today, dr. christina blasey ford testified about her sexual assault by brett kavanaugh in front of a senate committee — and, well, the whole damn world — and, while it was encouraging and inspiring to see, once again, the courage of a woman to stand up for what she believes is right, even though she knows the system she’s up against is too powerful, it’s been an ugly day and a disappointing one. kavanaugh’s confirmation is an inevitability (or it feels overwhelmingly so), and the sham that was the 2016 election continues to reverberate even now, almost two years later, in this sham of a hearing.
but that’s not what i want to talk about, not right now.
this morning, i went to work and opened twitter and glanced at the news, then i opened instagram and started scrolling through my feed and stories and explore page. now, tonight, with my dog at my feet and crisp night air sifting in through the windows, i feel the need to put down in a post what i said in my instagram stories this morning. (they’ve also been pinned to my profile.)
to put it shortly: food is political. books are political. fashion is political. and, if you’re a public account, whatever your niche, the greater your following, the greater your responsibility to speak up and be clear about what you stand for.
i’ve been open about how my patience for instagram, specifically for influencers on instagram, has been dwindling, and it kind of blew up today as i was going through my feed and my stories and seeing the same old — book hauls, exorbitant product unboxings, fashion parties — and largely silence about the goings-on in DC. maybe there’d be a token post, a screencap with a quote, nothing personal given. maybe there’d be a tiny gesture, just enough to squeak by safely, so the poster could have something to point at to say, look, i’m paying attention! here’s something that’s been circulating on the internet that fits with my brand! i’m not saying that people need to be posting about political and social shit non-stop all the time, but today was particularly jarring, this blatant disconnect between food/books/etc accounts and dr. ford’s testimony and the GOP’s disgusting responses.
it’s also been jarring given that it’s banned books week, and we’ve been seeing plenty of photos of banned books, which makes the silence from prominent bookstagrammers ring even more because those books they’re so keen to show off have often been banned for telling stories of people whose rights are under threat today, whose lives kavanaugh’s confirmation makes even more perilous.
and, yes, i do mean lives, actual, physical, mortal lives, because don’t delude yourself for one goddamn minute that people’s lives aren’t at stake here..
because lest you forget, women die without access to safe abortion. they die because of sexual and domestic violence. they die because their pain is dismissed and ignored because they’re women and women’s pain is diminished, not heard and taken seriously.
queer people die because of violence committed against them, because they have the audacity to exist and love. they die because they’re so bullied, so dehumanized, so isolated that they take their own lives. they die because they’re chased out of their homes, cut out of their families, forced onto the streets with no support system.
people of color die because of racism, because the color of their skin carries prejudice and stereotypes that erase their humanity. they die because they’re denied refuge, even though they came to this country to flee violence and deportation means they will be killed — there is no doubt about that. people of color die doing the work in this country that white people, no matter how desperate, will never deign to do.
these are all things those banned books are about because writers write in response to the shit that goes on in the world. those banned books people are stacking so proudly, so prettily, were written to illuminate something about the world because writers know — books exist in dialogue with the world, because nothing — NOTHING — exists in a vacuum. you cannot separate art from the political because art is political, just like you cannot separate food from the political, not when it is the political that mandates what kind of food is made available and accessible to which groups of people. don’t forget that this country produces enough food to feed all its people and more. it is the political that means so many people, so many children, in this country go hungry.
so don’t give me your excuses, and don’t you dare sit there trying to claim that food isn’t political, that books aren’t political, that you can somehow detach yourself from the political. have the decency and courage to make it clear where you stand because silence is damning and privilege is an ugly thing that reinforces this toxic, patriarchal, classist white society that is meting out incredible amounts of harm to women, POC, queer people, immigrants, people of faiths other than christianity.
when you have a platform, whether it’s to a following of a few thousand or hundreds of thousands or millions, and you refuse to make it clear where you stand, your silence makes you complicit.