Trump’s rise is America’s downfall

In less than a week since his unsightly inauguration, President Dipshit has already caused a stir; he’s really whipped out his balls by issuing all kinds of executive actions, ranging from “extreme vetting” of refugees, a threat to eventually pull Visa Waiver Entry from countries that are currently on friendly terms with the U.S. (that includes Australia… boy, can’t wait for this crap to begin and for these countries to retaliate and make my travel life hell), the revival of the anti-Native American Dakota Access pipeline (and the Keystone XL pipeline); he’s announced that the U.S.-Mexico border wall is the real deal, and that Mexico WILL be paying for it (just… you know, us taxpayers will pay for it first to then get reimbursed later); the “Mexico City Policy” will be reinstated to ban federal funds to international groups that perform abortions or lobby to legalize abortion. I can’t even go through the entire list. My blood pressure has already gone up listing just these!
And because his ego is so easily and quickly damaged, he had his idiot press secretary hold a press conference insisting that his inauguration crowds were, in fact, large, and that the comparisons that were being drawn to Obama’s inaugurations were inaccurate and misrepresenting the extreme popularity of Dipshit. Clearly, he has the priorities of the country in mind when wasting everyone’s time with his deflated ego. And Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced that Mexico officially will NOT pay for the stupid wall no matter what, and has also cancelled the meeting he had scheduled with Dipshit. Trump went back and said they mutually agreed to cancel. If anyone thinks that’s the truth, they must believe in “alternative facts” that are quite popular today.

The latest news is that at least six state department officials have resigned from their posts, refusing to work under a Trump administration. I don’t blame them; I’d feel major ethical qualms about my own character if I had to work for someone as openly racist, sexist, xenophobic, and politically inexperienced as this turd. All I feel is embarrassment and anger as a U.S. citizen. It has been a rough start to 2017 when I’ve been trying really hard to be hopeful and keep my head up. This country was supposed to be a nation of immigrants, a country of open-mindedness, freedom, acceptance of new and different ideas and philosophies. Instead, Dipshit is taking this country into the direction of becoming isolationist, xenophobic, and ultimately unwelcoming to people who are not white skinned and light haired. How can any rational American, educated or uneducated, rich or poor, light skinned or dark skinned, be proud to see these news headlines today? I just cannot wrap my head around it and have been in a constant state of “I have no words.”

THIS IS 2017. HOW CAN WE BRING CHILDREN INTO THIS WORLD?

 

“So, what I’ve learned is…”

Despite winning the popular vote, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first female presidential candidate of a major political party, the most qualified presidential candidate in the history of our country, the most prepared person on earth, lost the presidency to Donald Trump. I have never been more emotional in my life about politics, but I sobbed when it was all said and done. In the moment I found out, this country did not feel welcoming of me, of my husband, of my family, any of my friends of color, of any of my female friends.

I don’t know what hurt more — the fact that a woman as accomplished as Hillary Clinton could not break the highest glass ceiling in the land in the year of 2016, or that a bigoted, racist, inexperienced white supremacy supporter could actually be leading the most powerful nation on earth. It’s two days later, and I am still broken. When I think of the future, I think, could I possibly have my first child during a Trump administration? What kind of hope is this child going to be imbued with in that case?!

On Wednesday night, I attended the first session of a mentoring program I’m starting for high school-age children that are in foster care. It’s a small group of children living in the Bronx and in Brooklyn, all of African, Trinidadian, Puerto Rican, or Dominican descent. After some ice breakers and group activities, one of the more outgoing kids spoke up and asked if we could all talk about the election. We went back and forth and talked about Hillary’s qualifications, Trump’s qualifications (none, other than being rich), and all the scandals behind the both of them. The resounding theme among these kids was that they were shocked Hillary had lost and they had all hoped she would have won. They did not understand why Trump won, and sadly, as the adults in the room, none of us mentors could explain to them why. It was all just too near and raw. The outgoing boy pipes in again: “So, what I’ve learned from this election is that as long as you are a rich white man, you can say or do whatever you want, even the worst things, and you can still become President of the United States.”

