“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
First they came for the people of color. They came for them with fabricated wars on drugs, with major time for minor or planted offenses, with gerrymandering and microaggressions and gaslighting, with three strikes you’re out and broken tail lights and swimming in neighborhood pools and walking home from the corner store and driving and dancing and getting some fresh air and mowing the lawn. They used their bodies as currency and criminalized their existence.
But my whiteness protected me, so I smiled at my black co-workers and pretended we had the same opportunities.
Then they came for the Muslims. Women wearing hijabs and men leaving mosques. Those with names like Omar and Osama were all lumped together and called terrorists. They became symbols of threats to national security.
But I was not Muslim, so I practiced my religion safely and without scrutiny.
Then they came for the immigrants, but not the nice blond ones. They came for the immigrants with brown skin, the ones fleeing war and political chaos. They underpaid them under the table to clean their houses and plant their gardens and tend to the children and said they should be grateful.
But I didn’t want to rock the boat so I didn’t say anything to my friends and family.
They came for the Jews, their favorite scapegoats. They called them greedy and unscrupulous and spread conspiracy theories and denied the Holocaust. They said they owned Hollywood and the newspapers and would drink the blood of nice Christian babies.
But I underestimated them and wore my Star of David willfully.
They came for the gay and lesbian and bisexual people with their perversion of family values and freakish same love and infuriating pride and rainbow flags. They came for transgender troops and abortion clinics and affordable healthcare and access to safe spaces.
They came for the babies. The migrant workers. The sweatshop laborers. The ones who picked their organic salad greens and sewed their kids’ back-to-school clothes.
They came for the border crossers and the asylum seekers. They came for them in the daytime and at night. They drugged them. They deported them. They disappeared them and detained them and disfigured their bodies and souls.
They came for the journalists, the writers, the muralists, the subversive artists, the scientists, the truth-tellers and the novelists and the teachers and the filmmakers. They called everything fake news and forgot how to read.
They came for the grieving children and parents whose lives were leveled by gun violence. They came for the anti-gun activists and told them to stop whining.
They came for the disabled, by birth or by illness or by accident. They made fun of them and saw them as lesser humans and said suck it up you pussy.
They came for the survivors of rape, assault, and harassment. The ones who’d been told to keep their mouths shut. They discredited, silenced, and blackmailed them.
They came for the union members, stripping away their rights to organize and advocate for fair wages and hours and treatment and safe work conditions.
They came for the veterans, taking away their healthcare and social security pensions.
They came for the athletes who refused to take a knee for the flag. They fined them and treated them like chattel and called them unpatriotic.
They came for the nonviolent protestors, with tear gas and riot police and tasers.
They came for the national parks and the rivers and the wide open spaces. They came for the canyons and the prairies and the wind farms and the solar fields. They came for the renewable energy industry and the indigenous keepers of the land and the endangered species and the ocean waters and the climate change experts.
They came for everyone who was not white, wealthy, Christian, and biologically male. They came for everyone who was not proud of the flag, everyone who said not in my name and not one more and never again and never again is now.
* * *
Have they come for you yet?
Have they come for me yet?
* * *
My voice is my only weapon.
My body is my only weapon.
My heart is my only weapon.
My mind is my only weapon.
My vote is my only weapon.
Love is my compass.
*The quote was originally misattributed to Desiree Lynn Adaway. Thanks, Desiree, for the correction.