The Sting of It
It’s been a tough year for those of us who aren’t straight, white, cis men. A wicked reminder that the rest of the country doesn’t much care for us.
And that… that cuts to the core.
The day the man running for president was heard talking how he can do anything to women, about how he can “grab 'em by the pussy” and his campaign grew stronger, it was clear how the country feels about women. The day people justified police shooting a 17 year old black child for wearing a hoodie and 12 year old black child for playing with a toy and started responding to Black Lives Matter with “all lives matter,” it was clear how the country feels about black people.
The day the man running for president declared he’d build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, called Mexicans rapists, drug dealers, and “bad hombres,” and that man’s following grew stronger, it was clear how the country feels about Mexican immigrants and citizens. The day he proposed a ban on Muslims entering the country, followed by the day he instituted it, and his following grew still stronger, it was clear how the country feels about Muslims.
The day he tweeted that transgender individuals would not be allowed in the military because of the "tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail," and his supporters remained steadfast in their defense of his ideals, it was clear how the country feels about transgender and gender fluid citizens.
The day he called white supremacists and neo-nazis "very fine people," then turned around and called athletes taking a knee to protest police brutality against black people "sons of bitches," it was clear where his loyalties lie.
The day he mocked a disabled reporter, the day mocked an Asian accent, the day he mocked war heroes, the day he mocked all of us again and again and again and again and the country still voted for him in droves, it was clear how the country feels about all of us who are not straight, white, cis men.
It does not see us as equal. It does not see us as worthy of health care. Worthy of opportunity. Worthy of respect. Worthy of life.
It does not see us as people.
It’s been a lot to absorb. And, I’ve found it’s left me confused. I’m not entirely sure where to go from here. I know I should fight—and I want to fight, and I will keep fighting—but we’ve been fighting these same fights for 20, for 50, for 100 years. The only true Americans have been fighting since white people first landed on these shores. And what has changed? What has changed? We like to believe we’ve changed. And we have made progress. We’ve passed laws and changed minds and we know that certain stereotypes and jokes aren’t socially acceptable anymore. But black children and women and men still get shot for existing. But women are still treated like objects and paid less for the same jobs and our bodies are governed like property. But indigenous communities still have to fight for water on their own land.
But people will still beat you in the streets for being an immigrant, a Muslim, a gay man, a person with brown skin, a woman who said no.
I don’t know what to tell my children anymore. I want to teach them to fight because it matters. Because it changes things. Because we can save each other. But how can I say that when everywhere they look, history is repeating and repeating and repeating like a skipping record on a song you’ve always hated.
How do I teach them that this is the land of the free… but only if you’re a straight, white, cis man? How do I teach them to fight against the sting of it, to resist the knees on their backs, to make the change, even if they never see it?
I have to remember: if we don’t—if they don’t—who will?