My Own Politics Really Ain’t Shit

The last time I was in the barbershop JoeJoe said, “Who gives a fuck who the president is? That shit don’t matter to niggas like me and you.”

He was speaking to my barber, Johnny, and to another old head sitting in the chair across from me. And he spoke to me. And he was speaking to the three bald faced anti-tender teenage boys at the back of the shop, and to the girl with the big booty sweeping up the hair and to the smoker who came in selling bootlegs and to my mother when she used to come there to pull tricks and to that nigga who pulled a gun out front and shattered a window and to most everyone within a few miles radius from Margaret and Orthodox streets beneath the El, slathered in piss who inherited nothing but bottomless unknowing and have been sad and angry since we were born, whose lot in life will never fundamentally change unless the current planet, or at least several countries are eviscerated and we start from scratch.

That shit don’t matter to niggas like me and you.

That comment stood out amongst all the religious proselytizing, sports arguments and jail stories, and drowned out Maury in the background relaying whether someone was or was not the father. He was just so tired, and so was I. 

Just recently I spoke to my mother about politics.

“Why would I be bothered with that?” she said.  

And she had a point. My mother has ever been included on any census, her needs will never be addressed by any policy, and she will never, under any circumstance be a part of the society in which (for some people) your worth is measured, in some form or another, by your output.

That shit don’t matter to niggas like me and you.

And I’m tired too, but less than political fatigue, I guess it’s acceptance. And sometimes I feel ashamed in my not doing or saying anything, since I acknowledge that tiny, incremental, community based work–work that so many of my friends do–can improve the lives of the vulnerable people that symbolic, historic America tends to loathe.

I can’t do that work.

Maybe I’m not patient, or friendly, or caring enough for what most would define as true activism. Most days I can barely squeeze out enough words to make a page or so of coherent sentences, let alone ones that ponder change or progress, collective action. I’m not sure what it would take for me to believe that everything will be alright in some way, some day.

But I know that shit don’t matter to niggas like me and you.

Not long ago I had friends over, and the twenty minutes or so that the conversation shifted from dating and literature to politics, it made me uncomfortable. Not because I felt uninformed, but because it has become a space that feels uniformly hopeless, and may have always been. It feels like I’m lying to myself if I get excited about football protests, all late in the game now that money and male egos are involved, after all the deaths and disenfranchisement, post black but before any arrests. And even in that, the words “death,” “disenfranchisement” and “arrests” seem to inspire hundreds of their own essays before we even get to the long standing neglect–by the rest of the U.S.–of the island of Puerto Rico.

People are still arguing, to this day, about whether or not 45 is a bad person, a sexist, a racist, or whatever. Still arguing. About how much better he is, or isn’t than Obama. About his believability. Still arguing. About his merits as the leader of the free world, whatever the fuck that really means. Think pieces abound. The endurance is amazing. Where does all the energy come from? Just thinking of what it was like when I used to argue with white people or capitalists or hoteps or whatever makes me physically weak, and whenever I get the urge to engage in some type of conversation–unless it’s in direct physical defense of someone less prepared to defend themselves than I–it makes me nauseous.

And JoeJoe said that shit don’t matter to niggas like me and you. And most of the time, I think he’s right.

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