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.
He is crying. He is in pain. He is confused. He thought they would be nice to each other. He thought this thing can’t be happening. He is confused. He is crying. He hurts. His special parts, the ones no has ever touched are in pain. He is crying. Didn’t he say no ? That it hurt. That he wanted to stop. He remembers the light blue boxers being torn off he thinks they were torn. He remembers the chill because the air conditioning was up too high. It was August. It was a hotel room. He had always loved hotels. He will never visit Chattanooga again. He can tell no one. This is what they do, people will say. He will block it out. Never replay it in his mind. He will convince himself that this never happened. He tells himself the screams, the pain, the tears, the cold air never, ever happened.
This performance piece was written by me ten years ago in a show dedicated to surviving disappointment.
While it upset many people for its raw and honest portrayal of brutal and violent relationships, its depiction was one of hope for the masses and the belief that we all make bad choices until we don't.
There is a great deal of focus on black men as the targets of police brutality.
There is little to no focus on the brutality many black men have suffered at the hands of people who look like us.
Shame and the belief that "manning up" will keep us safe and allow us to "get over it" has kept us screwed up for a long time.
While I have been questioned by police more than once, I have only felt shear terror when dealing with black men who were intent on staying emotionally stunted and destroying me in the process.
My goal is to remind us of the awful things that we do to each other and reprimand those of us who insist on "white justice" yet ignore brutality and murder if the perpetrator is of the same race.
I am down for discussing and eliminating the treatment that many young black males receive at the hands of police.
I am even more down for discussing the ways we brutalize and lash out at each other.
Being labeled a fag and sissy came from the homophobic mouths of black men.
Being spit on and physically assaulted happened at the hands of black men.
It is difficult to understand the demand that other people treat us better than we are willing to treat those in our own community.
This is why there has been no major change in the way society views and then treats us.
If our silent agreement is you're not shit and neither am I, why shouldn't the larger society interact the same way ?
It is imperative that we clean our own homes first and then demand change.
"As soon as a character of color is introduced in a story, imagination stops". Toni Morrison
As a young boy, I loved The Twilight Zone, The Planet of the Apes and anything that provided insight into other worlds and possibilities.
It is only as we age, that we learn dreaming and committing to difference, exploration and comfortability with difference can and often does make you an outsider.
A young black child who loves Science Fiction is asking for a heap of trouble and ridicule.
Collectively, we (black folks) have been tortured and brutalized as a result of "difference" and should look to new worlds as places that not only allow dreaming but adamantly encourage it.
Black folks need all the thinking and devotion to self defining that Sci Fi will allow.
As a teacher to young Black and Hispanic teenagers in an alternative high school, I discovered what prevented several of my students from expecting and striving for excellence. None of them had ever seen anyone who looked like them leading a revolution, being self defining or self creating.
It is difficult to design a life of forward movement if there is no tangible example of what is possible.
My baby sister is a lawyer.
She has watched her mother and several family friends attend law school and obtain jobs in their chosen field.
Dreaming of and then becoming an attorney was not an impossibility for her.
We all need vivid and tangible examples of accomplishments and what the price is for achieving our life's objectives.
Science Fiction lets our imaginations soar. We need creativity that reinvents us and what we can achieve.
At 27, I finally got around to reading Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower.
In this wonderful book, the protagonist, a young black girl of fifteen invents a religion, leads a sojourn and makes herself the center of a movement based in love, communion with others, a sharing of resources and the questioning of God.
Many black folks I know associate the Sci Fi world with whiteness, green little men, silver suits and the questioning of the definition of God given to us by the Judeo Christian ethic we were all reared in.
I once had a very intense debate with my sister about the demons, witches , etc in the Harry Potter series. Apparently, magic, sorcery and all the rest of that "mess" was something that our young people shouldn't read. My argument was that as long as a child is reading does it matter what the material is if it opens his mind and leads to more reading and knowledge hunger.
When the adults around me lied, were irrational or flat out denied reality, it was this genre and all reading that provided solace and sanity.
It was clear that there were other ways of living and being.
The Twilight Zone forced me to consider other worlds where the rules were different. This brilliant show also let me know about the human condition and that I could hope for and demand more in my life.
This is Sci Fi's greatest strength.
Like Shakespeare's work, it illuminates humanity and all its complicated and endlessly annoying traits and foibles. It allows us to examine our lives and our choices through the lenses of another time and space. We are encouraged to move beyond voyeuristic consumption of other worlds.
It forces us to imagine our lives and whether we harm or help others when certain situations arise.
As a young kid unable to hide his homosexuality, I was bullied from childhood through college. I learned to thrive amidst a world and people bent on destroying me.
As I began my teaching career, I noticed that this part of the educational experience had not vanished or been dealt with constructively.
To combat this horrid fact, I began to introduce my favorite Science Fiction Short Stories.
My personal favorite: Those Who Walk Away From Omelas, provided my young students with a case of the "willies" and always sparked a great deal of conversation regarding domination, bullying and fair treatment for all.
So many of the themes and struggles are recognizable no matter the time period.
We must take our place in worlds wherein animals and inanimate objects speak, reason and wage war.
Is it impossible to consider worlds where we matter ? Is it impossible to imagine a world where diversity works and oppression is nonexistent ?
Visiting and dabbling in different worlds with different intelligences could provide a great deal of insight into modern day problems.
We often are able to invent solutions when the results are not life threatening.
Pick up some Octavia Butler, Margaret Atwood, Ursula Le guin and Daryl Sturgis' Solstice.
These wonderful authors are effortlessly and poignantly(brilliantly) offering us characters and worlds that could be implemented in current society and beyond.
Be fearless in your explorations and expectations.
Many gay male sexual relationships begin in less than ideal settings and situations.
My grandparents love and admiration ensured that I wouldn't listen to those who tortured and tried to belittle me.
Tortured by violent nightmares which included physical assualt and emotional and psychological abandonment, I began writing and then blogging as a direct response to the rash of gay youth suicides.
"Didn't need no welfare states, everybody pulled his weight, you knew who you were then, gurls were gurls and men were men. Those were the days".
In the brilliant and way-ahead-of-its-time show, All in the Family, a bigot, is forced to deal with a world that is constantly changing.
When I was ten, Tanya Nelson repeatedly tortured me by jabbing me with a compass. She sat behind me and constantly tormented me along with others for being a sissy. I took the abuse. I learned to tolerate it and even enjoyed figuring out ways to endure the humiliation.