As you may recall from my previous post, I’ve come out of the closet.
I have publicly come out as an angry old white lady. Our culture mocks old people: our hearing losses, our driving habits. A woman publicly expressing anger? It’s social suicide. Combine “angry,” “old,” and “lady.” What is more worthy of parody? Let me thrash my cane about and grumble about the younger generation. I’m supposed to be either the nurturing grandmother or a boomer who likes sailing and golfing and searches dating sites for a fun-loving mate.
Since events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the weekend of August 13 and 14, I’ve seen pictures of people wearing t-shirts with the slogan, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
Ever since Donald Trump appeared on the scene, I’ve been outraged. Outraged by his mocking primary opponents, by his obvious narcissism, by his lack of basic knowledge about the Constitution. I was especially outraged by the sexually abusive recording on the bus with Billy Bush.
Why weren’t others outraged? Either they weren’t paying attention, or they had no moral compass.
Yet after the election I decided to lay low. Not expose my anger. It would only widen the gulf between Trump supporters and those of us who opposed him. And, more important to me, it would sap my emotional energy.
Oh, the inconvenience of anger.
I want to write, and my age has added an urgency. I want to market my most recent book. I want to hike with my husband, visit my grandchildren. Most of all, I have dreaded the emotional drain of anger.
The violence in Charlottesville forced me to rethink disengagement. Who were the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists marching against? Individuals I care about: African-American friends in whose homes I have experienced warmth and hospitality; gay friends in whose homes I have experienced warmth and hospitality; Jewish friends in whose homes I have experienced warmth and hospitality; immigrants in whose homes I have experienced warmth and hospitality. I, in turn, have welcomed them into my home.
Those the protesters marched against are people of compassion and intellect, who add depth and richness of character to our society. They are teachers, pastors, business people, students, volunteers.
Anger an inconvenience for me? How ashamed I am.
Nancy Werking Poling is author of Before It Was Legal: a black-white marriage (1945-1987).