The world is on fire, or at least that’s how it feels right now I was born in the mid-seventies. The Vietnam War ended a few months prior. By the time I was in grade school Reagan was president, the cold war was coming to an end and my reference to the whole thing was Rocky IV. I had some understanding of the Berlin Wall that was based on an episode of “Benson” and an episode of “Head of the Class”. By my 14th birthday the wall had fallen. All I knew about the Middle East are have vague memories of planes being hijacked by Iran. if I recall correctly, but for the most part things were fine.
My aunt would tell me about the bomb drills they used to do in 50s, as if hiding under their desks was going to protect them from an atomic bomb. I saw movies, TV shows, and eventually learned about Jim Crow laws, separate water fountains, and bussing. We lived in Massachusetts so it was a part of our past good or bad.Growing up I couldn’t imagine that people of color were ever treated that way, never mind in my father’s lifetime. It was all so bizarre. I was friends with everyone. I had classes with everyone. I had cousins of mixed races. I watched the Cosby show on TV (who knew where that would go). Everyone wanted to be Michael Jackson. I don’t remember a lot of race trouble at all.
Being from the mid-late 70s I was also raised on the record/movie “Free to be You and Me” by Marlo Thomas. speaking of Michael Jackson. He had a clip in the movie himself. pre Thriller. This was all about not judging anyone by their sex and letting people just be whatever they wanted to be. Again I knew that women used to not be able to vote. I knew that the 70s had bra burnings and feminism and all these crazy thing, but when I was a kid no one cared if you were a boy or a girl, you better be studying your math homework. When asked what we wanted to be when we grow up no one ever said that we couldn’t. I came from a time of empowerment for everyone. Well gays still had a way to go, but by the time I graduated from high school in the early 90s no one cared about that anymore either. at least not in Boston.
Then right before the turn of the century. Right before “The Year 2000”, when everything was supposed to be wonderful and futuristic, Columbine happened. I remember sitting in my car and hearing about it on the radio. I remember buying a newspaper. yes, they did exist. and reading about the horrifying events and how they unfolded. This was the beginning of the end of my innocence. Two and a half years later September 11th happened and our country was no longer safe.
This is when race started to become a factor again. I don’t mean just the occasional asshole in the after school special, but real racism. People of a certain look were starting to be hated. They were starting to be attacked just walking down the street. It wasn’t even a certain religion at that point. Anyone who looked like they could be from that middle region at all were the enemy. I remember “Harold and Kumar” made a movie about it. Kumar, who is Indian, is automatically assumed to be an Arab and a terrorist. It was done in a comedic way, but it was still a powerful statement.
From there things have just continued to get worse and worse. I’m pretty sure a big reason for this is the internet. Suddenly everything that happened everywhere was on everyone’s screen. Instead of it being a local story about one bad thing happening to one person it was look at how this happens all the time to everyone. Instead of kids being bullied on the bus, they were now having bullies push their way into their homes through electronics. Instead of the local news only talking about big stories that really mattered, suddenly news was 24 hours a day and needed to be more and more sensational to get the attention of the millions of viewers.When a child shot up a school their picture and name were posted everywhere. This created a perfect avenue for those mentally unstable individuals to claim their 15 mins of fame. When a man raped a woman, it wasn’t just that the man was a dirtbag. it was that ALL men are dirtbags. One story would link to other stories with similar scenarios. Now instead of a half a dozen losers in the whole country, it was, “look at all these guys everywhere. All men are rapists. Instead of a couple of racists assholes who caused problems. and to be honest I don’t care which race, religion, or creed it is there is an example of all of them. And because they all link together it’s suddenly happening everwhere
.I first noticed this when I became a mom and everyone was bashing other moms for feeding their kids grapes, leaving them in the car seat to nap, running into the gas station to pay for the pump while leaving a sleeping kid in a comfortable car. suddenly there were stories being forwarded to all the moms with horrible outcomes. Moms were no longer allowed to pee, or shower, or sleep. If they did they mine as well just give their children to kidnappers who want to either sell them to the sex slave industry or murder them. They mine as well suffocate them themselves, because children die all the time by being left in their pack n play while the mom pees by herself. Here are 10 links to similar stories to prove I’m right and you should have DCF called on you.
We had a black president elected into office twice. A lot of the people who voted for him were white. They did not vote for him despite he was black. They didn’t vote for him because he was black. They voted for him because he was a person whose policies they agreed with. After he was elected the country was suddenly racist. I’m not really sure how it happened. except that the people on the right didn’t like him. So therefore they were racist. Anytime he was criticized it wasn’t because they were being stupid or petty. It wasn’t because they didn’t like his policy. It was because they were racist.
The right tried to impeach Clinton. They dragged him and his sex life through the mud. They attacked his daughter, they trotted out victim after victim of his sexual advances. They made fun of him. They made his life Hell. not because they were racist. He was white. But because they were assholes. Once Obama was in office no one was allowed to just be an asshole anymore. They HAD to be racist. It was the only explanation.
We now have to have laws to make people serve some potential clients no matter their religion, while letting other vendors refuse based on their principals. We have religions we’re never supposed to talk bad about, while other’s we’re supposed to blame. We have races that are always the victims and another that is always the villain. And don’t even get me started on the battle of the sexes. and if they even exist.
I grew up in a time when we were taught to not think about what makes us different, and I’m raising my son in a time when he is being taught that because he’s a while, Christian male he’s basically the devil responsible for the oppression of millions even though he still can’t cut his own PB&J sandwich. I thought it crazy my dad had to hide under his desk and my son is being taught ALICE (active shooter) training.
My son is only in 1st grade and he missed half a year of school because of a global pandemic, and now the world is literally on fire. What is he going to learn from all of this? What do I tell him when he asks why he’s so bad because of the body he was born into, because he was so privileged to be raised by a single mom after he lost his father to the opioid epidemic? What do I tell my little boy when the world tells him how wrong he is? I tell him the only thing that I can. The same thing that I told him when his father died. It’s not his fault. Everyone makes their own choices in their own life and I’m going to teach him to make the right ones. To not judge. To not blame. To love everyone equally.