Do you know what I discovered since returning from Thanksgiving festivities? Fidel Castro died. I threw a party to celebrate. I was eleven years old when Castro seized control of Cuba “in the name of its people,” and, although the worst he ever did to me was instill a debilitating fear that the holes in my dirty underwear would be seen and mocked by my classmates while scampering under my school desk before the Soviet nuclear bombs roared out of Cuba and dropped on my head, he screwed up the lives of millions of his fellow Cubans something fierce, and they may never recover. While I appreciate the few moral decisions he managed to get right in his lifetime (backed Mandela and opposed Apartheid, and provided health care for his poorest people along with an education system for all Cubans—albeit, propaganda-laden), his horrific, murderous sins, lies, and torture earned him a primo place in Hell.
Cartoon used by permission: Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
Thinking about Castro—especially as various people have been soft pedaling his legacy this week—I am forced to think about despots in general. I tend to dwell on the things that obsess me—like despots and the damage they can cause—and when I obsess, I dream. The other night I dreamt that I couldn’t sleep because of all the crazy leaders since the beginning of time who have not treated their people with equity, respect, and dignity—who have royally screwed up their countries when they became the president, the king, or the despot. And in that dream, I thought of Trump, and then I thought of his Chief Strategist (Steve Bannon), and the more than the 800 reported racial incidents since the election, and I went in search of a White man to tell my sorrows to … but, alas alack, he was asleep—so I woke him up, anyway (in my dream, that is)—hoping that he would help me out.
Cartoon used by permission: Bob Englehart, Caglecartoons
[Leaning over my husband’s sleeping body, I tried to pry open one of eyelids.]
ME: Psst. Wake up! Are you asleep?
ME: Are you sure you’re asleep?
ME: Hum, would you like a little roll in the hay, old man?
HIM: Ah, yeah!
ME: So, you are awake.
HIM: You tricked me!
ME: Yes, I did. Because I need to see if you’re still my husband of 38 years, or if you’ve been snatched by a Trumpet spirit. I think something awful has been happening to a lot of the White people in our country, and I need to make sure you’re safe. Open your eyes so that I can see if there are any demons inside of you. Hum … You seem okay. Now that you’re awake, can I tell you what I need help with?
HIM: Do I have a choice?
ME: Of course not. Did you know that according to the Southern Poverty Law Center there have been over 900 reports of harassment or intimidation in every state except four in the past several weeks, and in most of the attacks, Trump’s name has been invoked? And our President-elect hasn’t done a damn thing about it. Trump can tweet about everything else at three a.m., but he has been very passive about this crap done in his name. One of the incidents that sent chills down my spine is the one I read in Ebony today. Listen to this:
“A White Massachusetts man received a letter warning him not to bring Black friends into the community from someone saying it has ‘zero tolerance for Black people’ and that ‘we have reclaimed our country back by selecting Trump.’ Another letter he received read: ‘We have just cleared the White House of niggers! Do not bring niggers in our neighborhood… We will kill them.”
ME: This shit is popping up all over the place—not just against Blacks, but against Muslims, Latinos, women, Asians, and Gays and Lesbians—all in Trump’s name! Right after the election, I saw a copy of an anonymous note left to a Muslim teacher that she better take off her head-wrap because it wasn’t allowed anymore now that Trump was President, and that she should “tie” it around her neck and “hang yourself with it.”
Cartoon used by permission: Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News
HIM: Well, I didn’t vote for Trump and neither did any of the White people we consider our friends. Why did you wake me up? I’m not guilty and neither are they. Also, you’re a smart person, and I know that you know that all White people who voted for Trump were not racially motivated.
ME: Of course, but I have a feeling that all the racists who voted did vote for Trump! His election seems to have given them a free “get-out-of-jail” pass. And how do we know that the White people who say they voted for Hillary did just that? What if there were millions of White people who were going to vote for Hillary, but once they got in the voting booth, they voted for Trump instead, which is why we’re in this mess? What if this is like The Invasion of the Body Snatchers? I’m beginning to be suspicious of every White person I meet—wondering if they are secretly going to say or do something racist to me. I passed some little ol’ shriveled-up, monkey-faced White lady in the grocery store the other day—she looked to be about eighty years old. When I smiled, she didn’t smile back at me—just kind of scowled at me. I got very suspicious and started to wonder (as I tasted the grapes to see which ones were sweet), whether she was a secret “Trumpet” who resented my very presence amongst the fruits and vegetables, which is why she was giving me the stink eye.
HIM: She probably was wondering whether she should call a manager to report the crazy lady on aisle two gorging on grapes she hadn’t paid for who was giving her the evil eye. How many times have I told you that tasting grapes before you buy them to see if they are sweet is not kosher?
ME: And how many times have I told you that when grapes cost $6.00 a pound, they will not have the privilege of entering my grocery cart unless they can prove their sweetness value before I leave the grocery store—besides I only ate two (one green and one red). The grocery stores would help us all out if they simply put up signs that said: “Sweet grapes” or “Sour as Hell Grapes,” then a person would know which grapes to avoid. WAIT A MINUTE! Maybe that’s what we ought to do with all the American citizens if we want to let minorities and vulnerable people know where the safe spaces are—like we labeled the buildings during the Cold War to let our citizens know where we could take shelter when the bombs started droppng. Maybe we should all wear pins on our lapels that say “I Am My Brother’s Keeper—you’re Safe with Me,” or “Fuck You! Only White, Straight, and Christians Wanted Here—Go Back to Where You Came From.”
