I wanted my first post-election blurb to be something meaningful that finds the light amidst the fear. Like Stephen Colbert (and this is where the similarities in our comedic ability end because that man is a GENIUS), I am struggling to give voice to what needs to be done and said without invoking even more fear. As Bernie said, “Indulging fear generates hate.” That might be what got us here to begin with.
Marianne Williamson has urged for years that instead of lamenting organized hate, we need to organize love. I believe that is true on a community as well as on a personal level. Here’s what I’m planning to do.
My white friends have long known that it makes me MENTAL when Asian people act like jerks. They look at me bemused while I rail that it’s completely unfair that some people who look like me run around, doing inconsiderate things and generally acting like doofuses. I complain that these actions have consequences for me, despite the fact I was born and raised in this country (and generally only act like a doofus behind closed doors, at least on purpose). They assure me that people definitely don’t think this, and that my fears are unfounded. Here’s what I know now, for sure. They don’t think that, but many people do.
I am very American, and as Jon Stewart mentioned during the campaign, white people don’t get a monopoly on loving their country. It’s my country too and I would choose it over the country of my biological parents ANY DAY.
While I was talking to a good friend (who happens to be a white woman), she divulged in a fit of frustration (and through gritted teeth), “I am SO embarrassed that there were white women who voted for Trump. Now people who don’t know me think I might be an a$$hole.” The dark humor of it is that she and I now share this common experience. So I told her what I have been doing ever since I was in high school.
I overcompensate. I do my best to be the funniest, most considerate, most conscientious, most emotionally intelligent person that looks like me you’ve ever known. Because there will always be a population that just doesn’t get it until they know me. I learned this when I was chosen for Girls’ State in high school by the American Legion Auxiliary. I remember being taken aback by the emotional conviction in the voice of the sweet 70-something woman whose husband likely served in the Vietnam war. She grasped my hand in both of hers and said “You’re SO American.” What took my breath away was not that she said it; it was that she was amazed it was coming out of her mouth but felt compelled to say it. Thinking about that experience still gives me hope today. If someone with a history like that can find it in her heart to see me by the color of my heart and not my skin, then damn it, there’s got to be hope. It’s not fair that I have to try harder, but if I’m going to be the emotional grown up in the room, then I should. And if you still hate me, well then that’s all on you, sweetie.
This is not the situation I wanted. But it’s an opportunity (Yes, it’s in the midst of crisis. I’m talking about hope, I’m not blind). Want to know what someone’s made of? Throw them in the middle of a crappy situation and see what happens. SEE SOMEONE GOING LOW? Take Michelle Obama’s advice. GO HIGH. GO VERY HIGH.
So here’s what I pledge. I pledge to keep an eye out for people behaving badly. And I pledge not only to out them (we can only address the darkness by bringing it to the light), but I will go high. Very high.
MLK said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. When the arc of this decision catches up with all of us, I’m going to make damn sure my nose is clean.
I invite you to join me.