I had to hold back tears in my eyes and keep a straight face as he said this to our group. All the mentors looked dejected as we exchanged looks with each other and uselessly looked down at the floor. We all felt so useless in that moment; it was so obvious. We were rendered speechless. How were we supposed to explain this to these kids, kids who have endured so much difficulty so young, who have come from broken homes, and who constantly have to battle with issues of poverty and inequality every single day of their lives?

What I’d really love to know is… how are Trump supporters who actually voted for him discussing his victory to their kids? How are these parents and grandparents explaining to their children that this man is actually good and empathetic, that he could actually be an example to children around the world despite parading around and treating women like pleasure objects, saying all blacks live in the disgusting inner cities, that Mexicans are all rapists and that we need to build a wall to protect America from those rapists? How do we teach our children to abide by the law via the “law and order” that he loves to yell about when this man won’t even pay his taxes that the rest of us have to do?

I feel broken. Just broken.

 

Hello, reality.

On the night of Tuesday, November 8, 2016, the United States of America decided that they wanted change. Somehow, we decided that Donald J. Trump could bring that change. And then the next morning, I woke up to the official news after hours and hours of seeing too many states that were “too close to call,” and I sobbed. Trump Nation is now our reality.
The day after was when the country exploded with white supremacy marches on streets and schools across America. The racial slurs, fights, and attacks I have read about have been endless in the last two days in towns and cities everywhere, whether in the rust belt or in the blue bubbles of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. And all I could think to myself is, is this how America wants to respond to the eight years of Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States, by insulting his intelligence, contribution, and grace by electing a childish, politically inexperienced bigot into the White House who has no family values and believes women are merely objects to ogle and raise children at home? This is a man who is so naive and short sighted that he actually believes the main problem around illegal immigration is because of the “lack of borders” between the U.S. and Mexico, and to solve that, he wants to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it? If you want to stop illegal immigration into this country, then you should try to propose stopping all air traffic into this country, and then see how the entire world will react to that!

I’m taking this very personally as someone who is not only a woman, but a woman of color who is married to a brown immigrant who has no right to vote without U.S. citizenship (who wants to voluntarily be tied to the IRS for the rest of their life? Like they say, there are only two certain things in life: taxes and death. The U.S. really takes that to heart). The way immigrants of color are treated and referred to in this country has completely disgusted me, and too many racist attacks have happened in the last few days since the election results were made final that they have shaken me to my core. The fact that people are still chanting and carrying white supremacist signs in 2016 is just beyond anything I can understand. Trump’s presidential run has encouraged David Duke, the former head of the KKK, to run for a Senate seat in the next election cycle, because he himself said that he realizes Trump’s rise to power has awakened the realization among White Americans that their power is gradually being taken away by people of color, and that just does not sit well with him… because the Founding Fathers would not have wanted it this way. THIS is the America we are in now. Why is the former leader of the KKK not behind bars and instead running for an open Senate seat?!

I feel hurt. I just don’t see how “conservatives” and Trump voters cannot understand this. They live in their own bubbles and yell at us for living in our bubbles and just do not understand the feeling of not belonging or being discriminated against.
Also, when did it be okay for the President of the United States to take office and have zero political experience? When?! Obama got criticized during his campaign for not having enough experience; Trump has none, yet he’s a fine, fine candidate. Now, he’s taking over. F***.

