Diversity really means becoming complete as human beings
- all of us. We learn from each other.
If you're missing on that stage, we learn less - Juan Felipe Herrera
How have you been faring since the election? I worked a captain shift on that pivotal night, feeding the Yahoo News Studios until 1AM with Katie Couric hosting a live panel. We served Ava's Cupcakes: The "Hillary" was red velvet with an edible print of her face on top of a buttercream icing and dusted with blue glitter. The "Trump" was vanilla and cherry with his face framed by gold dusted chocolate bricks:
Yahoo Staffer: (incredulous) Is that supposed to be "The Wall"?!
Me: The baker really didn't say. Hmm, you know what? Sure looks it.
Yahoo Staffer: I'll eat Hillary... Aah, but the other ones look really good!
Me: It's okay, I won't judge you.
I saw people cringe as they bit into Trump's face, their pleasure senses buzzed quashing their revulsion to vomit. Their angst was further compounded by the dueling Ample Hills ice creams: "Madam President" (spicy chili chocolate described as powerful but comforting) "Make America Orange Again" (sherbet with big chunks of chocolate) when people agreed again aghast that his flavor tasted better. On a positive note, the churros were the biggest hit! Throughout the night, their dulce de leche dip sweetened the crushing, eventual realization that much of America nursed a very different view as the map steadily bled red with turning states.
As an Aussie standing in the thick of these turbulent times, America's political landscape can only be described as bipolar. Back home, I thought I was informed enough by watching The West Wing (even learning about filibusters from an episode!). I always assumed the majority in the US were more on the Democrat side, especially after Bush.
But that view must be severely outdated because here I was in 2016: surely, Trump is just a crazy reality TV star and Ms. Clinton will clearly be the first woman president! But as the numbers grew in his favor, I thought "Pardon me, is there something about her I don't know?" So I've been asking. Maybe it's my demeanor (the accent helps) that enables those of differing political views to feel safe and forthcoming when given space to tell me
earnestly how and why they made their choices. Here's a toe dipped into the current of conversations I've had so far:
"If he wins, there will be war! She kills people! America is so racist: It's because Obama won that this happened! Trump doesn't really grab women's pussies! There will be riots and anarchy! The media suppressed Jill Stein: she never had a chance! All talk, no walk: he won't really be that bad! In secret, Hillary's more white privilege than Trump! Neither of these people! Just watch our economy go down! People in Congress will stop him from really fucking up the country! Obama didn't support the middle class! Please don't associate me with these extreme right wing people: I have never been racist or sexist towards you. Did you actually lose money during Obama's time? Well no, his health insurance helped us more because we're married with two kids. But you still voted for Trump? Well... yes. I don't like Hillary."
Wow! I understand black and white "frothing at the mouth" opinions, but I totally underestimated the amount of grey coming from an array of ethnicities: my friends and colleague's eyes were clear and words measured. Were people tuning into completely different channels? How can you tell what's false information or not?
I'm further gobsmacked by knowing several Americans who did not vote at all (because they supported neither one or maybe it's hard to admit they find politics confusing) but, still, in their stance they believe they have the freedom to NOT choose! Back in Australia, it's actually the law: we get bloody fined if we don't vote! It's like my mother country is holding me accountable and she will bitch slap me if she doesn't get to hear my say. That might sound harsh but it does make you feel something inside: cared for and needed, that every opinion actually does matter and, above all, how much we're ALL included together. I feel a greater responsibility toward my vote's affect on everyone else living there. I don't see that so much here.
Beckoning me to come home, my folks said "The world is watching!". I replied thoughtfully "No. I think we really need to stay and fight, ya know?". I've had the option to become an American citizen ever since we surpassed our first three years of marriage, but maybe I never really wanted to do so. Dual citizenship means paying both taxes!
Besides, if this man Trump means what he says or even does not, his words have spread a wildfire of fear, division and tension all throughout this country. First and fundamentally, I am a humanist: every individual person (regardless of your race, sex, impairment, class and sexual or religious preferences) deserves dignity and the chance to create something truly meaningful with their lives. I don't profess to have a sweeping overview of what I think America should do, but I will stand by anyone who is threatened, harmed or disrespected as somehow being "lesser". My goals in coming here also haven't changed: Acting. Finding and collaborating with kindred artists. Writing and producing my own content. Creating art. Contributing a verse to humankind.
Speaking of someone who contributed (thousands of) brilliant verses, I met the late Leonard Cohen once while working for Australia Post. He asked for Japanese Fountain Pens. We didn't carry them but I knew a stationary store just down the street that did. "Unfortunately, I have to go and do something now". Amused, I replied "You mean your concert tonight?"
To end with, here's a hysterical sketch that tackles a lot of the hot button issues we will now be dealing with like immigration, white privilege and superiority. Turning them on their head, it subverts our expectations about what roles we are expected to play and whether we should allow ourselves to be subjected to stereotypes and a submissive status: Take a Cinco Shower!
Love Dianne xxx