for those of you who have considered unfriending me this past year

I recognize that I am a political crusader type on social media. I realize that many of you (probably white males in particular) roll your eyes when you see that yet another stress-inducing and condescending Ethel post is rolling in. I know the feeling when news is the last thing you want to see on social media. I try to convey the “news” I post in as simple and concise a way as possible so as to limit your misery, but I mean the whole world is in absolute chaos right now. It’s kind of hard not to get heated or slightly depressing when broaching those topics. Regardless, I’m sorry. Also, thank you for being here if you are one of those friends who has really struggled to stay on the Ethel wagon throughout this period of ~finding my political voice~. Please know that I love you for it.

But here’s the perfect kernel of truth at the crux of all this — NOTHING I SAY MATTERS (yet). AT ALL. I hope for my word to mean something when it comes to the law at some point, but that time is not now. If you’re getting so riled up by my posts that it’s making you like me less as a person…just please know that not even I am taking myself that seriously. I’m not sitting here thinking that I’m smarter than everyone else, even though I’ve been explicitly told that people have said that about me. Trust me, I know I’m an idiot way better than anyone else does. I’m not an idiot all the time, though. And I try to do my research. And I care.

Here’s why I do it: it’s, like, really, really important. I know that a lot of my friends are white and privileged, but if you looked into current issues a bit more (hey, if you don’t stay up to date, I get it), you’ll see that people pushed to the outskirts of society — whether it be for reasons of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc. — are actually getting seriously affected by the policies people like Donald Trump are signing into law. Actually, now it’s not just those on the outskirts…it’s us. It’s our children. More than that, the rhetoric that people like our President and our Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith use can really set the calendar back in terms of effecting equality for all. We don’t really want a Senator who said she would want a front row seat at a lynching…?? I mean do we, Mississippi?

It’s up to us to dictate how the rest of the world speaks about us. Last year, I consulted multiple studies (compiling all of that info took hours, so don’t hate if I repost) and tried to show numerically how far behind Mississippi is compared to other states in the union. I mean we are number 1 only in statistics like teen pregnancy or (and these are, of course, related) childhood poverty. I tried to show that the current system of government Mississippians have religiously fed into for the past decades has ultimately failed us, but we still ended up with Tate Reeves as Governor. And guess what? The last places didn’t stop coming; they started coming in ways that reflected even more unfavorably on our state. We became one of the states with the most COVID cases despite having a fraction of the population of other states. The way we are going is *wrong.*

The thing is — I know that we would all much more likely agree than disagree when it came to major issues. We all want better education, economic strength, healthcare and college we don’t have to go into debt for. I think we’ve all just been fed a narrative that makes us believe that the other side is the root of the issue. If we keep our fingers pointed at each other, we won’t point them where they deserve to be pointed: the Establishment. The System. Both Right and Left. I’m all for a populist uprising, but I want one where my brothers and sisters of all ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, religions, etc., are able to join hands with us and turn this bureaucratic shizstorm to our favor. All of us. Together.

I’ve heard so many people use the definition of insanity (perhaps inaccurately) attributed to Albert Einstein, that “insanity is continuing the same behaviors while expecting different results.” Ostensibly, we look insane, Mississippi. If we dig our heels in the mud and continue to turn our nose up at any hint of progressivism, then where is the hope? Where is the hope?

All that being said, I know that many of y’all still probably hate seeing my name pop up on your feed. But…this is my life. I want to advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves as career, as my livelihood. I’m serious about this.

So if I comment on one of your posts, please don’t go into it thinking my fangs will be bared. Lately, I’ve been wanting to simply foster constructive conversations between people of disparate belief systems because if we don’t start talking to each other…how on earth are we going to get out of this mess?

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