One of the best things about being ADHD is that I don’t have to unfriend people on Facebook or twitter. All I have to do is lose my phone. It happens all the time. And it’s great. I recommend losing your phone every couple of weeks or so.
On Tuesday, I watched the election returns with shock and disbelief and then I got online and listened to friends in the differently-abled community talk about being really afraid. Also, just about everybody else.
On Wednesday I went to see a movie. I turned my phone off, and I forgot to turn it back on after the movie was over. You always get that message before the movie to turn your phone off, but no one ever tells you to turn your phone back on.
My phone was off for three days. I might have noticed, but my editor sent my galleys for revision. She was really cool about this and sent them on paper so I wouldn’t have to be at my computer.
On Friday, I discovered my phone in my purse, and turned it on. Almost instantly a friend called needing help with a sick toddler. His mother was at work at Luby’s cafeteria and Luby’s told her that if she left work they’d fire her. So that was my mission on Friday— rescue a toddler from daycare. You can talk all you want about politics on Facebook but when you are carting a sick toddler around, nothing else seems to matter.
Friday was also my son’s birthday, so after I dropped off the sick toddler, I went to Sweetish Hill to get my son a cake.
As I was turning on to fifth street, I saw three twenty—something white guys leaving the Wiggy’s Liquor store. They had a case of Coor’s light and several liquor bottles and they were laughing. And I got pretty angry that they were so happy about the election when all my friends are worried losing healthcare and birth control coverage or being deported. And I lifted my foot off the clutch and the car lurched forward right before they walked into the intersection.
I stamped on the brake deeply ashamed, and appalled by my murderous left foot. Is there any law that says that twenty-- something white guys can’t be happy in public? Who knows what their politics are? I live in Austin after all. They could be socialist for all I know.
I was shaky and upset and still very angry about the election even though I managed to bury myself in revision and driving a toddler around. I was angry at myself.
This weekend, I got on Facebook. Just to see where everyone was with the whole crazy election thing. I caught my cousin’s oldest son lighting up his own thread about cry-baby family members unfriending him over his support of Trump.
I knew instantly that he was talking about my sister and brother. They were both pretty upset about the election.
So I got on his thread and I said I wouldn’t unfriend him. But I did tell him that Trump has emboldened racists to come out of the woodwork and say some pretty terrible things. I told him that he might see Trump as a straight-shooter and I might see him as an ass-clown, but I live with a person of color who sees Trump as the racist monster who lives under America’s collective bed.
And then my cousin’s son asked me the question: Do you think I’m a racist?
Two things here. I agree with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. White people don’t get to decide who is and who isn’t racist.
Also, I am southern. And I’ve been to enough Thanksgiving dinners to know that telling a family member you think they’re racist is not a good idea on any level. It never works out the way you think it should.
So I said no. But I also told him that he’d probably been on forums where people were saying racist things and he might be the only non-racist person around.
“You are now a moral arbiter, and you can call people on hate speech when you see it,” I wrote. “That's all I'm asking. Draw a line in the sand.”
“110%” he replied.
And then I got the hell off Facebook.
I’m not trying to gloss over the fact that we are a divided country. I have a deeply divided family. And I will be protesting to the bitter end, and probably past the bitter end. You’ll see me on the streets. But if you do see me at a protest, and I have a brick in my hand tell me to put it down. Really.
Draw a line in the sand.