I Would Almost Be Happy

It’s been a weird little January. Ever since I went freelance, January has been a month of writing and editing, because my academic Second Job is on break. I think it was two Januaries ago that I did some major book work, which was great. This January has been the Small Beer book.

If it weren’t for the destruction of the progressive image of this country, I would be fine. On the one hand, now that the veil has been removed, it is obvious to the mainstream that there are deep inequalities and abuses that this nation has not atoned for. One of my friends was born in Germany right after WWII. He talks about the deep shame of knowing that his male relatives, people he loved, had been Nazis. He almost moved to Israel to work on a kibbutz to atone.

The governor of Maine said that John Lewis should thank him, a white Republican, for what the white men (Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, etc.) did to free the slaves. I laughed until I cried. White America has never reckoned with the impact and reverberations of slavery the way Germany has with the holocaust. Nor have we (for I am part of white America too) acknowledged the ways in which we have benefited and perpetrated white supremacy. I used to think I was off the hook because my family didn’t own slaves. But I know as a white woman I move in a privileged space.

I’m rarely considered to be a criminal, uneducated, or poor (at least now that I don’t dress like a grunge waif). My being in a room or a group is rarely considered a political act. My friend S. once said that every time she walks into a room, people have an opinion of her as an African American, a woman, and a writer. That is a weight I rarely feel.

I’ve gotta keep thinking, keep working, keep meeting new people. What questions should I be asking?

 

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10 responses to “I Would Almost Be Happy

  1. In my last conversation with my dad (Feb 2015) he said he’s still waiting for his Thank You for (a) bringing people here from Africa, which he believes saved them from savagery, and (b) for “giving them work” before setting them free by fighting, and dying, for them in the civil war.

    If you are trying to figure out how to unpack that, don’t.

    • That hurt.

      I feel like an open wound lately. I wish I was as resilient as the Obamas. I care about the state of the world, but I don’t have a resevoir of strength to draw from.

      Any way I feel about my present environment or my history as a black person, is deemed ‘difficult’ and ‘wrong’ unless it’s calmly accepting and centered on moving forward as defined by a society that wants to get ‘past’ my issues without valuing my input. I can’t express how deeply depressed I feel about that.

      This new administration tells us that constructive communication hardly matters anymore; they were voted in, so their behavior is what the people want. The meanness of that is scary, but the scope of their side’s uncaring support is most striking to me. I’ve tried not to think of it as an overwhelming danger, but I’m realizing that I severely underestimated my country. Each new awful piece of information feels like another blow to the gut.

      • I couldn’t do in a week—probably a month—what the Obamas do in a day.

        “Any way I feel about my present environment or my history as a black person, is deemed ‘difficult’ and ‘wrong’ unless it’s calmly accepting and centered on moving forward as defined by a society that wants to get ‘past’ my issues without valuing my input. I can’t express how deeply depressed I feel about that.” This might be a place from which you could start writing. Are you able to write?

        And I hear you about the blows to the gut.

        xoxo Sending you love because your voice is important to me. (As is yours, Teri.)

  2. This post really resonated with me. It has helped me to read a lot about how we got here and get clear about what we’re dealing with and what we all need to do about it. Basically, we have to do what the German’s didn’t do – we have to stop this. Check out the information on this website: refusefascism.org

    • Thanks for the link, I will look it up! I don’t think there is a one-to-one comparison to Germany, because so many things are different now, but we can always learn (and so rarely do) from history!

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