Here We Stand

And here we stand, admiring the wreckage. Wondering where to turn, what to do. I know a lot of people who still feel sick to their stomach. It’s like Ghomeshi plus plus plus. Our institutions again reminding us of the entrenched sexism. On top of the entrenched racism. A triumph for old white men. I’ll just let Justin Charity from The Ringer take it away:

“The fear isn’t just that Trump will replace a diverse Cabinet with a homogeneous one, but that he will also replace a meticulously inclusive administration with a parade of old white men who will proudly dismantle that framework, with no sense of how much their vision for the United States resembles South Africa in the previous century.” 

The parable couldn’t ring truer. When you factor in the instutional racism, the voter suppression, the police discrimination, the millions of disenfranchised African American voters*, the gated communities with private security…. Then you consider the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Freddy Hampton. You consider the police shootings today, you compare them to the lynchings of yesteryear. You listen to this: 

*http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/12/michelle-alexander-more-black-men-in-prison-slaves-1850_n_1007368.html

And yet… we’re still in shock. We probably shouldn’t be. The Stanford swimmer-rapist got off easy. So did Ghomeshi. The cops shooting the black kids keep getting off easy. Something morally objectionable happens, we all protest to our friends, to our social circles, on social media, all agreeing that shit is fucked, but we can’t believe it. It totally doesn’t fly with our worldview, right? 

I was raised by bougie liberals, surrounded by bougie liberals. I was fortunate (read: wealthy) enough to go to a bougie high school, and go to a university for a liberal arts degree. I’d read Marx and Sartre. Discuss the injustices of the day, the future of the world, always hopeful. Buttressed by my social milieu.

But I’m also a man. I don’t know what it feels like to walk home at night in the dark. I don’t know what it feels like to walk into a crowded bar. I don’t know what it feels like to know you’re vulnerable. I do however know what it feels like to be profiled and judged based on my appearance. To have my identity and citizenship questioned because I don’t look Canadian. But I don’t know what it feels like to go to prison for possession of marijuana. I don’t know what it feels like to grow up with multiple family members incarcerated. I don’t know what it feels like to go to an underfunded school, with security guards and metal detectors. I don’t know what it feels like to get called a “nigger” with hatred. Nor do I know what it feels like to get called “nigga” like family. I know what I am. But I also know what I’m not. I know what I’ll never experience, what I’ll never know. 

So here we stand. Stuck with our own narratives and experiences. Trapped within our own subjectivity. Trying to move forward together. Trying to build more inclusive and equitable societies. I’ve always believed in the power of storytelling. I can’t think of a better way to try to bridge the compassion and empathy gap. Remember the old saying about putting yourself in someone else shoes? When I was curating the second issue of my nascent magazine, I wanted to dedicate a section to the female experience. Specifically walking home late at night. Based on years of conversations with some of my friends. I wanted to hear the stories, print the stories and share the stories. Call me naive, but I do believe in the power of the story. I do believe that one story changing one person’s perspective is progress. I want to keep sharing stories, hoping some of them resonate with others like they did with me. I personally don’t know what else I can do. There’s an old saying in Swahili: Tuko Pamoja. We are together.

angela-davis

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