Waiting (#314)

I am not a patient person. I was the kid in the car asking “Are we there yet?” every 10 minutes. My many siblings were equally impatient. Road trips were an endless chorus of questions about how long it was to the bathroom, restaurant, and destination.

Unsurprisingly, we didn’t go on many road trips.

My Chinese-American husband is patient (sadly, he grew up on Oahu, which is too small for road trips). I’m not sure if he’s naturally mellow, or if the tropical “hang loose” vibes worked on his personality the opposite way that the intense, political atmosphere of Washington, D.C. affected me.

Perhaps our different levels of patience exemplify the difference in our cultures. My Western mindset insists that I can control my destiny if I work, scheme, and worry enough. At the very least, maybe I can get someone incompetent fired if I document the crap out of his failings. But Andy doesn’t see the point; people are gonna be stupid and other people are gonna cover for them. That’s life, and you have no control over your own fate, let alone anyone else’s. Why exhaust yourself changing nothing?

Much of my experience reinforced my Western views. After all, if I argued long enough and logically enough with my father, he’d come around to my point of view on everything from childrearing to Black Lives Matter (though it usually takes about a year for him to process, do his own research, and then lecture me using my own arguments).

Andy’s parents? You can talk until you are blue in the face. They don’t hear a word you say if it contradicts their ideas.

Maybe that’s how Andy learned to wait. He had to bite his tongue and bide his time until he got a job 3,000 miles away.

I left home at 18 and stayed impatient. Impatient with waiting for guys to ask me out—so I asked them out instead. Impatient with college—so I graduated in 3 years. Impatient with friends, which cost me more than a few relationships. And impatient with waiting for Andy to kiss me, so I kissed him.

It wasn’t until I was pregnant (MISERABLY pregnant) that I learned a modicum of patience. Unless modern science comes up with an artificial uterus, there’s no escaping 10 months of nasty pregnancy side effects. There’s no point in complaining, or crying, and it takes too damned much energy anyway (especially when you’re low on energy because you’re anemic).

I learned to endure nausea, hives, exhaustion, strict bedrest, and then the kid being weeks overdue.

As a reward for surviving pregnancy, I got to endure breastfeeding a growth-spurting giant baby. Welcome, cracked and bleeding nipples.

Followed by an energetic child who didn’t nap.

All the while, I would chant to myself: “Just a few more years until preschool. And then kindergarten.”

Call it patience, or call it endurance, but the ability to hunker down and wait out misery came in handy when Trump was elected. Even as I protested, donated, phone banked, or argued Trump cultists, part of me was simply counting the days, much like Imani Gandy’s thread of GIFs on Twitter:

Then came COVID. Which everyone who didn’t vote for Trump knew was going to be a nightmare, given that man’s ineptitude. There was no way we were going back to normal—and no way my kid was going back to school—until we had a vaccine. A vaccine would take at least a year. We were just going to have to wait out the horror, misery, and death. Which was maddening, because it was avoidable.

But if I thought about how much tragedy could have been averted by a competent, compassionate administration, I would spend my hours enraged. I would fantasize about head-butting Mitch McConnell into oblivion. Or putting up signs with the current COVID body count and the phrase “I’m okay with this!” next to my neighbor’s “TRUMP” flag.

Instead, as I waited, I gradually took heart.

Because we didn’t get COVID (yet).

Because Stacey Abrams created Fair Fight and Wisconsin took advantage of it.

Because Gen Zs is smarter than Fox viewers.

And because Treasonous Trumpers are stupid, and Black Capitol Police officers are smart.

And now?

Tomorrow, the waiting is over.

Fucking finally.

I hate waiting

Riot Gear (#313)

I’ve been to marches, protests, and candlelight vigils. Sometimes the police are also in attendance. At the super white, super suburban Women’s March, all the cops wore affable smiles. Some even sported pink hats.

