Inconvenience Bigotry


So. The popular vote elected our first woman president, but the electoral college will hand it to a racist orange malignant narcissist and his super-evil twopence piece who will, God help us, probably be doing the actual governing. Hatred has reaped a rich harvest. I am hoping its sowing methods are not sustainable and the ground will be exhausted ere long. Optimistic, maybe, but I have to believe that or I’ll go even madder than I already am.

In light of this, I have two things to say. (I have more, but two will suffice today.) The first is simply this:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Fred Rogers

I would add, when scary things are happening, be one of the helpers. If that means you practice self-care so you can be strong for others, great. If it means protesting, fine. If it means hugging everyone you love and committing afresh to daily kindness and decency, okay. You know best how to help in your own circumstances and life.

The second thing I have to say is for my fellow white people. Yes, I am talking to you. Sit up, pay attention. This is on us.

Do not be polite to bigotry anymore.

I’m hearing a lot of “come together” rhetoric right now. I’m hearing a lot of “part of my family is racist but I still have to see them at Thanksgiving.” Here’s the thing: you don’t have to lend yourself to hatred. You really don’t.

Racists often talk about how they’re “ostracized” for their “beliefs.” You know what? Good. Racism is ugly. Hatred is ugly, and it is not worth a whit of social acceptance.

When your elderly Fox-News-swallowing neighbor starts in with the coded dog whistles, walk away. When your family members make “Killary” jokes, make your disgust plain and walk away. When that guy on the bus is yelling at a PoC to “go back to where you came from” or “sit at the back of the bus”, say something. You don’t have to engage the asshole directly, but sitting next to the target of harassment and striking up a conversation about the weather, using your body language to shut the harasser out, can work wonders.[1] Let your face show how disgusted you are with that asshole. Make it clear their behaviour is absolutely repugnant.

One of my favourite things to say to assholes like that is simply, “Stop that. You know better.” Because they do.

Look, everyone is saying “the polling mechanisms are broken!” No, they’re not. What happened is simple: People know racism and hatred and Donald Trump are repugnant. They know. Having to say you support Trump while talking to a pollster is repellant. You could not believe yourself a good person and do that, and most people want to believe they’re good. (I could go on a rant about most people stopping at four on Kohlberg’s stages of moral development here, but I won’t.) In the voting booth, nobody is watching, and you can be as much of a shitheel bigot as you want to be.

Which is fine. I’m okay with the voting booth letting people show the aggregate ass-end of white supremacy. It’s not like anybody didn’t already know, and the right to vote cuts both ways. But out here in other spaces, we have the absolute right to be disgusted, and to show our disgust.

Let’s make racism so socially unacceptable that even their “polite” dogwhistles and little euphemisms are repellant. Let us make it clear how fucking loathsome bigotry and hatred are.

Now, I can hear some of the bigots whining already. That will make us a minority! You can’t pick on minorities! Nice strawman, try again. I am not advocating violence, simply clear disgust. I’m saying it needs to become the norm to treat bigotry, hatred, and harassment with the contempt it deserves in every social space. When it becomes an inconvenience and a moral and social cost to be a Turmpist “alt-right” asshole, less people will do it.

Why am I saying this directly to my fellow white people? Deploying our privilege to show everyone that this shit is not okay is on us. Getting up and pointedly leaving the room your racist Uncle Bill holds forth about building a wall and making Mexico pay for it is the least you can do for humanity. Using your privilege to shield the target of harassment on a bus or the street or in the workplace is a righteous act.

Maybe it’s just because I’m forty and I have little to no patience for bullshit. Maybe it’s because the field in which I grow my fucks is barren now, or maybe it’s because I have kids and I want the world I leave them to be a little better than I found it, or at least a little less hateful. Maybe it’s because I’m goddamn tired of people nodding and smiling and smoothing things over when some crepe-necked white man assaults everyone around who doesn’t look like him. Maybe it’s because I’m a fucking human being. I don’t care.

Do not give people a pass when they spout bigoted bullshit. Let them find out that hate is lonely and ugly. Let that truth inconvenience them. A very wise friend of mine is of the opinion that Americans don’t make a move until their convenience is threatened, and I think she’s right.

So let’s inconvenience the fuck out of bigotry, my friends. Because we know better.

[1] I can already hear a bunch of people saying, “But what if it’s unsafe?” Well, you’re the judge of that in the situation, fine. Do as your conscience and safety dictate.