When White People Talk About their Country Being Stolen (I Throw Up in My Mouth a Little Bit)
The morning after the election results, while our country was waking up from one of the biggest hangovers of its life, John and me had the complicated and compounded misfortune of waking to the telltale sounds of what I assumed was a celebratory victory rut of our upstairs neighbors, who happened to be ardent Trump fans.
“The upstairs neighbors are going at it! A victory bang.” I posted on my Facebook. Then deleted. Then reposted. Then deleted again. I have no filter.
Our neighbors have Trump signs all over the yard, a poster-sized “VOTE TRUMP” sign taped to the back of their minivan, along with year-round Christmas lights and miniature American flags all up and down the concrete path to their porch. When I sprained my ankle, these same untoward neighbors gave me a walker, offered help, visited me, and sympathized with my trouble. Yes, they are good people. They know not what they do goes the refrain inside my head.
I know how to deal with Trumpsters. Their narrative is simplistic, transparent, and in my face.
What’s not so simple, what isn’t an easy-to-follow recipe are the white folks stomping through our yard in pink pussy hats and safety pins stuck to their lapels, on their way to another Saturday rally in the park across the street. These socially conscientious liberals who want their country back.
“There’s a lady kicking over the planters in the walkway,” John says from the window.
“Shit. Is she wearing a pussy hat?”
“Yes. Should we call the police?”
“No. Tell her to get off our lawn.”
The Native couple raising cane at hippies who’re tearing around on their front lawn. That’s rich.
“I feel a little sorry for them. They look so lost,” I say.
“Don’t. One of them broke our planter.”
“We could join them?” I say. “They don’t know what hit them. Trump is going to turn the whole country into a banana republic.”
“Or a reservation,” John says.
“Welcome! We’ve got a chair for you right here at the kid’s table,” I say.
“We should teach seminars called ‘Dispossession is a Bitch.’ ”
We laugh. In that good way.
From the distance we can hear a woman’s voice amplified through a megaphone. In the park, a sea of pink assembled like a coral reef. We part the curtains and peer through the window as if we’re Jacques Cousteau surveying a mysterious new species.
So much pink.
If I take my glasses off, all I see is a blur of cotton candy. It makes me feel nauseous, as if I’d stayed at the carnival too long.
John takes my hand and opens the front door. We step out into the morning air and reluctantly join the parade.
“When White People Talk About their Country Being Stolen” by Tiffany Midge is from Take A Stand: Art Against Hate, edited by Anna Bálint, Phoebe Bosché, Thomas Hubbard (Raven Chronicles Press, 2020). It appears by permission of the author and publisher and was originally published in Transmotion.
Tiffany Midge a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, is the author of Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s (Bison Books, University of Nebraska Press, 2019). She’s the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, the Simons Public Humanities Fellowship, the Kenyon Review Earthworks Indigenous Poetry Prize, and a Western Heritage Award. Midge resides in the Inland Northwest and aspires to be the first Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in Seattle’s Space Needle.