This class thing. This class thing it haunts me. More so than my mixed heritage. More so than the blood that runs through me that people fight to categorize and define for me. The blood they deny me. It’s my brother’s inability to follow-up with anything. It’s my mother on the phone telling me without irony to vote for Donald Trump.
I guess I see us as working class mostly because of the lack of economic security we’ve always known. I guess I always carried around this feeling that there was no safety net, that we claimed no assets, that money seemed elusive.
My brother lost his license a few years ago for getting caught more than once with marijuana paraphernalia. A good looking white boy; but a white boy from a known struggling family with little prospects ahead of him. This was enough for him to end up on probation for many years and to lose his driving privileges. My friends tell me stories of driving drunk, of stealing, of hurting girls or dogs or crops. Of smoking on the beach or at the park. They tell me with laughter in their eyes and slight embarrassment around the corners of their mouth. You’re lucky, I don’t tell them. You’re safe.
It’s why I don’t discount stories of racism. Why I do support BLM. Why I raise an eyebrow at all those microinvalidations. Because people act like some prejudice gets more attention than others. What station are you on? Click it three ways to the left. No, we’re all fighting different beasts, but those beasts are born of the same nightmares. They know the same tricks. My mother thinks if my brother were black, he wouldn’t have to fight these fights. I tell my mother, if he were black, he’d be dead or imprisoned. Incarcerated. She tells me I’m dramatic and sympathetic. I don’t tell her she’s white and working class and prejudice. That she grew up safe.
Am I doing enough for him? Have I done enough for him? I just want him to be safe.
It’s easy to believe in the things you see every day. It’s harder to close your eyes and imagine something else. How do you know what you don’t know? Why do you claim to ever know?