Don’t Kill My Vibe: On Letting Folks Have Small Wins
The election is (somewhat) over. It took nearly a week to determine some states, and despite the recounts and the sitting president’s own denial, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be next President and Vice President of the U.S. respectively. Everyone remembers when the Associated Press called it, and even after they did, even more votes came in, solidifying Biden’s already popular lead. My Twitter and Instagram feeds were filled with live videos of friends from DC to LA, from London to Paris celebrating in the streets. A huge weight of anxiety was lifted off everyone’s shoulders. Locally, I celebrated at Liberty Pole until my feet were sore, and then I went to bed, got up, and celebrated again outside the next afternoon. I feel good. So I implore you one thing:
“LET US BE HAPPY! DAMN!”
This is request is not addressed to the thousands of trump supporters and QAnon conspiracists who are threatening violence and demanding that ballot counters either keep counting or stop counting depending on which state they are in. This is not for the hardcore Trump zealots who would only accept a Trump win as the truth, who think Newsmax and OANN are “balanced” news sources, and anything left of them is “fake news” or “mainstream media”. truly, how far right must one go that they think FOX NEWS is too liberal biased? Were Biden to win, I expected complaints and tirades from them. Their sorrow means we are doing something right. They are one sheet away from their true forms.
My request is of the “allies” who saw all the joy and celebration and stoically asked, “Why are you all celebrating”? Their implications are that Biden is not the candidate for progress. His 1990s crime bill has devastated the communities it was supposed to protect by putting more Black non-violent drug offenders in jail with felony sentences. His VP-elect was a state prosecutor who enforced jailing hundreds of Black Californians for drug offenses before she became a US senator who voted for FOSTA/SESTA, a paternalistic anti-sex traffic bill that did more to criminalize independent sex workers than it did to punish those who forced people into sex work. We are well aware of that. But this is still a victory, and we deserve to celebrate. Pretending that nothing has changed is flippant. This is a victory, and we deserve to celebrate.
We can celebrate that the person who openly and brazenly bathed in racism, transphobia, and misogyny will no longer be in office come January 20th. He spent his entire campaign dog whistling and dog loudspeaking, emboldening folks to commit more hate crimes against those who are different. And instead of admonishing those who committed the hate crimes, he went on a tirade about “Law and Order”. He tear gassed peaceful protesters for a photo op with a holy book he never opened. With him gone, that emboldening will subside. Biden may have been friends with some of the senators who are as racist as Trump, but he was also the Vice President of our first Black President, and we can hope that he will listen to all Black leaders, not just the ones who parrot the racist dog whistle rhetoric that may as well have come from Lee Atwater or Don Black themselves. And if he doesn’t listen, we know what to do to make him listen.
We can celebrate that our new Vice President is not only Black and Indian, but that she is a member of the country’s oldest Black sorority, a graduate of the country’s second best Historically Black University (Sorry Howard grads. MORGAN FOREVER). We can pick apart her enforcement of the law all day, and I plan to do so. We can also look at her activist roots. A lot of her law enforcement stances, both as a district attorney and a senator, have a whiff of the respectability politics that Black communities clung to in order to assimilate. Now that we know a lot of that is outdated thinking, perhaps Harris is aware of that as well and willing to change her stances after much discussion with today’s leaders.
No matter what obstacles loom, we deserve happiness. Joy and celebration themselves are forms of resistance. Black Joy is rebellion. We have the power to sing and dance about a victory while keeping our eye on the road ahead. Expecting us to always be on edge and continually fighting in the streets and town halls, every day, unhindered, is an unfair burden to put on us. We already had an entire Civil War about placing unfair burdens on us. We are not having it. Don’t mistake our partying for laziness.
People who chide the mirth either are forever miserable or think that we are unaware of the work to be done, like we are going to stop fighting for what is right and roll over. When in the history of the United States has that been the case? If we just rolled over, then Jim Crow would still be in place. There would be no Americans with Disability Act. The Civil Rights Act would never have come to fruition. The 19th Amendment would never have been signed. LGBTQ people would still be criminalized in several states. Even with all those accomplishments, we still keep working, because the other side keeps trying to chip away at the progress already made. We are not stopping. The celebrations over the weekend were less a block party and more a parade toward justice. I look forward to taking Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and my local officials to task for their policies. Until then, PLEASE let me enjoy this repeat playing of “You About to Lose Your Job”.
About Chris Thompson
(he/his/him) Chris Thompson is an engineer, writer, comedian, and activist who made Rochester, New York his home in 2008. In addition to his role as Contributor for 540Blog he currently writes and regularly posts on his own on Instagram and Twitter at @ChronsOfNon. Chris is also a regular contributor for Rochester City Newspaper. His blog is http://www.chroniclesofnonesense.com
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