Voter rights

A lot of pretty awful things have been in the news in the last year. The extra and uncalled for scrutiny that Hillary Clinton is getting for being the Democratic nominee for president of the U.S., Trump insulting pretty much every racial group that is not white, insulting a Gold Star family, making obscene impressions of a disabled person, and then bragging with Billy Bush about grabbing women’s pussies because he can just do whatever he wants as a rich celebrity. Trump won’t release his tax returns. Republicans in major positions across Congress and the country are endorsing Trump despite not releasing his tax returns, not having a single coherent policy plan for anything (we just know it’ll be “terrific” as he repeatedly says), his sexual assault accusations, and having zero respect for anyone who is not white. Right-wing extremists have threatened to kill Hillary if Trump doesn’t win the election. Bernie-or-Bust idiots still whine. All of these issues have angered me over the course of the year, but somehow, what has infuriated me the most appeared in my news skim this morning – an article about Trump’s voter-intimidation efforts. I was on the train on my way to the gym, and I read the entire article. By the time I was done, I could feel my face was hot, my pulse was up, my eyes were filled with tears. I just couldn’t believe it. Or could I, given all the hate that this man has spewed, all the while his party has followed without having any guts of their own?

I shared it out on Facebook. No one other than my husband and mother-in-law cared. No one cares about voter rights and voter intimidation as being a huge part of our country’s terrible history… Maybe they just don’t remember the history of the Civil Rights Movement? Maybe they never even learned it given the pathetic education system here. 

Why did this anger me so much? It’s likely because I just came back from Little Rock and Memphis, where we visited Little Rock Central High School and the National Civil Rights Museum, where we re-learned the atrocities that have been committed to non-white Americans as recently as the 1960s and 70s. The tactics they are accused of using — demanding ID information, threatening to call 911 and report them for felonies, and record their license plate numbers — are terrifyingly reminiscent of what happened in the 50s and 60s when blacks in this country tried to register to vote and carry out their civic duty. They couldn’t vote in peace then and risked their lives to vote and have their voices heard, and the same scare tactics and threats are being done TODAY. Trump’s “movement” is taking away the ability to vote, free of intimidation and coercion.

As this story states: “At many points in American history, poll monitoring has been used to dissuade voters—especially black voters—from exercising their right of enfranchisement. The Supreme Court argued in 2013 that “our country has changed,” striking down the part of the Voting Rights Act that determines which parts of the country are overseen by strict federal supervision. But the recent allegations suggest voter intimidation is still happening all over the country.

“State Democratic parties in Arizona, Ohio, Nevada, and Pennsylvania sued Trump for encouraging unlawful voter intimidation. They argue that Trump’s calls for his supporters to “watch” polling for suspected “cheating” and “fraud” violate two laws: the Klu Klux Klan Act of 1871, which was passed during Reconstruction to protect newly emancipated freedmen from harassment at polls, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits “intimidation,” “threats,” and “coercion” of voters.”

I feel like my heart is breaking reading these stories. How can people be so cruel to regress back to a time that is full of shame and embarrassment for most decent Americans of today? The 1950s and 60s were not that long ago, and while a lot more progress is needed, these scare tactics only echo the hate from what was almost 60 years ago.

I was looking at all the photos at the Little Rock Central High School Historic Site and at the National Civil Rights Museum of all the white mobs who beat and lynched innocent black people, doing such seemingly innocuous, everyday tasks such as going to school or leaving their homes to go out. A lot of them happily posed for these media photos. We look back on photos of people like congressman John Lewis and MLK with admiration and pride; if we are children or grandchildren of theirs, we’d think the same. But as I looked at the photos of the whites in these images, I thought, what would I think if I were one of their descendants? Would I be on the side of progress and be overwhelmed with disgust at their hatred and lack of humanity? I thought for a moment. I’m positive there are people who are their descendants and wished this progress was never made and that white people could just oppress blacks until this day. Many of them are likely Trump supporters, people blinded by non-facts and driven by hate.

I still have hope for change in the future. Even though it seems dismal after reading articles like this, I still do.

