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How to Love Radically in the Era of Trump

6 Feb

radical-loveI have been struggling, along with 2/3 of the nation, since November. I have been fearful, hurt, and worried for ALL targeted communities. For those who insultingly made this about “Hillary lost, get over it,” you missed the point, quite sadly. This was about resisting a fascist regime, which we are now under, as evidenced by the over 20 Executive Orders delivered by Trump — as evidenced by the myriad lies spread by Trump and his team (please don’t make up attacks, Kellyanne).  This was about supporting a billionaire bully who makes fun of people with disabilities  and says it is acceptable to grab women by their genitals.

And so I struggle. I struggle with how to be loving to Trump supporters, some of whom are family members — family members who have decidedly voted against me, my family, my friends, and the earth. Yet I must maintain that we have to stay in community; we have to operate from our hearts first; we have to make space for those who are hurting us. I STRUGGLE!

I struggle every day to make this space for people who are deliberately oppressing so many. It is hard to love someone when they are punching you or shooting at you or sustaining systems of oppression. Moreover, I don’t want to become like those who are oppressing us! I think our individual and collective ability to RESIST with every fiber of our being and simultaneously love and make space for Trump supporters is Radical Love. I would love to take credit for this, but at least two of my friends for over 30 years, Jen, and DeShawn helped me here.

I feel obligated to share some survival tips and invite you to share how you are surviving a world gone mad.

  1. Take a break from news and social media.
  2. If you are able to, binge watch some tv that brings you joy. Here, I would strongly recommend the Netflix remake of One Day At A Time. My friend Gita recommended this to me, and Robert and I are loving it! It has a Latina cast and addresses social issues and is FUN! Rita Moreno is in it along with Justina Machado, and I think I am in love with Isabella Gómez. 
  3. With intentionality, seek out friends, family, and family of choice who feed your soul.

Finally, join me in a commitment to Radical Love! I commit to being in and operating from a place of love, while I know there are days I will fail at this. When I fail at this, I will not shame myself. I will continue to work towards building community, solidarity, and find ways to both resist this current fascist regime and love those who are engaged in supporting a world of fear, hate, and oppression. If this sounds or feels contradictory to you, all I can say is: I’m able to hold a lot of tension around being messy — this work we do towards social justice/transformative justice is MESSY! We don’t do this work in isolation and we will not complete it, but we must be engaged!

I invite you to share how you are navigating currently. What is working and what is not working?

Standing in love and solidarity,

Michael

Resist: The Downfall of the United States

20 Jan

resistI know I and millions of Americans are in mourning today. We are in mourning for the contempt, disdain, and utter destruction of Trump and  his racist, homophobic cabinet of multi-millionaires. We are mourning the celebration of sociopathy over compassion and love and the idea of paying it forward. We are mourning the day in history when the world will look back and ask: “why and how did people support Trump?” Today I weep for America.

The old rules of any type of civility are now over and we are now navigating a Trump world of sociopathy. Yes, Trump, Kellyanne Conway, Jeff Sessions, Reince Priebus, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and most of the GOP are now engaged in such mendacity and hypocrisy that the world seems upside down.

How do we resist? We keep vigilant, we continue to protest, we continue to call our members of congress and demand to be heard. I realize this is difficult, given that Paul Ryan seems to have disconnected his phone, as I have been calling his office once every day. We must never normalize this. We must never become people who turn their backs on the poor, the targeted, the registered! We all know that Trump will soon turn Americans against each other and ask that we spy on each other and report people. We know from his behavior that soon news outlets will not be invited to the White House; that he will censure journalists that ask questions; or that he will just stop providing news conferences.

I will challenge myself and all of America to take action! We need to organize, support each other, and change this system. Let us make every effort to mitigate the destruction he has laid out, the shredding of rights he has promised. Stay mobilized and passionate! There are anti-Trump rallies taking place all over the country — people are organizing and taking action. Be part of the movement, the resistance.

MLK Day of Service 2017: Celebrate Rep. John Lewis

16 Jan

john-lewisMr. Trump’s attack on civil rights hero John Lewis certainly underscores and unequivocally proves the need to celebrate our civil rights pioneers. I had the great honor of actually getting to meet Rep. John Lewis when he spoke at the Atlanta Girl’s School at a convocation we held. While I had always loved and admired Rep. Lewis, and I was fortunate enough to live in his district for many years, after his speech, all I could think of was: I want all children to turn out like this man!

