Privilege. Power. Hypocrisy.

Each morning I drink my coffee and read the news, scroll through facebook, catch up with Heather Cox Richardson. Then I go for a walk in the canyon and process what I have read. More often than not, I end up riled up.

Note to self: stop reading the news before the walk

2nd note to self: stop reading the fucking news

What’s got me going this morning is white hypocrisy.

Locally, state-wide, and on a national level – it’s everywhere in the BLM movement.

Disclaimer: I am white, from a very privileged background, with an excellent, expensive, private school education. I knew very few people of color growing up. I do not, in any way, share in the experience of the discrimination and hatred that BIPOC have lived.

I am ignorant as fuck.

But I hope that I am not a hypocrite.

Anyway, what I am observing is white people taking the lead on racial issues – from their position of comfort and privilege.

ALL of us need to jump on the racial injustice bandwagon. It’s time, and it’s our responsibility. Especially for those of us whose privilege has led to where we are in this moment in history. But shouldn’t the drivers of the bandwagon be the people whose experiences we are addressing?

For example, many of my closest friends are queer. I can stand up for their rights, I can protest against discrimination and hatred and ignorance. I can educate myself. I can offer support. I can try to educate others.

But can I speak for the Queer Community?

Uh, no.

And what I see these days is some white people, often those considered leaders in the BLM movement, speaking for BIPOC. It’s one thing, in my humble opinion, to speak with the oppressed, but for??????

And in so many of these conversations, the speakers are angry, self-righteous, condescending, arrogant, and utterly lacking in compassion for those who are just trying to figure this all out.

I often feel like I am being schooled, not educated.

Many of the folks to whom I am referring are doing really good work in their communities or across the country towards equality and for that I am grateful. But you can’t deny who you are. Because one’s partner or best friend is brown or black or asian (currently receiving a rash of racist shit during this pandemic) – this does not make one an expert.

And this certainly does not magically make one a Person of Color.

I read amazing articles written from positions of relative ease – big houses, good educations, white-collar jobs, a full refrigerator, health care. I pour over them, trying to learn, but when that (white) writer speaks with a tone of superiority, I shut right down.

We can’t deny who we are. Just like it would be gross of me to pretend that didn’t belong to a fancy country club, I hate to see others pretend that they haven’t participated in a world made available to them because of their skin color.

Once I was old enough to make my own choices, I chose to no longer participate in the elite world in which I was raised. But I once did. For many years – mainly the formative ones. I enjoyed my privilege. I benefitted from it. Turning my back on that world doesn’t erase it from my history.

For me to speak on racial issues I must first come from the place of admitting to coming from the place from which I came.

I must own, not deny, the advantages that I have had, and continue to have.

I must own my lack of knowledge, lack of first-hand experience, lack of understanding.

I hear “community, equality, love,” and those words are not muffled by a mask in the age of a pandemic. How can one care so much about the experience of others and yet be selfish enough to not protect those around us?

Is the decision to put your neighbors at risk possible for you because you know that you can see a doctor if you get sick? You have family and friends who will help care for you? You know you won’t starve if you miss work?

Me vs We

Entitlement?

We can’t erase who we are, who we’ve been.

But we can change, and change we must.

But change isn’t possible unless we start with the truth of who we are.

Honesty or hypocrisy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

showing off for our guests

I have a friend in town. We went to high school together; we’ve seen each other once since I left Jersey in 1987.

And here she is as if we saw each other just last week. 

She’s here because she is thinking about moving here. She used to live on the I-70 corridor, then she moved to the PNW to get out of the snow but she misses the sunshine so I am trying to convince her that here is the perfect compromise.

I want her to join me in my little corner of Paradise, so I am trying to show off my homeland.

The problem is, she arrived just in time for another Saturday morning “Freedom Ride” through downtown Cortez; our weekly reminder that I, and apparently we (the “liberals”) are Sheeple.

I told her about our citizens who are tearing into each other over the issue of a piece of fabric.

