martin luther king jr.'s vietnam protest

Why I have no sympathy for Trump voters:

My grandfather was a white, working-class man born to a poor farming family in rural Oklahoma who held avowedly racist views. His family lost their farm to the dustbowl and debt when he was a young child, so they went to California as refugees where he spent his childhood in grinding poverty, some of it homeless. His mother had to turn to sex work to keep the family fed due to the absence of any support network. Despite being an avowed pacifist, he joined the military because literally the only way he could get a secondary education was if the army covered it in return for service. He went bankrupt, lost his home and died penniless because the American healthcare system would not cover medication for a horrific genetic condition he suffered from throughout his life. He lost the love of his life to the gun violence epidemic and America’s failure to keep its people safe. He was less than a block away from the World Trade Centre on 9/11, witnessed multiple suicides past his office window and suffered from PTSD.

And you know what? He worked undercover for the NAACP investigating racist police brutality in 1960’s Alabama for more than a decade until death threats from the KKK forced him to move relocate his family. He did vital research on mass incarceration, effects of the war on drugs on black communities, and the impact of the Vietnam War on black veterans. He was consulted on the investigation into the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. He participated in protest for every kind of cause throughout his life and he lined up to vote for Obama even though advanced Parkinson’s disease meant he could barely hold a pen and he died just months later, proud to have witnessed Obama’s inauguration.

Obviously not everyone needs to make a career of activism or put their lives on the line, but my point is this: my grandfather was a white, working-class man who the American Dream failed at literally every stage of his life. He had every reason to fall into anger and resentment, but he fought for civil rights and other causes until the day he died. He never gave into hateful ideology and he never stopped fighting for those who had less than he did. Economic frustration and the failures of the American dream are no excuse for hate, no excuse for endangering every person on this planet, because that’s what voting for Trump did. They are no excuse.