Don’t tell me that I live in a bubble.
If I lived in a bubble, I might believe that Muslims were some terrifying alien Other that I see on Fox TV, coming to blow up my family and put the bits under Sharia Law, instead of being the co-workers who shared their Friday night Ramadan meal; or the man with the Halal cart, immigrant entrepreneur with a small business, living the American dream, taking a break to bow toward Mecca; or the neighbor walking her daughter to practice, with a soccer ball and a hijab.
If I lived in a bubble, I might believe that all blacks and Hispanics are like those rampaging animals I see on Fox News: welfare queens, young bucks, living in the cities, smashing windows, looting stores, selling drugs, living off the hard work of people like me. Except for the ones who live in my town, dress exactly like I do, act exactly like I do, agree with everything I say. They’re One Of The Good Ones, and they’re how I know I’m not racist.
If I lived in a bubble I might believe that there’s only one way to be a man, and that it’s been the same way since forever.
Or that 97% of the scientists in the world are just pretending to be terrified by climate change as part of a Chinese conspiracy.
I might believe that it infringes on my freedom of religion for an old woman to have the right to be at the side of the love of her life as the last few minutes of fifty years count down to the beeping of a heart monitor. I might believe that I’m being persecuted if the law requires me to serve gay customers at my bakery or florist shop, and doesn’t allow me to turn them away like my grandparents turned black people away from the lunch counter; or that them damn queers have special rights if they can’t be fired or evicted just for what they are. I might believe that The Gay is a thing that can be cured – or that needs to be.
I might think that three children, siblings, adopted out of foster care as a group so the family could stay together, should be taken away from the men they call “Daddy and Papa” because all gays are child molesters.
I might believe that impoverished, dying small towns (but hardworking and white!) whose industry left a generation ago were paying the bills for the vast and thriving cities, instead of the other way around.
I might even believe that whites, straights, Christians, and men are the only people still oppressed in America, because I have no perspective on pain.
I could live in a bubble if I wanted to. I’m white, straight, male, middle-aged and middle-class.
I could collect my white-collar paycheck, enjoy my white-collar tax cut, cash in on my stock options while the market is high. I could go to Broadway shows and movies at Alamo Drafthouse, eat meals at fine steakhouses during Restaurant Week, go to little places in Chinatown where the locals go, and not give a shit about the wider world unless and until it came for me.
Do I live in a bubble? I don’t live in the neighborhoods where poverty and despair fill the air like the smell of garbage. Where the criminals are the only ones with any money, and the City lets the streets crumble. No, I follow close on the leading edge of gentrification, and when people like me move into a neighborhood, the City starts to care.
That’s the bubble I live in. But it’s a bigger bubble than the one you live in, with a lot more people in it who are not like me. So don’t tell me that I live in a bubble just because my bubble isn’t the same as yours.