I said to her, “I’m so embarrassed – my County is so poorly behaved right now.”

I told her how I normally feel about my home town. I told her that we are a community of folks, with the good old fashioned values of “neighbors helping neighbors.”

I explained to her that I have always felt at home here, and accepted, and included, because we value taking care of each other more than we do personal politics.

I was the lone hippie that moved into this County before it was discovered. I may have been ridiculed behind my back, but no one ever, EVER, made me feel like I didn’t belong.

And now, I am telling my friend that my once idyllic little haven is being torn in half over a piece of fabric.

She has been so safe, so careful, so isolated behind her mask, and so supported within her city and state. She is in utter disbelief at the fact that anyone would fight this simple and life-saving courtesy.

She says, “Wait, isn’t there a mask mandate from the Governor?”

Then, “Don’t your neighbors care about their neighbors?”

“Do I want to live here?”

It’s sad, and as I said, embarrassing. I hate that she is seeing Montezuma County at its ugliest. I try to tell her that it’s not always like this but I don’t see that it’s going to improve any, any time soon.”

I hate that she is witnessing our divisiveness, our self-righteous anger, our stupidity.

I’m mortified to say that our leaders, and so many residents of our corner of the world, believe that they are above the law. 

Our people are going rogue and it’s not flattering.

It’s off-putting to someone considering moving here.

She’s questioning if she would feel safe walking down Market Street in her mask and “Make Orwell Fiction Again” t-shirt, and I have to say, “I’m not sure you are safe.”

She’s from Portland.

She feels less threatened there.

People, think about that.

 

 

 

My daily disclaimer:

I am new to this and will probably unintentionally say the wrong thing and offend or piss someone off, so I apologize in advance

Today’s issue:

Addressing racism (Covid-19, masks, immigration, LGBTQ, poverty, education, etc., etc., etc.) in a small community.

Since the world imploded, everyone has an opinion. And everyone seems to be airing those opinions publically. Then everyone else feels the need to comment/discuss/criticize, also publically. Anger flares. People are offended. Friendships ended.

“I am more community-minded than you.”

“I am less racist than you.”

“I’m more ‘woke’ than you.”

More.

Less.

Comparisons that divide rather than unite.

It’s all over social media. Everyone’s doing it. But it’s a whole different ball game when those comparisons and judgments are, at least in part, based on already-established biases based on previous personal interactions with the individuals who are speaking.

I know that I am guilty of it. I was in full force judgment mode last night.

A community member posted something recently that I happened to think was ridiculous, but she didn’t. As is her right.

The reactions were firey, critical, and personal.

I kept my mouth shut, mostly because it seemed like the rest of the community had enough to say without me adding my two cents.

If someone I didn’t know had created the post (which, by the way, I had seen before, so someone I don’t know did put it out there first) I would have scrolled right past, dismissing it as worthless, (which is what I did the first time I saw it.)

But, because I knew the post-er, I read the entire thing and each and every comment.

And I judged. I thought, “Really? You? Come on – I expected more.”

But still, trying to avoid adding to the shitstorm, I kept my mouth shut.

In a small town, there is no way to take a person at face value, to hear what they have to say on really, any issue, without incorporating what we already know or think we know about that person.

Well, you send your child to a different school than I do so I can’t agree with you on anything regarding education.

I’ve seen you be brutally selfish and self-serving so how can I believe that you are thinking about anyone’s best interests other than your own.

I saw you in the grocery store without a mask so don’t talk to me about being a caring community member.

Etc.

It can’t be avoided in a town this size.

We have opinions of each other, good or bad, right or wrong, that will color our perception of anything coming out of a person’s mouth to the point of detriment.

How can I listen to what someone has to say when I’m too busy thinking, “You are the most egotistical human being I’ve ever known so you can’t possibly care about this issue as much as I do, and therefore I won’t take seriously anything that you say”?

And suddenly some stupid shit on your wall is that much more laughable.

Or offensive.

And conversely, I like what you said at the School Board meeting last month so I am going to blindly agree with your recent post about Black Lives Matter.

