Her wheels spun next to me as my feet pounded cold pavement, arms pumping at my sides. I could no longer talk. Our conversation had gradually faded into this moment as my lungs sucked air. Rounding the final bend we burst out of the woods and strangers stared as she screamed at me to run faster. I was murdering myself to cauterize an old injury with fresh tissue. I’m lucky to have my mom as a one woman cheering section to spur me on.
Our country needs a rebellion, an open resistance against the established authority. We must rebel against white supremacy, male supremacy, hetero/cis supremacy, and nationalistic bullshit. We must rebel for love, acceptance, tolerance, progress, and the future of our species. Pigment, gender, and sexuality place me in the dead center in the establishment, but I’m okay being problematic and learning to be okay with being checked when not properly woke.
On Thanksgiving morning my brother, parents and I found ourselves scattered around our kitchen drinking coffee and grazing on breakfast food. Discussing. Whether or not. To discuss. Politics. But life is politics. This idea that there’s normal life and then there’s political life is a fantasy concocted by white people, those settled comfortably into the dominant culture. Like myself. Besides, it’s way more fun to experience life in all it’s grime and awkwardness instead of settling for bland, meaningless, and good enough relationships with the people who will be with us from birth to death.
Thanksgiving was good. Grease dripped from a piece of Turkey meat my cousin dangled in front of me as has become our holiday tradition. He cooks and I steal food. Eyes glazed over and stomach distended with pie and stuffing, I leaned back on my parents couch with my newest infant cousin falling asleep on my chest. River honored me with some namesake drool and we might both still be napping on that couch if I didn’t have to drive back north to learn more about doctoring.
Because we’re the Cousins, Thanksgiving got political, it wasn’t all babies. Sometimes it’s good to talk to a likeminded friend under the northern stars. And sometimes it’s even better to have a bellyful of whiskey and a cigarette between your lips as you talk with your conservative cousin in his 4-door pickup. Listening was my first step. I was told by one relative that my intensity was overwhelming, so I listened as much as my mouth would allow. What I heard was fascinating.
Perpetuating the fear and racism driving our descent towards authoritarianism is an assault on information. We don’t get the same information. We don’t talk the same discourse. Our facts are not the other’s facts. Too many of us believe that institutions of learning and science are inherently biased and therefor untrustworthy. We have no common source of facts and information to depend on. The first step towards destroying a democracy is to undermine the institutions that pursue knowledge and speak truth to power. The white nationalists/Trump campaign did an excellent job of this during the election.
Creating accepted and trustworthy sources of information is a tremendous task in our age of exploding information. More importantly however, we need to be honest with ourselves about the role that fear, racism, and complacency have all contributed to our current political climate. Trump won all white demographics: young, old, female, male, rich, and poor. Forget the fact that we need to push back on the racist implication that only white people are working class, we’re kidding ourselves if we think that this election was about economics as much as about white nationalist fear.
Today I’m back up in the northcountry, leaning against exam tables with my head in my hands as I try to figure out how to best serve the men and women who come into our clinic. The sky is grey and the ground is wet, which is unusual for this time of year. Today in the Babbitt clinic I sat back while an elderly white couple in their late eighties railed against the racism, sexism, and economic insanity of Trump and what he stands for. It seems like it’s my fate now to let the wisdom of the elderly wash my soul clean when I find myself losing hope.