I was fortunate enough to work in a high school for about six years, and met many wonderful kids there. Most of them just knew that men and women should be equal, gays should have equal rights, human beings of all colors were human beings, etc., etc. Now, years later, some of them are Facebook friends. I saw a comment from one about the Capitol Insurrectionists, saying “ok, they’re racist and Q and they’re mad tRump lost – and that’s not all of it – they’re all SO crazy” I almost answered her there, but decided that it would be too long for a Facebook post.
Gather Round, children, let Granny tell ya a story:
When my brother and I were growing up, we knew that white men ruled the world. Not “this isn’t fair and needs to be changed” but “this is the way the world IS”. All politicians, preachers, doctors, lawyers, business leaders, scientists, – – anyone who made important decisions – were white Protestant men. My brother could grow up to be a doctor, a scientist, or President. I could be a nurse, a teacher, a secretary.
We didn’t know any black kids. I had a friend who was Catholic, which worried my Mother. “They worship idols. They’re not really Christian. Remember that!” My parents were very racist, and not just about black people. Mexicans, Orientals, Indians, — all were inferior to whites. They would have vehemently denied that they were racist. All Christians of other races were probably decent people, they just needed to stay in their own spaces, in their own communities.
When the Constitution says “all men are created equal” that word “men” meant “white male land owners”, the term was obvious and understood by all. In my Great-Grandparents’ time, married women were not allowed to work outside of the home. In the generation before that, a “single woman” didn’t really exist – an unmarried 20-year old female was a drain on her father’s money, and she could be given to any man who would take her. (Exactly what happened to my great-great grandmother, who was given to her much-older husband against her protests.) Women were property – owned by their father, then their husband. They had no rights. Being a slave to a male was the only way to have a roof over your head and food to eat.
World War II changed all that. Women HAD to work to keep the economy from collapsing.
When the men came back from war, most were horrified to learn that “their” women didn’t want to stop working, that “their” women weren’t begging to stay home and cook and clean for their husband all day. There wasn’t an immediate societal change, of course. Many women were forced back home. But change was coming. Still, in the late 1960’s, my parents looked upon my Aunt, who worked, with pity, and upon my Uncle, who allowed it, with scorn. When my Father lost his job in 1972, I saw him cry for the first time. But when my Mother had to take a part-time job, he sobbed. He was a failure as a man. Laws were slowly changing though. By 1977, my Mother could have her own credit card! By 1990, it was illegal for a man to rape his wife in all 50 states. (Before then, she was his property. His children were his property. He could do anything he wanted to them, it was his right.)
These ideas probably make kids born in the 1990s and 2000s want to puke. That’s one reason I love you.
Ideas change slowly. There are still a lot of people in this country that KNOW – not believe, KNOW – that GOD made women inferior to men, and people of color inferior to whites. Christian white males should hold all the power, it’s ordained by Republican Jesus.
And they see that power being stolen! A BLACK MAN became President! The world was going to hell, the end times were surely coming, something had to be done! And then, the nasty Democrats had a . . . a . . . a . . . woman !!!! A WOMAN !!!! running for President. Oh no, this couldn’t be allowed.
So Republicans put a rich white man in power, who claimed to be Christian. His supporters loudly celebrated. Preachers all across the country endorsed him, he was going to bring Christianity back to the land, he was going to lift up white males, pack the courts with conservative Christians, ban abortion, ban gay marriage, build a wall, and put the colored back in their place. He was their God Emperor. (literally, for some)
Well, God Emperor’s approval ratings weren’t so great with people who believed that all people are people. So a Catholic white male won the 2020 election with a (gasp) black/indian mixed-race (!) uppity FEMALE LAWYER as Vice-President, and there is no way that happened without SATANIC INTERFERENCE. The insurrectionists needed to take back that stolen election from the evil, evil forces that made it happen.
Yeah, they’re angry. It’s not just about race. All women and all non-Christians are inferior to them and they need to force the whole world to agree and conform RIGHT NOW.
One more little true story to close this out:
Spring, 2019, I was at my local CVS. They had a radio playing, and somebody was talking about the merits of the two mayoral candidates, Quinton Lucas and Jolie Justus. There were two men in line in front of me wearing red MAGA hats. Behind me were two men and a woman. One of the MAGA guys sneered loudly, “oh great, we have to choose between a n*gger and a b*tch, might as well shoot me now.” His friend looked back at the line, clearly expecting to see grins instead of the death-stares he was getting, while the girl at the cash register silently pushed the bag towards the loud one. He leaned on the counter, got in her face, and said “Do you have a problem with me, Sweetie? Maybe you need to call your manager?” The manager, a black woman, stepped up beside the cashier, and said “I’m the manager. Is there a problem with your purchase, sir?” – in a tone that said “die”. The MAGAs grabbed their bag and practically ran to the door, flipping us off as we clapped and cheered. Some of the people in line tipped the cashier and manager.
This is America 2021.
My generation is fading. The 20 and 30-somethings will soon be in charge. They will fix the horrible mess we made. They will heal the climate. They will destroy racism. They will demand equity for all. It can’t happen soon enough for me.