Presidential Election 2016: Overcoming Hate, Finding Hope In Unlikely Places With My Mother and Kendrick

14 Nov

me-and-rosa-parksIt’s been five mornings of waking up to what feels like a nightmare of a reality with the new President-elect of the United States. I won’t say his name, just as I avoided the social media postings displaying his racist, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamophobic pot stirring over the course of the campaign. I didn’t want to promote his image or his message, and I didn’t want to internalize that negative energy myself. To be honest, I didn’t click Like and Share on Hillary articles either.  I admit to not being fully knowledgable of the complexity of, or the mechanics of the political machine. But I know I didn’t think Hillary was a perfect candidate either. Bright, strong and accomplished, yet also seemingly “bought” by the corporate powers that be. It was under the Clinton presidency that the era of mass incarceration of young, Black men persisted, thanks to legislation that Bill Clinton passed. It was the same era in which Hillary Clinton used the term “super predators”  to refer to young, Black men of color said to be predisposed to committing horrific violent crimes, like the wrongly accused Central Park Five. Still, I believed that she would make the better leader, and that those of us concerned, could keep an eye on her and take her to task when making or not making moves to break down systems of oppression, and other leading issues.

But, this! To have a person win who ran a campaign based on racism, bigotry and fear mongering, that pulled the veil off of fellow countrymen, women and their children, who obviously couldn’t stand having a Black President, and who continue to live in fear of the darkening of America. —Whitelash! I’m not sure if it’s a new term, but I’ve seen it used this week to explain that fear, stemming from ignorance, from hate, from worry of losing one’s footing and entitlement–entitlement based on the falsehood of having earned their place, as if their immigrant ancestors didn’t reap the benefits of their colonization of America, of stealing land from Native American people, of overseeing slaves who built this country’s economy, and literally, its’ buildings–grand structures–including Monticello, and the White House, and, as if they haven’t benefited from federally mandated housing discrimination, and, as if their European immigration status didn’t eventually afford them the opportunity to become white, and, as if they haven’t benefited from good schools, good neighborhoods, call backs for job interviews with their white-sounding names, and, as if their self-appointed patriotism makes it okay to now turn their backs on future immigrants entering this country because they might be terrorists, like perhaps your mothers or fathers thought of my Jewish ancestors who sought asylum during the rise of Hitler, and, as if they haven’t been emboldened to terrorize their own neighbors with threats of deportation, misogynistic promulgation to “grab pussy,” but not let those who have them have control over what they wish to do with them, and, as if they think building a wall, pulling at a woman’s hijab, spray painting swastikas, shooting unarmed Black men at traffic stops is their right, and, as if those of us who don’t want to accept this President-elect, should just suck it up, and not expect a Participation Trophy–yes, I keep seeing this line being used over and over again–and that we should simply live with racism, and a renewed brand of domestic terrorism we haven’t seen so openly since the Civil Rights era.

I work as an Activities Therapist at a hospital. The morning after the election, I couldn’t focus. My body felt like lead. I wanted to cry during group time. Worst of all, I had to stand beside some of my co-workers I knew voted for, and fully support the President-elect. I could not look them in the eye. I didn’t think I was a good person, better than them, but I was hurt, angered, confused as to how they could stand with someone who stirred up hate toward others they claim to love. I consider myself someone who practices grace, who avoids conflict. Though with my own journey of desiring to become more and more woke, I do not remain silent. Yet, here I was, Wednesday, without words.  At home that night and through Thursday, I scrolled through post after post on Facebook. I do not have any friends who support him, but did see co-workers’ posts filled with gloating, demeaning words, again, commanding us to “suck it up,” and in the next breath seemingly trying to prove they’re not racist. I couldn’t see through the thicket, the tsunami of hate on one side, and devastation and fear on the other–the posts of my friends who are Black, gay, Muslim, women. A glimmer of solace was the brilliance of one of my co-workers, a white woman, who spit out post after post that cemented her solidarity with her marginalized brothers and sisters, and deftly denounced the haters. I silently cheered for her, my writer comrade, my own writer’s numbness blocked me from being able to do anything myself. She helped me hold onto the vision, the fire inside of me to learn how to strategize and act. Helped me to cut through the thicket of thorns, and get moving again.

