“I’m tired of explaining to these people, something that’s SO god damn obvious.”
-Dave Chappelle “8:46”
This is neither a brag nor a humblebrag, but I think I’m pretty smart. You don’t survive 7 years of graduate school without being at least a little bit smart . By that same token, I do NOT think that I am the smartest person out there. I think that there are much smarter and harder working people out there and, in general, I tend to trust the smart hard working people when they say things. People like, oh I don’t know, the Southern Poverty Law Center. Or the Pew Research Foundation. Not some asshole who recorded a video on his iPhone and uploaded it to youtube. Hell, I’ll even seriously analyze conservative news outlets in order to try triangulate the different types of news out there.
Because that’s what I learned in school: read and watch (but mostly fucking READ) as many of the things, see who the authors are, what their agenda is/could be, suss out conflicts of interest, and THEN make a decision. Watching a youtube or tiktok video is NOT “research”. Reading fucking peer reviewed articles, news stories, and literature reviews? Research.
So when The Guardian, a newspaper founded in 1821, says police violence against Blacks is entrenched in US culture and it’s accelerated and become more institutionalized, I fucking believe them. Because they’ve been around for a fucking long time. When Forbes, a magazine that is staunchly pro-capitalism, calls out Trump’s bold-faced lie? I’m gonna lean more towards the “yeah, maybe he is a narcissistic, dumb piece of shit” side of the fence.
I’m rewatching Dave Chappelle’s “8:46” right now. It’s uncomfortable, even on a second watch. But it’s important because, in talking about the George Floyd video, he describes his reluctance to watch such a violent act. “For a week, I didn’t watch it-I KNEW…I don’t wanna see this, because I can’t unsee it.” When you see ugly, vicious, unforgiving violence, it changes you at a molecular level. Poverty. Trauma. They change your very being. So, when you look at your family, the people who have helped raise you, and you see that their politics support those of the people who view you as subhuman?
Well…likewise…you can’t unsee that. And as Dave says, “nobody’s going home [after seeing this].”
I just learned that members of my family voted for Trump (or were going to). The fact that my family are Mexican-American, that just a generation ago, WE would’ve been the “people that have problems” bears no weight on them. Because, it doesn’t affect them personally. Again, just a generation ago, we were those people that Mexico “sent over” that 45 refers to as “rapists and murderers”. Those family members accept that, because “at least he’s not a politician”.
My family was never one of those that ever overtly talked politics. I was MUCH older when I realized my dad’s political leanings: he’s an accountant who is pro-business, so naturally a Reaganite. Even HE, a lifelong Republican, went on a rant about how unhinged and truly fucked up 45 is. And yet, those other family members, who say “no politician is perfect” but couldn’t cite an actual bill they support of our current commander in chief, support him. They support a man that is so unctuous, a group of almost 500 military chiefs of staff, admirals, and generals all support Biden, including one who served under our current president. Those family members accept that because they, “don’t like Biden”.
Somehow, their act of voting for a man who says he grabs women “by the pussy” isn’t somehow a reflection of their values and should not be judged. Somehow, they support a man who called a Vietnam vet a “loser” while he himself dodged the draft and I’m supposed to be ok with that after my best friend’s Vietnam vet dad died of a pandemic that was totally preventable had we had an administration who actually believed THE MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS AND EPIDEMIOLOGISTS WHO KNOW WHAT THE FUCK THEY’RE DOING. The president who blocks Dr. Fauci, a man who has advised every president since Ronald Regan and was awarded the presidential medal of freedom, from attending press conferences. Those family members are ok with a president who rejects scientific and medical consensus.
No. Those family members don’t get to vote for a man who says that there are “good people on both sides” when one side wants to not be killed by police, while the other thinks minorities are inferior and think that we can just ignore that and still say, “I love you.” Your vote says otherwise. Your vote says you don’t give a fuck. Your vote has material consequences. Your vote is a symbolic gesture. What you’re saying when you cast your vote for 45 is, “I’ll accept the racism, narcissism, mocking of the disabled, sexual harassment, because hey; at least he’s not a ‘politician’.”
Yes, you can critique politicians. I myself have been critical of Obama’s “I’m gonna drone the shit out of the middle east” policy. I am VERY critical of both Bill and Hillary’s interventionist positions regarding Latin America. THAT’S critiquing policy. None of them, however, told known white supremacist groups to “stand by and stand down“. None of them mocked John McCain (who I personally dislike, but whose military service is unassailable). None of them acted as openly heinous and disgusting as this man. I’ve spent the last several days thinking and writing about this, working to provide link after link, because that’s what you do when you write – provide EVIDENCE of the shit that you’re saying. Will they read this? Maybe. Will they change their minds? Probably not. Reflection is tough and cognitive dissonance is a motherfucker.
A while back, I ran across the concept of “native futurisms” and the idea that in indigenous communities, you no longer see narratives of apocalypse in their fiction because for them, the apocalypse already came with colonization. That’s what this feels like right now: I’m staring at the upcoming collapse of society and trying to warn people, but they’re acting like the large meteor in the sky heading towards us is just business as usual. I don’t know what the fallout of all of this is going to be because my mind is exhausted from all of the spinning that’s been happening these days; thinking about what this means for me and my wife.
What this means is that these choices have a ripple effect, and myself and my Black wife are affected, because we know what your choices symbolize. You may not mean it, but that’s the consequence. I’m angry. Hurt. Numb. Full of self loathing. All I can do to work through all of these feelings is the thing I know to do best: write. Because I feel powerless to do anything else. Most people who know me know that I’m not a melodramatic person given to fits of public posturing, so when I say this I feel it with every fiber of my being: I’m broken right now.
But hey: at least he’s not just another politician.
[Please note: I am not calling out or naming those family members because, despite how hurt I am, I refuse to do that.]