I’m looking through social media today, reading headline after headline about the two, in fewer than 24-hours, most recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, and I am so angry, so furious, so incredulous that this is my country that my fingers can hardly keep up with my brain. And I know I’m not alone in these emotions. And I just simply do not understand what the real problem here is.
We are a country engulfed in white nationalism. I suppose we’ve always been this way, but it’s only somewhat recently in our history that people have had access to weapons that could mow down dozens of people in a matter of seconds. Lynching, providing disease-infested blankets or alcohol, burning, dunking, dragging and beating to death were more singular, more methodical, more traditional methods of spreading fear and hatred among people.
It’s so long past the point of any white person in this country claiming that they personally are not a white nationalist; that they don’t condone this kind of action; that they are sending their empty, useless thoughts and prayers to the victims of this or that shooting if they are also holding to the second amendment like a life raft.
If you have voted for a legislator who won’t take on lobbyists and the status quo to demand real, systemic change, then you are complicit (and yes, Ivanka, that is a correct use of the damn word implicit) in this white nationalist movement. If you honestly think that any single liberal person is intent on taking away the legally registered rifles and other guns you use to protect your livestock or legally hunt, then you are living in a Fox-infused land of preposterousness, and I implore you to wake up. You’re embarrassing yourself and us all.
I’ve only ever held a gun once in my life (see photo above) and while I don’t want anything personally to do with them, I don’t give one god damned whit about your legal guns. I certainly hope you are keeping them locked up and unloaded in your home, and I hope that you are teaching your children how to be responsible gun owners, but beyond that, believe me, I don’t want to take your damn guns, and I believe I am not alone in that sentiment.
Way more imperative to me, if you have children, most importantly young, white male children, who seem to be mentally unstable, who are being bullied or who exhibit serious levels of anger, I am imploring you to take extra precautions with your guns and ammunition. If you know of someone who is expressing an inner rage against minorities and immigrants, do your civic duty and get them in touch with professional help or alert authorities to their position.
There can be no question that the man who barely deigns to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave has created a new paradigm for this kind of hatred. He is kerosene on an already burning out of control fire, and we don’t seem interested in stopping him. So then it comes down to what are we doing in our families, in our neighborhoods and in our communities to end this behavior, this mighty tsunami of hatred, violence and irrational fear of anyone who is an “other?”
What conversations are you having at the dining room table? How are you talking about minorities, immigrants, GLBTQ people when you think your kids aren’t listening? What radio or television station is on in the background? What is being preached from your Sunday pulpits?
Research has proven how damaging it is for little girls in particular to hear their mothers bemoan their weight, their fat thighs, their sagging this or that. We know it develops an unconscious, and often debilitating, level of shame and self criticism that girls carry into their adult years, and we know it is highly detrimental to not only their perception of themselves but to their overall mental health and perspective on those around them.
So why would the vicious, hateful rhetoric around new Americans, immigrants, GLBTQ and other minorities, gun rights, violence and more not also infiltrate our children’s minds and bore down, like an insidious bug, into how they grow up to see and act in the world?
I don’t want to see one more “thoughts and prayers” going out from anyone, particularly not from those who have the opportunity to do the right thing and simply refuse. Sending thoughts and prayers is an empty, useless deployment of vapid energy.
I can promise you that if something happens to someone I love because of a white, young, most likely male, American monster, your thoughts and prayers will be the very last thing I will want. Spend your time and energy taking care of those around you, being responsible with your guns and ammunition, checking in on those who seem off kilter, turning off the hate-mongering media and preaching and demanding your legislators to once and for all come together and begin to enact meaningful gun regulations. Then we won’t need so many thoughts and prayers because our children and those we love will be safe…and alive.