I hate saying that because I love complimenting people. It’s so easy. And a good compliment shows that you respect what they think and what they do and not just how they look. It is easy to make a compliment something nice that actually makes people feel good about themselves. Like, “nice ass.” This is not in and of itself a compliment. This shows a very shallow level of thought. The thought process there is, “I saw your ass. I liked it. I wanted you to know that I am having thoughts about your ass that would make you unbelievably uncomfortable….You’re welcome.”
Don’t tell women, “nice ass.” It is just as easy to tell them, “Those jeans look amazing on you.” Do you see the difference there? It’s as though you are saying “I’m not objectifying you and your body, I am recognizing and appreciating the thought that you put into choosing an outfit that looks so good on you. I’m not commenting on your body, I’m giving you a compliment on your clothes! And the sense of style you possess that brought you to choose that outfit. Which makes your ass look great, by the way. But I would never say that. Because I respect you. And I would hate to make you feel uncomfortable.”
“Those jean looks amazing on you.” Do you know how great a compliment this is? Do you know how hard it is for some people to find jeans!!!??? People who aren’t dangerously straight put a lot of thought into what they choose to wear. So if you like what someone is wearing, tell them that their outfit looks great. Chances are, they will smile, and say “thank you” and feel respected as a human being. And maybe they will feel comfortable and safe enough to actually have a conversation. And even if they don’t, you may very well have made their day and made the world a better place even if it’s just for a moment.
Now, I’m not saying this to all of you because I want to teach the dangerously straight to disguise their objectification of women’s bodies as admiration of their attire. Because even if I tried to do that, I feel like the dangerously straight would feel that their masculinity is being compromised by discussing a woman’s outfit. “I shouldn’t care about outfits! That’s what the gays do!!!”
When I was single and looking to meet women, it was very difficult for me to know just how gay or straight they thought I was. Honestly, “that outfit looks amazing on you” coming from someone who looks like me is like a compliment wrapped in a mystery. A woman hears that and thinks, “Wait. Is he saying this because he’s gay and he likes my style? Or is he saying this because he’s straight, but has somehow learned how to compliment a woman without making her feel uncomfortable??? I’m intrigued. I must learn more.”
I’m not certain if this is what was actually going through their heads, but when I was single and trying to meet women, I feel like I had the opportunity to talk with them and get close to them because they felt safe with me. I learned that I could be straight without being dangerously straight. And dangerously straight doesn’t just mean making women feel unsafe. It also means being so insecure that you have to let other men know you’re straighter than they are. Based on very little relevant information.
Save Your Compliments
The other part of dangerously straight is yelling unsolicited “compliments” to women from moving vehicles. I feel like nothing can exemplify #dangerouslystraight as perfectly as this; because street harassment is how these individuals let other people know just how straight they are. I mean, most straight men are content to think to themselves, “I’m attracted to women. I have pursued heterosexual relationships on several occasions. I’m currently driving past a woman who I find to be attractive. I guess that makes me straight. What a relief.”
That’s like, safely straight. Kinda like, “I’m into women, but I don’t have to go out of my way to be a dick to all of them.” Dangerously straight is more like, “I’m going to make you uncomfortable with my extreme off the charts level of testosterone. My straightness is so extreme that it makes people feel unsafe.” Because it does. Street harassment is dangerously straight because yelling at someone, even if it’s meant to be a compliment, makes people feel uncomfortable. And unsafe. Unsafe in their own cities, in their own neighborhoods, in their own clothes, in their own skin.
I have a big problem with street harassment for many reasons. First of all, I love women. That can sound like a very sleazy thing depending on who you are and how you say it, but I genuinely mean that. I have women in my life that I care for and the thought of having someone making them feel unsafe is infuriating. And I hate it when yelling something at a woman from one’s vehicle is rationalized as being a compliment.
Are you familiar with compliments as a concept? Merriam-Webster defines a compliment as, “an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration” and it comes from the word “courteous” which means, “marked by respect for and consideration of others.” If you hear that definition and the image of a man in a truck yelling something at a woman on the sidewalk comes to mind, you might be dangerously straight.
