I have no tolerance for mean-spiritedness.
That’s why I don’t read the comments on social-justice articles, especially when I’ve written them. I can’t bear the victim-blaming we do in this country.
When I tell my son’s story — that he died from lack of access to health care — people ask whether he was working. Of course he was working. What if he wasn’t? You really think he deserved to die if he wasn’t?
I wrote a story for a local paper about how poor people get trapped in the justice system because they don’t have the money to get out. As I said, I’m not checking the comments online. But someone sent me a personal e-mail to tell me this: “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” I wanted to ask what the hell was wrong with her, but instead I asked whether falling asleep on a park bench warranted jail time in her book. She had signed her e-mail “respectively,” and I told her the correct word is “respectfully,” which should be reserved for times when she was actually being respectful.
Who the hell have we become as a nation when we pay people just one-third of what it takes to live in exchange for a full week’s work and then call them lazy when they need help?
And every time I call someone out on this victim-blaming, they say, “Well, some people just want a handout.”
No. No, they don’t. People just want what should rightfully be theirs in exchange for 40 hours of labor. People want to have enough to eat, a warm, safe place to sleep, basic health care, an education for their children.
What the hell is wrong with us when we can hear these tragic stories and then blame the victims for their pain?
We have lost our way. We are no longer a great society — if we ever were one.
We built this nation on the backs of slaves, and we still practice systemic racism, sexism and hatred in so many forms.
We cheer a man who calls Mexicans criminals and who admits to sexual assault, who has cheated on all three of his wives and who spouts white nationalist code words. And we tell the grieving mother of yet another black man gunned down by police that her child must have been a criminal. We blackball a talented black man who takes a knee for the national anthem in protest of these killings and say he should find a better way to protest.
What would be an appropriate way to protest the murders of unarmed young black men? I’ll bet it would be to take it to a place where it wouldn’t make you uncomfortable.
I am done with this mean-spiritedness and I will call it out from now on. If you want to blame the victims of our bad public policies for their pain, do it out of earshot of me. I have no patience for it anymore.