Why I Am Marching

The past few months I haven’t been writing.

I’ve made vague scratches at the page, but nothing felt like enough.

Donald Trump is nothing new. He is only the concentrated epitome of racism, sexism, classism, and xenophobia that has long held our country in its claws. His rise to power, however, has granted the more violent racist elements of the country a feeling of empowerment. It is not a small thing that Neo-Nazis and the KKK have both supported the small-handed creature that has now been inaugurated.

The cabinet that Donald chose, or more accurately the cabinet that the power directing his incoherent hate-filled gourd-of-a-body chose, is full of people whose careers have been based on denying climate change, electrocuting young members of the LGBTIQA community, and accumulating wealth at the expense of the marginalized populations. They do not care about me or the people I love.

Already, many of the people I love have lost their health insurance with the repeal of major parts of the ACA. For those who don’t understand what it’s like to wonder how you’ll pay for rent and groceries and utilities, let alone trying to pay for doctor’s visits or heaven forbid emergency surgery … it is demoralizing. It has made the concept of surviving in the United States, a high-wire act already for women and men of color, immigrants, non-binary people, indigenous folks, and the many, many others, an impossibility.

I have felt overwhelmed by the urge to act, the regret at not having acted sooner, the fear that my actions may cause further harm, the frustration of feeling that even when I do act it feels at times insignificant. Even my writing, which has carried me through my darkest hours, even my writing doesn’t feel sufficient for this challenge.

But I’m writing now. I am writing because I need to raise a voice, however imperfect it is, however misguided and idiotic my thinking, I need to speak out against those who do not respect human life. No matter how insufficient I may be, I need to write.

I do not support a Muslim registry. Freedom of religion was a foundation of this nation, and those who claim to be Christian should remember the persecution that once faced their own religion. And should also recall a time when people were isolated based on their religion and then slaughtered by the millions.

I will not allow this to happen while I am alive. I will not. I will fight any semblance of such a registry with everything I have.

I will not support the loss of female autonomy. Reproductive rights, already so fragile, are once again threatened. The most basic right granted by joining a society, physical autonomy, is on the line.

I will not support the continued persecution, imprisonment, and murder of people of color. There has never been an excuse for this enslavement and murder. The fact that this evil has continued essentially unchanged since the 1600s is an abomination. We live in a country that time and again has sacrificed its soul in order to perpetuate a racial hierarchy.

Black women are six times more likely to go to prison than white women. Rates of sexual assault against women of color are higher than the rates against white women. Young black men can be sent to prison for years without being charged. Young Hispanic men can be murdered because they “looked suspicious”.

My words fail. My words will never be enough. But I have to write anyway.

This world needs saving. This world needs changing. And I must use my words as a weapon. I will write fiction that does not evade. I will write fiction that eviscerates. I will write to enlighten and uplift, to tear down walls and build houses. I will write when I cannot write. I will write.

At my core, I believe in love. Love is the way to fight against seemingly insurmountable odds. Love saves those who cannot be saved, recovers what has been irrevocably lost. Love forces my fingers forward, draws my hand across the page, when everything inside of me wishes only to erase.

I love you. I love you completely. I will give whatever I have to protect you. I will put my body between you and the bullet, between you and the registry, between you and the forces that wish to destroy you.

I am small and stupid and insufficient. I do not know anything. But I am here for you. And you are why I am marching.

You are why I am writing.

A Note from Poor White America

I’m probably going to get SO MUCH backlash from this, but you know what, I stopped caring about ten days ago.

I’ve talked to a lot of people about this motherfucking election. And a lot of people I’ve talked to have noted that “racism/sexism/homophobia/utter disdain for the environment/etc. are bad BUT”

And then continue with a sob story about poor white Americans who are poor and white and American. And how we need to reach out to them right now. And worry about their futures.

Ignoring the fact that many white college-educated people voted for the king of rotting peaches, I have two responses.

First, where was this sympathy when you just thought we were ignorant cousin-marrying inbreds without any real political power? Why is it just showing up now to excuse us from any culpability in supporting a racist fascist dictator and his (how is it possible???) even worse cronies?

Second, I’m poor white America. I grew up in a family of six sharing a two bedroom, one bathroom house. I wore patches in my jeans and got my hair cut on the back porch well into middle school. I went to bed hungry most nights. It was a shock one day when I realized for the first time in a long time that I wasn’t hungry.

I’m not saying I’m the poorest. I’ve never known what it’s like to be homeless. But I know the poor rural white America you’re talking about. That’s where I grew up. I remember when the RV factory shut down and half the town was unemployed.

And GUESS WHAT. That still doesn’t excuse racism. That doesn’t excuse sexism. It doesn’t excuse anyone from being a good person.

To use that excuse (sorry “explanation”) is to ignore the fact that even when you’re poor you still have free will.

I have gone month after month where I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make rent. I’ve counted down the cups of rice left until the next paycheck. It’s disheartening and demoralizing. But I still knew that the enemy wasn’t immigrants or “the gays” or Planned Parenthood. I knew that the enemy was a capitalist society.

And, yes, I’ve had the advantage of a prestigious private education. But you know what? Even when I was an under-educated little runt, running around trying to hit boys because I wanted them to like me, I still stood up for gay rights and against racism. I never would have voted for the orange asshole no matter how bad things looked. And I know many other poor white Americans who agree.

Look, I’m very happy that wealthy liberals are now suddenly aware of the existence of rural America. It’s about fucking time. But don’t pretend like you “caring” about us now is anything other than a smokescreen to once again ignore that America is inherently racist, supports rape culture, and is intensely homophobic.

If you really do suddenly care now, then do something about it. It will probably arise that working for social justice for poor white Americans will require you to also work for poor black Americans and poor Asian Americans and poor Native Americans. If you really want justice for poor white America, then work for all of poor America.

I’m tired of hearing this argument as a way to avoid looking at the truth. You’re still responsible for your actions even if you’re poor. Yes, lets provide jobs, but lets not pretend that scapegoating is ever excusable.