I Miss My Racist Friend

Is that weird? He drove me nuts in the first place, even if you take away what he said to fully break up the friendship. Let me begin at the beginning.

We’ll call him Frank (after the wrong name another friend calls him). He’s my neighbor and I met him after he took in a chihuahua that had been terrorizing the neighborhood. I noticed that shortly after that, he took in another dog, a female. (I don’t poke my nose into other people’s business, EXCEPT when it pertains to animals since I do dog rescue.) I immediately thought, “Oh hell no, no babies…those dogs need to be fixed.” So I introduced myself and got to know him and the dogs, and asked if he wanted to get them fixed since I had contacts that could help do it at a lower fee.

After some time, I realized that he didn’t have electricity or water, and was living in his house (which he owns) that really ought to be condemned like a squatter. But, since he owns it and doesn’t cause any problems the city overlooks it, I guess. The rescue community raised funds to buy a propane heater that used my grill’s tank; he filled jugs of water from my hose; we got food together for him and the dogs; I gave him my camp stove to use so he would no longer have to eat cold food.

Over time, we became friendly and he’d come over to watch TV. I finally got him to apply for food stamps and go back to the VA for his health care. When he qualified for Social Security, we used my laptop to apply. I trusted him enough to have him as my dog sitter — he stayed in my home while I was away — what could he do? If anything went missing, I knew where he lived.

And while his views sometimes grated on me, it was mostly because he was ignorant — just an old Alabama redneck with little education. But he listened to me more often than not. He supported me (and watched my dogs) when I went to the Women’s March on Washington after Trump’s election. We didn’t always agree but it was a respectful disagreement and he’d listen to me even though I was an educated Yankee — one of “those people”. One of those “elites”. HAHAHAHAHA. Elites. Yes, I’m a college graduate and a Yankee but elite? I live in a low-income area of Alabama (he’s my neighbor, remember), am on disability so live under the poverty line. This hasn’t always been my life, but I’ve always been struggling financially even when I was working. I’m a liberal — more moderate than most — and he’s not as conservative as many down here on the Deep RED South. We were able to have discussions, and sometimes he’d even listen to my point of view and learn from me. I’d listen to his and …. well, I’d listen and learn how people can think the way they do.

See, living down here has been an education in and of itself. When you are a white latina, you pass. When you’re of Jewish ancestry (I’m ethnically Jewish, semi-culturally Jewish but definitely not raised religiously Jewish), you pass. When you’re pagan…you pass. When you’re LGBTQ and cis, you pass. And that passing means I wasn’t the recipient of a lot of racism, but got to hear a lot of it because I passed. I was “safe”. Yeah…. no. No, I’m not.

That white latina thing got you hung up, didn’t it? Allow me to explain. I’m Brasilian. Look at Giselle B√ľndchen, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio (supermodels), Morena Baccarin: White. Sofia and Alice Braga, Rodrigo Santoro? Definitely more Latinx. Pele, Ronaldinho, Lazaro Ramos (actor): black. Brasilians are just like Americans — we’re a mix. Brasil is the largest country in S. America, was colonised just like the US was, with slaves imported and the native population either decimmated or assimilated. The colonizers were first Portuguese, but later waves were other Europeans — many being Germans (my family), some escaping World Wars I and II. I’m not going into the Nazis that ran to S. America to hide — that’s not my niche. I’m just explaining how so many South American Latinx can be as white as snow and still identify as Latinx. Especially those of us born to people from countries with higher populations of those European immigrants like Argentina, Brasil and….Uruguay. Chile falls in there as well. My point is, a lot of people don’t realize that I am a child of a Brasilian mother who was VERY MUCH a Latina, who raised me the same way and I identify as such. Brasilians, like Americans are mutts.

