I’m really, really tired of this Boomers v Millenials crap.
What utter bullshit.
The fact is, generation after generation of Americans has been told that if they worked hard and got an education, they would get a job and be successful. That they would eventually, maybe with the help of their parents, be able to buy a house and raise a family if they so desired. Every single generation of Americans has been fed this, and for generations it was more (if you were White) or less (if you were anything else) true—before modern medicine extended lives, after multiple massive-scale wars left even a once-massively depressed country hungry for people to fill jobs. The American Dream relied on more than just the willingness to work hard.
This generation of young adults was bottle-fed this dream, and misogyny, and racism, and toxic masculinity. They were fed the idea of bootstrapping, and their own personal merit. They didn’t come up with their expectations, beliefs, and behaviors in a vacuum.
Poor choices were made. Shit went horribly wrong. We all know this. We can say the Boomers fucked shit up, and yeah—they did. Some of them even know it. Hell, my mom still occasionally apologizes, because she sees the difference between my situation and hers. She remembers a time when you could walk into a place and get hired on the spot. She remembers when education was nearly free.
But shit gets fucked up—that’s what happens, kids. Look at history. History is all about shit getting fucked up. And people having to deal with it and getting cranky at the people who came before. I qualify as neither a Boomer nor a Millenial; My generation sorta fell through the cracks. Regardless, people have been treating Millenials like they are angry children. Well, shit yeah.
What we need to recognize is that the Millenials are the first generation for whom that American promise has been well and truly broken (even during the Depression the government was working on programs to help get people back on their feet, in a way that today’s government is not). We need to realize that the things to which they feel they are entitled are things they’ve been promised since birth by people who believed it because it came true for them or enough of the people around them. And that their seeming petulance about it is really just the disappointment of a generation of people who are actually working hard only to discover that every single one of them just got sent searching for the same, nearly empty, pot of gold that they’d been individually assured of finding.
Yes. There is a lot of fucking privilege in that disappointment. Especially a lot of White privilege. (The American Dream is built entirely out of White privilege, once you factor in systemic racism.) That’s been endlessly explored in articles all over the Internet (no, as a person of color I do not dismiss the importance of this issue—it’s just not for this post). Yes. Millenials do need to grow up. Once that disappointment hits, the next move is to get over it and move forward with what you’ve got.
But to have a promise that affects your entire life broken isn’t actually that small of a disappointment. It’s not like they dropped their ice cream cone. They—we all—have to completely restructure our understanding of what is possible, what they are capable of, and how they are going to succeed within the American Reality, not the American Dream.
That’s not actually a small thing.
So here’s the deal. I am angry. Furious. Enraged. Livid. The fact that it is 2015 and it is still possible for me or any of my black friends to have our lives destroyed by supposed servants of the people simply because we are black makes me truly, deeply, painfully angry. The fact that these careless murderers, these state-backed assassins rarely get punished for murdering black people makes me want to flip tables. All of the tables. I’m right there with the rioters in Baltimore, is what I am trying to say. I want to break the windows of cop cars. I want to set shit on fire. I want to flip tables, throw rocks, pound concrete, rage against this system that has perpetuated itself BECAUSE REMAINING QUIET ONLY FUELS THE ENGINE THAT MAKES OPPRESSION POSSIBLE.
So when you tell me that racism is shitty, but you’d really prefer if people could go back to reasoned arguments on Facebook instead of destroying property, all I hear is: “I have the privilege of waiting for you to receive justice, and your life means less to me than glass and concrete.” When you tell me that you don’t condone the actions of corrupt racist police forces across the country, but follow that up with, “but we need to find intelligent ways to fight,” all I hear is: “I’m avoiding using the word ‘thug’ because I’ve read somewhere that it is racist.” When you tell me, “I feel angry too, but you don’t see me smashing in small business windows,” I hear, “I will never have to worry about my children being shot by the police simply for the color of their skin, so I can afford to show my anger by sharing articles on social media.”
If you are white, and puzzled by the rage and pain of your black friends, family, lovers, partners, and children, then you are part of the problem. If you decry the destruction of cars with the same energy that you decry the destruction of lives and families, then you are part of the problem. If you think just talking about these issues is getting anybody but white people anywhere, then you are part of the problem. If you are wishing for the days when we could pretend to be color blind and the goal was to become a Bill Cosby-approved house negro, your time has passed. Evolve, or you are part of the problem.
