Well, I’m back. -kicks his dusty soapbox midstage from the wings- Let’s begin, shall we?
I recently watched The Orville in it’s entirety. I highly recommend it, by the way. It reminded me much of why I took a shine to science fiction as a child. Star Trek: The Next Generation showed me a future in which I and my descendants could prosper. Many of the characters had traits I aspired to, but many I identified with directly. Worf was not so dissimilar from my father. Solid of body, deep of voice, and reliable to a fault. I could relate Guinan to my mother for their wisdom and patience while simultaneously exuding a jovial yet no-nonsense aura. And when I needed glasses in the second grade I didn’t fret. Geordi, with his sight aid, saw the world like none other and gave me the space to take pride as a person of intellect.
While I still find a lot of joy in fantasy fiction, it has felt somewhat alienating. It is often set in the past, in Eurocentric settings that do not include people that look like me. The cultural touchstones are similarly sourced. So while I am now well versed in a variety of settings not out of place at a Renaissance Festival, there is much of my own culture that is considered so niche as to be anathema, and thus rarely gets wide reach. I latch onto codes like Bushido and Chivarly easily because I do admire them, but also because I have nothing from my own culture to resonate with. These settings are often harsher affairs. The backdrops are often bleak and filled with war. Corrupt elites inflicting draconian rule. Power is maintained with iron grips so tight that the world is reduced to sand.
To bring this to the topic I wish to speak on, there are people on the socio-political spectrum that try to bring what I loathe of fantasy to life. I use and will use in the course of this piece, the umbrella term “Conservative”. This includes Republicans, some vocal Christians, self-proclaimed Conservatives of course, and many others. I do not define them via their terms or anything public but instead based on my experiences and observations. In brief, my view of Conservatives is that they are people that think the world reached its zenith at some point in the past. Changes since then have been aberrations and perversions upon perfection and thus they wish to return society to what they view as an ideal state.
The Orville, much like Star Trek, centers us on an Earth-based culture that lives post-scarcity. The way The Orville explains it is that Reputation is currency. And Reputation is earned by doing something. Anything. You can join The Union, the interplanetary organization, become a writer, or a researcher, or find your bliss in something domestic. As long as you do not submit to lethargy and do nothing, you are a valued member of society and no qualms are made with how you live your life.
I do not know if that is how I want the world to be. But I do know I want to live on a post-scarcity Earth. Whenever I see homeless people, I wonder what their story is and how America’s social systems failed them. I’ve hated working in some food service outlets because of the amount of food that is just thrown away when I know people are hungry. I’ve also hated getting yanked around by companies “treating me like family”. Hired on as part-time, too much to meet stipulations to get a second job, but just shy of legal full-time requirements. America in the modern day has the resources, the data, and the wisdom to get this right. To bring every person from womb to tomb into the fold. To set everyone up to self-define The American Dream. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations as the Trek community likes to say.
In just my own life, when I have put forth a desire to what I see as a better world…
…Conservatives tell me that what I am seeing is not a problem, but a feature. That The System is working as intended.
…Republicans tell me that their resources, monetary or otherwise, just don’t exist to support my designs.
…Christians tell me that the problem is that I live my life too far from God, and he would bless me if I would relent.
I feel like this can be bookended succinctly. There is overlap in the people who decried integrating schools pre-Civil Rights Act now trying to keep grand and great+grand grandchildren from asking too many questions about which side of history they are on. The Myths of America, in this case, Racism being beaten in 1964, are more important than the truth. The truth is that America still does not keep its promises to even its citizens.
I like to always posit solutions in my pieces. But it feels fruitless. To try and effect change on a broad scale I have to sit at a table with people that would titter with glee if we woke up and the clock was rolled back to 1822. People who hold sacrosanct the words of dead men, archaic laws, and religious texts millennia old from half a world away impede me from even standing on my own two feet. If I show passion, indignation, or any emotion in the face of this, I have “lost”. I have to wait and “give [it] time” to those with power and “be patient” with those more Moderate/Centrist while they do nothing to help me or ostracize their cohorts. And so slowly rot reclaims this country.
I strive to not be as… vitriolic as I presently am. But I am TIRED.
I had a Conservative family member insist I watch a video by Candace Owens because she was saying everything my family member thought. But I could not get that same family member to read the writings about my own life. Candace Owens is not a monolith. Nor am I. But it hurts when someone who supposedly loves me will not hear me because my truth runs counter to their chosen worldview.
I had a Conservative friend who, when I voiced my reasons for supporting protests against police brutality, said nothing to me. A couple Good Ole Boys responded to me and there were likes and responses in support of them. Black people protesting in the modern day is pointless because there is no “true evil” here. Not like when Jesse Owens showed up Nazis at the Olympics. Because the only way to protest is to do whatever you are supposed to do. And the threshold of evil is Nazism.
…because there are no self-professed Nazis in modern America. -cough-
I had a Conservative friend who, during a visit, ranted on about how great America was and anyone who said otherwise chose to be a victim. I reminded them of my close encounters with the lawman kind. I asked if I chose to be a victim while walking to work when an officer would not take a hand off his firearm. Or home from work. Or when I am stopped while driving friends overnight and police ask my passengers if they’re safe. I wanted to know if I am choosing that in their mind. With my friends’ knowledge of me, I wanted to know what about me was deserving of this suspicion and interjection. I got no answer.
I cannot convince people that love me to act openly for my benefit. Yet I am to work amicably with people who pride themselves on their hatred of me due solely to my darker skin. Love cannot sway and thus win the day. What hope am I left with?
I am left with the delusion of Hope. Since the attempted Coup and Insurrection of January 6th, Trump’s supporters have skittered off to the shadows. I tell myself the world is better. But I know they are there now as they were before throughout the whole of my life. I tell myself life is good while I earn maybe $60 daily running deliveries, but that is only a boon because the car I drive is not mine and I do not pay rent. I say I march ahead, but the forces that control the world are moving the very ground itself. The House always wins. The Senate, Executive and Judiciary Branches do too. And their various connections.
And so I have accepted that I have to just live. In spite of those that would harm me. With the unease that, at any point in time, a racist with a gun could shoot me and likely get away with it. That my socio-political beliefs are so poisonous that no politician will ever touch them. Knowing that I am not one to ever be a political candidate.
But knowing, ultimately, that my well-being and that of many who live is an acceptable sacrifice to the infinitely redefined words of men who held me indistinguishable from livestock.