Today I described these offerings as documentation of an awakening. It's about Trump but it's about so much more than Trump; it is about the world that allowed Trump to take power, that pulled the lever for him long before November 8. And it is about my own currency in that world, my ability to move comfortably in it, my bodily freedom in a structure that so adamantly refuses the same freedom to inhabit one's body to so many. In the reconciliation project we started to write about privilege and what it might mean. Before I started this investigation it was an abstract concept, a version of self awareness or self consciousness, framed as an almost logistical advantage in professional or social transactions. I am coming to understand, though, that it is actually about the right to exist, about bodily sovereignty, about life and death. Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about needing to be twice as good. Which I understood as working extra hard to win some kind of cookie, some accolade, something that I have had the luxury of being concerned about, bent out of shape over. What it actually means is working extra hard to stay alive. This is not a euphemism.
So I write six postcards. Laying that next to the right to inhabit one's body feels absurd. Trump's chief policy advisor is a white supremacist so I send Trump postcards, from places I've lived or places I've visited, places where it was easy to walk down the street, where I'd get pulled over for speeding and called "sir." Las Vegas, New York City. Places where I ate in fancy restaurants, lived in fancy apartments, wrote and played music, worried about "making it." NOT BANNON say the postcards but I send them as the beneficiary of his thinking. This is the ultimate privilege, the ability to ask, politely, that it be revoked. In this case, by joining in an internet-concerted effort to send the president elect mail. Justice would be sending so many that he literally cannot move, that they suffocate his ability to freely inhabit his own body, and in that immobilization all he can see are tourist destinations shot from their best sides, rolling hills, wheat fields, the country we pretend we inhabit while, because of this obsession with its most photogenic version, someone is choked out.
Outside the window of the cafe where I am writing, where I have been sitting for over two hours with my laptop for a two-dollar cup of tea, police are clearing the streets. Not because we are rising up, but because this evening is a community event in which the fancy shops have sales and the local real estate office will paint your child's face to look like a reindeer. An officer entered a minute ago and, as a courtesy, let us know that we should move our cars from the main street because towing will begin in 20 minutes. This is my reality, this is the world in which I live. The best I can be right now is a relay point, passing notes into this existence from very different lives, from bodies denied the ability to exist in this easy, postcard-ready way, to even conceive of an environment in which the police call you "sir" and ask you to move your car so santa can park a sled on the main street in your town. That's the front of the postcard, over which I have no control. But I can decide what to write on the other side.
Thank You Campaign...
...was a website I built to document my total freakout at the 2016 US presidential election. I've collected the "offerings" section here: short essays, each with an associated image I'd found or a picture I'd taken, documenting a small set of awakenings and a small rising up.