That Wednesday afternoon at the hospital while out on a group walk, I sat on a swing beside a patient. We shared about our dismay over the election, with the patient stating they teased their mother that the mother would now have to return to her country of origin. We briefly laughed a necessary laugh, and then shared a few words to prop ourselves upright, to grab for hope. In the quiet that followed, I looked up at the willowy pine tree before me, its needles a faint sea-green, spare and fragile. I saw my mother floating atop one of the branches. She’s been gone twenty-seven years now, and mostly I see her in daisies, her favorite flower, but she was there for me on Wednesday, because I needed her to be.

I asked her, “How will we go on, Mom?”

She answered, “we will go on…remember how you loved Martin Luther King, Jr. when you were a young girl, and you even told me you remembered his funeral on TV, even though you were only seven, and remember how much later on, in your forties, when you finally got to visit the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and heard Dr. King’s recorded voice boom through the chapel, you sat silently and wept? And then you went to the King museum there, and you wept too.  You stopped in front of the photo where King is looking out his window and read the text panel that spoke of his despair and how he felt he couldn’t go on…and in that moment you vowed to make him proud of you, a white woman, who would live your life and do work to help make things right for Black people in this country. Do you remember?”

I nodded.

And, then my mother, I envisioned her, her tall self, short brown pixie-cut hair, in a white robe, because my imagination as a Jewish woman is not so advanced when imagining the wardrobe of heavenly angels. My mom, a beautiful woman, but an awkward dancer, clumsily swayed back and forth on the narrow branch, snapping her fingers off-beat. She opened her mouth and sang out, “…we gon’ be alright…alright..we gon’ be alright..”

And, so shall it be. I have much work to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 Responses to “Presidential Election 2016: Overcoming Hate, Finding Hope In Unlikely Places With My Mother and Kendrick”

  1. Diana Fox November 14, 2016 at 6:24 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing your insightful and powerful and beautiful thoughts Wendy. So proud of you that you found your voice! Hugs, love, solidarity and justice!!!

    • Wendy Jane November 14, 2016 at 7:30 am #

      Thank you so much for your honesty, forthrightness, and courage always, which helps to make me stronger. Hugs, love, solidarity and justice, yes!

      Wendy

  2. Jane November 14, 2016 at 7:54 am #

    Loved that mom provided the finger snapping, awkward swaying transition to that place of OK-ness…. With more work to do… All of us have so much more work to do..

    • Wendy Jane November 14, 2016 at 8:37 am #

      Yes! Thank you so much for your support!

  3. Sarah Grossman November 14, 2016 at 9:43 am #

    Good to get it out there, unburden yourself as we non-president elect voters come together to carry on in the face of hatred and bigotry.

    And, now I know why I can’t clap along to the beat of a song. Glad you saw Mom, and that she continues to be a wise, nurturing mom.

    Love you sister!

    • Wendy Jane November 14, 2016 at 9:55 am #

      hahaha, I can’t clap along to the beat of a song, either. She does continue to be a wise, nurturing Mom. She doesn’t tell me to clean my room anymore. She even said I will find a boyfriend, and true love. 🙂 Thanks so much, Sarah. I know you are up for the good fight, and I stand with you and Jen, to keep the rights of the LGBTQ community intact. Love you back, sister! xo

