02 June 2020

The Truth is Out There

May 10, 1998: I watch an episode of the X-Files named Folie a Deux. In it, Mulder encounters a delusional man who believes his boss is a giant bug monster--and decides to take an entire office building, including Mulder, hostage to prove it. The man is killed, but somehow, Mulder inherits his ability to see the boss monster. When Mulder sees the monster kill a woman and turn her into a zombie, he draws his weapon on the boss. His erratic behavior and rants about the monster land him in a psychiatric hospital. No one believes him, including Scully, who suggests he is experiencing a folie a deux, or psychosis shared by two. Mulder begs her to look for evidence of a puncture wound on the back of one of the victims as proof they were bitten by the monster. When she sees the bite marks she rushes back to the hospital. Mulder is restrained in his bed, watching as the giant bug monster climbs through the window and hangs from the ceiling over him. Scully arrives on the floor but the nurse won't let her in to see Mulder. As Mulder screams for help, Scully is suddenly able to see the nurse in her true zombie form. She pushes into Mulder's room and shoots at the monster as it is about to descend.

August 9, 2014: I watch as Ferguson, Missouri explodes with sorrow and rage over the shooting of Michael Brown, an 18 year-old black boy, by a white police officer. The police leave his body on the street, out in the summer sun, for four hours before they let his family see him. Almost immediately, the reports of Brown's size and behavior circulate as a narrative to explain the cop's behavior. Within days, there are military vehicles blocking the streets and police aiming their assault rifles at protesters. Businesses are burned, people are tear-gassed, and I am deeply affected. I am the mother of boys, and I cannot imagine the anguish of losing one of them. I have dear friends--black women--and I try to process what it would be like to worry for their nephews every time they go out. I am angry, and as the days roll on I begin to follow black activists on twitter. I read, and I read some more, and when I hear the phrase "structural racism," I begin to understand how all of our institutions-education, housing, healthcare, especially justice-favor white people and exclude black and brown people.

May 26, 2020: I watch as Minneapolis grieves the death of George Floyd, a 46 year-old black man murdered by white police officers. Initially peaceful protests turn violent as stores are looted and buildings set on fire. Demonstrations across the nation follow the same pattern. I am angry, but I am also sad that the stores will not be able to reopen. I have been listening as the Captain and his team have been planning the return of Macy's, and now they are watching the footage of their stores being ransacked and robbed. I worry for the employees who have been furloughed and now may not return for weeks because of the damage.

June 1, 2020: It occurs to me that my initial reaction was filtered entirely through a capitalist lens. I wanted the employees to get back to work because I have internalized that all of our structures-education, housing, healthcare, especially justice-favor the wealthy. Capitalism needs a steady stream of workers to turn its gears, and our economy needs consumers to feed it. But what if...we didn't?

I consider myself a life-long liberal woman. I have never voted for a Republican. I marched in the 80s to preserve abortion rights, and I stood in D.C. in my pussy hat and flipped off Donald Trump. But I have been so steeped in the chum of the economic status quo I couldn't even tell I was drowning. My awareness of the world and my place in it has not been a gradual awakening. My growth has been in fits and starts--jolted out of my addiction, complacency, or even idealism by outside events. I think about Folie a Deux often because that giant ceiling skittering bug scared the shit out of me. But it also filled me with hope. Scully always chose science, but she never abandoned Mulder and his outrageous theories. She allowed for the possibility that there were things outside her scope. Today I stand here like Dana Scully, with my eyes open to our national folie collective, ready to consider something outrageous. I am done watching. Let's kill the monster before it turns us all into zombies.