That's not Carmen Sandiego.
Recently, my family and I were able to enjoy an afternoon outside without melting in the hot Texas heat. We packed up our picnic pack, jumped in the car, and headed across town to the botanical gardens.
At the spot they wanted to play at in the kid’s section was another family; the mom was wearing a red visor with The Saying. You know the one it rallys “good people on both sides” and has come to represent. ”The hat has become a symbol of us vs. them, of exclusion and suspicion, of garrulous narcissism, of white male privilege, of violence and hate. For minorities and the disenfranchised, it can spark a kind of gut-level disgust that brings ancestral ghosts to the fore,” writes Robin Givhan of the Washington Post.
My first instinct was to stare her down and start a conversation.
My second instinct was to keep my kids safe.
I was in an isolated area, with my kids, and my skin color. And my next instinct was fear. My husband's instinct was to stare at her and say "is she really wearing that bullshit."
She and her family moseyed off without incident, or eye-contact.
The hat did its job. It gave me a sense of fear, it pushed me out of the way, focusing on keeping my kids out of the way. Looking back, this upsets me the most - that I backed away. My husband didn't. His body language changed, he stood his ground.
We saw her and her family at another part of the park, and my husband did the same again - I was further away and more focused on the kids not climbing and jumping from the rock walls. She made eye contact with my husband and walked away. So did her husband.
I stand up and confront almost all other bullshit, but confronting a person wearing this slogan worries me that they will pull out a gun, not just call 911 - this is Texas, after all.
Dear lady in the red visor,
You don't understand this, because I'd like to think if you did, you wouldn't be pulling this Serena Joy crap but... Wearing this hat tells me and my family that you would prefer the oppression and segregation of anyone who doesn’t look like you over the equality of humans.
The saying on your head implies that one is looking to return to a time when white cis men were at the top of the pecking order and white women were subservient to them in addition to any person of color, any immigrant, was being considered a third class citizen kept out of sight and not allowed to have a voice.
This great time in America was only great for one group of people, and you, Serena Joy are not included in that. It is a damn shame but we still have not passed the Equal Rights Amendment and it is because of thinking like yours continuing to hold us all down.
It pains me to say that your voice has more power than mine does, but it's true. And you choose hate and a perceived sense of power over the safety and security and well-being of everyone. Together We rise, divided we fall. And sister, we are falling fast.
And like Serena Joy, one day you're going to turn around and look at those behind you, those who you have pushed down and turn to them for help. And you know what? We are always fighting for equality even when those who choose to ignore us feel that they are already equal and don't need to fight. We fight for all of us, not some.
So why not save yourself some time and examine what it is this hat and all it represents means to you?
What it means to me is that I'm going to find a way to no longer get out of the way, to make myself smaller, to no longer fear you and your ilk, and to find a way to make myself bigger and help those around me who are working to make themselves bigger and louder and continue to fight for equality, teaching our children the same thing.
Lady with the Blue Hair Who Will No Longer Fear You
International Women’s Strike: https://www.womenstrikeus.org/
Call Your Girlfriend, Episode 8/31/18
Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger (Soraya Chemaly)
Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger (Rebecca Traister)
Unladylike: A Field Guide to Smashing the Patriarchy and Claiming Your Space (Cristen Conger, Caroline Ervin)
Unladylike: Pep Talk, Supreme Rage Edition
ERA Info: https://www.equalrightsamendment.org/