Frank started to help his family out by watching their dog when his sister’s husband fell ill and was in and out of the hospital. I’m not sure why he was so involved when his family didn’t lift a finger to help him. They left him in that crumbling house, hungry and cold…but I don’t know their side of the story only his and I’ve since come to realize that Frank tells stories. Anyway, for a few months, Frank hasn’t really come around since he’s been busy with his family. I’d see him from time to time and we’d chat but he definitely wasn’t hanging out as often as he used to. He wasn’t even around during the death of my beloved chihuahua Pix, a dog he also adored. I *kind of* missed him, mostly just realized the quiet? But my dogs missed their “Uncle Frank”. And I think hanging around his family changed Frank. That, and one of the other neighbors allowed him to tap into the electricity in the unused house next door, so he had TV. He had an industrial cable running next door to power a lamp, one of my ACs, a TV and a small fridge.

Frank had TV and was also hanging at his sister’s house with cable, therefore he was watching a lot of Fox News. So one day, I was walking my newly adopted senior chihuahua and saw Frank speaking to our other neighbor Ron. Pix used to love to visit Ron, my special little hospice chihuahua going over to sit with senior citizen Ron, who also had bad eyesight and a stroke and she’d snuggle into him. Ron wasn’t a great guy but Pix loved everyone. So I decided to bring Cocoa over and let her meet him, even though Cocoa is most definitely not the same type of dog. Just meet the neighbors, you know?

We go over, and Cocoa is sniffing around and Frank first calls her “cuckoo”. OK, no, you know her name. Cocoa is easy to remember. “Why are you being rude? Her name is Cocoa, like the chocolate.” “Hey cuckoo, c’mere cuckoo…” So, I realize Frank is in a mood. Forget him. I turn my attention to Ron. (This is right when the first wave of the “migrant caravan” was headed to the border in Mexico.) Frank tells me that his food stamps were cut by a large amount. I say, “We expected that, didn’t we? When you got your social security, we knew it they’d be cut.” He says, “Yeah but not as much as they did. It was Trump’s farm bill. The caravan, it’s the caravan.”

I did a double take from my dog to him and back again.

“The caravan? What does the caravan have to do with the farm bill and your food stamps?” I ask.
“You’re a Hillary person, and I’m a Trump person so you’re not going to get it,” he waves at me.
“I don’t understand, what has Hillary to do with anything?”
“The caravan is coming to take our stuff, all of it. They’re going to invade our neighborhoods and take our jobs. And the farm bill is going to pay for them to be able to live here. YOU want to live with all of THEM here?

*blinkblink* “First off Frank. Look around. Most of our neighbors are already from Guatemala, Honduras or Mexico.” (This is true. The dog that caused us to meet? Escaped from his Honduran next door neighbors that I have to keep rescuing neglected and abused animals from.) “Secondly, take WHAT from YOU? Your should-be condemned house? The nothing you have that came from ME? Your LATINA neighbor? Oh…that’s right. You forgot that, didn’t you? Because I’m white. I’m a first generation American and daughter to an IMMIGRANT dammit.”

He continues in the same vein and I just decide that I’ve had it. I take my dog, who he’s also insulted by refusing to call her by the right name and leave. I’m FURIOUS. I go back to my little duplex apartment across the street and try to decide what I’m going to do. I’ve gone out of my way for this man for three years. He wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for me, and now he’s just insulted ME, my mother, and everything I believe in — probably because he’s in a bad mood for some reason and has been taking in too much Fox News at his sister’s house. But he showed his true colors and I won’t let that in my home. I’ve dropped all the Trump believers and supporters from my life, and he’s insulted me TO MY FACE and also insulted my Family. Not to mention all the people that live next door and around him.

I take a few hours to cool off and speak to my duplex neighbor, a black woman. I’d needed to mess with my WiFi router anyway, and she uses my WiFi (we have an agreement, she parasites off my cable internet/I use her garbage can) so I told her what happened. She was just as mad, or maybe mad FOR me. So I tell her I’m going to change the WiFi password and NOT tell Frank (yep, he also used it with his free government phone). Racists don’t need to use my internet. I’ve done enough. I’ve HAD ENOUGH.

