Hakim’s car smelled faintly of cigarette smoke, but it was clean and he greeted me warmly. Hakim was an African-American man with a raspy voice and a slight southern accent. This was my first experience riding Lyft, and it was a pleasant one. He asked me about my work and told me about his—he recently retired as a parole officer, and drives for Lyft on the weekends. Our conversation eventually turned to politics. I didn’t know what to expect. In the wake of an election that had been described as a “whitelash,” I wanted to tread carefully. I tried to say things that would assure Hakim that I understood something about the racial tensions that were unsurfaced and aggravated during and in response to the election. I wanted him to know that I appreciated President Obama and that I had not supported Trump’s candidacy. I was surprised when he said, “You know, I had a real hard time with this election. I actually voted Republican in the last two. Just couldn’t bring myself to vote for Obama. Religious reasons, you know? I had the same problem with Hillary. But Trump?” The way he said “Trump,” sliding into a raspy falsetto, made me laugh. That and my surprise: a middle-aged, middle-class African-American man voting for McCain and Romney rather than Obama, due to religiously-motivated objections (to gay marriage and abortion, as it turned out). Serendipitously, perhaps, our destination was a church. As I got out, he said, “God bless, my friend.”
I know that people of color are not monolithic, just as I recognize that many are forced to uncomfortable compromises when voting, trying to participate within a system that has often explicitly discouraged their participation, voting for what seems to be the lesser of two evils and the least likely to provoke direct harm to them and their loved ones. It is very likely that Hakim is not consistently conservative. But in a defining moment of American politics, he voted Republican. I’ve often wondered which candidate he voted for in 2016. He never told me, but apparently it wasn’t a particularly straightforward question for him. Continue reading
It is no secret that Trump has a Mormon problem (see this NY Times article and this Washington Post article, for example). During the troubled campaign, the LDS Church released a statement implicitly responding to (and opposing) Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration, and church-owned Deseret News published an editorial condemning Trump’s misogynistic behavior and rhetoric, calling him to withdraw from the race–something all the more notable because the newspaper had not taken sides politically for 80 years. And although Trump ultimately won Utah, Mormons (in Utah and elsewhere) opposed Trump’s presidency more than any other traditionally conservative religious group. Yesterday, it was announced that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir would be performing at Trump’s election. Continue reading
In short, I’m tired. For over a year, I have paid close attention to this political race. Last night, I stayed up, glued to the screen as my expectations were upturned. At the beginning of the race, I watched the debates with enthusiasm, but I eventually refused to watch them; I thought they were a mindless spectacle, ill-befitting the office of the president. I could not understand why people favored Trump in the Republican Primaries, and I was surprised when he won the nomination. I didn’t think he stood a chance in the general election, and I watched in shock as state after state voted for him. As it became ever more likely that Trump would win the election, my Facebook feed filled with messages of dismay, sadness, and fear. Some of my Latinx students, now sophomores in high school, posted things like, “I’m going to be deported” and “This is the end.” They are young and melodramatic, but I think their fears are real. Other dear friends wrote about their crushed hopes, their sense of rejection, and their growing concerns. No shattered glass ceiling. No continuation of Obama’s legacy. No validation for progressive values. And not just these unmet expectations, but a sense of danger for women, immigrants, Muslims, and other marginalized populations. There is real pain, fear, and sadness among Hillary Clinton supporters today. I feel for and with them. Continue reading
I thought about beginning this post with a not-so-subtle comparison of the current political situation and discourse with the most gossipy and mean-spirited parts of the elementary school playground. Although something about this metaphor appeals to me, I decided against it because I risked doing that which I intend to critique: Dogmatically retaliating against the expression of opinions that oppose mine. So, instead of beginning with satire, let me begin with a confession: I used to think of pubs and bars as immoral places. Continue reading
My wife and I have been dealing with some infertility issues. Simply put, we would like to have children–in the near future if possible–and it seems that this will require some extra medical attention. As I perused our insurance policy to find out what of this extra attention would be covered, I was disappointed to discover that infertility services and medications are not included in our plan; in fact, they are explicitly excluded. I know very little about the actuarial science involved in designing these policies, so I can only speculate about why this might be the case. Whatever the reason, it seems that we may have to pay out-of-pocket for any fertility treatment we seek with this insurance.
At about the same time that I discovered this, I received an email announcing that, as of the upcoming school year, my insurance policy will be covering “transgender services” (their term, and I do not know what all it entails). Continue reading
The United States is dominating the medal count because of the success of its female athletes. Of the country’s top ten medalists at the time of this writing, 6 were female, and they have won more gold medals and more medals overall than the top male athletes. (For an interesting read on the correlation between gender equity and olympic medals, check out this article.) Our quadrennial glory and global bragging rights rest largely on the shoulders of female olympians. And yet, there are persistent questions about the state of gender equity in our sports and in the Olympics and other major tournaments. Continue reading