I entertained doing a political disclaimer on this post but decided not to. I think it’s important for folks to understand the real life implications of language that incites hate, language that makes bigots and racists feel free to avoid any kind of self-censorship, and language that makes my daughter send me text messages about what she’s observing while taking the bus to her tutoring center during our morning commute.
Trump’s antics are making my world more dangerous.
I know we brown and black folks have noticed the remarkable increase in nasty rhetoric. Folks seem emboldened to be outwardly racist, sexist and homophobic. Like just on the street, it feels different. You hear little snippets of language that seems intended to let you know that they don’t like you.
My parents, both in their mid-to-late 60s, remark that it echoes things they heard years ago, during the 50s and 60s.
I’m not a stranger to hearing nasty things, but since Trump came on the scene and has been legitimized as a candidate for president, folks seem really comfortable saying any old thing. If you’re not paying attention or you or your peeps aren’t the “topic of discussion” do you hear it? Do you notice it?
Hope texted me during her bus ride this morning. Here’s our confab.
So there we were during our commutes, and this is going down.
Now, Hope might talk back to me, but she does NOT like to see other kids talk back to parents or people being mean to other people. She hates this behavior, I mean really hates it, and I see it as such a testament to her inherently kind soul. She also is one who swoops in to defend those who are attacked. She has, on more than one occasion, checked a kid who was too salty to a parent in her presence. I know my daughter and this exchange bothered her; I know she wanted to intervene on behalf of this bus driver. I know she wanted to show care and concern.
I just wanted her to get to the tutoring clinic safe and sound without using the S on her chest or the cape on her back as the anti-racist superhero, hence my initial response.
As I was illegally texting while driving, I thought to myself, “Dammit, you’ve to be kidding me? I’ve now got to teach Hope a protocol for riding the bus with racists.”
This is some bull-ihitsay, I tell you.
The current climate has emboldened folks who would typically be shamed into darkness by this behavior, but when you have a Twitter/trigger finger presidential candidate who says it’s ok to come out into the light, who retweets things from handles like “whitegenocide,” folks who should be shamed no longer are ashamed.
They feel perfectly entitled (<<<keyword here) to sit on a bus with my daughter, spout foolishness and harass the bus driver. And folks can miss me with that “free speech” mess; all speech isn’t protected.
And if the GOP nominee can claim that words hurt him all over Twitter, then certainly people of color can articulate how disturbing it is to have a candidate who spouts hate, racism, and misogyny in ways that embolden his followers to do the same.
I am trying to teach my daughter to live her values in a peaceful way. I hope that her kindness to the bus driver was noted. I hope it pricked someone’s heart as a bus of people during rush hour said nothing.
I am concerned for my daughter’s safety, but I’m so proud of her for wanting to do/say *something* in the face of foolishness. I hope that making a point to thank the bus driver gave Hope a sense of power to show how to “go high,” when they “go low” (Thank you Michelle Obama!).
I fret about the next few months, and possibly the next 4 years. I worry that there will be more protocols I will have to think through and teach my daughter as she navigates daily life in her skin. She, like all of us, should be able to go through life without all the extra things that require so much cognitive energy.
Can she just live?