Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream – in the past 24 hours someone was shot on my campus during a protest, I’ve spent 16 hours in bed (3 sleeping), and spent 4+ hours marching for my American dream – I can’t think of a more relevant title.
For some, this book was a misguided bible for rebellion, introduction to drug subculture, or gateway to “beat” literature. I know I was somewhere in this mix. But, the 2 part article turned novel, fueled by drugs and mania, is Thompson’s intentional/unintentional commentary on the failed counterculture of the 60’s. How the era of free love transformed into a garish drug-fueled counterculture that was vapid and shallow. I don’t want to discount the progress made by the civil rights movement but, as many of us are starting to understand, there are always people left out of movements. I can’t help but see a parallel between the 60’s mindset that flower power could solve America’s ills, and the current trend toward political correctness and liberalism. Until Donald Trump was elected president, I thought these things could fix America too.
Now, I feel like I’m on a bad trip with Trump’s painfully sobering inauguration. As a woman, I’ve felt discriminated against and victimized, and I’d say every woman has once, if not repeatedly. So, a sexist, predator (not sure if there’s another kind?) like Donald Trump in the White House, is truly terrifying. And yet even as I type this, I hate the word ‘victimized’, I hate expressing that I’m afraid because I don’t want to look weak. I don’t want to admit that my fear for my loved ones in the LGBTQ community, of diverse backgrounds, with disabilities, who practice different religions, who are outspoken, who are nasty women, that my fear for them keeps me up at night. Now for the loathing.
Despite my upbringing, I didn’t start to understand inequity in this country until college. I remember having friends who served as the “authority” on black culture in classes because they looked the part. The idea that one person is supposed to know the feelings and beliefs of an entire group of people seems so absurd – but it happened. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of subjecting someone to something like this, but that’s a point for another time. The point is that this way of life must be exhausting. Having to constantly explain yourself or to be a representative of a group of people. Whether you’re black, gay, Muslim, explaining yourself to make the majority feel comfortable or enlightened or something.
And then there are the intricate systems of discrimination ingrained in the foundation of our country. It’s why minorities are 30% of the general population, but make up 60% of the prison population. Then there’s the violence. I can’t remember how many times I cried after the Florida night club shooting. This was one of the first times I got into my head that this is the kind of fear and sadness that my friends in the LGBTQ community face on a regular basis.
I’m angry with myself because I couldn’t understand until it was happening to me. Me, a primarily white, upper middle class, highly educated, heterosexual, cis, woman. While I’m afraid what this administration will do to my rights, it will most likely be a blip in my existence compared to the rights of others. And thus, I find myself battling fear and loathing. Wishing I had some answer, some solution. Knowing that Trump couldn’t have won just with bigotry, that there are people who have been left out for a long time, feeling like I’m part of a bigger problem that I can’t fix.
But, giving up isn’t the American way. And while I’m not sure what the American Dream is anymore, it needs to be available to everyone.
I didn’t make New Years’ resolutions, so I’ll make New Administration resolutions instead:
- Stay Woke: Actually watch the news, listen to Slate’s Political Gabfest and Freakonomics.
- Trade in crappy crime shows for relevant documentaries.
- Be self-reflective.
- Voice my opinion.
- Have uncomfortable conversations.
- Stay nasty.
I wanted to end with one of my favorite videos of the week: Why I’m Happy Donald Trump Won