Rep. John Lewis marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and endured such physical assaults and hate during the civil rights movement. Yet he emerged as this beautiful soul who has done nothing but promote peace, love, and equity for targeted populations — this has been his life’s work. To see him attacked by Mr. Trump who only has a legacy of avarice, mendacity, and divisiveness, hurts my heart more than I can say. The old rules of human decency seem to no longer apply. The United States seems to only reward sociopathic billionaires now who tweet late into the nighttime how their feelings have been hurt.

With the ascension/anointment of Mr. Trump, we have seen how his supporters are emboldened to thwart human decency. Case in point, Biloxi, Mississippi has renamed MLK Day to “Observance of Great Americans Day.” Thanks, Biloxi. You have made it painfully clear that only white heterosexual men are welcomed to your white city. This new celebration will also celebrate Confederate General Robert E. Lee. I think I just spat up a little in my mouth. More evidence of how emboldened Trump supporters have become, we witness Republican Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter calling Lewis “a racist pig.” Mr. Hunter, you clearly do not understand the word racism. Please step down from your position of power.

I grow exceedingly tired of Trump supporters including Trump’s bitch (NBC) and famous idiots like Nicole Kidman who keep telling us: “We have to trust Trump and support him.”  Why on earth would any targeted person/community trust this man, when he keeps appointing White Supremacists, Homophobes, Misogynists, billionaires to his cabinet? Help me understand why on earth should we trust him.

I am inviting all of us in the United States to reflect around our own racism and encourage conversations around issues of racial disparities and systems of inequities and oppression. I also invite us to think about how we see our country. For all of us white folk, now is the time for us to stand up against racism — to speak out against and resist those who continue to participate in the system of racism. I am asking for us to become activists and NOT to speak for nor speak over black voices. Find out what it means to be an ally. If you are not speaking out against Trump and against racism then you are colluding with the oppressor. Mr. Trump just cancelled his MLK Day visit to the National African American Museum “because he is too busy.” What kind of message does that send to all of us about his commitment to heal a divided nation and to address systemic racism? If you need to cry here, please do. I know many of us are crying for what the future holds in store.

While I identify as a queer white man, I would argue racism in the United States is most definitely a queer issue, it is a feminist issue, it is a black issue, it is a trans issue, for the intersectionality here makes it an issue for all people living in the United States.

Taking Action: Here we have an opportunity as white people to leverage our power and privilege for black lives. I hope all of us are engaging in conversations that address issues of access, power, and barriers. Can we look for spaces where white people can stand back and stand in solidarity with black people? Can we look for spaces to ensure more black voices are being heard? Please resist and do not normalize a Trump administration. I leave you with this clip from a show called Black-ish.

Feeling Grateful in Time of Great Despair: Happy New Year

1 Jan
2017:Organize

2017:Organize

2016 has been an exceedingly painful, turbulent, and awful year. Since turning 50 three weeks ago, I have been deeply troubled by the current course of the United States under what can only be called a Fascist regime, under Trump and his merry band of racists, misogynists, and homophobic collectibles, who seem to want to dismantle all of the agencies that serve people in the United States. Their collective efforts will ensure that the top 20% of Americans not only keep their wealth but will build on it exponentially — a wet dream for Paul Ryan. Sadly,  author Thomas Pynchon  captures the philosophy of the 21st century GOP:

Back when I was getting into the business, all ‘being Republican’ meant really was sort of principled greed. You arranged things so that you and your friends would come out nicely, you behaved professionally, above all you put in the work and took the money only after you’d earned it. Well, the party, I fear, has fallen on evil days. This generation — it’s almost a religious thing now. The millennium, the end days, no need to be responsible anymore to the future. A burden has been lifted from them. The Baby Jesus is managing the portfolio of earthy affairs, and nobody begrudges Him the carried interest…

There is no sense of paying it forward — no sense of leaving the earth a better place for future generations. No, the rules have changed and now it is about getting all you can and getting more than you need, regardless if others have to go without, and future generations have to suffer for it.

