Thinking about the fate of the future often worries me. Honestly, the best way to describe the condition (and reputation) of our nation right now is with a pretty outdated, but perfectly accurate term:
My generation knows this phrase, despite its evolution in meaning over the years. But for the older folks who might be reading and are unfamliar with “hot mess,” here’s a definition, courtesy Urban Dictionary:
A state of disarray so chaotic that it’s dizzying to look at. A mess that is beyond the normal range of disarray. Visual clutter that draws attention to itself.
There’s also “hotmess,” one word. This is when you’ve surpassed “hot mess,” two words. Defined as:
You have gone above and beyond being a hot mess. You attract attention to yourself in such a displeasing way people can’t help but to clown the shit out of you. It’s a shame your friends let you out the house like that.
ex: “That girls weave look like spools of yarn on her head… that shit is a HOTMESS!”
or, as my friend Michael likes to say,
“Honey, that girl is Hotmess Express leaving Dysfunction Junction.“
Each one of those words in and of themselves is an accurate snapshot of 2018 America: Disarray. Chaotic. Dizzying. Beyond normal. Visual clutter. Draws attention in a displeasing way. People “clown the shit out of you.”
That’s about right… right?
Whenever I get too deep in worry, like how I felt after watching the Strzok hearing last week, I like to take a moment to pause and reflect on who’s actually going to be leading the future, cause it’s not my generation. I say it all the time, but it’s true: America’s current society of youth & teens restore my faith in humanity, and they are going to change the world in all the best ways.
My 17 year old son’s girlfriend, Keegan, wrote a poem titled Welcome to America, which was published in her high school’s literary magazine this year. My 16 year old daughter, Kate, took a lovely photo of the statue of liberty on a recent trip to New York with her boyfriend & his family. She and I talk about the state of the world frequently.
I decided to put the two together because the image and the poem complement each other, especially considering everything happening right now at the Southern border, and even within the walls of our own country. Right here in good ol ‘murica is where, for example, black trans women are among the most likely groups of individuals to be attacked and violently murdered, just for walking out their front door, living authentically, being themselves, not bothering anyone.
HRC has long reported the stats. So far, 2017 was the deadliest year for trans women of color – and that’s only the ones we knew were transgender, just the tip of the iceberg. Fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, and the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare, and other necessities, barriers that make them vulnerable.
Of course, that’s just one example of marginalized or minority groups in America. There are many others. We still have many great hurdles to overcome regarding social progress. Sometimes it seems like just too much.
However, every time I think of this youthful generation, my faith is restored. Look at the Parkland Florida teens, who rose up, in the face of unimaginable tragedy and loss, and spoke truth to power. I get chills just thinking about it. Every teenager I’m blessed to know well is just like the Parkland kids. They’re fed up, and they’re sick and tired of the adults – especially the ones who are capable of enacting change – acting like children. I have no doubt the upcoming decisions of these young folks will have enormous impact, and will advance society forward. They will undoubtedly pick up the slack of my generation’s apathy, though I think it’s so unfair that they have to. They deserve better.
With their permission, I’m publishing Keegan’s poem and Kate’s photograph here.