By Valerie Rice | January 26, 2021
My dear readers, I deeply apologize for my absence as of late. I, like many of you, have been in a state of shock. Over the last few weeks I have been introspective and walled myself into a cocoon of nostalgia, data, and logic to try to heal. The result? I am still deeply saddened and dismayed by many things. I am heartbroken at the state of our nation and our families. I feel an aching wound in my soul and acknowledge that it will take time to heal. And yet we soldier on, don’t we?
I was born in the year 1982. Because I am THAT old. As an Elder Millennial, or Xeniall, I have lived through over 2,000 bombings on U.S soil, 73% of which have been perpetrated by right ring domestic terrorists in the last decade. I have survived over 90 mass shootings, many of them on school grounds, to say nothing of the gunshots that ring out clearly in my neighborhood and on the streets of every city in the US daily. In fact, the gunshot has become part of the Urban Lullaby, much like the ambulance siren and the shrieks and sobs of domestic violence bleeding out from the neighboring apartments. The police do not come here unless it is to chastise us for bothering them, or to arrest anyone who may possibly be a person of color. And yet, we soldier on.
I have managed to navigate a life of economic crisis, most notably the crashes of 2001, 2008, and now 2020. Yes, I lived on the streets. Yes, I scraped my way up to a low-income single parent household where I worked 2 full time jobs and attended higher education full time, in order to feed my children and hopefully improve our station following my own divorce from a violent man. Ys, my children slept in cars and on sidewalks and gutters with me thanks to the curse of trickle down economics and lack of healthcare after I was hit by a car. And yet we soldier on, now with a roof over our heads and at least a little bit of food to eat. We smile, and soldier on.
I have now managed to crawl my way through a deadly pandemic with a rabid dictator and his insidious cult following. I have had the distinct displease of watching mass graves for the dead, tent hospitals set up on the corner for the dying, and empty streets. I have had to listen to people rationalize why they don’t have to take precautions to prevent the spread of a deadly disease. I have heard the poor workers explain that they MUST reopen or they will suffer even more, a slave to the economy, which is what we all are, whilst simultaneously decrying socialism while other, more socialist countries thrive around us. I huddle in my home, too sick to leave but needing assistance, my medical team throwing everything they can think of at me to keep me away from the disease ridden hospital that will surely be the end of my life. And Yet, we soldier on.
I have seen the government of my beloved country (we all love our country, even though it admittedly sucks and rarely loves us back) shut down several times, most (if not all) of them under the terrible reign of republicans, because they care only for their sponsors and not the people. And why? Because I love the land, the spirit, the simple wild tenacity of the people here. Besides, I can’t afford to go down the street, let alone cross a border, which I have actually thought about in recent years.
We fought legally, with votes and rallies and phone banks and peaceful protests which were and we lifted our voices and cried out for change and we got it. Finally. On January 6, 2021, I witnessed the single most terrifying event of my existence. This, more than the attack on the twin towers on 9-11 we all swear to remember, was the only thing that has ever struck true fear into my heart. The insurrection at the US capital, followed by the lack of action from the government has flooded me with true terror. Yes, we are the burnout generation, desensitized by a lifetime of witnessing violence and being degraded by everyone around us, being told to “live within our means” while the unspoken “or die” hangs heavily unsaid on our hearts. We have solidified a wall of uncaring or devil may care attitudes in an attempt to cope, along with our drinking, drug use, and other bad habits. I saw this, and cried out in fear and despair, knowing that the democracy I had believed my entire life was a sham. A shadow puppet play for those of us locked deep in the cave, and was lost. So America, my dearest United States, I know you have no love for me or mine. I have lived it. But I have also done everything I can, legally, to improve you. Yet you allow such disregard for the constitution and every principle we are taught to hold dear to play out on the world stage and then try and tell us to forget and move on. I won’t. Show us you have value, follow your own teachings and laws, and hold the people responsible, including those in office, accountable. Nobody is swallowing your lies. You continue to allow the minority extremists control the rule of law despite everything else. So, fuck you. Fix it.
All my love,