I saw you at the hardware store without your mask so obviously, you’re a bigot.

It’s fucking mayhem out there.

These conversations quickly become chaotic. A discussion about whether or not the CDC has been upfront with the world about Covid-19, leaps from accusations of fascism into “White people should just listen to indigenous people.”

It’s all over the map. Everything is connected; race is, unfortunately, an underlying piece of every issue we address. The coronavirus overshadows all aspects of daily life. I get that it’s hard to keep things separated because it is all intertwined, but I also think that it is easier to mix it all up and make a conversation a muddled mess when we know each other.

We are talking about taking our biases out of The Conversation. The Conversation itself is about removing biases – biases about race or religion or sexual orientation – but that is really challenging when it’s your neighbor against (or with) whom you have a personal preconceived notion.

I know that I am more prone to jump on or off a bandwagon based on my prior interactions with the bandwagon driver.

I’m fired up about members of my community who I “used to respect.” There are certain people who I avoid at the post office or coffee shop because I can’t agree with their stance on masks.

In some ways maybe it’s a good thing – neighbors calling out neighbors on their bullshit.

But on the other hand, are we allowing issues to become more personal and more offensive, based on who is addressing those issues?

Is familiarity breeding contempt?

 

 

I didn’t want to have to do this but…

You know what?

I am pissed.

And now I’m going to rant.

Two Facebook groups were started on the same day – in the early days of the virus – ostensibly to provide information and support for our community members during this time of sickness and fear and mixed messages coming down from the top.

In one group, seemingly comprised primarily of Christian Conservatives, a post about exercising our constitutional rights by not wearing masks prompted one group member to state that she felt safer sporting face covering and she wished that everyone would wear one.

She was verbally bludgeoned.

The group administrator got really ugly and several others followed suit.

It prompted me to leave the group, with a statement on the page about why. I said, “I am leaving because I wanted to be a part of a group that is helping our community.”

I followed with, “Getting ugly and judgmental isn’t helping anyone in our County.”

I was taunted, called names, and told “good riddance.”

I was holding out hope for the other group to be a little bit more open-minded and compassionate and NEUTRAL.

Well, that went right out the window this morning.

“Asshole”

“Troll”

“Dumbass. Moron. Idiot.”

“Go home to your shithole state.”

“Panty waist liberals have no place here”

what the fuck people?????????

I want one person, one, to tell me what good could possibly come out of any of the above comments. How is this possibly helping our old, our sick, our babies, our HEALTHCARE WORKERS?

Sure, I wear a mask to protect myself. I’m selfish that way.

But more importantly, I wear a mask for you.

My son is asthmatic. He has the potential to run into serious trouble if he catches this virus.

I wear a mask for him.

Another friend, who I like to visit, has cancer. I panic at the thought of infecting her unknowingly.

I wear a mask for her.

My mother is 81, lives alone, is freshly widowed and thanks to a bout with lung cancer has only half of one lung.

I hope that every single person in her town wears a fucking mask because I don’t want my mother to die. Alone. Due to someone else’s need to “not be controlled.”

I wear a mask for everyone’s mother.

TAM and I are quarantining together – we are exposing each other to everything that we encounter. He has children. It’s my responsibility to protect him.

I wear a mask for him. For his children.

I wear a mask for the gal at the market who goes home to a very compromised husband. She has to change her clothes in the garage before she can even enter her own home after a day at work.

I wear a mask for my co-workers who are doing their very best to safely provide food and support for so many who are dependent on this little grocery store. While I have been safely isolated, they are dealing with the public 7 days a week, so that you can eat.

I wear a mask for the pregnant woman who is already terrified of bringing her unborn baby into this upside-down toxic world.

You get the picture.

The picture of me with a mask on my face.

I know that no matter what I say, or anyone else says, that plenty of people give we “fearful and paranoid victims of fake news and conspiracies” the middle finger.

Sure, sometimes I wonder if it is all blown out of proportion. But then I think, “Who am I to say?”