The next day, a text: “Is the internet fixed yet?” Then a phone call. Frank wants his Candy Crush or whatever. Then that evening, he knocks on the door. I go outside to talk to him. He asks if I fixed the internet yet. Yes, I tell him, I had. “I have my long sleeves on, can I come in and see the doggies and talk to you and get the password?”

“No. You can’t.”
“So I can’t use your internet anymore?”
“I’d rather you didn’t since I had to fix my router problems from all the viruses you keep getting (a lie to soften the blow that’s coming because dammit I just can’t stop being nice).”
“Oh. I’ll stop using those sites.”
“Look, Frank. Here’s the deal. You insulted me. You insulted my mother with your racist rant about the caravan, which was completely wrong, by the way. You really hurt me .” He backs off my porch. “I didn’t mean to insult you.” and scurries off across the street.

I haven’t seen him since. I mean, I’ve SEEN him — sitting on his porch with his dogs. Talking with Ron. Getting in and out of cars from family or other friends that take him to the store or an appointment. Doing the things for him that I used to do. (Which, to tell the truth, I don’t miss. I hope they’re letting him shower because I DO NOT MISS him sitting in my house unshowered, stinking of cigarettes. I offered my shower every time he was here.)

But my dogs miss their Uncle Frank. His dogs miss their Auntie Jax and tell me so every time they see me, because they are tied out front (not for long, they’re not outside dogs.) I kinda miss my friend, although…was he my friend or was he just some guy that took advantage of my kindness and compassion? He watched my dogs for me when I went out of town, gratis. Sure, he ate me out of house and home while he was here and got to watch my TV and Netflix and stuff and didn’t rob me blind. I trusted him to help me when I needed it. He had a key to my home. And then he showed me his true self and it hurt.

And yesterday, I took my little foster dog for a walk and saw him. He came out of his home when his sister drove up. She didn’t come out of her truck until I was well away from his house and he didn’t come down the walk. What, am I something to be afraid of? I even waved. Every other neighborhood “friend-feud” he’s had has resolved itself in days. It’s been since before Halloween. He missed Thanksgiving with me and now Christmas (I’ve always fed him, at least he got leftovers and a special birthday meal.)

I feel so odd. I miss my racist neighbor-friend. And when Game of Thrones comes back on in April, I’ll miss having him over to watch it, especially since he got so into it that he binged the entire series in the two weeks I was gone and he watched my dogs for me. And he borrowed an entire Drizzt DO’urden series of books and learned to love the Forgotten Realms, and started to love Valdemar as well. I’m willing to forgive if he’s willing to learn from his mistake but it seems that he’s not. And that makes me really sad, especially now that I hear Bandit barking outside. ūüė¶

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All is as it should be.

A year ago, I was headed to DC to march against the incoming administration and EXACTLY the kind of crap that’s happened. Let’s shut the government down because we’re not going to fund children’s healthcare or keep DREAMers unless the WALL is built *among other things*.
 
Today — not one march planned in my city, Birmingham. I’d have to travel to attend one and after being sick with the flu for too long, that’s not going to happen.
 
That doesn’t mean the #resist movement or women’s march is over. Or that I’m done and have given in. I’m still resisting, writing, calling, etc. But I’ve also come to realize something:
 
All is as it should be. 
As horrible, painful, heartrending and downright dangerous as it all seems — there is hope underneath it all.
  1. Sexual harassment and predation is finally being taken seriously and the discussion, while triggering to many, will hopefully lead to changes in how we treat each other as human beings. That is good. But change hurts.
  2. Racism and white supremacy is no longer hidden in the shadows or 4chan chatrooms. It’s out in the open where we can see it, address it face on and come to terms with what we¬†thought¬†we had moved beyond. Even if a lot of white people weren’t outright racist, they were likely complicit in their behavior and they are learning now. That is good. But change hurts.
  3. Same for LGBTQ rights, disability rights, {insert marginalized community here} rights. (I should state that I am part of many of these marginalized communities…being on the LGBTQ spectrum, disabled, of Jewish descent, Pagan, Latinx, but also white as the fucking snow.) I admit to not even knowing about certain things as it related to disability, and I’m learning more every day. And sometimes — I feel a twinge when I realize that I have been complicit or judgemental. But it’s good, and change hurts. It’s supposed to.¬†

