Any rat can learn a single maze; that doesn’t make the rat a genius

Y’all. We gotta stop calling Stephen Miller a mastermind. Seriously. We’re calling him a mastermind way too much. He’s ain’t no mastermind. He’s and idiot who benefits from a system that is designed to benefit him.

That shit is obvious from the second you even start to think about it. He’s taking peoples’ rights away, but this country doesn’t just give out rights. In fact, it often takes droves of people fighting as hard as they can for as long as they can and sacrificing everything they have including their very lives just in hopes that a generation they’ll never even meet can have the most basic dignity of being recognized as human.

The people who have accomplished that are goddamn masterminds. But guess what. Those rights can be taken away pretty easily. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it burned in one because any fucking fool can start a fire.

So, no. Stephen Miller is not a fucking mastermind. He’s an imbecile that can only even exist because this country values its own fragility over its competence. He’s the soft ooze that leaks from a machine built to produce hard ooze.

I think the reason this bothers me so much is that calling Miller a mastermind continues down the path of the destruction of a clear and obvious reality (for now). I mean, if you’re a Nazi or Republican or whatever else you wanna call it, sure, Miller is a mastermind. For you and your standards that’s probably true, but the rest of us should fucking know better.

Like, the president is obviously a hateful, feeble-minded, overly sensitive coward who is somehow incapable of even baring this country’s most basic standard of humanity. Obviously. Or, you know, as his supporters believe, he’s a fair-minded, wise, tough warrior-champion, who is M-ing AGA.

Those people can believe that. I’ve spent my life experiencing worse than that from those people, so I’m fine with it. I expect them to think Miller is a mastermind, but if you’re not on their side, let’s not give this turd the benefit of the shine.

Now, listen. I’ve spoken about this before, but I was homeless for a little while when I was a kid. And I lived in a youth shelter for a minute. I got there right around the same time as this other kid, Billy. We were very similar. We were both gangly nerds who read a lot and couldn’t break the habit of talking too much about shit no one else cared about. In those ways, we were very different than the other boys at the shelter.

The other boys were tougher and more prone to violence. And, of course, because this was in Maine, they were all white. Billy, too.

Guess which one of us got our ass kicked every other day.

Did you guess me?

If you did, you are wrong. Believe it or not, Billy bore the bruises. This was because we had come from very different places. I came from foster homes where I was often the only Black person at school and always the only Black person at home. I had to learn how to stay out of peoples’ way. Not Billy, though. He came from a place where you could provoke anyone as much as you like because you could always yell for the teacher and walk away victorious.

Unfortunately for Billy, the shelter was nowhere near where he was from.

He’d provoke another kid, and run to the counselor. Sometimes he’d make it. Sometimes he didn’t, but even when he did, the counselors had to turn their backs sometime and vengeance is patient. Billy couldn’t square the environment that created him with the environment he was in, so the environment squared him. Over and over.

I left the shelter before Billy, so I don’t know if he ever learned. I like to think that he did. I like to think that he’s doing well in the world and no one ever says of him, “That guy should’ve gotten his ass kicked more as a kid.”

Now, look: Am I saying that Stephen Miller needs his ass kicked? Not in public, I’m not.

What I am saying is that he’s the product of his environment. We have systems that are made to create Millers and because the Millers are created by those systems, the Millers know how to use the systems.

A rat raised in a maze will know how to run that maze, but only that particular maze. In the end, a rat is gonna be a rat. He’s gonna run. He’s gonna spread disease. A rat can’t change what it is and neither can we.

But we can change the maze.


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No, no…you can’t do it *that* way (why not?)

Sometimes white people say they’re on my side. Then they say some shit like this:
I don’t think that kind of protest is a good idea because of how it looks.

The ironically obvious problem here is that just by giving that unsolicited advice, they are ignoring it for themselves—in other words, it’s a terrible look. I mean, the fact that anyone says that shit in public proves that they have no idea how their words make them look to people like me. But, you know, how things look to people like me are almost never really the concern.

In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail Dr. King wrote about the shortsighted need some feel to criticize acts of protest. Believe it or not, that criticism is alive and well and the how-it-looks version has to be the most fucking annoying.

It makes this presumption of authority. They say it as though they are veteran leaders of the most thorough focus groups. Or noble pollsters of the highest order. Or objectively stalwart students of the human pattern. In reality, that Black friend they won’t shut up about doesn’t even remember their name.

For real, to whom do these actions not look good? For whose favor should we adjust our behavior? Do you think that there are people who say shit like, “Well, I didn’t used to think that Black people should be killed by the cops … Right up until I saw them stand up for themselves!”? Trick question. Some people like that are definitely out there—it’s just that they’re lying when they say they weren’t always okay with violence against Black people.

This idea of people who will be put off the idea of racial justice because people of color protest is flawed because there is no such group of people. No one is on the fence about race. There are motherfuckers losing their goddamned livelihoods because the president fucked them over and they proudly still support him. You think they want Black people to do anything other than do what we’re told? They don’t. They don’t care about us or how anything “looks.” Again, not to be petty, but their president’s head looks like balled-up, wet toilet paper held together with dried up smoker’s phlegm, old gum and shower-drain hair.