HIM: Oy—both those pins would have to be the size of sandwich boards with all that wording! But okay, I get it—I do. I’m concerned as well, but weren’t you one of the bloggers that said you’d pray for the new President and give him a chance?
ME: Yes, I said I’d pray for him to do the right thing. But he’s not doing the right thing. All this bad shit is happening to people caused by the rats that Trump’s rhetoric flushed out of the sewers (Alt-rightists, KKK, generic racists, xenophobes, and homophobes). In the meantime, we have a President-elect who has surrounded himself with some, at the very least, cynical actors and at the very worst, hardcore racists. All this while Trump retweets his “facts” from conspiracy websites which push fake news and foster lies as click-bate headlines. I saw an interview with Trump supporters the other day who were shown that something he had said and tweeted was a lie (“millions of votes had been cast by illegal aliens, or Trump would he would have won the popular vote”), and with the facts right in front of them, they still refused to believe that President-elect Trump had lied. Truth has now become what a person wants it to be.
Cartoon used by permission: Patrick Chappatte Le Temps Switzerland
HIM: Well, that’s just vile.
ME: Yes, it is, and if people don’t speak up, we are what Clive Irving calls, “silent complicity in that vileness.”
HIM: So what do you want me to do?
ME: Sound the alarm! (I secretly think all you White people know each other, anyway—just joking!) Tell White folks to stop being so gullible. I can almost feel them slipping into a somnolent state that things can’t possibly be as bad as the media say because Trump saved 1,000 Carrier jobs (they fail to note that he lost 2,000 Carrier jobs and gave Carrier a bribe of $7M in taxpayer money). Tell all the White people you know, and they should tell all the ones they know, and so on, to raise up armies of brotherly love. Be vigilant. If you care about the character of our country, start bombarding Trump’s website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts with demands for him to make a major prime-time speech against the racism being done in his name. When good White folks see racial, homophobic, or xenophobic incidents, they should intervene—not turn a blind eye. Film it, post it on Facebook, and shame the perpetrators—then come to the defense of your friends and neighbors being abused by letting them know that for every one person that is doing the hating, there are fifty people who won’t stand for that hatred. At the very least: tell White folks to SMILE at people who don’t look like them! It’s a human’s first signal to another that they are entering a “safe space.” Be as kind as possible to everyone you meet!
HIM: I’ll go you one better: why don’t we all (no matter what the creed, color, or race) make it a New Year’s resolution to become our brother’s keeper—no matter who we voted for. We can push back any darkness brought into existence by Trump if all good-hearted people (of which there are more of in America than haters) treat others like they wish to be treated and make a concerted effort to stand up to evil in their spheres of influence.
ME: Excellent suggestion! In the meantime, in the morning, I want you to take me to buy a gun.
ME: Since Trump’s election, gun ownership has gone up dramatically in Black communities because we are scared to death about Trump’s actions and inactions. We’ve seen this shit before—it’s called the Jim Crow Era. Next time I go into the fruits and veggies, I’m gonna be packin’ heat!
HIM: Oh, for God’s sake . . . I can see it now: Shoot out in aisle two—old Black Woman and Old White woman gun each other down in between the grapes and the kumquats because both perceived the other to be a threat. Go back to sleep, Woman. You had me at “we are our brother’s keeper,” and you lost me at “packin’ heat”!
Cartoon used by permission: Wolverton, Cagle Cartoons
ELEANOR’S “SELAH” (AHA MOMENT)
I am discovering that I am not going back to the way things were in the 50s when I could not live where I wanted, dine where I wanted, shop where I wanted, be educated where I wanted, or walk down a street without being harassed about being in the “wrong neighborhood.” Wherever I wish to live today is the right neighborhood for me.
I am sure that my gay brothers and sisters will not go back into the closet, and my Muslim and Latino friends will not return to a land where they may have been born but left to enjoy the freedom of living in America.
In case you haven’t noticed, what is happening in America is happening all over the Western world: a brand of right-wing nationalism with all its racist tentacles is popping up in every election. All righteous Americans need to fight this with every breath in our bodies or we will cease to be an exceptional nation—a shining city on a hill—we will be a footnote in the history books detailing the destruction a despotic leader can do to a country when its citizens engage in groupthink due to fake news, post truths, and cold hearts.
Cartoon used by permission: Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES REGARDING BEING “OUR BROTHER’S KEEPERS” AND OUR PRESIDENT-ELECT
“Today we know that World War II began not in 1939 or 1941 but in the 1920’s and 1930’s when those who should have known better persuaded themselves that they were not their brother’s keeper.”—Hubert H. Humphrey
“Because deceit was one of Fidel Castro’s greatest talents, and gullibility is one of the world’s greatest frailties. A genius at myth-making, Castro relied on the human thirst for myths and heroes. His lies were beautiful, and so appealing.”—Carlos Eire, an author and the T.L. Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University
Seth McFarlane Twitter Account
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