Not in that chair

It doesn’t seem to matter how much times passes. Every time I open the door into my parents’ house, the part of my brain that apparently doesn’t register reality thinks that Ed is going to be sitting in his chair at his desk in our living room. That part of my mind thinks he will swivel his chair, turn around and see me, and then hurriedly get up to hug me and help me with my luggage. I thought this when I arrived home from the hotel this morning, turned the key, and opened the door to let myself in. He isn’t there, I saw, and a part of my  stomach just fell.

It’s not that I wanted him to be at home forever, living in this house with our parents and doing all his same usual things. But this is how I remember him. In an ideal world, he would have gotten a decent paying job and moved out years ago. In that world, when I’d come back from New York to visit, he actually would not be sitting in that chair when I would open the front door. Instead, he’d come home to see me, or I’d go to his apartment, or we’d all meet at a restaurant and reunite. So many options had the potential to exist for my brother. It just makes me sick to think that all those potential realities are now dead along with him.

“For my sister on her birthday”

Every time I come home to San Francisco, I find myself reorganizing yet another one of my drawers in this house. I guess it goes to show that I’m not as neat and “organized” as I thought I was if I am constantly reorganizing and discarding things.

In my nightstand by my bed, while rummaging through old photos I put on the walls of my old dorm rooms, I found the only card Ed has ever given me. It’s a humorous and silly Hallmark card, and this is what it says:

For my sister on her birthday

(Front):

I’ve done all the things

siblings are

famous for —

I’ve bugged you,

I’ve embarrassed you.

I’ve made your life

a living nightmare…

But now that we’re older

I just want to say…

(Inside)

I was only doing my job!

It is dated January 22, 2007, five days after I turned 21. It’s dated that late because that year, our parents took me on a Hawaiian cruise as a birthday gift, and Ed as per usual refused to go because he hated traveling with them anywhere. That was the day we got back from the cruise.

Waiting for me when we arrived home was this card, a massive bouquet of multicolored flowers that Ed had delivered to the house, and a birthday cake for me. “21 is a big deal,” Ed said when he proudly presented the gifts. “Read the card I got you!” I obediently read it and chuckled a little and thanked him. He was clearly so proud of this card. “Isn’t this card so funny? That’s exactly us! It’s so great!” He was obsessed, and I could tell he obsessed about it at Walgreens or wherever else he picked up this card as he went through many cards.

After I read it today and stared longingly at his hand writing, I looked up at the photo of him on his old dresser in our bedroom, and I felt sick. How the hell is he not here anymore? Look at that innocent smile of his. It’s like all he wanted was a bit of encouragement, and he could barely get it from anyone other than his pastor and me. Every time I am back home, his absence is more painfully apparent because his photos and his bed and his dresser are here, but he is not. That bed just beckons him to come back, as it stares at me and asks, who will sleep in me? Will Ed ever come back? And I have to silently tell it that no, Ed will never be back to sleep in you again. The last night he ever slept in you was July 21, 2013, and that was the final night ever. I bend down to smell the sheets, and it smells just like him. You smell just like Ed, I tell the bed. Maybe he’s just hiding in the bed somewhere? Or maybe with that large framed photo from his funeral, if I wipe it down hard enough to get rid of all the dust, maybe he’ll pop out and hug me again?

These are my silly hopes and delusions, that I will see him again on earth, that he is still out there somewhere. My one wish in life is one that cannot be granted with even the all of the money and power in the world. I just want Ed back and healthy and happy. It’s so lonely to think that one day, you had a sibling, and the next, you don’t. It’s not fair that good, innocent people like him are gone.

Two years.

Dear Ed,

$%&#. It’s been two freaking years. It’s so trite, but I can’t believe it. I really cannot. Somehow, I managed to get by the last two years knowing that you were not breathing in the same world as me. I spent the last few days reading different parts of the Bible. I also spent some time reading articles on grieving, or what they call the “grieving process.” One quote I read summed it up pretty well: Step 1: Grieve. Step 2: Remake yourself. What that quote does not reveal is how much energy and effort it took to get from Step 1 to Step 2. It really should look like this:

Step 1: Grieve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Remake yourself.

