Cap’n Donald’s visit to Louisville on Super Tuesday wrought utter chaos inside and outside the Convention Center, not to mention the ensuing community relations wreckage from The Bad Ship My-Penis-Is-Yuge Lollipop. O city, our city, could we be more of a house divided? Inasmuch as during the Civil War legend has it Kentucky was equally Yankee and Rebel, North and South, racist oppressor and not, one might be naïve to believe we don’t still nurture a bastion of bigotry in some corners. The magnitude of the racist earthquake that was the Trump rally, I admit though, I did not predict.
Shiya is the 21-year-old at the rally whom a group of white men of various ages manhandled and at whom they spewed racial and sexist epithets, all captured on video. That lone young black woman posed such an immediate threat to rally-goers and to Trump, it seems, the rally-goers could not be satisfied until she was ejected. My speculation that she waded in and became separated from friends was wrong it turns out, as according to her own statements represented in various “news” stories, she made a strategic decision to be by herself to protest peacefully, in an attempt to not cause a ruckus.
Tactical error? Arguably, yes. Always use the buddy system, women. Was it foreseeable though, that the rally-goers would physically touch her in a violent manner while chanting at her and calling her the racist and sexist TKO combo of right jab: N-word, left hook: C-word? Moreover, would you have predicted not a single person would come to her aid or intervene?
I have always fancied myself one who would intervene should the occasion arise to scream “This Is Not Okay!” When I see footage of the civil rights beatings and hosings and dogs and lynchings and brutality and see footage of Stonewall and ancillary beatings and brutality, I want to be the one who stood up, spoke up, looked up, woke up. In the Stanford Prison experiment, I want to be the anomalous kind prison guard. In the infamous Milligram electric shock experiment to determine obedience to authority, I want to be the test subject who refuses to administer increasing volts of shock at the sound of the volunteer’s pain, not to please the person instructing me to shock the subject.
Who would have imagined I would have an opportunity today to shout repeatedly “This Is Not Okay” in Louisville, Kentucky 50 years after federal law said it isn’t legal?
“You can’t change what you can’t see” is the introductory sentence to a Tedx Talk by Fabian Dattner, who is going to Antarctica with 78 woman scientists to study climate change and gender inequality. In Homeward Bound, a project spearheaded by her company, Dattner Gant, the goal is to create a global network of 1,000 woman scientists “at the table” over the next 10 years. How apropos “You can’t change what you can’t see” is as an invitation to counter the in-plain-sight racism and sexism right under our noses all along, but uncovered so magnificently by the Trump rally.
I have lamented the discovery via social media of friends’ and acquaintances’ political preferences and viewpoints since I began using social media, due to my own proclivity to stereotype and label and judge. Yet, I believe we’ve come again to the place where choosing sides is not only justified it’s vital to maintain any semblance of decency as human beings. If you think it’s acceptable to push around a young black woman and call her the N-word and the C-word, we probably aren’t going to share many values.
During the Democratic Debate Sunday, a woman from Flint, Michigan, asked Senator Sanders: “Do you believe that God is relevant?” Senator Sanders, said immediately “Yes, I think when we talk about God … what we are talking about is what all religions hold dear and that is to do unto others as you would like them to do unto you. I am here tonight … because I believe morally and ethically we do not have a right to turn our back on children in Flint, Michigan, who are being poisoned, or veterans who are sleeping out on the street. What I believe as the grandfather of seven beautiful grandchildren is I want you to worry about my grandchildren and I promise you I will worry about your family. We are in this together.” Will you intervene? Will you stand up, speak, up look up, wake up? We are in this together.