No Human Being

Well, it’s what they all think:

His voters, I mean. Even the nice ones. ESPECIALLY the nice ones. The ones that live in the suburbs because their parents’ neighborhoods were “ruined” by an “invasion.” Who aren’t racist, are perfectly nice to the black barista or their Mexican landscaper. Who just moved here for the schools.

They don’t think anyone lives in the places their parents left.

Not anyone with a job, or kids. Or a freaking dog. A mortgage, even on a house that isn’t fancy, even on a street that isn’t clean. A church, a school. A goddamn right to walk down the street and get a beer from the corner store.

They talk about the city — parts of it — like aliens live there and there are lots of reasons for that, nonstop reruns of Law and Order and the nightmares their grandparents passed on to them being right up there, but mostly it’s the inability to think of people of color as, you know, PEOPLE at all.

I used to work in some of Chicago’s “worst” neighborhoods. The places that give the suburbs vapors, I’d be driving around at all hours of day and night, and you know how many times I got mugged and murdered? Exactly zero. What did happen is I got invited to birthday parties. Told I needed to try this or that restaurant because the best sausage in town was made there. Helped out when my car wouldn’t start or got stuck in a snowbank.

I listened to conversations in barbershops and beauty parlors, conversations that yes, sometimes were about violence or neglect, but more often than not were about birthdays and obligations, who was bringing what to the church potluck, whose dog ran away. Who was getting married, who was cheating.

You know. People stuff.

So when the fraidy cats who live in our segregated world talk about “no-go” zones and places they don’t feel safe, when they say they wouldn’t even VISIT somewhere because they don’t think it’s okay, I wonder what on God’s green earth makes them think it’s okay for other people to live there.

And it’s really that they don’t think those people are human beings.

That’s what Donald Trump’s voters think, deep down. Underneath the euphemisms and the “property tax” stuff and the entirely avoidable ignorance and the very nice lady manners that keep them from ever saying the N-word because that would Doing Racism. They just don’t think people who don’t look like them are quite real.

It’s why they can justify the concentration camps and it’s why they can cheer the pointless foreign wars and it’s why they don’t give a shit if women in hijabs don’t feel safe going to the grocery store and it’s why they can shrug off every time he grabs someone by the pussy. People who aren’t them aren’t real.

Not human beings.

A.

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