Hello! My name is Charlie and I’m going to confess something to you: I’m not a very good activist. I’m not the smartest guy, the most well-informed, the most charismatic or the most patient. Hell, I’m not a good example of much if I take a minute to really look myself up close. I’m just a middle-class white guy with a storied past and some bad writing habits.
But, like most of you, I’ve been silent for too long. Today is the day that all changes.
First, let me assure you of one thing: I’m not here to lecture you. I lecture my kids plenty about all kinds of stuff and quite frankly I’m getting tired of my own voice. I mansplain myself everyday, which is very meta. But I do care that you aren’t registered to vote or haven’t voted. I give a crap that you think climate change is bullshit. I look askance at when you reply “all lives matter” after I’ve just explained what black friends have shared with me about their experiences with racism in this country. I have a problem when I see equal rights for marginalized people and those who don’t have the means to protect themselves threatened, weakened, nullified or otherwise flushed down a toilet. I won’t sit back and allow money to make mandates our country’s policies and politicians. And I take issue with unprepared, unqualified people getting nominated and elected into office, waltzing into power.
Being smart is not elitist, being compassionate is not weak, being diplomatic is not yielding and being experienced does not automatically mean you are corrupt.
Let me throw out some numbers to you because watching me do math is almost as much fun as talking politics with people on Facebook: While hailed as the most diverse in history, 115th Congress is still roughly 80% male (though women make up 50% of our population), 81% white and only eight total LGBT members serving our legislative branch. That is not diverse. That’s like saying a Super Bowl party that offers different kinds of mayonnaise is a diverse set of dipping sauces. White and not particularly inspiring. Fox News even called 2016 “the year of the angry white male.” Breitbart started a scholarship for white men. A white man took the Oval Office on backs of scared, white people. And as a white person, this is all pretty troubling to me.
But why? I don’t stand to be personally disadvantaged in this day and age of the Alt-Right, Alt-Facts, and Alt-Reality. White people are playing Supermarket Sweep with political offices, banking, and every other damn thing. I should be super excited about reverse affirmative action, right? Well, let’s start with this: Recently my seven-year-old niece asked if she was going to be deported because she’s of Mexican descent. Take a moment to let that sink in and you’ll understand why I choose to fight.
While we may argue over why we are a divided country looking to solve some big challenges over the next decade. We face issues with poverty, aggression, stagnancy, joblessness, isolationism and a system that fails more often than is fair.
This country needs your help. Probably even more than it needs mine.
Patriotism stems from the feeling you have for the ideals upon which your hope is built, not the people who serve, nor which candidate can spend the most or has the best-looking teeth. It comes from the feeling that you, and the people around you, deserve a place where they can pursue happiness, liberty and a life. Unobstructed.
These three men hang on the wall next to my desk. They remind me of the work yet to be done. That masculinity is predicated on the strength of our actions not the power of our bodies. That comparing our journeys is wasteful because none of us have the same destination. And resistance must be met with equal power.
With your help, that power could be enough to face the challenges ahead. But only if we climb together. And my help is yours.