I’ve been relatively quiet since the election. No, not relatively, absolutely. I haven't known what to say. So, I’ve been taking in social posts, following news reports, reading, researching, and more than anything thinking about what to do next. The morning after the election I woke with a tear stained face. Not because I went to bed crying. I didn’t. However, my body needed to release the anxiety and anger I felt, regardless of whether or not I was awake. That morning, I stared blankly at the ceiling and I could feel the tears still leaking from my eyes. I honestly didn’t think I’d be this emotional. I’m a huge advocate for Clinton and even more so against Trump, but to cry?!?!...But, this isn’t about policy. It’s not about being right. It’s about being on the right side.
Unfortunately, everyone cast their vote for what they determined to be the right side. This is what is really messed up about this entire thing. The right side for some was about the supreme court seats. About abortion. About guns. About jobs in America. About immigrants. About feeling neglected. About change. Honestly, I don’t fault anyone for this. I don’t agree and I’m saddened, but I understand the frustration. Working middle-class Americans, no matter the race, have seen over the years an influx of opportunities as factories, mills, and plants popped up. Then you saw the opposite effect as jobs went overseas or new technology made your jobs obsolete. You lost your job and your neighbor lost your business. And the cycle began. Your children moved away to find opportunity or, if they stayed home, they witnessed, and in some cases partook, in drugs moving in. Your entire lives are centered around a desolate town that the government has overlooked for years. Or maybe, and more likely, it isn’t this bleak, but you’re still working your fingers to the bone to make ends meet, living from paycheck to paycheck. Meanwhile, the government has shown time and again that they are in bed with Wall Street, in complete collusion as their wallets get fatter, you’re stretched thinner, and the divide continues to get wider. Hell, I’ll never pay Sallie Mae back at this rate...makes it pretty hard to save for tomorrow. I understand and in this instance, voting for change makes complete sense.
Here’s the part that saddens me though. You are not the recipient of the bigotry, so to think beyond your family and your immediate needs didn’t make sense to you. If it had made sense, you wouldn’t have said you believe that Trump’s promise for tomorrow is greater than his actions of the past. You wouldn’t have said, I know he incites violence and racism, but I’ll excuse it because he’s going to bring jobs back to me and my family. You wouldn’t have said, I know he refuses to denounce the KKK, but my taxes won’t go up, so we’ll let this one slide. You wouldn't have cast a vote against so many Americans. I don’t mean this to start a debate or to start “name calling”. In fact, the opposite. I know so many of you that voted for Trump are not bigots. You’re not misogynistic. You’re not homophobic. What I can’t help but believe though, is that while you aren’t those things, you are okay that Trump has lit a fire under those that are precisely those things.
From Wednesday to Friday, there were more than 200 recorded instances of hateful harassment and intimidation. Recorded, not all. The most notable in my eyes were those that were among or in front of the next generation of voters. Black students at UPenn were added to a GroupMe chat called “N*gger Lynching” and “Mud Men” that listed the students names next to the calendar event for their own lynching. Bathrooms in a Minnesota high school with “Whites Only” and “Go back to Africa” in graffiti on the walls. Middle schoolers in Michigan chanting “Build the Wall”. And, what about the asshat of a teacher who tells his Hispanic students they’ll be foster kids after their parents are deported. Then he goes on to say all of the names, phone numbers, and addresses are in the school’s computer system to help Trump get them out.
Aside from these national stories, I have a Facebook feed full of friends near and far who are legitimately scared. No American should ever fear the president or the rhetoric he’s allowed. I repeat, no American should ever fear the president or the rhetoric he’s allowed. If you voted for Trump let me ask a serious question. How many Muslims do you know? How many gay people? How many black people, latinos or other minority group do you invite into your home regularly? I ask these questions and want you to think about it. Not how many of each category do you know “of”, but legitimately know. Break bread with. Grab drinks with. Go to church with. Talk politics with. Let your children play with.
You see, to excuse it is to accept it. Acceptance leads to allowance. Allowance is a negative impact on this country that will set us back decades. So here’s my ask. Get out of your echo chamber. Start a conversation. Don’t just settle into the old routine and assume the government is going to solve your problems. That’s what they want you to do and they won’t. You have an opportunity to prove to the rest of the world (because it’s watching and judging) that you really weren’t voting for Trump’s negativity, but in spite of it. You have the opportunity to show your children that we are always “Better Together”. Demand that he stand up for the people. All of them. You can rest assured that the majority of Americans are going to be fighting like hell for the next 4 years to ensure everything that has been worked toward over our nation’s history isn’t wiped away, but we can’t do it alone. We need you.