I drove to LAX last night.
Once there, I joined a crowd of a couple hundred people. They–we–demanded release of Muslims from certain countries detained based on a Trump (read: Bannon) executive order issued yesterday.
A California congressperson informed us one Iranian student had already been deported. She and others were at the airport demanding access to the detainees.
As I stood chanting, hoping that so many people show up for Sunday solidarity at airports, I regretted deeply how I contributed to this outcome.
As I drove home, I thought of a post I wrote in October. In “The could-have-been soul-kin of Anne Frank,” I wrote:
I thought about the quiet inaction of those who watched as Nazis committed genocide. They likely hoped they’d earn safety for themselves and their own if they remained silent.
I understood that the U.S. coming-for actually began at least fifteen years ago.
I thought of three kids who’d stood chanting opposite me at LAX.
They don’t deserve less than my or your non-Muslim kids. In fact, what we do to protect them will profoundly impact the safety of all our kids … forever.
So if you’re wondering what you, just one person, can do? You can donate to the ACLU, busy fighting this heinous executive order. It was the ACLU that earned yesterday’s stay that, unfortunately, wasn’t acted on quickly enough at some airports.
You can call Congress, multiple times every day. You can show up at city council meetings, and other local political meetings. You can call your friends and bring them with you.
And today? Today you can drive to your nearest airport, and join others in saying, “Not on my watch!”
You don’t need to know what you’re doing tomorrow. Just … please, please, show up today.
I recorded a video a couple of nights ago. I wasn’t planning on linking it here, but I just listened to it and changed my mind. It reveals so much about where I’ve been, where I want to go, and why I want to go there.
It did originate with politics, so you might want to skip it. Basically, some folks expressed concern with my supporting Brand New Congress, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that could legally accept dark money. It’s so personal that sitting down and writing it out didn’t feel right. So … I recorded a (respectful!) video, and I’m glad I did.
Just be forewarned: my husband might work in show biz, but you’ll see none of that glitz watching the video here!
One of the first books I read after beginning to care about politics was Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism. It was both powerful and powerfully depressing, an accounting of decades of U.S. destruction in the name of “free markets.”
Today, its author has written something beautiful and empowering. I want to get back to sharing things we all can celebrate, and that means I’m going to try moving away from explicitly political stuff. But tonight? I want you to know that much of what I understand about politics, and about U.S. politics, I understand because of Klein.
When Klein writes that the U.S. oligarchs who’ve controlled the world for decades are scared of us, that’s something to seize. They’re trying to implement shocks that’ll confound, diminish, and separate us from each other.
That can’t happen if we’re willing to stand for and with each other. So, please, please, read Klein’s “Trump’s Crony Cabinet May Look Strong, but They Are Scared,” and prepare to reach across divides, because that’s what it’s going to take to save each other.
I refuse fear. I reject it absolutely. And why? Because I know you, and I know: together, we are invincible.
My siblings and I grew up in violence.
Our experiences with violence shaped what we saw this election cycle and how we saw it.
Today, my just-younger sister and I wrote about this in “We Grew Up in Violence: Thoughts on the Changing of the Guard.” We hope you’ll read it … and know that we’re writing with love for our children and yours.
Jane and I are old friends. When we talked on the phone yesterday, she described a post she was writing for Facebook. I loved what she was saying, and asked if she’d like to share the post here. I’m grateful she said “yes.”
The Privilege of Surprise
I paint my toenails every week. It’s a routine I got into when I was burning out of a classroom teaching job and I needed some ritual, some regular application of gentleness to myself, to keep me from collapse. The crisis is over, but the ritual has stuck.
I use cheap drugstore polish. It doesn’t have to last long. I have neons and deeps and darks and brights and glitters and pastels. Most weeks I just pick a color I’m feeling. In the last few months, though, I’ve increasingly been choosing colors that mean something. There is a pale blue that makes me feel the ocean. I wear that one when I need comfort. There is a bright orange-y pink that reminds me of my sister.
On Election Night, I wore red, white, and blue. I called them hopeful toes.
After Election Night, I wore black.
I have not felt like wearing bright since Donald Trump was elected. It’s been two months now, and I am just starting to realize that I lost big, deep things on that day and I may not get them back. I lost faith in my government. I lost trust that the police will keep me safe. I lost my sense that we are fundamentally okay here, that nothing that bad will happen.
I am a straight white cis woman who has never been poor. What I lost? Many people in this country have never had those things. I am only now starting to realize what a privilege it was ever to have them, and how little sense of what the world is really like for people of color, trans people, Muslims, immigrants, I have ever had.
I should have known this all along. Black people have been telling me. Queer people have been telling me. The people around me have been telling me, this is not okay, we are not safe, this country is killing us, and I have given it lip service, but I have had the luxury my entire life of looking the other way.
And I still can, if I choose to. Many of my fellow privileged Dems are ready to throw identity politics out with the bathwater. It doesn’t work, we’re saying. It’s too divisive. We can’t win elections and talk about bathrooms at the same time.
Y’all, listen. Bathrooms are not a fringe issue. Black Lives Matter is not a fringe issue. Fringes are on the outside of things, and so are margins; if the issues that most directly affect groups of people are relegated to the fringes, then we have marginalized those groups ourselves. We are reproducing the power structures that are killing our brothers and sisters and siblings right here in our own party.
Identity politics are politics. They are my politics. I care about the Affordable Healthcare Act and I care about public education and I care about the mass incarceration of Black Americans, and these are all connected. They all belong in the center.
As I noticed my surprise that I haven’t regained the things I lost—I still feel, two months later, like I was punched in the stomach by the Electoral College—I realized that even being surprised is a privilege. I have never before experienced disillusionment that doesn’t go away.
I’m ashamed to admit what a revelation this has been.
Today I painted my toenails bright. I don’t feel like bright yet. I don’t know when I will feel like bright again. But I no longer believe we have time to wait until we feel like it before we make the phone calls, paint the signs, and have the terrible conversations with the people we love who are saying broken things.
We do not have time to wait until we feel like it. We have to act.
I’ve written a hundred posts about how establishment Democrats destroyed my trust, and none about how Bernie Sanders gained it.
I couldn’t even see the imbalance until last night. After I posted “She is my people,” I realized that post had something missing from my other politics posts to date: love.
Caught up in learning to express what I dislike and distrust, I’ve failed to explain one single time what I like and trust, and why.
I’m mapping it out in my brain right now. It will take me a while, because speaking politics is so new to me. I’ve barely learned anything.
When I do post, it’ll be in praise, not protest. And it’ll have to do
with this picture of my mom fighting cancer
in a hospital bed, because
she taught me love, and
love doesn’t end
because a body
is laid to rest.