Compliments convey respect. They show consideration for the other person. A compliment cannot express respect and consideration while also making someone feel unsafe. Even if you think what you are saying is showing appreciation and that a woman should be thankful you were able to evaluate her self worth based on her appearance that is probably not how it will be received. She’s not thinking, “Oh wow! Some stranger in a truck thinks I have a ‘nice ass.’ Wow, what a great guy. Too bad he has to keep driving around letting people know how dangerously straight he is. I just want him so bad now that I know that I can’t have him!!!”
What she’s really thinking is, “Is he going to turn around or get out of his vehicle and accost me? Or worse?” Women have been followed home from the grocery store by strangers. A when I say women, I mean, like girls, like young women; teenagers. Who are in school. Followed home by strangers. This happens in big cities and small cities and communities just like yours. Now, someone who is dangerously straight might be thinking, “Well, I wouldn’t do that. I just wanted her to know that I appreciate her body.” She has no way of knowing that. So save your compliments.
Herbal Essences has a product called “dangerously straight.” It is a spray for when you are straightening your hair. And, ironically, I found a bottle of it while helping a lesbian friend of mine clean her house. I made a joke about it. It was funny, but then I thought about it some more. Is anything “dangerously straight?”. Think about your Facebook friends’ posts. If you see someone post, “What about white history month???” #dangerouslystraight
Not that a gay guy couldn’t post something like that, but it embodies a mentality that is so oblivious to other people’s experiences with oppression that it is dangerous. Dangerously straight. We all know one of these people. People who are dangerously straight because they view being straight as the default setting. For everyone. The line of reasoning goes like this. “I like women. I’m a man. Men like women. It’s natural.”
Well, yeah, for you. But it’s not like men who identify as gay were thinking, “Yeah, women are great but if only there was a way for me to be in a relationship that makes my family and closed-minded strangers feel confused and uncomfortable while also putting my rights and general well-being at risk…” #dangerouslygay I think that would be a better term because being gay is much more dangerous than being straight. I should say, it puts you at more of a risk. Honestly, statistics indicate that GLBTQAI folks are at a significantly higher risk of smoking, suicide, and stress than other groups. Why? Because of people who are #dangerouslystraight.
Dangerously straight means almost the exact opposite of dangerously gay. If you’re gay, or black, or muslim, or disabled, or a vegan, or anything people may view as different you are more likely to be living a dangerous existence. I include vegans not because they are visibly different or overtly discriminated against or often subject to prejudice and bigotry. I’m just not sure you can be healthy and have sufficient protein if you’re afraid to eat meat and dairy. #dangerouslyvegan Just kidding, of course. I know vegans have chickpeas and TVP and great senses of humor so they can hopefully overcome any of these dietary concerns and a little bit of good-natured ribbing. Hopefully we can all find an identity that makes us understand the problem with being dangerously straight. Because being dangerously straight doesn’t mean that you’re the one in danger. Being straight is hardly ever dangerous. [For men, anyway.]
I’m not sure if you are still struggling with this concept, but if you can’t think of anyone in your life who is dangerously straight, it might be you. Do you like talking to people and explaining topics that they already know and may, in fact, be experts in? #mansplain #dangerouslystraight
I’m just now realizing that I’ve just mansplained what mansplaining is to people who are likely experts on mansplaination. #metamansplaining #mansplaination
Mansplaination. That almost sounds like a word to describe a country. “One mansplaination,under God, indivisible…” I think that’s how it goes. I’m Canadian, I don’t know the words. Sorry. But it does sound like a country.
I feel like if Mansplaination were a country it would be America. Like, the current administration couldn’t pass any big legislation to make America great again so they just decided to rebrand. “From now on, we will be Mansplaination. And we’re changing the flag to a picture of a white guy interrupting a room full of oppressed people to tell them about what it is like to be discriminated against.”
I feel like all the dangerously straight people would not have a problem with that.
Reflections from Monday, August 14th
My daughter has a onesie that says “World Changer” on it. I can’t remember where we got it, but it is one of my favorite outfits that she wears. Not that there is anything special about it, it’s just a white short-sleeved outfit with brightly colored and glittery letters. So yeah, she looks pretty cool when she wears it, but I like it more for what it stands for.
She is our first child so it is kind of obvious that she did change our world. Things that used to be really boring and mundane like grocery shopping or taking a shower now seem like luxuries. It is amazing how you suddenly appreciate the small things so much more than you ever did before, but that is not the kind of change that I think of when I see the words “World Changer” on written across her chest.
