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Frustrated, Tired, and Hurt

Kirk Bangstad

It hit me when I was watching a clip on Facebook of Kenny Smith, a basketball commentator, walk off the set in solidarity with the many professional sports teams that refused to play after the Kenosha shootings.

He wasn’t mad per se, he seemed more frustrated, tired, and hurt.  It was then that the Kenosha events finally got under my skin, and I couldn’t help but cry.

The stark contrast between Jacob Blake being shot without sufficient grounds and Kyle Rittenhouse shooting and killing protesters without garnering police attention was already etched in my mind, but honestly, my mind can’t take much more etching.  

As awful as this was, these events are now commonplace in America, and I know my coping mechanisms for handling such news are kicking in and trying to normalize it all so I can get out of bed every day.

Unfortunately, what I still can’t handle—what makes me not want to get out of bed, is the people I know in the Northwoods of Wisconsin who take their cues from Trump, Fox, and Q-anon, saying things like:

  • If Blake had just did what the police asked him to do, he wouldn’t have been shot.
  • Rittenhouse was just defending property, and his shooting was self-defense.
  • The rioters and looters got what was coming to them.

I’m not going to address these appalling statements because that’s already happening in every corner of our country to what seems like ZERO effect.  This is what makes me frustrated, tired, and hurt.  I will never understand what it’s like to walk in a black man’s shoes, but I can understand what it’s like to serve beer to a customer who is exactly like me in every way except for the media he consumes, and that media makes him afraid enough to hate the world around him instead of love it. 

  • They hate those who support the Black Lives Matter movement, twisting those three essential words into something evil.
  • They hate those who don’t blindly pledge fealty to the police, regardless of any history of systemic racism.
  • They hate anyone who suggests we try to solve our uniquely disgusting American gun problem.
  • They hate anyone who supports mandatory mask-wearing during a pandemic that has killed over 170K Americans where masks are proven to help reduce infection.

My own neighbors, people I can drink beer and laugh with at my brewpub, will fly a Trump flag from their boats and tacitly embrace a regime of hate, racism, fear, and ignorance, and there is nothing I can say or do to change their minds. That’s what makes me frustrated, tired, and hurt.

I’m frustrated, tired, and hurt because I don’t know if America or Wisconsin can come back from the damage they’ve sustained, and if they can’t, I no longer have a home that I can believe in.

That’s why I’m running for office. I don’t know what else to do to try to fix my home. Please vote for love instead of fear on November 3.

Written by Kirk Bangstad on 08/29/20

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