We as a nation are being shocked and shaken out of our complacency. I’m not pleased about our administration —¬†far from it. I voted against it.¬†I think what’s happening is absolutely horrible and fight against it as often as I can but at the same time: It is what it is. We do as we can. Keep on keepin’ on and all those pithy sayings. They all boil down to what my therapist called “radical acceptance”. I (and the country but I can only speak for myself and my perspective) am in a terrible position and while I am pretty terrified of the future, I narrow my focus down to “what can I do¬†now?” and “what have I learned from the past?” in order to deal with the now.

I have hope that we as a society and a species will pull out of this downward spiral, but I may not even see it in my lifetime. Rather than letting that thought dishearten me, I put myself out into the world as a beacon of light and hope to those that will turn things around. Acting with compassion and kindness and love, even when all is awful and terrible and scary (and I’m just as scared and angry — and oh, believe me — I’m angry. I yelled at Trump on the TV the other day, scaring my dogs *again*) is¬†hard.¬†

Forcing myself to say, “No, I will not give in to hate” when I say to to the TV, “You motherfucker, I hate you. Go to hell.” or some other hateful words is hard. Instead I take a moment, let the feelings wash over me, breathe and move on to focus on making positive change. Which is good. And hard. And sometimes it hurts.

And personally … I now have come to realize that my entire life … as difficult, and full of strife and hardship and loneliness and whoo boy — some major shit …. is as it should be. Hard. The lessons I’ve learned and am learning, are as they should be. Doesn’t mean I like it, that I’m happy or that I think all is¬†well.¬†(There’s a difference between “all is well” and “all is as it should be”.)

Radical acceptance. Because change is good. And it really, really hurts.

We Survive, We Always Do

Last night, I started watching “The Man in the High Castle” on Amazon again. Consider it “research” on how to survive the coming years; and not just the next four, as the ramifications of this election will linger on well past my lifetime. Combine our political climate with that of Brexit and the resurgence of populist stances in France, the alleged meddling of Russia in our election and so forth…it just seems as if a sort of refresher course in how to survive under fascism seems prudent.

Sure, it’s fiction but science fiction writers like Philip K. Dick are astoundingly prescient in so many ways. Either that, or society seems to catch up to them making science fiction into science fact. (Personally, I really wish we’d catch up to Roddenberry. The world presented by Star Trek is my version of a utopia — I want to live in a future like that. Please Scotty, beam me up. Find a fold in the time-space continuum. I’ll even battle the Borg.)

In the episodes I watched last night, Season 1 eps 6-7, one of the characters Frank Frink, a part-Jewish man who unsuccessfully hid his Jewish ancestry and so his sister and her children were killed, meets with another Jewish man and his children. This family still practices their religion, which is forbidden (they live in the Pacific States, held by the Japanese) and they hold a Mitzvah for Frank, reciting the Kaddish, which finally allows him to surrender to his grief. At some point, Mark tells Frank that he is raising his children Jewish in defiance of the laws, because¬†(I’m paraphrasing because I don’t remember it verbatim): This is who I am, this is who my ancestors were. You can’t live your life in fear. We were being murdered because we were less than human. We wrapped our weapons and buried them, vowing revenge, and ran. I’m raising my kids. Hitler, the Nazis…I don’t care how it looks. It won’t last. One thing about my people, we have a different sense of time. These may be dark years, but we’ll survive. We always do. You’ve just got to find something to hold onto.¬†

The bold part…that stuck with me. I’m not Jewish, not by religion. I wasn’t raised Jewish, I was raised Methodist. But on both sides of my family, I am of Ashkenazi descent. Both sides of my family have suffered as a results of WHO THEY ARE, because they were Jews. My mother’s paternal side: German Jews. My father’s paternal side: Russian Jews. The very idea that¬†we survive, we always do rang out as if I was standing inside the Liberty Bell as it was struck.

