Even Though

I have been writing this post for weeks in my mind. A follow-up to a vulnerable declaration of fear and self-hatred. I have started many other post since my last. Happy put together posts about revelations that have found me the past few weeks. I will post them at another time.

This is not a happy put together post. I am not happy and put together in this moment. I am trying to ride the tornado that is the words being typed by me right now.

My husband and I have decided to stay in the country we were born to. I wanted to feel happy about this. I am working my way toward happy about this. Another post will dive into that.

This post is not about the choice itself but more so a plea to the many who stand saying that anyone still upset by the results of November 8th should get over it or look at it from a new perspective. Should find the positive in the situation. I beg you to close your mouth and open your ears and your eyes.

We all have blinders. I have them. I am pro-choice and pro-traditional marriage. I have blinders to women who are contemplating abortion. I don’t know their stories or their names. I have blinders that prevent me from seeing the true struggle of the LGBTQIA+ community. The election results have had massive effects on so many. Many many negative effects. These people have a right to fear just as you have a right to tell them that they’re being crazy. You can tell me that, but it doesn’t change my reality. It doesn’t change the fact that I am almost certain I just had a panic attack. Your thoughts don’t change how I feel.

 

I went to see Rogue One with my husband and friends. I didn’t want to see it but wanted to make my husband happy. He loves Star Wars.

I am about to be a buzzkill. If you don’t want my truth please stop reading now.

I watched. I saw. I cried. I held back sobs. I saw…I saw…

Aleppo

Vietnam

Afghanistan

WWII

I saw Aleppo. I saw Aleppo. I saw Aleppo.

With every advance of the rebels there was a quick and painful sacrifice. As the audience around me seemed to be enjoying an entertaining film I tried not to wail. I tried not to sob. Half-way through I just wanted it to stop. I needed for it to stop, but I didn’t want to ruin it for my husband. So I stayed seated. I stayed and watched.

I feel crazy. How can I be the only one who sees that those Rebels are us? I know I’m not crazy because after the election so many found hope in this idea. Maybe it’s that for me from the beginning of Donald being a serious candidate, I have seen the worst case scenario.

I could die. Before you tell me I’m crazy talk to the young lady who may lose her arm because she believed in the cause of the NoDAPL movement. Then look back in history, go back 30 years, think about the AIDS epidemic. Think about the many gay men who died because of prejudice. Go back another 50 years and look at the lynching post cards.

Even before Donald was elected these thoughts of the worst case scenario raced through my head. Would my husband and I have to flee? Where would we be safe? People thought I was crazy. Then Donald was elected. A fear came true. I know I need to stop letting confirmation bias skew my thinking. But when I try to say, “Yeah, I’m just being paranoid,” a new video of people saying “Hail Trump” while proudly doing a Nazi Salute pops up.

So I sat and watched and kept seeing my friends on screen. Amazing people who I know will fight. Seeing myself. Knowing that while I hope good and justice will prevail there will be sacrifice. There always is.

While yes, horrible things have always happened and will continue to happen, I woke up to a new world order on November 9th. Things are not ok.

 

When the film finished I quickly gathered my things and made a b-line to the car. Aleppo, Aleppo, Aleppo. People are dying. We, a global community, are watching people say their last words via twitter. We are helpless. Fuck us, they are helpless and we watch.

I was able to make it to the car but could no longer hold back my fears or the sobs. Things are not ok. Yesterday my husband and I had to leave a restaurant because the table next to us was making overtly racist comments continuously. Not about us but they just kept going on about Native Americans and the current President of the US.

The tears came and then a wave of fear. It can go so bad from here. It can go so bad from here.

Nowhere felt safe. There’s the corner where my husband and I were honked at. Here’s our apartment. There’s the gay couple who will most likely become a target. There’s the deaf woman who will most likely become invisible. There’s our next door neighbors who proclaim Christ and most likely voted for a hatemonger.

I headed to the bedroom closet. In the dark, I tried to gain control of my breathing. My husband frantically tried to calm me down. He tried to say it was going to be ok. He tried to say that I would always be safe. Then he started to cry. He knew. He knew that if we would have said anything to the table at the restaurant he wouldn’t have been able to protect us. Three against one, not good odds.

This was the worst. He shouldn’t have to feel that way. He shouldn’t have to feel like he can’t protect his wife. We have only been married for 3 years. He should have to know that truth yet. It’s too early.

