaughter and niece and sister of people who have worked in the casino industry, literally for Trump himself and/or for people like him, I am worried that Republican control means even further erosion of what little safety net is there for our senior citizens who didn’t work fancy desk jobs with 401ks or pensions and now depend on Social Security and Medicare to literally feed, clothe, house, and care for themselves. I am afraid of what will happen to my father and my grandmother. I am worried that people who don’t make living wages will lose the scraps of support they are currently able to receive from programs like SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid, and won’t be able to literally feed, clothe, house, and care for their children. I am afraid that this administration will do nothing but widen the gap between the rich and the poor in this country, and further marginalize the voices of those being trampled upon.

As the daughter of a woman who has held down a full-time teaching job through multiple rounds of chemotherapy in order to keep her healthcare coverage, I am afraid that people will literally die as a result of this election. Obama was able to bring health insurance (albeit imperfect) to hundreds of thousands of people who did not have it before, and made it so that people couldn’t be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. I am afraid that if my mom gets too sick to work, a post-Obamacare America will be one in which she cannot be insured, and my family will have to watch a disease she beat once before overcome her because we can’t afford the treatments.

I feel America’s distaste for people like me, a distaste that ranges from a lack of empathy to a straight-up hatred, writ large this morning, feel it in my bones and in my spirit more heavily than I’ve ever felt it before. This place was built by us, but not for us, and is about to be run by people who aggressively don’t support us. I feel unsafe and unwanted here on the deepest of levels. If I joke or even more genuinely consider fleeing, don’t tell me it’s my responsibility to fight through and fix this. I didn’t break it. I don’t know how to heal the divide between rural America and urban America, between white America and diverse America, between people who legitimately support Trump’s platform and ideas and people like me. I don’t know if it can be healed. I am not hopeful this morning.

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All of a sudden I felt like an alien. I felt like, holy shit, I am walking around, and all of these people, white people, are okay with my black body being beaten and kicked, even when they’re seeing the violence actually happen and don’t have to rely on hearsay. That the black body is perceived as dangerous, even when it’s on the ground, in a fetal position, with men surrounding it, kicking it. I don’t think I understood or felt as vulnerable ever before. Because I think I always sort of believed in the justice system before that, even though I knew the history. I still felt that when you’re not leaving it up to hearsay, when you have documentation, people will step up. And it didn’t happen. That was really a crisis moment for me. You just feel like, okay, you need to start paying attention. It’s the same line, from Rodney King to Michael Brown. It’s a continuum.

Claudia Rankine (on reaction to Rodney King verdict) in “Blackness as the Second Person” Meara Sharma interviews Claudia Rankine

(via KEW)

When we look objectively at how the dry bones of the nation were hung together, it seems obvious that some one of the many groups that compose the United States had to suffer the fate of being allowed no easy escape from experiencing the harsh realities of the human condition as they were to exist under even so fortunate a democracy as ours. It would seem that some one group had to be stripped of the possibility of escaping such tragic knowledge by taking sanctuary in moral equivocation, racial chauvinism or the advantage of superior social status. There is no point in complaining over the past or apologizing for one’s fate. But for blacks there are no hiding places down here, not in suburbia or in penthouse, neither in country nor in city. They are an American people who are geared to what is, and who yet are driven by a sense of what it is possible for human life to be in this society. The nation could not survive being deprived of their presence because, by the irony implicit in the dynamics of American democracy, they symbolize both its most stringent testing and the possibility of its greatest human freedom.

Ralph Ellison, “What America Would Be Like Without Blacks,” Time Magazine April 6, 1970.

(via knowledge equals black power)

A quarter of high schools with the highest percentage of black and Latino students do not offer Algebra II; a third of these schools do not offer chemistry. Fewer than half of American Indian and Native-Alaskan high school students have access to the full range of math and science courses in their high school.

