I know that I promised to do a number of things, including starting a Patreon and also an update after my first 2020 blog post. I am only going to live up to the latter one. The former one, I think I need to re-evaluate when that would be viable for me. I am not yet doing enough “writings” to make it work out right now.
However, I will deliver on my promise to give an update.
Last year, I participated in several protests after last summer’s police brutality and the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and more. If I was not in the crowd, I was driving to a nearby place to deliver water or other supplies, including spare masks. I recognize that COVID-19 was an issue, and almost everyone in the Black Lives Matter protests took it seriously, as well. This is very unlike the later “protests” I saw by people wearing MAGA hats and later, supported or participated in the 2021 January Insurrection. I am going to call it what it is.
I also landed a new job that I started in February 2021, which helped me realize just how badly I was dealing with a toxic climate when living in a small town within Tennessee. I loved the people there as human beings, and I want no ill toward them. However, it started to become apparent I would have to leave for my own safety. Almost daily I saw logos, blatant or less known, for hate groups. Tennessee became more increasingly “red” in its representation. My work environment started to grow further toxic while I lost colleagues to either new opportunities or, really, being fired for something ridiculous when in reality, it was they were fighting a similar uphill battle as myself. I was thankful to leave on my own terms and have that opportunity for some were not so lucky.
One former colleague, in fact, retired because she was fighting cancer, and the moment she left the work environment, her cancer became far less a struggle for her. It was just that bad, and even knowing it was that bad, I still had no idea how bad it was until I left the place and started a new opportunity in the Southwest. I am in northern New Mexico, not necessarily the most progressive part of the state but even then, it had more breathing room than where I was. I am a day’s drive from my grandmother’s, half a day from my parents on the southern side of the state. I blend in a little better and only every few weeks I hear someone say something directed to me that reminds me I am a hyphen in America. While I am taking home less pay, I have retirement, and the town is still far more welcoming than where I was even with still lingering subdued elements of “clannish” behavior all too familiar to me from my childhood and my previous home.
I did have a mental breakdown and was in an unpleasant place as my post-traumatic stress really started to flare up again. I had to seek help and also, as much as I disliked it, put myself on medication. I do not see it as a long-term solution, but until I have developed sufficient coping mechanisms and come to peace with some of the traumas that have been unearthed or resurface, it is what I need to do. Anyone who struggles, please consider the same. It just helped me realize how terrible my mental state was after COVID-19 hit, which I was only partially aware of until I started to “feel better.” Today is a very off day as I struggle with a thousandth paper-cut to the death of my soul, but even this off day was far better than where I was in February.
That being said, there is another blessing. A friend of mine had also moved to the Southwest. I also have a far more supportive work environment. While our administration is somewhat in their own world, I notice the difference between working state and private university. They can get away with far less here. My supervisor has our backs when something problematic happens. There are some people with various identities in our department, and those of us put on the margins seem to have a good sense of solidarity and camaraderie with each other and also our colleagues. It is not perfect, but neither am I. It still is a lot more breathing room than I had.
One thing I will say: I worry for my mother. She is only the past few years starting to do the Work on herself. The anger is coming out and the frustrations of what has happened to her in her life as well, something of which needed coming out, but one thing is different from my situation besides her experience: she is not seeking help. We were a family divided during the elections and she was (rightly) infuriated at how our family had been pit against each other.
As much as it pained me to see this happen, I also was not as shocked as others.
I realized and still realize that many so-called progressive circles take people at the margins for granted. Arrogantly, they assume they will be voted for when they do not bother with outreach to the communities and their constituents. It was a clear show they were not investing in those communities, and the one solid criticism that people sometimes have against left politicians. Truly, I felt they could have taken some wisdom from Senator Cory Booker’s actions during his campaign, which included offering information for people in multiple languages and engaging constituents as human beings (versus just a “voting strategy” or assumption).
Misinformation campaigns dividing not just White-r communities, but also Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) against each other and their best interests. Under A Black Light, hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw, has some good discussions on this topic, which I encourage everyone to look for and view. For my part, I tried to educate my family as much as possible from a place of conversation and respect. Yet I felt like I was fighting an uphill battle when there were other actors in the community, particularly some of white-adjacent relatives (like myself), who leaned heavily on their existing privileges at the expense of everyone else.
There is also this growing feeling that some people are becoming less vigilant now that we have Modern Day Agent Orange out of the White House. While I understand taking mental health breaks and practicing self-care, something I am doing much of myself, I also am still trying to make positive changes in my work environment and also the gaming community, little by little. We cannot afford the assumption we are in a “post-racial” or similar era like people did when Obama became president. The reality is that almost always, when BIPOC occupy a position of influence (as Vice President Kamala Harris does), they are still under the pressures of the more dominant culture to conform to specific narratives. Do not get me wrong: I am glad a certain someone is out of office, and we have not only our first Black woman Vice President, but also Asian-American (South Asian, Tamil), and Multiracial President. Still, a certain someone’s influence still lingers. We will be fighting that, at the very least, for a few years. As we speak on this, multiple states are trying to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT).
Anyone who is not concerned for this from a selfish “does not affect me” perspective need to understand: CRT does not just address discrimination and oppression against people racially othered in our culture (especially black and indigenous). It also addresses gender inequities, sexual orientation, ablebodiness, class, and multitudes of identities. Sooner or later, the system comes after everyone except for who it is made to protect. For anyone who is afraid of the theory being discussed, I also invite you to understand that it is not about “replacing one hierarchy with another” but eliminating hierarchies all together. I understand that sometimes, the way these discussions go on social media may make CRT seem less nuanced than that, but Kimberlé Crenshaw actually discusses CRT and intersections as how she means it here. She is very surprised at how some people (including some ‘liberals/progressives’) take her work into practice. Please take what she has to say, consider how important CRT is to understand many of our social problems.
I will try to keep my blog updated more so that I am giving less word bombarding. Right now, I need to take care of myself. At the moment, it involves finding time to play a video game and prioritize stories of my girl from an analog of a region with Thai, Laotian, and Central/South Vietnamese influence in a multiplayer server, has deva blood, and wants to help save people in a pseudo-European setting. She is in this world to help relieve suffering while also pursuing her own dreams, aspirations, and loves.