Did you know that Obama lost the white vote both times? Did you know he got 5 million fewer white votes the second time around? Well, that’s all true and ain’t none of it because his behavior was offensive.

I agree with what they’re saying, just not how they’re saying it.
This is similar to “how it looks,” except, this one is usually a fucking lie. If you see someone getting murdered and say, “I agree that you’re being murdered, but I wanna talk about why you’re being so rude about it,” it’s pretty hard to believe you care about anyone’s life but your own.

I don’t like the president, but I want him to succeed.
Do you? Really? Because that’s what he’s doing. He’s completely succeeding in tearing children from their families and appointing judges to remove the rights of our fellow citizens and destroying our relationships with allies and aligning us with dictators and on and on. He is absolutely succeeding and that’s what you want? Maybe you mean you want the country to succeed. They’re two different things.

I’d love to hear them defend that!
I hear this after every single shitty thing the republicans do. The thing is, they will defend it and it won’t matter how inadequate you think that defense is. They’re only paying lip service. It’s not about compassion or humanity. Not for them. They don’t answer to you.

Hate never wins.
Tell it to the Native Americans.

America is better than this.
Oh, yeah? Is it? Since when? Do you want to MAGA?

In the end, this country is only a story we tell ourselves. There is a USA for white people and a completely different USA for Black people. Black people know this because we’re in your country all the time. Just to exist, we have to hear your stories everywhere we go. Your books and movies. Your history. We know the role we play in your story, but you don’t know the role you play in ours. You don’t come here. You don’t know our stories. You don’t know Ezekiel Rawlins, you haven’t heard Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and you don’t really know how we got here. If you did, you’d know when to listen.


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I’ve seen this before…I’m gonna see a lot more, aren’t I?

I have a feeling of dread. It’s new. I live a pretty happy-go-lucky life. A constant optimism is the break in the clouds over my head that results in me dancing everywhere I go. I am fairly certain that, given the chance to walk around in my head, the degree of positivity sloshing about in there would deeply disgust almost everyone I know.

But now I have this feeling of dread. It started when our current president was “voted” in and it was happening once a month. Now it’s once a week. I’ve been trying to come up with a good way to explain the feeling, but it’s so new that it’s difficult to find the words.

It’s kinda like that feeling when you sit down to watch a movie and five minutes in you already know what’s gonna happen—but not because you’ve already seen this particular movie. No. You know what’s gonna happen because you know who the director and writers are. You know the actors. You’re familiar with this kind of movie. It’s clear there wasn’t a lot of effort that went into making this. The writing doesn’t make sense. The actors aren’t very good. The director clearly doesn’t care about any of the scenes that he isn’t in because of course he’s also the star of the goddamn thing…

Anyway, to bring the analogy one step farther, this feeling of dread I have is kinda like knowing that the end of the movie will also bring about the end of the world and no one ever told you the runtime.

For real though, being a person of color in this time is so fucking exhausting. Like, we all know the problem is race. I’ve said this before, but for five years before he even ran we all watched this motherfucker get on TV every chance he got, point to the Black president and yell as loud as he could about how that nigger ain’t from around here. We also know that even that ol’ chestnut ain’t working that great anymore because, while he did win the white vote in every category and there was massive, racist voter suppression and Russia exploited our country’s racism for our further destruction, it still wasn’t enough to win the popular vote. It actually took some of our oldest, crustiest, stankiest institutionalized racism to appoint our current president.

We all know that he thinks Nazis are very fine people and that Mexicans are rapists and, look, even PBS is keeping track. And, yes, even though as I’m writing this he’s saying his most Hitlery shit yet, it’ll probably be topped by the time I finish typing this sentence and racism still won’t be addressed as the problem at the core of American Dysfunction.

We also all know that the president isn’t even the fucking problem. Some dumbshit bigot like that wouldn’t get two steps from his apartment if there wasn’t already a world of systems and laws and people ready to embrace him and all of his decay.

This motherfucker’s walking around with his thick skull filled to the brim with the tiniest amount of curdled milk and the rules established by men like him to protect men like him continue to do just that. Like, he really talked all about a Muslim ban and everyone was like, “Umm… Freedom of Religion. First amendment and all,” and the Supreme Court was like, “You know that’s only for white people, though, right?”

It’s so fucking exhausting. I mean, Michael Moore’s got a new movie coming out about the president and he’s probably got the N-Word footage. And when it comes out the administration, FOX News and all of their fans will say, “He didn’t mean it like that,” or “It’s just locker room talk,” or “You didn’t see the whole tape so you don’t know the context,” or whateverthefuckever they always say to excuse their own rancid lack of humanity. And, yes, some white liberals will then understand the depth of racism in this country. They’ll be shocked and horrified at what monsters some of their closest friends and family can be. But some of them will chalk it up to innocuous political differences. And some white liberals will also say, “Well, maybe he didn’t actually mean it like that,” and the center will continue to be pulled to the right.

Or, you know, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there’s a trick ending. Maybe M. Night Shyamalan can turn this shit show around before ICE comes for him.

I hope so because either way, the pacing sucks and I’d really like to get back to my normal life.


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