 

Eventually I was able to gain control of my breathing and the wave of terror released me. I will be ok. I will wake up tomorrow and clean my house and do Christmas cards and love my husband as deeply as I can. I will focus my attention on trying to be part of the solution. I will read books about creativity. I will go get checked out by the doctor to make sure my lungs are ok. I will think about my many projects. I will buy comics. I will swim at the Y. I will do all of these things.

 

I will do all of these things and keep doing all of these things and stay in this damned country that breaks my heart and makes me feel shame. I will. I will. I will.

Even though

I wish I was White

Three days of the new world after the US election…

Day 1

In the early hours of November 9th  my priority was consoling my friends and family. I wasn’t shocked. A deep fear came true. My paranoia had ensured that we had some semblance of a plan. Failing to console those I love, sleep found me around 3 am.

Waking up very late, my Facebook feed found me. The rush of pleas for action from my liberal white friends were too much. My bedroom closet held me as I tried to prevent the sobs from finding their way out of me. I had work to do. I had to go to work.

I was able to get my husband to work and myself. At 3am we were leaning toward leaving the country. This had been the plan. My husband thought I was crazy at 3am but before I left him at work he mentioned that Malta would be a good choice. I told him that I felt myself wanting to fix it, the country. Not for me but for my mija yet to be named by our pregnant friend. Who will protect her? I wondered. I promised him I wouldn’t act on anything.

The world felt different. Every white person was now a threat. Hyper vigilance flooded me with anxiety. Paranoia fueled the hyper vigilance. All white people are now a threat. I live in a place where 216,133 people voted for Donald. We only have 570,955 eligible voters. Over half of the people here voted for Donald.

For work, I had to do some shopping. I found myself not making eye contact. A white man in a suit came up behind me in a coffee shop and I jumped away. What would happen now if he tried to hurt me?

Is this how white people have felt all the time? Fearing that people of color might hurt them. Assuming that people of color are always a threat until proven otherwise. It was exhausting.

A flower shop I visit often was my only respite. I knew I was safe there. The owner came and gave me a hug and then gave me flowers before I left. But…

I had to go back out. To prevent from hyperventilating I came up with a way to difuse the fear. “They’re robots. They are all robots. Cops are robots with only one gun and I can see it. I can see the gun so it’s ok. They look like droids from Star Wars. Those droids are harmless. They’re robots. They’re robots. They’re robots. They’re robots…”

All day, if I didn’t know you and you were white you were a robot. My own racism moved from passive to active.

I left work early because I could. I couldn’t keep the sobs back anymore. At home and knowing I was safe I released the sobs.

After work, my husband and I headed to a friends. I needed to play with my mijo. It was a nice night. I received an apology for being called crazy for having thought through what we would do if this happened. That was nice.

There was a moment. My pregnant friend was truly terrified. She is pregnant and moving somewhere where she couldn’t get the right care for her children was not an option. But…

My mija is going to have beautiful olive skin. She is going to look closer in skin tone to me than to her mother. My friend knows and understands what this could mean for my mija. I could see the fear and uncertainty in my friend’s eyes.

Coming home the deep sadness found me again. I asked my husband what he needed. Should we stay and fight or go? He was on the fence and we agreed to take our time to make this decision. Then he asked me what I needed. What did I want? What did I desire?

I could have lied, but I just said, “I wish I was white.”

Day 2

After a day of trying to avoid eye contact and feeling like I was traveling back in time. A time when raping women was done by gentlemen regularly. A time when you could lynch a black person for having the wrong look on their face. I wanted to try to be me. Loud, bright, radiant, vibrant me.

Driving to work, I turned up my music and sang and danced. Work was quick, my last day at the job. I received many thank you’s and compliments.

My boss, a large emotional joyful strong man said he was proud of me. I love him and his hug was a huge comfort.

Then off to work with kids at an after school program. It was rough but ok.

My dad called to check on me. Before the election we had a conversation. He believes that I am overreacting. One of the many people who think/thought I am crazy. “Now you know where you live,” he said. It was hard to hear him. I felt broken. He was trying to reason with me and my emotional brain couldn’t hear the words.

Quick dinner with my hubby then off to play board games at another program with kids. I submitted an application to a leadership program. I so deeply desire to not lose momentum. I want to keep growing for as long as I am able and still breathing. Then a late night movie with my hubby and friends.