If you are not already angry, now is the time to get angry. If you have not already found your rage about this situation—and I don’t mean self-righteous indignation, here, I mean that deep acid burn in the center of your being that threatens to overcome your very existence every time you hear of a new murder, every time you watch a cop walk free, every time George Zimmerman appears on the news, every time one of your fedora-wearing, libertarian-voting, #notallwhatever white friends brings up black on black crime or absentee fathers, then I simply do not understand. If, when another name floats to the surface of your awareness and becomes yet another hashtag (and they do every 28 hours—black men are being murdered by police practically daily and that number does not include women of color or trans people of color), you do not feel like buying a ticket to Baltimore to smash cars with your black brothers and sisters, then I do not understand. I. Don’t. Understand.
But you go ahead and keep telling me there are better ways for people to fight state-sponsored murder, that waiting quietly and voting the right people into office is going to work for us eventually. That white people will eventually just give up that upper hand and stop being racist. After all, we have a black president, right? More importantly, keep telling yourself all of that. In this instance, the lie you believe is far more powerful and damaging than the one I believe. And you can afford to believe it.
You’re the problem. You.
Hello, Gentle Reader. Been a while since I blogged, and odds are you know why, but I’m gonna tell the story like you don’t, so you will just have to sit and listen with the rest of the kids.
On January 19th (that’s the day after my birthday, for those of you playing the Whiskeypants! Home Game™), I decided that I wanted a sandwich from Berkeley Bowl, where the sandwiches are sufficiently delicious that I was willing to brave one of the mid-level circles of Hell to get one. I picked up a few other things, hopped back on Clyde, my beloved motorcycle, and moseyed back home. I was enjoying the sunshine and the clear roads, taking it slowly because I hadn’t been out in a bit and wanted to enjoy it.
If you have never ridden a motorcycle, you might not realize how hyperaware bikers tend to be of their surroundings. That’s not to say we can’t be taken by surprise, but we are also intensely aware that death or severe bodily injury could come from any direction, and the best way to avoid it is to know what’s going on around us at all times. What we absolutely cannot be prepared for is the sheer cluelessness of the motorists around us.
So, when I noted a car coming from the opposite direction that was signaling a left turn, I could not know that: 1. When the driver slowed as I approached the intersection it was not because she saw me; 2. She wasn’t slowing to give me my right of way; 3. She was slowing for some other reason related to her turn.
Thinking she understood that there was oncoming traffic and that I did have the right of way, I entered the intersection. I was wrong; she also entered the intersection. Having corrected her initial turn, she sped right along into her left, and into me.
The map is not included for accuracy, but just to give you an idea of what happened. She hit me dead on. I couldn’t possibly recreate that angle accurately, but as you can see, the turn requires a funky angle to begin with. Her fender definitely connected with my left leg, however, and both my bike and I were flung quite a ways. The green pentagon represents where Clyde landed, more or less, and the yellow represents where I landed.
I went down screaming, body and head hitting the ground hard (were it not for my beloved Shoei helmet I might not be here to write this blog post, actually). I will spare you the details of how it felt. I will tell you that in the time spent waiting for the paramedics, I screamed, I wept, I begged for help, I asked how my motorcycle was [PRIORITIES], and I knew there was something horribly wrong with my leg. They finally got me out of the street and into Highland Hospital in Oakland, where treatment began.
I was several days in the hospital and one operation in before a decision was finally made (a decision I was and am 100% behind) to amputate my left leg below the knee. Basically, January 19 and one very careless driver managed to change my life forever. But I ain’t mad.
I got lucky. That accident could easily have killed me or left me with much more severe injuries and disabilities. In the past two weeks I have discovered that I have a veritable army of friends and family who are willing to step up in ways small and huge. I’m gonna have a badass prosthesis. And perhaps most importantly to my happiness, I can still ride motorcycles. In the mean time, I am learning how to function minus a left leg. I am learning just how annoying a phantom limb can be. I am learning how much my friends love and care for me. And, while it will in no way be easy, and it will take a lot to get me back to the point where I can really enjoy my life again, things are gonna be all right.
Insurance is not going to cover all of my medical expenses, nor all of the costs of the changes I will have to make in terms of lifestyle, living and transportation accommodations, and of course there will be myriad other expenses that will crop up as a matter of course. My friends have set up a fundraiser to help me and if you wouldn’t mind either donating or sharing (or both, if you are feeling wacky like that), I would appreciate it greatly. However, no obligation, Gentle Reader: I love you regardless.
In the mean time, as I heal, my stump is gonna make faces at you.