In the midst of Thanksgiving and Black Friday this week, much of the US is deep into traditional meals, gatherings, and shopping but the camps and water protectors in North Dakota are still standing against the Dakota Access Pipeline. These protectors are frequently met with violence and intimidation from police and others. Just a couple days ago, those on the ground were sprayed with water cannons in the middle of the night and in North Dakota at this time of the year, that can be fatal. One medic shared his story about that night and many others countered the police’s narrative and shared that the protectors have been nothing but peaceful.
I’m awful at having these important and very necessary conversations. Honestly, if I were an animal, I’d probably be some weird and very creepy combination of a deer and a possum because I frequently freeze like a deer in headlights and then promptly pretend I’m dead to avoid any further social interaction. It’s not a particularly great response and in the event of any sort of real life purge, I’ll probably be the first one dead. But until that day, this response also means that I am awful at having tough conversations.
But having conversations about race as white people with other white people is incredibly necessary, especially now that we’re living in Trump’s America. Racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and every aspect of hate and ignorance that Trump built his empire and his campaign on was already a part of these United States and has been since the founding but now his supporters feel validated and are acting on that. Not only will we now be facing about the uncertainty of how Trump will act in office but he has the support of a Republican congress and some of his supporters seem more vindictive than usual.
A couple weeks ago, a bunch of my friends on Facebook checked into the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation in North Dakota. Knowing that the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline was still ongoing, I originally thought that a bunch of my friends had actually gone to join the fight and I had missed something big. The reality though was that people were just checking in on Facebook while not actually there as a way to stand in solidarity with those on the ground and potentially confuse anyone who was using Facebook check ins as a way to target activists.
While not something that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe had asked (and at this point, I’m not sure where the mass check in originated), the tribe did welcome the solidarity. Raising awareness by sharing videos, checking into places on Facebook, or dumping buckets of ice on our head can be important but they can’t be the only actions that we accomplish. There’s so much more work that goes into fixing the problems and issues that plague our society. Everyone’s activism is going to look different – some people aren’t able to go to marches but can help to make banners, others are able to organize community meals or do phone banks.
By complete chance, I saw the documentary Major! recently and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in the past few months. A small part of my experience was also learning that a local nonprofit movie theater does a queer movie series and being surrounded in large part by other LGBT and queer folks. But being able to learn about and celebrate Miss Major was really the best part.
The documentary is in large part about Miss Major Griffin Gracy and her story as a black trans woman, veteran of the Stonewall Riots, a survivor of Attica State Prison, former sex worker, and community leader/activist. Her work at the Transgender Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), for example, has supported trans women who are currently in jail and prison or who are formerly incarcerated. There are interviews from Miss Major herself and the community around her about her life and work and there’s so much love and support in this film.
I’ve been wondering over the past few days if I could have done more in the last few months regarding the election. I’ve felt guilt and some sort of responsibility for not being more involved because the answer is that yes, I could have done a lot more. I could and should have had more conversations with people, especially about Trump’s racist, misogynist, xenophobic platform.
In the past two days, people have blamed third party voters (particularly in swing states), low turnout rates, the electoral college, the gutted Voter’s Right Act, strict and inaccessible voter ID laws, and more. Honestly, I see it as a combination as all of the above and more.
democracy is this cool system where you yell at people online for 6 months and then people in Ohio and Florida pick the president
— Albro (@bromanconsul) 14 June 2016
Last night didn’t feel real while it was happening. It felt like some weird collective nightmare and maybe if I went to bed, I would wake up to different results. But I didn’t. It finally felt real when my mom walked out of her room crying because I’ve hardly ever seen her cry. It felt real when I read all my friends’ emotional responses to everything that’s happened and heard that my best friend was already starting to be harassed.
The next president of the United States is one that has built his empire on discrimination and debt and built his campaign on hatred, violence, and lies. He’s actively denied housing to black Americans, sexually assaulted dozens of women, mocked and jeered at those who are different from him. He picked a running mate, a man who is now going to be vice president, who actively supports conversion therapy for LGBT youth. Knowing that the first black President has to pass the White House over to a man endorsed by the KKK is a heartbreaking moment in a sea of emotion.
I keep underestimating the full force of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, classism, and more that exist in this country. It’s easy and comfortable to live in a bubble where none of that exists but it’s only because of my privilege and at the expense of my friends that I’m able to do that. And I should not live in that bubble.
I don’t really know what to do next. A part of me just wants to cry until I can’t anymore and remain curled up in my bed. Because I’m scared. As a queer fat woman, I’m scared for myself. But I’m also incredibly scared for my friends who are brown or black or Native. I’m scared for my fellow LGBT folks and worried for all the amazing women in my life. I’m scared for my undocumented friends and their families.
But it’s not enough to just be scared and emotional. It feels dramatic and way too late but there’s too much at stake with a Trump presidency and Republican controlled government. Accessible and affordable healthcare, reproductive health, immigration, and so much more is all on the line and will have a tremendous impact on millions of people for a long time.
I don’t have any answers as to what to do right now but if there’s anyone out that needs someone to talk to or a funny story, let me know. I know it’s not much and it won’t be the only thing I do but I’m here if anyone needs anything.
I am a big Gilmore Girls fan – I initially watched the show episode by episode on ABC Family, where one episode would play every weekday at 5pm. For a few years, my mom, sister, and I watched a few episodes each week and bonded over the adventures of the mother-daughter duo. Being able to watch the entire series on Netflix was so great and like many other fans, I was very disappointed in the seventh and final season.
But hearing that there would be a reboot and seeing all the trailers and videos is really exciting. This show is far from perfect and has its own flaws but I have such great memories of watching it with my family that I’m really excited about what’s to come.
Having some sort of predictability in a schedule is something that I really miss. As a freelancer, my schedule is almost always all over the place and while I understand that work and life often change and force people to change plans, I do really miss having a set schedule and predictable work day. As an introvert with depression and some general anxiety, being out and about in various capacities is exhausting and draining most days. Knowing exactly how my day’s going to go and exactly what I need to do often keeps me focused and when to take breaks from everything.
I know that a part of this frustration and exhaustion stems directly from my depression. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I realized that getting super frustrated and angry over minor inconveniences isn’t normal. I don’t mean getting temporarily getting irritated over someone cutting you off – I mean that I was getting really angry and frustrated over stuff like accidentally bumping into a corner or someone changing plans.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about addiction, in large part because of my own father’s struggle with alcoholism. I don’t think I really have any say about addiction. I haven’t struggled with one personally nor have I any training or education about it. I only have a couple decades with an alcoholic parent and while it’s nothing to actually struggling with addiction, it’s still hard. It’s hard to know that the person I knew as my dad is often no longer here.
The way in which society treats alcoholics and people with other addictions is awful. We shame and act on misunderstanding and fear. We try to mask everything as out of concern but in reality, we do so out of disgust and hate. Clinics that help with addiction treatments are often run out of neighborhoods all over the country, with the idea that they bring crime. This makes it harder for those struggling to get the help that they might need.
Today is International Podcast Day and it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the medium. I’ve written about many of the podcasts that I’ve been listening to over the years on this blog: The Message, Last Name Basis, We Want The Airwaves, Limetown are all some of my favorites. Over the past few months, I’ve come across a few more that I love so I thought that I’d share them here!