Blue in a Red State
Last week, a big part of me was hurt. I was invested in this election not because of my love for politics but instead because of my love for humanity. Living in Kentucky, I was not shocked that we went red or that he won. It was not my reality that was broken, instead it was my hope that we were better than this and better than the experiences I have personally had, as both a woman and an immigrant. But we weren’t. And we aren’t.
Everyone grieves differently and part of my grieving is over. It’s okay if yours isn’t. It’s okay if yours looks different than mine. But, for me, it’s time to get to work.
This means having those hard conversations and not just putting a safety pin on. Though, if you do, please do so only if you’re pairing it with active change and work. My personal rule of thumb: if you’re not comfortable wearing a Black Lives Matters pin, don’t wear a safety pin.
(But my other personal rule of thumb is do the opposite of the KKK and not a lot of Kentucky took me up on that one.)
It means making others uncomfortable when tough subjects come up and being able to sit with that discomfort. It means bringing up those tough subjects. It means not playing nice anymore and not handling Trump voters with kid gloves. It means respect too but the true kind of respect that comes from downright honesty and challenging the people you love to become better.
The complacency and never-ending need to “get along” is part of what got us here to begin with. I am not wrong or mean or crazy if I am intolerant of your intolerance. And yes, you might have been an HRC or third-party supporter, but if you let those around you be “undecided” or a one-issue Trump voter, are you really any better? Or are you wrapping yourself up in the protection of White Feminism and taking a backseat from the frontlines?
No, not all Trump supporters are (outright) racist, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, and/or misogynist but they supported a candidate who is and whose hurtful and dangerous words were not deal breakers. Is that maybe even worse? That is the white moderate holding back the progress of our nation (as MLK described in his Letter from Birmingham Jail). It is the proverbial elephant who has its foot on the tail of a mouse that Bishop Desmond Tutu described. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. That mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
The approach now is multi-faceted: never succumb to the hateful rhetoric as our “new normal” but also challenge the “let’s take the Kumbaya approach” friends and family members. Read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and “We Who Choose to Stay and Fight” and watch The 13th on Netflix and devour the think pieces coming out of the last week. But then also donate to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Maxwell Street Legal Clinic, among many many others, and pledge to up your support of local female/minority owned businesses. Call your Senator and say you oppose Bannon. Even if your senator is Mitch McConnell.
Nikki Rocker, my soul sister, has somehow found a dimly lit silver lining: “Revolution works best when we as a whole can come together and fight against patriarchy and white supremacy. For that reason, I AM grateful for the outcome of this election and the spike in unrest. In many ways, I think if Hillary had been elected we would have become complacent. The victory would be seen in Trump’s defeat, and the activism would have stopped there. ‘America isn’t as racist and misogynistic as we thought. Whew!’ We would not have actively dealt with the ramifications of his rhetoric the way we are forced to do now.”
His threats/campaign promises might not impact you directly but they will impact and rip apart the lives of a lot of very good people. Your voice is urgent. And, no, it cannot wait. His victory has ignited a fire in many people and we have to keep that fire going. Maybe for four years. Maybe forever.
He is not my President. I do not wish ill on him (okay, maybe a little but I stay #petty) but I will not wish him success either nor do I think the success of our country is dependent on him. It’s dependent on us. A diverse, inclusive, globally minded group that is quickly growing. We aren’t very “nice” but we have licked our wounds and are coming out swinging but also listening and not taking on the role of the White Savior. It is a fine line but we are trying.
Come join us. We have plenty of room.