Catching up

The last time I wrote was a handful of hours before the election. I don’t see it as a coincidence that my desire to write wilted alongside my hope after that wake-up of a Tuesday evening. I’m an optimist, and was more keyed-in to local politics in 2016 than ever before, so watching everything except Roy Cooper be taken away from me was shocking, then deeply disheartening.

Because I’m good at empathy I can understand that this is how other people may have felt when Obama won, and won again. But that empathy is not really being extended to me and other disappointed people (stop labeling frightened families “sore losers” and maybe I’ll stop calling the alt-right “neo-Nazis” 💁‍), so I’m just going to conserve it for a bit so I don’t fall apart in the first few weeks of what I don’t feel is extreme to name a regime.

It’s a marathon. Democrats, especially white progressives, have a lot of work to do. We’re lazier politically than Republicans. We let our party grow bloated and corrupt, and accepted it as a lesser evil. I haven’t picked up the phone. The party’s rhetoric promised to keep things moving as usual instead of promising radical change. We expect progressive socio-political movement to continue rolling along once set into motion. Or at least I did — win the fight, celebrate, move on to the next thing. What I’m seeing now is that even progressive victories I view as past-tense still need to be protected in the present.

This has all tiresomely been hashed out in think-pieces littering the Vox/Mic/Slate/Politico press room floors. I’m just repeating it to remind myself.

I live in a mostly Puerto Rican area of Brooklyn where deportations are a realer fear than they may be in Mayberry, and plan on working with my roommates to possibly offer our living room as a safe location. ICE reportedly has detained one Bushwick resident this weekend in their series of local raids (40 people taken in from Staten Island, etc.) Because anything could happen. I will fight. I am extremely anti-gun but have recently been toying with the idea of training professionally and applying for a gun license (this article made me think about it) in order to protect people in my community who are most vulnerable. The irony + hypocrisy of militia culture suddenly becoming appealing to me is not lost. It’s sobering as well.

At the Women’s March, it was apparent that white bodies are perceived as less of a danger to police: Their presence was largely absent. (Comparing it to a midnight march to the Guilford County Prison with BLM Greensboro — with at least 10 police officers present for a small, 50-person march.) It made me consider the reality that the best way to love and protect vulnerable people, especially people of color, would be to literally place my white privileged body between theirs and tear gas, theirs and police dogs, etc.

This is just a small cross-section of my brain lately. Don’t even want to think about Ben Carson with Housing…I work for a community development nonprofit that maintains affordable properties in a gentrifying area of Brooklyn. We receive almost half of our funding from the government. If that gets sliced, hundreds of people will be displaced.

I’m tired of reading articles. I don’t want to email 10 friends, or go to a protest to make myself feel better, or fill out a third-party petition no one important will ever care about. I’m too tired to – but I want to – call my two terrible, awful, no-good senators and Ted Budd — together forming an unholy trifecta of anti-choice, anti-refugee and -immigrant, poorly-barrel-aged Land’s End dads who act like they have no urban or non-Christian constituents. They are infuriating, and I am going to make them wish they had never set up a phone line.

It’s all really heavy, and woven into my disappointment over my own cowardice and inaction, and of course also all my thoughts about the interplay between men grasping at power and how Christianity is the perfect vehicle for gaining political power in America. It’s a lot. I’m processing. Finding my place in it instead of picking the whole thing up as I am wont to do.

Yesterday morning I went to a church near my office just for the ritual of it. I haven’t taken communion in a while and that’s maybe the one thing I draw a lot of identity and strength from, this one ceremony that is the core of what being a church is about, and really, the rest is just decoration.

So I went, and it’s funny how awkward even in that two minute portion of the service I felt – out of practice, out of touch. I mean, I didn’t realize they went according to rows, so I went up early and realized too late I had interrupted the flow of the line. Then I wrestled with the chunk of bread on the plate for a beat too long and dripped wine on the floor. I tried not to let the symbolism of a messy communion turn into some Thing, and just let the act of eating be all I couldn’t be and haven’t been able to be in services like this.

During the music, I thought about my namesake. Joanna was wealthy, married to a successful man, had it made. She risked her security and reputation to support a radical teacher who incensed local political and religious leaders and preached the least safe ideas she’d ever heard. Joanna was privileged, but she leveraged her privilege to support a subversive movement in her community – maybe even losing friends along the way. She used her privilege as currency for risk instead of insuring her safety.

That train of thought has not arrived anywhere yet but I wanted to get it down. Maybe she is trying to tell me something.

How are you resisting? And are you guys doing ok?

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