Not a doctor. Not a scientist.

Not a constitutionalist either.

So I am clearly in no position to make this call.

99% of us are in no position to make this call.

Really, anyone who is questioning the veracity of the science, who is neither a scientist nor a medical doctor, is out of their fucking minds.

Seriously, think about it, all of us who barely passed Biology 101, are trying to out-science the scientists.

This is not about your constitutional rights. This is about the health and well being of not only your own community but…

The entire planet.

Can you grasp that?

The health of both the earth itself and every single human being alive is in your hands. Do you get that?

WE can make a difference in what happens to people just like us, mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, nurses, factory workers, teachers.

This is not about “being an American,” this is about being a global citizen.

One of the comments on this morning’s news feed asked about the “ethnicity” of those infected and dying?

The ETHNICITY?

Now we are making this a racism issue. So we don’t care about the Chinese (well they started this so why should we be concerned there?) or the Italians (pronounced eye-talian in this bigoted conversation). Does it matter what the brown people in Africa are experiencing?

And no question, in this border town right on the edge of the Navajo Nation, that a mention of ethnicity is pointed directly at our suffering neighbors who have been hit harder than anywhere else in our four corners.

I had someone tell me in the grocery store that she wishes “they” wouldn’t come here to shop – so that she can go mask-free.

Maybe we could have brown people hours and white people hours.

Makes me want to move to Shiprock.

I want to hurl. I am so angry.

And so disappointed in my community.

This is a community of people who pride themselves on being good neighbors and helping each other in times of need. Not wearing masks probably isn’t helping.

Chance are, wearing one is helping. At least there’s a chance of it being beneficial to self and others, while we know for certain that no face protection helps no one.

Sure, they’re uncomfortable. And annoying.

But if I choose to wear one, that’s my choice. Just like some folks are making the choice to not wear one (based on the constitution and personal preference, not on the scientific information that we all have access to.)

Don’t fucking ride my ass if I err on the side of caution

I want to walk away from this global pandemic knowing that I did everything I could to keep safe my children, my mother, my sick friends, someone else’s grandmother or husband or child. If I needlessly wear a mask for a while, so be it.

It’s none of your business. I am not hurting you. I am not violating your constitutional rights. I am not going to get you sick, that’s for sure.

The maskless can’t say the same thing about not affecting me.

So, if you are making the decision to put me, the compromised husband, a newborn baby, a nurse or grocery store employee, at risk, go ahead and do that.

If your conscience allows.

But do not give me shit about it.

It has taken everything in me to not respond to each and every cruel and immature comment that I have seen on Facebook (including some of those whose words are coming through layers of folded cloth and coffee filters.) But I refuse to get involved in debates with people behaving poorly in inappropriate forums.

I know that trying to convince anyone on either side of the debate is fruitless at this point. Not my purpose here, although it would be nice if my ranting gives at least one bare-faced community member pause for thought. I’m stating my opinion, but I am not holding out hope that I’m going to change anyone’s mind.

My point is this:

Shut. The Fuck. up.

Don’t be ugly.

Be kind.

If you want to be catty and condescending and critical and cruel, go ahead. But I certainly don’t want to hear it.

Do they make masks that cover the ears?

 

 

on the issue of masks

I’m wearing one. No question about it. I just bought myself a new one yesterday.

I’m investing money; I am in this for the long haul.

Some of you are choosing to not wear masks. Your prerogative.

I wish you would wear one, but if you’re choosing not to, then I guess I’ll just back up a few steps if we need to interact.

But what I have noticed is that backing up, covering my nose and mouth, conducting myself as if there were a global pandemic, is making me the recipient of ridicule and derision.

Many (not all, I guess?) of the maskless are getting quite smug. I’ve noticed it particularly in young adults – those who are relatively new to adulthood and to making decisions on their own.

And most interestingly, the worst of the smuggers that I have encountered are young women.

I’m not saying anything political or making sweeping generalizations about the population who are not wearing masks – I see young, old, male, female, white, brown, black.

