Back to Normal?
What the fuck do we mean by “back to normal?” There’s a lot to unpack there. But let me just say straight up, that if you want to go “back to normal,” fuck you, because you’re part of the problem, one of the privileged people for whom the status quo is on your side.
“Back to Normal” is the new Make America Great Again, a MAGA embraced by liberals and conservatives alike.
For a lot of people — if you are Black or Brown, disproportionately gunned down by police, imprisoned, railroaded by the court system, subject to poverty and housing and job discrimination, or one of the people experiencing houselessness, lacking healthcare or experiencing chronic illness, living in fear of violence as a women (straight or particularly trans), being exploited by the relentless squeeze of capitalism or born into places where the only viable work is sex work, dangerous extraction of resources, or grueling factories churning out technology for the first world, people struggling with mental illness or addiction, working poor people grinding at two, three, or four jobs in the churning gig economy, young and looking at a bleak future devoid of opportunities and drowning in debt, Jewish or Arab living in this anti-Semitic, anti-Arab, xenophobic Christian ethnostate, near the bottom of the social-economic ladder in a region discarded by capitalism and abandoned to meth- and opioid-addiction, or one of the tens or millions of people to lose someone in a global pandemic made worse by rightwing denial — what you call “normal” was indeed normalized, but no one’s idea of fun. That’s the normal that some folks are excited to go back to.
In the meantime, a lot has changed. We’re seeing a growing awareness of income inequality, the institutional racism of police, courts, prisons, and banks, and the world burning up from the effects of man-made climate change. Meanwhile, we see an opposite and equal reactionary rise of neo-fascism, “lost cause” confederacy bullshit, anti-science, anti-intellectual, anti-vaxx, and climate change denial.
Normal meant we sat silently when our crazy Uncle Ed talked about “inner-city thuggery” at Thanksgiving dinner. Now, we’re willing to tell Uncle Ed that he’s a raging racist. We’ve stopped talking to our crazy relative who went to Washington on January 6th to take back the Capital. We’ve blocked half of our extended family. We’re not putting up with sexual harassment at work. We become active in our union if we are lucky enough to belong to one. We’ve narrowed our friendship circles to those people we actually trust and love.
I don’t want to go back to “normal.” I want to live in a world free of white supremacy and casual misogyny and the “free market” that deals out subsidies to billionaires.
So here’s one more Unavoidable Disaster working to make space for another world that’s possible.