Now the man was speaking about faith being what he holds onto. That’s not me. I have faith of a sort. But my Gods aren’t the kind that will comfort and protect me. I don’t have a book to look to for guidance or even a church/community to go to for words of wisdom. I’m the elder in some cases for many.¬†I’m¬†the one folks will often look to for comfort or guidance and shit, I got nothing right now. The High Priestess is just as angry and scared and utterly clueless as to how she’s going to manage to survive the coming storm, so yeah, I got nothing. Except a glimmer of hope from a reminder that came from a TV show that somewhere in my DNA is¬†“we survive, we always do”.

It would probably be a lot more comforting if I knew the spiritual/religious rewards behind that survival. The “chosen people” and what that means but since I’m only ethnically Jewish but not a practicing Jew (nor do I plan to be – Yahweh hasn’t touched me but Lilith has…and I’m pretty sure Yahweh frowns upon that lol) it’s only my genetic makeup that will 1) cause me to continue to fight for survival and 2) be the reason that I HAVE to fight for survival should it come to the point where ethnic cleansing practices occur again. Because no matter how white I look, no matter how Gentile I can pass for…I have more than 50% Jewish blood. Plus you add in that whole “disabled, latinx, queer, pagan” thing going on.

These may be dark years, but we’ll survive. We always do. You’ve just got to find something to hold onto.¬†

Find something to hold onto. Whatever that may be for you … find it. Hold onto it. These are going to be some dark years, even if by some chance the election results are overturned and Trump ends up back under the rock he crawled out from under — his legions of white supremacist believers have been empowered and the fight against such darkness has just begun.

 

Puppet Mastery

I’m beginning to think that Trump truly is the puppet, the mouthpiece, the figurehead, the spokesmodel for a deeper darker director. It’s starting to make a horrible, terrifying sense now.

He’s always been more of a liberal-leaning guy in the first place; those of us from New York know this. He flip-flops all over the place, going with whatever view is most beneficial to him at the time but usually ends up leaning left-ish of center. Until recently, that is.

Let’s look at the evidence (oh, boy, I get to spout conspiracy theory like all those alt-right sites did to rile up the masses! How fun!):

  • Selects Pence as running mate. As anti-woman as you can get; anti-science; anti-environment; anti-LGBTQ equality; the list goes on…he’s pretty much evil personified if you feel that anyone but Christian cisgendered men should have any rights at all and the earth is worth trying to save. ¬†http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/mike-pence-isnt-boring-hes-one-americas-most-extreme-governors
  • Appoints his children to be advisors on his transition team. No clear conflict of interest there, considering they will also be running Trump, Inc. Nope. There’s no historical precedent for despots installing their children in positions of power either. See: Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il, Papa Doc Duvalier, for a few examples.
  • New Chief Strategist is Stephen Bannon. The publisher of Breitbart and an avowed anti-Semite, white supremacist, anti-gay, anti-women, pro-violence against minorities, etc. ad nauseum.
  • Appoints lobbyists to transition team — and we all know that team usually ends up with positions in the administration. This is the guy who said lobbyists were part of what was wrong with Washington, right?

The list will continue to grow as the weeks go by. And so many of his supporters said we were worried for nothing, that we were just “libtards” and he was going to “Make America Great Again”. I watched the 60 Minutes Interview, and if I have the stomach (and enough Xanax) for it, I’ll rewatch it and compare the rhetoric to that of Hitler and Stalin.

America isn’t going to be great again. America is going to be something completely different from what it was, and soon enough the man/woman/group behind the curtain will be revealed. You’ve been had, Trump voters. Even if you aren’t one of those “deplorables” who only wanted change…well…you’re getting it. But not quite the way you wanted it.

Get ready to start wearing stars or triangles or living in camps or whatever the 21st century equivalent is. Because he was right about one thing: The election sure was rigged:  bought and paid for by something far, far worse than anything Hillary could ever have dreamed of in the worst nightmare of the most conservative white cisgendered racist male of means could dream of.