In the Aftermath

Graffiti Celebrating Our President-Elect. Denver, Colorado.

It’s been over a week since the travesty that was the 2016 American election occurred and I’ve not written about it yet, save for a few comments here and there on Facebook. I feel bereft. Heartbroken. Befuddled. Angry. Ashamed. But I don’t feel surprised. I had a sinking feeling that there was enough hatred and apathy in the country to make this happen, to force what is potentially a bleak reversal of rights on huge segments of the population.

There are stories coming in from all over the country of hate speech being directed at the oppressed. My favorite Indian restaurant here in Denver was vandalized overnight last week — some idiot painted “Hail Trump” on its sign. Did the vandal think that would do anything? Did he think the proprietors would close up shop and go “home”? No, of course not. He wanted (and I’d bet money it was a male) to incite fear, and thus to puff himself up as someone capable of inciting fear. His hatred and sociopathic desire to be feared matter to him more than the well-being of his fellow human beings. That is all I need to know about him. I don’t care if he feels disenfranchised, if he’s suffering due to the economy, if he himself is scared. I don’t care for him any more than I care for the Nazis who exhibited the same behavior with the same excuses on the eve of WWII.

In my 43 years, there’s been progress toward a more equitable and just world. I (wrongly) presumed that that’s just the way it happens as time marches on. I believed that old saw that says, “when people know better, they do better.” It didn’t seem possible that we could go backwards.

The majority of my demographic (educated white women) knew better than to vote for a misogynist racist. But they did it anyway. That is unacceptable. White women chose the comfort of white men over the best interest of the majority of the country. Even themselves.

The 2016 election and its aftermath have shaken me to my core and filled me with existential dread. This is not sour grapes. This is not “whining” or being a “sore loser.” This is the recognition of a threat to the well-being of vast swaths of the population. But I won’t be paralyzed.

I’ve been complacent for too long, watching our country progress along the path to freedom and equality in a way that I assumed to be inevitable. I was foolish. I was not outraged enough by injustice. I did not realize how grave the situation was, and for that I am deeply sorry. But I have learned a lesson. I will use my voice and whatever meager talents I may have to get this derailed train back on track. I have virtually no power, but I do have privilege. I won’t squander it any longer.