Dine with a ‘heartland’ racist?

So, I read this article:

Heartland Democrats to Washington: You’re Killing Us

In the parking lot, Goodin ran into a man wearing a well-worn cap with a well-known slogan: “Make America Great Again.” Delmis Burns, I would learn later, drives a truck for a living and has known Goodin for more than 40 years and votes for him every time he runs because Burns, despite his preference in the presidential race, is in fact a Democrat. The two men fell into easy banter, and it didn’t take long for Trump to come up. Burns is still pleased with his choice. “They give ’im hell,” he said, “and he gives it back.” At some point, Burns began talking about the time he was asked at work to train a new driver who was Muslim. He refused. “They’re taught to be nice to you,” he told Goodin, “and then they blow you up.” The comment floated uncomfortably between the two men, although maybe it was just me who felt like that — and the gregarious Burns soon was talking instead about his hat, and some guff he had gotten from somebody who wanted to “knock that off your head,” he said. “I told him, ‘Everybody’s gotta be doing somethin’ when the good Lord calls.’” That got a laugh out of Goodin, and before saying goodbye to Burns, Goodin asked about his “grandbabies.”

Here in this not even 10-minute interaction, I thought, was the nub of the Bustos report — and the challenge it presents to party leaders who will be asked to grapple with its primary recommendation that Democrats focus on economic matters and steer clear of confrontation on contentious social issues.

Well, shit. This guy is afraid of being blown up by the Muslim driver he was supposed to train, and just loves him some trump. If I sat down in a diner in his ‘heartland’, what honest message would he have for dark chocolate me?

What would he say about me when I leave the diner?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I am tired of hearing about the frickin ‘heartland’ — land of Fox true believers — and the identity politics nonsense. All politics have always been identity politics. It’s just that conservatives are in their happy place when that identity is white. Preferably vehemently Christian and Fox watching.

You know what? I could watch Fox for a thousand years, and it would cause me to recoil, and fight even harder to take political power out of their hands.

I am a New Yorker, born and bred in the city. We have our ‘heartlands’ on Long Island, and Staten Island, and upstate New York, and so many other areas where fear of the other rules the political process. Even so, my family’s basic approach to people, and NYC public schools, gave me an admirably diverse upbringing. So I am angry at the heartland people whose casual racism makes them comfortable with trump. Daily, they insist I should indict my culture — hence their continued inane bleating about ‘Chicago’. When do they take responsibility for their own communities?

I intend to do the whole letter writing thing this year, to do my part to reach out to folks around the country to help the likely Democratic leaners to register and to vote. Just like I have been for years as an expat, I’ll use https://www.votefromabroad.org/vote/home.htm

As for the Democratic Party, I think Gov. Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy is a great idea. We should support folks like this Goodin fellow if the people in his district are so blindly conservative that this is the only way to get a Democrat into office. We need the votes on key issues to undo trump and the republicans’ monstrosities.

But make no mistake — I want a reckoning for the heartland. I want a public admission that trickle down is errant reaganite nonsense. I want a clear confession that trump has always been a racist, two-bit scam artist who makes those people comfortable in their racism.

I want people like Delmis to face consequences for his blind, corrosive hatred, whether it comes to that Muslim driver trainee, or proudly chocolate me.

you could have asked me…(#black lives matter)

These lyrics came to me months ago, after an impassioned conversation with my bandmate Nick. We were talking about how incomprehensible it is to us to want to enslave, to oppress, to belittle, to bully, anybody. Never mind actually doing it.

Doesn’t mean we don’t have prejudices, fears, concerns about people who may look and act different. But he, as a white British guy and I, as an African American woman, have in common that we know that our knee-jerk reactions are just that. We talk through uncomfortable stuff sometimes because talking it through helps to get the anxiety out into the open. The unspoken end goal is to be better people. And better means being, not ‘colour-blind’, but open-minded and self-aware.

Treating people as you want to be treated – that concept informs this song. I know it’s much, much too late for the slaver and the enabler to do anything about what they did to their fellow human beings.

But if I could talk with them, I think this is at least part of what I’d say:

I saw you coming in your

big black boat
and I
started running but your gun said
So I
got on board in the
cold and wet
and I didn’t see the sun
There is only nothing

and none for all
and we
start off running as the babies
had no choice but to
try’n forget
maybe safe inside but I’m
not there yet
You could have asked me
You could have tried
There’s a moment when you could have been
You took away my freedom, not a mystery
If you, if you could have asked
When you say my story is

only mine
you say my story is
only lies
you ignore
the meaning of
history (destiny)
it’s the same for you and me
when you reach deep down

it is empty there
raise your hand to me
and you say it’s fair
and I watch your face
as you try to forget
you can’t look me in the eye
You could have asked me
You could have tried
There’s a moment when you could have been
You took away my freedom, not a mystery
If you, if you could have asked
deep in darkness
a look inside your mind
so many years have disappeared
watch them as they fly
c (repeat)
You could have asked me
You could have tried
There’s a moment when you could have been
You took away my freedom, not a mystery
If you, if you could have asked

behind the scenes

Home is not for relaxing

I don’t do much in the way of kicking back with a beer or a glass of wine. I didn’t grow up doing it, and if I’m home, I’m either completely avoiding everything and everyone by sleeping, or making things in my head that I feel pressure to actual create, or I occasionally binge watch stuff like ‘Scandal’, or ‘Downton Abbey’, or even Amazon’s new show ‘Alpha House’…

Especially as I get older, doing nothing seems like such a waste. When I’m asleep, I’m doing it because I crave a total lack of stimulation for a while, to balance all the people input I get during my regular days at work…

gotta think about changing this cycle, as I know it needs to be a bit less extreme to be really healthy.

I was talking with my colleague the other day about feeling a bit tired, and she asked what I’m doing when I’m not at work. So, I went down the list for last week:

just back from a writer’s retreat, where I caught a cold but had a great time when I was up and running

I was meant to go to another writer’s retreat hours away from Tokyo, but it was cancelled, and so I’m spending time…well, that’s the point, how am I spending the time?

1. watching tutorial videos and surfing the net to figure out a new look and feel for my artist logo, site, etc. I’m grateful for all my bandmates’ help but need something less dour and dark, ’cause I’m the merrier species of cynic. I’m almost there – have to figure out some elements like fonts, but I know what I’m going to shoot next week. Plus I have lyrics to finish and melodies to make…

2. writing and rewriting a script for a family member’s project. need to have the first draft done tonight, so there’s a deadline there.

3. thinking about NaNoWriMo world-building. I’m going to do it this year, so I’m using this week to prepare world and characters. As part of my preparation I’m listening to ‘Heroes and Legends: The Most Influential Characters of Literature by Prof. Thomas a Shippey. It’s a Great Courses course and it’s quite good. Helps me to remember the plot, rather than sinking into characters and forgetting myself. Don’t lose the plot!

4. Trying to get in the things I must do but have been avoiding such as:

studying Japanese

practicing piano

going to the gym

doing personal paperwork and general admin, organizing things at home so I’m ready for work

dealing with prepping food so I can avoid eating junk

I want to see output, getting things out of my head and into the world. Then lather, rinse, repeat.

coda: just realized that girlie stuff, nails and putting glop in my hair and whatnot isn’t even on the list. sigh. ah well. gotta fit that in too…