A long time ago, way before Obama was even a twinkle in our eye, I wrote a book about the wound of slavery. I did not know then that I, as a white writer, could not create black characters. I did not know that I, as a writer, could say some things and not others. I was really an innocent, had the fire and the energy and was fearless. I am not so fearless today, and yet, things are so much worse now than they were when I wrote "Some Feet Not Meant for Shoes." I could not imagine then how much worse things could actually be.
Yesterday I emailed my publisher and said that Trump was only a symptom. How did it happen that we have come to ignore the symptoms. Were we sick with a cold we would go to bed. Were we feverish, we'd take some drugs. But what have we done to prepare ourselves for the hate that has broken our families, our friendships, our country. Making America great again when it was never great for so many is a joke, really, a meme.
I can shrug my shoulders and say that it rarely affects me, this hate. I stay in a loving, open place most of the time and do not leave my bubble. But it does affect me when I see kids at the border battered and crying and alone, separated perhaps forever from their families because their parents simply wanted a better life. And it does affect me when politicians start name-calling each other because some stand up against hate and rage and violence and discrimination. Criticizing your country is quite American. But hate, that is not so much.
I left America proper once, went to live on a Caribbean island because I could not stand the hate. But soon I learned that it is everywhere. The real estate agent I hired took me to white enclaves on St. Thomas, and told me where I should live, where I would be safe from the locals. You will be burglarized, bothered a lot, possibly raped, she said. Of course she was fired, but like Trump, she was only a symptom.
I would like to be fearless again, and stand up to this hate. But I lost friends because of my book. I made enemies because of it. Holding the white man accountable for the sins of his ancestors did not sit well with many. But if Nina Simone were alive today, she might write a song about the four woman Trump is attacking. They are brilliant stars in this new galaxy that we are forging. Rather than vile, or un-American, their truth is honest and energetic and enlightening. They are the clear sky over our heads that gives us so much room to grow, so much open space yet to explore, the twinkling, youthful remedy, if you will. Unrealistic, extreme, far to the left and not always likable, they are not concerned with making friends. Yet ideas need not be popular to be effective. Pushing things every which way, these four women are standing up to hate, just the way that I want to do.