So, how about that US Presidential Election 2016 — pretty wild, huh?
In the days since the result came in, a rash of hate crimes have been reported, many of them perpetrated by people who specifically cite President-elect Donald Trump as their inspiration. White children have bullied children of Mexican descent. Adults have left hateful messages and pictures of nooses on Black people’s cars, and ripped the hijabs off of Muslim women’s heads. Men have physically intimidated and sexually assaulted women. This is what happens when people feel as though many other people think the same way they do, when they believe they can get away with anything. It appears they aren’t even wrong in thinking that.
The outpouring of hate has shocked some people. Many liberals have posted about their shock. They didn’t realize this level of hate existed in the US. “It’s 2016! We have a Black President!” they cry. “We should be better than this!”
Well, yes, we should. But we obviously aren’t. This election result is devastating to many. The reactions are flooding across social media. Everyone in my circle is enraged, depressed, shocked, hurt, afraid, and so much more. Me? I’m nothing.
No, I’m not dead inside, I’m just not surprised. I predicted this would happen when Hillary Clinton won the nomination. Bernie Sanders’s chances aside, I never counted on Hillary Clinton being able to unify the left. I have been telling people Trump would win since May. Every time, I was met with incredulity; people claimed he didn’t have a chance. Now the day has come, and a lot of people are floundering: their view of the country ended up a cruel trick. They’re lost. I do understand why they are upset, but I’ve accepted the high level operation of white supremacy as the reality of the US long enough that this changes nothing for me. Growing up in Portland, OR, organizing with queer groups and Black Lives Matter, educating for and about disabled and working class communities, I’ve seen the hate first-hand, the fear and lack of understanding, the disdain. There are some who just don’t count my loved ones and I as human. They are not a far-flung fringe group: they are police and legislators and next-door neighbors. So, I’m not surprised.
It’s sick, honestly: the country I was born and raised in has lived down to my expectations, and I can’t feel a damn thing about it. Is there a word for this? It’s not even disappointment. I can’t describe it except as a lack.
You may hear this and think I’m experiencing apathy. But I’m not: I do care, I always care. I am committed to building a better world for everyone, a world in which we are all treated with basic dignity and respect. I just don’t feel any particular way about Trump winning the election. It is sad/enraging/frustrating that the election turned out this way, but I expected it would. Those depressed/angry/frustrated feelings? I already felt them.
Resignation, perhaps, may be the closest description. I have accepted that this country refuses to see me as a human being, let alone a full citizen worthy of rights and protection. As a Black queer disabled working class femme, I am aware that my own birthplace would just as soon see me dead in the street. I spend much of my life afraid someone will take it from me. This election doesn’t change that at all.
My non-reaction has been confusing everyone around me. In a community turned upside down and storming with emotion, I am not… but I am determined. I understand your fear and anger, and I will hold space for you to grieve, and I will do the work of protecting and supporting and loving us, and I will try to mitigate the terrible impact of Trump’s presidency. I can’t make this not real for you, but that won’t stop me from continuing to work for change. Yes, we don’t live in paradise, but we never have. We can get through this.
2016 might seem like the year the world ended — but it didn’t. Many of us will keep working and fighting and surviving; some of us won’t. But I believe as long as we have us, we have hope. Take the time you need, friend. Grieve. Get or give a hug. Heal. I’ll be here when you’re ready, and I will fight beside you for that better world. It may be lightyears away; it may be just around the corner. No matter which, I believe we can still get there, together.