The results of the November 8 election were startling (to say the least) for many, myself included. I've spent the last week trying to understand it and sort out feelings, trying to feel calm, hopeful, OK.
I still can't. Other than in my personal journal the night of the election, I haven't written about it. I simply do not know how to succinctly write about the fact that the United States of America has elected a racist, xenophobic, homophobic, rapist authoritarian with a proven record of outrageous lies. Even as I type this, I'm not sure what I will say next. I am not shocked that America is full of racists and misogynists--that is not news to anyone paying attention or to anyone who has been on the receiving end of racist or misogynistic behavior. But I am shocked that what faith I had in the American people was not rewarded.
I don't know how to make sense of the fact that for the next four years, at least, the leader of our country, supported by an ultra conservative Congress, will work to dismantle so much of the progress we've made as a nation. It is such an understatement to say "so much." People's safety is at risk. People's rights are at risk. People's ability to take care of their health is at risk.
The morning after the election as I was walking to the bus I kept wondering if catcalls would become even more terrifying and disgusting than they already are. Why shouldn't they? The President-elect brags about sexual assault! With that as an example, and that behavior condoned by the electorate, why shouldn't cat callers, rapists, and others be emboldened to do worse than has already been normalized?
I'm still trying to work through my anger at Trump voters, non-voters, and third party voters. I know moving forward we have to work together in love, despite differences. But my loving energy is being directed towards women, people of color, the LGBT+ community, immigrants, refugees, Muslims, the planet... I'm not yet able to direct that same love and compassion to the people who put Trump in power. I'm sorry, but I'm just not. I truly believe Michelle Obama's refrain that when they go low, we go high, and I intend on following it at every turn. But for the time being, I am in a place of coping, sharing support and love to vulnerable groups, and trying to accept that so many people voted for what they did. But I promise to move forward with love--I just need time to sort out the reality.
I know a lot of Trump voters are unhappy with the mentality that if you vote Trump you are racist/sexist/xenophobic/etc. If you are a Trump voter reading this and don't think you are any of those things, I want to believe you. But it is up to you to show us you aren't. Instead of becoming defensive and saying, "I'm not a racist!" focus your energy on supporting the many groups negatively affected by the result of the election. Don't look at yourself, look at those who are in pain. Hear our stories, our perspectives. This election result means so many people--motivated by a fear for their safety--cannot rely on a simple claim that you aren't racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. You have to show us, and that starts by refusing to fall into the trap of being defensive. Just help us.
There has been a lot of discussion about wearing safety pins as a symbol of support, safety, solidarity. I've read articles boosting that trend, and others saying it's embarrassing and insulting. I think the safety pin is a good idea--if it is a starting point. If all you do is wear a safety pin, it's not enough. If you wear a safety pin as an outward show of love and support, followed by donations/volunteering for organizations that support vulnerable groups and evident work to protect liberty and equality, then your safety pin means something. But now is not the time for passive support, or trying to appease harmful attitudes for the sake of being liked or avoiding conflict. We are already in conflict.
The time has come to make a bold stance. My goal is to be calm, be compassionate, and be bold. I will not support hate motivated by fear or fear motivated by hate. I will not support the dismissal of truth or science. I will not support the disdain towards a free press. I welcome refugees, immigrants, Muslims, LGBT+, women, people of color. And, even though I'm still angry for now, I even welcome Trump voters. I know for many it was a vote cast in concern over jobs, the economy, other valid concerns. But I don't welcome the acceptance of racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, etc. that allowed that vote to be cast.
I hope for peace. But I am prepared to do what is necessary to protect the freedoms of so many. I hope you will join me.