Here are some rantings. A little too much for one blog, but this has been long simmering…
The 2016 election seemed to reveal the inhumanity of our fellow citizens.
Narcissism, racism, selfishness, and just plain meanness, won by a landslide. And a mentally unstable, know-nothing, racist, xenophobic man with a history of sexual assault and fraudulent business deals became our commander-in-chief.
This was not America.
And then I learned, from people I admire and respect, that day-to-day life — as viewed on November 9, 2016 — would not be so different for far too many people when Agent Orange was sworn in.
- It would still be dangerous to be African-American in this country — the traffic stops, the arrests for wearing a hoodie, etc. [I learned that even my classmates from an elite American college were not immune.] Except even more police officers would walk away from murder charges.
- People of all colors (other than white) would still be harassed and hounded and taunted. Except it could be more blatant now.
- Women would still face gender-bias and harassment in the work place and everywhere else, but it could be more blatant now. I am in my 50s, so no one grabs at me anymore; it just affects my business generation and income. [That anyone thinks it is ok to grab another person’s body part without permission is such a clear example of unexamined biases in our society.]
- Immigrants or perceived immigrants could be told to go back to their countries even if they have always lived here (even if they born here – or brought here as children — and had been here as many generations as the hate-spewing white person).
- People who blamed others for taking away the jobs they were unqualified to have could rage with abandon.
- And the ends justify the means. And if it meant that some powerless person was harmed or killed to make otherwise ineffectual white men (mostly) feel empowered, well, all the better. And these ineffectual white men did not hide it.
- Neo-Nazis still existed, except they no longer hid behind hoods.
We were, of course, united by the existential threat that the Mango Mussolini would get us blown up by nukes or cause our economy to melt down because of unbridled greed and abject stupidity.
This is not America (but it is).
While I was tortured and devastated, I thought that my life — even as a white, liberal, Jewish lesbian — that would not change, as long as I lived out Trumpism in New York City.
But the vitriol and the hatred unnerved me. And the hate crimes surged here.
And I felt powerless.
And then my perception of reality did change.
I would love to say that I resist and march for others. But that is not true.
I fight for my life, my beliefs and my family legacy. I own this fight. And every win is a triumph — if a racist cop is imprisoned, a Trump associate is indicted, a government subsidy to the wealthy is revealed, or a judge smacks down Administration for its Muslim travel bans. Maybe that makes it more real for my compatriots when they look at this middle-age, well-to-do white woman.
Because it is about me. And about you. And about you and me.
And standing up is itself a gift. The Sunday after Rosh HaShanah, there was the Muslim American Day parade. There were about seven of us who went to hold up the sign:
We were greeted with such love and joy. I was the one crying from gratitude. And then we were asked to march in the parade.
So seven New York Jews marched in a parade alongside Muslim Americans whose heritages spanned the globe.
Everything in my life brought me to that day — my immigrant grandparents, my striver parents who didn’t speak English until first grade, who became upper middle class professionals, through public school education and the GI bill.
I am learning about the America that was and that is. And I am learning about the necessary work to make good on the promise of America. Because I want America to be that of my grandparents’ fantasies. Because I want everyone I know and everyone in my subway car has an equal chance at prosperity, safety, security and health. (Happiness is never guaranteed.)
And then, daily indignities of having Trump as president, backed by the political sewage that is the GOP leadership, gave rise to a “I am too tired to be silent” rage. And then came the tidal wave that was the culmination of each act of love, patriotism and resistance:
“Me, too” meme that has felled so many (except for the Groper-in-Chief).
The teetering campaign of Roy Moore, the poster child of ‘America Gone Psycho.”
The clear inability (thank G-d) of the GOP to govern.
The people associated with Trump getting indicted.
People realizing that taco stands on every corner is an awesome concept.
The realization that the children of those who are running the stands are the future of American. Just like my grandfather with his apple stand.
Also? head scarves are cool.
And then hope came this off-year Election Day. Democracy could carry the day. If we stay vigilant and take nothing for granted. And if we believe that we are all created equal and with inalienable rights to life and prosperity. Maybe not happiness, but maybe safety in our homes and on our streets from robbers, thieves and agents of local, state and federal government.
And one more wish?
Let that same damn landslide bring them down. (oh, for all the Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists, thanks for taking off your hoods. Now we know where to find you.)
And let’s take a moment to remember:
Because when next our nation sings Hallelujah it will be because we stood up. #ImStillWithHer