It’s 10:43 PM where I am and I should be going to sleep. My oldest goes to an Adaptive Dance Class with the Boston Ballet at 8 AM which means getting up at 6. It’s his favorite thing in the world to do and he’s been counting down the hours since the end of last season. In May. So, really, it means waking up at 4:38 and telling him, “it’s not time to leave yet, go back to bed.” I’ve done this enough times with him that we have our routine pretty much down. Pick a stuffed animal friend to go with you. Quick Dunkin run so Mommy and Daddy can stay awake to watch you jump and spin. Drive the 45 minutes and be ready to hug.
Stories like this warm my heart. There will be pictures and laughter and a ton of catching up. The folks on Facebook will be happy with me. Many of them are not because “there’s too much bad news.” I get it. The news is awful, the world is scary, and we all desperately need a place to hide from it all. Trust me, I understand. And, I don’t begrudge anyone for it in any way because self care is important. In fact, I encourage it. I take the occasional Facebook hiatus because I need it all to stop, too.
Here’s the thing. Some of you have the privilege of escape, and trust me, that is a privilege. You can turn off the news, scroll past the story, and pretend that everything is fine because there’s nothing in your immediate proximity to prove otherwise. What you look like, what you believe (or don’t believe), who you love, or how you identify is not outside of what society considers “default”. You’re “normal” so you can exist without fear of what might be lurking around the corner. It’s not paranoia if they’re coming to get you and a cursory search of the latest news will show you that “they” are out to get those that aren’t what’s considered normal (straight, white, christian, cisgender, male, etc).
And, I’m not saying that anyone should feel guilty for being “default”. My husband is default. Like 6 foot fall white man with blonde hair and blue eyes default. But, he has a black wife and is the father of black kids. That has been known in our lived experience to cause issues for him that he wouldn’t have had if he were married to someone that had dark blonde hair and blue eyes like he does. But, that’s really not the point. He can go unnoticed if he so chooses and that’s fine. That’s not something to feel guilty about, only to recognize.
That said, while reading the stories people tell about experiences with bigotry might be difficult for you, talking about those things is vital and necessary for others. This country is a scary place to be for a lot of people. It’s racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, and xenophobic just to name a few. Those in marginalized communities need to be able to talk about they’re experiences and asking them not to because it stresses you out is…well…kinda awful.
Yes, we need more positivity. We need more encouragement. We need more sunshine and roses. But, we need justice. We need people to stand up in the face of bigotry. We need love and friendship and community. We need those things to be real. Not just to hide in the sand for the sake of the people who don’t have to deal with it anyway.
We need umbrellas for the rain.
Because, yes, it’s hard to read about all the awful and the hurt and the chaos in the country today. But, it’s a million times harder to live it.