Memes of hate: Do we need to look at them?

Today’s post is from guest contributor Mo Nunez (bio at the end of the piece)

There is a Facebook meme where white Jesus is standing behind Donald Trump—they are at the Resolute Desk. In the White House. I am to presume from the meme that Jesus is there to guide our “dear leader” as he signs yet another awesome winning something-or-other into existence. It is a reminder that our porn star in chief is guided by God (read: Suck it libtards!)

There was a point in time where I felt that I needed to see a picture like that. Shortly after the election of Trump, I began to see these memes pop up all over my social media timelines. I felt that it was important—essential—to keep the people posting pro-Trump stuff in my timeline. In my sight. I thought to myself: I did not want to run away; I want to know what they are saying. By looking directly at the hate, I was doing a good thing, I thought to myself—a proactive thing.

Over time, the memes did what memes do and they became more absurd, more abstract. I noticed something else was changing—what happens when life imitates absurdist imagery and thought? The lines between “holy shit that would be insane” and “holy shit that’s totally insane” are being blurred and erased on a daily basis by our abstract-improv-artist-in-chief.

I can remember the first time I read the sentence “I am proud to be a nationalist and I see nothing wrong with that.” It was here in America, in the 21st century, and it was not an “ironic” statement. I actually read that way before Trump said it at a rally (10/22/2018). Soon I began to see more blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic content popping up on my timeline. Eventually my timeline resembled a combination of the front page of Stormfront—classic Onion articles come to life and an Evangelical Tent Revival. But each time I saw hateful content I would go down a racist rabbit hole chasing after the original poster’s previous shitty things they’ve posted. I have to look, I reminded myself. I have to force myself to not turn away.

The thing about memes is that they are satire. They are the furthest extrapolation of an already absurd observation. The thing about Trump is that he is the furthest extrapolation of an already absurd, racist, sexist, xenophobic society. The memes I was coming across my feed morphed from cheerleading and silly ignorant slogans (“Build the Wall” anyone?) into a concoction of Trump idolatry, flat-earth-levels conspiracy theory, and pure unadulterated hate. “Build the Wall” was literally replaced with “Brown people are animals.” Specifically, I noticed the memes and comments were now centered around hate for anyone who believes that we should care about the state of the world and care for one another. Women who pointed out unpleasant truths about men, Black and Brown folks who pointed out racist realities of their everyday existence, immigrants who dared ask for their humanity and respect—these were all the fuel for the hate that I was seeing on a daily basis. But it was not just the trumpers whose hate was being fed.

One of the side effects of my severe anxiety disorder and depression is that every once in a while everything makes me cry. Full. On. Big. Fat. Tears. Everything. It does not last very long, a couple of days usually, but I cannot control it. During these spells sad news, good news, mundane news—all of it makes me break out in tears.

I know that I am being triggered by everything right now and yet I know that I have to stop seeing this shit on my Facebook timeline on a daily basis. Despite being triggered by everything, this hate I am forcing upon myself is different. It’s not triggering me to the point of tears. I can deal with that. I have been dealing with that my whole life. Something worse is happening to me, and I fear to my friends who feel that duty to subject themselves to the cult of Trump. We are moving to the dark side. We are fueling our own transition with their hate. What happens when we are consumed by our hatred for “these fucking garbage humans”?

At first I thought it was my duty to keep that shit in front of my face. I felt it was my duty as an activist and educator to stare down the hate and keep it moving. “I need to know what they are saying!” “I need to remind myself these people exist!” I’ve gone beyond knowing to hating. With a passion. This cannot be good. Right?

Last week a guy I barely know (but who keeps popping up in my Facebook timeline) posted a picture of a woman, let’s call her Nazi McGov, in a Nazi uniform. This woman works in Maine. She works for a government agency, in fact. Now. Today. The man who posted it noted that it was insane that this woman has a job where part of her responsibilities are to “monitor” and “assess” people’s behaviors. Immediately after posting the picture, which he made quite clear was a “publicly accessible document” that she herself posted, he was bombarded by people, some of them not even her friends, accusing him of being racist towards Nazi McGov. He was a “bastard for posting the pic” and “insinuating she was a bad person.” He was an “asshole for posting her picture” and “slandering her.”

“Bro you are so dumm, posting that pictur! you libtard!, do you EVEN KNOW what slander menes?!” 

This man stuck to his guns the whole way through; he consistently reminded folks she posted this pic—it doesn’t really matter if it was five days, five years, or five decades ago. He reminded his attackers that shortly after WWII most of us agreed Nazi stuff wasn’t cool. You know, like blackface. Or so we thought.

Watching the people come after him made me realize that I would rather have people like him on my feed than the people who are coming after him. I don’t actually need to keep seeing the hate that these folks give. Its real. I’ve lived it, and it would be insane for me to suggest that statement should only be in the past tense like some of the folks kept “reminding this man”—“that was in the past; get over it!”

I’ve begun the process of weeding out people who post hateful memes. I am weeding out the Trump zealots (read: zombies) along with the “devil’s advocate” sympathizers. I am prioritizing positivity. In just a short time I feel happier.

