I think there’s an instinct to turn off the news in “Trump’s America” and hide from it now that the initial shock seems to have worn off, but it’s worth reminding that for a lot of people, that is not an option. There are people who want to be like they’re suddenly woke now, but remember Erykah Badu said to stay woke. Stay being the operative word.
The fact we are living in “Trump’s America” is an everyday reminder that some less than 26% of Americans voted to put in enforcers of racial caste, people who are ready to sell our country – quite literally to Russia and pawn off our national lands to companies who would cause environmental disasters, and make the lives of the vulnerable even more miserable.
As I climb up my career ladder, the more I see into the lives of people who literally have said to me “I’m just going to turn off the TV for four years.” I also won’t forget the absolute hypocrisy of so-called progressives giving these voters undeserved empathy and understanding. I have become even more sympathetic to disruptive protests and actions because people “on our side” (whatever that really means) but aren’t facing the consequences directly would prefer to hide in comfort instead, people who are actually able to actually change the outcome but would rather see incidents like Timothy Caughman’s murder as an unfortunate anomaly rather than for what it really is. Racial violence. Violence against trans people. Trumplandia. It’s more than simple hate.
Charles M. Blow ‘First They Came For…‘
“This has come as a great shock and demoralizer to many Americans, not necessarily because they didn’t think Trump was capable of such depravity, but because they simply were unprepared for the daily reality of living a nightmare. There is an enduring expectation, particularly among American liberals, that progress in this society should move inexorably toward more openness, honesty and equality. But even the historical record doesn’t support that expectation.”
This is my fear about America, most people do not having a living or even a collective memory of what it’s like to live under a daily assault to your senses, dignity, and even for those that do, this is a different animal. There’s a belief things will turn out okay, and that’s just not true. I generally like being positive, but experience teaches me otherwise.
*The mixtape video we all needed. It’s a hard time right now, can’t understate that. Philando Castile, the healthcare bill, the deportations, targeting of Muslims during Ramadan, the environment destruction, the list is so long it’s almost paralyzing. It seems like the politics posts on Facebook at least in my filter bubble have waned a bit, bc it’s like, we know it’s not gonna get better anytime soon, but I know that there are so many broken hearts with a dose of toxic anger all the same from all the offline conversations.
But one thing I’ve noticed though in NYC, since the election, it seems like immigrants have been kinder to each other. Going to stores, Lyft/Uber drivers, walking in these streets, going to work, there is a strange gentleness to each other that I don’t think was quite there before. We don’t speak the same languages, we don’t share the same skin colors or cultures, we don’t really even have the same struggles (I’m totally cognizant of the fact I’m a light-skinned Asian whose is a natural born American citizen with a White collar job and what that gets me – I walked through customs in under 3 minutes with Global Entry yesterday – which gives me a responsibility to do a damn thing), but it seems we’re in this reality where we need each other’s kindness because of Trumplandia and a lot of the White Liberals who quite frankly seem to be want to be there for their racist cousins than for us, I get that tribalism, but we’re responding in kind with our kindness to each other in response to what is effectively state-sanctioned violence.
For some of you out there, I know you don’t feel this, but feel me for a minute when I say this cruelty out here is undeserved, and it’s real, and if you’re not fighting it, you’re complicit. Let’s get on with it. Save your kindness for those who deserve it and need it. We’re America’s ghostriders, and the former colonized in Europe built those empires. The credit is only borrowed. We’re going to cash those checks, sooner or later, one way or another.
*One thing I do want to call out some friends pointed out on FB – the misogyny in the lyrics and in hip hop in general, :(. Also, let’s not forget in the American context, most Black Americans weren’t immigrants and were forced to build the country for free and Native Americans driven off on the land that was theirs.
