When I was growing up, the truth was always optional in our house. (When I say “our house,” it was really two houses because my parents were divorced.) Yet, the same philosophy applied both places: If a lie would save your ass, avoid an argument, prevent you from getting hit or even avoid a small inconvenience, lying was a perfectly acceptable option. It was pretty much ubiquitous.
It was a poisonous environment in which to grow up, and my brother and I knew our places. Our needs and wants were pretty much irrelevant, so we didn’t ask for a lot. We knew that whatever we did receive, we had better damn well be grateful for, because the price for being ungrateful was emotional or physical violence.
Still, growing up in that way has made me what I am today. It’s made me acerbic and shrewd. It’s also made me sarcastic, wary of new people, and it’s given me a dark sense of humor. What I’m saying is: I know bullshit when I hear it. And right now, America is drowning in bullshit. We’re being consumed by it and we’re going down. The ones of us who can see and hear the bullshit have got to keep our wits about us and keep reminding each other that we are the sane ones. We have to keep our heads above the bullshit.
As a white person who spends way too much time online, I have to say that I have noticed a definite shift in white folks’ behavior, especially the ones who voted for Trump. Many, many white people who would’ve hid their racism before are now being openly and unapologetically offensive. When I encounter these people online, they often accuse me of being “triggered,” because instead of letting their bigotries slide, I let them know that their behavior, and their words, are not socially acceptable.
When you call them on it, they either deny their behavior or demand proof they won’t accept anyway. Even more infuriating, they’ll insist that you are the racist, since you are the one who keeps bringing up words like “black” and “white” and “equality.” If you’d just stop talking about it, they say, the racism (that they claim doesn’t exist) would evaporate away and everyone would get along. Because they, of course, don’t see color. So they say. But you know goddamned good and well they do see color, and what they see is ugly. It’s ugly, and sometimes, it’s terrifying.
It’s the same, of course, with their views on women and LGBTQ+ folk, who, in their eyes, seem to be gaining too much power and too many rights. Before, they might’ve kept their repulsive views about people of color and women and gays to themselves, but now they’re openly defiant. Not only do they think their views are perfectly acceptable, they are tired of being judged poorly for those views and they want you to stop judging them right now. They aren’t prejudiced, they insist, they just don’t want to see or hear from those people. It’s your fault, they say. You kept calling me a bigot, so I was forced by you to elect a bigoted president to represent me because I was tired of being forced to hold all that bigotry and violence inside.
Since the election, I have seen white people online exclaim that they’ve been waiting their whole lives for a president like this! Really. They have been waiting their whole lives for their white, simple-minded savior to take his place on his golden (crapper) throne, and Tweet to them in the short, vile sound-bites they gobble up like candy on Christmas morn. They’ve been waiting their whole, miserable lives for a leader who flips the bird to the rest of the word, wraps the flag around his shoulders and lets everyone who isn’t white, “Christian,” American, and in lock-step with their racist, bizarre construct of the world know that they do not matter. Their lives don’t matter. Their opinions, their needs, their dreams, mean nothing. Those people don’t count. Not really. They can be jailed, or deported or denied entry to the country because those people who are different also aren’t equal.
And when the law, the Constitution, insists that everyone is the same and everyone’s vote counts, well then, they’ll go after your votes and make sure those disappear, too.
I feel like I’m back in the houses of my youth, where lying and bullshit and gaslighting and emotional and physical violence was normal. I spent years questioning what was real and what wasn’t. It took decades for me to untangle the lies and the mind-fucks.
So when someone on Twitter demands that I provide “proof” that the President of the United States openly and brazenly catered to, and received, the bigot vote in America, you’re damn right I’m triggered. I’m triggered alllll day long. And I’m gonna talk about it.
I will continue to speak out when I see and hear lies being passed off as “alternative facts.” I’m going to do it even though it makes me furious that I have to. Because we all have to. We must all continue to be the keepers of the truth and call out the bullshit when we see and hear it. We have to beat back this wave of darkness and ugliness that the bullshitters insist is the new utopia, because lives, and our collective sanity, are depending on it.