But I’m left troubled because I’m not sure why I felt that I HAD to keep myself connected to the viotrol, hate, and ignorance that is currently abundant in this country. Was I afraid I would have a hard time finding some? My whole damn professional trajectory is a reminder that this stuff exists. Why am I inviting more of this into my life? What did I think would actually happen if I stopped looking?

I have some new questions now: Do white people need to be the ones to stare this hatred in the face?  What is the difference between self-care and avoidance? Does anyone need to chose to see this kind of ignorance and hate on a daily basis? How do people stay motivated in the fight if they look away at what is actually happening? If we do chose to look how do we respond in a way that does not deplete our positivity?


Moises “Mosart” Nunez is an educator, activist, and Ph.D. dropout with a master’s degree in education. Mo’s professional focus is on issues of teen violence, at-risk-youth intervention, the social-emotional education of teens, creating inclusive school environments for students with special needs, school redesign, community engagement, and dismantling racist practices in public education. Mo currently designs and leads community engagement based anti-racism and implicit bias workshops for district and school leadership across the country. Mo has taught English, social studies, and special education across the Northeast in public schools, alternative-education programs, private independent schools, and several universities. Mo has also designed and served as director for several successful at-risk-youth programs, most notably at New Beginnings in Rochester, N.Y.—an alternative education school that focuses on educating and reintegrating recently incarcerated youth. Mo has served as administrator, program director, and program manager for several alternative education, day treatment programs, and public schools in New England and the tri-state area. Mo recently won The Phoenix magazine’s Hip Hop DJ of the Year 2018, and released an album of original music under the name “mosart212.”


If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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Reclaiming my time; saying ‘yes’ to me

It ain’t easy being a Black woman. Never has been. But I guess I figured we wouldn’t have to still be working this hard just to stay behind, no matter how much education and how many skills we bring to so many tables.

For every dollar that a white man makes, a Black woman earns 63 cents (even lower than white women, who earn 80 cents to the manly dollar). A Black woman must work eight months longer to earn what a white man earns in a year. In other words, a Black woman, even coming to the work game with excellence, has to bust her ass to have what comes naturally and with much more modest effort to even the most mediocre of white men.

So after you bust your ass, what next? As a Black woman, you are at a higher risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. In fact, while the saying “Black don’t crack” is entrenched into our consciousness as a statement of fact, the reality for many of us is far more sobering. We might look good and we might look young, but the collective weight of navigating life as a Black woman creates an extreme stress that causes wear and tear on our internal organs which leads to higher rates of illness and earlier death.

As this 2010 National Institute of Health study pretty much lays it all out, there is a real cost to being a Black woman. Let’s be real: it’s stressful. From birth to death, we often beat the odds in so many ways.

But again: At what cost?

I have been asking myself these questions for the last several months. I started going to therapy and immediately it became clear that I am doing too much. There is my day job as the Executive Director of Community Change Inc. We are a small, scrappy anti-racism organization that receives little in the way of grant funding; we are 90% donor funded. I spend a lot of time convincing people to support our work. Since 2014, I have managed to financially stabilize the organization and grow our programming, this is no small feat considering the other things that have happened since 2014. My marriage ended and I moved out of the family home in fall of 2015. My son got married in 2016 and became a dad in 2017, thus making me a grandmother. I also worked to grow the readership of this blog.

Our readership now extends far beyond Maine and New England. Last month a patron made a gift from Australia. This year alone, I have had over a dozen speaking engagements across New England and my fall speaking calendar is 90% full. But I have had to hustle for all that harder and longer than have my professional peers who aren’t Black and female.

My youngest child just turned 13 and I spend 50% of my physical time with her, but in the last three years, I have spent no more than 12 consecutive days at my own home due to my travel schedule. And sometimes that means time spent with her is at the family home I left when the marriage ended, while I’m in-between travel and my real home. And as you can imagine, that can get awkward no matter how well my co-parent and I get along.

I am inundated with requests to speak/teach/show up and honestly it’s overwhelming. People are forever asking if I want to engage in social/racial justice work during my off time. I’m frequently asked to do work for free or for amounts so low they might as well be free when you factor in travel costs and time lost. Um, NO! Even when I state this clearly, people still think they are an exception and ask for XYZ. Clearly the idea that a Black woman might have boundaries is hard for people to grasp.

All this to say: I have been heading head-first into the wall of exhaustion. I spent months trying to decide if I should take the plunge and quit my day job and trust that it would work out. I started ramping up my No’s.  No is my new jam.

The thing is, my situation isn’t unique. It’s what many Black women face, we give so much of ourselves and rarely is anyone concerned with our personal well-being. Even in a Black Lives Matter climate, how often do we see the Black women in our lives and ask what can we do for them? Do we see them as individuals outside of their Blackness? Or do they remain a fixed modern day Mammy whose mission is serve us, teach us and guide us? I’ve seen so many pieces published on how Black women are saving the country in so many ways by making things happen and building awareness and getting out the vote, but why are they leaned on so heavily to do that? Where is most of everyone else?