I think about it as something that she will become. Someday she is going to be smart, and strong and brave and able to stand up for what is right in a way that she can’t right now. I mean, she literally can barely stand up at all at this point. She changed the world for me and her mom because, all of a sudden, it becomes even more important for us to be world changers; to stand up for what’s right; to do the right thing. That’s not always easy. We have a baby at home. She’s eleven months old. We can’t take her to every rally and candlelight vigil, but we as a family make it a priority to make sure that one of us shows up. Even if she is not ready to be a world changer yet, we need to be world changers right now.
The news about the violent and horrible death of Heather Heyer was devastating. I thought about what she was standing up against and what she was standing for while I was on my way to a vigil yesterday. My sister-in-law and I were walking and talking and she mentioned what this must be like for her parents, and my heart just broke. I hadn’t even thought about what a crippling loss something like this must be. I think about my little girl growing up to be someone who stands up against hate, and I think, “That’s great!” But what if, one day, a police officer shows up to my house to tell me that my little girl died because someone, with a heart full of hate, rammed his car into the group that she was with. I think about that and my heart breaks.
I don’t want that to be her fate. But if that is how she lives, and if that’s how she dies, I will be proud that she stood up for what is right. I will be shaken and shattered but I will take pride in the fact that she did what she did because she wanted to be the change that she wants to see in the world.
I think about Heather’s parents and everything that they have had to deal with in these past 48 hours and it hurts. It pains me to dwell on this thought. I grieve that this is the state of the world that we are currently in. There are so many issues that need to be addressed and fights that need to be fought. It makes me realize that I can’t just wait for things to get better or hope that the next generation will be able to make things right. I need to be a world changer right now.
I’ve got to make sure that the world she grows up in, the world when she is my age, when she is Heather’s age doesn’t have to deal with problems like this. We need to work on educating and loving. That is hard work. Education takes money, it takes time. It takes an unflinching resolve to actually look at what our past has been. It takes vision to imagine the world that we want to create and it takes dedication to look at the present and think about what we can do right now to bridge the gap between our where we have been and what kind of world we want to find ourselves in.
What can I do make sure that my daughter doesn’t have to sacrifice herself in the process of making this world a better place? Today, I saw several articles referencing a letter from the father of a white supremacist. In the letter, Pearce Tefft, denounced the rhetoric and actions of his son.
I was at a North Dakota United Against Hate rally to show support for those in the community who face racism, hate speech, and violence and this man’s son was there in a Make America Great Again hat. When I first saw him I was disgusted and irritated. I asked myself, “what does this guy think that he is doing here?” But I tried to see the other side. I tried to imagine what kind of world I want to create. I didn’t want to shout him down and push him away and make him feel like the victim. He is not the victim. He is one of the perpetrators, but he was there surrounded by people who have actually faced discrimination because of who they are or what they look like. I found myself wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt. I thought, maybe this guy will learn something but instead he was talking to reporters and trying to justify his repugnant views.
The letter this man’s father wrote to the Fargo Forum spelled out the fact that he did not learn this at home. Hate is not a family value and it definitely is not of any value to Pearce Tefft and his true family. His son learned this hate somewhere else. And it brought him all the way down to Charlottesville, Virginia just like it brought so many like-minded, hard-hearted, hate-filled individuals. And this is where Heather Heyer lost her life. By standing up against hate.
The really sad thing is that this man’s family is feeling a heartbreak that also rivals those who have actually lost children. They are mourning a "prodigal son" who is making no attempt at reconciliation and they are mourning along with the the family of Heather Heyer. Their family is currently torn apart, just like Heather Heyer’s family and both of these families are showing us how to speak up. They have faced pain greater than I ever hope to know, but I need to listen and hear their stories and wade into that pain. When Pearce Tefft wrote that letter, it was brave. That was standing up just like Heather Heyer did saying, “this is wrong and this is something we need to change.”
My daughter changed my world and I am going to work at changing the world that she will inherit. I hope that she doesn’t have to change the world, or at least that she has one less problem that she has to deal with.
