In my view, which has been informed greatly over the last two years by activists of color, there is little actual difference between a person who holds oppressive ideals, and a person who simply ignores and aligns with oppressive ideals because they care about some other benefit more. In terms of impact and the policies, silent social contracts, and decisions we make as a society, there is no difference between the two other than the level of attention and reaction they garner.
I think the establishment lost because the establishment has so blatantly proven that it is, finally, finally finally, no longer a viable option for most people. The other side of that coin, is that half of us didn’t participate in the charade at all. Until 20 minutes before the polls closed, I was proudly going to be one of those people — and had I not chosen in the final hour to vote for Hillary as a means of harm reduction, I would still have been proud to divest.
While we mobilize to protect and resist against the wave of bigoted celebration from the known hatemongers in this country, who pose a very real and dire, life-and-death threat to so many people here, remember that social media is still media.
Remember that we know the people who believe in Trump are squeezed, poorly educated, hungry, and afraid. They have been burned. They want their country back, and they’ve been trained, even by a Black President — with his drone policies, continuation of the war on terror, his respectability politics and infantalizing of Black Lives Matter, his commitment to upholding a white supremacist heteropatriachy while tossing out scraps from the table, — to believe that the America they want back was taken from them by those of us with the least systemic power.
I read not long ago in my psychological geeking, that it is the false presumptions that we place effort into coming to on our own that are the hardest to peel away and replace with a more complete view. We will defend them, personalize them, blame others, distract ourselves, become confused, emotionally fall apart, when faced with information that challenges our hard-won beliefs.
If we are simply told something, and accept it as true, it is much easier for us to respond correctly to being confronted with clarifying information that invalidates that position. However, if we infer a notion, connect the dots ourselves, then our identity, intelligence, and cognitive validity come into play, and the resistance we feel to being wrong is much stronger. Especially when those beliefs center around our goodness and worth of ourselves and our alliances.
This is part of the reason why classism, sexism, racism, transphobia, are such stubborn and difficult viewpoints to break open. They are confirmed and validated subconsciously, all around us, in every moment of every day. Including in the righteous wave of indignation and shock that has spread since the election, and the scary stories of isolated hate crimes that have occurred since the veil was so unflinchingly raised when Trump won.
I am certainly not saying that there is not every reason to be paying attention, to be sharpening our skills, to be planning and organizing and ready for another escalation of a very, very long fight. And I am definitely not saying that to feel, to be numb, to recognize our collective despair, is in any way the wrong thing to do or to be. We all have our own valid experience of this mess.
What I -am- saying: Also pay attention, to what you are being told to pay attention to.