BY PABLO DAS NOVEMBER 17, 2016 originally published in Lion’s Roar
Last week, someone sent me a link to the LionsRoar.com article, “Buddhist Teachers Respond to Trump’s Presidential Win.” Several Buddhist teachers had written a paragraph or two offering their wisdom. As I read, I felt a very familiar disappointment and anger arising in me. While some of the entries were good enough (invariably the ones from people of color), most left me feeling that these were the words of people who don’t know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of oppression under a conservative government. People with no skin in the game. Certainly, these are not the words I’m hearing from my black female best friend, my Mexican American niece, or my trans friend
As I read the Lions Roar piece, that feeling of not being seen came up when I read statements like one that said if we could get through Nixon, Reagan, and Bush, we could get through this too. I thought to myself: who’s the “we” that got through Reagan and Bush? The Reagan/Bush era was an absolute horror for my community. An entire generation of intellectuals, artists, friends, and lovers didn’t “make it” through Reagan and Bush. Two decades later, I worked on a suicide prevention line for gay teens during the George W. Bush administration. Lots of them didn’t “make it,” either. Such a sentiment, however encouraging, erases queer history. By “we” the author appears to signify only people who aren’t the targets of explicitly racist, sexist, and homophobic policies of historically Republican governments. Those who weren’t moved by desperation to dump the ashes of their dead lovers on the White House lawn (as AIDS activists did in 1992 under President Bush) in a vain attempt to get the government to give a shit that we were dying.