I’ve noticed that I’m always angry. More so now than as a young college student. Though it could be possible that my temperament is biological (I come from a long line of hot-headed Filipino men and women), I don’t think my anger is possible without significant triggers. Over the past several weeks, these triggers have bombarded my inbox, Facebook and Twitter feed, television, radio stations, and in-person conversations. Triggers that are racist, sexist, and/or homophobic. Triggers that make me strongly question whether we have come so far or not nearly far enough as People of Color and Progressives. The list of wickedness is long. And THAT angers me deeply.
Oh, the state of Florida. I knew in 2000 we would have trouble with you, and I was just 14 years old. Now present day, you’ve acquitted a murderer while handing a woman a 20 year sentence for firing warning shots at her abusive husband. Something’s not right with you, Florida. You’re like the weird uncle at the Thanksgiving table. Hardly anyone understands you, but you’re there because you’re family. That is until the rowdy youngin’s decide to stand up against you.
There is something hopeful happening in this wacky state. There are folks who call themselves the Dream Defenders - a group of youth and students fighting the “criminalization of our generation by directly confronting the sources, sponsors, and supporters of it” by ways of civic engagement and nonviolent civil disobedience. Today marks the 10th day they’ve been at the state capitol building urging Governor Rick Scott to enact Trayvon’s Law. The law would repeal the Stand Your Ground law, ban racial profiling and end the school-to-prison pipeline. If you haven’t seen these courageous men and women, take a moment to read what they have to say. I urge you to support them.
2. NORTH CAROLINA
#MoralMondays makes my heart flutter with happiness. Until I read the laundry list of disenfranchising bills from the state legislature. It’s a steep uphill battle. In 2010, North Carolina’s state legislature flipped, giving Republicans the majority in both chambers. In addition when the 2010 Census data was released, the Republican-led state legislature was able to redraw lines to their benefit. In recent news, a three-judge panel in North Carolina declared that the district lines “do not impair the constitutional rights of the citizens of North Carolina as those rights are defined by law.”
With the legislature on a roll to roll back rights, North Carolinians now have a motorcycle safety bill with unrelated abortion restrictions tacked on, a voter suppression bill, and the elimination of federally-funded compensation for the unemployed. North Carolina and Florida need to be uninvited to the next Turkey day.
3. “MEXICANS” SINGING GOD BLESS AMERICA
How many readers are baseball fans? Did you watch Marc Anthony sing at the All-Star game? So did racist America. The Puerto Rican-American singer, born and raised in New York’s Spanish Harlem, was ridiculed for singing “God Bless America”. Twitter and Facebook were flooded with racist slurs and extremely degrading remarks about Anthony’s American-ness. Some equated him to Castro. Others called him a “spic”. Some questioned his citizenship with one person asking “Shouldn’t you be FROM America?”
Newsflash - Marc Anthony was born in New York City. Also, racist America, you need a history lesson. Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since 1898, when the United States and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris to end the Spanish-American War. In 1917, the US Congress passed the Jones-Shafroth Act granting all Puerto Ricans citizenship. So even if Marc Anthony were born in Puerto Rico, he’d still be American. How do ya like them apples!
4. VIRGINIA’S SEX BAN
I consider myself to be a sex-positive person - a firm believer in the sex-positive movement. So when I heard Virginia’s GOP Candidate for Governor, Ken Cuccinelli, intention to bring back archaic laws to ban oral and anal sex between consenting adults, I went ‘cray’. He claims that this ban will help keep kids safe from sexual predators. In his mind, only with this law can Virginia try people who rape children. A bit far fetched considering there are rape and child molestation laws in place. I’m with Barbara Walters on this one - Cuccinelli is equating oral sex with gay sex. The shadiness of this all is that in 2004 Cuccinelli opposed the same bill and helped kill it on the Senate floor.
The Result of Hope’s Anger
The beautiful thing about these triggers, is the courage that it builds. The courage that it produces in others to stand up and never back down. From the Dream Defenders in Florida to the protesters at #MoralMondays in North Carolina, it is true that only light can drive out darkness. There is a tale that Hope had two daughters: Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are. But Courage to see that they don’t remain the same. I still question whether we have come so far or not far enough. These days I lean towards not far enough. Some days I lean towards so far. But everyday, I know we still have work to do.