What to Tell the Children
tell them that this is the great awakening
tell them that we humans have made some huge mistakes
and that's how we now find ourselves in this tenuous place
teach them that hate is the poison
teach them that love is the remedy
that is it better to be readied for what comes next
even if the revelation is painful
tell them that this is the paradigm shift, that the old is collapsing in on itself
that this death rattle is simply a temper tantrum, the last gasp of a dying Goliath
remind them of how they get wild when they are most tired and then pass out
that this is what it's about
that this is what is happening to a decrepit and ineffective empire
tell them that everything is not OK
and knowing that, is OK
tell them that pretending that what is unacceptable is fine
is what got us to this sick and dysfunctional spot on the time line
apologize for any prior attempts to teach them denial
tell them you were blinded by desire for comfortable numbness
express that you had the best of intentions
that you were working within a broken system
where few benefited at the expense of many
that you laid low, kept to the status quo, obediently played your role
but those days are over because now you know better
tell them that they have no responsibility to follow someone blindly
based solely on a title
teach them to practice discernment
tell them authority and respect must be earned, and are not inherently deserved
teach them that there are good people and bad people
from every background, ethnicity and belief system
that they must align themselves with kindness
that there is no more room for divisiveness
you tell them that just because something is legal that doesn't mean it's right
you tell them to stand up, and fight
remind them of all the lawful atrocities
committed in the sick and twisted history of this violent country
that Rosa Parks righteously broke a law, and the world took notice
that Harriet Tubman is our modern day Moses
that women would not be allowed to vote,
and no one would have proposed another notion,
if the blessed rebels hadn't taken a stand
tell them love will win this war
but only if we remember that love is not just one unending cuddle puddle
but fierce, as a mother bear protecting her cubs
tell them that although this existence is damaged beyond repair,
they must not despair. there is possibility.
and we will willingly and willfully open ourselves to new ways of being
because the old way is not working, has never worked
and the world deserves better, and we're worth it
tell them they are not free while another suffers under enslavement
teach them that we are all limbs on one body
and we cannot chop off our own arm without deep suffering
teach them humility, but also to relearn to trust their intuition
and beg their forgiveness for unintentionally misleading them previously
tell them their gifts are useful
tell them they are beautiful
tell them THEY ARE THE TRUTH
Poetry for reflecting today. I’m traveling to Taiwan tonight, my motherland, to see family and friends. I am fortunate for now for relatively unencumbered freedom of movement, something my Brown friends don’t have the privilege of doing. Something to ponder on and think of how you can weaponize your privilege in the struggle.
Last night, I dreamed that my passport bled.
I dreamed that my passport was a tombstone
For our United States, recently dead.
I dreamed that my passport was made of bone—
That it was a canoe carved out of stone.
“But I can’t swim,” I said. “I will drown
If I can’t make the shore. I’ll die alone
In the salt. No, my body will be found
With millions of bodies, all of them brown.”
I dreamed that my passport was a book of prayers,
Unanswered by the gods, but written down
By fact checkers in suits. “There are some errors
In your papers,” they said. Then took me downstairs
To a room with fingernails on the floor.
I dreamed that my passport was my keyware,
But soldiers had set fire to the doors,
To all doors—a conflagration of doors.
I dreamed that my passport was my priest:
“Sherman, will you battle the carnivores
Or will you turn and abandon the weak?
Will you be shelter? Or will you concede?”
Last night, I dreamed that my passport was alive
When it entered the ICU. It breathed, it breathed,
Then it sighed and closed its eyes. It did not survive.
©2017, Sherman Alexie
There are moments where some people begin to have where their politics and beliefs diverge vastly from those given to them from the environment they grew up in, the institutions around them, what have you.
People are rarely convinced by facts and figures, but rather by the expressions of stories, art, and culture.
A lot of where my consciousness and moral clarity came from when I was a undergrad at UC Davis during the pessimism of the post-9/11 Bush years (remember when we thought that was the worst?), and it was through a lot of music scene there are the time.
Blue Scholars, a hip hop duo out of Seattle whose music explores immigration, racism, challenging authority, socioeconomic displacement, and global conflict helped develop my consciousness. It feels timely again given MC Sabzi’s Iranian and MC Geologic’s Filipino ancestries.
I’ve never stopped loving this hook:
Because I, got your back even if you don't got mine
Grind in the dark when the clock strikes hard times
We ain't nothing if this bond ain't solidified
Day Two of 100 Days of Resistance Art. This is Musa Okwonga‘s poem he posted on Twitter a few days ago:
He has a great interview in this segment on Monocle and reads from his piece in the The Good Immigrant anthology.