Yesterday, two local Trouble makers / baristas / fashionistas joined forces. Julia, the mother of Bluehart, handmade clothing crafted in the Outer Sunset of San Francisco, and me, the mother of #WordyLaundry
Waiting for the Train? . . . Protesting
It seems like every shift I’ve worked since the Don of our new administration, I miss another major local protest. Women’s March. SFO. #NoBanNoWall, and countless other ones, no doubt.
Meanwhile, I’m behind the counter caffeinating protesters on their way to actually participate. I see their signs, their painted faces, and the fire in their eyes (I mean this metaphorically, not all protesters are arsonists). I like to credit myself in part for fueling that (metaphorical, not real) fire, via coffee, cappuccinos, heated conversations with my customers.
We’ve all forgotten how to small talk. We all abandoned it for real talk the morning of Wednesday, November 9, 2016.
I’ll never forget because I witnessed a miracle that day. I opened that morning with Julia—her on register and me on the bar. Customers trickled in solemnly in a state of collective shock, Julia consoling them all, like soldiers returning home from a battle they’d fought so confidently, and lost so big-ly.
Nobody small-talks with soldiers after battle. It wouldn’t be appropriate. You don’t ask a bleeding, wounded, battered soldier if they caught the game last night. Neither did Julia. She already knew that everybody caught the game. She knew we suffered a collective loss. Nevertheless, she reassured us that, although we’re all scared—we’re terrified—that said, we’re all here in this together, and we will still continue to be here for each other, now more than ever. And in the midst of all of this, Melinda forgets her wallet.
She orders, dips back out to grab her cash out of her car, and Lani, who’s behind her, buys Melinda’s latte. Melinda returns with her five bucks and Julia tells her that her drink has already been paid for. Melinda thanks Lani and leaves her five there on the counter anyway, “For the next one.” And just like that, every customer for the next hour, which consisted of one long, continuous line, had their coffee bought for them by the person before them, and each one paid it forward to the next.
In my six years behind the counter, I’ve never seen anything like that. It wasn’t the kind of thing you ever could have planned. It was just a spontaneous, communal random act of kindness, and credit to Julia for up-selling that love to every customer who came, not letting anyone forget the circumstances of that kindness, or the collective trauma we were all there healing, together.
That was the day that small talk died, and I don’t miss it.
In any case, as much as I fancy myself a fueler of the cause, by caffeinating protesters on their way to go march, I can’t deny that I am not actually there, physically standing with them, assembling with people, yelling, holding signs, representing myself in person.
But that said, protesting is becoming as routine as toast, at least here in the bay, and if there is a protest every day, realistically, I can’t attend them all. And if we can’t uproot our lives and leave our jobs to go be full-time activists, why not bring our protests with us to work, and everywhere we go? Why can’t we wear what we believe loudly and proudly on our sleeves? Literally? Why not take our protest to-go? Force that message upon every soul we pass throughout the day… wouldn’t that be more efficient anyway? Would our words not reach a wider audience?
Not to say you should stop attending protests. Of course you should, by all means, attend when you can. So I can troll instagram and buzzfeed later for my favorite signs to steal and smack onto all my clothes to wear and sell. I’ve always been the most creative plagiarist. All art is a collaborative effort, after all. And as a member of “the Left”, I just adore “arts and crafts disguised as a social justice moment.”
The Left will use any excuse to make a cardboard sign and scream. They love arts & crafts disguised as a social justice moment.
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) January 29, 2017
So naturally, I’ve taken up the fine craft, for the cause, of fabric-painting my favorite protest signs onto old used clothes I thrift. And you should too. But if you don’t have time, or don’t have fabric paint, or don’t have the sexiest handwriting, by all means, my protest clothes are yours for the taking, if you’re interested in buying. Attached below (not yet, but coming soon! Stay tuned) will be a menu of phrases, images and words of wisdom you can choose from, whether you want to make your own or custom order from myself. Willing to negotiate prices, as all items are one-of-a-kind. Come and get em while they’re hot! Hit me up, email@example.com.
And stay tuned for more new Wordy Laundry every week!
Dear Tomi Lahren,
You don’t know me, and I won’t claim to know you either, but I do know and watch your show. I follow your twitter and instagram. A lot of people do. I’m sure this doesn’t come as news to you. I’m sure the fame you’ve built has been no accident, so I don’t have to tell you.
I’m not famous, so I don’t know, but I imagine the most taxing part of it would be this: That a person can approach you, a person you do not know and have never met, but who knows and recognizes you. A stranger, to you. Who knows your angles and perspectives and beliefs, but you don’t even know their name. My name is Dakota, by the way.
They may be a fan. They may agree with many of your beliefs, and be grateful to you for voicing them.
Or they may not. They may be haters. They may be sloppy and tasteless. Or they may take careful notes and come prepared. They may have watched your show in opposition, seeking to confirm all their existing biases about you, attacking and dismissing every point as you deliver it. They may have already composed a mental list of comebacks to your major punchlines, prepared to pick your politics apart. Condemning you for your beliefs, and despising you speaking them.
