Well, y’all – it’s been a year, hasn’t it? We’re not even half way through, and I think everyone is exhausted.
You may find this hard to believe, but I’ve already been in DC for over 5 months. It doesn’t seem like it, in large part because I moved here just in time for winter and quarantine. In many ways, the time has flown by; in others, it has seemed to drag. But, overall, I’m glad to be here.
I have some thoughts on current events that I want to share. Literally no one has asked for these, but that’s never stopped me before. So, brace yourselves for my opinions, and remember that they are just that – opinions.
From the beginning of this crisis, I thought we should protect the vulnerable populations in isolation and let the rest of us go about our lives. I’m no scientist (literally, I took Ornamental Horticulture for my science credit in college), but that path seemed to make the most sense to me. I also GROSSLY underestimated how long everything would be shut down. I had 6 rolls of toilet paper on March 13 and thought that would be adequate to ride this out.
Now, however, as more information comes out from the CDC/WHO (such as the virus does not live on surfaces after all; it may not actually be easily transmitted by asymptomatic carriers, etc.), it seems like I might have been right and we could have (should have) avoided the economic damage done to so many individuals.
But, hindsight is 20/20. I remember the memes in March that said if we do this right, it will look like an overreaction. So, maybe the overreaction was necessary, even though it doesn’t seem like it. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe we’ll never know.
I do not, however, think it was a giant conspiracy by our government. Could China have intentionally released the disease? I 100% would not put that past them. Could political leaders have used the crisis to their advantage – overselling it or underselling it as better suited their cause? Definitely. Is it a little startling how quickly we just laid down all of our rights because the government told us to? Yes. But, I don’t think the virus was fake. I want that to be very clear for posterity.
Are we still believing women? That’s really my only question. I’m not saying that Biden should not be the Democratic candidate; I’m not a Democrat, so my opinion on that doesn’t really matter.
What I am saying is that women’s voices should hold equal weight, regardless of whether or not you side with the accused. If you believed the women accusing Trump, believe the women accusing Biden. If you didn’t believe the women accusing Trump, don’t believe the women accusing Biden. Or, at least look at each accusation as an individual case and decide what you believe. But to dismiss or accept someone’s story based on the political merits (or lack thereof) of who they are accusing is hypocritical.
With that said, if Democrats are choosing Biden despite his past because they believe him to be the lesser of two evils or the only candidate who can beat his opponent, I understand that – many Republicans made that very same choice in 2016. Let’s just be honest about it.
I think if more people were honest about candidates, recognizing the candidate’s flaws and articulating where they do or do not agree with the politician, the parties would not be so polarized and we’d have a lot less vitriol and division. I see this happen on a micro level in private conversations; let’s make it happen on a macro level.
Which brings me to my next point:
President Trump has handled the events since George Floyd’s death very poorly. One of the President’s responsibilities, in my opinion, is to be what I’ve termed a Conciliator-in-Chief. When FDR became President during the Great Depression, he took to the radio and hosted his Fireside Chats and CALMED EVERYONE DOWN. The chats did not end the Depression. Arguably, FDR didn’t even end it – World War II did.
But, FDR helped people to feel like someone was working on their behalf and things were under control. FDR brought comfort in a time of great fear. He helped to bring unity, rather than to increase division. I think everyone can acknowledge that this is not one of President Trump’s strengths.
I say all of that as a segue between my last point about acknowledging flaws. But, I’m not going to dwell on it as it is not the focus here.
Racism is alive and well in the United States. The first time I realized this, I was 18 and working at a Shoney’s in South Carolina. I worked on the breakfast bar and was restocking food from the kitchen when I overheard an old man call one of my coworkers, a black teenager, “Boy.” (This incident happened just a few years after the controversial removing of the Confederate flag from the top of the South Carolina State House).
Having read a lot of my friends’ social media posts over the past two weeks, I realize it is a luxury (I’m intentionally not using the word “privilege” as it has become so politically charged as to no longer carry its original weight) to not realize racism still exists until you are 18 years old – and even then for it not to be directed at you. Most of my black friends learned much, much younger than that.
Since then, I studied racism at college from a (white) history professor who adamantly insisted that the Civil War was fought over slavery, and you’ll never be able to convince me otherwise. I did a summer study of the South and saw where Martin Luther King, Jr. marched – and was assassinated. I learned about racist symbolism such as blackface actors, stock black characters like Mammies and aggressively sexual black men, and even watermelon. My perspective was changed by that professor, and I’m grateful.
I’ve also lived in Georgia, where otherwise good people gave me directions using landmarks such as the “BBK” – the Black Burger King. Friends told me of a girl who was shacking up with some guy who had knocked her up and refused to work. The parents of the girl were very upset – because the guy was black. That was the part of this scenario that concerned everyone.
Several years ago, I read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, and my eyes were opened even wider to how pervasive racism still is. I HIGHLY recommend that book to everyone; it is always at the top of my list of most influential books I’ve ever read. I also recommend The Sun Does Shines by Anthony Ray Hinton, one of Stevenson’s clients.
With all of that said, my heart has been heavy the past couple of weeks because I don’t know the answer. I have so many conflicting thoughts. Of course, violent riots and looting are not the answer – I think the majority of people on both sides of the issue agree with that. But it also should not be an “issue” at all. Being against racism should not be a political stance, and yet somehow, in our disunified state where everything has to have a left or a right side, it has become political.
I hear the points people have made that “we” don’t like riots, but “we” also didn’t like the peaceful protests of kneeling for the anthem. And, I was definitely one of those people uncomfortable with kneeling for the anthem – y’all know my patriotism and love for the military run deep. But, I hear the argument. There may be some hyperbole in it, but the point is well-taken and worth discussing – what is the “appropriate” way to protest?
Hopefully I am not the pot calling the kettle black here, but virtue signaling REALLY bugs me, and I’ve seen a lot of that from my white friends lately. If you have something unique to contribute, by all means go for it. But, I get annoyed at posting for the sake of posting.
However…without the thousands of social media posts over the past weeks, would any conversations be happening at all? Yes, the riots take away from the main focus here – America needs to deal with our racist attitudes. The national conversations are focusing on the wrong things. But, at the individual level, I’ve had lots of conversations about racism this past week. I’ve had even more reflection on it. So, while the virtue signaling bugs me, maybe it is an important part of facilitating discussions that would not otherwise be top of mind.
Stream of consciousness thoughts – that’s all I have to give. I’m troubled by the state of our country. I hate that we divide on EVERY. SINGLE. ISSUE. I don’t even know how to put a positive spin on it, other than to say we should pray. And yes, we definitely need to pray, but sometimes things are so overwhelming it’s hard to pray.
So, we’re back to where we started – my opinions. Thank you for indulging them. I thought about wrapping up with some personal anecdotes and a picture or two of my clothes to swing things back to a lighter note, but I’ll save that for another post.
Much love to everyone, and may God bless the United States of America.