How to Avoid Politics (You Can’t)

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Everything is political.

Because everything is touched by the power that either enables its freedom or forges its oppression.

Even my love for my children does not and cannot exist beyond politics. You might think of it as a simple love. Easy and universal. Separate from the politics of the day in America. What does such a love have to do with the electoral college or the violence beyond (and within) this nation’s borders?

Why should the business of the president-elect enter my home at bedtime? What has any of that to do with a set of Christmas jammies that delight my youngest children? Aside from the fact that they were likely sewn in an overseas sweatshop, because everything is always already politcal.

Everything connects to politics.

This realization has always been an easy leap for people who are oppressed. But those who barely think about politics or who find them gauche and discomfiting to mention on Facebook or at family dinners are really just insulated by luxury. The greatest luxury of all may be the luxury to avoid real politics. (And the pres-elect and company are blessed with such a pleasure. They revel in the freedom their power bestows and have little need to consider the oppression on its nether end.)

Ethics are merely the consideration of the impact of your power upon another.

Our incoming administration has little interest in such a dynamic. The little guy is irrelevant–and so are the gays, girls, blacks, Muslims, Jews and everyone else without any real political power. Like children without a statistical likelihood of ending up in the ivy league or in the one percent. Kids like mine.

In fact, most of us belong to a demographic lacking real power, but if we’re not incensed about that, it’s because we exist within a fog. The windows before us glazed, at this time of year, with “The Christmas Spirit,” or by a belief in “The American Dream,” or in other forms of religion, and ideological beliefs around race and gender and sexuality and bodies that seek to placate us. To put forward this idea above all: That All is Right With the World.

And our love could almost talk us into it. Except for the fact that:

Nothing has ever been right with the world.

Never. Not once. There have always been vulnerable, targeted groups who ended up starving for food, or that other nourishment, opportunity. We have never been a nation who gave opportunity to folks willingly. Not without a fight.

There is a certain type of white person who hate for me to make mention of the facts of oppression. To use my fist to rub a clear view on the glazed window.

Our nation has always obsessed over power. But the ambition to acquire it has always occurred in tandem with the taking-of-it-away from others.

I have long known that societies encourage women to marry and have children because this act makes women vulnerable. It takes them out of circulation and competition.

Because love makes us vulnerable. We will do what we need to do to maintain that love, the love embodied in our families. We will stop talking about politics if it means that children will hear what we don’t want them to hear. We don’t announce to children their vulnerabilties. We pretend they don’t have them. We have routinely advised our children to finish their plates with the logic of starving children in Africa. We have not shared that it’s more so because we have no known ways of sharing food with the kids down the street. Or the kids round the bend, and across the tracks.

On this kind of day my love for my children seems the most rational of any of my available acts. Comfort them. Kiss them. Dress them in LOL p-jams and promise them fun days ahead.

But such an act is also what makes me most vulnerable. Because I must confront what I would do to keep them safe.

That is, what would I do to empower them? My country suggests that I must keep them quiet. Complacent. Help them play along. Go by the rules.

But any cursory study of history tells me that instead I must give them a clear view of politics. And power. I will have to let them know (more than they know already simply from being alive) that their very government will seize their power. Their opportunity. Possibly their lives if white nationalism has its way.

Their government would make them work harder. And better. For less. And still less.

Look at the photo of my children again. Pretend they are your children. Or, if that doesn’t work, pretend they are you as a child.

Therefore, this cannot be a simple photo, shared for a brief “like” and the smile that attends it.

These children are my Love. A love ensnared by politics. Love caught by the forces that enable its freedom or enforce its oppression.

If you are here, I insist that you do everything you can to enable freedom. Theirs, and–that of every single other child or loved one too.

That will require you to constantly mention politics.

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2 Comments:

  1. Fabiola Rodriguez says:

    I agree with your point of view. I’ve tried to live pretending to avoid politics, but it touches our lives on so many levels I’ve come to accept it’s impossible to forget about it. But what’s really hard is to stay true to your convictions in spite of the politics.

  2. nicole says:

    This was a much needed blog! I like the question …what would I do to protect them? Your answer …. “give them a clear view if politics “was excellent.


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