Friday, August 18, 2017

On Showing Up

With apologies to Tina Fey...whom I admire for comedic genius, outspoken feminism, and all-'round smart-thinking...I must protest the suggestion and subsequent popular bandwagon today, that decent, non-racist people of America NOT show up where white supremacists and neo-Nazis have been given permits to spew hatred in the streets of our cities and towns.

If that's a choice you have, may I suggest you are exercising your White Privilege?

Too harsh?

I've been trying to frame this thought in a way that might speak to my friends on Facebook. I'm talking about some brilliant people, now - people who absolutely believe in honest-to-god liberty and justice for all (I long ago unfriended the rest). But this DON'T SHOW UP and DON'T GIVE EVIL THE ATTENTION IT WANTS approach just begs a mighty heave-ho.

Sadly, for the purposes of trying to draw an analogy that works for my DON'T SHOW friends, there is nothing we Anglo-Protestant, run-of-the-mill, nice people in America face that compares to racism. Nothing. I know this because I know and love people who've been called N#@@*r to their faces. I know this because non-white friends of mine have been treated unfairly by police officers. And movie ticket takers. And shop owners. And fast-food cashiers. And churches. I know this because I've attended vigils where I'm one of just a handful of white people crying over so many stories of fear, raging injustice, debilitating/ubiquitous racism.

There is no other way to say this. We have to show up. We have to show up.

My inbox is humming, today, with invitations from organizations like Black Lives Matter and The Rising Majority. Rallies and counter-protests are planned. Responses to this rampant hatred are more than necessary. They are a moral imperative.

We cannot let our brothers and sisters stand alone on the front line of this war between love and hate with the justification that paying attention to the assholes just fans the smoldering fury. That's ridiculous. These people are not just assholes. They are a movement of the vilest among us. They claim our country. Walk our streets. The house is already engulfed in flames. If we don't show up with buckets of love, we'll be digging through the ashes before you know it.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
(Edmund Burke)

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.  

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew. 
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me. 

Nope. As tempting as #sheetcaking sounds, Tina Fey, I don't think we can sit this one out.



Marcos Smyth said...

Thank you, Jan, for your eloquence and activism.

Gay Tomas said...

Jan, I am honored to call you friend every time I read your blog. Your words say what is in my heart - but does not come out in my words.

Jan said...

Marcos! We love knowing our urges to act can/do wind around to your front door when necessary. Thank YOU.

And Gay!!! Friends like you inspire me. Thank you for reading!