Don’t look away. I know how hard it is to say this but don’t look away. All of those images, recordings, and other horrific accounts of the deplorable, sickening, and unconstitutional events at the camps they have set up along the southern border need to be your fuel to take action, get fired up, and take back this country from those that would want to destroy everything we hold dear.
I didn’t think I’d be writing a series about my family post-2016, but if I learned anything, it is that the personal is political, and sadly, things don’t seem to be getting any better.
In the third volume of this ongoing series of misfortunate events, we start back at the very beginning except for this time, involving another family member that voted for Trump (I know, I don’t know how or why I have so many members of my family that voted for that Nazi). In what has become a news story and crisis to shock the world, many people have been taking to their personal social media accounts to spread the word of their outrage, distress, and heartache over children being ripped away from their families at the border. For days I did not see one post that was not talking about the humanitarian crisis at the border or calls for action and ways people could get involved to help.
While I was happy to see so many people trying to find a way to organize and take action, there always seems to be one person who calls on people to look away. Look no further than a member of my family, who voted for Trump, to comment on a status expressing outrage over the recordings of children being ripped away from their families stating: “Why can’t fb just be positive and fun. Why spread the negative?”
Why can’t social media be fun anymore? Why can’t we spread happy pictures of puppies, babies, and rainbows? While the answer may be simple to many of us, let me state it plainly to my relative: Because the world is on fire and we have a racist in the White House creating edicts that call for babies and children to be placed in ‘tender age’ facilities.
52% of white women voted for Trump. While that number still continues to shock many of us, my relatives are part of that statistic, and that is something that I have had to grapple with in order to make sense of this new world order we seem to be experiencing. However, what really is behind that statistic is the real monster responsible for both so many actions we have seen lately and ultimately the reason why someone would state: “Why can’t fb just be positive and fun?”
White privilege is the monster ripping children away from babies. White privilege is the beast that causes white mothers simply look away and find something more pleasing to look at on social media than the horrors going on throughout the world. White privilege is the invisible knapsack that 52% of white women are going to have to unpack if we are to ever get our country back.
Following the comment on social media, my relative reached out and said she wanted to: “save the welfare of our family” because as many of you have read, there has been a little bit of drama. However, before any action could be taken to “save the welfare of our family” (she literally wanted us to each post a cute photo of a baby or puppy to help make sure HER Facebook timeline was filled with cute photos rather than the news) she blocked my other relatives on social media.
So, that leaves me with little but nothing else to say than this: If you want to save the welfare of our family, then you start by not voting for and supporting the policy of a known racist. However, most importantly, you do not look away when you see something that upsets you. Question yourself as to why it upsets you.
If we learned anything from history it is that those that looked away were not favorably remembered by history. From people that looked away when women fought for the right to vote, when the Nazis took Jews to concentration camps, to when African Americans were (and still are) beat up, attacked, and killed for wanting civil rights and equality, people that look away are part of the problem.
I never really talk about my grandfather that much. To be quite honest, he was a very quiet man that I didn’t get to know that much. What I do know is that he did not look away. My grandpa was part of the first U.S. anti-aircraft battalions that arrived at Dachau Concentration Camp the morning after being liberated by the U.S. Army’s 42nd and 45th infantry division.
In a time where two-thirds of millennial and 4 out of 10 Americans overall don’t know what Auschwitz was, we need to make sure people do not look away from the tragedy and horrors around us for the sake of seeing something that comforts them. The scene that my grandfather discusses in the article (photo attached) is forever etched in his memory and while I don’t offer to speak for anyone but myself, what I have seen over the past few weeks (let alone the last two years, remember Charlottesville? I do!) will never leave my memory.
So, to my family member that is craving, albeit pleading, for people to look away, I say this: history will not kindly remember you.
John Erickson is the President of the Hollywood Chapter of the National Organization for Women. John is a Ph.D. Candidate in American Religious History at Claremont Graduate University where he is finishing up his dissertation tentatively titled “Step Sons and Step Daughter”: Chosen Communities, Religion, and LGBT Liberation.” John holds a MA in Women’s Studies in Religion; an MA in Applied Women’s Studies; and a BA in English and Women’s Studies. He is the Founding and Past President of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s LGBTQA+ Alumni Association and currently serves as the Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Stonewall Democratic Club, a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow at Claremont Graduate University. He is a permanent contributor to the blog Feminism and Religion, a Co-Founder of the blog The Engaged Gaze, and the Co-Chair of the Queer Studies in Religion Section of the American Academy of Religion’s Western Region, the only regional section of the American Academy of Religion that is dedicated to the exploration of queer studies in religion and other relevant fields in the nation. In April 2017, he was the first openly gay athlete to be inducted into the Wisconsin Volleyball Conference Hall of Fame. Most recently, John was one of the coordinators of the Women’s March Los Angeles, which brought together 750,000 people in downtown Los Angeles on January 21, 2017, and a Committee Member for the #ResistMarch, which brought together 100,000 people from Hollywood to West Hollywood in honor of LA Pride on June 11, 2017.