If you want to go to the lake with your family and friends, god bless ya, I’m kind of envious, but I am making different choices.

I am saying something about the attitude of the maskless population who think that they are superior to those of us with our faces covered.

It shows in the condescending looks I get when I am the only one in the room with a mask. It shows every time an open-faced individual bumps into me – accidentally on-purpose.

Last time I went to Walmart I ran into a girl who I had babysat, who in turn babysat my children, and is now grown up, old enough, to be raising her own. We usually stop and chat, but as I was deciding if I wanted to make the effort that it takes, she looked at me with a smirk on her face, a “hrmph” on her lips, haughtily lifted her head and walked right on out of there, wholly superior to this old lady’s fear-ridden existence.

So yesterday, I went elsewhere to try to support one of our local business, and while searching the aisles for wood putty, a young lady, an employee, who went to high school with my kids (meaning that IF she is 21, then it’s just barely, making her still a child in my mind,) approached.

I greeted her warmly – as warmly as you can with half of your face hidden. She was lukewarm in response. At first I thought, “Maybe she doesn’t recognize me with my mask on,” so I said, “Hey__________, it’s me, HDD.”

She looked at me with “Duh,” written all over her face…

Which I could see the entirety of because she wasn’t wearing a mask.

Suddenly I remembered skimming over something on Facebook about this particular business and their lack of Covid-19 restrictions.

Should have paid more attention to that one.

Anyway, in response to her general inquiry about helping me find something I responded that I needed wood putty which apparently was one aisle over.

And apparently the only way there was for her to push past me, in the narrow row of wood glue and stain. She literally, physically, bumped me out of the way, with a total “I dare you to say something,” arrogance.

I did what any sane person would do as she passed…

I held my breath.

I was pissed, and yet I didn’t say a word.

For one, it’s too hard to talk while fighting for every breath through multiple layers of cotton and coffee filters.

Two, I knew that I would get no support from any of my fellow customers or the managers of the store. That was perfectly clear.

But the main reason that I didn’t say anything was that I am sick and tired of the animosity between the believers and the non-believers.

People have gotten so ugly with each other. Unkind. Disrespectful. Nasty.

As a mother figure, I could easily have justified saying to this gal, “Oh Honey – I really wish you’d be more careful and cover up your face.”

Of I could have said, “What the fuck are you doing getting so close to me?”

But I didn’t because we need to be gentle with one another right now in this topsy-turvy world.

And though I may be secretly judging those who are making different decisions than I am, I also understand that others are making the decisions that they believe are right for them, and while we each might (probably) feel very strongly about our positions, does it mean that we have to be ugly with each other?

I don’t think so.

I get it that if I choose to continue to isolate, to cover my face, to wash my hands 52 million times, that’s my choice and I am the one who is “inconvenienced,” by having to wear a piece of cloth over my face. It is my responsibility to take those precautions – which I am.

But I believe that it is the maskless’ responsibility to respect those boundaries – not push against them.

Literally.

Why must there be an air of superiority? Sure, they could be right and I could be wrong (and paranoid).

OR I could be right and they are about to get a lot of people very sick.

But, I’m keeping my covered mouth shut because we do not need more divisiveness right now and I believe in being kind. So why do people on the other side of the debate feel the need to totally disrespect me, my choices, my body?

I’m not inconveniencing anyone. I am not spreading a deadly disease. I am not forcing any of my political beliefs on anyone. My mask is not taking away anyone’s constitutional rights.

My masked friends declare that they too have been on the receiving end of physical contact, snide remarks, and general disdain. I am not imagining this.

But what I can’t imagine is why it has to be this way.

There is no need for condescension.

No reason to be smug.

PS: Before any of the maskless gets all hyped up – I am fully aware that there are many of the swaddled that are verbally taking people out for NOT wearing a mask. That’s not okay either. And to you, I say, “Be kind. Be respectful. Play by your rules. Socially distance yourself…

And for Fuck’s sake, don’t start shit with your neighbors.”