How to mourn the election of Trump — as a privileged white male.
What started out as a great excuse to drink aggressively on a week night, very quickly turned into a somber scene — closely resembling that of a group of 4 year olds who lost their moms at the store, and now know no option but to panic and cry.
I guess my naivety and my optimistic faith in humans (along with pretty much the rest of the worlds) led me to think that it would be a funny idea to throw an “end of the world” party on election night, since everyone knew the plausibility of Trump actually getting elected was near-zero.
Little did we know…
In a time when exorbitant numbers of people worldwide feel that the value of their life is under attack — And in a time when many wake up every morning feeling they have little to grasp onto other than the fear and uncertainty of how they will survive such a calamity — I have been unable to steer my mind away from the peculiar emotion that seems to be so widespread at the moment. Grief.
Upon initial pass, grief seems like an appropriate reaction for those who are fearful of what will come following the election of Donald Trump. There are those who are grieving the end of an era — the loss of our current president, whom so many have grown so fond of as a person and not merely a politician (myself included). There are those who are grieving the loss of reputability, the loss of the air of morality and social consciousness that many believe America dutifully embodies. Then there are those who are grieving the loss of their current lives — the people who are clamoring for dear life to retain the liberties and equalities they have fought relentlessly for, for generations and generations.
But to me, as one cursed with the inability to suffocate my metacognitive side even during a time of tragedy, it seems odd for one to be grieving right now. I can’t help but repeatedly asking myself the following: Does it seem right to grieve the election of a chauvinistic, narcissistic, and racist president of the United States the same way that I would grieve the passing of my grandmother? Is grief what I should be feeling? More to the point, should I allow myself to respond with grief?
When it was announced that Trump had officially clinched the election, I felt angry. I felt indignant that so many Americans could act so selfishly. I felt concerned as to what would happen to the minority groups in our country — meaning anyone whose views differed from Trumps. I felt shame that I had been so blasé about the entire election.
But I am embarrassed to say, the emotion that has stayed with me long after the initial shock of the election results have sunk in, is grief. And with my grief has come an overwhelming feeling of guilt.
On election night, amidst the continuous drone of mourning and complaining, a friend of mine turned to me and said this:
“Why are you so upset? I’m brown. I’m an immigrant. I came to America less than six months ago. I’m going to be the first to go.”
And I am an upper class straight white male. What right do I have to grieve? What right do I have to exhibit any self-pity, when there are so many others with so much more to lose?
In the weeks following election night, I continued to struggle with an influx of emotions. I have felt dread going to work every morning. I have felt tired and drained coming home in the evening. I have felt frustrated. I have felt anxious. I have felt unfulfilled. But none of these are related to existential concerns over the well being of the people of our country. I blocked those out.
And I know that is unacceptable. Despite the out that my friend may have given me on election night, I know he is wrong. I need to feel grief. Not on behalf of anyone in particular, but on behalf of everyone. But more than grief, I need to feel indignant.
How can a society be united in equality if people do not view every fight as their own? Yes, this is my fight to fight — because even if I’m not a part of any of the countless groups that are under attack, I am a person. And one who gives a shit about other people.
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
If those with a voice do not use it to speak up for those without, they do not deserve the luxuries of privilege. If those with the resources to help do not use them to aid those without, they do not deserve the luxuries of privilege.
Grieve the loss of what you feel is right.
Be indignant that not all have the luxury of questioning whether they should feel indignant.
And do something about it.
Now to figure out how…