This last week I found myself trying to have conversations with people only to suddenly realize that we were arguing—even with people who voted for the same things that I voted for. This was especially true online.
A Facebook friend of mine posted “How do we get more people to vote?” I commented about my frustration with voter ID laws, which are designed to keep people from voting and violate our civil rights. It’s a sore point for me because in the 2015 city election I was not allowed to vote due to a new voter ID law like this. My Facebook friend’s response was basically, “It’s not hard to show your ID, why are you being so difficult?” Thus began a long online argument in which I tried to explain to privileged White middle-class suburbanites that getting to a DMV isn’t easy for everyone, such as my 93-year-old grandmother, and millions of grandmothers like her.
They were also ignorant but since I was trying to be nice I only used the word “selfish.”
Women of color are especially hard hit by voter ID laws. They are more likely to live in communities where these laws are passed, and (get ready to be “surprised”) in many of these same communities, the DMVs have had their hours and staffs cut…or they have been closed down altogether. Are you surprised yet?
It seems like this past week, some of us White folks have suddenly realized that AMERICA IS STILL PRETTY DAMN RACIST. Better late than never I guess. However some people still have not noticed. As these White, middle-class friends of friends were telling me on Facebook, with all sincerity, that “it is not hard to get an ID,” I wanted to reach through the internet and shake them out of their complacency. In the end I was accused of being aggressive, for vehemently defending my right to vote without paying for an ID. (Yes, these voter ID laws amount to a polling tax, which was already made unconstitutional by the ratification of the 24th Amendment in 1964.)
As if it is not already frustrating to have conservatives in government trying to keep me from voting, some so-called “liberals” agree with them. How do I explain the disenfranchisement of elderly Black grandmothers to a White suburbanite from Anytown USA?
I told one particular person that they were being selfish. They were also ignorant but since I was trying to be nice I only used the word “selfish.” Of course, that did not go over very well. I was told that I had insulted them. But they were being the very definition of selfish, never acknowledging the suffering of others. It was all about themselves. “Getting an ID isn’t a problem for ME” and “I didn’t hear about any DMVs closing in MY town.”
This lack of Compassion for others is THE problem in the world. It is that simple. And it is that difficult, because this means that I am supposed to have Compassion for Trump himself. It even means that I am supposed to have Compassion for a racist with a gun…or a noose. And how likely is that? I cannot even get along with my own mother lately.
How am I supposed to have Compassion for a sociopath who is screaming “Fucking ni##ers, Trump is gonna send you back to Africa!!!”? I have family members of color who are now frightened to go grocery shopping in Texas.
Anger does not help anyone. Even when someone is hurting us, anger STILL does not help.
That said, I will not give Trump a chance.
Since the election, Trump has PROMOTED the White supremacists in his campaign to top positions in his administration. His “chance” is already over. I am afraid for myself, my family members, and my friends. Gay, straight, trans, brown, White, Black, red, purple—these people are my community. Aside from making angry and explosive art, I see three other ways for me to organize my efforts.
First: I will try to help others more with my time, money and energy. I will try my best to put myself in the shoes of young brown transgendered people, elderly Black grandmothers, middle-aged muslim men and anyone else who finds themselves on the wrong end of this regime.
Second: I will try my best to educate people who do not understand why it is important to vote and be involved in our society. These people are focused on themselves. I mean, we are all selfish to some degree but most people do not even know that raising animals for food in this country does more environmental damage than all of our SUVs combined. If they learn about this, from me or others, it will affect at least SOME of them, especially young people. My young cousins might not know many openly bisexual vegetarians back in Texas…but they know me.
Third: I will resist this fascist, racist, sexist, hateful regime in every way that I can, at every turn. Not only do I vote and speak out, but I will be donating money to the ACLU, to Planned Parenthood, to The Trevor Project for homosexual youths and to other groups who are going to need it more than I need another pair of shoes. I will also be getting more familiar with my Representatives and Senators. They will be hearing from me on a regular basis. I might even run for office. I will also be protesting (inauguration day is just around the corner). But more to the point, I will be LOOKING for ways to resist. We cannot yet know all the ways to fight this. But do you want to learn from each other, or not? I do.
Resistance is NOT futile.