I am the youngest of four boys and having older brothers was a blessing and a curse. In high school some teachers or other students heard my last name and instantly had expectations based on what they knew about my family. I couldn’t control their preconceived notions about me based on who I was undeniably related to. They may have had positive or negative expectations based on their previous interactions with one of my brothers. This is something that was out of my control. But I could control their first impression and give them the opportunity to know who I really was.
I have a love/hate relationship with the word brother . The word brother implies kinship and connection. Something held in common, but not necessarily by choice. Two guys who grew up together and maintained that closeness might not look at themselves as friends, but as brothers. The abbreviated forms (bro, bra, bru) imply that same thing, but with less serious tone. And “bro” has turned into something much less reverent, calling to mind fraternity houses and dudes in polos though still implying relationship.
When I am talking with my brothers, I occasionally use one of these terms, jokingly. It feels weird to use it in a serious way. We all know that we are brothers and don’t feel the need to use that term to make certain we are aware of our familial relationship. Plus, it makes me sound like Buster Bluth.
There are some other places where the term brother is also used. Sometimes, at church, I will hear someone use the word in a sentence like, “peace to you, brother”. It still makes me prick up my ears, but church is a lot like family. You may be able to pick your church, but you can’t control who else is there. Being addressed as “brother” at church suggests that we are all part of a community and a family and have something in common. Relational terms make some sense in that context, but it still feels somewhat out of place to hear the word “brother” used to address another person.
I was called “brother” twice in the last month by people who were complete strangers. It seemed weird at the time and feels even weirder as I reflect back on it. The first time was at a Coburn’s in Park Rapids, Minnesota on the fourth of July weekend. I was grocery shopping and went to use the bathroom. After washing my hands and proceeding to the door, I held it open for someone who was on his way in. As he passed by, he said, “Thanks, brother.”
Now, I’ll mention that this guy was white. I think that this changes how the word brother can be interpreted in this context. If this was a person of color, I would, in all honesty, be flattered. To be referred to as “brother” by someone who is of another race is unifying. It makes me feel like we are not all that different. But this guy was white.
This would not necessarily have been quite so noteworthy to me, except for the fact that I thought I saw him wearing a shirt that said “White Pride” on the front. I don’t think that being white is anything to be ashamed about. People wear hats that say “Native Pride” on them. James Brown sang, “I’m Black and I’m Proud.” I think both of those things are pretty cool. Both of those groups suffered at the hands of other people, who were usually white. The fact that they are around is a testament to their strength and something to be proud of.
It’s okay to be proud of who you are, especially when the group you are a part of has been through a lot and you are here now because they endured. They persisted. Now, if his shirt would have said “Norwegian Pride” or “Irish Pride” or even “German Pride” I would not have thought twice about it. But the fact that it said, “White Pride” and he called me brother, gave me the creeps.
Brothers are family. You can’t choose your family. But sometimes, people might try to imply that you have a kinship because you look like them. There are a lot of different ways that people can look the same. I can’t change the fact that I have size 8 feet or dangling earlobes, but I don’t feel a connection with everyone else who shares these same qualities. These similarities, however, don’t have the contrived cultural significance that race does. When some guy with a “White Pride” shirt says, “Thanks, brother” it feels like he is saying, “You and I are in this together and we have to look out for each other because those people who look different than us want what we’ve got.”
The second time that this happened, I was at the recent North Dakota United Against Hate Rally in Fargo. The rally was organized in order to raise awareness about some of the hate that refugees and other visible minorities have faced in Fargo. I had a sign that had the Nazi and Confederate flags (both representing groups that America fought and defeated) crossed out and a sign that read, “Hate is for losers. Seriously. Read a history book.” Standing right in front of me was a guy wearing a red hat that said, “Make America Great Again” and I thought, “oh brother.”
At first, I was slightly irritated and even felt somewhat threatened. I felt like I had to question this person’s motives and agenda for attending such a rally. But gradually I started to think about the fact that he showed up. Even if it was while wearing that hat. Even if it was to intimidate the people who were there. Even if it was with an opposing viewpoint that he wanted publicized; he showed up and, whether purposefully or not, gave himself the opportunity to hear from people who have faced racism and prejudice and violence right here in our community.