On the walk in, I was trying to get my husband to explain to me how it is to be white. Is it possible that being a white person means that you can’t see the world the way I do? Can’t see that there exist many America’s depending on who you are? At the concessions counter, I tried to engage the cashier in conversation. I was trying to still be me, a person who cares about people. My voice was too soft for her to hear. She didn’t hear me.

We made it just in time for the previews and found our seats. The people behind us kept placing their feet on our seats. The first time that my seat was kicked I tried to rationalize. Maybe it was a kid, maybe it was a person who had really long legs, maybe…maybe…maybe.

When no apology came I tried really hard to just stay in the movie. When the second kick came I decided to move seats. I told myself that it didn’t matter who this person was. When the movie was over though, I had to know. I looked up to see an adult female with dark hair.

She and the man with her had put their feet on and kicked my and my husband’s seats throughout the movie. Maybe it was purely an accident. Maybe they were just grumpy. Maybe…maybe…maybe…

When they left the question I asked was, “Did they see me?” On the walk to the car, my husband said that he didn’t want to say anything because he wondered if the seat kicking had to do with the color of my skin. He was afraid of what might have happened if we said anything and didn’t want the trouble.

As we walked up the stairs to our apartment I apologized. My husband is white and if I could just be white too maybe we wouldn’t be having these problems.

I wish I was White.

Day 3

Deep sadness found me again. I didn’t want to do anything. This was the first day of a chosen time of unemployment. It was supposed to be a joyous day but I didn’t feel joy. It was my freedom day.

I wrote a little while my husband slept. Then I tried to laugh with my snoozy husband. I asked him what he wanted to do today. He said he wanted for me to enjoy my Freedom Day. He got up and headed into the living room.

My writing partner and I touched base. We had been doing this almost constantly since election night. She had found the most profound sense of strength while I was still swimming in deep sadness. She shared with me images of Kamala Harris; a woman who had inspired my writing partner. We agreed to meet later in the day to talk about the future of our writing. We agreed that we were both different people now and that this was a new world.

My husband cooked breakfast while I watched TV. Then we enjoyed Hamilton’s America. It felt good to feel something other than sadness. I felt jealous and inspired, but I couldn’t write. I choose comfort instead. My husband and I cuddled and napped until the afternoon.

When we finally woke up my husband headed to the living room. I drew myself a bath and then met with my writing partner. We talked about who we are now. We talked about planning our next moves. We talked about a desire to take an aggressive stance toward our writing. There was work to do and we we’re going to do it.

Coming out of the meeting I noticed an email response from a friend. There was a group of Lutherans meeting about race relations. She had invited me. Feeling super vulnerable I wanted to know what I was walking into. In her email, she stated frankly that she didn’t know if this meeting would be a safe space for me.

I talked to my husband. He instantly said he would come with me. I didn’t want to put him in danger. I want to protect him and all the people I love and now my skin more than ever puts them at risk. I needed him to know that if we stayed this was the new reality. From here on out we would be at risk. Not like when we lived in the city. In the city, we were rarely ever truly alone or isolated. If a person wanted to harm us there was the chance of someone helping. Here, where we are now that is not the case. You can go on a walk in a neighborhood and not see another human the entire time. Then he said, “You would not be putting me at risk. The hate and racism of the other people would.”

No decisions were made. We headed to dinner and planned on a movie after. We talked about a novel we are in the beginning stages of writing together. During dinner I was still on edge a bit. Everyone around us was white. My new paradigm meant they were all a potential threat, but I had my new shoes and looked great. I felt like me and that kept the fear at bay.

We came home deciding to save the movie for tomorrow and build a fort. Instead we headed to bed and fell quickly to sleep.

 

+ + +

 

Now it is day 4. I still wish I was white. I don’t want to have to fight. I don’t want to have to live through history. So many have said over the past few days that we are stronger. We being people who have been marginalized, killed, oppressed and other wise beat down. Surviving that makes us stronger. Having something to fight for makes us more powerful.

All I want though is to be safe and be me. I love people and believe in them. As my faith in God grew I went from saying “I believe in the good in people” to “I believe in the God in people”. Adam’s creation story tells us that God breathed life into him which means that each of us has a little bit of that inside. Now that my faith is in a wonky space I think it’s both. I believe in the God and good in people.

