Sunday, November 13, 2016

Never Give Up

Content Warning: dream of armed robbery, contemplating being killed

In the days right after the election, I channeled my emotions into strategies. Disseminating information about ICE. Strategies for intervening if you witness harassment. The ACLU’s apps for recording hate crimes. I bypassed the anger and grief, and went directly to problem-solving.

Knowing one of my nieces might join the post-election protests, my dad expressed concern along with the suggestion that she make sure she feels good about the people she protests with (if she does protest), and I think the subtext was his hope that she would choose not to protest for her own safety.

Hate crimes have already spiked across the country. Racism was already rampant; people of color knew this, it is only us white folks who are opening our eyes to it. But by electing Trump, the country has given marginalized folks the message that their lives, their safety, is not important. Trump has glamorized racist rhetoric. And bigots are feeling encouraged by this victory of white nationalism. It isn’t news to people of color and all marginalized people that this country is unsafe. As I think of my white niece protesting, or myself committing to intervene if I see bullying or intimidation, it is clear that things are also not safe for those who would stand up against racists. And as much as we may try to control things, as we head into this new era (not newly racist, but newly proud and out white nationalism), safety is simply an illusion for all of us.

Three days ago my migraine hit. It’s been a doozy. I’ve spent most of the past three days in bed, in and out of sleep. During migraines, my subconscious has free range, and combined with being in pain and feeling useless, thoughts of hopelessness and despair can storm the barricades.

I had the strangest dream, and it was so real…

I was house sitting in a lovely home when there was an armed robbery. It was a professional job, we surprised each other, and I saw all their faces. I couldn’t believe it when I realized this meant they intended to kill me. I implored the person in charge of the robbery, a beefy white guy with big rings, sitting in a comfy overstuffed chair while several athletic women started to take the items they’d previously inventoried and prioritized.

I told him it wasn’t my time to die yet; I had a lot of living yet to do. I told him about my son, an adult, with whom I was so close. I realized that while I had a sadness about my own life being cut short, what really upset me was thinking about my family having to go through this. In a rush I described the struggles my son has endured, including surviving cancer. I told the man that my son’s wife recently lost her brother, and has also lost her father. I told him that my family has been through far too much and lost so many people; they can’t lose yet another person.

I was in fact pleading for my life, but for them. I took note of that, filed it away.

He told me that it was unfortunate, but what else could he do.

Two of the women took me out of the house to an alley. I repeated myself, made sure they knew as much as possible about me, and that my death would impact other people. They were professional; going about their business, listening with dispassionate interest. One woman offered that they might be able to find a random stranger to take my place, to be the one to die instead of me (presumably to convince the boss they’d done their job). She said sometimes that was done.

The thought of a random person dying so that I could live was abhorrent to me. I felt sickened. I answered emphatically, “no.”

I asked if there was anything I could do. Shrugs.

A van pulled up and despite the risk with guns pointed at me, I called out for help. It was in that moment that I realized I was not going to go quietly, but that I would wait and watch for any opportunity to escape. But the van was theirs, and they loaded me onto the top.

We drove off and I saw the stars above. There was the Big Dipper. I swear, the the stars had never been so bright before. I wondered if this would be my last time looking at the sky, and wished I had not taken it for granted. Its beauty made me weep.

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