I have been thinking a great deal about the future of this country. I’ve always wanted to believe that America has the potential for greatness but every day of Trump’s presidency, I question that. I’ve been reading quite a bit of James Baldwin and thinking also quite a bit about Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass. I went to see the film "I’m Not Your Negro" yesterday and it made me cry seeing the images of white people who wanted segregation and oppression and realizing the hate crimes today are exactly the same and prove we haven’t come very far in 50+ years since the civil rights movement.
Baldwin’s characters often fall in love with white men and women and he mentions wanting to be an optimist as long as he was alive in an interview the film shows. He wanted us to question what purpose having a group to oppress serves and our own human psyche. He wanted people and our country to be different too, and there were times when it couldn’t be that he ended up escaping to France instead as well.
In Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone, this question is asked, "Are all white people the same?" Though some of his characters (much like I’m sure people in real life back then and now) believed that was the case, Baldwin realized this wasn’t the case. He knew that people of every race have the capacity for great flaws and hatred but also for insight and love and he wanted us to move towards that point.
This recently has been coming up increasingly more since I visited the grave of Susan B. Anthony and have been thinking of how she excluded women who weren’t white in her aim for women’s suffrage. Even though she knew Frederick Douglass in real life (and is buried in Mount Hope cemetery the same as him), she could not reconcile their mutual aims for progress in this country. She put white women before women of other races and this was wrong. She was not only a product of her time but we have many women now who haven’t evolved in those hundred years since.
There has been an increase in hate crimes that has occurred since Trump took office and this serves the rich and powerful most as it’s a diversion from so many things-the destruction of science, women, rights for people with disabilities, the environment, even animal rights with the USDA removing animal welfare reports. The top 2% have to protect their own profits and the majority, ignorant of this, are falling for it and are taking the bait, accusing refugees and anyone who isn’t heterosexual, white, male, able bodied of attacking the "core values of America." Even now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are harassing people of color illegally within our own borders with very vague guidelines and no accountability. Trump and his appointees have even made up two terrorist attacks and people in this country believe them without doing the research because we’ve been raised to think we’re supposed to trust our government. That’s extremely harmful dishonesty. This country has never been great when we are fighting each other for power, greed, hatred, and fear. This country can only live up to its potential and true democratic ideals when we can learn from each other, dance with each other, celebrate our joys, and mourn our sicknesses and losses. True happiness cannot be achieved through products and mass marketed ideas. It can only be achieved when we fully realize and embrace our brothers and sisters no matter what our differences are. We’ve been trying the former way for so many decades and it hasn’t worked out for us…perhaps it’s time to try something different.
I’m in a period of my life where I’m not experiencing white guilt. I’m experiencing something much deeper-white shame. The idea that Trump and Bannon and Milo Yiannopoulos and Sessions and DeVos could share any common genetics with me makes my stomach turn. So, when I am confronted with this burning question, "Are all white people the same?" I want to scream an astounding "NO!" But, here’s the thing, it is on myself and every other white person to prove that we are not the same…because, the reality is that years of history are not backing us up on this. No one can change the color of her/his skin but you can change your choices. You can choose to support artists of all races in the books you read, the art exhibits you visit the music you listen to the films you see. You can give to those in need and be generous with your time and your love. You can open your mind to those around you and you will feel so much better. You can call, write and visit your elected officials to demand policies that protect minorities and boycott the products of companies that support hate and discrimination. You can walk with all of your brothers and sisters in the street and when you chant, "No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA" or "The People United Will Never Be Divided" or "This is What Democracy Looks Like" you will embrace the meaning of those words fully and realize that this movement has momentum because our spirit cannot be crushed when we stand together. We need each other.
I met these two women briefly right after the Inauguration at a protest and I thought it was inspiring to see them supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement. Most people, even those who don’t consider themselves ageist, would see an older white woman and think she is most likely racist. These women probably never had the opportunity like I had to go to school with children of any other race besides their own. They lived in an era where segregation was popular and minorities were never considered equal (only separate) despite the dishonest political catch phrase. And yet, their human spirit rose up and they were able to reason that this wasn’t right-not for them or for the world and they are still fighting it despite their lengthy time on Earth…a lifelong resistance. I’m already tired and weary and I’m not even forty so I can’t imagine having to protest when I’m in my 70s…hopefully, I won’t have to.
White people are not all the same…but we must prove ourselves and the time to do so is now! Change the world…make America love, feel, dance, mourn, cherish its differences…only then will we truly thrive as a country and as human beings.
The author reflects on the current state of America, questioning its potential for greatness under Trump’s presidency. They draw inspiration from the Civil Rights Movement and works of James Baldwin, advocating for the unity of all races to fight against hate crimes and injustices. The author acknowledges their white shame and encourages fellow white people to choose generosity, open-mindedness, and support for minorities to prove that not all white people are the same. The article ends with a call for change to embrace and celebrate differences to thrive as a society.
Tagged: , resist , Fight fascism , fascism , dictator , immigrant rights are human rights , This is what democracy looks like , people , protest , protestors , liberal , refugees , Muslim Ban , Trump must go , Dump Trump , petitions , Resist Fascism , Steve Bannon , Donald Trump , Betsy DeVos , Jeff Sessions , Dakota Access Pipeline , DAPL , Army , Department of National Security , racism , freedom , Constitutional rights , Bowling Green Massacre , social media , twitter , facebook , fox news , Kelly Anne Conway , Dump DeVos , Dress Like a Woman , Putin , Statue of Liberty , Sally Yates , government , politics , Black Lives Matter , ageism , signs , peace , Separate but Equal , Chicago , The New Resistance , America , books , literature , quote , United States , street , Canon , James Baldwin , I’m not your negro , film , history , Civil rights , book , diptych , Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone , question , answer , race , women , female