As I have turned 50, I am witnessing our country turn backwards and turn its back on all targeted individuals and communities. For those predicting an economic windfall under TrumpPutin, I worry you are a bit delusional. I am most regrettably predicting a recession that will be just as traumatic as the one George W paved the way for during his administration.

While it has been most challenging not to give into a misanthropic abyss, or The Princess Bride’s “Pit of Despair,”  I have also had to do some serious reflection as we are about to usher in 2017. While I am terrified of what the next four years have in store, I have to also be exceedingly grateful for the life I have.

Here is what I have that makes me share tears of joy: A life partner whom I love and adore and who loves me as we get to travel this journey of life together; such amazing family and friends who make my heart swell with love — friends who constantly make me work to be a better person. These two things alone give me hope and make me so extraordinarily grateful! I know I am strong enough to persevere and resist a fascist regime.

I know how to engage in community organizing, how to stand in solidarity for human rights and social justice. I know how to keep vigilant and NOT normalize our current condition. I also know I do not do this work alone, for I do this work with my brilliant family and friends! To all of you: I say thank you! Happy New Year. I wish you all peace and that you each are surrounded by love.

Dear Donald: A Plea For Decency

19 Dec

trumpstampDear Donald:

How unfortunate that the only truth you managed in the past two years was that the “election was rigged.” Sadly it was rigged on your behalf. While I fear this plea will fall prey to your pathological narcissism and thus will not be heard, I make it nonetheless.

It looks as though you may be assuming the role of President of the United States. May I implore you to rise to the occasion — to comport yourself with the gravitas of the role of a world leader?  You are NOT representing yourself here, rather you are representing every person that lives in the United States. Sadly, you have “drained the swamp” (your words) directly into your cabinet and have caused great alarm for all targeted people and communities living in the US. This is not just about misogyny, but about how someone who demonstrates every day that his ego rules over all else and whose success is rooted in the oppression of women, people of color, the LGBT community, people with disabilities, and all of the intersections therein.

For you and your followers, we need something to prove you all are not racist, homophobes, misogynists, breeders of hate. Your appointment of white supremacist and homophobe Steve Bannon does not inspire hope. Your appointment of white supremacist and homophobe Jeff Sessions further deteriorates any modicum of trust in your judgement. Sessions who was declared “too racist” during the Reagan years is now fit to be in your cabinet? One can hardly take solace in your appointment of Rex Tillerson, the Director a US/Russian oil company, as the next Secretary of State–conflict of interest much?  In fact, every appointment you have made demonstrates great disdain for the office they will hold and nothing but contempt and disrespect for the American people.

According the the Southern Poverty Law Center, CNN, Time, The New York Times, and myriad other publications, hate crimes have increased exponentially since the election. Sadly, you have done nothing to disavow any of this horrific behavior. As such, your silence condones it. Your supporters have grown so emboldened that they are ushering in the New Fascism. Ohio has just passed some of the most restrictive laws that preclude women from governing their own bodies. Louisiana has now passed laws that declare LGBT protections illegal, thanks to eternal homophobe Jeff Landry.

Given the evidence of the intercession of the Russians to influence the election in your favor, I know many are now worried about war. Is this what you want to be your legacy? Your inability to understand diplomacy, the need for intelligence meetings, (I know you consider yourself “biggly smart”), your disdain for science and for education should alarm us all. This is where I hope I am categorically wrong. I hope we do not end up in another war because of you. I shall take no pleasure in telling your supporters that they have only themselves to thank for another war and the loss of human life for caprice.

Yes, while I suspect this plea will be wholly ignored, I also implore all people living in the United States to resist the New Fascism, for us all to stand in solidarity, to work together to ensure that your threat to democracy does not prevail. Mr. Trump, “Have you no decency sir?”

I shall end this letter asking everyone: who will you take action to stand with and harbor? Sweet Honey in the Rock: Would You Harbor Me?

