Category Archives: Politics

#229: Sore Loser Angry White Guy

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I am
a sore loser
angry white guy.
I’m sore, yeah,
not because my candidate
lost, but because THIS guy
won. And I’m angry, not
because the guy that won
was not my candidate,
but because THIS particular guy
is an inarticulate, stupid,
immoral, ignorant, sexist,
racist, homophobic, bullying
man-baby.
And never before
in my adult lifetime,
in all the other elections in which
my candidate didn’t win,
could the winning guy
be accurately described this way,
as an inarticulate, stupid,
immoral, ignorant, sexist,
racist, homophobic, bullying
man-baby. Not even George W.
fits the entirety of this description,
before now, likely the worst president
our nation has ever seen.
Yeah, I’m sore and I’m angry
because this guys scares the shit
out of me and I can’t believe we live
under a system in which a guy like this
is a possible president, let alone
the Elect, let alone the real deal
come January 2017, despite the fact
that his opponent won the popular vote
by about 2 million citizens. Apparently,
President of the United States of America
is a job you can do with zero qualification,
because he has zero qualification, unless
being an inarticulate, stupid,
immoral, ignorant, sexist,
racist, homophobic, bullying
man-baby is now the job description
of the leader of the free world.
This is how democracy “works”?
I fear that this is how democracy
eats itself. No, he’s not my president.
Even after he’s officially inaugurated,
anyone of good conscience must be able
to say, no, he’s not my president, again, not
because our candidate lost, but because this guy is,
as I have said, an inarticulate, stupid,
immoral, ignorant, sexist,
racist, homophobic, bullying
man-baby. Sure, call me a sore loser
angry white guy. I’ll own that one
for now, until I can figure out how
to channel this pain and anger into
something that might mitigate or
even possibly help reverse what I can’t help
but feel is my country’s impending doom.

 

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#228: On the Day After the Election

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Having wept myself to sleep the night before,
I got up and went to work in the school house
where we met in small teams in the library
to plan or do curriculum work or talk about
assessments, where instead I chose to color
with crayons at the table our new librarian
set up for art. It was the only thing I could do.
I colored inside the lines with several different
shades of blue and some pink here and there
while I tried to keep myself together.
Talking to anyone, to any friendly face,
I had to work hard not to break down.

I was thankful when students arrived inside
my room. They gave me a focus, a place to
channel my energies, an opportunity to make
some kind of difference. My 9th graders,
unusually subdued and cooperative, dove with
some enthusiasm into a Sherman Alexie novel,
a novel about race, culture, and class divide,
but a novel, too, about hope. Arnold Spirit Jr.
realizes it feels good to help others, and I could
feel that thought resonating inside the room.
Later, my seniors came in for a study of
A Room of One’s Own, and rather than talk and
have to face the reality of this particular irony
head on, I asked my students to make art,
to talk about what was going on in Virginia
Woolf’s head by drawing it on the page.
Students must have paused for a long time
at the passage about the cat without a tail,
the cat pausing, “as if it too questioned the
universe,” as Woolf realizes that, suddenly,

“Everything was
different”
and
“Nothing was changed”
and yet, “the change was there”
not in substance but in sound.
What did men hum before the election?
What did women hum before the election?
And now what, after?
We carry on. We cling to hope.
We agitate and advocate for what we know is good.
We color, and we do what I found today
to be most healthful, finding comfort in
kindness from others and the kind attention
I could give, a hug I received from my son,
and solace in the words on the page.

 

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#226: Orlando, Florida

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A large crowd gathers for a vigil in honor of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting at the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center in Orlando, Fla., on Monday, June 13, 2016. (Charles King/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

In my classroom,
alone, my senior students
out already and a small,
manageable list of things to do
to wrap up the school year,
I’ve got more time than
I’m used to having
and I find myself often
thinking of you, Orlando,
and looking at photos
in an article, “Thousands
Attend Vigil to Prove
That Love Wins.”
Keeping busy might be
an antidote to thinking
and feeling, but I’m not
quite busy enough, so
today I think and feel.
Each photo I look at
chokes me up and I have
to look away to prevent
myself from sobbing.
I don’t know why I feel
it necessary to prevent
myself from sobbing
because if anything warrants it,
this does, and if anyone
walked into my room and saw me
the sobbing would be explicable.
A thought occurs:
through all of these horrific
tragedies, even after
Sandy Hook, I don’t remember
or am not aware of any
of my colleagues losing it
on the job. It’s almost a
kind of unwritten contract
that we agree to take care
of the children in our care
and are last in line in our own need–
or, again too busy to think or feel,
preparing 87 minutes of wall to wall
activity for 3 different classes and
having sometimes 200 kids
to somehow assess, we can’t afford
to slow down for grief or anything
like that. And no one would take
a bereavement day for strangers
on the other side of the continent.
I apologize for this, Orlando,
because in a perfect world,
or even one slightly more perfect
than the one we have, we would
all take bereavement days to grieve
for strangers, or, we would keep working,
finding some way to grieve together
because that would be the most
important work we could do:
grieve, stumbling somehow into hope
and compassion and love, and then
figuring out together how to prevent
and stop madmen from acquiring
automatic weapons in order to
murder more Americans.
It seems to me that this is
the kind of schooling, the kind
of education we need now–
and it’s not like we need to
learn how to do it, because
we already know. We have the
knowledge and we have the power;
we simply need the will. That is all we
need, Orlando, Florida, people
of the United States of America:
we need the collective will
and it is done.

 

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