I used to call myself a hick.
My childhood friends and family still do.
Mud on tires and confederate flags hanging out the back of lifted pickup trucks was a normal sight where I grew up in Washington State.
It was “home.”
I often find myself trying to explain where I grew up because most think of Washington State and imagine Seattle and Bellevue, home to Microsoft, Amazon, and many people who grow their own vegetables and refuse to use plastic bottles.
Yes, Washington State is home to this, but it is also home to the individuals who made the news last night after they broke into Governor Inslee’s place in Olympia.
When I think of the home I left eight years ago and have not returned to, I do not think of a home of Republicans.
No, instead, I think of those confederate flags, the racist remarks, and my childhood classmates who are breaking into government official buildings with no care in the world for others.
Where I come from is not “home.”
I am not proud of it.
I do not support it.
This is not about being Republican, Democrat, or somewhere in between.
This is not about differences in opinion.
It is about hate.
It is about white supremacy.
It is about sedition that encourages abhorrence of what our country stands for.
As I sit here and watch the videos of people hanging off the sides of the walls of the U.S. Capitol, sitting in Pelosi’s chair, and breaking into Governor Insee’s home, all I can think is—I knew this was coming.
There are many reasons I left “home.”
It wasn’t about just being a misfit.
It wasn’t even about wanting to grow.
It was about the nonsense that surrounded me, the hatred in the hearts of some toward culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and the misogyny that was both directly articulated at me and subtly flavoring my conversations throughout my day.
I say I am from Seattle so not to associate myself with my “home.”
The truth is, though, I was raised a “hick” and then left to become a true American—one who believes in equity, diversity, and making this world a bit better for the next generation.
I have wanted to go home for so long, but after last night, I’ve realized this “home” I speak of is not the home of my childhood.
The home I speak of is in community with those who are proud to to be Americans—not thugs.
I’ve struggled for a long time to convey to my colleagues and classmates where I come from.
It’s always felt as if I can’t convey it clearly or they don’t fully grasp it.
I am from Washington State, after all.
When I saw “my people” last night, though, on the news standing in front of Governor Inslee’s home and newscasters looking appalled, I thought—now they get it.
Now my college professors, colleagues, and friends understand where I come from.
It’s broadly thought that these types of people, those who carry confederate flags and spout racist, white supremacist rhetoric, are confined to the borders of the southern parts of the United States—but this is vast and pervasive. These flags hang in all parts of the country—even in what many seem to think of as the liberal state of Washington.
In order to address systematic racism, we need to understand the reach of this ideology. We need to understand it infiltrates all parts of society.
I hope our country begins to see this and recognize it.
This is not a problem in just the red states. It’s a problem in all states.
It’s time we see this and truly understand it.
Confederate flags are on cellphone cases.
Crosses are being burned in yards in Washington State, and many others.
This is not my “home” and no matter if you are Republican, Democrat, or somewhere in between, it should not be yours either.