Post-Truth: The New Order

5 Dec

post-truth-bannerThe Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has named Post-Truth  as the word of the year for 2016. Post-Truth is defined as:

Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief: in this era of post-truth politics, it’s easy to cherry-pick data and come to whatever conclusion you desire. (OED)

The New Order: I do wonder if anyone else has thought to use that framework. I suspect one would have to be familiar with facts and not just feelings to know the answer to that. Yes, one would have to know history. Sadly, we in the United States have demonstrated we cannot be bothered with facts or history. We seem to pride our selves in ignorance, as we show great disdain of science and facts; we steep ourselves in jingoism, racism, misogyny, and homophobia.

Given the recent election for President in the United States, it seems abundantly clear that post-truth is in fact the word of the year. What do we do now? My question for those who voted for Trump is when will you take action to put his administration in check? Will you take action when he deports members of the Latino community? Will you take action when he creates a registry for Muslims? Will you create resistance when he tries to criminalize what is protected under the first amendment?  Will you protest when police, health care workers, and all service providers can deny LGBT people necessary services based on Pence’s perverted idea of “Religious Freedom”? When will you take action? How will you explain to our youth that actually it is categorically unacceptable to sexually or physically assault women, when the leader of the free world has tried to normalize it? Will you step up to the plate and help to STOP normalizing racism?

This denial of science and facts in favor of feelings not only seems absurd, but shows great hubris in our collective disregard for history. I’m waiting for climate change deniers to tell me the earth is flat. I fear that if Galileo were alive today, we would once again imprison him. If the Trump administration shapes up the way it looks like it will, he won’t be lonely.

Now is the time for us all to keep vigilant and engage in honest reflection. We need to pay close attention to Trump’s cabinet and the civil rights of all targeted people that are now in peril. I would maintain that all the white people who supported Trump because they are feeling disenfranchised, this is the time for you to keep vigilant; this is not a president who cares about you or your family. Here is evidence to support my claim. Trump has appointed Steven Mnuchin Secretary of the Treasury. You remember Mnuchin: he headed the foreclosure machine in California, profiting from the loss of homes by millions of Americans. Can someone tell me how this is Trump “draining the swamp?”

Call To Action: all of us need to be accountable in demanding facts and not feelings. Your belief in something does not make it true, even if Faux news repeats it every 17 minutes. As the post-truth administration takes power, let us  insist on policy based on facts and established rights, not the whims of the angry, manipulated minority.

Thanksgiving 2016: A Terrifying Time

23 Nov

diffiturkeyI usually post my annual iteration of A Collective Amnesia, for Thanksgiving, but this year seems particularly painful as I reflect on the profound sanctioning of racism, homophobia, and misogyny in the United States. I am nonplussed by the number of people in this country who are not mortified by how we are treating Native voices in North Dakota, as opposed to how we treated white tyrannical voices in Oregon.

I am more than disturbed and saddened that a white millionaire man who publicly makes fun of people with disabilities, says that it is okay to grab women by the genitals, makes horrific racist comments against the Latino and Muslim communities, and was endorsed by the KKK —  endorsed by the KKK, let that sink in — is our Presidnet-elect. How do we come back from this? If the United States ever had any moral high ground, we have categorically lost it.

I wish I could be hopeful for 2017, but Trump’s cabinet is full of nothing but white supremacists, homophobes, xenophobes, and misogynists. Where do you go when the President Elect selects White Supremacist, Steve Bannon? How is that supposed to make people feel safe in this country? As a gay man, how am I supposed to feel safe with Mike Pence as Vice-President? Pence who passed the Hate Bill (Religious Freedom Act) in Indiana that allows people to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. Pence who believes in conversion therapy. Pence who has shut down Planned Parenthood Clinics. How am I and the people I love supposed to feel safe with the appointment of infamous racist and homophobe Jeff Sessions of Alabama? Sessions who was rejected for a judgeship in 1986 because of his racist comments is suddenly fit to lead law enforcement in the United States? Sessions who supported the KKK until he found out that some of them smoked pot–wow! Sessions who has supported DOMA, who has created barriers for the LGBTQ community at every turn, just as Pence has. The message is clear: only white heterosexual men are safe.

I can only hope that all targeted people and our many allies stand in solidarity and refuse to normalize what is currently happening in this nation. Finally, I am grateful for my loving husband and for all the people in my family and family of choice whom I treasure. We must support and love one another. I leave you with some Sweet Honey in the Rock, Ella’s SongIn solidarity, Michael.

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