Which hand will you play?
It’s a weird rap being Italian American. People of color look at you like you’re white. And white people usually reject you as “foreign” and not “part of the club.” So it can sometimes feel like you don’t belong anywhere.
But the flip side of floating somewhere between white America and people of color is that you can sometimes also be accepted into both circles, even if it’s by accident.
Here in LA, I’m often mistaken for a Latina. And the truth is that I identify the most as a woman, an immigrant and a minority, and understand very well the struggle for rights, representation and the need to fight institutionalized racism and sexism.
But every once in a while, a white person, usually a white male (sorry) will mistake me for “one of them” and casually drop something horrifically racist in my ear. Because I also happen to be an introvert, in the past I would usually freeze up awkwardly, stare at them aghast and then rack my brain looking for an exit.
Sadly, this happened to me not two nights ago, and it really forced me to think about when was the last time someone casually said something that horrifically racist to me?
And I know it’s a privilege to be able to say that these types of “run ins” with closet racists don’t happen to me very often.
I’ll admit, I was much more comfortable when these people were ashamed of their views and only shared them in the company of other racists. But ever since Drumpf has taken over, people that were once closet racists have been significantly emboldened. Drumpf’s ignorant and hateful rhetoric has given them a voice, lent legitimacy to their views and inspired them to rise up out of the shadows.
And I think what chills me to the bone is the idea that I could ever be mistaken for someone that shares those views. But maybe another way of looking at it is that we are all holding different hands in this card game. And perhaps the hand I’m holding involves calling out unsuspecting closet racists who mistake me as “one of them.” Maybe my role here is to go for the hypothetical jugular the second they let their guard down.
Friends, I encourage everybody reading this to think about what hand you’re going to play in this war of ideas. This is a call to action for all allies of the resistance movement, black, white and every shade in between. LGBTQ, minorities, women, people of color, and people from all walks of life. The racists and Drumpf supporters of the world need to be interrupted, questioned and challenged at every turn.
Staying silent and upholding the status quo is too dangerous. It doesn’t matter whether the issue at hand directly affects you or not. The stakes are just too high. It’s a dire mistake to sit on your hands while our Mexican brothers and sisters are being wrongly indicted as rapists and criminals, rounded up and deported, families are being split up, and Muslim refugees are being persecuted and denied. If this is the political climate a month in, who knows what atrocities await us several months or years down the road. You don’t want to wake up in ten years and realize you were an accessory to fascism.
If we don’t rise up and start fighting now, in a couple of years there may be nothing left worth fighting for. Which hand will you play?