Friday, November 11, 2016

november kaboom, take 2

Last Friday I wrote with joy to the world about a November volcano exploding a lava of leaves.  This Friday (not because Hillary lost, but because ignorant, selfish, and hateful won), that November lava has been scorched raw and is now chilling into the hard obsidian of resolve.

That's how I feel on the inside.  My poem for that goes like this:



I pledge allegiance
to liberty and justice for all.

Looking at me, you wouldn't notice any hard shiny edges.  On the outside I look the same as I always have: an ordinary, middle-aged woman white woman.  You'd see me get in my late-model Mazda and know that I'm privileged to drive my own car, with enough time and money to decorate it with pink and green flower decals.  Even my bumper stickers are pretty ordinary:  two public school logos and a "Wag More, Bark Less" magnet.  (You might assume that means I love my dogs instead of owning cats.)

You wouldn't know that when I first left my husband and moved to London in 1991, I thought I'd cut my hair short, stop wearing teacher skirts and go butch to suit my new lesbian lifestyle.  After a lifetime of privilege I felt so safe, even as I altered my whole identity, that it never occurred to me that I might endanger myself with a style makeover.

As it happened, I was still mostly myself after a year in London.  I couldn't ever commit to the butch look, and eventually understood that I wasn't even a "real" lesbian--instead I'm a real bisexual who found the love of her life in a woman instead of a man.  So that ordinary, middle-aged white lady you see getting into her suburban Mazda is, invisibly to most, a bisexual woman in a same-sex marriage with two children conceived through artificial insemination. 

Unless I open my mouth, I'm pretty safe in this "new" America where my fellow citizens, emboldened by an ignorant, selfish and hateful winner, feel free to aggress. I'm not black, I'm not brown, I don't have an accent, I don't wear a hijab, I don't stand out.

So I'm opening my mouth.  Not in protest because my right to marriage is now endangered, although it is, and not because my worth as human being will be questioned, because it will, and not because my children's security will be compromised, because it may be.  I'm opening my mouth because it's not fair that I get to be invisibly safe as I go about my business, while whole populations of Americans are waking up worried about what ugliness lies ahead because of how they look on their morning commute, in their day at school, in the next weeks or months or year.

I'm unsure if this is any help.  I'm even a little unsure of my motivations here. I just feel like I don't want to be hiding right now, that--KABOOM--this country is not what I hoped, believed, and committed to on the day after the election in 2008.  I feel like I've been relaxing in safety for 8 years, here in suburban liberal Maryland with my white skin and my flowered Mazda, and that I have to get out of the car now and walk with some folks who are strangers to me.

And I don't have a poem for that yet.

The round-up is with Jama today.  Safety in numbers there, and maybe in baked goods.



14 comments:

  1. Are you going to the musical? Ben and I are going both Saturdays (with Dash, and then Ariana).

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  2. Thank you so much for your honest words, Heidi. I can only wish more people had the same degree of sensitivity, awareness, empathy and perspective.

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  3. Go Heidi! The world needs you! YOU are the poem. xo

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  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Being yourself can be the truest form of rebellion, the loudest act of protest.

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  5. Like Irene, I think "you" are the poem, too, Heidi. I will stand beside you and all the others who need me, all I can do to make this terrible outcome less alarming.

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  6. Our lives have many different kinds of kabooms in them, don't they? I know you'll always respond with kindness!

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  7. A poem for your bravery, Heidi:

    these clothes you see
    hide my scars
    memories good and bad

    this skin of mine, so pale
    hides my scar
    and pain of white wrongs

    this smile of mine, so carefree
    hides my fear
    of being judged, sentenced, punished

    this nonchalance
    hides my hope
    that tolerance grows

    my community, so strong
    holds me
    together we hang the moon

    You are not alone, Heidi.

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  8. Your text is so brave, Brenda's poem is so positive. I am a white woman, married to a man, living in a big house, with bumper stickers that say "Read" "Stronger Together" and "Bi Lo Proud" (a local grocery store where Walmart just invaded the territory) My car is a Prius in a world full of Ford trucks. But my blond hair and white skin make me the majority. Most people think I voted for Trump because I fit the mold. It's appalling to me that 53% of white women voted for him. Nevertheless, I hold your hand. I wear my safety pin. I'll do what I can to make your world safe again. You are not alone!

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    1. Dear Friends,

      I fear that I have expressed myself poorly, because my point here was NOT that I feel unsafe and need company and protection. I was trying to say that I have felt way TOO safe because of the easy, effortless protection that my white, educated affluence affords me, even as sexual minority. I was trying to say that it's time for me to get out of that "car," that armored vehicle, and walk on foot in the shoes of the folks who have never had that protection --and that includes the folks who voted for Trump because he's the first candidate they have ever felt represented by.

      Thank you so much for your compassionate offers of support, but truly, *I* am not one of the people who needs it most. Please join me in getting out there and stepping up to support the truly endangered, the truly vulnerable.

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  9. Hugs to you Heidi, and bravo for your bravery in speaking up and out .

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  10. So proud to be your friend, Heidi. This post made me cry. I love you exactly as you are -- with or without the labels we must wear with pride right now to help keep others safe.

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