If only he would have listened, but for the most part, he didn’t. He spent much of his time talking to reporters when it would have been better spent taking in and understanding the perspectives of those who actually face discrimination. He even smiled and laughed when a passerby yelled profanity during one of the speeches. I overheard some of what he said while he was talking to reporters, but I wasn’t there to listen to what he had to say. I was there to stand up against hate. I was there to put love into action. Even when someone’s views are deplorable.
While he was being interviewed by a reporter from HPR, I decided that I needed to show him what love in action looks like. I walked up and told him that I hope he feels as welcome in this community as everyone gathered at the rally should feel. I didn’t tell him this because I actually condoned his presence there. I told him because I wanted him to know that EVERYONE should feel welcome in this community. I wanted him to have a glimpse of the welcome he could receive if only was also willing to extend it. He said, “thank you, brother” and again I felt myself cringe at hearing that word. Kind of like, “we might not understand each other, but you being white makes us brothers and we have to look out for each other.”
That’s fine. I will look out for this guy. Just like I will do my best to look out for everyone else. No matter who you are, what you look like, or what you believe. I will always try to look out for the best interests of all people. But maybe, in all honesty, I don’t need to look out for him; I need to watch out for him. The kind of ignorance and hate that he attempts to justify has to be called out. And we all need to be the ones to raise our voices.
As a white person in a predominantly white country, I know that I have benefited from looking like the majority of people here. I don’t think that being called “brother” by a stranger who does not share my values is necessarily beneficial, but this incident is an explicit example of how a white person (like myself) may be viewed in a more positive light simply because they are white.
This is a very simplified version of the concept of white privilege ; white people benefitting from individual or institutional racism even if and when they are unaware of it happening. This is something that is often difficult to explain and even more difficult to grapple with on an individual level. A friend of mine recently posted a video on Facebook labeled “Black Woman Destroys The White Privilege Myth.” In this video, a woman with the online handle Bernytree66 describes white privilege as “the concept that, no matter what, if you’re white you are doing better than any black person ever because your skin is white.” She goes on to say, “It doesn’t matter if you’re homeless. It doesn’t matter if you are in prison. It doesn’t matter because you are doing way better than every black person because you’re skin is white.”
That is not a description of white privilege. That is a description of white supremacy. And actually, it was linked from the Facebook page of Milo Yiannopoulos, who infamously said, “Behind every racist joke is a scientific fact." I find it interesting that a man who promotes racist views and denies the existence of white privilege would post a video of a black women denouncing racism because she has mistaken it with white privilege. That is like a rabid pro-cat person posting a video of a dog person denouncing dogs for always “jumping on the counter and stinking up houses with their litter boxes.”
White privilege is a difficult concept to grasp. It takes work. It is like understanding how radio or infrared waves are constantly flying through the atmosphere unnoticed. But some people have noticed these usually unseen forces and have tried to use their privilege to help even the playing field for everyone. This is why legislators put policies like affirmative action in place. But if you can’t understand the concept behind why it is there, these policies seem to simply put white people at a disadvantage.
That may be one of the reasons that so many white people feel disenfranchised. They may have never seen themselves as having any advantage and now policies that appear to be benefiting other people are putting them at a disadvantage. Or maybe they are aware of the advantages that they have had, but want to see these benefits stay in place and not be offered to anyone who they don’t deem deserving. And sometimes, they look at someone else who is white and assume that this person must share those same beliefs.
And maybe they call them, “brother.”
I can’t control my skin color. I can’t control it when someone views me in a positive light because I look a certain way. I can’t control the way that other people view me and address me, but I have control over that first impression. I can make my views known and I can use the privilege that I have done nothing to earn to be a positive force in the world. I can show love to everyone I meet. I can participate in dismantling organizations that support and perpetrate hate by loving everyone even harder. Because, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Make America Great Again!!
Every time someone new (especially from a place of privilege) posts about what is happening in America, another voice is added to the chorus. A chorus that sings in harmony about unity. A chorus that celebrates diversity and denounces dischord. A chorus that echoes across this country, sung to everyone who is here. “This land is your land” but don’t get too excited, this land is my land, too. And his and hers and theirs and everybody’s. And we are all going to raise our voices to make sure we all know.
We can drown out the voices that declare that they should be heard above everyone else. We have heard them for far too long. They have held the microphone. And you know what? You go ahead and keep the microphone. We’re just gonna pull the plug on you and we are going to join together with voice that are louder, stronger, and kinder than yours.
