(This is a repost of a Facebook ‘Note’)
I’ve received enough replies on certain posts (and private messages as well) that I think it’s time I publicly addressed the issue of ‘my anger’. I have many friends who have expressed concern that I appear to be sitting at my computer all day long, watching news and seething in huge reservoirs of anger and resentment toward #donaldthedumbassracist and all the other charlatans currently turning our country into third-rate banana republic that’s only for the most rich and/or the most racist among us.
Though I firmly believe that to be the case with regards to the current state of my country, I’m actually no more angry at this juncture than at any other that comes to mind. I mean, come on… I’m a Black man in America. I’m also a gay man in America. I’ve had reasons to be angry about how my government has treated both of those groups since the day I was born.
As a gay man, I remember being angry while watching people talk about how it was “God’s will” to let homosexuals die from AIDS. I also remember my anger (and tears) while watching Harvey Milk’s killer be acquitted for his murder after using the ‘Twinkie Defense’. And the list goes on: the denial of same sex spousal benefits across the country, LGBTQ adoption restrictions, Prop 8, the brutal killing of Matthew Shepard, DOMA, etc… Any of these things could have pushed me toward militancy.
But if someone who knows me doesn’t understand how well I’m able to effectively function in this world while being angry enough to spit nails since the moment Eric Garner was choked to death on video for the whole country to see, with no repercussions for anyone involved, then you obviously don’t know me as well as you thought. Or watching Trayvon Martin’s killer go free. Or watching Jordan Davis’ murderer explain how he felt threatened enough to fire 10 bullets into a carfull of teenagers playing music. Or reading about Tamir Rice’s killer applying for other policing jobs after his murder. Or watching Philando Castile getting murdered AFTER fully complying with his murderers instructions. Shall I go on?
All of that pain aside, I fully understand that living in anger is a dubious luxury that I can’t afford. So I get out of bed and go out into the world everyday, functioning as best as I can in this world with enough optimism to keep hope alive; trusting that these shortcomings in my country will continue to change for the better.
Realistically, these changes don’t happen because of cute animal videos, or funny memes about the clientele at Walmart. That’s not how change has ever worked. It would be the highest dereliction of duty on my part if I didn’t find some way to shine a light on the suffering and deaths of those who came before me (or those who are currently suffering and dying) due to bigotry and racism. I can’t NOT acknowledge these things. After all, I could just as easily be the recipient of a gay-bashing, police shooting, or something else.
The fact that my country has become more openly racist and bigoted is a known quantity at this point. (If you don’t agree, unfriend me now.) On top of that bigotry and racism, we now have the horror of watching a potus who daily uses the power of his position to strike at his enemies: be they a person, political party, organization or state. During this Coronavirus pandemic, this means that even more people die needlessly just for political purposes. So one should expect that this will also be on my radar to acknowledge and highlight.
More to the point with my current postings, if my or my partner’s parents die because those who are supposed to ‘lead us’ thought this virus was a political hoax and didn’t sufficiently prepare to protect the citizenry, you better believe I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about ANY other cute meme, pet or recipe. If Greg were to die and I had no rights as his partner because of ‘Religious Freedom’ laws that some desperately want to enact, my own postings would stop and you’d see me organizing in the streets pushing for a revolution, and likely not a peaceful one.
I mute much of what I post because there’s no need to preach to an informed choir. But I’ve also gotten enough private messages to know that I speak for many who may not be able to speak out. I’m happy to do so, and will continue to do so as long as my country is as horribly messed up as it currently shows itself to be.
AND… I will do ALL of these things while keeping a sense of optimism, hope and humor. After all, what’s the point of getting out of bed if there isn’t something better to look forward to on the horizon. This is what I’ve done through all of the above. For myself. For Greg and I. For my parents, family and friends. And also for the many players who I help with my work as an official, both on and off the tennis court.
Yes, I’m angry. And I’m fairly certain I will continue to be so on many fronts for quite some time. But that will never define me. My hope that things will get better in this country is what defines me.
Always remember that!