Monday, November 14, 2016

Dying of Cancer

I've never talked much about my childhood on here, and I don't particularly care to, but there's a thing here that's important to what I'm going to say, so here's your bit of insight into me.
If you read carefully, that is.

Until I was four years old, I lived with my mother and my grandparents but, even after my mother got married, my grandfather was the primary male role model in my life. He was a large man. Quiet. Great "table muscles," as he called them. I never once heard him raise his voice to anyone, much less his hand, and my mother says she can't remember him ever once saying anything bad about anyone (my grandmother, evidently, was another story; she had the temper). He used to read to me. I'd sit in his lap and smell the engine grease on him and in his clothes (he was a mechanic, but there's more to the story than that) -- that smell was just a part of who he was -- and he would read to me, frequently the same book over and over again. Little Black, a Pony and some book about an old, beat up blue truck. See, I still remember them.

When I was 19, he was diagnosed with cancer; I don't remember what kind. It was one of the fast ones, though, but the doctors told us they'd caught it in time and that he would be okay. They continued to tell us that all through the treatment. "Everything's going well." "He's responding well to the treatment." "He should be going home in no time."

The last time I saw him was a Monday night. We'd gone to visit him at the hospital, which was in another city, but he spent most of our time there asleep. He did grip my arm before I left, a grip that was still powerful despite his weakened condition. Even that night, the doctors were telling us that he was doing "very well" and they expected that he would get to go home soon.

When the phone rang Wednesday morning, I knew what the call was. Part of me died that morning, too.

Cancer can be insidious that way. It doesn't ever really go away; it just hides. That's why we say it's in remission rather than cured. Maybe there will be an actual cure someday but, for now, the best we can do is treat it into submission and hope that we outlast it. The problem many people run into is that they treat it as if it's a curable disease so ignore the symptoms of it coming back because they don't want to confront the issue of still being sick.

Racism has a lot in common with cancer. It's not a curable thing, though many of us have wanted to treat it that way, even going so far as to declare on television that racism is a thing of the past. I understand the allure of believing that, but it's that kind of thinking that allows the cancer to spread. It's a thing that needs constant awareness just to keep it in check, and, as a society, we just haven't been doing that. We can see the results of ignoring the symptoms in the recent rampant tumor growth across the US. Well, not just the US, but I don't think other parts of the world ever thought they had "cured" racism.

At any rate, this past election has in many ways reminded me of my grandfather's cancer, not least in that everyone kept saying, "It's going to be okay. Clinton is going to win, and we're going to treat the racism (and sexism) cancer back into remission." But the cancer won; Trump won; and the emotions of that were very similar to that phone call letting us know that my grandfather had succumbed to the cancer and died. I'm not going as far as to say that the US has succumbed to the cancer, but the cancer, right now, is having its day.

This is no longer the kind of racism that only expresses itself through things like implicit bias and in systemic, institutionalized ways. It has become very explicit and in your face because people who have previously felt social pressure to keep their racism internal have suddenly found new freedom to externalize it. We have moved past implicit bias into explicit hatred and hate crimes.

So let me just be clear in case what I'm saying here hasn't been explicit enough:
Racism (and sexism) is a cancer eating this country up. It has been the great, ongoing conflict we have been dealing with since before the US became the US. Racism was one of the great issues that pushed us into a two party system with Alexander Hamilton and his Federalists (the modern Democrats) on the side of racial equality and Thomas Jefferson (the modern Republicans) and his Democratic Republicans on the side of racial discrimination and slavery. [Jefferson may have written "All men are created equal" but he only meant white men when he wrote that. He even kept his own mixed race children as slaves during his lifetime. That's just sick.]

Those of you who voted for Trump, whether you are feel as if you are racist or not, voted for the cancer. You voted for the cancer to have its day, or its four years as the case may be, and, in that, you are showing that you believe that you are more important than what Trump represents and that, my "friend" is racism. You are saying that you, you white person, deserve better treatment than the people that Trump has stated he intends to persecute, whether they be Muslim, Mexican, or female. You have said, "I know Trump is horrible and intends to do bad things to certain groups of people, but I am more important than those groups of people and I deserve my day at their expense." And, well, that, also, is just sick.

And the best part is...? Trump isn't going to give you your day, either, because you're not rich, and his policies are going to be just as disastrous for you as they will be for everyone else. So, yeah, good job.


  1. This. Just a million times this. I'm so sick of people saying they voted for him but "aren't racist". And we're supposed to compromise and work with them? Fuck that noise.

    1. Jeanne: No, we're supposed to resist. Just like the Germans should have done during Hitler's rise to power.

  2. I relate to the cancer story as my father rapidly succumbed to cancer in 1990 when he was 67. I was by his side in those final less than a couple of months. It was tough and the doctors never gave us much hope. They stayed real about it.

    As one who unabashedly voted for Donald Trump I don't buy your analogy or your argument. Maybe some parts for some people, but that's not the entire movement anymore than the racism that exists within the Democrat party represents all of those who voted on that side.

    You've made some gross generalizations based on what I think are ill-conceived perceptions that I would assume are based on skewed media reporting.

    I've started a series on my own blog today in an attempt to have a constructive discussion about the topic. So far it's off to a good start and hopefully there can be something learned and maybe even some eventual agreement.

    It's been an ugly election season but there's plenty of blame to go around. I don't intend to shoulder any great burden from it since I strongly believe in the course that I took.

    I'd say before anyone predicts the outcome of a presidency they should actually wait to see what happens. At this point I don't think there's much else to do other than that.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. You know what Lee, you're just wrong. Period. I'm not engaging in any of your inane debates, especially with your buddy McCarthy (who takes his name from one of the most deplorable persons in American history) around who is about as intelligent as a box of rocks. It doesn't matter what you say or what you say you believe, the fact of the matter is is that you are now standing on the side of the line with the racists, misogynists, and white supremacists group. You can say you don't "believe" all that stuff all you want but, yet, you joined their team. You put what you 'wanted' above the needs and safety of other people, people of other colors and beliefs. When you do that, when you say you are more important than black people or Mexican people or gay people or whomever, that makes you a racist or whatever kind of -ist you want to call it.
      Sorry (not sorry) YOU are just WRONG.

      And you're not going to get what you want out of it anyway, because he's going to fuck you over just as hard as he's going to fuck over everyone else.

    2. I think I made an honorable approach in stating my opinion this time and I believe I have always made an attempt at being civil in our communications. I accept that we disagree except that you are disagreeing in a much less polite manner.

      Like I said, it's an ugly election all around and it makes me sad to see it. On television, on twitter, on Facebook--a lot of insensitivity.

      Best wishes and I take it I'm not welcome on your blog so I'll stay away if that's what you'd like. Lots of disagreement going around these days. It's more like a contagious disease than cancer, but I understand the analogy you were making.

      Take care

      Arlee Bird
      Tossing It Out

    3. Lee: I didn't say you're not welcome, but I'm not going to debate the merits of Trump with you. On this, you are wrong, and there is no debate, which is why I'm not coming over to your blog to debate the issue especially since you host The King of hostility and actual name calling over there. If you want to come over and comment on other things or talk about other things, you are as welcome as anyone else.