Despite my inveterate idolization of Hunter S Thompson, the ultimate political gonzo hack supreme, I try and steer clear of politics. None of it sits easily with me. It is a testament to the toxicity of modern life that I do not feel I am able to express my opinions safely. As a consequence, I have a public opinion on nearly nothing, and a privately held burning fury that I bury under deep, just in case I get cancelled, tarred and feathered on twitter for not having the right opinions on things that matter to me. The rest of it is far more dangerous, for an undocumented woman trying to dodge the law, her husband and the prevailing wind of hatred, expressing myself fully and openly could lead to my total destruction. I paid good heed, I learnt my lessons well. The most anyone will get out of me is, “you do YOU darling,” while I struggle to wriggle away from being pinned down on anything.
But it isn’t good enough, now is it? In our silence we become traitors to ourselves and to the voiceless , in our inaction we become complicit with harm, in the turning of our collective heads we let ourselves down. By saying and doing nothing we allow the inexorable slide towards a world that is unliveable, which is dangerous, which is so much less than it should be. Inaction, live and let live, scared silence. None of these things are compatible with democracy. There should not be one child locked up in prison camps in the United States, but after months of Biden, these places still exist, to what should be America’s shame and disgrace, but instead, evil is quietly tolerated. As of May 2021, 22,195 children are being kept in ORR custody. My heart breaks for every single one of them. I read of cramped conditions, with one facility in Donna, Texas meant to house 250, housing over 4000 at one point. Metal cages. Foil blankets on the floor. The shame of it! It is not good enough.
I have tried to be bolder, to good effect, but I slide back, ultimately a cowardly recidivist. I have to catch myself before I fade into an amorphous blob of fear of the modern world, and what it can do to me if I allow it. I feel like some faintly ridiculous faulty character in a fantasy novel, grabbing a sword stuck in a passing stone, and screaming ‘TRUTH!’ to the passing cast, then falling over and stubbing my toe on a sign that reads ‘To the Sea’, then falling off the cliff face to be dashed on the rocks below. Does anyone have an honest thought they feel able to express, anyone other than the bile and hatred-filled mundane hoards of Trumpers and their Q-Anon cronies, both trolled into reckless oblivion and ultimately traitorous actions? Do I? It is perhaps time to find out!
I hate all politics, yet it drags me in again, time after time, only to fall off that cliff face into the ocean of lies and failures. How anyone could live within a political setting, I have no idea! The amount of giving way, of accepting solutions which are neither hot nor cold, not right nor wrong, that infernal middle ground, must lead at least to a case of dyspepsia, and a phobia of mirrors. I could not look at myself if I was Biden and those children at the border he is failing. I could not live with myself if I was in charge and ICE still existed. I have no idea how he gets up and carries on accepting failure to care and solve problems. I suppose that is why I sit here getting stoned, writing and playing the guitar, and Mr Pragmatism sits in the White House surrounded by the tokens of his failure. That is not to say the other side are any better. Worse, far worse, their evil lies not in inaction and inability to get stuff done, but in up front unabashed hostility to decency and kindness whilst bleating on about their useless and fake religioso Christianity. Even if I could vote, I wouldn’t bother. The system is rotten from within. These strict party platform politics are killing people. This devotion to Red or Blue; to right, or even further to the right, with no actual left to vote for, this wishy washy uselessness and endless red tape which gets nothing actually useful done within any decent time frame, makes me sick to the bottom of my apolitical bleeding heart.
There are lies that both sides of the right-wing spectrum of American politics tell about undocumented people and the help they get. I get no food stamps, being turned down by California for any food assistance. I get no homeless benefit payments, I get no help from Cal Works. My child was turned down for entry to school in the Bay Area. Yes, we are housed in a shelter, and very grateful I am too. Yes, I am eligible for housing subsidy from DV charities and perhaps the city, after a huge fight to obtain such assistance – after being turned down repeatedly for help as I am fleeing extreme domestic violence and my legally resident husband refuses to assist me or divorce me. This was not automatic, or assured. Someone not able to hold on, to keep themselves mentally together, or physically fit and able, not able to speak up in a way that would be heard, not able to chase and stay on track, would have gone under. If I fail to be able to support us we are going to be in huge trouble. I get a year after I move out of the shelter. During that time I will not get any help with food, or with bills other than rent.
I will still have to secure the money to pay for my son’s online schooling. He will still be turned down by youth baseball teams, despite being talented, because he has no documentation, as his documentation is being held hostage by his abusive father. It is not safe for me to try and obtain it. I know from experience trusting the systemto protect me if doomed to failure. I am the only person who can keep me and the Boy together and safe. This is pure evil. The kid gets to go to practice once a week. He has no way to get any more social interaction than this. This is the best the two of us can do, and to even get this for him took a lot of work on my part to try and secure a charity place for him, and it looks like next week he won’t even have that as the funding has run out.
I am fighting for my life out here. I am fighting for my son’s life. I am fighting for our future, and it isn’t just me fighting. There are over 30 families in this shelter alone, all with children.
I consider myself lucky to see poverty and suffering from this side of the divide. I consider myself lucky to have had my privilege dismantled. There is a storm coming, the poor and disenfranchised, the homeless and the desperate for a foothold within society are growing in numbers. We are becoming too numerous to ignore, and too desperate to care to be ashamed of where society has driven us. People are being driven into the ground by rental prices which are out of control, by rising food costs, soaring gas prices, inadequate public transportation and low wages. Of course people don’t want to take low paying jobs – why work all day for a wage that will not support a single person, let alone a family! People might be able to leave the shelter, but after that year of subsidy is up, they will be right back again, set up to fail.
There is a storm coming is something isn’t done to address inequality, and you have my promise I will be less of a coward and braver in my words and actions. I like to be able to look at myself in the mirror without that uneasy feeling of self hatred.