I wouldn’t say I’ve completely done a 180 and “remade” myself, per se, but I do think that I’ve made some hard choices about people, life, and my perspective that now, life feels much different, and not just because of your absence.

I get self-conscious about it, though, and I think that maybe in some way, because of how much I’ve pushed myself in terms of accomplishment and thought process, that along the way it’s almost made me even more judgmental than I was before. It’s like that quote that Steve Jobs loved: “If you aren’t busy being reborn, you are busy dying.” It really stayed with me since I read his book in 2012. If I am not accomplishing anything now and trying to achieve something, then what the hell am I even doing here? What is my purpose? I’m still searching, but maybe I am a little optimistic when I say now that I feel better about life now than I did this time last year.

I guess that’s something you struggled with: purpose. For a good 12 years, you were a devout Christian. You felt your purpose was to serve God, study the Bible, do good work, volunteer to help those less fortunate than you. Then in the 13th year of the 2000s, you broke. You were already breaking in late 2011, but you hid it from me that Christmas. You didn’t tell me you were hallucinating. You hid it so well that I had no idea until you told me in March 2012 when you quit your Macy’s job that anything was really wrong. And even then, you described everything so vividly that I believed what you told me. How could I not believe you? I believed what you said was real and really was happening to you. It took me a full year to realize it was all hallucination. And at that point, it was too late. Your purpose was lost, and your will to live was gone. And then you left us. It escalated way too fast for me to digest it and figure out how to help. But I was too slow and too late. This is what happens when you have a little sister who is slow to process things.

You did a lot of good things with your final years, Ed. I’m sure not many people have said that to you, but I thought you tried really hard, even when I was pushing you to try harder. I only said it because I loved you. I wanted to help you, to make you realize that you were capable of doing more. I hated everyone who tried to make you think otherwise, whether it was explicitly said to you (and we both know it was) or implied. Some of that hate is still in me and will continue to live on in me as long as I breathe.

It’s hard to have faith in life sometimes, though, when I know you are gone, and when insane acts of violence and racism happen like in Charleston and Ferguson and now Hempstead, Texas. I can’t wrap my head around it sometimes, and all the violence and racism and apathy and laziness of the world starts getting to me, and I feel flushed and angry that I am just this one, single, powerless person who can do absolutely nothing to help. I couldn’t even help you. Our mom reminds me indirectly that no one has reached out to ask me how I am doing today in light of your two-year-passing mark. It’s another reminder that I try not to take too personally — that no one really cares — or cares enough. But it’s comforting and brings tears to my eyes to know that Chris’s parents and brother reach out to me to say something. No one else does. But they do. They do because they are my family now. They’re your family, even if you’re not here anymore, and even they think of you. See? There is some hope in the world. I have to take what I can get. I guess having low expectations isn’t so bad after all, is it? Our own blood family — our cousins, our aunts, our uncle — they don’t even reach out to say or ask anything to me. I can’t stand our family. But you already know that, and you gave up on them a long time ago and realized how screwed up they all are.

I really wanted you to come by and surprise me today, in some way. It’s what I anticipate this time of the year, that you will pop out and say hello. I’d throw my arms around you the way I do in pretty much all the dreams I have when you appear, and I’d squeeze you until you get mad at me for cutting off your circulation. Today, as last year, my senses are heightened because I know you suffered immensely and ended your life so tragically two years ago. I felt my whole body go numb this morning thinking about it. But I forced myself to wake up in time for gym class so that I’d have no choice but to push myself in group fitness or look like a complete idiot. And you know how competitive I can get in these classes. I have to have better stamina than all those others in the class. This is how I deal with losing you — I guess I just push myself even harder. At least my muscles are benefiting from it.

