I’ve been spending more time on Twitter recently, keeping up on midterm election news, finding out who the person who spat on me is (I told you in my last post I would never forget his face), and just in general looking for some hope in the pile of stink that this country keeps digging up and throwing all over itself.
First of all, an update on the spitter: apparently he is just another Nazi boy who thinks it’s OK to harass people and spew hatred everywhere. I saw that look I have encountered in others in his eyes when he walked past, so I wasn’t that surprised really… Despite what the city tries to tell us, Sacramento is full of racist cops, Neo Nazis who are consistently called “Conservatives” by the press (who then always go on to vilify Antifa and anyone who appears to protest against Nazis), and people who pretend to be all “peace and love” until you accidentally step on their lawn, at which point they will call the racist cops to come and flush you out. In any case, let me just say that it wasn’t the police who helped me find the spitter’s identity, I actually found out via Twitter, and I am grateful to the groups of people who are actually really looking out for the community. They are also the ones who made me aware of the Nazi, sorry I mean “Conservative” rally this weekend at the Capitol, so I didn’t take the kids there as I would normally do.
I also came across a tweet written by a man who had been brought up in the UK by one British parent and one Dutch parent, and who had suffered so much abuse growing up because his peers didn’t consider him “British” enough. He detailed some really horrid bullying and more, so much so that he felt as an adult that part of his identity was missing, and that he was unable to find it again. It reminded me of something that had happened to my sister and me during our first year or so living in The Netherlands. We had moved away from England, away from our extended family that we had always lived very close to, and were getting used to living in another country where everything was different, including the language. We learnt to speak Dutch very fast, but the first year was a lot of trial and error, and a lot of learning by ourselves. I was 10 when we moved there, and my sister 8, and we had also been through some very recent trauma. We would often be sent out on our bikes to the local supermarket by our stepfather who was home with our baby brother and who spoke less Dutch than we did.
There were two boys who would follow us on their bikes, trying to knock us off, yelling things at us, basically being mean kids. They couldn’t have been more than a year or so older than me, and they just acted like real bullies. The type you are always on the lookout for once they have harassed you once or twice. One day they cornered us down by the canal where the bike path navigated its way on the embankment, above the water but slightly below the main road. One of the kids spat on us, and they called us names, pushing us around, mentioning the word “taal”. In Dutch the word “taal” means language, but it is also the name of the subject of Dutch language at school. At that time the only way I had seen it used was in terms of it being a school subject so I had no idea what they were talking about. It was only later that it dawned on me that they were bullying us because we didn’t speak the same language as them. Kids get these things from their parents. The only way an 11 or 12 year old would have been pushed to bully two younger girls because they didn’t speak the same language would have been because they heard their parents or siblings talk about other people in a derogative manner.
In any case, my sister and I ended up having enough of it one day when they actually followed us home, and we raced into the house as fast as we could and our stepfather came out and yelled at them in English. They never came near us again.
All my sister remembers of those guys is that they kept spitting and spitting at us, huge wads of spit. I remember the mix of fear and incomprehension: what had I done to deserve this? Thing is, when I think about it now I know that this was one experience of xenophobia in my life; there have been others but I am able to pinpoint them to a time and/or a place for the most part. I have not had to live day in day out with being treated like a lesser being because of my skin color. But having experienced it like that at such a young age helped my resolve to fight all the harder against injustice, racism, bigotry, and white supremacism in general.
These past few years have in general been terrifyingly triggering in many aspects for me. It’s hard to feel 100% when every day you wonder what current event is going to unearth a ton of old shit that you spent so long trying to bury far away in the ground…
The election results were better than I hoped for (not as good as my wildest dreams, but still, better than what I thought would happen). It has been wonderful to see so many women elected, so many immigrants of children of immigrants, people of color, LGBTQIA people, representing all of us, not just a small percentage of white USA. That is huge, and I think a great overview of how hard people have been working to create a better world for everyone. I just worry so much that all of the people who have done the bare minimum these past few years (i.e. vote) will assume they don’t need to do anything else because we are OK again. We are NOT OK. And a large amount of the population will tell you that they have never been OK. My kids will never be OK in this country the way it is now. We can protect them as much as we can but it’s impossible to avoid the hate that is so rampant around us.
One tweet I read last week that has stuck with me said “Voting doesn’t get rid of white supremacy”. Another tweet (I’m sorry, I can’t remember the name of the person who compiled it) listed every single person in office who was openly a white supremacist and who had ties to white supremacy, and that list was scary. Scary because these people are considered normal, these people were elected to supposedly look after this country in the way the people want them to look after it. Scary because these people don’t represent a majority, but for some reason they still manage to get a majority. So, no, voting doesn’t get rid of white supremacy, (and somehow it seems to allow white supremacists to be legitimatized over and over again), but it does however help to make a difference, as we can see from Tuesday’s elections. The only way to get rid of white supremacy is to fight it from the core, and those protecting that rotten core (a large amount of white men and women) are currently hanging on strong. I don’t understand how a person can pertain to have certain values and standards, and then go on to vote for people like Steve King or Ted Cruz, or back people like Brett Kavanaugh. Is it fear of standing on their own two feet and looking at the world the way it really is rather than the one they have always lived it? The easy way out? Just not giving a shit? Reluctance to relinquish power? Greed? All of the above and more? I don’t understand it. But white women (and that includes myself): we need to step it up and get these ridiculous percentages of other white women to stop voting for people who will never have their backs. Honestly, how could 50% of white women have voted for that disgusting Ted Cruz?!
This means that we can’t stop fighting, not today, not tomorrow, not even when the first woman becomes president. The core is so very deep, and it resides under all of us. It’s OK to feel uncomfortable now and again… Many of us live with that feeling. These past two years have been a huge wake up call to so many people, an eye opener to what we have let slide, what we endure, what we sit on and hide. Now is the time to step it up and really go for it. This means denouncing the spitter who thinks he got away with degrading a woman, it means voting in every election you can vote in, it means standing up whenever you see injustice or prejudice or violence against another person, and it means unearthing your own prejudices and getting rid of them too.
I’m already dreading the next restrictions that are heading our way, the next immigration hammer to fall this week. More gaslighting, lies, hatred, and doctored videos coming from the White House. We aren’t OK. But we can continue to fight to be OK.