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Alice, Girl, I Feel You!


“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

As a young girl, one of my favorite books was Alice in Wonderland by mathematician Lewis Carroll. The challenge the protagonist, Alice, experienced was attempting to make sense of a world operating from the opposite side of her reality. I think I may have been attracted to Alice and her predicament because that was the way I felt in many academic and professional situations. When I left my community to attend a white junior high school and to take honors classes in my high school, I experienced a world that was lived in direct opposition to the one I knew and loved. Most black people know about these two worlds, but in recent weeks we have seen this opposition in unprecedented degrees.

Black people have become quite skilled at living in two competing worlds. Intellectual heavyweight W.E.B. DuBois accurately described the “twoness” we experience. Our white friends love watching hockey; we’d rather see basketball. They serve herb dressing and green bean casserole; we love that cornbread dressing and collard greens. These differences in style and presentation have generally been able to co-exist and we have learned to accommodate and appreciate each other. But now, we find that we have dropped far down into a rabbit hole presided over by the maddest of the mad hatters— the Orange Hater!

Amid 19 months of chants and screams to “Build the Wall,” “Lock her up,” and “Ban all Muslims,” we all believed that we would somehow find our way home and crawl back to the other side of the mirror. But, no, on November 8, 2016, we saw the affirmation of the madness and a just over a ago on January 20, 2017, we started hearing the crazy pronouncements. In Alice in Wonderland, all of the characters seem quite mad. The Queen of Hearts plays croquet with live birds she has shaped into mallets. Whenever she does not win a point she screams, “Off with their heads!” The Mad Hatter hosts a tea party where no one actually gets any tea. Instead, he insists that everyone “move down to a clean cup!” As I consider the absurdity of Alice’s predicament I can honestly say, “Alice, girl … I feel you!”

We are living in a political situation that is truly terrifying. The Orange Hater has just signed an order to ban immigrants from seven countries with large numbers of Muslim citizens. He did this with no regard to those who have already begun the immigration process and have gone through months (and in some cases years) of screening or “extreme vetting.” One family was in transit from Iraq and was taken off an airplane in Cairo, Egypt. The father has three degrees and they had sold their home and all of their possessions in anticipation of arriving in the United States within a day or so. Now they are being deported back to Iraq.

For those in this country who have that dreaded disease known as Islamaphobia (a strain of the horrible malady known as racism), Orange Hater’s decision is exactly what they wanted. However, they fail to realize that US armed forces are stationed in a number of these places. The decision to ban their citizens can ultimately put those soldiers at greater risk. A number of the people who are seeking to immigrate to the US put their own lives on the line to assist US forces. Now it appears that we are doing the same thing we did when we pulled out of Vietnam … leaving our collaborators in dangerous and vulnerable positions.

Anyone who thinks the “Muslim ban” is the end of the hate and vitriol has a poor perspective on history. This is the first group. When he “sends the feds” to Chicago it will be on a “shoot-to-kill” basis. The planned 20% tariff on Mexican imports means the Patron that some folks like sipping is about to skyrocket in price along with avocados, Volkswagens, and a myriad of goods we rely on from Mexico, our 3rd largest trading partner.

We must be mindful that when they come for your neighbor, they will come for you next. Alex Baldwin and Saturday Night Live aside, none of this is funny. A dangerously unbalanced megalomaniac is not merely sitting in the White House. He is sitting there with access to the nuclear codes. The people who surround him are sycophants who are afraid to tell him the truth. An entire level of experienced State Department executives and managers has resigned. A man with a badly fitting suit appears before journalists to say, “Who you gonna believe … your lying eyes … or me?” when it comes to the number of people attending the inauguration. All of this foolishness is occurring while another branch of government— the Congress — that couldn’t criticize President Obama enough, is acting like the three monkeys – see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.

We are definitely on the other side of the looking glass. We are experiencing an alternate reality where someone can actually utter the phrase, “alternative facts” on a national news program as if that was a “thing!” By the way, there IS a name for “alternative facts.” They’re called LIES!

As black people, we cannot wait until 2020 to do something about this. At this rate, we may not live until 2020. We have to call, write, e-mail, and text legislators. We have to write editorials and blogs. We have to organize and march. We have to financially boycott those businesses that go along with this foolishness (I canceled my Uber account today and switched to Lyft since the Uber dude is supporting the Orange Hater’s policy on immigration). We have got to get out of this rabbit hole … and fast!