I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Thinking about writing this post. Thinking about breaking my blog silence. Thinking that I want to be more than just someone who writes about wild times out drinking while they’re traveling. Thinking about all the things I’ve always cared about.
I don’t remember hearing about much civil unrest when I was a kid. Some dissent was spewed from a few relatives, but generally in my family, politics was a topic excluded from polite conversation with guest or relatives or basically anyone at all.
The first I remember really hearing about it I was a teenager and my mom was telling my brother and I that she and my stepdad always discussed who they would vote for president because if they voted against one another, their votes would cancel each other out. I’m not really sure if that’s a real memory, because none of the details were ever discussed.
I remember hearing how Gore won the popular vote even though Bush was reelected by the Electoral College. I thought this was weird, but I didn’t understand why it happened. I thought it was just a one-off situation.
By the time there was a Presidental Election that I was eligible to vote in, I had a fire burning in me. Some of it was undoubtedly teen angst, a manifestation of my trauma. Nothing was ok in the world including the way I grew up, but the discomfort radiated out of me in all directions.
I remember being a young college student and learning about China and telling my parents how amazing the landscape was and how the culture was so different than ours (likely in a condescending or judgemental way) and how my mother got defensive, demanding I shut my mouth and praising America as the greatest country ever to be.
I used to smoke a lot of weed, often with my brother and his crew of friends. I remember one time being so fired up about some injustice in the American institutions (likely how slavery has just changed it’s mask) that I stood up from my chair in a huff, proclaiming to the circle of friends that I would give my life for something that I believe in and asking them (with naivety) if they would. I remember the look on their faces, sheepish looks as they shook their heads. I don’t remember any words spoken as I exited the garage.
It’s been a decade now since I’ve been able to call myself a teenager but the feeling never went away. Through my 20s, the economic and political landscape has changed drastically from the one I grew up in at least it appears this way, although mass incarceration began under the noses of my parents’ generation and those flanking them. It seems the more I learn historically about the last three decades of the 20th century, the more I notice general apathy from voter base, or at least little evidence of upheavel within the majority (read: white population). I’d love to be proven wrong.
So now I ask, why? Was the privilege too great? Were the paychecks too good and the houses too cheap? Did no one realize that suburbanization was another substitute for segregation or was it just too comfortable? Were y’all scared to change? Did mass incarceration laws coo the screaming baby whose symptom was economic disparity to a population outside of nursery? Were y’all afraid to accept that the injustices of our past do not have to hide, continuing into our future? Did you find it easier to bury your head in the sand and spout phrases like ‘let them pull themselves up by their bootstraps’ when the opportunities to have bootstraps weren’t even given? How about now? Do you feel safer knowing that thousands of people fleeing from physical harm and economic disparity are being imprisoned without the basic necessities of life? Do you feel more comfortable knowing that racism and sexism is being justified by the head of our exective branch?
I just don’t get it, but I’ll say one thing more. I don’t want to live in a world where people aren’t willing to use their voices and their power to help the oppressed and disadvantaged, and since I generally want to live, I have resolved the only thing I can do is use my voice, and challenge those around me to use theirs too. Power to the People. Not to a corporation. Not to a PAC fund. Not to a 1%er. Not to white Americans. POWER TO ALL THE PEOPLE.