At BLM protests? Lines of police show up in riot gear, generally sparking the following chant:

I don’t see no riot here!
Why are you in riot gear?!

Yesterday, on January 6, 2021, there was an actual riot. Encouraged by the sitting President (and whiny sore loser baby), Trump’s fascist cult broke into the Capitol, trespassing, stealing, and vandalizing.

I watched it unfold on Twitter, NPR, CNN, and NBC News.

I saw no cops in riot gear.

*****

Today, I’m watching all my white people on Facebook clutch their pearls. “I can’t believe this happened!” they moan, adding sad emojis, prayerful emojis, shocked emojis.

Really? Trumpers have been discussing this for months. They had merchandise declaring their treasonous intent. Trump and his Congressional wingmen have fed Republicans the myth of a stolen election since before the votes were even counted. Trumpers’ social media feeds showed them flying to DC, discussing their plans to riot.

And there were no lines of police in riot gear.

*****

White social media is still echoing President-Elect Joe Biden’s claim that “This is not who we are!

The fuck it isn’t. This is clearly who 70 million of us are. Maybe not everyone who voted for Trump was personally prepared to storm the Capitol in a fit of pique, but they all believed that a lying, cheating, misogynist, racist, narcissist, fascist, brazenly cruel, homicidal white man who has spent his entire life flouting every law possible would be okay as President. That alone is an indictment of both our educational system and our white culture. If you believe in a man who doesn’t believe he should follow the law, then you don’t really believe in law and order.

And still there were no police in riot gear.

*****

My fellow white Americans are currently screaming their heads off about how we need “unity.” I hear it on the news. I see it in the comments on Facebook. I just got a damned email about a school contest with prizes for “Visions of Unity.”

Unity.

As in, just ignore that seditious mob. Don’t prosecute Trump or any of his people for the most corrupt Cabinet in history or their looting of tax payer funds. Ignore the obstructions of justice. Forget about the negligent homicide that will kill at least half-million Americans.

Let me answer that call for unity with all the respect it deserves: “FUCK YOU NO.”

Unity is not more important than justice. In fact, I’d say that American History has proven that unity is impossible without justice.

There was no justice meted out to the traitors after the Civil War. There was no apology to those who were enslaved. No amends were made. There was no universal American reckoning with the genocide we perpetrated. Compare that with Germany, who apologized for WWII and the Holocaust, outlawed the swastika, and swore, “Never again.”

Instead, the USA allowed its citizens to glorify the Lost Cause. It let them put up statues of traitors and fly the traitors’ flag. There were no consequences, no justice, because “unity” was more important. And what happened? White folks, unfettered by even the smallest consequence, oppressed Black Americans in thousands of ways. They suppressed their votes, stole their property, and lynched them.

This should surprise no one. As any non-shitty parent of a toddler will tell you, that’s what a lack of any consistent consequence does. It creates an environment of privilege, one where the rules do not apply to your offspring. Children learn this fast.

The United States currently exemplifies a lack of consequences. The white men who created the Great Recession? Exactly one of them went to jail. Election doesn’t go your way? Throw a gigantic hissy fit and toss in some vandalism and treason. And don’t worry about showing your crimes on your social media feed—it’s not like you’re one of the hundreds of Black Americans arrested for protesting police killings.

Trump is the poster child of no consequences. Goes bankrupt repeatedly? Loan him more money!  Worst boss ever? Give him a TV show for firing people. Praises bloody dictators? Make him your President!

Had Trump gotten actual consequences (i.e., been convicted by the Senate when he was impeached), the storming of the Capitol would never have occurred. But Senators such as Susan Collins said Trump, “learned a pretty big lesson” and gave him a final pass to do whatever the hell he wanted.

Now 363,000 Americans are dead. The country, like the Capitol, is in shambles.

So give me justice, not “unity.”

And the next time the white fascists try to fuck with the certification of a fair election?

Give me lines of police in riot gear.

Photo by Rich Riggins