This means that I don’t want to walk around life feeling that everyone I don’t know is a threat even if that’s true. I’m sure on some levels it is. You never know what a person is capable of and I choose not to limit the potential of anyone.

Moving forward I don’t know what my husband and I will choose, to stay or to go. I know which way we’re leaning but I don’t want to commit that to the written word until we’ve decided. I don’t know many things about the days to come. I don’t know who I am now.

I wish I had wise words to sum up this post, but I don’t. I guess I wanted it out in the world to serve as a view into one person’s experience. This is what it has been like for me. Hopefully that’s useful to someone.

Loving Grandpa Trump

A few week’s ago a thought ran through my head. What if Donald Trump were my grandfather? Not right now, but in the future after he became president and most likely began the second American civil war and started a holocaust.

A cartoon version of different conversations between me and Grandpa Trump flooded my mind. Adoring him at age 6, beginning to question him at 10, starting to hate him at 13, running away at age 15 unable to accept the reality of who my grandfather was.

Being a biracial human, I know that my grandparents were only forced to truly look at their own racism when it was too close to home. My Papa, who I love with everything I have, shared with me recently that he was horribly racist toward white people in his youth and child rearing years. Growing up a black man in a segregated small town in east Texas I can understand why. He said it was only later in life and through his faith in God that he realized this was wrong. “It’s wrong to hate,” he said.

Knowing this I want for Donald to have a beautiful biracial grand-daughter. I want for him to face the reality of his words and consequences of his actions.

More and more I see that all bullies are scared, insecure humans trying to hurt you before you can hurt them or seeking to fill a void within themselves through the pain and suffering of others. It would be great if Donald were just evil. Then I wouldn’t feel disgusted with myself and guilty when part of me, a part that I have tried to get rid of, wishes for a lone sniper bullet to find him.

The truth as always is more complicated and nuanced. Donald is a man. A man who didn’t create the rampant racism within our country. Who didn’t fill the air with hatred toward the other. Or make it acceptable for men to objectify and violate women. While he is profiting greatly off of these things, he didn’t create them. We the American people did.

We refused to get uncomfortable. Refused to call out our friends and family when they said something offensive or morally wrong. Refused to stand up for countless victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Refused to sit at the table and have the hard conversations. Instead, we happily only listen to people who agree with our worldview. We yell and demean anyone who dare think differently than us.

So, what now?

I’m scared. I’m afraid that I might have to leave the country to prevent becoming a statistic in a history book many years from now. I’m horrified for my nieces and nephews.

But…I don’t think hating Donald is going to fix anything. And even if he died peacefully in his sleep tomorrow we would still be a country where being a non-white human means a different existence. And where having breasts and a vagina means violence or the threat of violence is just part of your life.

Regardless of what happens 13 days from now, I hope that we as a country can start looking in the mirror and start being uncomfortable. I hope that we can choose peace and love, because I’m not certain hate is going to win the minds of Donald Trump supporters. Maybe if we can speak to them in love and ask them to imagine how their world might change if they had a child or grandchild who looked like a Trayvon Martin or a Daisy Coleman things might change.

I’d happily be adopted by any Donald Trump supporter willing to hear me and comfort me in this time of great uncertainty and fear. If that’s what it takes for my fellow Americans to see me as someone worth listening to, I’m game.

And maybe if those of us opposed to Donald being our president could adopt the people in our lives supporting him as our parents or grandparents or sisters or brothers we can find a way to an America where everyone is truly free and safe and can pursue peace and happiness.

Maybe…

That’s what I’m hoping for.

You Are Not Allowed to Tell Me How to Feel

I am awake. I just had a nightmare about weird zombie government experiments. Sitting in bed trying to slow my heart rate I run through my day. It was a good day. Great time at work, finished a first draft with my writing partner, skyped with my dad. Why was I having this nightmare? The walk.

Last night, my husband and I took a walk. My dad told me about the father of my step-brothers. This man recently had to have part of his foot removed because of diabetes. I have been meaning to take better care of my body. So, hearing this story motivated me to take a late evening walk with my husband.

It was a good walk. You could see the stars and no one else was really out because we live in a community of mostly families and it was late. Most of these families were probably putting their kids to sleep. As we were finishing our loop a big truck drove by and when it was right next to us it honked its horn.

