Tuesday, August 15, 2017

if we met for coffee, we would have to talk about charlottesville

If we met for coffee, I would want to keep it light and easy, but these days, how can you?

If we met for coffee, the current state of our country would surely come up. I feel that 95% of the people in my life by choice think that the current administration is a joke, negatively impacts them, and that nearly anyone else could do a better job governing us. I would ask you how you're getting your news, and how you retain it. How are you keeping the facts accurate and straight so that when you're confronted with someone who doesn't think 45 is so bad, you can provide actual rationale other than an eye roll or an inability to speak due to blind rage? I feel that the news comes at us so quickly and all of the bad things mount that it's hard to keep anything straight anymore. It's easier just to avert your eyes until the next bad thing strikes, since it's inevitable that something will. But, burying your head and just saying that "he's the WORST" solves nothing, so one must keep up with the latest insanity.

If we met for coffee, the events of this weekend would come up. There are Nazis living life like it's no big deal in America in 2017. The media is covering the domestic terrorist using assault with a deadly weapon to kill someone as the mere perpetrator of a car wreck. That is not okay. That is not accurate. For some reason, because the victim was a female my own age, just trying to do what she thought was right, this murder feels even more senseless. It shouldn't matter if she was like me or not, but the similarity just highlights that it could have been me or you or any of my friends. This might be the way my black friends feel every time we hear about an innocent, unarmed person being shot by police. I thought I got it before, but I feel like I'm understanding it anew. You can be minding your own business or trying to do the right thing and it can all be gone with your name trending on twitter within the hour.

This whole thing has me thinking about the ways in which we talk about race and class in America. We're told as kids to treat everyone the same, since we're all the same inside. While that's great when you're 4, that doesn't carry over to adult life very well at all. When does the lesson come around that decades of systemic oppression guarantee that your friends who don't look like you are being treated differently by society and that in treating them the same, you aren't helping much? I feel a pull to understand more about others' experiences and I see how our human needs are very similar, but the ways in which we exist in society can be very, very different. But, if you don't actively seek out these lessons by making friends who look different from you and consuming media with people who don't share your background, will you ever learn it at all? People who claim to be colorblind are well-meaning, but they are really just society blind if they think that the color of a person's skin doesn't affect anything about them other than their outward appearance.

I would want to ask you what you're doing about the state of things, and what you want to do moving forward if we met for coffee. I was disheartened a few days ago when someone (a young person) who I care a lot about told me she didn't think Trump was that bad and proceeded to tell me that Obama had secret meetings all the time "with Muslims." I asked her why this mattered and she said "because, Terrorists." I tried to calmly explain that all Muslims aren't terrorists the same way that all white Christian men don't bring guns to school and was met with something like "I'm never going to become a liberal." I'm not sorry for who I am or what I believe and I'm not afraid to stand up for myself, but I do lack the vocabulary and patience to make an argument that doesn't sound like an attack or a condemnation. What I want to do for my 45-supporting friends is at least put a face to that liberal name. To show them that those of us who Fox News paints as poor people grabbing at their money and giving their jobs to Latinos walk among them and are good people who just want to spread some of the goodness around.

I'd want to compare notes on how to handle all of this. Is saying something cliche better than saying nothing at all? What are you doing to condemn bigotry and racism, and what else could or should you do? I think it's a thin line between seeking attention from someone else's tragedy and actually lending voice and importance to a conversation. I hesitate to add more noise to the world. I don't know what to do to step up. So I would just have my coffee with you and maybe we could think of something to do, together.

And I would implore you to listen to the latest episode of Pod Save the People where Deray McKesson interviews UVA students and the governor of Virginia. If you feel like the media is sensationalized, there is nothing better than a firsthand account. I'm not finished with it yet, but I have heard most of it and it's just very real.


  1. We were talking about this a little bit at lunch yesterday. I want to know how we got here. I'm not saying things were ever perfect in this country, but how have we gotten here??

  2. even up here in Canada, we're talking about it. It's so sad that this is STILL happening - it's 2017, not the '50s. What's worse is that Trump isn't even condemning those racist pricks but blames 'all sides' SERIOUSLY!? no wonder the country is falling apart; if your country's leader isn't even putting a stop to this, then who will???

  3. This was a great way to talk about this. It's all been weighing very heavily on me, and to be honest, I just don't know HOW to bring it up. It's so sad, and hard to even fathom how we got here. Also, definitely going to listen to that podcast.

  4. Thank you for writing this and sharing the podcast. We had a short seminar and hope to have a longer one on how to talk to people who disagree with you. The best example I had was someone who this: Liberals want everything to be pc! And to frame that differently you would say back, you don't think that we should all treat each other with respect? And then beyond that some people aren't worth having conversations with. I am not willing to be friends or associate with anyone who thinks that Nazis should have a space in America today. I'm looking forward to the podcast!

  5. I have so much rage right now that I am not in a place to try to shift perspectives of his supporters. Some days I have that in me, and I am so happy to move the needle a little. These past few days I could set someone on fire by looking at them so I've tried to keep to myself.

    I feel a little like I have talked myself to death over this. I feel like I should have been shouting long before November and instead I tried to appeal to people in a way that did not get through.

  6. I don't think I've ever put my opinion on the internet: I don't like Trump. I also didn't like Obama. I was incredibly anti-Hillary for laundry list of reasons and none of it has to do with the fact that she's a woman. Everyone seems to think Hillary lost because people weren't willing to allow a woman to be President. That's not what most educated Republicans were thinking. Seriously, just choose another woman, Democrats. A woman can absolutely be President. But Trump is disgracing the Republican party and I don't trust him. (I didn't vote, for what it's worth, so I'm "that" person.)
    Anyway, I usually keep my opinion to myself simply because I don't think it (my opinion) matters very much.
    But I don't want any of my students to ever feel like they don't belong, so what's happening now really forces me to model empathy and kindness like I never have before. We're backtracking all of our progress and that's NOT good for our country.

  7. If we had coffee, I would be glad to talk about this. And also admit I don't even understand how to fight it because...it's 2017. How is basic respect for other humans still a fight?

  8. This is great and I really loved your post on FB this week, too. I've been in such a weird head space this week because of all this. I struggle with wanting to scream into a void and fight/resist/bash the administration and Trump but also with needing a break for my own sanity. It's unhealthy nowadays to just turn on the TV or look at the Internet. Every single day it's a new devastating disaster and I can't take it.


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