  4. Sherry Gordon November 14, 2016 at 8:02 pm #

    Dear Wendy Jane,

    Hi, there, Wendy Jane, my so, so very For Always awesomely special and precious soul sisterfriend who you’re For Always so, so very much!!!!! Wow, sisterfriend I thank-you, thank-you, thank-you so, so very much for this great blessing and a gift of this very beautifully and eloquently composed with such graciousness and such lovingly sensitive and heartfelt care that very much moved me and touched me in my very, very heart, and my very, very heart, mind, soul, and spirit, Wendy Jane!!!!! Thank-YOU, sister!!!!! YOU, Wendy Jane, and your brilliantly composed with such masterful composition in the written word you very delightfully and powerfully expressed here helped your dear friend feel even better with how I haven’t been feeling so well like with my some of my teeth and I usually have chronic physical pain issues with my physical disabilities. FINALLY, they saw me at the dentist today. They think that a couple of my lower left molars need some help and more reinforcement so I was referred to endodontics for root canal therapy-UGH!!!!! That sounds scary-to see if they can do that or put crowns on the molars. They said they caught it early enough that I most likely can save those two teeth and not have them possibly pulled out which I definitely don’t want them pulled out. I have all of my 32 teeth even my wisdom teeth and I usually don’t have much trouble with my teeth, sister! They had a cancellation so that I could get in on December 7, sisterfriend! My pain is still there in the teeth but it is definitely better, my so, so very dearest and darling friend!!!!!! Thank God!!!!! Sister, as usual as always reading your absolutely fantastic blog post article and responding joyously with my very thorough, detailed, and heartfelt comments, thoughts, and ideas is such a joy, blessing, honor, and pleasure for me and such great fun, too!!!!! This beautiful, absolutely beautiful and lovely blog post article here of yours went straight to this black woman’s very, very heart, and very, very heart and spirit making my heart leap for joy as I teared up from the sheer beauty and love from this as you so love us as black persons as our absolutely fabulous right on white woman, sister, and friend being very steadfast, undaunted, and trying as usual as always in such a very diligently conscientious manner, sisterfried!!!!! Wow, what a well-written blog post article this is here as usual as always, sister!!!!! You made very many relevant points on how blacks and other persons of color are oppressed and discriminated against as survivors of racism, oppression, and discrimination like with the history of colonization, the theft of land from Native Americans, and the history of slavery against enslaved Africans in this country, along with the housing discrimination persons of color face, experience, and endure.YOU, Wendy Jane, are my and our sweet white and Jewish sister who knows oppression and discrimination also like how you wonderfully wrote about your awesome and strong Jewish ancestors who sought safety and asylum in the United States from that vile Hitler and the Nazis in Germany and other parts of Europe. We as Jewish persons and black persons have so, so very much in common like with how Jewish people were enslaved, too, in ancient times, and with how wondrously wonderful Jewish people are oppressed, too, and discriminated against, sister!!!!! There were very many magnificent Jewish people who fought very hard for us as blacks in the Civil Rights Movement and at other times as well, sisterfriend!!!!! YOU, Wendy Jane, are my and our absolutely awesome Jewish and white sisterfriend!!!!! Wow!!!!! Yay!!!!!! Yay for YOU, Wendy Jane!!!!!! Yay for our sisterhood and friendship, Wendy Jane!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!! YOU are our so so very courageous ally as you have the grace to avoid conflict with some of your co-workers who supported that evil man. It takes much grace and restraint to not get outwardly angry and upset with folks like that, sister!!!!!! YOU are amazing, Wendy Jane!!!!! I, too, am very heartened and encouraged by one of your other co-workers with her brilliance in being another right on white woman as an ally posted as an ally and in the great spirit of solidarity, sisters!!!!! You two are just the very greatest and the best, sisters!!!!! I just so, so very much love,enjoy, and appreciate the very fine moment with the in-patient from the group you were working with and that great moment of sharing and of meaning, my so, so very dearest and darling friend!!!!! Your beautiful, absolutely beautiful moment with your dear late Mom envisioning her was just splendid and glorious here!!!!! What a great Mom and a very special woman she continues to be in our Heaven and she came to you, sister!!!!! Wow!!!!! Yay!!!!! I just love how she helped you to remember all of the great times throughout your life so wanting to be an ally to blacks like how you long to do so in seeing the news about the Rev, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral and how deeply you felt then as a very little girl, and with how you felt as an adult visiting his old church and hearing his resonant voice on the recording. Sister, how you wept at those times and at other times in your great love and concern for us just goes straight to this black woman’s very heart!!!!! YOU, sister, have done your very dear and special MOM, and our Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proud, Wendy Jane!!!!! Wow!!!!! Yay!!!!!I so love the lovely image of your great and awesome Mom dancing while snapping her fingers with such so, so very cool full of such spirit from Spirit words here, “We gon’ be alright…alright…we gon’ be alright.” Now I feel even better, brighter, and with more cheer from dear, dear precious MOM, and from YOU, too, sisterfriend, from this very uplifting and inspiring blog post article as I am encouraged and emboldened to keep on keeping on with my very positive optimism as the eternal optimist who I am keeping my very faith and hope alive!!!!! Sister, it is wondrously wonderful white women like YOU, Wendy Jane, and your absolutely awesome Mom, and other marvelous white persons who just keep me keeping on, Wendy Jane!!!!! Wow!!!!! Yay!!!!!!!

