Tuesday, November 8, 2016

It’s 2:00 am, Election Day and I Had a Dream


It’s election day, two o’clock in the morning and I just woke up from a crazy dream. 
I wish I could say I had this prophetic vision that had something to do with today’s electoral outcome. But I can’t. Even as I write this, it’s fading fast. But there’s a couple things that stay with me. The most important, was that my mother, who died in 2003, was there, just as alive and lively as ever.
In the dream, Mama, some of my out-of-town siblings and I were at some sort of party in Forest Park. I stepped outside for some fresh air and suddenly the whole park became filled with people in Halloween-like costumes.
You know how in dreams the familiar becomes unfamiliar and a few feet morphs into a few miles? Well, the atmosphere turned movie-style, purge-like and people became threatening, screaming, knocking over fire-lit barrels of trash and acting all loud and manic. I was worried about my family’s safety but, try as I might, I had a helluva time getting back to them. I had to navigate around out-of-control people who kept knocking me way off course.

The atmosphere turned purge-like and people became threatening, screaming, they knocked over fire-lit barrels of trash and were all loud and manic. I was worried about my family’s safety but, try as I might, I had a helluva time getting back to them.

I remained diligent and got back to the party.  My family were exiting the building when I arrived. They were all a little drunk; laughing and talking about the good time they just had. My mother, who in life rarely drank, was tipsy, too. I put here on the back of my motorcycle (which I’ve never driven in life) and told my siblings I’d meet them at the house. Turns out, “the house” was one of the shotgun shacks we inhabited as kids. I picked Mama up like a baby and carried her into a very familiar bedroom.  I swear I could smell that just-washed scent and feel the soft texture of her salt and pepper Afro brushing against my cheek.
I laid her on her bed and covered her with a fluffy comforter I suddenly remembered from decades ago. She whispered “thank you, June Bug.” It was the name she called me and the last words she said to me the night before she died. In the dream, she gave me that wonderful ole, Mama smile and fell fast asleep.
Weird, right?
Part of the dream is easily explainable. I recently submitted a piece for Washington University’s Common Reader publication related to my experiences as a child in the Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex. I called my older sister, Sharon, whose memory is a bit more accurate than mine. We not only talked about Pruitt-Igoe, we discussed several of the ghetto neighborhoods we lived after moving in 1968. Maybe that sense of nostalgia influenced my subconscious.

Thus is the world we live in. It’s topsy-turvy and we’re forced to vote out of fear…fear of what either candidate may or may not do. 

The rest of the dream had absolutely no relevance to other things on my mind. Or did it? I know I fell asleep earlier than usual while reading and worrying about today’s election. The very thought that the Republican nominee, Donald Trump-an egotistic, narcissistic, lying, misogynistic, racist, divisive, ignorant slice of inhumanity might be POTUS-shakes me to the core.  
I’m not at all pleased that I must compromise my values by voting for Democrat, Hilary Rodham Clinton, either. Even though I consider her an elitist, establishment, compromising, candidate with no real compunction to address the woes of people who live and look like me, she’s not Trump. And therein lies the rub. I’m voting for Hilary but I’m voting for who she’s not, not who she is.
Thus is the world we live in. It’s topsy-turvy and we’re forced to vote out of fear…fear of what either candidate may or may not do. It’s a social media, sloppy journalism, carnival-like environment where emotions, race, xenophobia and tribalism trumps common sense and common values. We have traveled so far from the time (eight or so years ago) when a tall, elegant candidate-who just happened to be black-urged us to “hope,” make “change” and truly make America “great” by helping it transcend its racial and religious hang-ups.
Well, we all know how that turned out. Americans are more tribal, more angrier and more divided than before the Civil War. The Klu Klux Klan has been re-invigorated because of Trump. And some of his supporters-responding to his bogus claim of a “rigged election”-are talking about armed insurrection if he loses. Some Republicans are already swearing gridlock and threatening to draft legislation to reduce the number of Supreme Court justices if Clinton is elected.
Maybe, just maybe, the part of my dream about crazy people in costumes wreaking havoc reflected my fears about our post-election country. There has been so much vitriol and hypocrisy in this election process. Most surprising has been the litany of black preachers and Evangelicals who, over the past decade or so, have been beating us over the head with their “family values” mantra. How can they support an amoral, unscrupulous con man like Trump is a mystery to me? Hate is more important than heaven, I guess.

The Klu Klux Klan has been invigorated because of Trump. And some of his supporters-responding to his bogus claim of a “rigged election”-are talking about armed insurrection if he loses. 

Let me be clear, even if Trump loses, the sentiment that buoyed his candidacy and the people who believe the crap he spews will still be out there. They’re not just pick-up truck-driving, Mexican, Muslim, black and brown-hating, uneducated, confederate flag-waving backwoods hillbillies either. They’re pastors, cops, teachers, judges, lawyers, doctors, bankers, rural and urban city-dwellers and “others” who all bought into the whole perverted Trump clown show because they believe he reflects their values and concerns.



I am convinced that we are in another phase of the Civil Rights movement. With Obama leaving office, the symbolism of “progress” is over. We no longer have the false luxury of placing the onus of our future in the lap of the first black president. Now more than ever, black people are going to have to figure out a way to come together and save ourselves, our communities, our children. Sure, the concerned and connected can help but the responsibility is on us. The gathering of my brothers and sisters at a dire time could be applied to that sentiment.
I thought I had made peace with my voting decisions though. I’m voting for Hilary but I’m also supporting third party, down-ballot candidates who seem to carry the momentum of Bernie Sanders’ campaign. Sanders’ messages resonated with millions of people-most important young people. More than 300,000 people in Missouri voted for him during the primary. Personally, I think it’s paramount that we keep Bernie’s “revolution” in motion at all costs. Don Fitz, the Green Party candidate for governor will get my vote mainly because he is the only candidate that spoke about addressing the disproportionate social and economic woes that impact people who live and look like me. 

We no longer have the false luxury of placing the onus of our future in the lap of the first black president.  

It’s almost 4:30 now. Some are just waking up. My dream is gone but I’m sitting here still trying to make sense of it. Perhaps it’s a stretch but that comforting feeling of being with my siblings again, re-visiting my old stomping grounds and putting Mama to bed did mean something after all. Maybe it’s my mind’s way of telling me that, yes, the world has gone crazy; Yes, the charlatans are running amok; Yes, racism is on the rise…again. Maybe the dream was a subtle note to remember from whence I came; remember the times of poverty, turbulence and racial chaos; Remember to be resilient and no one ever promised “progress” without continuous struggle.
Perhaps it was just a mental movie for a restless soul. Who knows, the childlike cravings for sanity in an insane world might have taken me back home to Mama’s bedside. Maybe all I needed was that familiar, warm and wonderful smile that once again assured “June Bug” that everything’s gonna be alright.

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VOTE!!!!!!