After months of feeling stressed, I worked up the courage to ask my board of directors at the day job for a sabbatical. Long story short: I am off work until after Labor Day. No emails, texts, calls or meetings.  Last night I slept for eight hours. To wake up and not feel like I have to hit the ground running is a marvelous feeling, it’s damn near orgasmic to not have to do anything and to not have to worry if I can pay my rent since this is a paid sabbatical. The internal silence is a gift. (However, as you see right here, I still have to hustle to work on the website here and post blogs and monitor my social media and promote stuff, sabbatical or not.)

This post is a bit more personal than my usual these days but I wanted to be honest about where I am at this moment in my life. While I am not on a sabbatical from BGIM Media, I am taking it easy especially because I have enlisted the assistance of a podcast producer and we record our first episode next week. The podcast will launch right after Labor Day. Weekly postings will continue though we are looking at six posts this month rather than the usual eight.

For all of you who are there for Black women—I mean, really there—thank you. For those of you who haven’t been, please start stepping up because we can’t do so much alone and we damn sure can’t do it without some emotional, social and financial support for our efforts.


f this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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Healing my heart: A quest for love

Allowing the heart to open up and let in the love that is offered from the world and the people who occupy it is a constant practice. I am a person with a fortress of walls. I have dragons and moats and oubliettes. People often get eaten by the dragons, drown in the moats and tumble into the oubliettes. A precious few make it through to the caverns of my heart.

I crave love so, I run from it—there is a part of me, (some days large, some days small) which believes I am not lovable. This comes from being given up for adoption as a child, growing up in a family that did not reflect me, having white friends who did not value me, and a society which tells me I am wrong simply for existing. I am also pretty weird and empathetic, so finding a place where I fit in has always been difficult. I have always felt like an outcast in every social situation I found myself in.

Over the past few months I have had the honor of finding people who do not make me feel othered. They are Black and brown and queer and straight, and spiritual and nerdy and weird and rad and fierce and I love them dearly. The only problem is, I am now in a space where I want to delve deeper into relationships, but I find myself lacking some of the necessary tools to forge the bonds I am after. Fortunately, I don’t give up easily, I am slowly wading into the waters of connection.

Receiving love from others begins with receiving love from myself. There four basic things that I do every day to help me to love myself and teach myself that I am worthy and capable of incredible love and compassion.

  1. I stretch. Every day…well, almost. I released a lot of tension and trauma during the four days I spent at the Shambhala POC meditation retreat at Sky Lake in Rosendale, N.Y. Every day we did yoga and not only did it stretch my body, but it helped to clear away the stress, settle me back into my body, become reacquainted with my breath. So, in the morning I wake up, stretch and breathe.
  2. I drink a jar of water. Making sure I stay hydrated allows me to feel energized and kicks my system into gear. It makes my skin and hair smooth and moves toxins out of my body so that I don’t feel bogged down. That and I want this melanin to stay poppin’ long into the future.
  3. I interrupt negative thinking. I tell myself that I am doing “such a good job” and that “I am so proud of myself” because if I don’t clap for me, who else will? I am incredibly hard on myself. My inner voice is foolishly abusive and so interrupting the sessions of abuse is helpful in creating a new narrative. If I am able, I try to identify the voice who is speaking: Is it my mother, boss, a mean teacher, the racist down the street? Who is speaking to me in such a cruel way? I will also correct the narrative moving forward. Often when I am stressed, I say “Fuck” loudly and with gusto. When this happens, I like to check in and see if “fuck” is really my mood, or if maybe something else going on. Usually I swear in response to something which triggers my anxiety, at which point I like to talk to myself about it. “Fuckkkkkkkk!” “No, LaLa, you’re fine. You’re not running late. You’re making yourself food which is important because you need to eat and nourish yourself. You are doing such a good job. You are fine.” This may sound silly, but it is important to be kind to ourselves, to love on ourselves. I try to speak to myself as a stern but loving parent to a child, because in those moments, that is what I am. I am raising myself.
  4. The fourth thing I do is listen to music. Simple, easy way to raise my frequency, work out my emotions and belt out a few tunes in the process (sorry neighbors!) It is no secret that music is therapy. Combine the right notes with the right chords and some killer harmonies and take me away. I have playlists which work me through a range of emotions, starting out sad or angry and ending contemplative or joyful. Music has been in my life since I was a child learning to play to violin, and it has stuck with me as my go to for healing myself and my heart.

The surest way to letting others love me is for me to love myself. It’s taken me 28 years to believe that I am worthy of love, and that my body is worthy of being cared for. I have just begun to look in the mirror and appreciate that I am getting older. Honor that I am on this planet to stay. There is something scary about that, committing to being present. Since I am going to be here, I’m going to be here for love. I have a difficult time connecting, but I am changing that narrative, one day at a time. Using these for tools as a base, I am adding more and growing each day.


If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense.

Photo by William Farlow on Unsplash