It’s Not Funny: It Never Was
In the white Southern culture of my youth, April Fools Day demanded cruel jokes at the expense of me, whenever I was serious about anything, especially when I kept naming what was wrong, what hurt, or simply tried to speak and act honestly in the world. When I reacted with anger, shame or (the worst) tears, I would be taunted, “What’s the matter, girl? Can’t you take a joke? it’s April Fools Day. Why are you so sensitive about everything?”
Sometimes it was just “good natured” teasing– telling me that my face was dirty, or there was a bug in my hair. Sometimes I would be sent on a “fool’s errand” to look for a surprise package in the yard, or to find a missing toy or our lost dog, who turned out to be tied up under the house. Ha, Ha, fooled again.
When my cousins did this I would be mad; when adults did it I would be humiliated, shamed and, disappointed in myself for falling again for their “jokes”, for believing that this time their lies were true, or because I forgot that it was just another April Fool’s Day.
Indeed, it really was petty, simply part the cruel, evolving set of rituals meant to “toughen me up,” to get me ready for the real world — a place where someday, someone with power would decide to trick me, to lie to me, and ultimately to make me seem like a fool for falling for the joke…..
I read the news this morning, on another April First, the 72nd April’s Fools Day of my life, and now finally realize that this cruel world is crueler than ever. The “adults” in power are still lying, putting me and all of us in jeopardy, and still laughing about it, still getting away with it, sill playing us for fools. Enough.
So I decided to start anew, today, with some serious new April Fool’s Day Resolutions of my own. I’m through laughing. I’m not being “a good sport,” for anybody, not anymore.
From this day forward I resolve instead to be a Wise Fool…i.e,.no matter what, to always be noticing, naming, and calling out the things that are still seriously wrong:
1) white supremacy, white nationalism and the white supremacists/white nationalists who practice and promote it anywhere. It’s not funny.
2) male supremacy, misogyny, and all mistreatment and demeaning of women and girls. It’s not funny; it never was.
3) tolerance of violence at all levels — toward family members, and/or toward “others” deemed needing a lesson, deserving punishment and humiliation of any sort. It’s not a private matter; it sets deep public patterns.
4) fundamentalism and fundamentalist practice whether based in Christianist, or other faith-based dogma. It’s dangerous to all, not religious “freedom.”
5) disrespect and degradation of the planet by ignoring and continuing the human role in climate change and environmental destruction. It hurts our children’s and grandchildren’s future.
I know my resolutions seem grand, and won’t stop any of these normal, but still evil, practices today– any more than I could keep the “jokes” at bay during my childhood. But at least I can commit again to saying ‘no’, to keep naming what it wrong, whenever and wherever it happens. And that’s serious. At least I don’t have to be anyone’s fool, on any day, of any month.