What Will You Sacrifice
Eight years ago I celebrated Obama's win in a lounge with close friends. I kept a black power fist up for his entire speech (I think I have a permanent rotator cuff injury because of this, but it was my determination and tribute for something I believed in). I was naive and young I'll admit; I assumed a Black president meant progress for Black people. After his first term was over I was ashamed that nothing changed and I took his lack of progress personal.
By the end of the first year of his second term, I understood better. He couldn't be my President; he belonged to all of us. My hatred and disdain went away and I began to feel sorry for him instead. I watched as Republicans refused every idea he had and as racists refused him as a leader, innovator, and change maker; he was just another Black man in a white world trying to navigate through the bullshit that is bigger than him as a person, bigger than his Presidency, and bigger than the country. That's what it always boils down to.
This past Friday I felt a weight in my heart knowing he was leaving. I looked through this photo series and the old "You don't you know you've got til it's gon" came to mind. The great Patrice O'Neal once said that any Black man in power has to be an extraordinary person to reach any elevated position. Yet people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, or Mike Pence can be average in intelligence and character and get placed into any role. This is what whiteness tells us time after time (e.g, W. Bush's second term). Trump could have chosen Joe The Plumber and still won the Presidency. Whiteness is a fraternity: If I'm white and you're white, you must be good for the job because you look just like me.
Everything and anything is at risk these next four years. There was a point in time where if someone said something to me I could earnestly say, "Na, that's not true." Now everything seems possible.
Friend: "I heard Trump's gonna build a wall."
Me: "Aint nobody building a wall man."
*one year later*
Me in San Diego Driving to Tijuana: "Oh shit. This wall is absolutely beautiful. It just blends in so naturally with the skyline."
On one side are the people who are against Trump's ideals and policies and the implications they have for their personal life, this country, and the planet. On the other side are the Trump supporters, people who love his ideals and policies, and although those ideals and policies may benefit their personal life, they will ruin this country and planet for generations. The first side seems to value fairness in this life experience. The latter, without a doubt, values money.
Truth and accountability are where the sides fail to reach each other. Those who value money don't care about the truth from those who value fairness. And unfortunately those of us who value fairness don't hold those who value money accountable. Historically, the biggest change in behavior comes from making the pockets of people in power bleed. We see politicians, celebrities, and CEOs lie and cheat in ways that damage our lives and the planet and we don't do anything that'll really cause an impact.
When the Founding Fathers and the British immigrants started this country, there was no "Eh, someone else will do it." A tight knit community where everyone was aware of what was at stake meant everyone was involved. You had to be involved if you wanted progress and change. But as the years carried on and as the country grew, the bystander effect began to take toll. The more people accessible in an area means we're more likely to assume others will take the lead in doing what we'd like to do. "Someone else will help" or "Someone else will protest." What if no one showed up to the Boston Tea Party?
What Are We Doing
We as people have accepted too much over the years and placed ourselves in a glass box. We're able to see everything but unable to break the glass or tip the box over to free ourselves; we're too distracted by all the shiny things those who value money throw into the box. We live in the information age: transparency is minimal; everything you write is fact checked; everything you search is tracked; everything you say is secretly recorded by Google; every step you take is monitored by a satellite. Although knowledge is relative to the era, why, at this point where we have the greatest ability to share information, to be the most knowledgeable and powerful humans have ever been, why haven't we brought about the change that we, the people who value fairness, want?
It's barely been a week and Trump is on a roll.
Who cares about fake news anymore? The only fake news that should be shocking is Trump doing something that benefits women, ethnic minorities, and the poor. News itself has become a form of oppression and is governed by those who value money. The media was bleeding for money a year ago. The same media covered Trump non-stop when he was running as a Republican nominee. Once he won they turned on him to keep the momentum flowing for themselves. Then fake news became the top story for a week or two. Then sales of news subscriptions skyrocketed (something that most people refused to pay for) to keep you more "informed." Realistically, Hillary lost the election because of media and Bernie lost because of Hillary. And we didn't do anything to rally behind Bernie and attempt to make things right.
But here we are now and that's what really matters. Millions of women around the world (with some guest appearances by men (we care too!)) came together to set the tone for what the next four years should look like. But if we're doing our job, Trump won't last a year and I'll never get to see that wall.
What Are You Going Give?
Most people who know me know I don't care about much in particular. A little bit of this and that for the most part. At most, I care about people learning to be individuals within a community and not being part of the destructive oppressive system. But I care about all of this that's going on and I didn't realize I truly cared until Obama left office. It didn't hit me until Friday, until I literally said to myself "Oh shit a white man's back in power." #NotAllWhites are bad but, come on, you know what I know.
We all have our outlets. Some people write, some people tweet, some people RT, some people post photos, some organize, while others sincerely educate. I won't say Trump is the combined enemy of those of us who value the life experience. What is going on is bigger than Trump, just like what Obama faced was bigger than his Blackness and his Presidency. The issue is the idea that lives. That lingering power of influence.
So you write, you tweet, you organize, you protest and then what? What comes after that to show those who value money, we're not accepting what they're forcing on us. You have to sacrifice.
Sacrifice isn't convenience. Sacrifice is discomfort, uneasiness, knots in your stomach, and trembling — not because of fear but because of anxiety. Sacrifice is rabidness, a vision of the end goal, and understanding that their is more at stake than you. What Obama went through was sacrifice. Trump doesn't have to sacrifice anything.
Would you sacrifice a day from work to protest on a weekday? Would you sacrifice heat and hot water in the winter? Would you sacrifice not having a meal in your belly for a few days? Would you sacrifice your life?
That always tends to be the greatest form of sacrifice — life. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Do you do nothing and live with the consequences of inaction or do you propel your entire being into something you believe in, with the full understanding that there are only two ways out. Death or success.
So when the time comes, what will you sacrifice? Sneakers? Beer? Crafts? Sports? Who will you unfriend in person? Which parent will you rage against for being close-minded? Who will you kiss on the cheek one final time? What can you truly let go of to bring the change you want in your life? You're an individual, but you're an individual within a community.
"Your every action and inaction affects the entire Universe."