I have seen people posting on Facebook things like, “If you agree with what Trump said yesterday about ‘both sides’ please unfriend me now.” At first, I thought (Like Jim Gaffigan reflecting on the dogs in those Sarah McLachlan commercials) “That’s a little heavy-handed…” but I’m coming around and seeing their perspective.
Just a quick side note, I was wondering if Jim Gaffigan had already spoken out about the whole Charlottesville situation and found this.
Although, before having the sense to look up his twitter account I googled “Jim Gaffigan Nazi” to see if that would yield more expedient results. Then I thought, “I wonder if anyone else is googling Jim Gaffigan to see if he is a Nazi?” I imagine some white supremacist eating bacon and thinking, “This Gaffigan guy has got to be on our side, right? Lord knows he’s white enough.” Well, first of all probably not. But he did come out as a progressive Christian, which is a Christian “characterized by a willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity, a strong emphasis on social justice and care for the poor and the oppressed, and environmental stewardship of the earth.” That definition is from Wikipedia, by the way, so you know it’s true.
But Jim Gaffigan also recently said that he "wouldn't hike to escape the Nazis." Don’t worry Jim. You’re a national treasure and we won’t let them make you hike, but we all have to do our part. Now, I’m not writing this for the Jim Gaffigans of the world. I’m doing this for everyone who doesn’t know what to do when faced with such a horrible situation. Gaffigan was able to say something even if it was to say how horrible and sad he is feeling because of what is happening in this country. We don’t want the news to make people feel horrible and sad. We want everyone to be able to their best self and we can’t do that if we are feeling horrible and sad.
So what could make us feel better? If only there was a way to do something so the news doesn’t just keep getting worse? Yes, there is, but we all have to get involved.
You know what makes me feel better? Getting a deal. I love going to my favorite coffee shop and showing my loyalty card or checking in and getting the message, “We know who you are and we are glad you are here. Thank you for showing up.” People need to get that message more often. They need to feel welcome. They need to be thanked when they finally show up. We, as a society, need to do more to thank people for the small contributions that they make.
We should create a country-wide loyalty card. Something tangible that people can hold in their hands to show that they get why we are all here. They want to be loyal to the tenets that have made this country great. They can show this card at establishments and be welcomed with open arms. Maybe they could even get a 5% discount.
Everyone should have a card like this. Everyone who shows up and stands up and speaks up should get one. People need to know when they look at you they do “Not See a Nazi” just like Hasan Minhaj at the White House Correspondents Dinner. You post on Facebook that you denounce what the pro-white alt-right stands for. Boom. Loyalty card. Easy! We could make it a Facebook app. Well, not me personally, but if you make apps, now is your time to get involved. By the way, here is Hasan Minhaj.
What about the people who don’t want a loyalty card. What about those people who might be on the fence about whether or not they support the pro-white agenda? By the way, this is the first thing that came up when I googled “pro white agenda.”
If you support one of these pro white agendas (or if they provide you support) that’s no problem. When I say pro white I actually mean white supremacist. If you don’t think those two are the same, just think of it this way. You can’t be pro-white and pro-everyone else. If you’re not pro-everyone else it's probably because you think you’re better than them. You’re not, and P.S. that is kinda the same thing as white supremacy. Which is not going to get you a loyalty card.
So what happens to people who don’t have a loyalty card? I don’t know. I’m not a lawyer. I don’t know what we can do. Can we charge a little more and use that money to fund things that need to happen? If they are so intent on making America great again maybe they would be willing to spend a little of extra money to fund important things like food banks, the ACLU, or the American Cancer Society. Maybe we can get rid of all the cancers in this country at once by just letting them destroy one another. Just kidding. We will of course allow white supremacists to receive cancer treatment. Health care is a human right, after all.
Or maybe we could each decide on an individual level that we won’t serve white supremacists in any capacity. They have already been identified (thanks, @YesYoureRacist). We can just see their lack of a loyalty card (or if that becomes to cumbersome, just check the name on their credit card against a hopefully already present Nazi database) and say that maybe they should go somewhere else. Then, we’ll tell them, “This is just a glimpse into what it was like to be black in the Jim Crow South." Or, "Now you can have some tiny idea of what it feels like to ACTUALLY be discriminated against." "Now, maybe you have a small sense of what it feels like to be all those things that you thought had it so much better than you.”
