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From the Far Margins

Wake

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Time to wake from your slumber liberal America. Time to brush your teeth or rise crooked-haired from your beds. Reality is calling us. What every day was reality for millions is our reality now. Powerlessness. Real powerlessness.

We do not walk the halls of the White House. Congress, which we once held onto by our fingernails, is all but lost. It still looks nothing like us. State legislatures have fallen. Lofty buildings in pretty cities, which might have produced some recourse for those facing police brutality and despair—those facing addiction, some veneer of protection for gay and transgender people, some level of security for the poor, some promise of education that transcends babysitting or warehousing—they fell, too.

Now we are at the mercy of the ones who would set America loose to fend for itself. America has swallowed the message of blame. The families spread across vast millions of acres of farmlands and small towns believe that funding services for the poor is what ate their pensions and broke their farms and businesses. They deny it was the ghostly owners of industry and Wall Street who swallowed the prosperity they hoped for—the American dream they fought for, that their sons and daughters died in the deserts for, the one they were promised for their hard work and patriotism.

We are them. We are the farmer and the hardware store owner, the waitress and the college student, scared by the future under any president.

To those who had hope sexism could fade into the lawns of the White House, fall from the trees like leaves on warm wind, I'm sorry. It is like the Dream of Martin Luther Jr.: the harder we work to attain it and the closer it seems, the harder the voices of the past scream.

America is not giving up racism and sexism easily. It is true of any species that generosity evaporates when food is scarce. For too many in America, food feels scarce. We have not adjusted to the world that is real for billions across this planet we share. We still live like it's the '90s and we can just borrow to buy the new car and make minimum payments until things look up again. We are hell bent on sending our kids to college, even if it means shackling them to a life of soul killing work just to pay into loans they will never pay off. We want them not just to dream, but realize the dream and attain the options and choices that come with knowledge. We want them to have the access others have to the path that leads to gilded cities and a life with vacations, leisure and new clothes or a car. But they won't.

Most of us will die in debt. The bills that insurance and drug companies will leave us to pay will bankrupt our families. There will be nothing left to pass on as long as we hold to this model of letting corporations profit off of illness and insurance companies waste our wages pushing paper. Nothing.

It doesn't have to be this way. We didn't have to give up American manufacturing, pensions and increases in the minimum wage so vast segments of our economy could be dedicated to turning the sweat represented by our consumer dollars into a rain of wealth for CEOs and powerful shareholders. Maybe today we will wake and realize we let this happen. Our hope kept us sleeping when we should have been running for office, organizing strategic boycotts and strikes, refusing to pay our student loans, marching in the streets, getting the compassionate wealthy on our side, taking over shareholder meetings or camping with the Occupy Movement in the cold. This is the death of hope and the birth of work.

It will not be easy to build bridges into the farmland; to get ranchers and gun shop owners to see that Trump is not the answer, that racism and the forced exit of 2 million workers and consumers is not the answer; that the revival of a "Christianity" that is bent on white racial domination and forcing gay and trans people back in the closet is not the answer.

It will not be easy to convince the neighbor across the street, much less our parents and families, to let go of hate and blame and realize we have more in common than we have to divide us. We can't let a vote divide us. We can't let the fiction of political parties divide us. We can't let race divide us. That is the brilliance of Trump—divide those who should hate him for squandering America's decency and future. Divide women and men. Divide those who will pay for his tax breaks. Make them fight with each other, hate each other, black and white, Muslim and Christian, refugee and Latino businesswoman, undocumented immigrant and college student. Make us all fight so we don't notice where the money goes, who grows more powerful and who grows more poor, whose debts grow and whose houses get bigger and bigger.

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