It has now been six days since our country fundamentally changed. Whether you consider the change to be good or bad is, of course, a matter of opinion, although if you are here reading this I imagine you were among the millions of Americans who woke up on Wednesday, November 9 in a state of shock. I myself spent the whole day feeling like I was wandering numbly through a dense fog (my hangover was only maybe 25% to blame for this).
The fog has slowly begun to clear, but I still find myself trying to process not only the results, but the onslaught of opinion pieces, demographic analyses, thinkpieces, and news stories that have followed. I have no one to blame but myself for the information overload – when something monumental happens in my world, my coping mechanism is to drown myself in information. It gives me a small sense of control, even if it also pushes my blood pressure into the red zone. But if one common thought has arisen from my masochistic desire to read anything and everything, it’s this:
Anyone who thinks I, or any other Hillary supporter, should “let it go” needs to have a seat. Here’s why:
- This is not your run-of-the-mill election defeat.
Am I upset that my candidate lost? Of course I am. I have been fortunate enough that out of the three elections in which I have been able to vote, my candidate has won two out of three times. Am I being a sore loser? Absolutely not. Had John McCain or Mitt Romney won in 2008 or 2012, of course I would have been disappointed. I would have likely had strong negative opinions about their platforms and written some angry Facebook screeds, but I would not have spent the days following the election sobbing. I would not have woken up on Wednesday morning fearful for my Muslim in-laws living in the south with distinctly brown skin and foreign-sounding names. I would not have had to sit and listen to my biracial Muslim husband tell me that he is afraid to tell people his name, or feel a sense of relief that he can pass for a white man.
Of course racism exists in America; this was made abundantly clear over the past eight years by the hateful and bigoted treatment of the Obamas by fringe groups. But as a white person, it was easy to tell myself that this toxic sludge lay mostly dormant and would never truly make it into the mainstream. Then along came Trump, who stumbled upon this dark corner of society and realized that saying what they wanted to hear, making them feel validated in their hatred and anger, would get him elected. What I thought lay dormant was, in fact, boiling angrily beneath the surface, and Trump took a giant (but very thin – remember his hands) stick and stirred it all to the top.
Minorities are laughing at us, and rightfully so. We have spent the last few years in blissful ignorance, and I take full responsibility for my role in discounting this ugly part of reality. But now that it’s front and center, I am absolutely not going to turn away. And if you suggest that I do, then you are at the very least complicit in promoting the hatred and violence that has cropped up in the past week.
- I can “give” Trump and the GOP a chance to govern while simultaneously opposing policies that are harmful and antithetical to what this country stands for.
Let’s put aside the fact that we have spent the last eight years basically deadlocked because the Republican Party has done everything in their power to impede any policies Obama has put forward (although my petty side would like to spend a lot more time on this). Any protests I, and the American public in general, voice against policies or laws that Trump attempts to will not be made out of spite, but out of genuine concern for my fellow citizens. I will not be throwing tantrums over every single move he makes, unless he does things like appoint a white supremacist to be his chief strategy officer, or put the leader of a known hate group in charge of domestic policy. How ludicrous would that be, right?
At best, the people who are coming into power now are woefully unqualified for the diplomacy and nuance required by their positions. At worst, our country is being taken over by a hateful fringe group that seeks only to pursue prosperity for those they deem worthy (read: the wealthy and the white). Voicing alarm over these developments is far from whining, it’s wholly American.
- I don’t owe anything to anybody who directly or indirectly supports racism, sexism, xenophobia, or homophobia.
Frankly I don’t understand why I need to make any point other than this one. The insinuation that I need to be welcoming or, at the very least, ambivalent towards people actively seeking to deprive me, my family, and/or my friends of their rights as human beings is ludicrous and insulting.
This is not a disagreement over whether or not I think pineapple should be allowed on pizza (absolutely not), this is about whether or not my friend gets to stay married to the love of her life, who happens to be a trans man.
This is about whether or not my 11-year-old sister-in-law gets to walk down the street without fearing harassment because of the color of her skin.
This is about whether the one in four women who will be sexually assaulted during college will feel comfortable enough to speak out, as opposed to being humiliated and bullied into silence because she had a drink or wore a skirt.
I really don’t feel like I am asking too much of humanity when I ask for these things. If you disagree that is your right, but it is then my right to judge you as a horrible human being and treat you as such. And I do not owe you an apology.
I understand the intense desire to curl up under a blanket and pretend none of this is happening; trust me, I spent several days this week doing exactly that. But to do so, or to attempt to make peace with the situation that is unfolding in front of us, is to normalize it. Normalization of Donald Trump and his cronies is normalization of hate, of racism, of misogyny, of bigotry. We are standing on the edge of an incredibly slippery slope, and anyone telling you to prioritize “unity” over civil and human rights is trying to push you down it.
I decided to return to blogging because never before have I felt that our way of life is more threatened than it is right now. I don’t expect this little corner of outrage on the internet is going to have any true impact, but I firmly believe that awareness is the key to defending our rights, and if I can help spread even just a tiny bit of awareness among my immediate circle, I will consider that a victory.
Think about how, in 50 years, you will answer the question of how you handled yourself during these days, weeks and months. Then go out and stay angry, stay loud, and fight like hell.