Yeah, radicalized. Go ahead: think about Muslims and panic, you bigot. Now listen up because I have some shit to get off my chest. When someone becomes radicalized, it means they become more radical, especially when it comes to politics, and radical only means that they advocate for some sort of change. True, the term usually applies to people who participate in the very bad things that come from political/religious fanaticism, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t use the word. I’ve been radicalized, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
You see, I’ve been inhabiting Otherness for almost a decade. I’m the guy women run from the second they step off the bus. I’m the guy mothers pull their kids away from when I walk through the park. I’m the guy some white dude wearing a tie asks if he has a green card during a job interview. I’m the guy your friends ask “How come your English is so good?” I’m the guy who is “surprisingly eloquent” for a brown, non-native speaker. I’m the guy who cringes every time the Austin Police Department sends out a warning about a “stocky Latino” who gropes women at the bus stop. I’m the guy some people feel compelled to explain words to despite having less education/published work/skills than yours truly. I’m the guy who gets asked what colors he represents outside a bar because anyone who looks like me surely has to belong to a gang. I’m the guy whose neighbor says “It makes sense that you get searched at the airport because you look like a bad Arab.” I’m also the guy caught between languages and cultures, the guy for whom multiplicity is a thing, diversity is a constant reality, difference is a constant, and multiculturalism is life. Oh, and I’m the guy reading the news and getting progressively angrier and more frustrated. Lastly, with the first presidential debate looming, I just became the guy who freaks everybody the fuck out by saying “I’ve become radicalized.”
Here’s the thing: I know that violence leads to more violence and I know that having a sour attitude and a negative disposition solves nothing. I also know that trying to keep my cool has changed nothing and keeping my political views mostly quiet has helped no one achieve nothing. Now I’m here to say this: you can vote for whoever you want, but I’m ready to start killing some fucking bigots if push comes to shove.
Let me ask you this, and please try to answer honestly: did you really think you could kill black folks without a reason, treat homosexuals like they’re not humans, call Mexicans rapists, tell Muslims who were born in this country that you’re gonna put them on a register, treat minorities like garbage, perpetuate rape culture and a fucked up patriarchal system, abuse Native Americans, and talk shit about refugees who have lost everything forever and no one would become radicalized? If the answer is yes, you’re an idiot. I’m tired of reading dumb comments. I’m tired of injustice and racism and casual bigotry and the alarming nonchalance with which the news and half of you take things that should be driving you insane. I’m done. Oh, I’m not gonna go out and shoot at cops or knock out the first dude I see wearing a t-shirt with the Confederate flag. No, what I will do is tell you this: things are bad now, and I’m ready to start stabbing some motherfuckers if it gets worse. Here’s the part that should send shivers down your spine: I’m not alone. Otherness is full of people like me, and pissing all of us off at the same time is not the greatest idea y’all ever had.
You know what got me here? Kids. Adults are mostly assholes and can sort of defend themselves, but kids are a different story. There are kids growing up right now who know that a cop can shoot them in the back while their hands are up and that cop will probably get a cozy desk gig as a result. There are kids who fear being deported to a country they’ve never been to where they speak a language that, in many cases, they ignore. There are kids growing up right now who wake up in the morning and have to think about guns and bigotry and difference and whether their natural hair or skin color will get them in trouble. America, and by that I mean the United States because America is much bigger and full of non-US residents, was never great, but these kids deserve to grow up in a place that’s less divisive, less stupid, less racist and sexist and homophobic. They deserve a chance to try to write their names in history books individually because they achieved things, not as part of a number of some heinous genocide or war casualties. So yeah, have your political meltdowns on Facebook and try to convince each other of how right y’all are to think the way you do. I’ll be over here, ready to throw a massive barbecue and revel in the fact that my immediate neighbors are from Germany, Minnesota, Jamaica, India, and few other places…or ready to start killing some Nazi wannabes. Now go love someone.
Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of ZERO SAINTS (Broken River Books),HUNGRY DARKNESS (Severed Press), and GUTMOUTH (Eraserhead Press). His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, Marginalia, The Collagist. Heavy Feather Review, Crimespree, Out of the Gutter, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, HorrorTalk, Verbcide, and many other print and online venues. You can find him on Twitter at@Gabino_Iglesias.