Silence creates monsters. I didn’t realize that until recently. But our silence is deadly. It’s time to speak up.
The weekend before the most devastating election in the history of America, my husband and I went to see The Weight at The Kessler in Oak Cliff, a neighborhood just south of Dallas. Oak Cliff is, in my opinion, one of the only parts of Dallas worth visiting. Even these days, now that it’s trendy and hip and cool (which means it is so crowded), it still has everything you need without having to go far: a strong community, gorgeous old homes, walkable neighborhoods, Dallas’ best music venue, good eclectic restaurants, great coffee shops, yoga studios, art galleries, florists, bookstores, you name it.
While at The Kessler, we sat down next to an older couple who recently moved to Kessler Park, a community in Oak Cliff, from Houston, to be closer to their daughter and grandson. We’re having a nice conversation about Houston and Dallas, how lucky they are to be living in Kessler Park, and how much they loved the music of The Band (some of whose members now make up The Weight). And then, out of nowhere, the woman says how she likes living in the neighborhood, except for all the blacks.
And she keeps talking, and I sit there, dazed, not totally sure what just happened, staring at her mouth moving, no longer listening to the words coming out of her mouth. I didn’t know what to do, so we got up, and moved to the other part of the venue.
We bolted, because I was too confused and stunned to say anything. I couldn’t believe she thought those words were appropriate, and that I would be on her side: that it was OK to say those words to me. So we left.
Here’s what I should have done: I should have responded, verbally. I should have told her that her words were racist, that all people are equal, that the color of our skin does not matter, and how the diversity of Oak Cliff is what makes it such an incredible place to live. How the African American community IS Oak Cliff. She’s the outsider. How she should feel bad for thinking people of another race are different, or bad, or lesser than her.
But I didn’t. I froze. And then left, without saying a word.
And that is what feeds hatred. That is what feeds ignorance. Silence is not golden. Silence is deadly.
And that is what we have now, with Donald Trump. Because I didn’t speak up. Because I thought there’s no damn way he could become President. I’ve helped to create this monster. And I’m so pissed off at myself.
It is not OK to think someone of a different race is lesser than you. We are all created equal. All of us. We are all the same. Listen to me when I say that I know racism. I don’t know it like a black woman would, but I know it, growing up in a mixed race house in Dallas in the 1980s, I promise you I know it. And it’s awful. Excluding someone or making fun of someone who is of the opposite race is never acceptable.
It is absolutely not OK to make fun of someone with a disability. Absolutely. 100%. Shame on you for poking fun. This is not appropriate behavior, ever. It’s not OK for a kid to do it, and a lot of times, little, little kids don’t know better. It is never, ever, ever OK for a 70 year old man to do that. And now that 70 year old man might just be our President. I’m beyond disgusted, appalled, pissed off. I cannot believe someone would even have to say, hey, old man, hey, wannabe President, hey, multibillionaire, hey, businessman; it’s not cool to make fun of those with disabilities. How is this even a topic? How did we ever put any trust in this person? HOW DID THIS PERSON “WIN” THE ELECTION?
It is not OK to think this is OUR country and THEY don’t belong. Hello, we’re all immigrants. All of us. If anyone deserves this land, it’s the Native Americans, and you know what, they are immigrants too. My family came here from Ireland, Germany and Korea. My family doesn’t belong here just as much as the people who come from Mexico, from Bolivia, from Iraq, from Syria. We’re all immigrants. I don’t get a chance to lay my roots here any more than they do. And Mexico? Have you been? It’s gorgeous. Our border is GORGEOUS. Do not put up a wall on our border. Do not destroy that land.
It is not OK to treat someone of a different religion as lesser than you. Muslims are wonderful people. Christians are too. And Jews. And Buddhists. And Atheists. We all deserve the chance to be treated with love and respect. No one deserves violence, or mistrust, no one. We’re all the same. All of our Gods are the same God. All of them. We’re all equal. There’s more similarities in every religion than there are differences. Let’s focus on that. We’re all love. We all deserve respect.
It is not OK, not ever, to say that you can grab a woman by her pussy, that you can walk into dressing rooms and do whatever you want. That is rape culture, and it is completely uncalled for.
It is not OK to say that women who have abortions should be punished. Listen to me, and listen good. Unless you are a woman, unless you understand everything women have to go through in life, you have absolutely no right to say what a woman should and should not do to their bodies. None whatsoever. Let’s pretend Ivanka gets raped. Let’s just pretend. And then let’s pretend that she’s not on birth control because she agrees with all these crazy right wing Tea Party people Donald is trying to appoint that birth control is bad. And then let’s pretend that she gets pregnant. By the man who raped her. By the man who was told he could do anything, he could grab any woman by their pussy, he could break into dressing rooms and do anything he wanted. That man, the man who listened to Donald Trump his whole life, he rapes her. Because it’s OK, right? In Donald’s world, it’s OK. And he’ll get away with it, just like Donald. And she gets pregnant. And you mean to tell me you’re going to PUNISH her for ending the pregnancy? Here’s what I say: Fuck You, Donald.
It is not OK to say that climate change is a hoax. That the companies who pollute our groundwater, our air, our communities, are not doing lasting damage. Pollution is hurting our world, there’s no use in even fighting this. The oil companies are ruining it. The love of money is ruining it. Let’s start putting people first. This beautiful land first. Greed should be demolished.
It is not OK to stay silent.
To the woman at The Kessler listening to The Weight who said she’d prefer that all the blacks leave Oak Cliff: you are wrong. You are racist. You are horrible for saying that. I am ashamed that you thought I would AGREE with you, that it was OK to say those words to me. It’s not OK. That mentality is not tolerated. Never. You should be ashamed of yourself. WE ARE ALL THE SAME. I will never, ever in the rest of my life, allow words such as those to be spoken to me without speaking up in return. Silence breeds racism.
So here’s what to do: speak up. If you see ignorance, speak up. If you see hatred, speak up. If you see violence towards women, speak up. If you see racism, speak up. It’s our job now to create the world in which we want to live in. No one can do that for us. Don’t allow ignorance to breed. We have to make this country better.
And now, I’m trying to calm down. It’s so hard for me to be calm right now. I am so, so angry at America. But, I go into the school I teach yoga at, and I see love. I see kids of all races, of all religions, of all backgrounds, working together and laughing and goofing off. And I see, our world is changing. The hatred will leave. This will be the last time in my life that I have to see someone like Trump “win” the election.
Ignorance is what causes hatred. And the more we’re around those who are different from us, the better we’ll become. The more tolerant, the more loving, the more empathic our society will be. Trump will fuel that. He’ll cause us all to be shocked and pissed and upset, and he’ll bring all these topics to the forefront. If anything good comes out of this potential Presidency, it’s that our communities will grow stronger, we’ll have more creativity and more love and people will begin talking about the things that are unacceptable. More people will vote, more people will stand up for love. That MUST happen. That is our future. Let’s make it strong, together.
The week before Thanksgiving in Texas is still warm, so I’m still making smoothies every day. I love smoothies. This one is based on the Green Smoothie at my favorite restaurant in Fort Worth, Qana Cafe. They use the freshest ingredients and everything is prepared by scratch, to order. Nothing is rushed, nothing is processed, nothing is from a box. That place is the real deal. There’s no better restaurant here, and there’s no better people to run it.