I miss you a lot, Ed. I don’t know if you realize how much. Before you died, I worried about you and thought about you every single day. I even watched as you slept when I was in San Francisco sometimes, especially that last time I saw you for two weeks in March 2013. What am I going to do, Ed? I wondered. What are we going to do to get you better? I failed. I don’t think I will ever get over this failure. I literally lost a life — your life. It makes me feel sick literally to the bone. I can seriously feel it right this second.

I’ll be selfish when I say this. I don’t care if no one else thinks about you, if no one else misses you, if no one else ever visits your niche at the Columbarium. All I want to say is that all that matters is that I care and love you, and I’m never going to forget you or the importance you still have in my life. Everyone else can burn in hell. You’ll always have me even if you left me. I can’t wait to see you again — in my dreams hopefully very soon (tonight maybe? Please?), and when I’m ready to join you wherever you are. You’ll be waiting, right? Right at the door for me?

I love you. Don’t forget to stop by in my dreams. It’s the only place I’ll ever fully be at peace with you. Since you left this world, I’ve never looked forward to sleep more because it means I have a chance at seeing you again. So, consider coming tonight?

Love,

Yvonne

 

That bridge

Today, Chris, Ben, and I took a Zipcar to see Sausalito, Muir Woods’ redwood forest, Sonoma, and Napa. Inevitably to get from San Francisco to Napa, you have to take the Golden Gate Bridge. There’s really no way around it unless you want to take a very long roundabout way, which would wreak havoc on your car’s mileage, not to mention your gas bills. I knew at some point I’d have to deal with crossing that bridge again, but I didn’t realize exactly how difficult and awful it would be.

I thought I would have been fine. I have to see the bridge every time I’ve come home since Ed passed away. On a clear day, we have a far away but great view of the bridge from the front of our house. It’s obviously a beautiful bridge, a stunning sight in itself, and even more gorgeous when you see it in its entirety against the backdrop of the rest of the city skyline and the San Francisco Bay. It’s one of those sights that makes you think as a native, wow, I’m proud to be able to say I am from this city. It’s a place that gets photographers all crazy and makes wannabe amateur photographers even want to wet their pants. But for me, despite its apparent beauty, it will always be tainted.

As we drove across that bridge today, all I could think without even trying to think about it, was that my brother breathed his last breaths standing somewhere on this damn thing. He last viewed either Alcatraz or the Bay before he climbed over and jumped off. Which of these poles was he standing closest to? What was he thinking before he jumped, or did he completely block out any and all thoughts and become a total robot who just had to get this simple job done? Did he think about our parents, about me, at all? Who was the last person he made eye contact with, if anyone? Did anyone notice that he seemed a bit suspect walking up and down the bridge, and why didn’t anyone try to stop him?

I guess I wasn’t as “fine” as I thought I’d be. In fact, I was crying the entire time across the bridge and even past it. The pain will always be there, and there’s nothing I can really do about it. He’ll never come back, and I’ll never be able to do anything to reverse any of these events or try to help him again. A void will always linger, and this bridge will always be a reminder of his death, as beautiful as it is. It’s tragic.

Found

It’s as official as it’s going to get: the Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was confirmed to have gone down in the Indian Ocean. None of those onboard could have survived. There are probably bodies and parts of this plane that have sunk as far deep as 23,000 feet to the bottom of the ocean floor. Thinking about this leaves me feeling a bit sick, especially when I think of how my brother died. The last thing he was in before being confirmed gone was water. At least the U.S. Coast Guard got to him before he sunk to the bottom of the San Francisco Bay. These bodies may never be recovered… ever. It’s already so heartbreaking to think of losing someone you love in a disaster like this. It’s even worse to know that you can’t even properly lay him to rest and that his body will just break down and become one with the ocean algae. In these cases, it’s like you know he’s dead, but you can’t even see his face or body again to shake yourself into really accepting the fact he’s gone forever. Sometimes, it’s hard to accept that there is a higher power who cares when the worst things possible become a reality.