–Neema Githere,  College in Context: Racial Inequality in America’s Public High Schools

(via this bridge called my blog)

Living with racism in America means tolerating a level of violence inflicted on the black body that we would not upon the white body. This deviation is not a random fact, but the price of living in a society with a lengthy history of considering black people as a lesser strain of humanity. When you live in such a society, the prospect of incarcerating, disenfranchising, and ultimately executing white humans at the same rate as black humans makes makes very little sense. Disproportion is the point.

The “Hey Guys, Let’s Not Be Racist” switch is really “Hey Guys, Let’s Pretend We Aren’t American” switch or a “Hey Guys, Let’s Pretend We Aren’t Human Beings” switch. The death penalty—like all state actions—exists within a context constructed by humans, not gods. Humans tend to have biases, and the systems we construct often reflect those biases. Understanding this, it is worth asking whether our legal system should be in the business of doling out an ultimate punishment, one for which there can never be any correction. Citing racism in our justice system isn’t mere shaming, it’s a call for a humility and self-awareness, which presently evades us.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Inhumanity of the Death Penalty
In America, the history of the criminal justice—and of executions—is inseparable from white supremacy.

(via knowledge equals black power)

What’s interesting is that once again, like with Paula Deen, America is captured by an individual white person who says really racist things and kind of conveniently overlooks their actually racist acts.

Donald Sterling had been known to be a perpetrator of housing discrimination. But not many people cared about that. But once he said no Black people at his games… that was when everybody got mad! Or at least pretended to.

Why is that?

America is a lot more concerned with appearing post-racial than actually being post-racial. Time and time again racist acts are ignored and swept under the rug. But every once in awhile a white person will be publicly dragged for saying something very racist.

That’s the unspoken rule in American race relations: you can be racist but don’t sound racist. You can treat people of color horribly, but you can’t verbally express that you want to treat them horribly. That is crossing the line in America. This isn’t 1965 anymore.

So every once in awhile a high profile white person forgets that we’re in “post-racial” America and that saying racist things is not okay and they become the white guilt scapegoat for the season. The white liberals condemn them and the white conservatives halfheartedly defend them on the basis of “free speech” and whatever other excuse. And white America sighs and says, look, we’re not racist!

Meanwhile Black players are still akin to slaves within an elaborate and lucrative plantation system. Meanwhile Black people in general are facing exacerbated economic barriers due to race so that they can’t be at many of these games anyway, even if they wanted to. Meanwhile there are Black and Latino families being denied housing. Meanwhile, in Paula Deen’s case, Black workers are still being under-paid and unacknowledged for the recipes they created.

–Danielle, of 1 Black Girl. Many Words. | A Donald Sterling Problem or an American Race Problem?

Recognizing capitalism’s fundamental limitations and inequalities, I have no illusions that individual financial success (which I have never experienced) is a substitute for real freedom because I am not merely concerned about what I possess. Of course I want to be able to pay my bills, but I also want too live in a wold where no one and nothing suffers because of violence, exploitation, and poverty. I cannot really be free if I live in a context where wrong is being carried out in my name, and as a U.S. citizen, the government’s inhumane domestic and foreign policies constantly place me in the undesired position, unless I counter them by speaking out and fighting back. The financial success of a few, even if the are members of racially or sexually oppressed groups, is not justice, but merely privilege.

Barbara Smith, “Doing it from Scratch: The Challenge of Black Lesbian Organizing,” from The Truth that Never Hurts , 170

(via queering the game of life)

But the overall failure of American conservatives to forthrightly deal with South Africa’s white-supremacist regime, coming so soon after their failure to deal with the white-supremacist regime in their own country, is part of their heritage, and thus part of our heritage. When you see a Tea Party protestor waving the flag of slavery in front of the home of the first black president, understand that this instinct has been cultivated. It is still, at this very hour, being cultivated.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, on apartheid’s useful idiots

(via knowledge equals black power)

Ending white supremacy isn’t really in the American vocabulary. That is because ending white supremacy does not merely require a passive sense that racism is awful, but an active commitment to undoing its generational effects. Ending white supremacy requires the ability to do math—350 years of murderous plunder are not undone by 50 years of uneasy ceasefire.

Segregation Forever | Ta-Nehisi Coates

(via knowledge equals black power)