Greetings fellow Americans,
Three weeks ago we all received a shocking and historical blow. While the election is over, many fellow citizens are bemoaning the fact that this actually happened and "the Donald" pulled this off. It is time we stopped being shocked and instead start moving towards some action.
Here are my ten ways to survive in our new world order.
1. Stop bitching-Start a Revolution. I saw this on a bumper sticker some years ago and never forgot it. Probably because it's true. The time for belly aching is over. What we need are powerful people to build powerful coalitions and fight like hell to make sure we don't regress as humans. We also need powerful people who can actually listen to and be with people and their pain.
2. Make sure that all of your finances are in order. Moving beyond just paying bills and living paycheck to paycheck, it is important that we invest, understand what money can and can't do and plan for our future. So many of us are waiting for the government to save us/ bail us out and yet we turn a blind eye to their stellar record of handling money. No folks, we have to make sure all life insurance policies, wills, trusts and power of attorney paperwork is filed.
3. Pull your loved ones in closer and begin to work towards creating new and stronger alliances with people who are vastly different than you. For example, watch the great film , Lorenzo's Oil. In it the white female middle class mom unties with poor people of color in an effort to create and sustain change. When the world gets crazy, it is imperative that we get more sane.
4. Start obsessively reading and watching the fine print. Whether a written piece or a ridiculous talking head, task yourself to question, scrutinize and challenge. In the past 18 months, I've seen more tom foolery and hijinks than ever. Television interviews and news sources just love a good comeuppance and my god have we had our share of it this last year. Fine print in the written word is somewhat easier to spot. Incidentally, feel free to use this time to bone up on your vocabulary because mark my word, we are getting ready to see a whole lot of name changing, i.e. high falutin' code switching designed to confuse and immobilize many of our citizens.
5. Get all travel documents in order. For those of us who have done international traveling, make sure those passports are current. As a black gay man, I know that understanding and acceptance can be eliminated in a blink of an eye with awful repercussions. While it is wonderful and brave to stay and fight, let's not be the idiot refusing to cover all bases as opposed to hoping that good people will stand up when it counts and that humans eventually do the right thing.
6. Do you speak one language? Two? Three? As Americans, myself included, we are notoriously arrogant in our refusal to learn about other cultures and languages. With this new world order, it is wise to start learning Spanish, a language spoken by more than a third of the world's population. As comrades in struggle, we must join forces with a community that has largely been dismissed and overlooked. By joining with our Latino brothers and sisters we have the opportunity to harness the same power that made a Trump victory possible. We organize around people whose voices have been systematically squelched. Scared, voiceless people in serious pain can be a scary and misguided group. Scared, voiceless people who are self directed with a united voice can move mountains.
7. Figure out what the hell the Electoral College is so that we can either improve or eliminate it. I have no idea what it is, how it works or why in the entire hell it only seems to elect Republicans. It requires further examination and a firm commitment to making sure things work for everyone (all Americans).
8. Pray. Pray for courage and wisdom. The wisdom to know what to do and the courage to actually do it. It is easy to hand wring and fret. Be bold and take the right action.
9. Get a sense of humor and know that every loudmouth idiot has his day. Keep in mind that anybody over 40 has seen these type of shenanigans before. There are those of us who've lived through not one but two Bush Administrations and of course the one who promised to save us (Clinton Administration); he served us with Don't Ask Don't Tell and a failed war on crime/drugs with the lovely and highly effective "Three Strikes Rule". Humor helps with all this crazy shit. I live in the great state of California and when I arrived in 2008, the governator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was our governor. Personally, I've always felt many folks liked him being in office because they could mispronounce his name Schwarzenigger and get away with it. Californians had no problem allowing a man with no previous knowledge or political experience to run our state. An out of work actor decides to throw his hat in the political ring and no one objects. I can't be held responsible. It happened before I arrived. The big question remains- what the frig are we gonna do now? Do you resist with angst riddled protests and demands for justice that quickly burn us out? Or do we say this shit is f#$@ and let's find something comedic that joins us as a nation and provides a way out of this mess?
10. Strive for personal and professional excellence. In a world of mediocrity and feeble minded individuals, it is time to buck up and smarten up. We're going to need everyone of us in this battle and no excuses.
At 27, I made the declaration that I am an artist.
With very little to guide me other than outdated stereotypes and much discouragement form my family, I began trotting down the path that is desperation and a need for constant attention.
There was no handbook nor mentor to guide me.
I only had the will to work and the belief that anything was possible.
I was very unaware of the big machine that devours anything in its path and that there will be several obstacle both internally and externally that would have to be navigated if I wanted a career in the arts/creativity.
When I speak of no longer lusting for movie stardom, I am making reference to being in a world that needs, rewards and loves those that are white, young and straight.
As much as we all try to pretend or believe that the movies and Hollywood are places where imaginations and creativity soar, anyone with a brain can see that to be a part of this machine is to be young, white and straight.
Recently I've noticed a trend: romanticizing slavery and sentimentalizing anything that has to do with Civil Rights.
I must confess that I had been lulled into being happy with so many beautiful black faces and talented folks working. What I was distracted from noticing like most moviegoers was the narrative that was being shared and who was in control of the sharing.
Much of what is forced upon me has very little to do with me.
Many times I am so mezmerized by the visual that I forget to question things like point of view, intention and clear, decolonized interpretation.
Toni Morrison states: That as soon as a character of color is introduced in a story, imagination stops.
Films and TV often trot out characters and story lines that forecast the performance long before they open their mouths to speak.
Fifteen years ago, I was unaware that the performing field was not open and fair to anyone willing to work hard, pay dues and get good at their craft.
With a growing frustration with what I was being cast in, I began writing my own material.
After creating an array of interesting characters : an abused child, a ninety year old man, a love starved twenty something and a Nazi Landlord, I was still not thrust into the public eye in any sort of meaningful way and Hollywood didn't come a calling.
I was told to stay in my lane that in order to make it I would have to allow myself to be a type (put into a box/creative straightjacket) until "they" knew what I could do and then "they " would let me out and allow me to play in other areas.
When I made this discovery, I was angry and undeterred.
I was gonna show them all and prove that as a gay, black thinking man there is a place for me in the public eye.
My major beef is that not only do I have much to offer the world but there are countless others that do as well.
Who will tell our stories?
Who will start with a new narrative and allow blacks, gays, women of color access to the center?
I will no longer watch brutalization of beautiful, powerful black folks and chime in with what a wonderful movie or story it was.
In a recent review of Hollywood's obsession with slave stories, a young brilliant black man pointed out that Oscars are given to whites for acting and blacks for subject matter.
I want to see Viola Davis as the star of a film and be sexy, smart, powerful, cunning and breathtaking (rocking her natural hair).
I don't want "real stories". I want tales of what could be.
I want imaginations that open up when a black, latino, gay person enters.
I want writers, myself included, to demand more of everyone around them.
I want Kasi Lemmons, Julie Dash, Kimberly Pierce and Lee Daniels to continue to create and devise all manner of stealthily creating characters that are interesting not because they're comedic, tragically doomed or will be put to death because they see and think differently.
Where is my black audience who wants to keep things authentic and interesting as opposed to real?
We will no longer allow ourselves to be entertained by violent images that involve slaughtering, disrespecting or dismissing black bodies.
We will fight to bring back characters like Precious Ramowste and her small band of comrades who rely on their minds and companionship and trust in each other to solve life's problems.
We will fight to see stories told powerfully and quietly that invite the sacred in and offer solace from a world gone mad. I can't wait for this change. What are you willing to do to see this happen?