I imagine the majority of your mail, and strangers who approach you, fall loosely into one of these two groups. But I like to think a third group reaches you, too, who may not take so strictly to these two apparent sides.
I would also like to think I’m in that group.
In any case, I know that you reach millions of people, and you reach them through primarily two mutually exclusive lenses: Left or right. Blue or Red. Liberal / Conservative. Two sides.
I’m not a rocket scientist, but I did take astronomy in college, and this us-and-them mentality reminds me of the factor of uncertainty that exists in physics:
I won’t go too deeply into the uncertainty factor because I’ll probably butcher it, but from what I took away, “uncertainty” was discovered in terms of the atom, in which, the speed of an electron can be tested and determined without knowing its location, or its location can be tested and determined while you’re blinded to its speed. Ultimately, you can determine one, or the other, but never both at the same time.
The same thing could be said about your show:
A person may watch your show, but depending whether they identify as right or left, or red or blue, that is the only lens through which they’ll view. Meaning a person watching through one lens can never know what the same thing would have looked like through the other.
Except, whereas uncertainty in the case of the atom is a law of physics, and absolute, the uncertainty through which we see the media is a social construct, I believe, that we have built. Or at least I like to think so, because that means we could likewise dismantle it.
Like the movies, which were only ever shown in two dimensions, until they came out with those shitty 3D glasses with the paper rims and red and blue floppy lenses. What ever happened to those glasses?
Like the unassuming innocence through which we watched the world as kids, those glasses are a thing of the past. We need to teach ourselves to look through both lenses, right and left, red and blue, in three dimensions. Maybe the world won’t be so violent if we learn to see in shades of violet. (Get it? Because red and blue make violet?… Like nothing is black and white… See, this is why I’ll never be famous.)
So, Miss Lahren, all of this is just to say: Although I strongly disagree with much of what you say, I respect and admire what you do. And although we take two mostly clashing sides, we’re not that different. We’re both blonde, 20-something, sassy, white American women. We both love dogs. We’re both passionate and driven to starting a discussion with as wide an audience as we can reach. The audience you’ve reached happens to be wider. Not that it’s a competition, but you’re winning. Ultimately, we’re both working to deliver (different) messages.
And I can’t deny, you’ve done a better job of it.
We both seek to establish ourselves in the world as intelligent, fearless, independent women, who speak for ourselves and speak the truth (as we perceive it). Only, you’ve already achieved this. You’ve already danced with that success. You host your own show. You’ve been the only woman speaking on a panel with five older men. You went on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah, who is incidentally the love of my life, and I can’t even call you a lucky bitch about it because you more than earned your place there at his desk. You met and faced a man, not to mention a room full of booing fans, who strongly oppose you on almost every point, and you met him with courage, civility and respect. You’ve extended yourself to people with different perspectives from your own, and you don’t shy away from saying what you have to say.
Meanwhile, I’m a barista. And as much as I fancy myself the host of my own liberal-snowflake, behind-the-counter talk show — slinging espresso drinks and heated conversations on current social affairs — I can’t deny that you reach as many people in one minute after posting as I probably have in the six years that I’ve been here behind the counter, touching the minds and the hearts of customers, one cup of coffee at a time. Other than that, I have this blog that I’ve abandoned, and a bunch of clothes that I’ve repurposed into protest signs, and nothing else to show for myself, or my efforts to reach the world.
I disagree deeply with you on many issues: immigration, BlackLivesMatter, racial injustice, guns, to name a few. But I disagree with some liberals, too.
I disagree with the individuals at UC Berkeley who fought to silence a conservative speaker. I do believe that all perspectives should be represented and included, no matter how unpopular, and I agree with you that this was contradictory and hypocritical to the liberal cause.
I disagree with the decision to exclude pro-life women marching from the women’s march. They were women marching, after all. I’m sure some liberals would disagree with me on that one.
I agree with you, that the kidnapping, torture and abuse of an innocent teen in Chicago was wrong and disgusting, and I bet I’m not the only “snowflake” who agrees it was an act of hate. I do not endorse the actions of the individuals who beat that boy, nor the individual who shot down officers in Dallas. I disagree with individuals and haters who dismiss you as stupid or heartless, or the things you have to say as totally invalid. I agree with you, that I wish we could all disagree without presuming those on the “other side” to be ill-intentioned.
Ultimately, I think all perspectives should be represented, whether or not they’re “useful” to my cause. And I want to give you credit where it’s due, for being a young woman speaking up, louder than I am, having the talk that we all need to have. A talk which I think many of us fail to acknowledge is one that can’t be had without hearing the other side, and actually listening.
I aspire to be as much of a catalyst and voice of my cause, one day, as you are of yours. And lastly, regardless of where you stand on the wall, I just want to thank you for building those bridges, and starting those conversations, and reaching so many people, myself included.