This sent both my husband and I into panic mode. Get home. Get home. We both sped up our pace and walked as quickly as we could. My husband reassured me that the truck wasn’t turning around and that it was ok. I felt a little better, but we both kept walking quickly.

Before I continue you should know that I am a non-white person and my husband is a white person.

Luckily for my husband and me the car didn’t turn around. This did however change our conversation. I mentioned that the other day I was walking to our car and noticed that our downstairs neighbor had a confederate flag blanket in their window. This blanket had not been in the window before that day. When I saw it I quickened my pace and tried not to think of it. After the honking thing, though, I told my husband.

Was this why they had never really warmed to us? Friends of theirs just moved into the apartment below us. What are their feelings toward an inter-racial couple? If I am being truly honest I mainly worry about their feelings toward me. In the eyes of people who hate, I am the problem; my husband would be fine if he wasn’t married to me, he’s white.

As we continued to walk, my husband mentioned an article in response to statements made by Rush Limbaugh in September about Ohio State University’s new policy regarding consent before having sex. He didn’t remember where he had read this article, but he liked what the person who wrote it had to say in response to Limbaugh’s comments. This person simply stated that you are not allowed to tell other people how to feel.

This instantly rang true with me, not relating to my identity as a woman but to my identity as a person of color. I told my husband that it would be nice if when I got into a conversation with a white person about race they just realized this simple fact from the article. Even if they truly do believe that racism is a construct and I just overreact to things, it would be nice if before making it about them and their own insecurities they could acknowledge something about me and my experience.

It would be really nice if they could acknowledge that for me every day I wake up; I am being judged by the world. That although the driver of that truck may not have been concerned with me, a person of color, holding my husband’s hand, for about a block and a half I was scared.

I was so scared that my subconscious tried to work it out with a dream about horrible zombie government experiments. If you have stuck with me this far I thank you.

After having a scary dream and waking up to realize that there is something scarier in real life, there is little you can do. I chose in this moment to try to help others understand what I feel sometimes. Even if it is just in my and my husband’s heads; we feel it. We felt it on the dark street corner when that car honked. We feel it when people look at us just a little bit strangely.

It would be nice if just once rather than tell us to feel differently people would first acknowledge that we feel those things. While this does happen on occasion it is too rarely.

Oh How He Loves Us…

There is a really cool song by the David Crowder Band that plays on this familiar hymn. It describes God’s love as a hurricane. The ferocity of a hurricane bending me like a tree is both awe inspiring and terrifying.

My friend died. He to my knowledge did not believe in and/or worship the Christian god. The god I call Father. This has made me begin to question everything. Not really everything simply the root of my faith. Which has led me to giant philosophical questions.

Did my friend go to hell? Is he beginning an eternity of suffering now, right this second as I sit typing? This line of questioning led me to more questions. What was the point of my friend’s life? He seemed happy here in the physical world we call earth? He did not die due to some horrible vice or source of sin. He suffered a quick and painful four months dying of cancer. Then he was gone. Did I help send him to hell? I am a Christian and yet the only part of my faith he saw was cowardice. I didn’t tell him of the gospel. Does that make his eternal suffering my fault?

Then I turned my focus. God made him. My friend was God’s child just like I am. If that is true and God loves him like he loves me how then could He allow him to suffer forever?

Bigger question, what does this tell me about the being I call Father?

Sometimes I wish I could be a humanist. This life is all there is and then we die and go nowhere. We just cease to exist. How easy that would make life. No moral lines, no standards for right and wrong, no fighting. I still love Him though. I still believe He exists and this belief requires things from me.

I chose to believe He exists, but how is that possible? How can He be all-powerful, all-knowing, loving, wrathful god and not be able to prevent His children from suffering?

I remember an old professor of mine during one of his many ventures away from the topic of American History answering that if God exists He will have to answer for suffering. I never really understood what he meant. I had faith that one persons’ suffering may help another or even help that individual. I have always had an answer to why suffering exists. Suffering exists for other people and for us. I saw good in all the darkness. I saw a clear goal in life: Know God.

Now I don’t know if the God I know is accurate. Have I crafted a God that makes me feel better? Have I turned Him into something He’s not? Is he really a sadistic evil being? Is He an uncaring being? Are humans a failed experiment politely left to live out of pity?

God’s love has been so clear to me all my life. Now I wonder how does He love us?