This is not a good time to look like me.
I spent the last week in a non-wealthy area of a minority majority city. I pretty much shuttled between the work location and my hotel, in part because we were way too busy for sightseeing and in part because the sights I did see were troubling. And sometimes, even scary.
To be sure, I did have some nice but brief encounters with local folk. It won’t surprise you to learn of my penchant for striking up conversations with total strangers. One younger man was six months into his marriage and we spoke of the challenges of new couples melding dietary habits and preferences. He’s a lover of animal proteins and his new bride is near vegan so good luck with that.
It was a nice oasis of friendliness in a sea of worry.
Every business and almost every private residence has some form of bars denying unauthorized entrance. The Garmin lady took me to five grocery stores in succession before I came upon one at which I was comfortable parking and getting out of the car. Is this because of legitimate fear or simply a function of my own ingrained prejudices? A bit of both, maybe?
Anyway, I got a really good dose of being the face that stands out in the crowd. Can’t say I much cared for the experience.
This experience of being the alien in the inner city got me to thinking about my otherness in a wider sense. Most of the people I consider friends outside of work are women. Which means my Facebook feed is chock full of posts that celebrate strong women and identify men as the enemy in one way or another. And as the father of daughters, I can’t say I resent the women doing the posting. I get it. But it is difficult to be identified even tacitly as one of the enemy.
I’m a conservative, in the sense that I strongly believe the best government is the least possible, effective government. I would never single out Planned Parenthood for defunding, but it does fall into the category, along with hundreds of other in-some-way-taxpayer-supported organizations that I do not feel lie within the legitimate province of government to fund or regulate.
I think I would choose a single payer approach to health care, but not while Mitch McConnell and his ilk have a say in what that means. And even if we’re successful at the mid-terms, there’s always another Mitch McConnell arising from the ooze.
I’m white, male, non-religious, looking over my shoulder at middle age and generally conservative.
In the eyes of many people whose opinions matter greatly to me, this description makes me one of Them. I don’t blame my friends for this label. They’re mostly just reacting understandably to the upwelling of bigotry in all its forms that brought the current occupant to the White House (when he’s there, that is).
I blame the guys who look like me who created this situation. I am assumed to be a member of the club but it’s not a club I would have voluntarily joined.
I do not like this, Sam I Am.