Or maybe we could just give them the worst service ever. If some neo-Nazi had a Yelp review slamming a restaurant for not serving him or getting his order wrong or whatever, I know exactly where I would be going to dinner. We could make it a fun event where people come there and celebrate the world we want to create. We could make it a fundraiser to help get the “Not See A Nazi” app off the ground.
I heard someone (can’t remember who) say that to a Nazi there is nothing worse than a race traitor. Well, to most of the rest us, there is nothing worse than a Nazi, so, you know what, as a white person trying their best to be an ally, I’ll just go ahead and be a race traitor. We can all be race traitors. If that is the most horrible thing they can think of us being we’ll be that. If they don’t want anything to do with us because of it even better. We can just pretend that we broke up and decided to say “it’s mutual”.
We have already had powerful people showing us the way. We have all of the peaceful counter-protesters in Charlottesville, especially Heather Heyer. We have everyone else who went to a rally or a vigil in the days since. We have business leaders like Scott Paul, Richard Trumka, and Thea Lee in addition to Merck's Kenneth Frazier, Under Armour's Kevin Plank, Tesla’s Elon Musk, and Intel's Brian Krzanich. Which, makes me think that if I need pharmaceuticals, sportswear, an electric car, or a computer, you know who I’m supporting. These are the people who we need to be emulating.
There was talk about an “Alt-right” rally coming to my town. I don’t want that. Maybe it doesn’t have to happen... or maybe we just don’t have to hear about it.
Maybe instead of counter protesting we could have a party. A little shindig that welcomes everybody who welcome everybody else. Businesses, shops, restaurants, associations, and interest groups could all come together and say “Let’s celebrate what we’re making together. We are setting a table and making a world where everybody knows they have a place and if you don’t want to be a part of it we won’t make you.” All the news outlets will want to cover it. To borrow an oft-quoted phrase, “It will be tremendous.”
While we are actually having a good time, the white supremacists can rally around whatever stupid statue or public space they want. We won’t be around to watch. Well, maybe some police could be around to make sure that the gathering will stay peaceful. You know, the way Nazis always want things to be peaceful.
Don’t worry. We will have been there the night before setting up art installations. Huge canvases that celebrate diversity and let them know we have better things to do. Maybe as all the “pro-white” or “Alt-right” or whatever they want to call themselves look around and realize we aren’t paying attention, they will see a sign that says, “I guess you probably just could have stayed online in your basement and saved yourself the trouble.”
I also, at one point in time, made a joke about glitter bombs to a friend, but if there was ever a time and place, maybe now could be it. It would also make identifying Nazis and Nazi sympathizers so much easier. Just imagine, “Are you a Nazi? You’re lookin’ kinda glittery right now…”
I’m not saying that all this is going to work, but, how will we know if we don’t try. Maybe we will realize that we all have more power than we ever thought when we tackle one disaster at a time. Seriously, let’s get this done by next week, before the kids head back to school. First we’ll deal with this, and then it will be the opioid crisis. Then, the healthcare debate, campaign finance reform, domestic abuse, climate change, terrorism in all its forms, hunger, street harassment, food waste, and every other issue that has ever seemed too big to solve. We’ll make sure our history books tell how we actually made America great again. Or as Glennon Doyle put it "...-forget about being great and focus on being good. I just want America to be good again."
Either way, we are going to make this country a better place, because of, or in some cases, in spite of the efforts of so many. It will be a better place for everyone who has been doing the wrong thing and everyone who called them out on it. You all helped us see everything that was wrong and backwards about this country and you helped us figure out what we are going to do about it. Now it is just a matter of time before we all step up, stand up, and speak up for the world that you seem so intent on destroying. A world and country that can be more wonderful and tremendous than it ever was before. So the next time you see someone wearing a Make America Great Again hat, feel free to let them know…
we’re working on it.
I'm new to this whole game. For a long time, it has been easy for me to just dwell on things, write them down, and share them with a select few of you. But this is not enough. My voice needs to be louder. All our voices need to be louder. We need to join together in a beautiful harmonious chorus that sings of a love so deep that it drowns out the sound of hate speech in our communities. I want your voice to be a part of that song. Please read, listen, share, and join the conversation.