    Sister, please have a marvelous and a mighty fine Monday evening, and may all of your days be so, so very especially blessed!!!!! I just can’t wait, and am bursting with such very delightfully eager anticipation to do all of my other responses to this amazing blog post article as soon as I am able!!!!! Wow!!!!! Yay!!!!!! YOU, Wendy Jane, are my and our joy and blessing, sister and friend of mine!!!!! Wow!!!!! Yay!!!!!! Thank-you so!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my so, so very For Always absolutely fabulous soul sisterfriend who you’re For Always so, so very much, Wendy Jane, with Such Peace and Love To You For Always, my sister, and with Such Very Blessings and Such Very More Blessings To You For Always, my friend,

    Yours For Always soul sisterfriend black woman and For Always in the very great spirit and solidarity, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa

    • Wendy Jane November 14, 2016 at 11:02 pm #

      Hi Sherry,

      I was thinking about you and your dentist appointment today. I’m so glad you finally got in there, and that they figured out what they need to do. I know it sounds scary, but they’ll take care of it and then you’ll be out of your misery with your teeth, and that’s good that you get to keep all 32. Thank you so much for your kind, kind words here. You always lift me up, just like my Mom, and Dr. King.

      Love,
      Wendy Jane

  5. Ellen Taylor November 14, 2016 at 9:05 pm #

    God, Wendy, I’m moved to tears. You had me with the “as if’s” and it just got better from there, building to a crescendo like in a great piece of music. You articulated things I hadn’t even thought of in the context of the election, about immigrants especially. And your vision of your mother, and her offbeat dancing … well, that’s when the tears came. Beautiful, just beautiful. I miss you. Let’s get together sometime.

    • Wendy Jane November 14, 2016 at 10:57 pm #

      Ellen,

      Thank you so much for sharing with me how the post moved you. I miss you, too. Yes, please, we need to get together.

      xo
      Wendy

  6. Miriam November 15, 2016 at 7:15 am #

    Very moving Wendy…thank you for sharing!

    • Wendy Jane November 15, 2016 at 5:05 pm #

      thank you, Miriam! thank you for reading.

      xo
      Wendy

  7. Anisa November 17, 2016 at 7:31 am #

    Thank Wendy for verbalizing so eloquently and honestly your feelings and realities pre and post-election. Your words resonate and remind me the work that lies ahead of us. Some seem to have a clearer path while some of us (me) are still fumbling with our sense of direction. Thank you for guiding /walking with me along the way. And the memories of your mom brought tears to my eyes. I wish I could have met her but thank you for giving us a glimpse of how special she was and still is.

    • Wendy Jane November 17, 2016 at 8:40 am #

      Thank you, Anisa..I think we are all fumbling and will find the place that feels right for us..thanks so much for your kind wieds. My mother would have loved you..and be so happy that I have a wonderful circle of women friends.

      xoxo
      We dy

  8. Ken Harge November 17, 2016 at 11:53 pm #

    Great job Wendy! Your voice is so necessary.

    • Wendy Jane November 18, 2016 at 8:35 pm #

      Thank you, Ken! I appreciate your support very much!

      Wendy

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  1. 2016: The Year In Review. 2017: You Have To Do Better | Wendy Jane's Soul Shake - December 31, 2016

    […] and what that will mean for Black people, women, and the Muslim, immigrant, LGBTQ communities. I channeled the memory of my mother, and she channeled Kendrick Lamar to let me know, with resistance, fighting the wrong, and love, we gonna be […]

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