What follows is a personal reflection, addressed as much to myself as to the Village. Make of it what you will…
Bill Maher said something grotesque last week, and social media blew up. In what has become a predictable pattern on Twitter (and DK and just about any other platform), people of color and allies said, “No. White folk can’t use that word.” White folk whined, “Hypocrites! If black folk can say it, why can’t we?” Persons of color responded, “Look it up…lots of explanations out there already”, while white people yelled, “No, YOU explain it to me!” And then there were the subtweets and discussions about whether using racist language makes one a racist, with never-ending cross-talk as individuals claimed conflicting definitions of racism. And so it went.
I chose to mostly ignore the arguments for several reasons. First, I don’t particularly like Bill Maher, don’t watch him, and don’t generally listen to him. Secondly, if I’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s that when issues of race and racism come up, listening to persons of color is important and necessary, so I didn’t feel I had anything to add to the “discussion.” Finally, I generally considered it just another moment of a loudmouth white guy saying something stupid, and really, is that anything new?
Like so many, 45*s treatment of our European allies left me flabbergasted, outraged, and more than a little afraid. I’ve had several nights of near-sleeplessness as I considered the short- and long-term repercussions of his traitorous actions. I’ve had moments of deep despair as I grappled with my individual helplessness in the face of the shift in geopolitical realities. I’ve felt seething anger at the know-nothings in our own country who now see no problem with becoming a client-state of Russia. I’ve been rocked by the ongoing hypocrisy of Republican officials who are trying, with some success, to normalize the actions of Kushner and Flynn. I’ve had the roughest few days I’ve had since Election Night…and then I read this:
Like so many of us, I have been watching the overseas trip of this Administration with a mixture of interest and dread. As I type this (midday Monday), the trip has unfolded without any major international incidents or embarrassments, but as I read the coverage of the trip, I’ve realized that I have questions about the background of situations that go beyond the what the media is explaining.
I’m tired. I want nothing more than to spend the summer working in my gardens and helping my daughter put the finishing touches on her upcoming wedding. I want to play with my pups, cuddle with my cats, and lounge in the backyard with my family and friends. And I’ll do all that. And yet…and yet, I’m not able to ignore the attacks on all that I hold as right and just. I’m not able to ignore the coarsening of our discourse or the corruption of our rule of law. I’m not able to function as if community is unimportant; as if my individual wants supersede the needs of so many. And so, despite the occasional desire to stay in my safe chrysalis, my inner butterfly inevitably emerges in resistance. We have been given words that guide us; remind us; and inspire us, and I’m sharing them today for all who are as tired as I am, but continue in resistance.
Sunday is Mother’s Day, and for the first time in almost a decade, I’m going to be spending the actual day with my daughter. In our family, we’re pretty relaxed about observing holidays on the designated day, so when The Kiddo invited me down for the weekend, I was surprised, but jumped at the opportunity. Following our personal tradition, the visit will consist of “doing what Mom wants to do with no complaining.” It will also be a far cry from earlier celebrations of Mother’s Day in the country’s history.
Sisters and probably my maternal 2x great aunts; one of those unsolved genealogical mysteries.
Be forewarned; rambling, stream-of-consciousness post ahead…
The most recent pronouncement by 45* (about Andrew Jackson and the Civil War) once again illustrates his complete lack of historical knowledge, and coming as it did on the heels of an unexpected interaction in my own life, it has me again thinking about grand themes like, “What is history?” and “What is family?” On Saturday, I received a Facebook friend request from someone I’ve never met; I did, however, recognize the name, because he shares the name of the husband of a great aunt (both of whom I also never met). Before accepting his request, I perused his FB page (why on earth do people not keep their pages locked down?) and was able to immediately discern that he is a full-blown Republican and Hillary hater. I’m not certain he is a T***p supporter, but he certainly isn’t shy about broadcasting his disdain for Dems. Given that I’ve limited my interaction with my own sister because of her vote for the Orange Shitgibbon, I had to think awhile on whether to accept this friend request. I finally did and don’t regret it; he’s a second cousin who searched for me on the recommendation of another recently-discovered second cousin. We had an amiable and lengthy chat, and signed off with the promise to stay in touch.
Whether we’ve liked it or not, unity has become the Democratic buzzword of late. The tour with DNC Chair Tom Perez and Sen. Bernie Sanders has created waves on Twitter and in the press; the dismay, disarray, and disgust that have resulted are an unfortunate by-product of tone-deaf politicking. It occurred to me in the midst of my anger of the past week that I wanted to know more about where this emphasis on “unity” originated. I did a deep dive into the background and what I found is both encouraging and cause for concern. I am the first to recognize that this topic is a bit esoteric and wonky when resistance to the Republicans has to be our primary focus. But I also hope that it will provide some helpful information about directions the Democratic Party is considering for itself.
Today’s post is a response to two different, but converging, prompts. First, as I mentioned in a comment yesterday, is my reading of Eric Foner’s Reconstruction Updated Edition: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, a massive history (that I’m less than one-third of the way through) of an era that continues to reverberate today. The second is the continuing criticism by Sen. Sanders of the Democratic Party, and the inevitable response on Twitter by Bros who continue to argue for “economics uber Alles.” The inability to recognize and address white supremacy with any coherence is an issue for more than just white supremacists; it becomes a problem for those of us who understand that the base of the Democratic Party is women and persons of color. In general, the Base (and allies) understand the problems associated with patriarchy and white supremacy, because it is our lived experience. We further understand that systems of prejudice don’t go away with a wave of the economic wand, and our history demonstrates that. The thoroughly ahistorical arguments of BoBers are troubling, but I am convinced that for some, the absence of historically-grounded awareness is a matter of ignorance, rather than malice. Today’s post is a compilation of quotes from Foner’s book (whether his own words or drawn from commenters during Reconstruction) (with a few tweets to add “color.”)
A year ago, I never knew, or needed to know, these words!
With the ongoing misdirection, distraction, and lies from the R administration, it seemed a good time to remind us all that what we’re seeing is predictable, and even expected, from our attention-deficient Narcissist-in-Chief. 45* has already shown that he has the attention span of a gnat; that he takes on the opinion of the last person in the room; and that shiny things will hold his attention…until the next shiny thing comes along. (This may actually save us from some of the worst, as he clearly doesn’t have the will or ability to focus on ongoing legislative battles.) In the meantime, it is clear that we, as a coalition against Trump, are learning how to wade through the bombardment of words; now, if only our media would show some of the sense that allies like #Indivisible folks have used and taught us.
This past weekend the Rev. Dr. William Barber spoke at Riverside Church in NYC as the kickoff of the church’s yearlong Beyond the Dream: Living King’s Legacy, an”education and action initiative to create a more just and peaceful society.” April 4th is the fiftieth anniversary of King’s Riverside speech. (The text of Dr. King’s speech can be found here: Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.) Basket attended the service, and what follows is his report: